Alchemical Thoughts

Archive for February 2012

Once again, I have enough books to post a list in the continuing series of “Items about books I want to read.” It is Friday, so it is a nice time to go ahead and post this. As often is the case, there is a little bit of everything. I hope my three readers may find something good to read, or maybe they can share suggestions of what to read, in the comments.

Items about books:

  • An excerpt of a book I found in the blog Vintage Lesbian got me interested in the book itself. The excerpt is about a protest event shortly after the Stonewall Riots. I will warn readers that, while this particular post from the blog is fairly tame, the Vintage Lesbian blog does cover erotica. Act accordingly. The book in question is Becoming Visible: an Illustrated History of Lesbian and Gay Life in the Twentieth-Century by Molly McGarry and Fred Wasserman. As I am interested in history, including LGBTQ history, I am adding the book to my list.
  • Vintage Lesbian also pointed to another book that seems interesting for a different reason. It is about forensic crime scenes. The excerpt on the blog highlights a mug shot of a lesbian. Yes, at one point being lesbian meant you got hauled to jail (and if the Right Wing in this country gets its way, it may go back to that again, heaven help us). The book in question is Death Scenes: A Homicide Detective’s Scrapbook. Yes, I do find book leads in some unusual places. Well, unusual to others out there.
  • Changing gears, let’s look a little bit at science fiction. It is not easy to find literature from around the world in translation. So, when some volume of the stuff comes along, I tend to pay attention, especially for things like science fiction. The Contemporary Japanese Literature blog reviews the anthology Speculative Japan: Outstanding Tales of Japanese Science Fiction and Fantasy.
  • Katherine Dacey, The Manga Critic, recommends the first volume of the series GTO: 14 Days in Shonan. Sean Gaffney, at A Case for Suitable Treatment, also reviews the book.
  • PhiloBiblos reviews the book Unpacking My Library: Writers and Their Books. I read that book already, which I found by serendipity in the local public library. However, I was not aware the book was part of a series, and that there was another book architects and their books. So, naturally I want to read the other book now. The book is Unpacking My Library: Architects and Their Books. My local library does not seem to have it, so I may have to request it from my campus library via Interlibrary Loan.
  • Guys Lit Wire reviews the manga Pluto. I will admit I have seen the title in a bookstore or two (usually out of town), but I never thought about it much. The premise sounds interesting, so adding to the reading list.
  • This is a review I found strictly via serendipity. You know how you sign into WordPress, it takes you to a front page highlighting some recent posts made by other blogs? Well, this review was there, and I looked at it. The review comes from The Alternative Project blog. The book they review is 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die. The review is positive overall, and they write that “this isn’t just a simple list or guide. This is like the history of comics and a comprehensive one.” It sounds like something I may want to buy for my personal collection. And no, unlike those bloggers, if the books is not wrapped in plastic, it is not an issue. I buy books to read them. So, if I see it, I am grabbing it.
  • The Advocate posted an article on “5 Sexy and Unexpected Valentine’s Gifts.” The list has some neat items, but the one that caught my eye, and thus is the reason for posting here, is the book they listed. The book is Hanne Blank’s Big, Big Love:  A Sex and Relationships Guide for People of Size (and Those Who Love Them). The book is described in the article as a book “which tackles relationships, sexuality, and big sexy confidence ‘for people of all genders, sizes, and sexual orientations who know that a fantastic love life doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the number on the bathroom scale.’” It caught my eye because the topic is one you never really hear about during the Hallmark Holiday of February 14. Yet everyone does deserve and should have some loving, in my humble opinion. This may be a book to read and share. Do note the book was updated in 2011, so that is the edition to get.
  • I like lists, as you can probably tell from the fact I am making a list in this post. I also like readig lists, especially trivia lists, things like that. So, this book entitled Lists: To-dos, Illustrated Inventories, Collected Thoughts, and Other Artists’ Enumerations from the Collections of the Smithsonian Museum seems right up my alley. It is a collection of lists made by artists that are held by the Smithsonian. Found via Notebook Stories.
  • On the one hand, I do like some of the action movies of the 80s. On the other hand, there are others I am only lukewarm about. I bring that up because Katherine Dacey, The Manga Critic, reviews the first volume of Drifters in terms of an 80s action flick. The review is mixed, or it seems mixed to me, so this may be a book to borrow rather than buy.
  • I keep adding books for the Horus Heresy to the list. I guess I have to buck up and pick up the first one in the series to get started because I keep hearing good things about the books. Anyhow, via My Favourite Books, here is a review of Dan Abnett’s book Know No Fear. This one really sounds good to me because it is about the Ultramarines and their founding primarch Roboute Gilliman. I did enjoy the first three novels in the Ultramarines series of WH40K, so I figure Abnett’s book will be a good reading choice.
  • Via Lambda Literary, a review of Rick Worley’s comic series, now compiled, A Waste of Time (link to publisher as I could not find one on WorldCat). The book is described as “the tale of a big-headed narrator bunny, a sex-n-drug crazed fox, a teddy bear best friend, and ill-fated robot lovers that drink, smoke weed, look at porn, bonk guys and snort things they later regret. Or not.” I don’t care if you are LGBTQ or straight or whatever, that sounds like fun right there.
  • Sure, I may be an academic librarian, but I like juvenile stuff and poop humor as much as the next guy. So, I have to check this book out sometime. The book in question is What Shat That? The Pocket Guide to Poop Identity. It is exactly what the title suggests: a field guide to various types of animal poop. As the back cover says, “it’s your guide to matching feces with the species.” What is not to love? The book was mentioned in the Awful Library Books blog; however, the bloggers were clearly pointing it out as an exception when they say “This is NOT an awful library book.  It is awesome! “
  • The Manga Critic reviews Yakuza Cafe, which she describes as “a pleasant surprise, a cheerful, smutty send-up of gangster manga that playfully mocks maid cafes, foodie manga, and yakuza culture.” To be honest, from the rest of the review, it sounds like something I may like, but more significant, my daughter might like it as well. I may have to pass this tip on to her.
  • This book seems like the latest in the trend of “let’s see what profession we can slap magic and/or the paranormal into.” From private eyes to government agents to barmaids, it seems publishers and authors just come up with (or recycle) a story and slap a paranormal twist to it. Cute barmaid? She is a woman who is psychic and the vampires all fall for her, that sort of thing. Kind of like Star Wars books pretty much having the ability to absorb whatever genre is popular in video games, such as the Republic Commando novels, which are basically a take on the earlier trend of squad-based combat video games. Not necessarily judging on the quality of such books, but hey, let us call a spade a spade and point out the trend. Anyhow, John Scalzi featured this book as part of his Big Idea series on his blog, so I figure maybe I will give it a chance. The book is Myke Cole’s Shadow Ops: Control Point. It appears to be the first in a series. I would guess if it the book is anything like the Dresden Files, it may stand a chance. If it is more like those novels where they slapped Tom Clancy’s name to make a buck, like the Splinter Cell series, but with sorcerers, I don’t think any amount of magic will save it. We’ll see.

Lists and bibliographies:

  • The Dirty Librarian is always a good source of reading ideas, and her January 2012 list does have a few items of interest.

I jotted this quote in my personal journal a while back (January 20, 2012 for those who need to be exact). As I am rereading over my journal for possible blogging ideas, I came across it again. I figured it was worth sharing the quote as well as the short reflection I did upon it.

The quote:

As librarians, I think it’s our responsibility to read. Yes, we want to be experts in many areas, but we’re likely the best and only reader’s advisor in our schools. And a reader’s advisor can’t just talk about reading, we need to read.”  –Leigh Ann Jones, from Shelf Consumed, 12/30/11.

I do strive for a good generalist knowledge, which is why I work at keeping up. This includes reading. Sure, I read because I enjoy reading, and I also enjoy learning from what I read. I also read because I think we librarians ought to be reading. In a time when librarians are willing to give up on books, and let’s be honest, give up on the idea of reading as a whole, some of us need to keep on reading anyways. A lot of librarians would be content to allow libraries to be turned into glorified coffee shops and Internet cafes. The benefits of reading overall are clear, and librarians should not only encourage reading, but they should also lead by example.

To be honest, I don’t trust librarians who don’t read. Whether they read in print or electronic form, librarians who read books just seem more trustworthy, respectable, whatever you want to call it. I have no respect for librarians who take pride in not reading books. That just seems wrong to me, but I wonder if librarians like me who read are becoming fewer in number.



February 2012
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