Happy birthday to the original Pawnee goddess, comedic genius, and brilliant woman behind Parks and Recreation‘s Leslie Knope: the one and only Amy Poehler. To celebrate the occasion and pay tribute to the show that’s gotten me through quarantine, I thought I’d put together ‘Leslie Knope’s Bookish Quarantine Survival Guide.’ Let’s face it: we’ve seen what Ben devolves into when he doesn’t have work to do (Cones of Dunshire, anyone?). To prevent herself from meeting the same fate, these are the books that would help Leslie make the most of her time in quarantine.
First and foremost, all the time at home would finally let Leslie finish her sequel to the next Great American Novel—otherwise known as Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America. From her comprehensive overview of the town’s ridiculous history (like the ongoing raccoon problem), compilation of hometown heroes, and extensive coverage of everything having to do with local government, this book has it all. It’s the gem of the town that’s ‘more exciting than New York, more glamorous than Hollywood, and roughly the same size as Bismarck, North Dakota.’ Ben would be on standby to prevent Leslie from sprinting out the door to drive to Ann’s house after finishing the final sentence. Leslie’s excitement would likely be blinding enough to make quarantine a distant memory. Plus, she always wants to see Ann.
With the sad reality settling in that she indeed can’t see Ann for the time being, Leslie would get to work on a new set of scrapbooks that she could mail to Ann in her place. After scrapbook #8 covers the remaining surface area of their dining table, Ben might carefully suggest that Leslie try something new. Leslie would thank Ben for his genius and pick up How to Scrapbook by Joy Aitman and Sarah McKenna. It’s undeniable that Leslie’s already a bit of a scrapbook whiz. However, she’d always be open to different formats. She’d begin work on scrapbook #9, which would entirely be about the new scrapbooking techniques she’s learning. And of course, Leslie wouldn’t forget the arbitrary section on Ann. That’s where the new silhouetting strategies would come in.
After nearly a day’s worth of intensive scrapbooking efforts, Leslie would be ready for a feast’s worth of food (or Ben would pause his Cones of Dunshire Zoom party to remind her). Her heart would ache with the realization that JJ’s has been closed for weeks. She’d make a mental note to start thinking of fundraising techniques if it begins to even remotely look like JJ’s is in trouble. Ben’s leftover calzone wouldn’t even come close to being a satisfying substitution for her waffle cravings. So, Leslie would take the challenge on for herself under the guidance of Will it Waffle?: 53 Irresistible Recipes and Unexpected Recipes to Make in a Waffle Iron. Even though there are recipes for every meal of the day, Lexi would be focused on one category: desserts. Her sugar levels would be at an all-time low thanks to the shortage of NutriYum bars in the house. Thankfully, the ‘Waffled Chocolate Chip Cookie,’ ‘Wapple Pie (Waffled Apple Pie),’ and ‘S’moreffles (Waffled S’mores)’ would more than solve the problem.
Not one for idle time, Leslie’s next project would be figuring out what great initiative she can take on next as the head of the Midwest Branch of the National Park Service. She’d take out her trusty copy of the National Geographic Guide to National Parks of the United States, 8th Edition for inspiration from other branches around the country. Her copious notes would detail everything from improved visitor centers, expanded park maintenance, and ideas to pass along to Ron for the rangers at Pawnee National Park. Leslie would also be thinking long term. For the last year, the staple book on her bedside table has been Represent: The Woman’s Guide to Running for Office and Changing the World by June Diane Raphael and Kate Black. She has a few important offices in sight, and a definitive 2048 plan to accomplish.
Finally, Leslie would make one exception for pleasure reading: Michelle Obama’s Becoming. Leslie’s new position in the federal government, in addition to Ben’s strings in Washington, allowed her to get her hands on a first edition, personally inscribed copy when the book came out in 2018. She made quite impression on the former First Lady during their brief, high-five worthy meeting in Washington. At first, Leslie refused to take the book out of the protective glass case she made for it in fear of even the smallest threat to the pristine pages. However, she soon got her hands on some protective gear (think rubber gloves to prevent oily fingers, mask to prevent breathing particles, and so on) and proceeded to read the memoir, cover to cover, twelve times. Quarantine would feel like the right moment for number thirteen. Leslie would once again carefully turn the pages and embrace the words of the remarkable woman who helped convince her to take her new job—and who told her that ‘change happens one person at a time.’
Feature image via PopGurls and NBC