Alchemical Thoughts

I had a series of posts on my professional blog on my experiences during the Civil Rights Tour that Berea College, where I work now, organized during the summer of 2013. I wanted to put the links here in one place as another way to share those posts with readers. Feel free to click, read, and check them out. Comments are welcome here or there.

At the end of the day, I know a few people on campus read and/or saw the posts. As I noted in one of my posts, we did keep a group journal as well where each member of the group took a turn to write reflections on the experience. The journal notebook is now kept in the library of the Carter G. Woodson Center. I think it can be viewed upon request if you visit (for viewing in their reading room only). However, I am not aware (as of this writing) that any other member of the tour group kept any form of notes, online journal, or blog about the experience. On a side note, we did have a journalist from the town newspaper take the journey with us, and she had said she was writing for a possible article in the local weekly paper, The Berea Citizen. However, after scanning back issues (the paper is not available online), I have not seen any write up (as of this blog post) from the journalist, so I am guessing the editors did not run it given we are in October 2013 by now.

(Crossposted from my personal blog, The Itinerant Librarian)


Here is this week’s collection of stories about reading and the reading life for this week. Basically, these are items related to reading, maybe writing and literacy, that I find interesting and think my four readers might find interesting as well with a little commentary.

  • I am not sure that tossing in a few books a nice looking room can really be called a library. These seem to be more reading rooms. However, at least in one case, there is a lending program arranged with a publisher (Penguin) for some kind of book lending. Does that make it a library? Maybe. I will let readers decide on this story: “Hotels Add Libraries as Amenity to Keep Guests Inside.” In the end, like much anything else, it is about making a little (or a lot more) extra money. Via The New York Times.
  • This article, “Ebooks v. Cigarettes,” asks us an interesting question: how much do we spend on our books and reading? I will admit I have never really sat down to calculate how much I spend on books, though I can say I borrow a lot from libraries (my academic library where I work as well as my local public library). However, I also buy books, especially things I know libraries might not have, like certain graphic novels, erotica, and other more rare things. I think I may have to try to keep track for a while of what I spend on reading to see how I come out. On an additional note, this is the year I have gotten to use my iPad to read, although I pretty much read free items on it; I don’t buy e-books. The e-books I do read I either get as review copies from NetGalley or Edelweiss, or I borrow from my local public library on Overdrive. I will probably write more on that later. I found the story on Salon.
  • Via Kaizen Reading, an article on “9 Reasons to Keep a Reading Journal.” For folks who would like to keep better track of their reading, this may be a good idea. I think it may work for students and researchers as well. I have kept track of most of what I’ve read in my personal journal, and now I supplement that tracking online. But I have done it as part of my personal journal; I don’t have separate reading notebooks, which is something I have considered. I am not sure I am ready to have more than one notebook. I like having my journal where I can write anything in it from notes to quotes to reading notes. For now, that works for me.
  • Via Kaizen Journaling, here is “How to Keep an Effective Travel Journal.” This is certainly something I would like to do better. I do often write in my personal journal when I travel, though I am not always consistent. I also usually include postcards, ticket stubs, and other small mementos of my journeys, which I attach to pages in the journal to go along with my writing; this is something the blogger suggests.
  • This item is a bit older. Via Fine Books and Collections blog, highlights of the 2012 report on most coveted out-of-print books. I did try to see if (link to their report), who does the list, had an update for this year, but apparently not (at least not as of this writing). What can I say? I always find trivia like that interesting, specially given that Madonna’s Sex book has remained at the top of this list for a decade or so, not bad for a book many derided then and try to forget now. I guess sex always sells.

Well, we reached a big 4-0 on this semi-regular series of posts on items about books I want to read. Realistically, yes, I know I may not get to read everything I add to these TBR lists, but as any active reader will tell you, one keeps adding to the list anyhow. So, here are the additions this week.

Items about books I want to read:

Lists and bibliographies:

Today is the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and freedom. The march is very often known for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech that is known now as the “I Have a Dream Speech.” But there were also other things happening and other people involved in the march. Here are then some links that may be of interest:

This time I am catching up with some older items I have saved on my feed reader. As often is the case when I compile these lists, there is a little bit of everything. I still hold on to the hope that I will read some of these down the road, but for the moment, I want to remember by adding them to my list of books I want to read.

Items about books:

  • Via Bending the Bookshelf:
    •  a review of Medusa: a Love Story by Sasha Summers. This book intrigued me due to the premise. As the reviewer writes, “to think of Medusa as not just a sympathetic character, but a genuine love interest, is daring to the point of genius. . . . ” It is still retelling the myth, but it seems done in a new and different way, so I figure it must be worth a look.
    • review of Alice in Fetishland (Amazon link on this one) that brings together urban fantasy and retelling of the classic with fetish, BDSM, and a few other things. In a guest post on the blog, the author discusses the novel a bit more.
    • a while back, the folks at Bending the Bookshelf were waiting for Anything for You: Erotica for Kinky Couples edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel. The book is out by now. I have read and reviewed another work by Ms. Kramer Bussel, so I am willing to take a chance on this one. When it comes to good erotica, she is a very good editor with a good eye for finding the good stuff.
    • this just sounded totally out there. Ok, that is the only reason it is getting on this list. That, and the title.  The review is for Mother’s Shemale Truck Stop Whore. The reviewer writes, “Okay, let’s be honest here – when you are dealing with a book called Mother’s Shemale Truck Stop Whore, [link to Amazon record] you really ought to expect at least a few taboos to be bent (if not broken) and a few lines to be skirted (if not crossed).” On the one hand, I want to giggle, but on the other hand I am just curious enough to consider it.
  • A Case for Suitable Treatment reviews the third omnibus volume of Alice in the Country of Hearts (link to WorldCat record for this omnibus). I need to catch up on this tale, and now that they are putting it in omnibus editions may be a good time to do so.
  • Via Liquor Snob, a short review of The Brewmaster’s Table, which they describe as “a treasure trove of information on beer styles, brands, and ways to pair brew with food.” Though the book came out in 2005, according to the reviewers, it still holds up pretty well.
  • Bookgasm reviews the anthology The Best Horror of the Year, Volume 4 edited by Ellen Datlow. I have to admit that, as of this writing, I have not read much horror lately. I’ve read some other anthologies edited by Datlow, so I am willing to give this a shot.
  • Via Guys Lit Wire:
  • From Library Juice Press, announcement of the book Make Your Own History: Document Feminist and Queer Activism in the 21st Century. It seems to be geared mostly to archivists and such, but I think, from the table of contents, there may be a thing or two that an instruction librarian like me who has a bit of an activist streak may find of interest.
  • Via Drinkhacker, a review of Vintage Cocktails: Retro Recipes for the Home Mixologist. I would not call myself a mixologist, but I do enjoy experimenting with a cocktail recipe here or there. I also enjoy looking through vintage cocktail recipe books when I can. Since I can’t always get my hands on old recipe books, this may be the next best thing for me.

Book lists and bibliographies:


As always, if you find something interesting from this or another post in this series of mine, feel free to comment and let me know.

Welcome to another edition of this semi-regular feature where I make a list of books I would like to read at some point. I come across books I want to read in various places, and I use these posts to make a note of them for future reference. Maybe you will find a reading idea or two as well here. As always, book links go to WorldCat to help you find it in a local library (unless otherwise noted); I figure you can find a place to purchase the books if need be.

Items about books:

Lists and bibliographies:

  • This may be good for some people getting ready to watch the new Superman movie (or for after they watch the movie). Via BuzzFeed, a a list of “12 Superman Stories Everyone Absolutely Needs to Read.” I would not say everyone absolutely has to read every item on the list, but there are one or two good ones. One can also argue that there are items missing. For instance, Superman for All Seasons did not make this list, and it is an excellent work. From the list itself, I have read Superman: Secret Identity and Superman: Red Son. I am intrigued by Superman: Brainiac, which I recently placed on hold at my local public library. There may be one or two others I want to read but not as urgently.
  • Also via BuzzFeed, a list of “60 Comics Everyone Should Read.” Again, it is one of those relatively subjective lists. There are some good things, and there are some not so good things, but the good things can give a reader just getting into comics and graphic novels a nice exposure. There are a few in here that I have read. One interesting thing they do on this list is give you a suggestion of what to read next if you liked a particular title.
  • Book Riot offers a small list of “5 Books on the Business of Books.” That kind of book for a librarian who is also a bibliophile like catnip to a cat.
  • Joshua Kim at Inside Higher Ed offers his “Summer Nonfiction Recommendations.” There are one or two titles on this list that spark my interest.

Here is the question of whether I give books as gifts or not. This is in reply to this prompt on “Gifts” from Booking Through Thursday I saw a while back. For the most part, I do not. The only people I give books as gifts are the Better Half and our daughter.  For my spouse, I know her pretty well as a reader, plus I know her book collection fairly well, so I am fairly comfortable in choosing books for her. For our daughter, while I know her as a reader too, we find it is better to get her a bookstore gift card and let her choose. However, once in a while she will ask for a specific title or genre; for example, art and drawing books are big with her given she is an artist.

As for other folks, I do not give books as gifts. When it comes to family, the vast majority of them are non-readers. Some may read a newspaper or news online here or there, but that is about it. As for friends, the few I have outside librarianship (and the ones who are in librarianship are few too), it is the same thing: they are non-readers. I don’t buy many gifts as it is, but when I do, books or book-related gift cards are usually not an option. In the end, I have a lot of non-readers in my life. Part of me wonders if maybe I need to make new friends. On a serious note, that is why I do a lot of my sharing about books and reading via blogging and social media. There are plenty of readers out there.


April 2014
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