Alchemical Thoughts

Posts Tagged ‘pop culture


I have reached 70 of these lists. Never ceases to amaze me how many interesting books I keep finding that I want to read someday, and if any of my readers find a reading idea in these posts, that is cool too. As some of you may know, I recently started studying Tarot, so that explains why you may find a book or two on Tarot on these lists once in a while. So, let’s see what has made the list this week.

Items about books  I want to read:

  • While I am not sure I would personally get a tattoo (I have speculated on what I  would get if I ever decide to do it), I have mentioned previously that I do find tattoo art fascinating, especially when it  is well done. So naturally, a book on tattoo art can be of interest to me. Via Boing Boing, I found Mitch O’Connell’s new book  of his tattoo art: Mitch O’Connell Tattoos Volume 2.
  • Also via Boing Boing, a chance to look back at a bit of my childhood with  a  book on toys from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. The book is Toys of the ‘50s, ’60s and ’70s.
  • Coloring books are a craze these days with adults, and there  is one for just about any topic under the sun.  For instance, there is a Sex Toy Coloring Book (link to publisher, warning cover is  slightly NSFW). The book was reviewed at Bea’s Book Nook. Sounds like something you and your special someone can share in fun.
  • In Llewellyn’s blog, Barbara Moore writes a bit about the book Psychic Tarot and how to integrate  some of its  advice. The book sounds intriguing to me as I continue my learning journey in Tarot and oracle cards.
  • Also at the Llewellyn blog, Moore also speaks on how some Tarot books specific to one deck can still have information you can use with  other decks. While at it, she mentions the book The Ultimate Guide to Thoth Tarot. Down the road, I would like to learn and study the Thoth Tarot deck.
  • My interest in Tarot and oracle cards continues. At the moment, I just read the cards for myself mainly as a meditation tool. So a book on how to read better for yourself is something I would be interested in. The Tarot Lady interviews Courtney Weber, author of Tarot for One.
  • Meanwhile, Tarot with Jeff has been doing a bit of Tarot history reading with the book A Wicked Pack of Cards.
  • Marion Nestle at Food Politics highlights the book Ten Restaurants that Changed America.
  • Via The Information Literacy Weblog, link to the free information literacy e-book Got a Minute? This is billed as a collection  of essays for busy instruction librarians. It’s the kind of quick refresher I can always use.
  • Dark Horse has a 30th anniversary edition of their Aliens comics. The book is Aliens 30th Anniversary: The Original Comic Series, and it was reviewed at Wink Books.
  • Apparently, Salvador Dali at one point put a cookbook together. Being Dali, it is a surrealist cookbook. Turns out that Taschen is reprinting the book, and I would love to take a look at it. The book is Les Diners de Gala, and I heard about it at the Fine Books & Collections blog.
  • With the election of Donald Trump, some wonder if the signs were there. I can say that yes, they were. If people had paid attention and heeded the lessons of the past, and actually gave a damn about their fellow human beings, the Con Man of Mar-a-Lago would not be headed to the White House; some people have labeled him as Caudillo of Mar-a-Lago, but that is an insult to what caudillo actually means (I am Latino, believe me, I know a thing or two about real caudillos). But let me move past digression. Some folks have  been looking around to see if works anywhere predicted the election. Here is one that could be convincing in that regard. The New York Times highlights the book Achieving Our Country by Richard Rorty. They highlighted three paragraphs from the book that are now all over the Internet, reviving interest in the 1998 book. I am not usually one to pick up books that go viral, but the passages have made me curious enough to be interested because they pretty much reflect other things I have read that confirm what the book’s author wrote. Hat tip to 3 Quarks Daily. The signs were definitely there.
  • I have mentioned before that I find old books interesting. Here is  How to Speak with the Dead from 1918, which you can read for free online thanks to Tip via Daily Tarot.
  • And speaking of the dead, here is a book of essays and photos of the dearly departed. The book is Memento Mori, and it was reviewed at Wink Books.
  • Staying a bit more with the odd and curious, here is a book of botanical images that looks interesting. The book is Cabinet of Natural Curiosities, and it was reviewed at Wink Books.
  • Wink Books also recommends B.P.R.D. 1946-1948. I already like Hellboy and the B.P.R.D., so I do not need too much arm twisting to pick that one up.
  • Again, here is another of those illustrated books that show how things work that I just love to look over. The book is Food Anatomy, and it was highlighted at Wink Books.
  • This one may help me get a bit of LGBTQIA reading in, and it is a graphic novel too. The book is Queer: a Graphic History, and it was presented at Lambda Literary.
  • Based on a True Story reviews a new book about marijuana and cannabis. The book is Brave New Weed.
  • Wink Books reviews a cook book by Alton Brown that seems to channel his Good Eats show days (before he went downhill). The book is Alton Brown: EveryDayCook.


Lists and bibliographies:

  • Horror Novel Reviews offers a list  of “10 Horror Novels That Deserve a Big Screen Adaptation.” For me, this is also a list of possible reading suggestions.
  • Recent reviews and responses to the book Hillbilly Elegy have been mixed to say the least. If you want to read other things instead of that book or to supplement if you already read it, here is a list of other books you may be interested in. Via The Booklist Reader.
  • I always wish I had to the time to improve on my handwriting ( do write in a pretty good cursive, but there is always room to improve) and even learn calligraphy. In the meantime, I can read a bit about it, so here is a list of books that can help you learn hand lettering and calligraphy. Via BookRiot.
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.


This is the list of books I reviewed over at The Itinerant Librarian for the month of September, 2016. If you missed any of the reviews, or you just want to learn more about a book, check out the links. As always, comments are welcome, so if you read any of these, feel free to tell me what you think about the book.

  • I read Silence. This is Thich Nhat Hanh’s treatise on the power of silence and mindfulness.
  • I reread Denis Leary’s Why We Suck. I did it as an audiobook this time. If  you like his stand up comedy, you will probably enjoy this. He reads the audiobook.
  • I read Nicholas Pileggi’s Casino. This book is the basis of the movie with Robert De Niro and Sharon Stone.
  • I read the two volumes of the “Having Coffee with Jesus” comics series.

Once again, I come across once of those frugality posts at Wise Bread that makes me question if the writers either really know how the world works, or I am just so out of the loop and mellow that I did not realize women in particular were so high maintenance when it comes to dating. But even in the day when I was dating the woman who became The Better Half, I did not go about spending a fortune on her, and lucky for me, she was a modest woman who was not expecting a man to spend a fortune on her. I know I am a lucky guy. If I had to go back on the dating scene, I might as well give it up, shave my head, and become a Tibetan Buddhist monk because the odds that I will be spending freely as their post suggests is just not an option for me. So, what does the author at Wise Bread have to say on how much you ought to be spending?

“Your paycheck should govern how much you can afford. Cosmopolitan found that men spend about $80 on a first date, on average. Other sources suggest that the typical person spends between $50–$100 on date night, occurring on average once a month. However, according to, 58% of women don’t even want an expensive date.”

Well, kind of duh. You cannot eat steak on a hamburger budget as the saying goes. However, funny how you never hear of that 58% of women who do not want an expensive date. If you believe Cosmo (not that you should, but humor me) or those “other sources” then you are looking at $50 to $100 bucks easily. I guess if you do the bar scene where each cocktail costs you $8 to $10 bucks a pop plus dinner could start getting you up there. Add a movie at a movie theater, and I guess you may be up to $100 by the time you do the tickets, the popcorn and pop you will have to buy while there.

You see, when I started dating The Better Half we were college students. In other words, we were mostly broke as college students are prone to be. A decent date night was a simple dinner at a local pizza joint she liked (in large part because they used to make the best saucy pizza with pepperoni and pineapple she’s ever had), and then a movie at the second run movie theater, where if you stayed up a bit late, movies could be had for .99 cents plus a little tax. Yes, you read that right, ninety-nine cents. If I spent $20 to $25 bucks, that was good, and she was happy. In the end I am lucky because we are both pretty modest and frugal in our tastes. Bar scene was not really for us. Sure, we had been to a college bar once or twice, but it really was not our thing. $100 date night? We’d both flinch at the idea of spending that much on a single date unless we were  going out of town, and it better include a hotel stay.

“Spending freely on your first date is a great way to show your date that you are serious, but it doesn’t mean that you need to continue spending the same amount on future dates. After all, you don’t want to be too frugal on the first date, which can make you seem cheap.”

Ah yes, the eternal dating challenge. Spend too little, and she thinks you are a cheapskate. But spend too much and then you end up building that expectation. Dudes, simple solution. Find women that have reasonable expectations.

“If you decide to go on a date during one of these expensive holidays, you can expect to spend more.”

Again, duh. By now, The Better Half and I learned to have those special dates around those holidays, before, usually after. In part because our work schedules are not always compatible. She often works on days like the Hallmark Holiday (Valentine’s Day). So we have adapted and usually go out the day after or a few days later. However, the secret is this: I take care of my honey, and I do so year round. I express love and romance  year round. That way, when the Hallmark Holiday rolls around I do not have to panic like those other guys to get overpriced flowers and pray to the deities that fancy restaurant will have a last minute reservation that should have been booked months ago, not the day of the holiday.  I took care of her, and she knows it.

The article does give some tips on cheap dates, although given how they seemed to poo poo the idea of being cheap on a first date specially I honestly wonder why bother with the suggestions. Still, some of the ideas are things we have done at home:

  • “Go to a food, film, music, or art festival.” When we can, we get in the car and drive out a bit to some local festival. A nice way to be outdoors usually, see a few things, and not spend a lot.
  • “Show off your cooking skills instead of dining out.” We have done this as well. We both can cook, so it means we get to show off to each other. And hey, cooking together can be a very nice bonding experience.

However, the article did have one good line: “You should find a partner that is worth your time, not just your money. ”


Overall, the article had moments that seemed a bit contradictory. Yes, be frugal, but do not be cheap. Spend more on that first date because you need to impress her. But try not to break the bank neither. So, in the end, take it with a big grain of salt, preferably cheap salt from the grocery store and not fancy organic rock salt.

On a side note, the article also reminded me of this old Tom and Jerry cartoon. I will warn you, if you have not seen it before, it is a seriously dark one.




You  know the drill folks. These lists keep growing, but I still hold on to hope. I just keep finding interesting books I would like to read some day. These are also books I think some of my readers may find of interest. If any of you out there do read any of these, please feel free to comment and let me know your thoughts.

Items about books I want to read:

  • I remember reading a while back the book Freakonomics (link to my review of the book) where it discusses how local drug dealers often lived with their moms and were not doing as well as many people think. However, like in many other major businesses, the guys on top usually do pretty well. NPR now highlights a new book that suggests that drug cartels are run a lot like Walmart and McDonald’s. The book is Narconomics.
  • Also via NPR, a cookbook on Korean food. The book is Koreatown.
  • I often remember seeing the ads for various tricks and pranks on the backs of comic books. Wink Books reviews a book looking at one of the companies that made such products: the S.S. Adams Company. The book is Life of the Party.
  • Another art book reviewed by the guys at Wink Books. This time it’s one of my favorite artists: Frank Frazetta. The book is Testament: A Celebration of the Life and Art of Frank Frazetta .
  • OK, one more from Wink Books because I really like the subject of this one: vintage postcards. The book is Postcard America: Curt Teich and the Imaging of a Nation, 1931-1950.
  • Joshua Kim wonders why people are not reading Move: Putting America’s Infrastructure Back in the Lead. It is an important topic in the United States, and you likely will not hear about it from any single mainstream politician in the 2016 election (Democrat or Republican).
  • Let’s put in a little something related to work. Via The Decolonized Librarian, a review of The Dialectic of Academic Librarianship.
  • Via Marion Nestle’s Food Politics blog, a note that the book Forked is out. The book is about low wage restaurant workers. As the book summary states, this book deals with “what we don’t talk about when we talk about restaurants: Is the line cook working through a case of stomach flu because he doesn’t get paid sick days? Is the busser not being promoted because he speaks with an accent? Is the server tolerating sexual harassment because tips are her only income?” and other questions that not only we should be asking but addressing.
  • Via Arabic Literature (in English) blog, a novel about Lybian dictator Muammar Ghaddafi. The novel is The Dictator’s Last Night. I have not read it, but it reminds me of Vargas Llosa’s La Fiesta del Chivo (The Feast of the Goat), which is about Dominican Republic dictator Trujillo.
  • This could be interesting. It alleges to be a history of the reference shelf; this is something that appeals to the librarian in me. The book is You Could Look It Up, and it was reviewed on NPR.
  • Why are people fleeing Central America? The violence is a big reason according to a new book discussed at In These Times.  The book is A History of Violence: Living and Dying in Central America.
  • Via Manga Report, a review of the first volume of Bloody Mary.
  • A Case of Suitable Treatment looks at Shigeru Mizuki’s Hitler. This made me think of the five-volume series Adolf by Osamu Tezuka, which I read a while back. (Link to to my review of the first volume).
  • Apparently Tim Burton draws even in napkins, and someone put some of that art in a book. The book is Things You Think About in a Bar (link to Amazon, since as of this post, WorldCat does not have it) and it was reviewed at Blogcritics.
  • Via Based on a True Story, a review of a new book on the rise of coffee behemoth Starbucks. The book is Starbucked.
  • On the one hand, this sounds like one of those hipster mixology books where the cocktails are made with all sorts of ingredients the average person will never find in a lifetime. On the other hand, the story of the bar that inspired the book sounds interesting, so there is just enough to catch my attention. The book is The Dead Rabbit Drinks Manual, and it was reviewed at Drinkhacker.


Lists and bibligraphies:



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.


Look, we made it to 60 of these lists of books I would like to read someday. So, let’s get on with it.

Items about books I want to read:

  • The Graphic Canon volumes of graphic novels on classical works is a set I have been wanting to read for a while now. And now, to add to the list, there is a volume for children’s classic literature. The book is The Graphic Canon of Children’s Literature, and it was mentioned at Wink Books.
  • A new manga to me. The book is Assassination Classroom, Volume 2. I will have to seek out the first volume as well to catch up. The premise, as described for the first volume: “The students in Class 3-E of Kunugigaoka Junior High have a new teacher: an alien octopus with bizarre powers and unlimited strength, who’s just destroyed the moon and is threatening to destroy the earth–unless they can kill him first!” From looking at WorldCat, it is up to six volumes as of this post. The second volume that caught my eye was reviewed at A Case for Suitable Treatment.
  • This is not so much to read as to color. Adult coloring books seem to be a fad these days, and here is one for kinksters. The book is The BDSM Coloring Book: An Activity Book For Kinksters With Crayons (Amazon link on this one). It was reviewed at BDSM Book Reviews.
  • Apparently, Mickey Spillane, author of the Mike Hammer novels, left a novel or two unfinished. Max Allan Collins is working as literary executor and helping finish those works. One of them is out, and that is Kill Me, Darling. The book was reviewed in Bookgasm. I have enjoyed some older Mike Hammer novels, so I am curious enough to check this new one out.
  • I am a fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, so of course this book has to make my list. The book is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Visual History. It was reviewed at Wink Books.
  • Also, I find tattoo art fascinating when it is well crafted. I may have mentioned this before. Anyhow, also via Wink Books, here is Bodies of Subversion: a Secret History of Women and Tattoo. Because yes, before these days when inked women seem to be all over, there was a time that for a woman to get any ink on her body was a very subversive thing.
  • Here is a different look at the world of porn, a book that “aimed to explore the dynamic of how porn performers and sex workers reveal their occupation to family, friends and outsiders.” The book is Coming Out Like a Porn Star, and it was reviewed in Ms. Naughty’s Porn for Women.
  • And speaking of things that do not come out (on the media, in news, etc. Yea, I know, it was a bad segue but you try going from porn to geopolitics of American bases abroad), we rarely if ever hear of the extended U.S. Empire and how it is kept by a very hefty network of U.S. bases around the world. You can learn more about that in this article from Common Dreams. The article also mentions the book Base Nation on U.S. military bases abroad, which sounded interesting enough to add to my list of books to read down the road.
  • Osamu Tezuka is in the pantheon of top manga artists, and here is a book devoted to his art. The book is The Art of Osamu Tezuka, and it was reviewed at Wink Books.
  • Another interesting art book is Aurora Monster Scenes. If you are old enough, you may remember those toys. The book was also reviewed at Wink Books.
  • Here is a book with some humor on drinking, which, if nothing else, “It’s perfect bathroom reading.” Hey, I am always looking for bathroom reading material. Anyhow, the book is You Suck at Drinking, and it was reviewed at Drinkhacker.
  • Like movies? Want to learn about those “overlooked masterpieces” you may have somehow missed? Well, then Trash Cinema may be the book for you. (Amazon link this time as it seems WorldCat does not have it). The book was reviewed at Bookgasm.
  • Robert Reich recently finished a book tour and talks about what he learned traveling in “red state” America. The book he was touring for is Saving Capitalism.
  • Marion Nestle mentions in her blog that she was recently reading Falafel Nation about Israeli cuisine recently.
  • I recently read Theda Skocpol’s book on the Tea Party, which I will be reviewing soon. One of the things I became very aware of is how conservatives in the U.S. use a lot of code language to hide their bigotry and racism in polite company. That book goes into that. Now, I recently came across this other book which would make a nice follow up. The book is Dog Whistle Politics, and it was discussed at Addicting Info.
  • A little something in librarianship. Rory Litwin interviews Stephen Bale, author of the book The Dialectic of Academic Librarianship.



Lists and bibliographies:

  • I did not know that July 25 is the National Day of the American Cowboy. So whether July 25 or any other time, if you would like to read a western or two, here is a small list from The Booklist Reader.
  • Here are a couple of manga reviews on “Prison School and Twin Star Exorcists” from The Manga Critic. Post has a few other titles to look over.
  • By now, mass shootings and overall gun fetishism are business as usual in the United States. There is a lot going on these days, and a lot of it is not good. Perhaps to help out a bit, I am sharing this list of books to read on the topic of “Guns, Politics, and Fear” that I found at Book Riot.
  • Tame the Web blog features a list for “Teaching Students About Information.” This is for library school students mostly.
  • Whether you read this list from The Booklist Reader on summer or not, here are some books on the theme of “I am what I eat.


The list keeps growing, but I still hold on to the hope I will get to a few of these at some point in the future. In the meantime, here are few more books I would like to read some day.

Items about books I want to read:

  • I am not a huge fan of syrup, as in the stuff you put on pancakes. I may bit a little itty bit on my pancakes, or if they are really good, just butter. Still, this book sounded interesting enough, so I am adding it. The book is The Sugar Season,  and it is about a family that makes maple syrup. I am always interested in how things are made.  It was featured in San Francisco Book Review.
  • I do keep up with a lot of the library literature, as I say on my professional blog, “so you don’t have to.” I also often see and read about what other librarians may be reading. A recent kerfuffle in the news was the article from The New York Times about how badly Amazon treats its workers, which to be honest, knowing how Amazon just exploits anyone and anything, should not have been surprising. The article elicited various replies, and I even noticed a librarian or two bringing it  up, for various reasons. Anyhow, for me now, I see that makes this book more timely. The book is Mindless: Why Smarter Machines are Making Dumber Humans, and it was also featured at San Francisco Book Review. To be honest, I am a bit surprised one of those computer obsessed librarians did not read and review this one. Maybe down the road I will get to it.
  • Fantagraphics has that excellent EC Library series going. I’ve been fortunate to read some of their volumes, and here is another one now: Bomb Run and Other Stories, which are 1950s war comics. The book was featured at Wink Books.
  • And also via Wink Books, one more collection of old vintage comics. The book is The Blighted Eye. These come from the private collection of Glenn Bray, and it is also published by Fantagraphics.
  • Recently, Black Cultural Center at the campus I work at had a success retreat for some students. We went down to the Haley Farm, home of the Children’s Defense Fund. I may blog about that experience at another time. The lodge had a small bookstore, and I saw this book there, which I have been meaning to read. It also reminded me I had an item in my feed reader about it, so it may be time to move it ahead in my cue and read it sooner rather than later. I am not sure if I will get to it in what is left of 2015, but I can tell you that I have read quite a few books about the U.S. Civil Rights Era this year. The book is This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed, and it was featured also in San Francisco Book Review.
  • Next, we have a look at the history of corruption in the United States. Given how things are going these days, this one also seems like a timely book. The book is Corruption in America, and it was reviewed at Inside Higher Ed.
  • Marion Nestle has a new book coming out soon, and she is starting to promote it. The book is Soda Politics. This may be one I order for our library.
  • I do not know how the heck I missed seeing this sooner, since Ultraman was a huge part of my childhood, and I do read quite a bit of manga. Anyhow, there is a manga of Ultraman out; I definitely have to get my hands on that. It was reviewed at Manga Blog.
  • As of this post, this book is fairly new, so no information in WorldCat yet. As a librarian and educator, books on sexual health and education interest me, and I am always on the lookout for good ones I can pass on to others. The book is The Sex and Pleasure Book. The authors were interviewed here.
  • The author of the book Thieves of State discusses in this piece why Afghanistan will fall to the Taliban again. Worth a look, and the book sounds like worth a read in these times.

Lists and bibliographies:

February 2017
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