Alchemical Thoughts

Here is my list of books that I reviewed at The Itinerant Librarian during the month of April 2017. If you missed any of these, feel free to check them out.

  • I read a bit of vampire young adult fiction with Marked, the first book of the House of Night series. I read this book in part because I was curious about the Wisdom of the House of Night oracle cards deck, which is based on the books.
  • DC Comics did yet another reboot in their comics with their Rebirth series this past year. I am usually skeptical about yet another reboot in comics, but I got enticed to read the Harley Quinn title since Palmiotti and Conner continue their work on the series. The book is Harley Quinn, Volume 1: Die Laughing.
  • Fans of the Halo video game may want to consider reading Halo Graphic Novel.
  • Once more, got a bit of librarian/professional reading done with  BiblioTech. This one I read as an audiobook.
  • And I wrap up April, which was National Poetry Month, by  reading some of Mario Benedetti’s poetry in Biografía para encontrarme.



Time flies, and the list  of books I want to read keeps growing. Such is life. One thing I realized about these posts is the lists and bibliography parts. In those parts, I try to find lists of books on topics that are of interest, relevant to current times, or have something to offer to readers. Keeping those lists handy I think can be a good tool for reader’s advisory.

As always, if you find something useful or interesting in these posts, or you read any of these books, come back and let me know  your thoughts. Comments are open.


Items about books I want to read:

  • Let’s go back in time a bit with Red Star Tales: A Century of Russian and Soviet Science Fiction. I saw this at Boing Boing.
  • Americans are barely literate when it comes to politics and knowing different types of political systems. Though this book is reared for children, it may be helpful for a lot of U.S. adults to finally learn what communism actually is so they can stop embarrassing themselves because they cannot tell a communist from a socialist from an anarchist, so on. For some folks, you have to give them the information in a simple way their minds can understand. The book is Communism for Kids, and it was mentioned in TeleSur.
  • The Texas Observer calls this book the first must-read of the Pendejo in Chief’s era (they did not use that label, but I am not naming him, so there). The book is Tell Me How It Ends by Valeria Luiselli. According to the article, the book “is based on Luiselli’s experiences as a volunteer interpreter in federal immigration court in New York City. The book is organized around the 40-question intake interview that volunteers administer to each new child asylum-seeker.”
  • Julio Cortazar delivered a series of lectures on literature at Berkeley, and there is a new translation of those lectures available. The English edition is Literature Class. If you are like me and prefer to read them in original Spanish, Clases de literatura is also available. I read about this via The Atlantic.
  • A book on the impact companies like Google have on our lives, and no, it is not all positive. The book is Move Fast and Break Things, and it was discussed at AlterNet.
  • Next we have a reference book that may be a bit unusual. The book is U.F.O. Sightings Desk Reference. It was discussed in The New York Times as part of a story about more people seeing more U.F.O.’s. It sounds like a fun book to add to our reference collection, but I am not sure I can convince the other librarians to get it.
  • So, can you tell the difference between the Pendejo In Chief’s residence and the palaces of dictators around the world? Here is a book that might help: Dictator Style: Lifestyles of the World’s Most Colorful Despots.   The book was mentioned at AlterNet.
  • I am not always a fan of yet another fairy tale retelling, but this look at Snow White as a noir tale in Depression-era Manhattan does look intriguing enough to give it a try. The book is Snow White: a Graphic Novel, and it was featured in Wink Books.
  • I always enjoy a good trivia book, and I do like books about alcohol and drinking culture. This book combines both in looking at the science and trivia of alcohol including production, preparation, consumption as well as dispelling a myth or two. The book is Distilled Knowledge, and it was reviewed at Drinkhacker.
  • Let’s do a little fiction, in this case horror. This one made me think of other books I have read such as The Repossession Mambo (link to my review of that). The book is A Night at the Dream Theater (no WorldCat record on that one, so link to the big online retailer), and the premise is this: “takes place in a sci-fi/parallel future world where worth is determined by employment. Without a job a person is instantly without a home, money, or protection.” That sounds more like modern times than a horror dystopia, but I am still intrigued. I heard about the book at Horror Novel Reviews.
  • When you think of the War in Iraq, you may think of books featuring soldier accounts or other daring exploits (at least what most Americans would read). However, this is a different book. It looks at the absurd bureaucracies you find in war from the man who had the task of interrogating Saddam Hussein when he was caught. One of the small problems? Well, apparently the U.S. was not quite prepared to deal with capturing Saddam alive. That is just the beginning. The book is Debriefing the President, and it was reviewed at Los Angeles Review of Books.
  • Think white supremacist thought, racism, so on are recent ideas in the U.S.? Think the Nazis just came up with their racial purity ideas out of the blue? Turns out the Nazis got quite a bit of inspiration from the good old U.S. of A., and you can learn more about that in the book Hitler’s American Model. The book was reviewed in Inside Higher Ed.
  • The Library of Congress highlights on their blog a new book out that may be of interest to folks like me who like visual things. The book is Picturing America: the Golden Age of Pictorial Maps.
  • The Food Politics blog highlights a book on how fast food companies used government help to enter inner cities and help the obesity epidemic grow. The book is Supersizing Urban America.


Lists and bibliographies:

I see that I ran a bit behind in posting this, so here we go. These are the books I reviewed at The Itinerant Librarian for the month of March 2017. Links go to my reviews. Feel free to check them out, and as always, comments are open.


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

For the moment, I am caught up with these posts. With the reading challenges set in January, I was able to get back to book reviewing in February. There is a bit of everything this month, so I hope my three readers find something of interest. As always, comments are welcome.


  • I read about the history of paper with Paper: Paging Through History. However, this book was a a bit underwhelming to be honest. I think I will hold out for the other book on the topic by Nicholas Basbanes.
  • I learned a few lessons about life from wiseguys in The Way of the Wiseguy. This book is by the author of Donnie Brasco.
  • I also took a trip to 1851 to read about The Thousand Dollar Dinner. Before things like Iron Chef and Top Chef and all those other crappy competition shows that followed, this was the celebrity chef cook off of the day.
  • In graphic novels, I read Bushido: the Soul of the Samurai, which is an adaptation of a classic work on Bushido.
  • Here is a little classic humor with  Zits: Sketchbook 1.
  • If you hate, or love to hate, those fake “history” or pseudoscience documentaries on certain cable networks (you know the ones), you might appreciate the horror of Rolling in the Deep.
  • And I ended the month  with  a bit more of classic humor via The MAD Bathroom Companion: the Gushing Fourth Edition.


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

You can tell I have not checked this blog for a while as I am running a bit behind on these posts. This time we have the first books I reviewed for 2017. This month  I did not review many books because I was using January to set up my reading challenges for 2017. So I only  reviewed one book in January, but it is a good one. As always, if you read any of the books I review, please feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts, whether you liked a book or not.





Time sure flies. So many books, so little time as they say. We have made it to 72 of these lists of books I want to read someday. This post feels a bit more important as I included a few book lists to help out folks who may need comfort or understanding during the Hard Times we are facing. As always, if you read any of these, feel free to comment and let me know what you thought of a book.

Items about books I want to read:

  • Via NPR, a book about the decline of one American factory town. The town is Lancaster, Ohio, and the book is Glass House.
  • When I was an undergrad, one of the courses I had to take for  history teaching minor was in ancient history. One of the books I had to read for that class was the Lives of Plutarch. The edition was not particularly memorable; I think it was the Penguin edition. However, there is a new translation out entitled The Age of Caesar that covers five of Plutarch’s Roman lives. The translation is done by Pamela Mensch. I think  I may give Plutarch another chance. Story via The Christian Science Monitor.
  • I like free books, and books that help me in my work, even better. Via the Information Literacy Weblog I discovered the Handbook for Information Literacy Teaching (link to the book resource).
  • Not a free book, unless I managed to get it via Interlibrary Loan maybe, but still it could help with my work. There is a new book on librarians and serving diverse populations out. The book is Information Services to Diverse Populations: Developing Culturally Competent Library Professionals by Nicole Cooke, and here is the announcement of the book’s release from her employer.
  • Library Juice Press announces they have a new book on social justice and the LIS classroom. This may be more for LIS college professors than practitioners in the field, but it may be worth a look. The book is Teaching for Social Justice: Implementing Social Justice in the LIS Classroom.
  • Here is a book about libraries, specifically Carnegie Libraries. The book is Free to All: Carnegie Libraries & American Culture, 1890-1920, and it was briefly mentioned at LIS News.
  • I always like books about bar culture, its lore and history, even though I am not much into bars personally (I like the concept, just not the execution and culture these days). This new book is “a sort of compilation of a dozen or more ‘Old Books, with a particular focus on two Waldorf-centric books from the 1930s. In nearly 400 pages, Caiafa takes you through an alphabetical exploration of the classics, providing their recipes, variations, backstories, and in-depth context for every cocktail’s creation.” Features old books? That is just a bonus for me. The book is The Waldorf Astoria Bar Book, and it was reviewed at Drinkhacker.
  • Via 20th Century Man, a  suggestion to read Dean R. Koontz’s Demon Seed novel. I am thinking maybe having a feature on the main book blog where I go back and review older, classics and other not so well remembered books. Stay tuned.
  • Claire Conner, author of Wrapped in the Flag, which is “narrative history of the infamous ultra-conservative John Birch Society, written by one of its founder’s daughters” (from the book’s description), recently had a post in Crooks and Liars entitled “The Radical Right Runs America, But Democrats Still Don’t Get It.” In the post, she highlights the book and discusses how the Democrats and the Left in the U.S. basically do not get it despite all the warnings, signs, evidence, so on. I can certainly point  to a  few books  I have read already in addition to Ms. Conner’s that explain just fine what is going on and how we got to having the Pendejo in Chief in the White House. The bottom line is the warnings and signs were all there to be seen, but many chose not to see while the bigots, misogynists, ultra conservatives dug in and then blew things up. I have not read Conner’s book yet, but I am adding it to my list and hope to get to it soon.
  • I have not added any new, or at least new to me, mangas in a while, so here is Goblin Slayer, Volume 1. It was reviewed at A Case for Suitable Treatment.


Lists and bibliographies:

  • With the election  of the Pendejo in Chief as President of the United States and the ascendancy of his party, there are major concerns when it comes to women’s health and rights. One of those concerns is the Roe v. Wade decision that every other “pro-lifer” wants to abolish because women dying in back alleys is a small price to pay to keep those uppity women in place. If you want to learn more about how it was before that judicial decision, here is a list of books on “What Life Was Like Before Roe v. Wade in 7 Books.” Go read a book or two and get a clue as needed. Story via Signature.
  • Also via Signature, another list to help during the Hard Times where lies (oops, alternative facts) seem to be the order of the day. So, to help inoculate you from the bullshit, here is “Myth Busting Books: 13 Antidotes to ‘Alternative Facts‘”.
  • One more from Signature to help with the Hard Times. There has been  a lot about Russia in the news recently, so to help out here is “Spy vs. Spy: 13 Books on the Shadowy Past of Russia-US Relations.
  • Another type of book that some folks may  want to read during the Hard Times ahead are the Latin American novels of the dictator. Book Riot has a list of four of these for your consideration. And yes, there are others we could add to the list. I have read two from the list.
  • Book Riot also has a list of “100 Must-Read Graphic Memoirs.” I do not think every single title is a must-read, but there are some gems in the pile if you have the patience to look.
  • The Information Literacy Weblog has a small list of some free books on social media research overseas with links to the resources.


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.

This is the last batch of book reviews I did for 2016. If you missed any, click the links below and check them out. As always, if you read any, feel free to comment and let me know your thoughts. Also, suggestions for things you think I may want to read are always welcome. Links below go to my reviews.


October 2017
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