Alchemical Thoughts

Posts Tagged ‘books and reading

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

It was a lean month in terms of reviews for January 2018 over at The Itinerant Librarian. I posted a book review and a deck review. In case you missed them, check them out.

Also in January, in case you missed it, I posted my Reading List and report for 2017.


Here we go again with the latest additions to my ever growing TBR list. As always, book title links to go to WorldCat, so you can borrow it from a library near you unless otherwise noted.

Items about books I want to read:

  • A Thanksgiving article, one of those about chefs giving advice for the holiday. I picked up on this for mention of the chef’s book Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. Story via Vox.
  • Here is another foodie book, this one about six Americans in Paris including Julia Child. The  book is The Gourmands’ Way, and it was reviewed in The New York Times.
  • There is a new (to me at least) history of hoaxes that may be relevant in these Hard Times of fake news. The book is Bunk, and it was reviewed in The New York Times.
  • Do you ever wonder what kind of food you could bring to a funeral? Or for any  other occasion? Well, Elizabeth Heiskell’s cookbook What Can I Bring? may provide some answers. Story via The Lexington Herald Leader.
  • Here is an early bit of humor on travel narratives with  A Journey Round My Room by Xavier de Maistre. The book is freely available online at Public Domain Review. If you prefer print, some libraries do have it.
  • Benebell Wen reviews a new (to me at least) Tarot basics book. The book is Going Beyond the Little White Book. Book is self-published, so no WorldCat record as of this post. Wen’s review includes purchase options.
  • A lot of (ignorant) people love to say the U.S. is a Christian nation (spoiler: it is not. Go ahead, read the “Founding Fathers” sometime, secular as they were). Histories of Christianity in the U.S. are plentiful, but there are not many about atheism and secularism in the U.S. This book attempts to remedy that. The book is Village Atheists: How America’s Unbelievers Made Their Way in a Godly Nation. It was discussed at Los Angeles Review of Books.
  • Though the review is a bit mixed, the book still looks interesting, and I may take a look. The book is Mangasia, and it was reviewed at The Manga Critic.
  • Schlock Value reviews one of those old books that you are not quite sure if they are so bad they are good kind of thing. Still, could be interesting to read. The book is Moon Zero Two.
  • This is a totally cute idea. Someone made a book about cats who do pest control at distilleries. The book is Distillery Cats, and it was reviewed at The New York Times. I’ve got to read this one sooner rather than later.
  • Here is another one for cat lovers: If I Fits, I Sits. It’s a book of cat pictures and quotations. Reviewed at City Book Review.
  • I do not care much for sports, but I have read a book or two on some sports-related topic if it was interesting. This one sounds very interesting, so I am adding it to my TBR list. The book is The Pride of Havana: a History of Cuban Baseball. It was reviewed at Shelf Talk.
  • Here is a book about how old books can be turned into works of  art. The book is entitled The Book, and it was featured in City Book Review.
  • This may either be a work of genius or the work of someone who had way too much time on their hands. This author has looked at the Pendejo In Chief’s words and found poetry. Amazing, huh? The book is The Beautiful Poetry of Donald Trump. It was featured in Dangerous Minds.
  • A book on rum? Sure. The book is Rum Curious, and it was highlighted at Drinkhacker.
  • Learn about the real cost of those chicken nuggets in places like McDonald’s in The Hamlet Fire. Marion Nestle highlighted it in her Food Politics blog.
  • Let’s look at some horror. Via Horror Novel Reviews, here is The Devil and My Daughter (no WorldCat record available as of this time),  a book with the plot starting with “a young film crew who shoot an extreme indie horror film.”
  • I not only like to read, but I also like books and the culture around them, so a book like Footnotes from the World’s Greatest Bookstores is the kind of book I would be interested in. Granted, it has a foreword by Garrison Keillor (who turns out to not only be insufferable but turns out he is also an asshole), but I think I can live with that to get the rest of the book. The book was reviewed at Wink Books.


Lists and bibliographies:


I saw this little writing prompt over at Based on a True Story, and I figured it would be easy enough and fun enough to try out. The questions are the ones provided. The answers are mine.


1. What are your top three book pet hates?

  • Dreck that looks good but ends up making me mad and wasting my time.
  • Fans of overrated books and authors that just won’t shut up about them.
  • Paperbacks that are poorly made and fall apart after one reading.

2. Describe your perfect reading spot.

In bed. In a rocking chair is also nice.

3. Tell us three book confessions.

  • I do not give a shit about the following: Harry Potter, Game of Thrones (or much of R.R. Martin’s work), True Blood, Dan Brown, James Patterson, and a few other over-hyped writers and works. Do not try to convince me. As I said, I do not give a shit. You be happy over there in your part of the world. I am happy over here just fine. (Notice I did not say I have not read any of these. Some I  have. I just do not give a shit.) Oh, and I also do not give a shit who knows it.
  • I was an English major (B.A. and M.A.), and there are a good number of “classics” I  have not actually read. No, I do not feel bad about it. That’s what Cliff’s Notes and Masterplots are for. How do you think a lot of grad students get through comprehensive exams? It ain’t by always reading the whole thing.
  • As a kid, I never went to a public library. My parents just never took us to one. We did have books at  home, and my mother  encouraged reading. It feels a bit weird because I am a librarian now, and librarians usually have that one story of how some public librarian touched them (not that way, you pervs) and gave them inspiration to eventually become librarians. I found my inspiring librarian when I was in graduate school.

4. When was the last time you cried at a book?

I have never cried when I read a book. I have gotten pissed off at quite a few though.

5. How many books are on your bedside table?

Well, let me think a moment. As of this post, there are five, which are:

  • Agatha Christie, Masterpieces of Murder (a collection of some of her novels).
  • Mario Puzo, The Godfather (started re-reading this as I got an urge to just read something for comfort).
  • Rose Caraway, ed., For the Men and the Women who Love Them (erotica anthology that I have been a bit slow in reading. Hard Times do  not help your mood in reading erotica, but I will get it read. I do feel bad I have not read it already, but as I said, Hard Times do not help).
  • A book on cocktails that has been on the TBR status for a while but I have not managed to get to it yet. (You can tell it has been there a while since I cannot recall the title now without looking.)
  • The Mammoth Book of Dracula, a short stories about Dracula anthology.

Plus I have a bunch of stuff on my iPad (on the Bluefire Reader and on the Kindle for iPad).

6. What is your favorite snack whist you’re reading?

I usually do not snack while I read, but when I do it can be crackers and cheese. I do enjoy my cup of coffee when reading now and then too.

7. Name three books you’d recommend to everyone.

This depends on what day you are asking. At this moment I would recommend the following (links to my reviews):

8. Show us a picture of your favorite shelf on your bookcase.

Work book shelf

Not a favorite, but it makes for a good photo. This is a corner of my book shelf in my office at work. Some of the books were books I read as part of the Dean’s Faculty Reading Group (a campus sort of book club). Others are work related. The jar says “Tips Support Counterintelligence.” And yes, tips are accepted 😉


9. Write how much books mean to you in 3 words.

Books are life.

10. What’s your biggest reading secret?

You mean besides the confessions above? What the  heck else do you want from me? Well, it is not much  of a secret now, but I am learning how to read Tarot and oracle cards.


You can find the daily prompts here.

Today’s prompt: Top 5 Tarot books of 2017 (purchased and/or released in 2017).

I am going to do this slightly different by adding books I read in 2017 and reviewed over at The Itinerant Librarian. This list is in no particular order.

  • Bringing the Tarot to Life (link to my review). From my review, “In a nutshell, Scott Martin applies acting and theater techniques to studying and learning Tarot. The result is a book full of exercises, prompts, and ideas that you can use individually or in small groups.” I did not purchase this at time of reading, but read it via NetGalley.
  • The Marseille Tarot Revealed (link to my review). I have been looking for a good book to help me study and learn Marseilles Tarot, and this may be it. Also read via NetGalley.
  • Kitchen Table Tarot (link to my review). I saw a few other reviewers speak positively of this book, and it is one I enjoyed too. It has a simple, informal tone that makes you want to learn. Yep, NetGalley read too.
  • Rachel Pollack’s The New Tarot Handbook (link to Amazon record, since WorldCat is not working when I was typing this). I found this at an affordable price at Half Price Books. As soon as I read it, I will post a review online. On a side note, I recently also got a Spanish language e-book edition of Pollack’s 78 Degrees of Wisdom. Again, when I read it, I will review it.
  • Michelle Tea’s Modern Tarot (again, reluctant Amazon link). I have not read this yet, but I hope to get to it this year. This is the latest I have purchased.


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

This is the list of the books I reviewed over at The Itinerant Librarian for the month of November 2017. Links go to my review. Feel free to check them out.



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

This is the list of books I reviewed for the month of October 2017 over at The Itinerant Librarian. Links lead to the reviews. Feel free to check them out.


This is the lucky 7’s edition of this blog series. Let’s have a look at what I am adding to the ever growing TBR list this time. As usual, all book title links lead to WorldCat so you can find a copy in a library near you (unless otherwise noted).

Items about books I want to read:

  • One of the reasons I like early October is because it  is Nobel Prizes season. One of the prizes announced was the one in economics. This year, it went to an economist who works in behavioral economics. I do not usually read economics texts, but this kind of work sounds interesting, so I am adding his book Nudge to my reading list.
  • Marion Nestle mentions providing a blurb for the book Big Chicken.
  • Since reading Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, a book I highly recommend by the way(link to my review), I have become more interested in learning about death rituals and the death/mortuary industry. Here is another addition for reading in those topics. The book is Confessions of a Funeral Director. The book’s author was interviewed in VICE.
  • Another one via VICE. The book in question discusses the freelance and wandering worker economy. Imagine a world where workers just wander from one big warehouse, like Amazon’s fulfillment warehouses, to another to make ends meet. For many, that dystopia is already a reality. The book is Nomadland.
  • I have to admit that though I like and enjoy science fiction, I have not read as much of it recently as I would like. There is always  something else calling my attention, or perhaps a nonfiction book that feels more urgent than something escapist. Still, I want to work on having a better reading balance. Here is a book that bills itself as a “definitive anthology of space opera and military sf.” That is a tall order, so I am curious. The book is Infinite Stars, and it was reviewed at Bookgasm.
  • There is a new manga rebooting Captain Harlock. Of course I have to add it to my reading list. The book is Captain Harlock, Space Pirate: Dimensional Voyage, Volume 1. It was reviewed at A Case for Suitable Treatment.
  • For something different, Dangerous Minds looks a bit at the work of Bruce of Los Angeles with the male figure and mentions the book The Naked Heartland.
  • Via Patheos, a look at “Paula Deen and Charlottesville.” The article mentions and features an excerpt from the book Trouble I’ve Seen.
  • A librarian has a new book out about J.C. Penney, the guy who founded the company and had a bit of a role in shaping rural United States. The book is J.C. Penney: The Man, the Store, and American Agriculture, and I heard about it from the University of Wyoming’s site.
  • Something for my horror reading, a review of Paul F. Olson’s short fiction collection Whispered Echoes. Review via Horror Novel Reviews.
  • The poor, “oppressed,” left behind poor rural white guy Pendejo In Chief voter has pretty much become a cliche. Break out the little violins for those assholes. Books like Hillbilly Elegy came out to try to “explain” those people to the  rest of us with  little success (let’s be honest, that author basically is a guy of privilege who clearly forgot where he came from to put it mildly). So by now, when I see yet another book on Appalachia and the poor, I groan. Still, here is the latest offering that claims to be “not just another account of Appalachia’s current plight, but a journey deeper in time to help us understand how the region came to be the way it is.” I will believe it when I see it and read it. I am adding it to the list not so much because I want to read it; I may or may not, but because it does have a local interest to me. Odds are good my college library will order a copy of it. The book is Ramp Hollow: The Ordeal of Appalachia, and it was discussed in ProPublica.
  • A new book connects the old Ku Klux Klan with the rise of bigoted hate that seems so rampant today. If you read your history, you would not be surprised. At any rate, if you want to learn more, maybe consider reading The Second Coming of the KKK. Reviewed at The Texas Observer.
  • A little something in critical theory and information sciences. Library Juice blog announces a new book: The Feminist Reference Desk.



Lists and bibliographies:

February 2018
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