So I really like books. In case you’re new here.
There are many things I love about books, and many reasons I read as much as I do. I like stories. I like magic. I like imagined things. I like the feeling of being in many places at the same time, simultaneously on the train or in my bedroom but also far away in another state or country or world. I like living many lives through books.
But the real reason I read is because every once in a while, I find a book. A book that does more than just provide a few good hours of being somewhere else. Even more than just a book that makes me hold my breath or turn pages faster. It is the sort of book that takes me over. That makes me feel deeply and profoundly for people and places and things that do not exist. A book that makes me look at the world differently.
When I read books like this, the first thing I do is take several deep breaths and just bask. Then the second thing that usually happens is I feel inspired to create. Great things make me want to create something, and usually that something wants to exist in the same world as whatever book just moved me. I love people who create things based on things they love. This is why I love things like fan art. Fan fiction. Cosplay1.
And, in a new subgenre of fan culture I invented on Friday night, fan cooking.
Recently I have become thoroughly and passionately obsessed with a book called The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. It is a rare and exceptional book2. You should go read it3. It was introduced to me by a colleague at the bookstore, who feels just as passionately about this book. It was her initial enthusiasm that made me pick it up, and I was not disappointed.
Now in the book, the main characters eat a lot of something called November Cakes. Though what exactly November Cakes are is never actually explained, the small details of them appear again and again until you don’t even know what it is but oh my gosh you just need one so bad!
“Finn finds my left hand, opens my fingers, and puts a November cake in my palm. It oozes honey and butter, rivulets of the creamy frosting joining the honey in the pit of my hand. It begs to be licked.”
See? How could you not want one of those immediately?
Unfortunately you can’t just go to any bakery and say, “One November Cake, please!” This is not the magical island of Thisby. So my bookstore friend and I decided to try and make them ourselves. On Friday night, we tracked down a recipe created by Stiefvater herself and we endeavored to make November cakes worthy of the Scorpio Races.
They turned out…fine.
Mostly they look like squashed brown cupcakes. Not the sort of food that begs to be licked4.
But we made them. And we ate them. And we had a wonderful time doing so5.
But what struck me most about the evening was that this one little book had inspired the creation of something else. We both feel so passionately about these people and place and food that does not exist that we had to bring this fiction into the realm of our real lives.
And honestly, that’s why I write. With the hope that someday I too will write something that, to quote another book I am obsessed with, “takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows that they might do because of it, because of your words6.”
- While I don’t really take part in any of these things, I love scouring the internet for them.
- OHMYGOSH it is SO GOOD. Not to over hype, but it is SENSATIONAL and will make you FEEL SO MANY THINGS.
- WHY ARE YOU STILL READING THIS!? GO FIND AND DEVOUR IT AT ONCE!
- Though we certainly did do a lot of licking of frosting off fingers and plates.
- We also lit a towel on fire. But that’s a post script to the story, really.
- That’s Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Another good book7.
- OH MY GOSH why why WHY are you still reading this GO BUY THIS ONE TOO WHILE YOU’RE OUT GETTING SCORPIO RACES. GO GO GO NOW!