Alchemical Thoughts

Rolling right along in adding books to the ever growing TBR list. Let’s see what we got this week:


Items about books I want to read:

  • This book is probably not one for vegetarians and vegans. The book is In Meat We Trust: an Unexpected History of Carnivore America, and it was featured in San Francisco Book Review. Apparently, according to the book, meat helped make America. I will have to read and see.
  • Staying with the food theme, this one was also featured in San Francisco Book Review. Now this one is more about food choices and sustainability. The book is Food Choice and Sustainability: Why Buying Local, Eating Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work. This is probably not one for the carnivores who may be reading the previous book, though probably eating a little less meat may be a good thing. I am not quite ready to just stop eating all meat.
  • Let’s look at lack of food now. Marion Nestle has written a foreword to an updated edition of the book Breadlines Knee-Deep in Wheat: Food Assistance in the Great Depression.
  • And now let’s go for a little dessert with Bourbon Desserts. The reviewer at Drinkhacker claims that “novices, experts, and destructive cooks alike can approach this book with confidence knowing that in the end, bourbon makes everything taste better.”
  • The great actor Christopher Lee passed away this year. He did some of his fine horror work for Hammer Films, but did you know Hammer Films made more than just horror films? Apparently, they also did a series of psychological thriller and suspense films too. You can learn about them in the book Hammer Films’ Psychological Thrillers 1950-1972. The book was reviewed in Bookgasm.
  • Also reviewed at Bookgasm, a new collection of short stories by Ed Gorman. I admit, I am not terribly familiar with that author, so there is a possible reason to add the book to my list. “The 14 tales range from straight-up crime to peeks into a bizarre future. ” The book is Scream Queen and Other Tales of Menace.
  • A couple of books in LIS and related to my work as instruction librarian. Both of these reviews come via The Journal of Librarianship and Information Science (the review links lead to PDF pages from the journal).
  • A new to me manga that does look like it may not be easy to get. That is often the case with manga in the U.S.; good stuff may come over, barely gets published, goes out of print before anyone notices let alone the publisher gives it a decent chance, and vanishes. Anyhow, the title this time is Maka-Maka: Sex, Life, and Communication, Vol. 1. There may or not be a volume 2 out (WorldCat found a French edition of the second one), and that may be about it. It was reviewed at Experiments in Manga.
  • This seems to be a case where the movie may be better than the book or vice versa, depending on where your preferences lie. The book is Ring, from which the movie was adapted. The book is translated from Japanese. It was reviewed in Contemporary Japanese Literature. On a side note, my library, Hutchins Library at Berea College, has a copy, so I may get to it sooner.
  • To this day, and likely for some years to come, we are recuperating from the 2008 economic collapse. Matt Taibbi offers a look at those times in his recent book The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap. The book was reviewed at Blogcritics.
  • Via Wink Books, this looks very nice. The book set is Dian Hanson’s History of Pin-Up Magazines. It is one of those nice editions Taschen puts out.
  • On a more serious note, a new book on invisible work, that is important work that is often done behind the scenes, say like U.N. translators. The book is Invisibles: The Power of Anonymous Work in an Age of Relentless Self-Promotion. In some ways, the work of many librarians could well qualify as invisible work by this metric, say catalogers (let’s be honest. If a good cataloger does his or her work well, you never hear of the person, you only see the great work in the catalog they create for us) for example or just good librarians who do  the good work daily without blowing their horns every ten minutes it would seem. You know the ones. Anyhow, the book was reviewed by Joshua Kim in Inside Higher Ed.
  • I am not sure if this book will answer the old joke, but it certainly sounds interesting. The book is Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road? The Epic Saga of the Bird That Powers Civilization. By the way, have you noticed how often these microhistories are all “sagas” and often they are “epic sagas” of however the subject saved or powered civilization? Anyhow, the book was featured at Blogging for a Good Book.
  • Every other librarian seems to be talking about this book, which usually means either the book is a big deal, or it is not that much a deal and folks are just getting on another passing fad. At any rate, I am adding it to my list so I can keep it on my radar, but I am not sure if I will read it right away or not, and books like this tend to need reading right as they come out. This seems another one of those “yea, libraries are great, and they will survive even with Google around” books. I am not sure I need yet another book to tell me that. Although, it seems a lot of librarians do need a book to tell them just that; our profession is amazingly insecure, go figure. So, maybe by the time I get to it, the fad will pass unless it does have a message meant to remain. We shall see. The book is BiblioTech, and it is being reviewed at PhiloBiblos.


Lists and bibliographies:

  • If pegging is among your fetishes, then this list may be of interest for erotica readers who enjoy it. While it is not a big topic of interest for me, I have read a tale or two in the genre I have found to be OK at least. As I have said before, I am always willing to read new things. The list is “Peg This: Six Erotic Pegging Stories You Must Read.” It was published at RT Book Reviews.
  • Do you like stories set in dirigibles and air ships? Bookshelves of Doom has “Airships Ahoy! Thirteen Stories Set on Dirigibles.
  • Like milk? Shelf Talk has “Got Milk?” highlighting two books on the history and uses of milk.


These are the books I reviewed during the month of June 2015. If you missed any of these, feel free to check them out. As always, comments are welcome. This month we have a bit of everything, including some reading I did for LGBTQIA Pride Month, which falls in June. Although I read a lot during June, I did not get around to writing as many reviews, so we were a bit lean last month. Book links go directly to the book review.


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.

  • If you want to learn more about Jewish delicatessen and deli in general, you may want to check out David Sax’s Save the Deli.
  • I continued reviewing the manga series Adolf. In June, I reviewed the last two volumes of the series: volume 4 and volume 5.
  • The highlight of the month for me has to be the book The Right Side of History: 100 Years of LGBTQI Activism. I read this for a Pride Month book blog tour that Cleis Press organized, but I have to say it was a good read for the month overall.
  • I reviewed a new graphic novel with a different look at superheroes. The book was Jupiter’s Legacy, Volume 1.
  • Finally for June, if the art of letter writing interests you, this book may be for you. The book is To The Letter.

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.

* * * * *

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.
October 2015
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