Alchemical Thoughts

Posts Tagged ‘books and reading

CuriousGeorgeReading

The list of books I wish to read some day keeps growing, but the time to read them does not always grow to match. Still, I do enjoy making these posts so I can keep track of things I find interesting. In sharing them, I hope it helps a bit in terms of reader’s advisory for folks looking for ideas on books to read.

Items about books I want to read:

 

Lists and bibliographies:

 

 

I saw this bookish writing prompt at Kaizen Journaling a bit of a while back. I had to think about this one for a little bit. I have read so many books over time, and tastes have changed somewhat over time. A challenge for me is that I did not track what I read when I was a kid, so I had to rely on memory to try to remember what I was reading  way back when that I enjoyed enough to remember. Another challenge for more recent years is that I like a lot of different books, so picking favorites is not easy for me. This post will not have a photo since I wrote out my reply here on the spot rather than doing it in my personal journal. As you will when you compare to the original prompt, I adjusted the categories slightly to adjust for my age. So, for the sake of the prompt, here are some choices as of this post. If you ask me next week, or next month, the choices could be very different:

  • Childhood: The Encyclopedia Brown series. If we go a bit further back, I also enjoyed the tales of Frog and Toad.
  • Teens. I think this was the time I first read One Hundred Years of Solitude (in Spanish by the way). This book is my number one all time favorite,  and it will likely remain so for the rest of my life. It is one I reread every few years.
  • Early 20s: I would have been in college as an undergrad. The Robotech series was one I enjoyed to escape the doldrums of college required reading. I still have the set of novels, and I am hoping to reread them soon.
  • Early 30s: Batman: the Long Halloween is one that emerged from those days. I have a tradition now that I reread it every October, near or on Halloween.
  • Today (as of this post): I would say a few volumes in the Warhammer 40,000 series that feature characters I have come to like and admire: Blood Ravens: the Dawn of War omnibus featuring Space Marines Captain Gabriel Angelos, the Ciaphas Cain series, and the Ultramarines novels featuring Space Marines Captain Uriel Ventris. These days, life is pretty much shit. Not my life per se as I am surviving OK, but current events, the world, society, the stupidest election  ever in the United States, shitty media, all that and more make you want just want to get away from it all and as far away as possible. The 41st Millennium seems quite a good distance to leave it all behind.

CuriousGeorgeReading

Welcome to another edition in this series of posts about books I would like to read some day. As always, if you read any of these, feel free to come back and comment to let me know what you thought of a book. Also, if you have ideas and suggestions for books you think I may want to read, let me know as well in the comments. Let’s see what we have for this week.

 

Items about books I want to read:

  • A former chief of police in Seattle, Norm Stamper was recently featured in Democracy Now! discussing police issues in the United States. He has a new book out on the topic, To Protect and to Serve: How to Fix America’s Police. It seems like a timely book that needs for more people to be reading it.
  • Because I find macabre things interesting now and then, I would like to read Beyond the Dark Veil, a collection of Victorian era post-mortem photography. Story about the book via Boing Boing.
  • These days, Jesse Ventura can have his entertaining and even thought provoking moments. However, him explaining why some are voting for Trump is not one of them. Moving along, this piece highlights his new book, which sounds like it could be an entertaining read. The book is S*it Politicians Say. Story about it via Esquire magazine.
  • Next we have a bit of dark humor with 13 Elegant Ways to Commit Suicide. The older book was highlighted at Dangerous Minds.
  • Another book discussing the issues of gun culture and the big business of selling guns in the United States. This time the book is The Gunning of America, and it was reviewed in a full essay in the The Times Literary Supplement.
  • Here is a book about books, or rather in this case about readers. The book is The Reader in the Book, and it was reviewed at Los Angeles Review of Books.
  • Via @TABITarot, a review of The Ultimate Guide to Tarot Spreads. This may be one to consider adding to my collection down the road as a reference source.
  • This is one of those books that I would enjoy browsing through as a child, the kind of book that has a little bit of everything. The book is Mann’s Pictorial Dictionary, and it was featured in Boing Boing.
  • And one more book via Boing Boing. It is a coffee book of what is described as brutalist architecture. The book is This Brutal World.
  • This book could be an interesting proposition. Basically, it can help explain why dumbasses in the poor states, like say the Deep South, take a ton of federal money and aid, and still hate the federal government (and usually vote Republican). The book is American Amnesia. The book was discussed at AlterNet.
  • Bill Moyers’ site has an article looking at class, politics and Trump while highlighting the recent book White Trash, which is a history of class in the U.S.
  • If you like works like Ambrose Bierce’s A Devil’s Dictionary, you may also enjoy Encyclopedia of Hell published by the folks at Feral House. It is sort of an invasion manual for demons to know what they will find when they get to Earth. The book was featured at Boing Boing.
  • I always find stuff on writing and specially handwriting to be of interest, so I am hoping this book will make for good reading. The book is The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting, and it was reviewed at Inside Higher Ed.
  • I  am adding this one in part because I feel I should at least look at it. Honestly though, I do not give much of a hoot about student evaluations of their college professors, which for the most part can be petty and pretty meaningless when it comes to actual assessment. That is another conversation for another day. In the meantime, there is a new book highlighting such student comments. The book is To My Professor, and it was reviewed at Inside Higher Ed.
  • Only reason I am linking to this post from the Librarian Shipwreck blog is that  it mentions a book on  the concept of planned obsolescence (a.k.a. the  money grabbing move companies make of making shit products so you have to buy them again every few years, like Apple’s current fuckery regarding the iPhone 7 with  no headphone jack) that I think is worth  a look. The book is mentioned all the way at the bottom of the post, and the book is Digital Rubbish.
  • This book just sounded interesting. The book is Season of the Witch: How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll, and it was reviewed at Rock and Roll Tarot blog.
  • Barbara Moore, one of the big gurus in Tarot, discusses the concept of reading Tarot intuitively on the Llewellyn website, and she also links to the book Tarot Fundamentals, which I may be interested  in reading.
  • Another Tarot book that I might be interested in reading down the road is Tarot Mysteries, which was reviewed at Tarot Notes blog.
  • Sean Gaffney highlights the fourth volume of the manga series Black Bullet. Sounds like one to try out, but I would need to start with the first volume.
  • The Lowrider Librarian reviews the  book The Other Slavery. If you think African American slavery was all there was in the United States, you need to read that book. I know I will be getting to it soon.

 

 

Lists and bibligraphies:

I saw this prompt a good while back over at Booking Through Thursday, and it has been sitting  in my feed reader’s list for a while. I am finally getting around to it. The prompt is as follows:

“How often do you visit a library? Do you go to borrow books? Do research? Check out the multi-media center? Hang out with the friendly and knowledgeable staff? Are you there out of love or out of need?”

This is an interesting question for a librarian. I can say that I visit a library every day of the week since I work at a library. But let’s look at the question in a different way. I am an academic librarian, which means I am a librarian  that works at a college or university library. In my case, it’s a college library. From my library, I do borrow books to read, though not as often as I do from the public library. Much of this is because I read pretty broadly, and I also tend to read a variety  of popular topics that an academic library just does  not pick up. A public library and an academic  library have different missions and serve different populations, so their collection development tends to be different. Thus for some things, I can find them at my library. Other things I rely on the Berea branch of my local public library.

So, what do I get  from my own library? I often get the following from my own library:

  • Some more academic history books.
  • Books about higher education.
  • Some books on social justice issues, especially as related to race, gender, and related issues.
  • Some graphic novels (our library has a graphic novels collection for students to use, mainly recreational. We have some decent holdings, but it is still a work in progress).
  • Items via Interlibrary Loan (ILL). When neither my library nor my local public library have a book I want to read, I can use this service to have my library bring it in from another library. It is one of the big perks of working in an academic institution. Public libraries do offer ILL, but it is rarely as robust as the one  in an academic institution. I have used ILL to get all kinds of books from academic topics to popular books.

What do I get from my public library:

  • Graphic novels. These are often titles my library does not have. They often get things quicker too than we do.
  • History books. In this case, I get more popular history works, the kind that a good informed lay reader would read. A particular subset of this would be microhistories. Those are books that do history on a single topic really well. One example is Mark Kurlansky’s Salt.
  • An art book now and then. This also includes photography books.
  • Humor books.
  • Some popular fiction. I read science fiction, plus some fantasy and horror, so I get books in those categories. This year, I am doing a horror reading challenge, so I get those books through my public library. Brian Keene’s work was a recent discovery from doing the challenge last year.  I do look forward to reading more by him, by the way.
  • In fact, when I do reading challenges, I often get the books for them at my public library.
  • Books on fairly random topics. I am pretty inquisitive, and once in while I will pick up something because it sounds interesting. I have read books about rodeos and fried twinkies, about the history of delis, about the Glock handgun, so on. Recently, I even read the book that  is now basis of the movie War Dogs (by the way, from the looks of recent reviews, skip the movie, read the book).  I am very eclectic as a reader, and I usually find what I need at the public library.
  • Media. I get DVDs for some movies. I like movies, but I would not call myself a movie buff. I also get DVDs for old television shows. Plus, since I am doing an audiobook reading challenge this year, I have been trying out some of their selections. However, in audiobooks, my local public library does leave a lot to be desired.

In the end, I go to my  local public library out of my need as a reader. I usually visit my public library once a week, usually on Sundays. I do get things from my own academic library, but  I read a bit too broadly and eclectically for my academic library. So my public library combined with Interlibrary Loan pretty much get me what I need. In the end, I do love libraries. I am glad I work in one, and  I am happy to use and support my local public library branch.

How about readers out there? Feel free to comment about your own library experiences, what you go to the library for, so on. Or if you do not use your local library, tell me why as well.

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 them, or in case you are looking for something  new to read, here are the books I reviewed over at The Itinerant Librarian for the month of July 2016.

  • I started the month with a true crime graphic novel: Green River Killer. This is the story of a serial killer that terrorized Seattle in the late 1960s to 1970s.
  • I read Ghost Fleet, Volume 2. With this book, I complete the series, which sadly was cancelled after issue 8. It is still worth seeking out the trades.
  • Before the Star Wars films that we know, George Lucas had a vision, and he put it down in a rough draft. You can read that vision now in The Star Wars.
  • Want to get your fix of the “original” Ghostbusters (i.e. the guys from the first movies)? You might consider picking up Ghostbusters International.
  • If you like Ellen DeGeneres, you might consider reading her book Seriously…I’m Kidding. I read it as an audiobook, but it is available in print too. I read this as part of my challenge this year to read more audiobooks.
  • I read some nice erotica in Dirty Dates: Erotic Fantasies for Couples.
  • If you have a friend about to get married, or recently married, this little book could make a good engagement gift. The book is Scenes from an Impending Marriage.
  • I reviewed the 1969-1970 and 1973-1974 volumes of The Complete Peanuts.
  • I continue to enjoy the Grayson series from DC Comics. For this month, I reviewed the third volume of the series. In a time when a lot of DC Comics are a big mess, to put it mildly, this series is an enjoyable entertainment. This  and their Harley Quinn run with Conner and Palmiotti are about the only comics I am really enjoying out of DC these days.
  • I also read some Star Wars now that it is owned by Marvel, who is now owned by Disney. The book is Vader Down.

 

 

 

Wise Bread had one of those articles, listicle really, you have to take with a shaker full of salt. This time it’s “5 Easiest Ways to Score Free eBooks.” Yes, I know the economy is bad, and people need to save money, but I think folks who see this need to keep their expectations seriously low. The bottom line is that, unless somebody somewhere paid for it, you are not going to be reading authors like Grisham, Rowling, and Clancy in free ebooks. Here are some of the things to keep in mind the article does not really tell you or just conveniently forgets:

  • A red flag for me: “Throughout elementary school and college, I controlled the costs of books primarily by utilizing my public library. I haven’t stepped foot in a library in three years.  .  .” . Maybe she may want to consider stepping back into her local public library. Many public libraries today feature ebooks, often via Overdrive. Your library card entitles to access to your local library’s ebook collections, and those collections do feature various current and older but interesting books.
  • The whole Kindle family library and borrowing ebooks from family and friends. This may be free for you, but you are basically mooching off someone else who is paying for their ebooks. Now, I am not against borrowing per se, but let’s not fool ourselves and say this is free. You may not have paid for it, but someone else did, and I honestly have to wonder if telling people to mooch off someone else’s ebook subscription is really the best advice. You are basically telling people to let some other sucker pay for the ebooks you want to read. When it comes to the ethics, well, your mileage may vary.
  • I loved the euphemism of “non-professional stories online.” This is basically amateur writing you find in places ranging from Amazon to other websites where writers of various levels of skill self-publish. Now before you get your hopes up, for everyone one self-published author who might get plucked out of obscurity and become famous, like the guy who wrote The Martian, you are going to find tons and tons of seriously bad dreck that is self-published. This includes fan fiction by the way. So if you feel like taking your chances, and you really, really need to feed your reading addiction, go right ahead. Just don’t go expecting to find the next J.K. Rowling or Stephen King in those places. The author of the article does admit that “you can expect to find some sub-par writing due in part, to the fact that individuals of various skill levels publish on these types of sites.” That is a polite way of putting it. Believe me, as part of my reading I do for reviews, I have come across my share of these “non-professional stories” where I honestly hope those writers did keep their day jobs.
  • Public domain books. There are various places to find these, but keep in mind, these are mostly what people call classics. If you want to save on reading old books, the kind you may have had to read forcibly in school, then the various depositories featuring public domain books are for you. The other thing you find in the public domain sites are forgotten books. A few may be gems waiting to be rediscovered. A lot are forgotten for a reason, and they likely should stay forgotten. Having said that, you can find some curious items if you have the patience to look (or you have some good sources on your RSS reader to alert you of such things) such as my recent find of Pagan Passions.  (I will have a brief comment on that book in a future post). Looking through sources of Public Domain books is a lot like panning for gold, except you may often find more duds than nuggets, but well worth it when you do find that one gold nugget. If you are interested, the author of the article does provide a nice link to a list of Public Domain sources for books.

At the end of the day,articles like this come and go every so often, and there are quite a few out there such as here and here, and heck, even some public libraries are getting in on informing patrons about these options, like this one here. As a librarian, I tend to be happy to promote free books but skeptical when they make it sound like you can read anything you want that you might find in your local bookstore. That is not even close, and I wish that reality was made more apparent.

The bottom line is that tips like these are good for you if the following is true for you:

  • You are a very avid reader who is not too fussy about what you read.
  • You are a reader willing to take a lot of chances on what you may find to read.
  • You understand that you are not going to get the latest bestsellers or other very popular books for free unless someone else has paid for them. So if you do as the article states, you will (politely I hope) be mooching someone else’s accounts where they did pay for their ebooks.
  • You have to be willing to put in some work. Whether it be finding someone to give you access to their collections that they paid for or search through Public Domain sites to find something, you have to put in some effort finding and then selecting what you want to read.
  • You have to be willing to lower your standards a bit. Sure, as I said, you may find a gem here or there, but you may end up reading a lot of dreck too. How much dreck are you willing to go through in the interest of finding the one gem? That is a question you are thrifty reader have to answer, or as they say, your mileage may vary.

By the way, don’t be like the author. Go visit your public library once in a while. I may have a small bias given I am a librarian. However, I work for an academic library, and even I visit my local public library once in a while to get my fix of more pop-type of books. Plus my public library also has DVDs, so you do get some pretty good free (as in your tax dollars help pay for it) entertainment options. In addition, if you want e-books, as I mentioned, your local public library likely has its own e-book collection, and the selection will likely be better and better curated than a lot of the stuff you will find out there on the internet. This is especially true when it comes to those “non professional stories.” In the end, I am not saying to avoid reading free ebooks online if you can find them. I am saying to adjust your expectations of what you may find accordingly. Oh, and visit your public library once in a while. Your local friendly librarians will be glad to see you.

CuriousGeorgeReading

 

Another post and another list of books I would like to read some day. One thing is certain. I will never run out of books to read, and that is a good thing. I also hope my four readers out there find something good to read from these lists once in a while. So, if you pick up a book from any of these posts, please feel free to leave me a comment and let me know. I would love to hear from you.

For anyone who has not read these posts before, this is about me listing books I would like to read. I include the source that gave me the idea about the book, say a review, an article, so on, in order to be able to remind myself why I included the book on the list. In these posts, I also include any lists and bibliographies on topics that may be of interest.

Items about books I want to read:

  • In the United States, and let us be honest, a few other parts of the world, poverty can be big business for the right people doing the exploiting. In the U.S., they raise that to an art form when it comes to taking programs meant to help the poor and those in need and trying to privatize them to make money for exploitative corporations while taking those funds away from those that need them. Via The Atlantic, here is a discussion of the issue and highlight of the book The Poverty Industry.
  • Thomas Frank, author of Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?, talks about what the hell happened to the Democratic Party in the United States. One of the things he argues is that “the problem with establishment Democrats is not that they have been bribed by Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and others, but that long ago they determined to supplant the GOP as the party of Wall Street.” I would say in essence, the Democrats in the U.S. have become “Republican-lite.” Story via Democracy Now!
  • On a bit of humor along with eroticism, apparently at one point hipster erotica was a thing, and Hannah Wilde wrote a few books on it to the point she has a series of The Complete Hipster Gangbangs (link to Amazon on this one. I am sure you understand this will not be in WorldCat anytime soon). The story comes via VICE. Sometimes it amazes me the things I can find out there.
  • Here is a possible addition to my list of books for the 2016 Horror Reading Challenge, which I am doing this year. The book is Blood Related, and it was reviewed at Horror Novel Reviews. Here is a little something from the review: “We have a very rough-around-the-edges family. A serial killer for a father, drunk for a mother, and twin boys who witness more than any child should.”
  • Laugh now, but in some distant future, men could be forced to make love to beautiful women. At least that is how Pagan Passions would put it. You can download the book for free here (it is in public domain). And yes, a few libraries still have it too. The book was featured at the WTF Bad Science Fiction Covers blog. It is a pity the blog went on hiatus. It was an amusing blog.
  • Tarot with Jeff recently got a book as a birthday gift from a friend. I need to find more friends like he has. My friends do not get me jack and shit for my birthday. Anyhow, the book he received was Benebell Wen’s Holistic Tarot, and it looks like a good book for me to read to help along in my Tarot learning journey.
  • Speaking of Tarot, when I started my journey to learn how to read Tarot cards, I started it with a Marseilles Tarot deck. While I do like the deck for being a classic and bringing me some pleasant memories of youth, I could not do much reading with it because the Minor Arcana is not illustrated. I was just not able to develop my intuition enough, and I had to keep constantly turning to the book. So, I switched the deck I use now, the Gilded Tarot by Ciro Marchetti, which is a modern, more visual deck. However, I do intend to go back to using my Marseilles once I feel I have learned the basic meanings well enough to need less visual prompts. Unlike the Rider Waite Smith Tarot system, there are not many books to help you learn the Marseilles deck. Well, lucky for me, The Moon Parlor mentions a book just for that: Marseille Tarot: Towards The Art of Reading. The other big author in learning Marseilles Tarot in modern times is Alejandro Jodorowsky, who is also mentioned in the post. His book is The Way of Tarot, a book that I have seen mentioned in a few other places, and I am likely to add to my collection. When it comes to learning Marseilles Tarot, I need all the help I can get.
  • Via Death and Tarot, a video highlighting the book 78 Degrees of Wisdom by Rachel Pollack. From what I  understand, this is considered a classic in Tarot studies.
  • Via Benebell Wen’s blog, a review of Foundations of the Esoteric Traditions. The book is a companion to the Tarot of the Holy Light Tarot deck. As it is self-published, just visit her post for links and details.
  • At the Eternal Athena Tarot blog they’ve been reading the book Tarot as a Way of Life.
  • Moving to other topics, Dick Gregory recently wrote an essay for college students about knowing when to pick your battles and what really matters in activism. He also mentions his autobiography, which he entitled Nigger, which the essay has inspired me to add to my reading list.
  • I find old paperbacks and their covers fascinating, including the so-called sleazy ones. Well, there is a book out on those covers highlighted at Bookgasm. The book is Sin-a-Rama: Sleaze Sex Paperbacks of the Sixties edited by B. Astrid Daley and Adam Parfrey. The book is also highlighted in this article from Dangerous Minds.
  • Like tacos? Want to learn more about tacos? Then maybe the book Tacopedia could help. It was featured at Wink Books.
  • The Library Juice blog points to a new journal in library science, the Journal of Intellectual Freedom and Privacy. Sounds like one to add to my reading list. Their first issue has a review of one of Library Juice’s books, which is of interest to me. The book is Where are all the Librarians of Color? The Experiences of People of Color in Academia.
  • The Rural Blog has a post on “Book about extended Appalachian family helps explain trials of the lesser-educated working class.” The book is Hillbilly Elegy.
  • Via Democracy Now!, a discussion on how Donald Trump made his fortune with public subsidies and political favors with a reporter who has tracked and covered Trump since Trump early days. That reported is author of a Trump biography: Trump: The Greatest Show on Earth: The Deals, the Downfall, the Reinvention. The book was published in 1991, but it has recently been released again as an e-book with some updates. For those wanting to learn more about the man, this book is a possibility, and in the report, the author provides various updates.

 

Lists and bibliographies:


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