As an English major, I can expect that my peers and professors may, in fact, ask me what books I have bought lately. It hasn’t happened in a while, but I have come to actively dread the question: the truth is, while I reread a lot of books, I have to be careful about allocating my recreational reading time. I’m reading so many books for school, after all. I have to be selective. (This is probably why two of the books I have bought in the past few months were parts of the Song of Ice and Fire series, another was a comic book, another was the fourth in the Heartsick series [which I had been putting off reading for ages], and two were books that are on the list I’m about to make.) I’m not particularly proud of this, but at the same time, I like to think that I’m developing a decent collection of “coffee table books,” large, often hardcover publications that can pertain to a wide variety of informational subjects.
Most of the coffee table books I grew up with, for example, pertained to roses or other garden-related material. Or rocks. Other people have them about traveling to various exotic locations, about classical music, about athletics. My collection, unsurprisingly, is entirely pertaining to various films, television programs, and theatrical events that I enjoy; it’s fairly small so far, but seriously, the hardcover ones are expensive. They’ve almost always been gifts.
Also sometimes called things like “companion books,” or colloquially referred to by fans as the “so-and-so-topic Bible,” these books are a wealth of information. Pictures, histories, interviews. Scripts if you’re lucky. And I’ve spent far too many hours to be healthy poring over them. I do not regret this information.
6. The Cabin in the Woods: The Official Visual Companion, by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard
Pictures, pictures everywhere. Spoilers galore (I bought it in the company of friends who had yet to see the film, and thusly guarded it protectively; I’m pretty sure the only pages I actually displayed for them were ones featuring the lovely faces of Fran Kranz and Amy Acker, partaking not in spoilers). Oh, and the full screenplay. Yesss.
5. Serenity Official Visual Companion, by Joss Whedon
I have yet to acquire either of the Firefly official visual companions, mostly because the place I’ve been finding these (or at least found the Cabin one and the Serenity one for reasonable prices) hasn’t had them around when I’ve been in. I really should, of course, but I did snap this one up immediately. It has all of the goodies, but most importantly, it does, in fact, have the script. I am a huge, huge sucker for coffee table books featuring full scripts. It’s a running theme.
4. Grindhouse: The Sleaze-filled Saga of an Exploitation Double Feature, by Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez
The only of the hardcover companion books I own that I purchased instead of being gifted it, mostly because I first saw it in the heyday of the Grindhouse experience. It was relatively soon after the film’s release, but far enough removed for me to realize that I loved it way more than almost everyone else in the world I knew; if I didn’t buy this book, I figured (this is often my rationale), who would? And it’s totally worth it. It’s beautiful. It helped me when I was putting together my Dakota costume Halloweens ago; it has the Planet Terror script in all its glory (not the Death Proof one, but I found that online, in a separate volume).
3. Wicked: the Grimmerie, by David Coté, Joan Marcus, and Stephen Schwartz
“Wicked is not just a musical, it is a phenomenon,” begins the synopsis on Google Books. I… you know, okay. This one was a gift (all of my theater ones have been) and it’s one I appreciated. My relationship with Wicked is a weird one, because I’ve always… actually kind of liked the book better (being inclined toward the dark and all). I do really like the musical. I’ve seen it three times, it’s a given. And I really loved to be able to see into how it’s put together, because that sort of thing is fascinating to me; Wicked is more of a Big Splashy Musical than the others I’ve studied so intensely, so it’s different in that way. Also, libretto.
2. Spring Awakening: In the Flesh, by David Coté
Okay, yes, it has the most ridiculous title if you aren’t in on the references, but. Again, libretto; also, so many pictures. Most of which I’d already seen by the time I got the book, seen and seen again and then Photoshopped the bejeezus out of, but still. There’s all sorts of delightful extra material regarding production and design in the book, and considering Spring is a definite time and place in my life, and still basically my favorite of musicals, it’s an obvious choice for me to have this book.
1. Rent,by Jonathan Larson
Rent is also a time and place, as you guys well know, but it tops the list because holy crap, my Rent coffee table book got so much use. This is what I was referring to when I mentioned the Bible thing above; long, long before it came into my possession (originally a mutual possession with a friend, if I remember), I was hearing tell on the interwebs of the Rent Bible. I didn’t even initially realize that that wasn’t the actual title. It has pictures, it has interviews, it has the libretto; I remember embarrassing things about me and this book. I remember awkwardly drawing stills from it with Sharpies and tacking them on my bedroom wall, I remember going over pictures to cosplay for the movie premiere, I remember using it for research speeches at school. Oh, Rent Bible. Such fuzzies.
–your fangirl heroine.