If you’re like us, you’ve probably wondered what famous people add to their carts. Not the JAR brooch and Louis XV chair, but the hand sanitizer and the electric toothbrush. We asked Lauren Groff, author of Fates and Furies and the new short-story collection Florida, about the colored pens, dark-chocolate peanut-butter cups, and cowboy boots she can’t live without.
I’m almost embarrassed by how much I love the Very Short Introductions Series by Oxford University Press. They’re tiny books, each on a single subject, but written by knowledgeable experts in their fields. If I happen to wake up one day and find myself interested in, say, the Devil, or decadence, or ageing, I can read one of these books in an afternoon and feel as though I have a foothold in the subject.
I keep a vat of coconut oil next to the shower and use it on my skin and hair. It’s cheap, effective, smells amazing, and once I even tried to use it for oil-pulling, where you chew it until your teeth are shiny as buttons and your breath smells like heaven, but I felt nauseated for days afterward. Now it’s topical use only.
Every French politician who has ever been named Le Pen is putrid, but the Japanese writing utensil Marvy Uchida Le Pen pens are my favorites. On early drafts, I use the light-gray color, but with each subsequent draft, I try something different, if I’m trying to hit an emotion or atmosphere that corresponds with, say, forest green or burgundy or navy blue. And with very late drafts, I assign each kind of edit to a different color — orange for atmosphere, purple for crossing out excess words, light green for dialogue, etc. — which helps me to keep my ideas separate but legible.
When I first moved to Florida, I heard a probably apocryphal horror story about a woman who never wore sunglasses and got cataracts from the blazing sunlight, and she was only 25, so I have almost never stepped outdoors, even on rainy days, without wearing a pair of these. I like them polarized. I keep losing them, then finding them half-chewed by the dog, or bent out of shape by someone’s foot, or scratched up at the bottom of my tote bag, so I cycle between about four pairs of the same sad, battered Ray-Bans.
I have such an intense sensitivity to certain cheap perfumes that I once sat next to a woman on a plane who was wearing so much of the junk (damn her) that the second time the flight attendant went by, she screamed because in the interim my face had swollen up and turned red. When I find a scent that I can wear without it killing me, it’s a joy. I travel so much that I need a rollerball, and love Clean Cashmere because it’s nice and light.
I hate cowboy machismo, but, man, do I love cowboy boots. I bought a pair of these Old Gringos back in 2006 to celebrate getting a fellowship, and love them so much that I’ve had them resoled twice.
Some writers pray in the morning before they work, or they meditate, or they light a candle. I like to read a poem. I’ve had this book since my friend Lisa gave it to me in the seventh grade, and it’s the book I read from the most. Emily D. is the brightest star of all my saints.
Muji Recycled Paper Kraft Sketch Book 4Fs are perfect. The paper is thick and high-quality and the pages are giant so that when you’re on a roll, you don’t have to stop to turn to a blank sheet. If you write small enough, one draft page in these suckers can translate to about ten Word-document pages in Times New Roman 11-point font. You can also tie the notebooks shut with the little ribbons so that nosy people who have fat, clumsy little fingers can’t read what you’ve written.
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