Introductions: Meet Andrea!

Whenever I visit someone new, I have a habit of exploring bookshelves. Sometimes this is regarded as good manners, sometimes less so, but it always tells me a lot about the person. Let me describe mine:

Picture a studio apartment surrounded on most sides by bookshelves. Cutting across the apartment is a divider also made of bookshelves placed back to back (one of my several efforts to maximize shelf space and still leave room for my other furniture). Many of the shelves sag slightly under the weight of many history books. Anthropology and dictionary volumes (they tend to be heavier) are near the bottom shelves. On the top shelves, are my favorite (and lighter weight) books and mementos. A miniature old-style cuckoo clock stands next to The Year’s Best Science Fiction (2012) and A History of the World in 100 Objects. Across the room are two of my favorite Farside comics. (Has anyone seen the one with the two aliens who ask for directions at a gas station? One of the one-eyed aliens grins sheepishly while the other glares and the gas attendant is saying, “Shoot! You not only got the wrong planet, you got the wrong solar system! I mean a wrong planet I can understand, but the wrong solar system?!…” Incidentally, you might want to know if we’re ever travelling together, I sympathize with the sheepish alien – navigation is not my best skill either. On the shelf below, you will find a photograph of me on vacation. A big smile, brown eyes, silver-rim glasses, curly long brown hair with bangs and, of course, a large cup of coffee.

Next, cross over the bookshelf divider and pet my large black and white cat, Osk, on the way. He usually stands guard on top of the bookcase next to my brass menorah and shell collection. On this side, you will find a vast collection of science fiction and fantasy books. They are stacked vertically, usually two rows deep, as I’m running low on space – again (um, no pun intended there). On the top shelf here, the crew of the Star Trek Next Generation Enterprise, immortalized as Pez candy containers (does anyone still eat these candies?) stand next to several well-worn Terry Pratchetts and another favorite book, In the Land of Invented Languages (by Akira Okrent).

It probably won’t take Sherlock Holmes to deduce (although, just in case, I do have that set too), that I love reading - especially history books and science fiction & fantasy and a lot of other genres too. I grew up in a home where we did not watch television and, perhaps because of that or because I just LOVE books, reading has been my frequent pastime and support when I need it to help me through many life transitions.

With Creating Iris, each month I plan to share a short book review. You might think of these as “book shout outs” about a book that speaks well to the complexities of life, the universe, and more specifically, often identities (including, but not always, gender, orientation, origins, and ethnicity).

I plan to strive for a mix of ‘classics’ (by my definition, ones not published in the last decade) and new books. I’m very open to suggestions, so feel free to get in touch if there’s a book (whether novel, short story, comic, graphic novel, manga, etc) that we should highlight. You are also very welcome to submit your own book reviews too – see our website for details.

I have found that reading books frequently takes me to worlds that can inspire, console, challenge, or, even, make your own seem ideal by comparison and I look forward to sharing some favorite (and thought-provoking) stories & dilemmas with you. Stay tuned for the first reviews starting next month.