Shelfies: Reading The Real Zirque Bois d’Arc

Shelfies. I thought maybe I’d take this Friday to talk about something besides music, and as I looked around me I realized I have an awful lot of books. Around New Years Day I decided that rather than selfies, I would take shelfies – pictures of my bookshelves – this year. So we’ll take a look at a few of those #shelfies and see what we can learn about the real me. But first, just listen to that bass playing.

Legend has it that Entwistle was just messing around with ideas and checking his tone and they all realized it was a magical performance.

My shelfies, along with other substandard photographs, can be found on my Instagram @topochico. I have also started streaming shows on there, so if you can’t make my Zirque Bois d’Arc show at the Carousel Lounge on August 26, log in to Instagram around 7 pm!


Often in my pre shelfie life I would occasion upon a clever passage in whatever tome I was perusing, and snap it to share with my followers, for example, This little nugget from David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks seems just as relevant to me today as it did on November 23, 2015.

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“If you could reason with religious people, there wouldn’t be any religious people.” Pretty tight little statement. Or consider this nice moment in Haruki Murakame’s Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage:

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Great, now I’m thinking about everybody’s offstage moments.

Getting To Know My Shelfies

My first Shelfie, January 3. Obama was still president; there was still some optimism in the world.

#shelfie am I doing this right

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It’s ok – of course, I have a lot to learn, but a decent first effort. There are a couple of Murakames, Voltaire, Tennessee Williams, classic Phillip Roth, a truncated book about Gram Parsons by Ben Fong-Torres. The star, however of this little shelfie is the early hardback edition of A Canticle for Leibowitz – classic late 50s sci-fi that I highly recommend. Oh and there’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – a book I have yet to finish.

A few days later, I shot the scene on my living room bookshelf:


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There are a couple of great pieces here – Raise High The Roof Beam, Carpenter and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time are both quite delicious, but next to The Devil’s Dictionary are my two prized Peter Stopschinski books, The Massacre of Spring and The Catalogue of Spiderfarts. Also, a little hard to see is Anthony Burgess’s bio of James Joyce and some James Joyce poetry. Some great content in this one, but the story is a little less clear.

Now let’s consider a top-shelfie.

#shelfie #topshelfie

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There’s a lot on this one. We’ve got Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, Borges’ Labyrinths, some Joyce, Faulkner, and Dostoevsky (the taped up book is my dad’s copy of Ulysses). Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and one of my minor favorites, Fisher’s Hornpipe by Todd McEwen. The margins are packed – Gaiman’s Sandman novels are next to my high-school yearbook, and up on top we’ve got my buddy George Brainard’s photo book of hot-rod enthusiasts (it’s called All Tore Up you should get a copy) and my buddy Spots picture book of the 70s in LA Sounds of Two Eyes Opening (you should also get that). Oh yeah – Crying of Lot 49 and One Hundred Years of Solitude, also. That’s a pretty good shelfie.

I’ve just got a couple more to share. This one is pretty tight:


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Well, here we have one of the Game of Thrones books and one of the Harry Potter books. That’s a good start. Pynchon’s Vineland and DFW’s Infinite Jest; a couple of books by Gregory Maguire and Manuel Puig’s Betrayed by Rita Hayworth; hobby books for bonsai, cooking and woodworking (What Wood is That has a bunch of wood samples in it – it’s kind of cool). There’s also a guitar neck I should finish building the guitar for.

And here we have one from about a month ago:


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Look at all that Pratchett! And some Phillip K. Dick! And Cryptonomicon! And a book about a prison in Phnom Penh.

Well, you didn’t ask for it, exactly, but I was happy to oblige. I enjoy reading and stories and films and plays and podcasts a lot, and I do enjoy hearing about what other people read and watch, so maybe some of you all enjoyed this weird mash-up. If you like funny little story songs, you might enjoy my Songs About Russia and will enjoy my record Voodoo Deux when it comes out.

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