Alchemical Thoughts

Posts Tagged ‘activism/causes

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.

These are the last books I reviewed before the end of 2015. This was a bit of a rush month for me as I was making sure I got some reviews in on time to meet some of my reading challenges for 2015. As always, comments are welcome. Let me know if you read any of these, what you think, so on. And new reading suggestions are always welcome.


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.

I fell a little behind on this, so here they are. Feel free to check out the reviews. As I have said before, just because I reviewed them this month, it does not mean I read them in the same month. In terms of review writing, this was a pretty productive month for me. If you read any of these, or you have other comments, feel free to comment below.


Another week, and another bunch of books I would like to read someday. As the saying goes, so little times, so many books.

Items about books I want to read:

  • I continue adding to my interest to learning more about bourbon with Bourbon: a History of the American Spirit. The book was reviewed in San Francisco Book Review.
  • Given the current political climate in the United States, this book sounds like a necessary read. The book is Taking Liberties: Why Religious Freedom Doesn’t Give You The Right To Tell Other People What To Do. The book was reviewed in San Francisco Book Review.
  • Let’s add in some more history. I often like reading about periods or events in history that may not be widely known. Astoria, about how Thomas Jefferson and John Jacob Astor attempted to create a western trading empire, sounds interesting. It was featured in San Francisco Book Review.
  • As I have written before, I am always interested in books about books and the book trade. So I am adding The Art of the Publisher to the list. It was discussed in The Christian Science Monitor.
  • Here is a little something to help diversify my reading for one. Plus I think some of my feminist friends may be interested in this one as well. The book is My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem, and it was reviewed in Mother Jones magazine.
  • I remember living through the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The event is often portrayed as this big “American victory,” but as often is the case in history, things are not as simple as that (nor is that vision really true). You can learn more about the reality of what happened in The Last Empire, which was reviewed in San Francisco Book Review.
  • Here is something on higher education in the United States and China. In this article from Inside Higher Ed, “In Palace of Ashes: China and the Decline of American Higher Education (Johns Hopkins University Press), Mark S. Ferrara contrasts the ‘downward trajectory’ of American higher education against the rise of China’s university system.”
  • Via Drinkhacker, a review of a book on tiki drinks, you know, those nice tropical drinks that evoke some island paradise when done well. The book is Tiki Drinks: Tropical Cocktails for the Modern Bar.
  • Here is another one via Drinkhacker, this time on beer. The book is Beer for all Seasons.
  • I do like vintage things, and yes, I do like adult films and entertainment, so naturally I like vintage and older porn and adult entertainment. Thus a book like Graphic Thrills Volume 2 (apparently there is a volume one too) on adult film vintage posters is of interest. You can find the review in The Rialto Report.


Lists and bibliographies:

  • An older item, but still of interest: the first translations of a set of Zapatista children’s textbooks is available as a free download. Story via Global Voices.
  • There is a graphic novel adaptation of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Catch is Boom Studios! for some reason thought putting it out in 6 volumes instead of one large volume was a good idea.We’ll see if I can find a set. Story via Wink Books.
  • I will admit that I have not watched the Netflix show “Narcos.” To be honest, I could not care less about Netflix, but that is another story. Anyhow, I do have an interest in the topic of narcos in Latin America overall, so this list of books for folks waiting for the next season of the show interested me anyhow. From the list, I have read Gabriel García Márquez’s News of a Kidnapping, which I do recommend.
  • Via the blog RA for all: Horror, here is a list of small presses in the genre, which I am saving to look over later.
  • Here is more on movie posters. Via Wink Books blog, two books on James Bond movie posters.
  • Via The Booklist Reader, a list of books on creativity.
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 of books I reviewed at The Itinerant Librarian during the month of August 2015. Feel free to check the reviews and the books out. I got a pretty good selection for my readers this time. As always, if you read any of the books, feel free to comment and let me know how you liked them or not.

  • Transformers: Drift-Age of Stone.
  • Justice, Inc. If you have enjoyed Michael Uslan’s work in The Shadow comics, you will probably enjoy this crossover series.
  • Plucked: a History of Hair Removal. Yes, there is a book on the history of this topic, and I read it.
  • Best Sex Writing of the Year, Volume 1. From the folks at Cleis Press, a very nice sampling of nonfiction sex writing. As Belle Knox writes in the book’s foreword, “It’s easy to forget that outside of our own, seemingly normal sex lives, the world has thousands of different stories and experiences to share with we may not otherwise have imagined” (ix).
  • Robert Heinlein’s Citizen of the Galaxy. This is a graphic novel adaptation of the classic Heinlein novel.
  • Predator Omnibus, Volume 1. Dark Horse Comics capitalized on the success of the film with this comics series in the 1980s and 1990s. This is the first volume collecting those comics.
  • Arms and the Dudes. Supposedly, there is a movie coming out soon, so read the book before the movie. “Greed was the dark truth at the heart of the arms-dealing world” (200).
  • October Faction, Volume 1.
  • Buttermilk and Bible Burgers. I do a bit of reading about Appalachia.
  • The Radical King. Cornel West edits an anthology of Dr. King’s more radical writings to remind us the man was not just a dreamer. Dr. King had a seriously radical vision for the nation, one that many wish to forget, whitewash, or sanitize.
  • The Incredible Hulk, Volume 1. This time, Bruce Banner finally gets his wish: to be separated and rid of the Hulk.
  • Insylum. A horror novel about two buddies and a horror themed park where the last two to enter always disappear.

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).

It is amazing that I have made 50 of these lists already. I can tell you that lacking something to read will not be a problem anytime soon. As always, if you read any of the books mentioned on this post, feel free to let me know what you think. The comments are always open.



Items about books I want to read:

  • When my mother passed away a few years back, my coworkers did not quite know what to do about me. You see, I am a heathen, and a lot of my coworkers were Christians (including some of the fundamentalist variety). For some reason they thought that if they said something like “I am keeping you in my prayers” that they were going to offend me. In reality, they were not. I may be a heathen, but I am fairly chill when it comes to others having their beliefs. In the end, they were all, as my mother used to say, running around like chickens with their heads cut off to avoid just talking to me. It was seriously awkward. Maybe a book like this might have been helpful for them. The book is Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing To Do With God by Greta Christina. She points out it has been reviewed here.
  • Dreamland has been on my TBR list for a bit now. It sounds like it may be similar to Methland, which I did read. The book got a brief mention in Mother Jones here.
  • I would not mind reading the anthology Smut Peddler (link to seller website as it is not exactly a library title) sometime. It is mentioned, with an excerpt here at IO9.
  • I always enjoy books about books and reading. So, this book, My Bookstore, where writers write about their favorite bookstores, sound interesting. It was mentioned at San Francisco Book Review.
  • I think the title in this one is a bit misleading. The author of this memoir did bind a book for the Pope, once it seems (I would have expected the title to mean the Pope had some sort of “royal” book binder). The book itself is more about the used and antiquarian book trade overall. Still, sounds interesting enough. The book is The Pope’s Bookbinder, and it is also mentioned at San Francisco Book Review.
  • Along with reading about books, things related to books and writing fascinate me as well. So a book on the history of paper certainly sounds interesting. The book is On Paper, and it was highlighted at San Francisco Book Review.
  • An Alison Tyler erotica anthology is always a welcome read. Her anthology of short short erotic stories, Sudden Sex, was reviewed at BDSM Book Reviews.
  • This got lost in the shuffle for me. Walt Crawford has a book out on social media in public libraries. Though I am an academic librarian, I often find I learn much from some practices in academic libraries, so I am adding the book to my reading list. The book is Successful Social Networking in Public Libraries, and I saw it via an ALA press release a while back.
  • Here is another shop title so to speak. Being an instruction librarian who seeks to improve his practice, this kind of book is of interest. The book this time is Feminist Pedagogy for Library Instruction, and it was discussed at Cat Lady Librarian.
  • The blog Blogging for a Good Book suggests Swamp Thing, Volume 1 by Scott Snyder. As I have enjoyed other works by Snyder, specially his American Vampire series, I am very willing to give this one a chance. They also suggest Hawkeye, Volume 1.
  • A little something for foodies. For me, this just sounded intriguing. Marion Nestle at Food Politics gave the book a blurb. The book is 50 Foods.
  • Interesting in food issues and waste? The book American Wasteland may be of interest. It was discussed at The Blue Review.
  • Another book on the recession and explaining why things imploded (in large measure, surprise surprise, it was the greedy S.O.B.’s of the financial sector). Blogcritics takes a look at Confronting Capitalism.
  • The Lowrider Librarian highly recommends the book Citizen. Very relevant collection of essays to what is going on in the nation from racism to aggression.
  • Now, I am not a connoisseur, but I have taken a bit more interest in learning about whiskey since I moved to Kentucky. Drinkhacker offers a review of the book Tasting Whiskey.
  • And while we are talking spirits, Drinkhacker also has a review of a book on gin. The book is The Spirit of Gin.
  • Here is one I have been wanting to read for a while. Powell’s highlighted a while back the book The Intern’s Handbook.
  • Here is another LIS book I need to add to my TBR list, and I probably need to read it sooner rather than later, via Library Juice blog, the book is Informed Agitation.
  • On a different track, here is a history of sex work. The book is Sex Workers Unite, and it was reviewed at Lambda Literary.
  • The Intoxicated Zodiac found this book to be hilarious. I may have to check it out, maybe pass it on to The Better Half when I am done. The book is Reasons Mommy Drinks.
  • Smoking on campuses can be a hot button topic. I can tell you that in the campus I work now, whenever the debate of totally banning it comes up (right now, there are outdoor designated smoking areas), both sides get seriously emotional and often aggressive. To help consider the topic, this book may help. It offers an analysis of students and their smoking behavior. The book is Lighting Up, and it was reviewed at Inside Higher Ed.


Lists and bibliographies:

(Crossposted from The Itinerant Librarian)

We come to the last post in the 2014 Holiday Post series. Tomorrow is Three Kings Day (also known as Epiphany to many), so for Puerto Ricans like me we are still in holiday spirit (unlike other quitters who took down the Christmas three on the 26th of December). Anyhow, I like ending the year looking back a bit. I will say 2014 is a year that I am glad to leave behind. From losses in the family to terrible news nationally and around the world, it is a year I won’t miss much. When I do this post, I try not to pass on just the usual stories. Let’s have a bit of fun with it I say. So, here we go: what the hell happened in 2014?


Because we still feel like we have to recall the news

  • Mother Jones has a nice compilation of the biggest news stories of 2014 in photos. If you don’t want to read a lot and get the power of photos, this may be for you.
  • Getting the news via The Daily Show is a tradition for many smart folks by now. Here is a year in review using Daily Show clips. Story via TruthDig.
  • John Oliver is fast becoming another source of serious news and commentary. You know the state of journalism is down the toilet when the best journalism right now more often than not comes from the comedians. Anyhow, here are some of Oliver’s best rants. From student loans to Ferguson to Net Neutrality, John Oliver not only said it, but said it well and showed he was well informed, unlike every other so-called journalist out there. Story also via TruthDig.
  • Overall, as Mark Fiore points out, it was a “year in crazy.”


Civil Rights and Equality

2014 was not a good year for civil rights, equality, and progressive politics. Sure, there were some good points, but there were also a lot of very bad things.


Money, Dinero, Moolah, Benjamins. . .

Whether it was the bad economy or money in politics, moolah was in the news quite a bit.

Pop Culture

It is not an end of year compilation without some pop culture stuff.


And there we have it, a small sampling of what the hell happened in 2014. Thanks for reading. As always any and all comments are welcomed (within reason). Also stay tuned to my end of year reading report, coming up soon.


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