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.
This post comes from a prompt at Booking Through Thursday. The prompt is as follows:
“What book(s) do you find yourself going back to? Beloved children’s classics? Favorites from college? Something that touched you and just makes you long to visit?”
So, what books do I go back to?
I will start with One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. I think I have been through the book four or five times at least, and I never lose my sense of wonder for it. Every other year or so, I just know that it is time to go back to Macondo. For me, this is one of the best books of all time, period. There are so many stories, so much imagery, magic, and history that you can’t catch it all by reading it just once. This is a novel that is truly immersive. By the way, I read this in original Spanish, but for our English language friends, there are good translations available.
Next, I will add Mario Puzo’s The Godfather. This is kind of comfort food for me. While I do like the films, especially the first one, as is often the case the book is better than the film. In addition, the film leaves out quite a few things from the novel. I don’t reread this as often, but when I get in the mood, I go spend some time with the Corleones and their family values.
Around Halloween, I return to Gotham City with the graphic novel Batman: The Long Halloween. The first time I read it was during the month of October. Though it can be read any time of the year, the ambiance and the story just seem like a good fit for October and Halloween. In this story, Batman has to deal with Holiday, a killer who commits murders during holidays, starting on Halloween.
A nonfiction book I return to is A Passion for Books. I very much enjoy reading books on books, reading, the book trade, and bibliophilia. This particular book is a collection of quotes, essays, vignettes, and other short pieces on books, reading, and collecting. When I want something for comfort, something light, on a topic I enjoy, I reach for this book. I have read it cover to cover, but now I usually browse and pick out favorite pieces to reread here and there.
There are a few others that I have read that I would like to reread. However, life and new books usually keep me from those other books I would like to read again. Maybe if I do get to them, I could share them in a future post. Overall, the books I’ve listed now are the ones I always return to at some point.
Welcome once again to this semi-regular feature here on Alchemical Thoughts. This time, I got a good number of reviews from City Book Reviews. They don’t always have stuff I am interested in, but when they do, it’s like hitting a jackpot for me as a reader. As always, comments are open, so if you read anything mentioned here, feel free to comment and let me know. Also, reading suggestions are always welcome.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion (link to first omnibus) is one of those series I keep meaning to read. Apparently, new omnibus editions are coming out, and this may be the excuse I need to start. A Case for Suitable Treatment recently reviewed the omnibus with volumes 7-9.
- George Mann has edited yet another collection of Sherlock Holmes tales (i.e. written by people not Conan Doyle). Knowing me, I will probably go looking for it; I like Holmes too much not to take a chance at least. The book is Encounters of Sherlock Holmes: Brand-new Tales of the Great Detective. It was reviewed here at City Book Review.
- It’s Neil Gaiman. That is usually good enough reason for me to take a look. However, these are stories selected by him, but I think I would still take a chance. The book is Unnatural Creatures: Stories Selected by Neil Gaiman. It was also reviewed at City Book Review.
- Another one reviewed at City Book Review. This is on a serious topic, food security and hunger in the U.S. The book is a companion to the documentary of the same title. Sadly I had to say that there was a screening of the documentary here in town, but I missed it because I was out of town at the time, so hoping to read the book (and maybe order the documentary and book for our library later). The book is A Place at the Table by Peter Pringle.
- Via Lambda Literary, interview with Luis Negron, author of the short story anthology Mundo Cruel. They write that “Luis Negrón’s striking debut short story collection, Mundo Cruel (Seven Stories Press [this link to their review of the book]), mines the emotional lives of ‘a small community in Puerto Rico joined together by its transgressive sexuality.’”
- Via City Book Review, this sounds like a book more people in the U.S. need to read now. Contrary to the milquetoast review of “some people believe this, others that,” let’s face facts. The U.S. was not founded as a Christian nation no matter how much the Right Wingers and fundamentalists wish it to be so. This book addresses that. The book is In Freedom We Trust: An Atheist’s Guide to Religious Liberty.
- I used to be pretty good at drawing in my younger days. I have not done it in a while. Maybe this book will help me try it out again. Reviewed at City Book Review, the book is Just Draw It! The Dynamic Drawing Course for Anyone with a Pencil & Paper.
- This time I am getting a good number of book reviews from City Book Review. Here are two comic book compilations of classics. First, a review of Tarzan Archives: The Russ Manning Years, Vol. 1 (Link to publisher. For some reason, I could not find it in WorldCat. Wait, I did find it, but apparently a few librarians gave it a whole different title in cataloging it. Accurate? Probably. Searchable? Not so much. Anyhow, link to WorldCat now). Next, a review of Flash Gordon: The Tyrant of Mongo: The Complete Flash Gordon Library 1937-1941.
- Via Blogging for a Good Book, they review Mark Kurlansky’s The Food of a Younger Land. This book seems awfully similar to America Eats!, which I read. So I may or not pick it up and compare.
- This book has trivia, something I like. Also, it may remind us of those things our parents or other elders told us when we were young. So, let’s take a trip down memory lane and see how much truth our parents imparted or not in Because I Said So! the Truth Behind the Myths, Tales and Warnings Every Generation Passes Down to Its Kids. Reviewed at City Book Review here.
Lists and bibliographies:
- The 2013 Independent Book Awards have been announced. They have a lot of categories, and this year they totaled 382 medals. Worth a look. Odds are good you can find something to read from this big list.
- Want some science fiction and fantasy? The 2012 Nebulas have been announced. The announcement includes winners and nominees.
- Via the blog Papeles Perdidos, a list of “Once novelas para descubrir el corazón del mundo” (11 novels to discover the heart of the world). Article is in Spanish. A few of the titles are basically translations of international works into Spanish, which may be useful for Spanish readers.
- Not quite sure what to make of this news item, but since I am curious reader, who knows. I may seek some of this out down the road. BetaBeat (being a bit alarmist if you ask me) reports on Luna Loupe, an author on Amazon who writes erotica a bit off the beaten path. Basically mermaids, tentacles, etc. I don’t think it is that big a deal, but then again, being a bit alarmist does get the eyeballs to a website I suppose. Anyhow, the story does include links if interested. Here is her Amazon page.
- A few authors and scholars come together to give their lists of “5 Arabic Books to Read Before You Die.” Via Arabic Literature (in English).
- Bobbie Newman, at Librarian By Day, has a list of “Recommended Reading for New and Not-So-New Librarians.” From the list, I do recommend Sutton’s Book, The No Asshole Rule (link to my review) though maybe not for the reasons she suggests. That is a book every library manager does need to read, but also every librarian so they know when to leave Dodge City.
These few additional thoughts on being a reader were prompted by a blog post at Booking Through Thursday on the topic of “Being a reader.” I have to say that I cannot imagine not being a reader. Since the days when my mother placed my first books in my hands, I’ve been reading. I cannot imagine any life without reading, nor can I imagine a house without books (even if they can be a pain to move).
The curious thing, if you can call it that, is that not many people in my life read, and that does include librarians in and out of my workplace. Contrary to popular belief, not all librarians read, or, I should say, they do not read more than the absolute minimum required by their jobs–memos, an article now and then, a paper on occasion. I’ve written on that before, as I think it diminishes our profession when librarians admit, some with pride, that they do not read. But that’s them. I read because I enjoy it. I read because I am curious, inquisitive, and I enjoy learning. I often get many solutions to problems from reading books. In addition, I get pleasure and entertainment from reading. So I make it a point to always have a book or two nearby.
As for my relationship with others, it depends on who it is. For the most part, my family, with one or two exceptions, are not readers. They know that I read a lot, and some may acknowledge I am a bit more knowledgeable about a few things because of my reading, but we really don’t talk about my reading or about books. I can talk books with a friend or two and with a librarian or two now and then. However, I will admit that most of my book talking and discussion happens online via my blogs or my social sites online. There are a lot of people online who read books and enjoy sharing their reading experiences. I enjoy meeting them, even if many have different reading tastes than me. It’s interesting to me learning what others like to read. Granted, sometimes I do wonder about some reading choices people make, but as a librarian, I try to abide by the old laws of every book its reader and every reader its book. Besides, who knows what they think about some of the things I read.
Via The Daily Beast, we get a question on why people buy cookbooks. In an age when you can access all sorts of recipes online, and you can do so with an iPad or some other tablet computer, why buy a cookbook in print? Naturally, that question goes back to why buy any print books at all, but let us focus on cookbooks at the moment.
The author of the article provides some explanations such as cookbooks being objects of art and for some people the cookbooks are status symbols. But she goes on to make the argument that culture of cooking from cookbooks and recipes is moving online. To her, very often, cookbooks are given as gifts. Let me then look at why we buy cookbooks.
At home, The Better Half is a cookbook collector. We don’t really buy big, sumptuous, oversized cookbooks. We do buy a variety of cookbooks from practical ones to a few on various ethnic cuisines. I will add that I do collect, in a small capacity, some cocktail recipe books. Anyhow, part of the reason we get them is aspirational: we hope to make some recipes from the books. The Better Half and I do make some recipes out of them though probably not as many as we could in order to get the full potential. She particularly enjoys buying small and local cookbooks, the ones put together by local groups, churches, or community organizations. You probably won’t see those on Amazon or the bookstores, but they are part of her collection. Cookbooks are one of the areas she enjoys collecting and reading. Plus it makes me happy to make her happy when I can add another one to her collection. And while we do go online, we cook out of books when making a recipe. Having a laptop in the kitchen is not really an option for us, and we are not into tablets at this point in time. So, at least in our household, we still buy cookbooks.
Besides, cookbooks do not require power, a battery, an Internet connection, and unlike e-books, we actually own then and can do with them as we wish.
This post was prompted by this blog post at Booking Through Thursday. I should note that I wrote this before I heard the news that GoodReads was selling out to Amazon, so I will probably have more to say on that topic later on.
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I keep lists of books I want to read in a few places. I have a large folder of clippings and handwritten lists. I started it as a reader’s advisory tool, and I still review it and add items to it now and then. In addition, now and then I jot down titles in the personal journal or in my small pocket notebook (one I carry to use for when I can’t get my hands on my personal journal). Those then I move to the folder, or I put them in GoodReads.
Once I discovered GoodReads, it became a great tool for me. I use it quite a bit to track books I want to read. I also use it to keep a record of books I have read. I even went back through old journals to find notes on books I’ve read and added them to GoodReads as well. I still make notes on books I’ve read in my personal journal, but this has always been for books I really want to remember. Now with GoodReads, I record every book I read, then I expand any brief review I think is worth noting into a larger review and note for one of my blogs or for my personal journal.
Finally, I keep another running tally of books I want to read here in Alchemical Thoughts. I basically make the lists from reviews that come in on my RSS feeds. I do include links to the reviews on the blog posts here.
Now, this may seem fragmented, but it gives me different places to browse for ideas when I need to find the next book to read.
A little bit of everything this time around. There are some newer items and some things I am now catching up.
Items about books:
- The Good Vibes blog features a review of Rachel Kramer Bussel’s anthology Best Bondage Erotica 2012. The review mentions that “a wide variety of bondage styles are showcased, from heavy chains to characters who can be silenced with only a stern gaze. All genders and sexualities are represented, leaving the collection feeling diverse but still focused on erotic bondage.” By the way, the 2013 edition of the book is also out.
- Another erotica anthology. This one is Say Please, which is a collection of lesbian BDSM erotica. It is edited by Sinclair Smith, and it is reviewed in Kissin Blue Kraken (warning: this blog is an adult content blog, so may be NSFW).
- Via Yes! Magazine, a review of Hillbilly Nationalists, Urban Race Rebels and Black Power.
- Lambda Literary reviews a new history of the gay press. The book is Gay Press, Gay Power: The Growth of LGBT Community Papers in America edited by Tracy Baim. It is one of those books someone publishes on Amazon, so it may be a while before I see it, or the book makes it out into mainstream so to speak. But it does sound interesting.
- This is a manga series I was not sure whether to pick up or not. To be honest, the whole librarian suddenly becomes some hero or heroine genre seems cheesy (and I don’t mean that in a good way). In fact, I find that stupid The Librarian series of television movies annoying and dumb, like a very poor librarian’s Indiana Jones wannabe, in spite of the fact a lot of my professional brethren somehow like it. Go figure. Anyhow, this manga seems like it might be entertaining to read. The Manga Critic is reviewing volume 9 of Library Wars (link to volume 1). Sounds like I need to catch up. It’s a series with “slight goofy premise of librarians becoming a paramilitary force to fight censorship.” Now that sounds better.
- A Case for Suitable Treatment has a review of Battle Angel Alita: Last Order, Omnibus 1.
- A discussion of the novel Magic Words and the topic of Jews in the American Wild West at The Prosen People. Here is a bit more on the novel’s author’s work.
- A different idea: taking Medusa the gorgon and making a sympathetic love story out of her tale. That is what Sasha Summers did in her book Medusa: A Love Story. The book is reviewed at Bending the Bookshelf.
- A YA steampunk fantasy novel reviewed at Ninja Librarian. The book is Innocent Darkness. I have mentioned before that I am not a big YA reader, but once in a while I am willing to take a chance.
- Via Bending the Book Shelf, a review of Adventures in Fetishland, which is a BDSM retelling of the Wonderland tale. I do find some retellings or expansions on Wonderland of interest, so we shall see on this one. It is an e-book, so again, not something I may get to right away. The book’s author describes the book’s inspiration sources here.
- And speaking of Alice in Wonderland retellings, here is Alice in the Country of Hearts (Link to first volume in the series). The third omnibus edition is reviewed at A Case for Suitable Treatment.
- The Liquor Snob reviews The Brewmaster’s Table, a book about pairing beer and food. When it comes to liquor and food pairings, most people think wine, so this book may be a way to expand horizons.
Bibliographies and lists:
- The United States Naval Academy’s “Reading List for Life.” A few of them like Ayn Rand’s works (at least one of the professors gushes about how wonderful the book is), which may go to prove that just because they may be military folks does not mean they have good reading taste let alone good critical sense when it comes to books. Still, the list is worth a look.
- The Slog provides some brief reviews of three comic and graphic novels. From the list, I already read My Friend Dahmer, which I do recommend.
- Via the blog Write to Done, a list of “Top 10 Books for Writers You Need to Read Now.”
- In her July 2012 list of books read, the Dirty Librarian has some items of interest.