Sunday, September 27, 2009


I happened on an awesome bookstore this weekend in New York and ended up buying this book.

I went from hating Curious Lists to loving it in about two minutes. The book is basically a bunch of list titles followed by dotted lines so that you can fill them out.

My first reaction: "What? You have to complete them yourself? This is stupid. 'Ukelele Songs Appropriate for a Funeral?' How self-consciously McSweeneysesque* and hipsterish. I hate 'assisted creativity.' I hate the suggestion that it would be useful for me to spend my time ruminating on some other person's theme with the fake objective of enhancing my own creativity."

But then a couple of the illustrations made me laugh. And then a couple of the lists gave me ideas for my own writing. And then some of the list headers, which were entirely nonsensical relating to the lists themselves but still pleasing to contemplate (Lists for Vacations, Lists for Rainy Days, Lists for Lunchtime), made happy to think about. I thought about the fact that I do like to make lists. I liked that this book inspired me to think about lists again as a flight of fancy or a pleasurable catalogue (Nick Hornby) rather than something self-conscious and overly cute (not linking out here), even as it offered topics that were both.

I wanted to be above this book, in a way, but the fact is a) I'm easily impressed and b) I'm kind of old and not that creative anymore. Instead of coming up with this book, I'm buying it.

And filling it out on the train back from NYC.

Qualities of an Undesirable Train Companion

A fondness for farting
Deli meats, internal or external
Blaring ring tones
A tendency to speak loudly and often
More than two legs
Respiratory issues
Inability to detect boundaries of personal space
Anyone in a diaper

Additions welcome.

* I totally submitted lists to McSweeneys and I think even had one or two published and so this is just me being a jerk.