Shelf Life: Evan Tatro

25-year-old Evan Tatro believes in a quote said by comic book legend Stan Lee…

For Evan, his first comic books came courtesy of his family’s trips to the grocery store.

“My mom would sometimes go to the grocery store and come back with one or two issues.

“I remember they tended not to have complete stories which sucked, but there was one time where I got nine Wolverine issues in a row.”

Since then, Evan has collected issue after issue, trade after trade, expanding his comic book collection to the point that most it is currently in storage.

What resides on his shelf now are mostly trades.

For those not familiar, single issues of comics contain one story that is part of an overall story arc, whereas trades either house a larger part of a story arc (four or five single issues) or the story arc in its entirety.

“A lot of trades end with ‘To be continued…”

As for trades, Evan has collected several of the Spider-Man variety over the years.

“The first comic I got of the Ultimate Spider-Man collection was the free hand-out at the Toby McGuire Spider-Man movie.

“Then I got a free hand-out at the Calgary Comic Expo, and from there I started collecting them.

As for the timeline of Spider-Man:

“First there was Ultimate Spider-Man which featured Peter [Parker] and his adventures from age 13.

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Evan shows off three of his Spider-Man trades while also discussing the history behind the web slinger.

“Then, after [spoiler] happens to Peter, the comics introduced Miles Morales, which had the title Ultimate Comics Spider-Man.

“Then it turned into Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man, and now it’s just Spider-Man.

“I like Spider-Man because you get to see the character grow, unlike most comic book characters who are solidified in the ages they are introduced in.”

Another series that Evan has fond memories of also came to from his mom’s grocery store trips.

These comics are Archie.

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Evan shows off his trade copy of Afterlife with Archie, which saw the town of Riverdale trying to survive after Sabrina the Teenage Witch turns Jughead’s dog, Hotdog, into a zombie.

“I feel that for someone who wants a barebones introduction to comic books, Archie is always a good place to start.

“I read a lot of Archie as a kid.

“The only thing that has every bugged me about that series was the copout of who he stuck with [Betty or Veronica].

“But Archie was always that type of flimsy story, he always existed in that fixed point in time, and because of that he never changed.”

Evan also believes that if someone is looking to get into comics, there interests are generally represented in one comic or another.

“If someone is interested in the recent Star Wars movies for example, they have comic for that.”

In the end, Evan believes there is a grey area when it comes to the shelf life of comics.

“Comics are interesting because they can have long convoluted backstories and still be able to start fresh with the passing of the torch from one hero to the next.

“Miles Morales’ Spider-Man was a character that was updated for the times.

“I guess that’s a way that comics can avoid a shelf life.

“It kind of makes them timeless.”

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Just a small selection of the variety of trades Evan has in his collection.

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Shelf Life: Amy Larsen

For 25-year-old Amy Larsen of Airdrie, collecting books is just something she’s always done.

“I’ve been reading for a really long time, longer than I can remember, and with that came collecting.”

“My shelfs are organized alphabetically by authors last name.

“Then I go further by organizing them by ‘Read’ and ‘Non-read’ categories.

“Unfortunately, there are a lot of ‘non-read,’ it’s about 50/50 right now.

“It’s okay though, books, unless they are at the library I work at, don’t tend to have a shelf life.”

Genres that make up the shelves, whether they are read or not, mostly include YA, fantasy, and romance.

Though, upon closer inspection one shelf is entirely devoted to one particular book series.

“My Harry Potter series, it’s basically just me.”

“I don’t know who I would be now without Harry Potter, I can’t even express it.

“I read before Harry Potter, but I don’t know if I would be as big of a reader now if it hadn’t been for that series.”

Another book that holds sentimental value for Amy is a book of poetry that almost every person has read at some point in their lives.

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Amy holding her battered copy of Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends.

“[Where the Sidewalk Ends] is an old book that sits on my shelf, it has no cover anymore, but I still have fond memories of it.

“This was a birthday gift I got from my Aunt and Uncle and I just remember so many of these poems.

“It’s so worn in that it is almost like a baby blanket.

“It has always been there.”

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Amy received ‘Where the Sidewalk Ends’ as a birthday gift from her Aunt Susan and Uncle Scott.

While Amy’s copy of Where the Sidewalk Ends is worn in with age, the books she picks up nowadays come from the way she shops.

“I definitely judge a book by its cover.

“I can stare at a whole shelf of books and if it peaks my interest, it tends to have a pretty cover.

“I don’t tend to look at reviews before buying books.”

One book she did read reviews on before buying was Smoke by Dan Vyleta, but it didn’t match up to her expectations.

“It was too political for me.”

“It had really great reviews though, and it referenced Phillip Pullman, author of the His Dark Material series, and Aldous Huxley, author of Brave New World, so I said sure to buying it.

“I didn’t like it at all, reviewing doesn’t always work out.”

And yet, for someone who doesn’t much care for political fiction, one of Amy’s favourite series is the quasi-political/religious ‘Robert Langdon’ books by Dan Brown.

One that comes instantly to mind for Amy is Brown’s 2009 The Lost Symbol.

Besides being a fast-paced thriller, Amy also considers a quote in this book to be one of her favourites.

As for what it is…

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One of Amy’s favourite quotes, from Chapter 131 of Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol.

 

Shelf Life: Alisha Lester-Vanderheide

Alisha Lester-Vanderheide, a 19-year-old history major from Calgary, explains her bookshelves gleefully as a “cabinet of curiosities.”

“I like when my books look like a giant game of Tetris, it makes the shelves look more visually interesting.

“My shelf use to be organized alphabetically by authors last name, but when I started to accumulate more books I have since run out of space.”

And the reason she has run out of space?

“I don’t like getting rid of books.

“They are little blocks of paper, literally, that you can keep and they don’t go bad and like you can read them and find something new in a book.

“Besides, collecting books is like the most sane form of hoarding, you are seen as literate and astute.”

A reader from a young age, Alisha began her reading career with books from Robert Munch and Dr. Seuss, but one book that sticks out is The Not So Witchy Witch by Anne Rock Munger.

“It’s literally a book about a young witch that doesn’t fit into her family because she’s too pretty.

“Then she gets a black eye from a broom accident and gets accepted into the witch society.

“It’s a weird premise, I know.”

Since then, she has forayed into a lover of genres that has included YA, non-fiction, and the classics.

One such classic, that also hosts her favourite literary quote, is J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan.

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Alisha reads the passage of J.M. Barrie’s classic Peter Pan. The passage, from chapter 3 “Come Away, Come Away!,” contains one of her favourite literary quotes.

“Besides the part where Wendy is talking about being an old spinster, because well life goals, my favourite quote from Peter Pan is from chapter 3 ‘Come Away, Come Away!'”

As for what it is…

Another classic that sweeps Alisha off her feet is Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Full disclosure, Alisha has never read the classic in its entirety, but the copy she owns still holds sentimental value.

“It is one of the prettiest books I own, but I also love it because I purchased it at the Shakespeare and Company bookstore in Paris.”

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Alisha holds up her Penguin Classic Deluxe Edition of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Nestled near the sprawling Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris, lies a quaint little Anglo-American bookshop named ‘Shakespeare and Company.’

Although not the original Shakespeare and Company bookstore – Sylvia Beach opened the original Shakespeare and Co. in 1919, hosted a wide array of authors including Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce, and was closed in 1941 by the Nazi occupation of France – Shakespeare and Company still topped Alisha’s list of places to visit when she travelled to France in 2015.

“Plus, it comes with the official seal of the bookstore, so that makes it even more special.”

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Every book purchased at Shakespeare and Company in Paris can be stamped with the logo of the shop.

As a second-year History major, Alisha’s taste in books has become more refined with the areas in which she has chosen to devote her career life to.

This why Alisha would also chose, if she ever became an author, to write about people in a non-fiction type setting.

“If I was to ever publish a book it would be non-fiction.

“I’m not really good at creating characters, so, I would write a book about Anne Boleyn or Mary Queen of Scots or serial killers, basically take a university paper and expand on it.”

Because of school, Alisha doesn’t typically have free time to read anything that is not required reading.

But she isn’t sweating it.

“Books just don’t go bad, they don’t have a shelf life.”

As for why Alisha thinks the shelf life of a book doesn’t come with an expiration date?

“Reading helps you get into the minds of people, and you’re like dissecting thoughts and ideas that you may not have thought of.

“Reading is the closest thing to dissection you can get to without a medical degree.”

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Shelf Life

When one thinks of a ‘Shelf Life’ one thinks of the time frame in which a product can be kept until it becomes useless to the consumer.

It is then, as Alanis Morissette said in her 1995 pop hit, ‘Ironic,’ that I’m going to use it as the title of my series exploring people bookshelves.

Unless you are a book hoarder, like myself, the books you chose to keep on your shelf, coffee table, or night stand, hold a significant enough value to keep you holding on to them well past their ‘expiration date.’

Thinking of this brings up so many questions.

What makes a book live past its shelf life? Why do people feel the need to fill the crevices of their lives with hardcovers and paperbacks? Pages after pages of other peoples imaginations?

Is it because readers enjoy the ability to escape into the pages of a book? Is it because books allow for the ability to stretch readers imaginations? Is it to reduce stress or for entertainment purposes?

Or is it because, somewhere deep down inside, a reader knows books offer an almost certainty of never expiring?

So grab a cup of something warm, snuggle in your favourite reading spot, and get ready to explore the ‘Shelf Life’ of a book.