Alchemical Thoughts

Update note: This is another of those old posts I had in private status previously that I am bringing up front. As I look back, I see that I did not jot down which book I got the quote from. If I had to guess, it was probably a book of political quotes I used to have back then. At the time I jotted it down, a few adversities were crossing my path, and while things have gotten better since then, it is still a good quote to remember. So, via the Wayback Machine, this comes from June 11, 2007.

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I came across this quote in one of the books I have been reading. I thought it was great, so here goes:

“If some among you fear taking a stand because you are afraid of reprisals from customers, clients, or ever government, recognize that you are just feeding the crocodile hoping he’ll eat you last.” –Ronald Reagan

I think this is very applicable to the library world as well. For me, it is a reminder not to let certain people who would rather I fall silent get to me. I am not going down the easy path just yet.


Send to a friend

Update note: I wrote this post back in 2007, and it ended up in the “private” section of the blog. I think the series of posts I have labeled as private got imported from someplace else (can’t quite remember where, which tells you how long ago that happened). Since they are private, I do not always remember they are there, so I recently went back to look over the cue. Some will likely remain private, as they have topics not necessarily for public consumption. But others like this can be public. It is a good reminder for bloggers and writers to keep on reading. So, via the old Wayback Machine, here is this bit from May 8, 2007.

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Karen Andrews, guest blogging at Problogger, has a post reminding bloggers to read. Yes, it is perfectly ok to unplug from the online world once in a while to actually read a book or a magazine. I know I try to do that now and then. In fact, as a reader, I face the conflict of having too much stuff to read and not enough time to read it in. Maybe I should take that advice and stay away from the feed reader a bit more often. Besides, if nothing else, reading can always provide you with something to talk about in social settings, but that is a different story. Ms. Andrews writes:

” Get off the chair and turn off the computer. It will be there in the morning. Pick up a magazine. Go to bed early with a novel you’ve had on your ‘must read’ list for a while. ‘De-plugging’ is a good option for those of us on the point of burnout. Standing back from your own words may give you a better perspective than if you are crouched over a desk.”

Maybe I should try the one about going to bed early with the book I have been meaning to read. I was not sure about this idea Ms. Andrews wrote:

” The skill of critically evaluating a text is commonly taught today. It is not enough to simply say you like (or don’t like) something anymore. You need to back up your claims and once properly done so you can debate a subject at a greater depth than you otherwise would have.”

I agree with the idea of being able to back up what you say. What struck me was the idea that such a skill was commonly taught. I am not sure I agree with it given my teaching experience. I am of the theory that standardized testing is ruining a generation. One way to the ruin is that students are not taught about critical reading or critical thinking as much these days. After all, the tests are mostly multiple choice, so not much critical thinking going on there. I had to learn how to argue and back up my points when I was in school, and it is a skill that serves me well today. It is also something I strive to teach my students. Reading broadly and diversely can help people learn how to think and evaluate texts critically. Anyhow, a good reminder of why reading is so important, especially for bloggers.

When I was doing outreach for my previous library, one of my duties was editing the library’s newsletter. I believe that newsletter stopped being published after I left, in spite of having been around long before I had arrived there, but the administration sort of had been hinting it wanted to let it go. A pity, as I think it not only served as a publicity and marketing tool, but also served for documentation. Anyhow, not my problem anymore. Back then, I had pulled aside these articles to read up more on the topic of newsletters to help me improve ours and learn more. Eventually I moved on to my current position, and this post lingered in my drafts folder for quite a while. These days, my library has a blog I created for them, and it is a tool we are working on developing further; it also serves a bit as our newsletter. Writing about that may be a post for another day. In the meantime, here is the stuff to look over.

Some notes:

Here we go again with another list of books I would like to read. I should note that I do get to read one or two from these lists once in a while. A post making such a list may be in order just for reassurance. In the meantime, here are a few more books I would like to read.



Items about books:

  • Infrastructure in the United States, especially transportation, is basically a clusterfuck of neglect. As much as people like to whine about the bad roads or getting stuck in airports, it’s not like they get their butts up to vote for politicians who may make moves to fix it. Nor are politicians in any rush to fix the crumbling mess even as bridges fall left and right. In a new book, the author seeks some answers. The book is Move: Putting America’s Infrastructure Back in the Lead, and it was featured in HBS Working Knowledge blog.
  • I recently read Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, a memoir of a crematorium worker that also gives an inside look at the mortuary industry. It has sparked an interest for me in the topic. One of the things I learned in that book is that embalming is really bad for a variety of environmental issues. So, when I saw this article on AlterNet about embalming and seeking out other more green burial options, it caught my eye. The article highlights the book Grave Matters by Mark Harris. The book is older (2008) than the memoir, so I will be interested to compare.
  • I am sure many folks watch dog shows, probably the Westminster Kennel one that USA Network broadcasts every year. What not many think about are some of the extremes going on in breeding those dogs. In fact, many high end dog breeds are bred and created in ways that basically are detrimental to the canine’s health all for the sake of aesthetics. This article from In These Times says that “We’re Breeding Dogs to Death.” The article is worth a look, and it may even move you to go adopt a nice mutt from a shelter instead of doling out thousands of dollars on some fancy breed dog. The article also mentions the book A Matter of Breeding by Michael Brandow.
  • The police incident (to put it charitably) in McKinney, Texas has been all over the news as I type this. In the end, racism in public pools is not really new. In fact, a big element of white flight is for those folks to be able to set up their own private club pools to keep “the undesirables” out. This article in The Atlantic discusses the incident, talks about that history, and it highlights a book I want to add to my reading list. The book is Contested Waters: a Social History of Swimming Pools in America. Actually, as a side note, WorldCat reveals my library, Hutchins Library at Berea College, has it, so I may be able to read this one a bit sooner. If I do, my four readers can expect a review.
  • And now a little erotica. As the reviewer in San Francisco Book Review writes, “a happy marriage is an underappreciated, often overlooked thing.” When I look around, you have to be selective to find good erotica that deals with happy marriages where the focus is on the couple itself. The book Bedded Bliss sounds interesting in that it combines some self-help and advice for married couples to keep the fires alive combined with some erotica.
  • Another erotica selection. Alison Tyler is an erotic editor who, like Rachel Kramer Bussel,  does not steer me wrong. So I usually seek out her works. Also via San Francisco Book Review, the book is Down and Dirty: 69 Super Sexy Short-Shorts. I have enjoyed other books of erotic short-shorts, such as The Big Book of Orgasms, so I am hoping Tyler’s anthology will be similar in appeal factors and overall just good reading.
  • And speaking of Rachel Kramer Bussel, she has an erotica anthology with a theme of encounters in hotel rooms. I have no idea if any of the stories involve librarians hooking up at conferences (which was a big fuss in thread in that librarian forum I try to avoid). I will go on the limb and admit that is a small fantasy of mine, but for now, it will stay in the fantasy realm (unless some day I decide to try my hand out at writing it into a story). Anyhow, in the meantime, I will settle for reading the book Do Not Disturb, which was reviewed in BDSM Book Reviews.
  • On a bit of a different kink track, BDSM Book Reviews also reviewed Safe Word a while back. This is a sequel to Carrie’s Story, and as I read in the review, the novels are reminiscent of classic erotic tale The Story of O. I will certainly pick up the first novel before the second, and when I do, I will review them.
  • If you are a fan of femdom in your erotica, then Her Wish is Your Command by D.L. King may be for you. The book was reviewed at BDSM Book Reviews. (No WorldCat record found as of this post. The review has Amazon link if so inclined. Probably due to it being an e-book).
  • Moving along, let’s have some booze. I certainly do like a woman who can have a good drink with me. I also enjoy books about the history of alcoholic spirits, so here is a book about how women helped save spirits like bourbon and whiskey. The book is Whiskey Women, and it was reviewed at Drinkhacker.
  • One of my reading challenges for 2015 is to read more horror fiction, so this may fit the bill. The book, which according to the review has been marketed as a “psycho thriller,” is In the Miso Soup. And by the way, checking WorldCat tells me this is another one we have, so I may be able to read it sooner.
  • It may have been started as utopian endeavor in the late 19th century and went on to become an artist commune, but the Chelsea Hotel in New York City has clearly seen better days, assuming it ever had better days, which seems debatable. At any rate, there is new book telling the history of that city’s landmark. The book is Inside the Dream Palace, and it was reviewed in The Guardian.
  • I do not read as much in the alternate history genre as I used to. And to be honest, when I hear of yet another alternate history where the South wins the U.S. Civil War, I just yawn. But this graphic novel featuring just such a scenario caught my eye because it seems a bit better thought out than most items produced in the South wins scenario. The book is CSA: Southern Cross, Annuit Coeptis, and it was reviewed in BlogCritics. It is volume 1, so I may take a chance, then decide if I want to read the rest.
  • The Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray that promises to show us his real escapades, you know, the ones you do not get in the original classic. This book has been in and out of my radar for a while, but seeing as it is written by Mitzi Szereto, an author I have enjoyed before, and I have seen the book reviewed in a couple of places, it may be time to add it to my list. The book was reviewed by BlogCritics here, and by San Francisco City Book Review over here.
  • As I may have mentioned before, I always find books about books and reading to be a big interest of mine. This one may be a bit esoteric, but it still sounds interesting. The book is The Book Collecting Practices of Black Magazine Editors, and it was published by Litwin Books. The book “focuses on the collecting habits and personal libraries of three black magazine editors.”
  • While we are at it, here are some more LIS and/or reference books from Library Juice Press and Litwin Books that I find of interest.


Lists and bibliographies:

  • A while back, Bending the Bookshelf had a guest post with highlights of erotic genre fiction selections from Storm Moon Press.
  • Something that may be useful down the road. The Bisexual Books blog has put together a “Master Review List” for books they have reviewed, and they even arrange it by books they liked and recommend and books you probably should avoid. Very thoughtful of them if you ask me. The list also identifies books by things like genre, how they fall in the LGBTQI spectrum, age range, and other themes.
  • This is a work-related item. Bobbi Newman, of Librarian By Day, has put together a “Reading List–Patron Privacy in the Digital Age.” It includes articles and books. As an update, she is now adding and curating stuff on a Tumblr here.
  • A little PSA for readers. Free Technology for Teachers highlights the website Forgotten Books, where you can find a variety of e-books, mainly public domain stuff, free online.
  • If you are like me and trying to diversify your reading a bit, the folks at Book Riot have put together a very nice “African Reading List.” Organized by nations, it has more than the usual writers you hear about like Chinua Achebe (yet, he is still listed).
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.

In case you missed it, here is the list with links of books I reviewed during the month of May. This was a pretty good month for reviews over at The Itinerant Librarian. As always, if any interest you and you read them, I would love to hear from you; comments always welcome.

  • I learned a little bit about hip hop and how it developed in the graphic novel Hip Hop Family Tree, Volume 1. I hope to read the second volume soon.
  • I also learned a bit about an aspect of colonialism and imperialism we may not often hear about: collecting of artifacts from other parts of the world now housed in some of the great Western museums in The China Collectors.
  • I read some old school Transformers comics in The Transformers Classics, Volume 4.
  • I made a pleasant discovery and read the comics of The Mask. If all you know of the character is the Jim Carrey movie, you really need to go and read these comics.
  • Here is one for both kids and/or Star Wars fans. Jeffrey Brown does it again with Goodnight Darth Vader.
  • May is the month of Cinco de Mayo, where Americans for the most part use that dubious holiday as an excuse to get drunk. Well, want to learn a small bit of Mexican history? The graphic novel Pancho Villa Takes Zacatecas may be of interest.
  • Like clowns? Like mobster books and films like The Godfather and Goodfellas? Want to read something a bit out of the ordinary? Then check out ClownFellas, “an epic mob saga where life is cheap and the gags will slay you.”
  • Here is another for Star Wars fans, a novel about the destroyer of Alderaan: Tarkin.
  • A little kitchen and cooking trivia that may also help you cook better. This book is entertaining, but it also has some basic trivia and information you can use. The book is 101 Things I Learned in Culinary School.
  • When I was a kid, I used the watch the Batman television show from the 1960s quite a bit. So, when DC “revived it” in comics, I began reading them. The series is great fun, and now Batman and Robin get to meet another crime fighter in Batman ’66 Meets the Green Hornet.
  • I did not plan it this way, but I ended up reading another Star Wars tale that also looks at Grand Moff Tarkin. However, Tarkin is not the protagonist here, but he has a prominent role in the graphic novel Darth Vader and the Lost Command.
  • I also did a bunch of short quick reviews on various comics and graphic novels. Check out “Short Booknotes on Graphic Novels 21, and a Bonus Item.
  • And finally for the month of May, I read a new origin tale for Batman in Batman: Earth One.
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.

Welcome back folks. This is my list of the books I reviewed at The Itinerant Librarian for the month of April 2015. I will mention these are not necessarily ones I read in April; it is the ones I managed to get reviewed in the month. As always, if you find one of them interesting enough to read, feel free to let me know. Comments are welcome.

  • I continue to enjoy Scott Snyder’s American Vampire series. This is still one of the best comics series going on at this time. This month, I reviewed volume 4 and  volume 7 in the series.
  • I read a little bit of Western with All-Star Western, Volume One and All-Star Western, Volume 2.  If you like Gotham City, this comic series gives you a look at the early days of that city way before Batman.
  • Did a little blend of erotic romance with gothic fiction. This month I reviewed Mitzi Szereto’s Darker Edge of Desire.
  • I read a little manga as I finished off the other two volumes I had of the Spawn: Shadows of Spawn series.
  • In the American South, manners, or at least gentility and the appearance of manners, are of utmost important. As I learned in reading this book, Being Dead is No Excuse. Learn not only the proper manners for a funeral but also, and likely more important, what to do for the reception after the funeral and cemetery burial.
  • I took a ride in a very different amusement park with Deadman Wonderland, Volume 1.
  • I enjoyed a bit more Star Wars, Shakespeare style, with The Empire Striketh Back and The Jedi Doth Return. This really has been a fun series to read.
  • I am a fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, especially the originals (you know, before Nickelodeon and others sanitized them for kids). If you want to go back to the early days, IDW is putting out a new compilation, and I started reading it with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Collection, Volume 1.
  • Now just because I have a soft spot for early TMNT, it does not mean that I do not enjoy modern iterations. This crossover was neat, and one the kids will likely enjoy. The book is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters.
  • This one will go down as one of my best reads in 2015 when I do my end of year reading reflection and list. It is a book I think that more people should read to learn more about the mortuary industry and more. The book is Smoke Gets In Your Eyes.
  • I continue reading the manga series Adolf. This month, I reviewed the third volume.
  • I always find the process of making alcoholic spirits to be interesting. In addition, since moving to Kentucky, I have been a  bit more interested in learning about bourbon. So, to help that interest along, I recently read Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey.
  • This was a graphic novel that I will admit I was not sure what to make of it. Perhaps one of you folks might want to try it and let me know what they think. The work is Dark Engine, Volume 1. This is one that I may or not seek out the next volume.
  • I finally got the review up for the last book the Dean’s Faculty Book Reading Group read on campus. The book is Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies. If the topic of migrant workers interests you at all, this is one to read.


And so we continue to add to the ever growing list of books I want to read someday.

Items about books I want to read:

  • The automobile is a big part of the U.S. mythology. Now, there is a book looking at the United States and the American Dream through American cars. The book is Engines of Change, and it was reviewed at San Francisco Book Review.
  • I do find works from and about the WPA to be interesting. This book, also featured at San Francisco Book Review, is an “able reprinting of the WPA travel guide to California, published by the University of California Press.” The book is California in the 1930s. There is also one for San Diego, entitled San Diego in the 1930s.
  • IDW, one of my favorite publishers, has a compilation volume of Judge Dredd. It is discussed at SF Signal. The book is Judge Dredd, Volume 1.
  • Sex education is not just important. It is essential. If you don’t believe me, ask the folks in this small town in Texas who just believed in one of those “abstinence only” education programs. They now have a rampant epidemic of chlamydia in their public high school. Perfect illustration of why you need sex education. Perhaps a comic book like Not Your Mother’s Meatloaf: A Sex Education Comic Book might help. The book was featured in Lambda Literary.
  • I enjoy baking, even if I cannot do much of it myself. I certainly enjoy eating baked goods, maybe a bit much at times. And like this reviewer, “I love interesting but ultimately useless trivia.” I think to a small extent, loving trivia is a requirement to being a good librarian. Anyhow, I digress. Point is here is a book with recipes and a lot of trivia and history about specific baked goods. The book is The Secret Lives of Baked Goods. It was reviewed at San Francisco Book Review.
  • As my four readers know, I enjoy books about books. So of course I have to add The Art of American Book Covers, 1875-1930 to my reading list.  The book was also reviewed at San Francisco Book Review.
  • This book caught my eye in large part due to this interview with the author where she discusses her world building and the setting, which sounded intriguing if you like some scifi with your erotica. The book is Jenna McCormick’s No Rules, and it is part of the series taking place in the fictional world of Illustra.
  • As a manga reader, I am always interested in books about manga to help me learn more as well as do readers’ advisory on it. Via Experiments in Manga here is a review of Manga: Introduction, Challenges, and Best Practices.
  • Another manga book, this time for folks who may want something quick and easy. The book is A Brief History of Manga, and it was highlighted at Contemporary Japanese Literature.
  • Want a little classic horror? Maybe Victorian Ghost Stories: an Oxford Anthology may be for you. It was suggested by Blogging for a Good Book.
  • Once in a while I find something I may want to at least look at via Awful Library Books. Way I see it, someone’s awful book could be someone else’s treasure. As librarians say, every book its reader and every reader its book. Anyhow, is there anyone out there who still remembers Joe Bob Briggs and his, shall we say, unique brand of B-movie reviewing? I do remember his days in Monstervision. At any rate, while Awful Library Books recommends you get rid of his book Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In, there are a few libraries that still have it. Maybe I can get it via ILL if I hurry. By the way, there is also a sequel, Joe Bob Goes Back to the Drive-In.
  • Let’s toss some more erotica into the list. Though I have read Cleis Press titles before, and some featuring gay characters, I have not read one of their gay (read M/M) anthologies yet. No particular reason other than I have not gotten around to it. So to move me to try one out I am listing now their Best Gay Erotica 2013 which I saw reviewed at BDSM Book Reviews. They liked it, so why not? Besides, I need to add titles to that LGBT Reading Challenge I am working on in 2015.
  • Also reviewed at BDSM Book Reviews was House of Sable Locks (Amazon link; not listed in WorldCat). Now, while I do read it, I am not a huge fan of male sub tales. But if they are well written, I will bite. This book sets the tale with some steampunk, which makes it hard to pass up. Sounds like the kind of rare thing I like reading now and then.
  • Another one under erotica, this one is erotic photography. The Library Vixen highlights the book Dirty Rendezvous, featuring the photographic work of Chas Krider.
  • I like having a drink or two now and then, in moderation of course. I also enjoy reading about cocktails and bar culture, even though I am not a big fan of going to bars; I prefer to do my mixology at home. So, here are a couple of books I may want to read down the road, which I found via Drinkhacker. The first one is Liquid Vacation, which looks at tiki drinks. I had no idea tiki drinks were undergoing a revival, but so the reviewers assure us. We’ll see. The second book for this round let’s go with a little history with Gentlemen Bootleggers, which is about a small town in Iowa and its Prohibition-era bootleggers.
  • I always say that if you drink, you should have some food as well. So allow me to point out a couple of books about food. Both were highlighted at the Food Politics blog. Let’s start with The Culinary Imagination, which is “an overview of contemporary food writing and thought.” The other one is Eating Asian America. This one is about the  Asian-American food experience.
  • Here is one that I would consider somewhat work-related (i.e. that an academic librarian should be interested in). Found via review in Inside Higher Ed, the book is Paper Knowledge. Mostly about generation of documents, their move to the cloud, that sort of thing.
  • And speaking of paper, here is a book that sounds a bit more interesting than the previous one. Then again, I will admit I enjoy the work of Nicolas Basbanes, so naturally I have to add his On Paper to my reading list. Review from Times Literary Supplement.
  • Well, workplaces do use a lot of paper, including ones that claim they want to go paperless. Workplaces also have a history and that is captured in the book Cubed: a Secret History of the Workplace. The book was reviewed in BookForum.
  • Keeping a bit longer the secrecy theme, how about state secrets? diplomacy? There is a book on that too, relevant to a time when leaks of information cause a variety of scandals and embarrassments to those in power. The book is Secrets and Leaks, and it was reviewed at Lawfare.
  • I have always wanted to get a good edition of the works of H.P. Lovecraft, and while this one is not complete–it focuses on the stories of his Arkham cycle– it does look pretty good, and it seems to have great art and an essay by Alan Moore. I need to check this out. The book is The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft, and it is reviewed at Bookgasm.


Lists and bibliographies:

  • The U.S. yet again celebrated Cinco de Mayo. Maybe instead of just drinking, you may want to do some reading and learn more about that date and Mexican history. Here is a Cinco de Mayo reading list. Via University of Nebraska Press.
  • Want to read some mystery? Here is a list of the 101 best crime novels of the last decade. Via The Booklist Reader.
  • Want to read some erotica and kink? Would you perhaps like to do it on a Kindle (or e-reader)? Violet Blue has some suggestions to Kink Your Kindle.
  • Via BuzzFeed, here is a list of 32 Asian American writers to read. Just doing my part to help you diversify your reading.
  • I am not a huge fan of the dystopian genre, but I have read a comic or two in the genre, including a title or two on this list. I think some folks out there may find it of interest. The list is of “Top Ten Superhero-Free Dystopian Comics.” Published at SF Signal.
August 2015
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