Alchemical Thoughts

Once more, we are adding to the ever growing TBR book list. So many books, so little time. By the way, if you read any of these, feel free to make a comment and let me know what you think. It may convince me to move the book up the queue and read it sooner.

 

CuriousGeorgeReading

Items about books I want to read:

  • Some of you may know that I write a semi-regular feature at The Itinerant Librarian entitled “Signs the Economy is Bad.” Well, here is a definite sign the economy is bad. Affordable housing is scarce, and evictions are becoming a serious problem. You can learn more about this issue in the new book Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City. The author was profiled and talked about his work for The Christian Science Monitor.
  • Here is another book about poverty in the U.S. and why the poor in the U.S. just keep getting poorer. The book is $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, and it was discussed at The New York Review of Books.
  • Not that I need anyone to tell me that the US government, especially the US Congress, sucks royally. The evidence of how fucked up it is and the fact they do nothing more than represent moneyed interests is widely available for those willing to see. But hey, if you need more convincing, apparently an anonymous congressman decided to write a tell-all of just how bad it is. Via The Week, the book is The Confessions of Congressman X. (Link to Amazon record as WorldCat does not have it yet as of this post). I am betting this is in similar vein to Primary Colors, which when it came out was also published by an anonymous, except Primary Colors was fiction.
  • Let’s take a look at food. Here is a new book about ethnic cuisines highlighted at Food Politics. The book is The Ethnic Restaurateur.
  • I enjoy a good cocktail now and then, and I do find cocktail recipe books as well as books about the drinking culture of interest. Thus I am adding The Bar Book to this list. The book was featured at Wink Books. The book is labeled as not a recipe book but a techniques book, so maybe I can learn a new trick or two.
  • As I continue my journey learning about Tarot and how to read the cards, I am also starting to collect Tarot card decks. I collect playing card decks, so one, collecting Tarot decks seemed natural, and two, I do like the art in a few other decks, and I would like to learn to read from them too down the road. A deck I find fascinating and intriguing is the Thoth Tarot created by Crowley and Harris. It is a complex deck, so I will probably need a book or two to help me work with it. One of those might be The Ultimate Guide to the Thoth Tarot. The book was reviewed at @TABITarot’s blog.
  • I am familiar with Oneida silverware, and I vaguely knew there had been a utopian community named Oneida, but I never made the connection until now. So now I can pick up this new book and learn more about the topic. The book is Oneida: From Free Love Utopia to the Well-Set Table. It was reviewed at Blogcritics.
  • As we all know, performance reviews are the bane and annual ritual of banality and inanity a lot of workers, including those of us in academia, have to put up with. Personally, I believe whoever came up with the idea and his or her descendants and supporters should be lined up against the wall when the revolution comes. Since it may take a while for the revolution to happen, we have to live with performance management. The author of this new book argues that there is a fix. I am skeptical, but I am willing to read it and take a chance. The book is How Performance Management Is Killing Performance – and What to Do About It. It was reviewed also at Blogcritics.
  • I can’t quite recall where I saw this book first, but I know it was before it became the latest book for librarians to drool over. I  tend to avoid the librarian drool books, which from the few I have read and reviewed I find they are often just pandering to librarians seeking some assurance their jobs are valid kind of thing.  However,  this one sounds interesting and deals with a timely topic in the news (international terrorism and saving rare works), so I will likely give it a shot down the road. The book is The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu, and it was reviewed at Based on a True Story.
  • This is just one of those curiosity things I find in my RSS feeds. Magic and Mayhem blog author has found a free link to a book called The Black Toad. Apparently, this is of interest to witches and other similar practitioners. If this interests you, you can go get it as well. I did download a copy. I may not get to it right away, but I hope to down the road.
  • Next, “if you want it edgy, rough and no holds bar, this is the book for you.” So say the authors at BDSM Book Reviews about the book  Show Yourself to Me: Queer Kink Erotica by Xan West.
  • Guys Lit Wire reviews the graphic novel, or as they call it, a “graphic narrative,” The Beats. They say it is “a very readable look at a bunch of mid- to late- twentieth century American writers.”
  • Let’s add a little horror to the reading list. This book is described as a “truly spectacular novel. It combines history, animals, horror, intrigue and superb writing. It is a very well written and intricate story so be alert and pay attention” by Horror Novel Reviews. Sounds good enough to me. The book is Dark Neighborhoods; it is an e-book out of Amazon. While I usually do not care for those, this does sound intriguing.
  • Also via Horror Novel Reviews, they featured the book Black Creek. The reviewer says that the book author “does something very unique with this story: he creates two antagonists for a group of unlikely heroes overcome.”
  • Let’s add a little professional reading. Actually, this is one that I think not only I need to read it, but it may also be one to order for my library as I think it may be of interest locally. Library Juice Press has published the book Progressive Community Action: Critical Theory and Social Justice in Library and Information Science.

 

Lists and bibliographies:

  • Here is a list of LGBTQ webcomics. I have not seen some of these, so I will be adding them to my feed reader as much as possible. The article also includes links if you wish to buy a print version for your own. Via Bisexual Books blog.
  • Book Riot has an article on “Exploring BDSM through Erotica.” This is a very small sampling. It did pick up on a couple of Alison Tyler’s works, which are very good (I have read other things by her), but I think the article misses a few other good works such as some of Rachel Kramer Bussel’s anthologies like her Best Bondage Erotica (my review of her 2014 edition). Still, it will give you a start, and it certainly is better than thinking 50 Shades of Grey is a way to explore safe, sane, and consensual BDSM.
  • Another list from Book Riot. This one on “100 Must-read Books about Books.” I do not think all 100 of them are really “must-reads” but there are a few good gems in this listicle, especially under nonfiction. I have a read a few from the list, which I may highlight in a future post.
  • This I think is useful not just for anyone who may want to get into reading the long running manga Naruto but also for folks who have been reading it and need to keep track of things. Via Panels, here is a “Reader’s Guide Naruto.

CuriousGeorgeReading

The list of books I wish to read some day continues to grow, but such is life. So many books, so little time. Part of doing these posts is that I also enjoy reading about new (or new to me) books, and I also hope my three readers might find an idea or two of a book to read next.

Items about books I want to read:

  • This caught my eye in part because my father-in-law worked for Bethlehem Steel at the Gary, Indiana site for many years. He retired before the company went down and out. Still, it is tragic that the site has become a megacasino. Talk about how the mighty have fallen. There is a new book detailing that story, and you can read about it in this article via In These Times. The book is From Steel to Slots: Casino Capitalism in the Postindustrial City.
  • This book features 12 recipes of basics that, supposedly will enable to eat the rest of your life. The book is called Twelve Recipes, and it was featured at Wink Books.
  • Picturepedia is the kind of book I would have loved as a kid, and I would probably still enjoy it today. Wink Books highlighted it.
  • Based on a True Story reviewed the book The  Year of Living Danishly. The book’s author tries to figure out why Denmark is the happiest place in the world. I can tell you this. If I had the chance to go and stay, I’d be happy to learn Danish and live there.
  • A Case for Suitable Treatment highlights the first volume of the manga The Testament of Sister New Devil.
  • I always enjoy books about books and bibliophiles, so Rare Books Uncovered sounds like a good one to add to this list. It was reviewed at The Virginian-Pilot.
  • Here is one that can go for the 2016 Horror Reading Challenge I am doing now. The book is Joe Hill’s The Fireman, which was reviewed at RA for All: Horror blog.
  • What do you know? Someone wrote a book on old office supplies. The author is profiled in Collectors Weekly, and the book is Reading & Writing Accessories: A Study of Paper-Knives, Paper Folders, Letter Openers and Mythical Page Turners. It never ceases to amaze me the stuff people will write books about.
  • After reading Carlton Mellick III’s ClownFellas (link to my review),I have wanted to read more from that author. Here is one of his books I am adding to my TBR list: Apeshit, and it was reviewed at Horror Novel Reviews.
  • Turns out Eduardo Galeano had one more book left, and it is now being published posthumously. The book is El Cazador de Historias, and you can read about it at Que Leer (article in Spanish).
  • Want to learn more about Mexican drug cartels and how they use violence? You can read The Evolution of Los Zetas in Mexico and Central America: Sadism as an Instrument of Cartel Warfare. You can get the book free from the U.S. Strategic Studies Institute here. I learned about it via GPO’s Government BookTalk blog.
  • Sure, you can drink the usual stuff. Or you can get out of your comfort zone and drink some different things like this guy, the author of The Year of Drinking Adventurously. The book was reviewed at Drinkhacker.
  • The Llewellyn blog highlights a new book release: The Mindfulness Habit. This may fit in nicely with the Self-Help books challenge I am doing this year.
  • One more addition, and I saw this one via social media. I know I had to add it to my reading list right away. The book is Welcome to Dumbfuckistan, (link to Amazon; book new at this time, not on WorldCat yet) and it was discussed at Attn.com.

 

Lists and bibliographies:

 

 

CuriousGeorgeReading

 

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:

 

Lists and bibliographies:

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.

Photo from Flickr user Raider of Gin (fairerdingo). Image used under terms of Creative Commons 2.0 Generic Attribution License.

Photo from Flickr user Raider of Gin (fairerdingo). Image used under terms of Creative Commons 2.0 Generic Attribution License.

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.

 

 

Gilded Tarot- Knight of Pentacles

Gilded Tarot- Knight of Pentacles

Gilded Tarot- Two of Cups

Gilded Tarot- Two of Cups

Gilded Tarot- The Hermit

Gilded Tarot- The Hermit

Gilded Tarot- The Fool

Gilded Tarot- The Fool

 

 

Gilded Tarot- Two of Swords

Gilded Tarot- Two of Swords

 

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.

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