Alchemical Thoughts

Posts Tagged ‘pop culture

(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.



A nice variety this week for this list. From urban gentrification to B-movies to erotica, there is a bit of everything this week. So, let’s have a look at some things I would like to read down the road.

Items about books I want to read:

  • We begin this time with a book about gentrification and cities. This new photography book, discussed in Grist, “juxtapose[s] photos of defunct New York City mom-and-pops with their depressing corporate replacements. . . .” The book is Store Front: the Disappearing Face of New York.
  • Moving on to exploited and underpaid food workers. Why is this a big dea? Because among other issues, when they get sick, they cannot afford to take a sick day; hell, they don’t even get sick days. This was a topic I highlighted in my personal blog a while back, and it is one that should concern anyone who eats out. There is a new book out on the topic, Behind the Kitchen Door, and it was discussed in Bill Moyers’ website here.
  • Via Bookgasm, a book about “a group of men sent on suicide missions, more or less, but always pull it off.” The book is the comic collection Rat Pack: Guns, Guts and Glory.
  • As some of you know, I like beautiful women, and I do like vintage photos of classic women. So, via Bookgasm, this book which is “a babe-by-babe survey of some of 1960s cinema’s sexiest screen starlets” is certainly of interest. The book is Drive-In Dream Girls: a Galaxy of B-movie Starlets of the Sixties.
  • Let’s add a little steampunk to the list here. Via Blogging for a Good Book, the recommendation for Jack Dann’s and Nick Gevers’ steampunk short fiction anthology Ghosts by Gaslight. It looks like a ghost story collection with a steampunk element.
  • When it comes to erotica, I often enjoy the anthologies published by Cleis Press. For instance, I recently read Serving Him: Sexy Stories of Submission edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel. The book I am highlighting now has been on my cue a while, so I am adding it to my reading list now. Reviewed in Lambda Literary, the book in question this time is Say Please: Lesbian BDSM Erotica edited by Sinclair Sexsmith.
  • Via My Bookish Ways, a new author for me with a short story collection. The reviewer writes, “Daniel José Older captures all of the dark recesses of the human heart and puts them to the page, all the while capturing the blinding light of the human spirit.” The book is Salsa Nocturna.
  • Let’s switch over to food a bit. Like this reviewer writing for Powell’s, I too am a fan of pizza. So a book like My Pizza: The Easy No-Knead Way to Make Spectacular Pizza at Home would be of interest.
  • And now, a little manga. The Neon Genesis Evangelion is a series I have been meaning to read. Viz Media is putting out omnibus editions, and A Case for Suitable Treatment reviews the first omnibus volume, which covers the first three volumes of the series.
  • I often say that my generation and I may be the last ones who were actually taught handwriting formally, certainly may be the last to learn cursive. Then again, my parents sent me to Catholic school, and the brothers were big on teaching handwriting. I have to say that skill has served me well in various things including keeping my personal journals. So, this book by Philip Hensher on the topic sounds interesting. The book is The Missing Ink: The Lost Art of Handwriting, and it was reviewed at Lambda Literary.
  • I will admit that what attracted me to this book initially was the title. It looks like one of those light humor books I enjoy now and then, often while sitting in the porcelain throne. The book is Earn Your MBA on the Toilet, and it was featured at City Book Review.
  • Let’s stay with humor a bit more. Also featured at City Book Review, here is Pu Pu Hot Pot: the World’s Best Restaurant Names.


Lists and bibliographies:

  • Microhistories are one of my favorite genres in nonfiction. Book Riot had a post with a list entitled “Microhistories of the Mundane: 10 Books About Everyday Stuff.” This is the kind of neat bookish post I enjoy from Book Riot, but they just do not seem to do as many of these lately. From the list, I did read Petroski’s The Pencil, but that one was a bit disappointing. However, one not so good book is not going to stop me from reading others in the list.
  • Here is another neat list Book Riot did a while back, this one on “15 Fabulous Bookish Pinterest Boards.” I am not a fan of Pinterest, but these seem worth a look.
  • And if you need to find reading ideas and like reading about the reading life, a while back Flavorwire had a list of “The 25 Best Websites for Literature Lovers.”
  • Smut Book Club had a list of “The Dirtiest Books Your Must Read.” Actually, that sounds like a challenge. Some of these do not sound that dirty, more like funny (if we go by some of the titles at least).

(Crossposted from my professional blog, The Gypsy Librarian)

Made it to 2013. We are in the middle of January 2014; it feels like I am running a bit late in terms of doing my annual reading report, but it’s all good in the end. I feel this has been a good reading year. It was not as good of a blogging year, at least for the professional blog (this one), but I am at peace with that. It’s not that I have stopped writing. I keep writing, but I often do more of my reflections about librarianship both my work and the profession in the privacy of my journal. I’ve also learned to simply stay away from the drama and soap opera that Librarian Blogsylvania (and a couple other forums) often displays. So, I blog here as I feel the need to or when I want to document something I feel important.

On the positive, I have been blogging more over on my personal blog, The Itinerant Librarian. For one, I decided to go back to posting my book notes here on the blog after I make notes for them in my journal. In part, I was motivated by GoodReads being bought by Amazon, and in part, well, I just wanted to post more book reviews. Reading has always been an important part of my life. As a librarian, I take pride in the fact that I read a lot, and I try to read a variety of things. Sharing them on the blog is a bit of fun, is a way to have some content on the blog, and maybe some other reader out there finds a good reading suggestion or two from my book notes.

In addition, this was the year I registered with NetGalley, and shortly after with Edelweiss. Also, this year I can say is the year I started reading more e-books via the iPad, using apps, mainly Bluefire, but also Overdrive for library books and Kindle. I may write later on some of my experiences reading e-books with these devices and software. I can say that I have slowly but surely built up as a book blogger, and I am enjoying it very much. This has allowed me to read more I think, and it has allowed me to try out a few new things; for instance, I have always read erotica (something the Better Half and I enjoy very much), but it was not something I shared publicly (in part due to that whole pesky “librarian image” thing). This year I finally decided to share some of those books and review them as well on the blog. Don’t worry. I am not going into full “sex blogger” mode; this is more just adding some depth and variety to my book blogging with something I have always read and enjoyed. If one of the four readers is too prudish, well, there are other blogs out there he or she can read. To sum up, the risk is a bit lower when you read a galley or review copy, so trying new things feels easier. Now on The Itinerant Librarian, I strive to combine reviews from newer things (many of these items via NetGalley, Edelweiss, or the one or two publishers who have me on their reviewer lists– another small experience to write about later) plus new and old things on my “to be read” lists, things from the library (yes, I still check out books quite a bit), and things I purchase. It’s been fun; it’s something I enjoy sharing and writing about, and as a librarian, it has none of the drama. Life in that regard is good.

I also tried a book challenge this year, which sadly I did not get to complete mainly due to the very serendipitous way in which I read. I will write about that soon.  The other experience I enjoyed very much was participating in my local public library’s summer reading program. This also got me to read more, and I did read a few new things outside what I usually read. I have been meaning to write about it, so I hope I can do so soon. Overall, it was a good year of new experiences in reading, and I hope this new year keeps the positive reading experience coming.

So, let’s see how we did in 2013:

The basic numbers:

I read 173 books this year, including 2 re-reads.

Number of books read in 2012: 117, with 6 re-reads (the 2012 list).
Number of books read in 2011: 119, with 3 re-reads (the 2011 list).
Number of books read in 2010:  119, with 6 rereads (the 2010 list).
Number of books read in 2009: 98, with 5 rereads. I believe this is the first time I started to actively track rereads. (the 2009 list).
Number of books read in 2008: 111 (the 2008 list).
Number of books read in 2007: 85 (the 2007 list).
Number of books read in 2006: 106 (the 2006 list).
Number of books read in 2005: 73

I read a lot more this year; 56 more books than last year. As I noted, this was the year I joined NetGalley and Edelweiss. I have been more active on NetGalley (easier to use), and it shows. Many of the books I read in 2013 were either e-galleys or e-book review copies (on NetGalley, sometimes they send a rough galley, and other times they do send a full e-book version).

I did not reread much this year. One of the two rereads was Batman: The Long Halloween, which is a small tradition for me around Halloween. Rereads are marked in the list with an asterisk. As I did in 2012, I now track how many books I borrow from libraries (my library or others, say ILL), and I will go over that and other numbers in the commentary below the list. As always, if a book title is not as clear, I have added small details in parenthesis (say to make clear it is a graphic novel or part of a series). Most of the books listed below have been reviewed on my blog, The Itinerant Librarian, or you can find brief reviews on my BookLikes profile (this would apply more for older things before I restarted book reviewing on the blog, and it was imported from GoodReads. My BL profile is linked on the right side of the blogs). To read reviews at The Itinerant Librarian, simply click on the label for “books and reading.” The only exception: the professional books I read and review go here at The Gypsy Librarian.

So, finally, here is the my reading list for 2013. I will add comments and thoughts, as I always do, after the list:


  • Gav Thorpe, Path of the Seer (Path of the Eldar series, Book 2, Warhammer 40K).
  • Ben Counter, Galaxy in Flames (The Horus Heresy, Book 3, Warhammer 40K).
  • Kagan McLeod, Infinite Kung Fu.
  • David Borgenicht, Star Trek Book of Opposites.
  • Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead, Book 8 (hardcover compilation).
  • Pascale Le Draoulec, American Pie.
  • Howard Stelzer and Ashley Stelzer, Beer Cocktails.
  • Henry H. Owings, The Indie Cred Test.
  • Nathan Edmondson, Who is Jake Ellis? Vol. 1.
  • bell hooks, Appalachian Elegy: Poetry and Place.
  • Lisa Dodson, The Moral Underground.


  • Christian Dunn, ed., Treacheries of the Space Marines (Short story collection, Warhammer 40K).
  • Don McLeod, How to Find Out Anything.
  • James Swallow, The Flight of the Eisenstein (The Horus Heresy, Book 4, Warhammer 40K).
  • Stephen Colbert, America Again.
  • Willie Nelson, Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die.
  • Mike W. Barr, Star Trek Archives: The Best of DS 9.
  • Howard Chaykin, Batman: Thrillkiller.
  • Christopher De Hamel, Bibles: An Illustrated History from Papyrus to Print.
  • Geoff Johns, JLA, Vol. 18: A Crisis of Conscience.
  • Frank Miller, Ronin.
  • Frank Miller, 300.
  • Mathew Inman, How to Tell if Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You.
  • Shouji Sato, Triage X, Vol. 1.
  • Larry Kramer, The Normal Heart.
  • Quino, Mafalda 2*.


  • Jeph Loeb, Absolute Batman: Hush.
  • Scott Tipton, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine- Fool’s Gold.
  • Dwayne Mack,, eds., Mentoring Faculty of Color.
  • Frank Tieri, X-Men: Apocalypse/Dracula.
  • René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo, Asterix and Obelix’s Birthday: The Golden Book.
  • Marc Andreyko, What Is It That Disturbs You, Stephen?  (Dr. Strange graphic novel).
  • Ily Goyanes, ed., Girls Who Score: Lesbian Erotic Stories.
  • Jonathan Hickman, The Manhattan Projects, Volume 1: “Science Bad.”
  • Peter Milligan, X-Men/Black Panther: Wild Kingdom.
  • Grant Morrison, JLA: Earth 2.
  •  Jeph Loeb, Wolverine: Sabretooth Reborn.
  • Andrew Finkel, Turkey: What Everyone Needs to Know.
  • Graham McNeill, Fulgrim (The Horus Heresy, Book 5, Warhammer 40K).
  • Richard Sala, Delphine.
  • Dan Abnett, The New Deadwardians.


  • Mitchel Scanlon, Descent of Angels (The Horus Heresy, Book 6, Warhammer 40K).
  • Mike Ashley, ed., The Mammoth Book of New Jules Verne Adventures.
  • Chris Claremont, X-Men: Days of Future Past.
  • David Hine, X-Men: Colossus- Bloodline.
  • Chris Claremont, X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills.
  • Chris Claremont and Frank Miller (art), Wolverine.
  • Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo (art), Joker.
  • Antony Wild, Coffee: A Dark History.
  • René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo (illustrator), Asterix Omnibus, Vol. 3.
  • Ron Rash, Waking (poetry).
  • Rachel Kramer Bussel, ed., Serving Him: Sexy Stories of Submission.
  • Rebecca L. Hunter, Mail-order Homes: Sears Homes and Other Kit Houses.
  • Mark Waid,, Daredevil, Vol. 1.
  • Paul Nathan, Generation Ink.


  • Stuart Manning,, Dark Shadows, Vol. 1.
  • Carol Smallwood, ed., Librarians as Community Partners: an Outreach Handbook.
  • Dan Abnett, Legion (The Horus Heresy, Book 7, Warhammer 40K).
  • E.B. Hudspeth, The Resurrectionist: The Lost Work of Dr. Spencer Black.
  • Ed Brubaker, Uncanny X-Men: Rise and Fall of the Shi’ar Empire.
  • Glenn Andrews, Salsas!
  • Carlos Batts, Fat Girl.
  • Henry Rollins, Occupants.
  • Al Feldstein, and Jack Davis (illustrator), ‘Taint the Meat. . . It’s the Humanity!: and Other Stories Illustrated by Jack Davis.
  • Emmet Purcell, 99 Reasons Everyone Hates Facebook.
  • Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein, It’s Even Worse Than It Looks.
  • Scott Adams, Your New Job Title is “Accomplice”: A Dilbert Book.
  • Mateus Santolouco, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Secret History of the Foot Clan.  
  • Pete Von Sholly, Pete Von Sholly’s Morbid.  
  • Scott Adams, 14 Years of Loyal Service in a Fabric-Covered Box: A Dilbert Book.  
  • Kazuke Ebine, Gandhi: A Manga Biography.  
  • Sean Murphy, Punk Rock Jesus.


  • Quinrose, Alice in the Country of Clover: Cheshire Cat Waltz, Vol. 1.
  • Justin Aclin, Star Wars: The Clone Wars– The Smuggler’s Code.
  • Andy Hartnell, Danger Girl and the Army of Darkness.
  • Scott Snyder, Batman, Vol. 1: The Court of Owls. (DC Comics, The New 52).
  • Bob Fingerman, Maximum Minimum Wage.
  • Scott Snyder, Batman, Vol 2: The City of Owls. (DC Comics, The New 52).
  • Clark Lawlor, From Melancholia to Prozac: A History of Depression.
  • Jon Blacker, Musical Ink.
  • Al Feldstein,, and Al Williamson (illustrator), 50 Girls 50 and Other Stories Illustrated by Al Williamson.
  • Paul Dini,, Batman: Mad Love and Other Stories.
  • William Grimes, ed., The New York Times: Times of the Eighties.
  • Grant Morrison, Happy!
  • Jeffrey Brown, Darth Vader and Son.
  • Jeffrey Brown, Vader’s Little Princess.  
  • Mike Mignola, B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth, Vol. 6: The Return of the Master.  


  • Ben Counter, Battle for the Abyss (Horus Heresy, Book 8, Warhammer 40K).
  • Heather Arndt-Anderson, Breakfast: A History.
  • Robert Lanham, The Sinner’s Guide to the Evangelical Right.
  • John Ostrander, Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi, Vol. 2: Prisoner of Bogan.
  • Erik Burnham,, The New Ghostbusters, Vol. 1.
  • Stuart Moore, Wolverine Noir.
  • Kristina Wright, ed., Best Erotic Romance 2013.
  • Nathaniel Marunas, Manga Claus: The Blade of Kringle.
  • Geoff Johns,, Superman: Brainiac.
  • John Owens, Confessions of a Bad Teacher.
  • Darwyn Cooke and Amanda Conner, Before Watchmen: Minutemen/Silk Spectre.
  • Len Wein,, Before Watchmen: Ozymandias/Crimson Corsair.
  • J. Michael Straczynski, Before Watchmen: Nite Owl/Dr. Manhattan.
  • Brian Azarrello, Before Watchmen: Comedian/Rorschach.


  • Neal Thompson, A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert “Believe It Or Not” Ripley.
  • John Jackson Miller, Star Wars: Kenobi.
  • Fred Van Lente and Steve Kurth, G.I. Joe, Vol. 1: Homefront.
  • Tom Sniegoski and Johnny Desjardins, Vampirella Strikes, Vol. 1: On the Side of Angels.
  • Rachel Haimowitz and Heidi Belleau, The Flesh Cartel, Season 1: Damnation.
  • Agatha Christie, Thirteen at Dinner.
  • Harvey Kurtzman, Corpse on the Imjin and Other Stories by Harvey Kurtzman.
  • Eduardo Galeano, Los hijos de los días.
  • Charles M. Schulz, The Complete Peanuts: 1959-1960.
  • Tom Nissley and Joanna Neborsky, The Reader’s Book of Days.
  • Jim Heimann, ed., All American Ads of the 20s.
  • William Sitwell, A History of Food in 100 Recipes.
  • Scott Adams, Build a Better Life by Stealing Office Supplies.
  • Eugene Byrne, Darwin: A Graphic Biography.
  • James Sturm, Market Day.


  • Ronald L. Collins and David M. Skover, On Dissent: Its Meaning in America.
  • Grumpy Cat, Grumpy Cat: A Grumpy Book.
  • Chris Roberson, Sons of Dorn (Warhammer 40,000 novel)
  • Andrew E.C. Gaska, Classic Space 1999: To Everything That Was: Selected Remastered Works.
  • Matt Wagner, Green Hornet: Year One Omnibus.
  • Scott Adams, It’s Not Funny If  I Have to Explain It.
  • Eva Talmadge and Justin Taylor, The World Made Flesh: Literary Tattoos from Bookworms Worldwide.
  • Mairghread Scott, Transformers Prime: Beast Hunters, Volume 1.
  • Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, Saga, Vol. 1.
  • Matthew Chojnacki, Alternative Movie Posters: Film Art from the Underground.
  • Brian K. Vaughan, Saga, Vol. 2.
  • Mike Costa, G.I. Joe: The Cobra Files, Vol. 1.
  • Marion Nestle, Eat Drink Vote: an Illustrated Guide to Food Politics.
  • Mike Mignola, Hellboy: The Midnight Circus.
  • Sohaib Awan, Jinnrise, Vol. 1.
  • Charles Schultz, The Complete Peanuts: 1961-1962.
  • Tom Taylor, Injustice: Gods Among Us, Vol. 1.


  • Bernie Wrightson, Creepy Presents: Bernie Wrightson.
  • Russell Shorto, Amsterdam: a History of the World’s Most Liberal City.
  • George Grant and Karen Grant, Shelf Life.
  • Jason Rodriguez, ed., Postcards: True Stories That Never Happened.
  • Matz, The Killer Omnibus, Vol. 1.
  • Dennis O’Neil,, Nightwing: Ties That Bind.
  • Rachel Haimowitz, ed., Bump in the Night.
  • Ed Brubaker, Uncanny X-Men: The Extremists.
  • James O’Barr, The Crow: Curare.
  • Sean Michael Wilson, The 47 Ronin.
  • Jamyang Norbu, The Mandala of Sherlock Holmes.
  • Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, Batman: The Long Halloween.*
  • Various authors, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Villains Micro-Series, Vol. 1.
  • Scott Snyder, Batman, Vol. 3: Death of the Family. (The New 52)
  • Ed Brubaker, X-Men: Deadly Genesis.


  • Mike Mignola, B.P.R.D.: Vampire.
  • Ian Doescher, William Shakespeare’s Star Wars.
  • Mike Mignola, Hellboy, Vol. 10: The Crooked Man and Others.
  • Si Kahn, Creative Community Organizing.
  • Scott Lobdell, Teen Titans, Vol. 3: Death of the Family. (The New 52)
  • Charles M. Schulz, The Complete Peanuts: 1963-1964.
  • Monty L. McAdoo, Fundamentals of Library Instruction.
  • Matt Frank,, Godzilla: Rulers of Earth.
  • Howard Zinn,, A People’s History of American Empire.
  • Devon McCormack, Clipped.
  • Patrick Shand, Robyn Hood: Wanted.
  • Peter Tomasi, Batman and Robin, Vol. 3: Death of the Family (The New 52).


  • William Stoddart, An Illustrated Outline of Buddhism.
  • Stephen D. Korshak, ed., Frank R. Paul: Father of Science Fiction Art.
  • Devin Grayson, Batman: Year One- Ra’s Al Ghul.
  • Tom Taylor, Star Wars: Blood Ties- A Tale of Jango and Boba Fett.
  • Michael A. Stackpole, Star Wars: X-Wing Rogue Squadron- Blood and Honor.
  • Chris Metzen, Transformers: Monstrosity.
  • John Ostrander, Star Wars: Darkness.
  • Michael Walsh, The X-Files: Season 10, Vol. 1.
  • Diane E. Muldrow, Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Little Golden Book.
  • Nick Reding, Methland.
  • Neil Gaiman, Signal to Noise (new edition).
  • Stephan Pastis, Rat’s Wars (Pearls Before Swines collection).
  • Cullen Bunn, The Sixth Gun: Sons of the Gun.

Comments and thoughts:

  • Though I still prefer to read in print, this was the year that I truly took off in terms of reading e-books. I use my iPad, and on the iPad I mainly use the Bluefire app., followed by the Kindle app. For e-books, it is mostly free stuff. I do not buy e-books (I do very little shopping online overall, in part because I dislike using credit cards for that purpose, so I avoid it). E-galleys have been one way for me to read e-books. Another way has been a few online freebies I learn about from various sources; this is the only reason I have an Amazon account, for the occasional book freebie. In addition, I have also borrowed e-books from my local public library using Overdrive, which gave me exposure to that system. However, reading on the iPad is not always the most pleasant experience. In addition to its weight, it is still reading on a computer screen (eye strain issues, so on). Turning pages is not as seamless as the makers of e-books make out to be (and on iPad, at times, e-books do briefly “freeze” for seconds, frustrating when you want to read the next page, and it won’t turn). Plus, for bedtime, where I do a lot of my reading, I tend to prefer reading in print as a way to disconnect. So while I do read a lot more e-books, print is still my preferred reading method, and I still read a lot in print. I have not given up for print for electronic as other people have done, and I don’t foresee doing it anytime soon.
  • These days I am using BookLikes to both keep track of my books as well as just a bit of book blogging for fun. You can see my BookLikes profile here (or click the link on the right column of this blog).  In a nutshell, it is like a hybrid of what GoodReads does with Tumblr. It may not be as robust for some things librarians tend to like, but it works pretty well for me. Only thing I use GoodReads for these days is mostly to post links to reviews of books I have read for review, in other words, books from NetGalley, Edelweiss, or a publisher. Those folks tend to like it when you post in “big shot” places like Amazon and/or GoodReads. Amazon is not going to happen because to post a review there,  you have to have made an actual purchase (freebie downloads do not count), and I am not planning on doing one any time soon. However, since I already have a GR account, copying a link there when I add one of those books to my shelf is no big deal. I don’t give GR any more than that in terms of info. In terms of community, so far, people in BL seem fairly nice overall so far.
  • I still read a lot by serendipity. This is based on either mood or whatever I find interesting at a time. Sure, I keep TBR lists in various places, but I do a lot of “ooh, shiny new book” grabbing when I see something. That is just life, and I am perfectly cool with that. As I have noted before, some of my TBR lists you can find over at Alchemical Thoughts (just click on the “books and reading” tag when you get there). I also browse a lot, and I make notes. Still loving my pocket notebook, which works well for me because it is great for reminders, including jotting down books I want to read, which I then add to a list on the scratch pad, or borrow or buy depending on mood.
  •  Number of books read in the best month: 17 in September. Some good stuff that month, including the first two volumes of Saga.
  • Number of books read in the worst month: 11 in January, so I still did pretty good. Usually, if I get 10 books in a month, I feel in good shape. However, if I do less, I don’t lose sleep over it. I read what I read, and let the rest fall into place.
  • Fiction: 122. A lot of what I read this year fell under graphic novels, and most of those are fiction. I did read some nonfiction graphic novels, but the majority were fiction. This is exactly double the amount of fiction from last year.
  • Nonfiction: 51. I read five books less in nonfiction this year. I only read 2 books that would be classified as LIS. On this regard, I still do most of my LIS reading via articles. Though I have not made as many article notes this year, I do still keep up with the literature (some of it may be I read stuff, but I don’t consider it good enough to blog about it and share it). My remarks from last year regarding LIS books still hold this year. I did nonfiction in other areas of interest to librarians (or I think they should interest librarians) such as the topic of books and reading and the topic of community organizing.
  • Books borrowed:102. This breaks down as follows:
    • 79 books from my local public library, Madison County Public Library (I use the Berea branch, which also let’s me request items from the main branch as needed). I have to say we are very pleased here with the public library system. For a small system, they are very responsive; they do some pretty good collection development, and they are very open to suggestions from patrons. I know given that I have turned in suggestions for possible purchase. They got the items in pretty quick.
    • 2 via Overdrive. Out of the 79 above, I gave my public library’s Overdrive offerings a spin.
    • 8 Interlibrary loans (ILL) through my own library. If my public library does not have it, I go the ILL route. Most of my reading in the Horus Heresy series has been via ILL. I am not shy at all about using ILL whether for academic or popular stuff. Way I see it, it’s what it’s there for.
    • 15 books from my own library, Hutchins Library of Berea College.
  • Books read via NetGalley: 46. These were mostly graphic novels. However, I did get some nonfiction and fiction items this way as well.
  • Books read via Edelweiss: 3. I don’t like their interface as much, so I tend to use it less. However, for librarians, this may be a good source even if you do not request galleys for review because of the access you can get to publisher catalogs. Also, for galleys, they do tend to have some backlist items.
  • Books from other sources: 7. This would include books I have gotten directly from a publisher for review (one publisher I work with fairly regularly; the other more irregular) and a book or two won in some online contest.
  • Books that are mine: 13. This means books I have purchased (that were not review copies– I sometimes do get actual books– or galleys). Out of these, 2 were the rereads.This is part of why I failed my TBR challenge. I did not pay that much attention to the books I have already. Know what? It was still fun and worth it to do all that reading.
  • Graphic novels and comics: 98. Definitely a good year for graphic novels and comics. Many of these I read via NetGalley, mostly newer things such as the Before Watchmen series.
  • Mangas: 3. These three were part of my personal collection (they are mine). I have a good stack of mangas, so I hope to read a few more over this new year. I particularly enjoyed the Triage X series, upon which I will comment some more below. My comments from last year in terms of difficulty finding titles still apply. I still do my runs to “the big city” (Lexington) when I want to get a good bookstore. However, since I am reading more via NetGalley and/or other review methods, buying books has not been as urgent as before. But I still hunt for specific things to add to my personal collection.
  • Other categories: I read a couple of poetry books by Appalachian writers. Living in Appalachia as I do now (on the edge, but we are still Appalachia), I have felt a need to read about the region as well as explore writers of the region. You will probably see a few more of those kinds of books on my list for this year down the road. Got in some art books as well. Also, as I mentioned, some erotica, which I have always read, but this is the year I decided to go public in terms of reviewing it.
  • Book challenges: I did not complete the TBR book challenge as mentioned. I will write a separate post for that soon.

If you are still here, I am glad you stuck around. Let’s look at the part my four readers have been waiting for: my favorites of 2013. This definitely was a very good year in terms of good stuff to read. I will like to my reviews if I have a published review (for some, I have reviews completed, but scheduled for later on). Some of my favorites include:

  • Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga. This series for me was a pleasant discovery. I read the first trade paperback volumes, and I have to say this is among the best things I have read recently. It definitely deserves every positive accolade it has gotten. I will be looking for more volumes down the road. If you enjoy science fiction, fantasy, good stories, fables, so on, you need to be reading this. I wrote the review, and it will be appearing on this blog later, so stay tuned.
  • The Horus Heresy series. This has not been perfect, but overall it remains a favorite of mine. Some volumes have been excellent, some average, and at least one bad one. The bad one, so far, was volume 6, Descent of Angels (link to my review). I am currently reading Mechanicum, volume 9 of the series, and I do plan to continue reading the series. Fans of Warhammer 40K will certainly enjoy this series as well, with the caveat that, like many series with various authors, some volumes may be better than others, but so far, the positives have outweighed any negatives.
  • Dwayne Mack, Mentoring Faculty of Color.  This is one of the academic books I read this year. A bit from my review: “The book fills a very important gap in the literature of higher education: how faculty members of minority groups go through getting tenure, the obstacles and challenges they face, and the various paths they take in creating a way out of no way.”
  • The Manhattan Projects, Vol. 1. This is another series I will be looking for. It is an alternate history take on the Manhattan Project.
  • Serving Him: Sexy Stories of Submission. When I tell people who have read, or are considering reading, 50 Shades of Gray to do themselves a favor and find better erotica, Kramer Bussel’s book is one that I recommend right away. In addition, this book has the Better Half “Seal of Approval.”
  • The Resurrectionist: The Lost Work of Dr. Spencer Black. This was just a cool book. A great combination of gothic horror fiction and art. The art plates of the mythological creatures are excellent.
  • Fat Girl by Carlos Batts. An erotic photography collection featuring April Flores. I read this as a review copy via NetGalley, but it is one I would add to my personal collection in print.
  • Punk Rock Jesus by Sean Murphy. The premise? A reality show features a clone of Jesus. Yes, THAT Jesus.
  • Bob Fingerman’s Maximum Minimum Wage. An oversized collection of Fingerman’s comic strip about a graphic artist in New York City, his girlfriend, and his friends. This is like a sitcom on print, but in this case, it is a sitcom done right, and it does contain some adult themes.
  • Darth Vader and Son and Vader’s Little Princess. Both books by Jeffrey Brown. A pair of delightful little books that every Star Wars fan has to read. Brown imagines what would have happened if Darth Vader had to raise his kids. Who knew the Dark Lord of the Sith could make a pretty good dad? Link to my review. Great humor for all ages.
  • Neal Thompson’s A Curious Man: the Strange & Brilliant Life of Robert “Believe It Or Not!” Ripley. A biography of the man that reads like a good yarn. You thought his comic strip and his stories were amazing? Well, his life was amazing as well. My review of this is coming soon.
  • The Flesh Cartel, Season 1: Damnation. A very explicit psychosexual thriller about an organization that “could teach even the KGB a thing or two about breaking a human mind. Fortunately for their ultra-rich clients, they’re just as skilled at putting people back together again—as perfect pets, well-trained and eager to please” (from the book’s description). As I wrote in my review, “this is erotica for readers who like their kink very dark and very rough.” It is also very enthralling and well-written, but not for the faint of heart. This is the first compilation of the series.
  • Luc Jacamon and Matz, The Killer Omnibus, Vol. 1. This is a hard boiled noir series about a professional killer who reflects upon his life and work. Is the stress catching up to him? Definitely worth reading. Review coming soon.
  • Bump in the Night. An erotic horror collection that makes a very good read around Halloween, but you can read it any time. From my review, “if you like your horror with an element of edgy erotica, or you like your hard erotica with an element of terror and suspense, then this can be the anthology for you.”
  • And last, but not least for this year, William Shakespeare’s Star Wars. Right away, I will say this is just a hoot. Fans of Star Wars and fans of Shakespeare have a reason to come together. From my review, “the author in essence has channeled the great bard to envision the Star Wars epic in a new light.”

What I am currently reading. As of this writing, I have already read 8 books for January 2014. I am currently reading the following:

  • The Big Book of Bizarro, edited by Richard Bottles and Gary Lee Vincent. This is a big anthology, so it will likely take me a while. What I have read so far, I have enjoyed.
  • Alex Strick van van Linschoten,, eds., Poetry of the Taliban. It turns out the Taliban are not only the repressive former rulers of Afghanistan, but also many of their members have a poetic side. The poetry reflects much of the poetic tradition of the nation and its people. The editors sought works done by ordinary people as opposed to literary works that were clearly just propaganda from that regime. An interesting anthology so far.
  • Graham McNeill’s Mechanicum. This is book 9 of the Horus Heresy series, and it focuses on the Mechanicum of Mars, the technocult that builds the weapons and supplies for the armies of the Emperor. The civil war of the Horus Heresy finally reaches Mars. If you wanted to know more about the Mechanicum, this may be the book for you. Pretty good so far.
  • Mark Rahner, Dejah Thoris and the Green Men of Mars, Vol. 1. Collection of comics based on the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs. This is a NetGalley selection.
  • The Best of Pantha: the Warren Stories. A collection of tales about the character of Pantha from Vampirella magazine. This is another NetGalley selection.

P.S. In case you are interested (assuming you read this far, for which I thank you), here are a few other folks who gave their year-end reading reports. I include these because I always find interesting the diversity of books that other people out there read, even the books that are not in my reading horizon:

(Crossposted from my personal blog, The Itinerant Librarian.)


Santa Claus on sleigh pulled by Amazon drones

Deng Coy Miel, Cagle Cartoons, Singapore


We’ve almost made it to the end of 2013. At The Itinerant Librarian, that means it is time for our series of holiday posts where I scour the web to find all sorts of amusing things (well, a lot amusing just to me) and share them with my four readers. I am starting with the shopping post because it seems we have been on holiday shopping season pretty much since the summer. We can certainly say the merchants were already riling up people for Christmas season shopping before Halloween. That is definitely a sign that the economy is bad when the retailers keep pushing the Christmas season back hoping to get a few more suckers to spend a bit more money on a lot of stuff that they probably do not need. I have said it before, and I will say it again, Christmas season starts the day after Thanksgiving, not before Halloween. Anyhow, I am just one librarian.

For many folks, I am sure they are done with the shopping, but if you are still doing last minute stuff, I suppose if you pay more, you can get quick delivery if you shop online, or you can brave the stores filled with other procrastinators by now. Hey! It does not have to be procrastinators. Given the state of the economy, some of us do have to wait until a paycheck arrives so some shopping can be done, or the shopping is done in s staggered way (you get some things now, wait for the next check, get some more, you get the idea). Anyhow, if you need some ideas, maybe some of these links might help. That, or we can just laugh together and gaze in wonder at the things some people choose to spend money on.

So, without further ado, let’s see what kind of interesting and crazy stuff folks out there are suggesting for Christmas presents. As usual, the snark is mine.

But before we get to the gifts. . . .

Some advice and useful information

These links are for some tips, pieces of advice, and other information that I hope gift shoppers will find useful and informative. After all, I would not be a good librarian if I did not provide something constructive in addition to the entertainment.

  • Make sure you do your best to keep your personal information safe as you shop whether you shop in person or online. The linked post from also includes a link to a Homeland Security page with more tips for cybersecurity. In light of the recent Target fuck up where they basically let hackers waltz in and steal a lot of personal data from customers, we consumers need to be alert, informed and vigilant. In other words, we have to do the stuff that companies like Target should be doing on a routine basis. By the way, I am not saying we totally trust companies neither, but notice when one of these messes happens, their first advice is to check your bank statements, so on and be alert. Yea, the stuff they neglected to do themselves. Can we say irony?
  • Shopping online? In addition to the above, here are some things you want to know before you hit your favorite online retailer. This post from also features a link to the Consumer Action Handbook, which can be downloaded for free, and can give you information on how to “get help with consumer purchases, problems and complaints.”
  • And one more from A reminder that there is helpful information available if you are buying toys for children. This post features a link to a document of toy safety tips from the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The U.S. government overall puts a lot of good information out. For me as a librarian, it is always a good source to use and share. Besides, it’s your tax dollars at work, so be informed.
  • Are you one of those people who just loves to use their smartphone for shopping? Via Dumb Little Man, here is a list of “12 Great Holiday Shopping Apps That Can Save You Time and Money.” A small issue is there are no links. You get the names of the apps, and it is up to you to look them up on your device whether it is Android or Apple. You may find something of interest here. If you do, feel free to come back, comment, and let us know.
  • Now, not everyone is able to afford the fine lavish gifts and presents we are about to highlight. Does that mean they are left out of the season of giving? Far from it. There are other ways in which you can give a little something to your fellow human beings as well as our furry friends. Also via Dumb Little Man, here are “10 Great Ways to Share Others Over the Holidays.” Because it should not be all about the size of your wallet or how much loot you get or give this holiday. The only tip I might have an issue with is the one about adopting a pet from a shelter. No, I am not say to not adopt from a shelter. Our two cats were adopted from a shelter. But I do have concerns with people who may bring a pet home over the holidays as a gift, only for the pet to be neglected or forgotten once the holiday has passed. Go adopt when you feel ready and able to make the commitment. Sure, it could be during this season, but if you are doing it just to put a cute puppy or other animal under a Christmas tree with a bow, you are probably doing it wrong. Overall, this article has some great suggestions to help you make this holiday season a bit brighter for others, especially others who might not be able to have a good season otherwise.


Gifts, presents, and things

Part of the reason I enjoy making this post is to see some of the crazy stuff people offer up for gifts. Some of them are just funny. Others are just ridiculous, and then  you have some where you need the budget of a couple of small nations to buy them.

Gifts for the manly man in your life

We always get the lists of gifts for men. Thing about these lists is that they can go either way at times. I am sure there are some outdoor enthusiast women out there, but apparently, unless you are so manly that women get pregnant from you just walking by, ladies can forget about some of these gifts. So, let’s have a peek at what is suggested for guys.

  • Esquire magazine naturally has something for the man who “spends a lot of time outside. With knives.”Actually, the list does feature one of those knife tools that claims to do almost everything. It’s so good that it is described as “the nuclear submarine of survival equipment, up to and including the stealth. . . . ” But does it make your chest hairs grow? From this list, you can also do things like adopt a sled dog.
  • Naturally, The Art of Manliness has their holiday guide up.


Do women get any gifts? 

I did scour for lists for women’s gifts, but I did not come across as many this year as last year. I am willing to grant I did not look in the right places, or maybe there weren’t as many.

  • I thought this was an interesting list. These are some “Gift Ideas for Your Favorite Feminist,” via The (Seattle) Stranger. According to the author, it “includes lots of good, reasonably-priced gifts for the progressive women in your life.”There are some practical things here, which I do not think a woman has to label herself as feminist to appreciate, but if she does, odds are good some of these would be welcomed. The list features books, some local interest items, and even suggestions if you prefer to give to charity.
  • Esquire of all places has a gift list for girls, and it is a list of stuff that is NOT pink. Leave it to a thoughtful father to come up with a list of stuff for a girl that “loves science, tech, movies, art, plants, robots, bikes, and Katniss Everdeen (who would never be caught in pink). . . . ” Let’s be honest, as the author writes, “her mom and her grandparents and aunts and uncles will buy her even more of that shit. And that’s fine.” You the father can be the thoughtful man in the life of your daughter and buy her something cool. I know. My daughter does not go for pink neither. When it came to Happy Meals, for instance, it was the boys’ option because it came with Hot Wheels in it; she could not care less about the pink mini Barbie or whatever other pink thing they forced girls to take. I am sure she too would love a high end bad ass compound bow.
  • Have a real bad ass, gun loving mama in your life? Maybe you could get her some bullet bracelets. Yea, they are made from real ammunition. She will be the talk of the town at the shooting range.  Via Boing Boing.
  • Ms. Magazine offers a nice article on empowering toys and dolls for girls, and it includes links to some places where to find them.
Geeky and/or gifts for writers and other literary types

This is where I put gifts for geeks, writers, and maybe even librarians. Not books. We will have a post for books later on this week. Some of the things here are the things I would definitely not mind getting.

  • Via The Advocate, some gift ideas for travelers. I was cool with some of the ideas until they suggested the hovercraft. It is not just any old hovercraft. This puppy “meets United States Coast Guard standards for reliable hovering over water. Comes with a hefty price tag and its own trailer. $58,000.” If you buy one of these for one of your friends, please contact us at this blog and let us know how do we get on your Christmas list. We’d like to be your friend.
  • Incredible Things has a list of gifts that are not for noobs. I thought the Star Trek TNG uniform hoodie was very neat.
  • Got a Doctor Who fan to shop for? Well, here are the “Top 10 Doctor Who Holiday Gifts.” Game of Thrones fan? Got you covered too. Both links via Buzzy Mag.
  • Need more ideas for the science fiction or fantasy fan? Kirkus Reviews has some ideas.
  • Need some ideas for a bookish teen or tween? We all know it can be hard to shop for young people, but Book Riot offers some nice suggestions to keep them reading.
  • If you have a writer, especially a fountain pen enthusiast, in your life, Ink Noveau has “4 Great Gift Ideas for Anyone New to the Fountain Pen Hobby.”
  • BuzzFeed has a list of gifts for the book and literature lovers in your life who already have plenty of books. Sure, another book is the easy option. Maybe one of these will do the trick instead this year.
  • Viva Snail Mail has a small list of suggestions for those who like stationery and/or sending and receiving correspondence. One suggestion is to get them a nice set of stamps. In the U.S., the USPS puts out stamps for just about any topic and interest. These days, they even make Harry Potter stamps.
  • I like journal books, and they certainly make a good gift if you ever want to get me anything. Now, whether for someone else or me, if you feel a bit more brave, you can attempt to make a handmade journal notebook. Via BuzzFeed.
  • The Millions has a list of gifts that they claim writers will actually use. One of the suggestions is a nice bathrobe. Read on to learn why. Item 7 on this list is certainly one I can agree upon: coffee, booze, and other stimulants. As they write, “find out what your friend likes to drink and buy a really nice version of that thing.” I’ll say it does not have to be alcohol. A nice coffee or tea, especially if you know they themselves might not spring for more than Folgers, would likely be welcomed.
  • Let’s not forget the film buffs. BuzzFeed has some ideas for film buffs. One thing is true: “about your averaged film buff: if they want a movie they will buy it for themselves.” I am not a big film buff, but I do like some films. I certainly prefer if you give me the cash or gift card and let me go pick out a movie or tv serial I like. So, get them some other nice things instead.
  • And finally for this segment, don’t think I forgot librarians. Hack Lib School has a librarian gift guide. Whether for a librarian or a library school students, odds are good you might find something for them here. Personally, I prefer to go with stuff that is not so obvious (for librarians), but many other librarians do like gifts that somehow reflect the profession.


Gifts for the pets

There is always going to be at least one list of suggestions for your pets. Hey, pets are family too, so give them some love too.

Food and Drink


  • The Advocate has a list of gifts for those who indulge that features food and drink items. Among things on the list you can make the Game of Thrones fan in your life happy with some beers inspired by the show (assuming they do drink). Your friend or family member a fan of Sons of Anarchy instead? Someone has made cigars inspired by the show. You are too lazy to bake cookies, or you just don’t have the time? As long as you got your credit card handy, you can find a company to send you a tin of cookies.
  • If you have a beer enthusiast or maybe a home brewer, then this list of “10 Crafty Gifts for the Beerologist on Your List” may have something for them. Via Wired.
  • Maybe you would prefer to make food and treats for your family and friends. BuzzFeed has a list, with links to recipes, of food gifts you can make and put in jars.
  • Now if you if you want to lay down some serious moolah and get someone some high end booze, has a “High-Roller Gift Guide 2013.” You won’t find any two-buck chuck here. These bottles are “for that truly special person in your life.” I have special people in my life, but they are not getting a $1600 bottle of Japanese whiskey from me.
The stuff I was not sure where to list it


  • Now, there are all sorts of wonderful gifts out there. Then there are those gifts. You know which ones I am talking about. The hideous or totally useless things some people insist on giving that you have to grit your teeth, smile, then hide it in a closet for it to never be seen again. So, with a little humor, here is a list of “25 Things No One Wants for Christmas,” via Holy Taco. Consider this a little PSA.  Actually, the bathrobe suggestion on the list could work if you happen to know the person does need one (that may require a bit of intimate knowledge though, so probably not the gift for your boss). Also, apparently writers use bathrobes (see link above).
  • Calendars. I do like nice calendars, and I try to put something nice in my office in the library every year. Need some calendar suggestions? Mental Floss has a list of “9 Odd and Awesome 2014 Calendars.” For the inked librarians and people who love them, there is a calendar of tattooed librarians. The post includes links to other calendars too.
  • As I said at the beginning of this post, some gift lists out there assume that you are so rich that you can light cigars with $100 bills. Via New York Magazine, they ask “How Rich Do These Magazine Editors Think We Are?” Some of these lists actually include items that are “price upon request.” As J.P. Morgan is attributed to have said, if you have to ask how much it costs, you cannot afford it. Now, if you want to go all out, you can give someone a Virgin Galactic Suborbital Spaceflight priced at a measly $250,000; this was suggested in Vogue magazine.
  • Subscription boxes seem to be gaining popularity. Those are the services where, for a subscription fee, they send you a box of stuff once a month. You can often pick for how long the service goes from a couple of months to a year. These days you can find a box for just about any interest out there. Prices do vary from about 20 bucks or so a month to at least a couple of hundred bucks depending on what you get. Via BuzzFeed, here is a list of 13 subscription boxes. For the article, people in the comments are suggesting other box services not listed, so a peek may be worth a look. For instance, for the geek in your life, a suggestion was Nerdblock. If this topic interests you, there is a whole website devoted to helping you find the right subscription box (
  • If you are just totally out of ideas, some canned air from around the world may be an option. Seriously, people do this? Looks to me like you are paying for a cute can. Via Incredible Things.
  • And if you got someone real specific or narrowly focused, Mental Floss has suggestions that are very specific.
  • Getting back to serious for a moment, GradHacker blog has a nice series of post on gifts for graduate students. If anyone needs good, solid, useful gifts, it is grad students. You can start with the post on personal gifts, then look over gifts in technology and gifts to help your grad be a bit more professional.  What I like about this series is that these are simple, practical gift ideas that not many people think of, yet graduate students can really use. Trust me. I was a graduate student once. I wish someone would have been thoughtful enough to give me some of the things mentioned when I was in grad school.
  • Finally for this segment, maybe you prefer to shop on the basis of values like products being fairly traded or maybe some profits going to help others. If that is the case, here is a list of “29 Online Gift Stores That Benefit Nonprofits.” Consider this a little help if you want to shop a bit more ethically. However, if you prefer to make a donation or maybe do something like donate a heifer (via Heifer International), here is a list to “19 Holiday Gift Programs.” Both links via Nonprofit Tech for Good blog.


The Adult Section

As usual, if this is not your thing, if you offend easily, you are religious, have issues, etc., then you can stop reading now. Otherwise, go right along.

  • Good Vibrations has put together their staff’s picks of best sex toys of 2013. The only issue I tend to have with sex toys (and I say this in general, not specific to any one retailer) is that if they are cheap, they are pretty much crap, and the really good ones tend to require the GNP of a small country. I understand the idea of “you get what you pay for” and making small investments, but often unless you are well heeled, good stuff is out of range for those of us of modest means who like to get freaky now and then. Yea, I know, first world problem I am sure some of you are saying. However, once in a while you do find something in a modest range. That aside, from this list, the magic wand would be the item I think the Better Half would appreciate adding to our small but well selected collection.
  • has a list of sex toys for couples. I always find it nice when you find things that can be shared. From this list, I admit I was amused by the Clone-A-Willy. This is. . . well, just click the link and read the post. On serious note, there are some nice items here, but let’s be honest, part of the fun of sex toys is finding the one that makes you giggle, maybe go, “really? people do that?” You’ve got to keep life interesting.
  • Need some advice on how to buy a sex toy for your loved one? Epiphora comes to the rescue with a sex toy gift-giving guide.

Thank you for reading. As always, comments (as long as they are well-behaved and civil) are welcome. Stay tuned this week as we continue our series of holiday posts. Plus, remember, if you choose to indulge, especially alcohol, please do so in moderation. Also, if you chose to drink, and you had a bit much, please do not drive. Get a ride. Call a cab (if you plan ahead, program one or two phone numbers of cab companies into your phone so you have them handy for later). Ask to crash on someone’s couch. Just do not become part of the holiday tragedy statistics. Let’s keep it all fun and safe.

Have a Merry Christmas and/or a Happy Holidays.

(Crossposted from my personal blog, The Itinerant Librarian)


Here is this week’s collection of stories about reading and the reading life for this week. Basically, these are items related to reading, maybe writing and literacy, that I find interesting and think my four readers might find interesting as well with a little commentary.

  • I am not sure that tossing in a few books a nice looking room can really be called a library. These seem to be more reading rooms. However, at least in one case, there is a lending program arranged with a publisher (Penguin) for some kind of book lending. Does that make it a library? Maybe. I will let readers decide on this story: “Hotels Add Libraries as Amenity to Keep Guests Inside.” In the end, like much anything else, it is about making a little (or a lot more) extra money. Via The New York Times.
  • This article, “Ebooks v. Cigarettes,” asks us an interesting question: how much do we spend on our books and reading? I will admit I have never really sat down to calculate how much I spend on books, though I can say I borrow a lot from libraries (my academic library where I work as well as my local public library). However, I also buy books, especially things I know libraries might not have, like certain graphic novels, erotica, and other more rare things. I think I may have to try to keep track for a while of what I spend on reading to see how I come out. On an additional note, this is the year I have gotten to use my iPad to read, although I pretty much read free items on it; I don’t buy e-books. The e-books I do read I either get as review copies from NetGalley or Edelweiss, or I borrow from my local public library on Overdrive. I will probably write more on that later. I found the story on Salon.
  • Via Kaizen Reading, an article on “9 Reasons to Keep a Reading Journal.” For folks who would like to keep better track of their reading, this may be a good idea. I think it may work for students and researchers as well. I have kept track of most of what I’ve read in my personal journal, and now I supplement that tracking online. But I have done it as part of my personal journal; I don’t have separate reading notebooks, which is something I have considered. I am not sure I am ready to have more than one notebook. I like having my journal where I can write anything in it from notes to quotes to reading notes. For now, that works for me.
  • Via Kaizen Journaling, here is “How to Keep an Effective Travel Journal.” This is certainly something I would like to do better. I do often write in my personal journal when I travel, though I am not always consistent. I also usually include postcards, ticket stubs, and other small mementos of my journeys, which I attach to pages in the journal to go along with my writing; this is something the blogger suggests.
  • This item is a bit older. Via Fine Books and Collections blog, highlights of the 2012 report on most coveted out-of-print books. I did try to see if (link to their report), who does the list, had an update for this year, but apparently not (at least not as of this writing). What can I say? I always find trivia like that interesting, specially given that Madonna’s Sex book has remained at the top of this list for a decade or so, not bad for a book many derided then and try to forget now. I guess sex always sells.

I originally wrote this out in my personal journal a couple of weeks ago. It was inspired by Amanda Nelson’s blog post over at Book Riot on the topic of “What Does it Mean to be Well Read.” As a reader, I usually don’t give a hoot about this kind of discussion, which I think often becomes a snob exercise for some readers to feel superior to others. But the post did make me think a bit and reflect on how I view reading. So, as I reflected, I did a little writing, and this is what I wrote. To go along with this, I will suggest to my four readers that they may want to read my other recent post on “There is a Big Reason Why I Read.” It goes a bit more on why I read, especially as a librarian.

* * * * *

I’ve always considered myself relatively well-read given I strive to read a balance of fiction and nonfiction. And while I stick mostly to some genres, I will venture outside those once in a while. I’ve read a good number of U.S. and international classics. Plus, I can certainly talk intelligently about what I’ve read. So, by some definitions, I am well-read. I don’t brag about it (the most showing off I might do about what I read are my annual compilations of what I’ve read in a year, and I do that mostly for fun and to look back on a previous year). I sure as hell am not a snob about it. As I’ve stated before in other places, including this blog, I read what I want when I want. If it happens to be diverse, then that is a happy side effect.

I will disagree with some that you have to read classics and literary fiction to be well-read. If the definition of “well-read” includes being able to speak intelligently about classics and literary fiction, then there are ways to get around that. I am not saying you can completely skip the classics and literary fiction. I think some exposure to them is healthy. However, given the various available shortcuts, you can easily bluff your way in this regard. In other words, read some classics and literary fiction for a balanced education. Read more of them if you like them, but you should not feel obligated. There are plenty of genre fiction and nonfiction books that are as good, as challenging, etc., in some cases superior to any “classic” or “literary fiction” work. The snobs often hate to admit that, but as both a reader and a librarian I can tell you that is a solid truth.

In the end, don’t be a snob. Read what moves you. Read what you like. Sure, explore here and there, but don’t do it because “it’s good for you” or some snob tells you to “take your medicine.” Reading should not be an experience akin to swallowing castor oil. Let the snobs do that if they like it so much.

I guess in the end I am saying to find your reading bliss. Take a risk now and then, but do so because you want to, because you are curious, because you’d like to experience something new. Don’t do it because some guru or pundit makes you feel guilty. Who knows? Maybe in the end the concept itself of being “well-read” is overrated, especially when it is used to beat others over the head like it’s a club. There are other ways to encourage readers to diversify their reading diet past their quota of 200 paranormal romances (I pulled that example from Ms. Nelson’s post, but I could have instead brought up some of the dystopian military scifi stuff I read now and then, which to me, does not seem terribly dystopian. Then again, I do like my dark in my science fiction). Beating people over the head with the nagging of “you need to be more well-read” is not the way to do it. Offer samples, bits and pieces here and there, and see what happens.

This may be where a good librarian trained in Reader’s Advisory can help. One tool at our disposal is the read-a-like list. So, you like paranormal romances? Find “classics” with similar appeal factors to offer the reader. That probably goes further than just telling someone to read other things so they can be “well-read.”

The bottom line for me is I personally worry little about the label. I don’t think someone is less of a reader if they are not “well-read.” At any rate, anyone out there need a little help in building their “well-read” cred (I am trademarking that phrase, by the way, haha!), feel free to ask your local, friendly librarian.

And keep on reading.

P.S. Anyone really wants to know what I read? The link to my GoodReads profile is on the right column of this blog. Hop on over and look over my shelves. I think I can back up what I preach, though there are always more books to discover. Then again, that discovery is part of the fun, would you folks not agree?

A prompt out Formspring that I crossposted here:

This is a bit of a trick question for me. I pretty much despise the usual traditional “reality” shows such as SurvivorBig Brother, or just about any crappy show on MTv about 20-somethings living in places that are anything but the “real” world.

However, I do like some “reality” shows that are more like documentaries. For instance, shows that present how people work or make a living, such as Deadliest Catch and Ice Road Truckers, tend to interest me. The problem with shows like these is when they want to focus on making drama and conflict between the people involved. Once the shows start to degrade in to a soap opera featuring trades people or workers, they jump the shark, and I lose interest.

Finally for now, as for those insipid socialite shows, like the pseudo housewives of whatever city, the shows are just part of the television wasteland. People in those just are just wastes of space as far as I am concerned. The appeal is simply lost on me.

Ask me anything

May 2020


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