Alchemical Thoughts

Archive for June 2013

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.


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.

June 2013
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