Welcome to another list of items about books I would like to read some day. So many books, so little time. But I will fight the good fight, and I will read as many as I can.
Items about books I want to read:
- Via Mark Lindner’s habitually probing generalist, this looks quite interesting. I am always interested in the possibilities of graphic novels to tell tales other than the usual superheroes on tights (nothing wrong with those. I like those too) and to educate. Mark recently read My Degeneration: a journey through Parkinson’s. Apparently the book is part of a whole medical graphic novel series, and Mark even conveniently found a list of others in the series out of WorldCat.
- Sean Gaffney recommends a new (to me at least) manga series, which now has an omnibus edition of the first two volumes. The series is Franken Fran.
- Another manga recommendation. This time via Experiments in Manga for Die Wergelder.
- The next book interests me not only because I am a Latino in higher education, but it also interests me given me newly assigned role of Coordinator of Latino Services at my workplace (yea, I know that work title can mean a few things, and I think at the moment the powers that be left it vague on purpose, but I digress). At any rate, I probably also need to order the book for our library. The book is Ensuring the Success of Latino Males in Higher Education, and I heard of it from a Q&A with the editor of the book over at Shelf Life @ Texas blog.
- Here is one to go with my fascination with alcoholic spirits and their history. Drinkhacker reviews the book The Manhattan Cocktail, a recipe and history book about that (allegedly) simple cocktail of whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters.
- Usagi Yojimbo is one of those titles that I have always wanted to read. Wink Books reviews a collected special edition volume.
- Wink Books also reviews a book on a topic that is certain to all of us: death. The book is Death and the Afterlife: A Chronological Journey, from Cremation to Quantum Resurrection.
- This next book reminded me of the episodes of Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares that he did with ex-pats in places like Spain and France. The book is More Ketchup Than Salsa, and it was reviewed by Based on a True Story.
- Here is one that sounds odd yet fascinating. Marion Nestle of Food Politics was reading the book Ingredients: a Visual Exploration of 75 Additives and 25 Food Products.
- Here is something that falls under curious and unusual a bit. It’s a historical look at African American cookbooks and the stereotypes they reinforced. I wonder if this would be something to order for my library. The book is The Jemima Code: Two Centuries of African American Cookbooks. The review comes from Wink Books.
- And another one that can fall under curious and unusual, a look at the art of American fraternal societies like the Freemasons, Knights of Pythias, Odd Fellows, etc. The review is at Wink Books, and the book is As Above, So Below: Art of the American Fraternal Society, 1850-1930.
- The 2016 election in the United States will likely be remembered as one of the worst in the U.S. in terms of lousy candidates. As George Carlin said, “garbage in, garbage out” (you can read the full quote and some others of his here). The Republicans are pretty much hopeless, but the Democrats are not far behind, the party whose platform boils down “we are no good, but at least we are not as bad as the other guys.” How did the party that stood for the working people and civil rights and basic dignity become yet another corporate for the elites party? How did the Democrats basically become Republican-lite? You can read the book Listen, Liberal, or What Ever Happened to the Party of the People? and find out what happened. You can read an adapted extract of the book here at In These Times.
- John Perkins has updated his book, so now you can read New Confessions of an Economic Hit man. This has been one I have been wanting to read for a while. You can read about the update and about the author in this article from Yes! Magazine.
- A book about saving precious Arabic manuscripts from Al Qaeda sounds interesting. The book is The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu: And Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts, and it was one of the books that Based on a True Story added to her March TBR list.
- Curtis Wilkie, author of Assassins, Eccentrics, Politicians, and Other Persons of Interest, is a reporter who has seen a lot covering 8 presidential elections in the US plus covering stories around the world. He is one to know what Donald Trump is worse than George Wallace, as he states in this piece in Esquire. The piece also mentions the book The Boys on the Bus, which features Wilkie and is about reporters covering the 1972 election.
Lists and bibliographies:
- Book Riot offers a list of “5 Irreverent Self-Help Books.” These could fit in on the self-help books challenge I am doing in 2016.
- Signature has an article featuring “4 Books to Help You Understand America’s Opiate Epidemic.“
I tend to read list articles like this one, “16 Everyday Things You Shouldn’t Be Paying For“, with a big grain of salt. Once in a while, they will have some good tips. However, more often than not they reek of either privilege or say things that are less than bright and/or practical. This one caught my eye a while back because of some of the assumptions it makes. So, let’s look at some of the items on their list.
- The one on wifi outside of the home is fairly spot on. If you must, you are likely to be able to jump on a free wifi spot, as long as you have a device, and you understand that public wifi is usually not secure. In other words, do not do things like your banking online on a public spot. As for internet in the home, yea, you pretty much still have to pay for it because expecting to mooch off a neighbor should not really be an option.
- Condiments and napkins. Really, the advice is to just go to restaurants, etc, and just help yourself to the condiments and napkins? The part that cracked me up was this one: “Even more expensive commodities like sugar, jams, and honey can be found if you’re looking hard enough — like those packets and individual jars that are common at the resorts and hotels that you may visit on vacation.” So, how much did you spend on that vacation so you could get the jams and honey? I thought part of the point of this piece was to be frugal. If you are staying at some resort where they hand out little jars of jelly, you are probably not being as frugal as you could be. And what happens if I need jelly now? Do I need to book a vacation so I can get some?
- The books thing is pretty spot on. Use your local public library as much as possible. You will not get argument about that from this librarian.
- Computer software? That can vary in quality. But one thing that I would point out is that things like Google Drive you have to be able to access online. Have a few days of bad Internet (hell, we had a full month of barely functioning Internet at our workplace recently, and all hell broke loose since the powers that be said, “don’t worry, it’s all in the cloud. . . “, and no one could get to the damn cloud, but that is another story), and you can kiss your productivity good bye. I am not saying you can’t go generic on some stuff like MS Office, but if it is Internet dependent, and your connection is less than stellar, well, is it worth it?
- Which leads me to the one about cable. Yea, cutting the cord is becoming the trendy thing to do. Thing is in order to do so that you can use a streaming service you need a good internet connection. Guess who for the most part has a monopoly on that fast internet connection so you can Netflix and chill? Yep, your cable conglomerate. So you are not really cutting the cable unless you want to go back to dial-up. It does amuse me when I ask folks who say they cut the cable where do they get their entertainment from, and they say the internet (that they pay the cable company for). Can you save some bucks? Maybe, maybe not. Depends really on your situation. Also, not everything is on Netflix, and no, not all television shows get put up on the net for free for you to stream.
- I love the idea of free museum days. Just one problem: they are often on weekdays when most of us have to work for a living. And no, taking a day off is not always an option.
As I said, articles like that really need to be taken with a grain of salt, a big grain of salt.
Here is the list with links of books I reviewed at The Itinerant Librarian for the month of April 2016. If you missed any or you are curious, feel free to click and check them out. Comments are always welcome.
- I discovered a new to me series with Ghost Fleet, Volume 1. I already got volume 2, and I will be reading it and reviewing it soon as well.
- I learned a bit about the production politics of tequila and mezcal in Divided Spirits.
- I also read some essays and learned a bit about cocktails and their lore with Cocteles con historia.
- Read Harlan Ellison’s classic Night and the Enemy.
- I continue to enjoy the spy series featuring Dick Grayson in Grayson, Volume 2. NetGalley is making the third volume available. If I get approval, I will read and review it soon as well.
- I also continue to enjoy the run of New Suicide Squad. This month, I read the second volume in the series.
- And one more DC Comics title I read and reviewed this month was Martian Manhunter, Volume 1.
- I had a bit of fun learning about things you can and not do with duct tape with The Jumbo Duct Tape Book. Plus I learned some trivia. For instance, what is the deal with saying Duck Tape or Duct Tape? One is the general name, the other is a brand name that has become ubiquitous. Read the book to learn more.
- Did a bit of spiritual reading with The Tibetan Art of Positive Thinking.
It feels like I fell off the Earth a bit in doing these as the last month has been a bit chaotic. This week covers the last week of April 2016, and for me I started doing daily draws again after missing a week due to illness. This was also the week I decided to start doing my daily Tarot card draws with a different Tarot deck. These days now I am using Ciro Marchetti’s Gilded Tarot deck. I felt that I needed something more visual to help my intuition along a bit. The Marseilles deck’s unillustrated Minor Arcana just meant that I had to look up the meaning every single time because I got nothing from plain pips. With the Gilded Tarot, the illustrations give me a starting point to jog my memory on what I have learned so far about Tarot cards. Sure, I still have to look things up, but I do so after jotting down my initial impressions, some of which I find are getting closer to traditional meanings. I am learning slowly but surely.
I am also finding the Gilded Tarot to be pleasing visually. I am using the deck that came with the Easy Tarot kit (linked above), and I am reading through Josephine Ellershaw’s book that came with the kit too. The book is OK so far; it has some good advice though she can get a bit too prescriptive at times. I will write a full review of the book and cards when I finish reading the book.
On to the weekly summary. For the week of April 25, 2016, I drew the following cards:
- Monday, April 25: Knight of Pentacles.
- Tuesday, April 26: Two of Cups.
- Wednesday, April 27: The Hermit
- Thursday, April 28: The Fool.
- Friday, April 29: Two of Swords.
Monday’s card jumped out as I was shuffling the deck. I’d say it was an enthusiastic way to start using a new deck on a new week. For me, this card of security was a good way to start the week. I also got good news that morning that I was accepted into a teaching institute I had applied to.
Tuesday was the Two of Cups. So far, when I have some meeting, the Two of Cups has appeared indicating some reminder about collaboration with others. I did meet with some campus officials and a scholarship program representative that morning. Despite the presence of certain faculty member who is not exactly easy to get along, the meeting overall was a positive one and reflected the generosity of the cups.
Wednesday I drew The Hermit. The Hermit is a card I identify with personally, and when I start doing spreads, if I use a significator for myself, it may be a card I would use. I took it this week as encouragement to do some introspection and reflection. Given all the turmoil of previous weeks, the seemed like a good idea.
Thursday I drew The Fool. It did catch my eye that I drew two Major Arcana cards one day after the other. This time I saw the card as a reminder to lighten up a bit, not take things so seriously to have a little faith as things move forward. I got a good feeling from it.
And finally for Friday, I wrapped up the week with the Two of Swords. This is a card of choices and balance. After the recent storms in my life, things are starting to balance out once more. For me, this card was a reminder to be mindful as I make choices moving ahead, but to also be at peace.
I saw the question about finishing series you do not love over at Cornerfolds.
I have no problem dropping books I do not enjoy. Life is too short and there are too many good books out there to waste time reading something you do not like or enjoy. I firmly subscribe to the Reader’s Bill of Rights, one of which is the right to not finish a book. So I have no problem with skimming books or outright dropping them if the book is not for me. This includes series. If the series starts degenerating into a steaming pile of crap, I will drop it and consider it dead to me.
An example of this is the series The Walking Dead, both the graphic novels and the television series. I started reading the comics before it became a television spectacle, and I did enjoy the early work. However, once the series became nothing more than a paean for stand-your-ground asshole bullies with no reward in sight for the reader other than more grim pessimism, I dropped it. I do not regret that decision, and I have no intention of going back to the series no matter what fanboys or fangirls may say about it. I may check out reviews of it to see how it has progressed, but otherwise I stopped giving a shit about it. There are plenty of other horror works featuring zombies I can read instead.
I will also skip volumes in series. An example of this is The Horus Heresy, a series I generally enjoy. However, like many long term series, individual volumes can be hit or miss. Some volumes in the series have been great. The first three of the series are a good example of good volumes. Later volumes, as I said, can be hit or miss. Any volume dealing with the Dark Angels legion and their primarch, like this one, is pretty much a disappointment. So while I am not giving up on the series, I know to skip any book in the series dealing with the Dark Angels. So, I probably will not read the complete series, but I will read enough of it to still get the basic story line and enjoy the series overall.
So no. If I am not enjoying something, I am not going to torture myself for the sake of reading a complete series. Life is just too short for that.
One reason to write about this is this post I saw a while back asking “how do you feel about audio books?” It struck me that the author of the post as well as the people who commented on the blog post were so negative and, to be honest, snobbish, about audio books. To them, listening to an audio book is not reading, which I wonder what would they say to someone who may be visually impaired, and their only or main way of reading is via having a reader read the book for them. Would they really go up to that person and just say, “you are not really reading”? Reading that felt very condescending and, as I said, snobbish.
A second reason to write about this is that I am doing an Audiobooks Reading Challenge this year. I am trying to read more books in this format, so I am trying to see how many I can get read in a year. Here is the link to my audiobook challenge page at The Itinerant Librarian (and if you are interested, this link takes you to my page listing all the reading challenges I am doing for 2016). As I wrote in my post for the audiobook challenge, I was exposed to audiobooks in library school. Back then, I took a course in Reader’s Advisory, and it included a segment on audiobooks. I dare you to tell one of those strong users of audiobooks in a library that they are not readers. Heck, I dare you to say that to librarians who do RA with audiobooks. And yes, I do get the difference between an audiobook and a radio drama, which seems to be one the commenters on that other post do not get neither (but that is another theme for another time).
As I mentioned in my challenge post, part of why I wanted to try audiobooks this year was to diversify my reading. I wanted to get some diversity in terms of format. I already read in print, which is my preferred way, and in e-book format, which has become more popular for me since I formalized being a book reviewer; I get a lot of my galleys for review as e-books. So I wanted to give audiobooks a chance. Now there are some small considerations I have when it comes to reading audiobooks:
- I look for full unabridged versions. I want to read the book (or rather have it read to me if want to be picky), and that means I want to read it in full.
- I tend to prefer audiobooks where the author reads the book. In some cases, this is because I may know an author from some other work, say a comedian, so I want to hear them read their own work. Now, I understand not all authors are good readers, so for them it is better to get a good narrator. I get that, and I am perfectly OK if the author does not read their work because they got a better narrator to do it. The author reading is just that: a preference. It is not written in stone.
- I tend to prefer audiobooks on nonfiction. This is in part because I read a bit more nonfiction than I read fiction. It is also due to the fact I feel I can more easily drop or interrupt an audiobook if it is nonfiction than if it is fiction. In addition, when I am reading a nonfiction audiobook, if it engages, I am often taking reading notes and jotting down quotes and ideas from the book for my journal as well as to add content to my eventual review of the book. I think it has to do with nonfiction’s structure, which tends to be more lineal, than fiction which can be all over. Plus, last thing I want is to have to interrupt a fiction audiobook as the cliffhanger is coming. Again, this is not set in stone. If I found a good piece of fiction on audio, I would give it a chance as well.
- Like other readers have said, I do like the ability to multitask with an audiobook. I can do something like iron clothes or fold laundry while I listen to an audiobook. Well, I can mostly do that. Last audiobook I tried it with, I did pause a couple of times in the laundry folding because I wanted to take notes. It happens.
- A small challenge for me is that my local public library is seriously deficient in audiobook selections. I may have to give their Overdrive system a try as it has audiobooks as well (though I am not sure how easy to use or not they are. If I get to it, I will try to write about that experience).
In the end, folks, read what works for you in the format that works for you. As a librarian, I will not judge you or put you down for that.
Any other folks out there listen/read audiobooks? Feel free to comment and let me know if you do or not and what kinds of books you read in audio. Heck, if you have any suggestions for audiobooks I ought to try, let me know.
This is the list of books I reviewed for the month of March 2016 at The Itinerant Librarian. It’s a small list this month, btu I did review some very good selections. Feel free to check these out, especially if you missed any before. Book links go to my review of the books. As always, comments are always welcome.
- I got to learn about some bookstores around the world with The Bookshop Book.
- I continue to enjoy the Palmiotti and Conner run of Harley Quinn in Harley Quinn, Volume 3: Kiss Kiss Bang Stab.
- Here is a good one for the 2016 election season. Learn more about Bernard Sanders in the graphic novel Bernie.
- John Lequizamo tells the story of his life in the graphic novel Ghetto Klown. For me, this and Bernie were the best books I read this month.
- And ladies, get some ideas of what to cook for your man in Food Men Love. Yes, the book does a big play on the whole go through his stomach route.