May 2017 Reading Review

So May has come and gone, and we’re at the halfway point to the year. Thought I’d do a round-up post to review last month’s read, and see where we are and what we’ve been up to. (Note the royal “we”.)

The reads for May included:

So to the numbers:

Total number of books read in January: 4

Total number of pages read: 1,462 pages (av. 365).

Fiction/Non-Fiction: 2 fiction / 2 non-fiction.

Diversity: 2 POC. 2 books by women.

Library books vs. books I owned (and thus removed from the home abode): 3 library books, 1 owned book and 0 e-books.

Plans for June: I’m planning not to plan. [Hollow laugh. We’ll see how that goes…!] 🙂

Library Haul – It’s good to have choices…

library_haul_March2017

So, as tends to happen on the weekend, I visited the library and ended up leaving with quite the stack. I’m not sure if I will actually get to all of these, but it’s fun to have the choices..

Top to bottom in above image:

        • This Side of Paradise – Scott Fitzgerald 1920 (F)
        • The Crofter and the Laird: Life on an Hebridean Island – John McPhee 1969 (NF)
        • The Endless Steppe – Esther Hautzig 1968 (NF)
        • Bedknob and Broomstick – Mary Norton 1943 (F)
        • Roads: Driving America’s Great Highways – Larry McMurtry 2000 (NF travel)
        • Dreams from My Father – Barack Obama 1995 (NF – autobiography)
        • As Texas Goes: How the Lone Star State Hijacked the American Agenda – Gail Collins (2012) (NF – political)
        • Eyewitness Books: Sports – Tim Hammond 1988 (NF)
        • Eyewitness Books: Building – Philip Wilkinson 1995 (NF)
        • Eyewitness Books: Castle – Christopher Gravett 1994 (NF)

I was interested to see that the U.S. title for the kidlit book, Bedknob and Broomstick was singular. In my mind and growing up in England, I had always heard it as plural (i.e. Bedknobs and Broomsticks), but that could easily have been a faulty memory on my part. I’m going to read this as part of my ongoing Century of Books project – it fills out 1947 rather nicely.

I am deep into Obama’s autobiography. I miss that guy…

Library Haul Update

I seem to have a little more time with job projects now that I’ve got some more experience under my belt, and as I love going to the library and looking at the shelves, I did just that on Saturday. I don’t know if I’m going to have all the time to read these titles, but I had fun choosing them. No matter – it’s the fun that counts in this case!

Library_June2015

Top to bottom:

  • The Witness to Prosecution – Agatha Christie (F mystery)
  • The Lake of Darkness – Ruth Rendell (F mystery)
  • Here is Where: Discovering America’s Forgotten History – Andrew Carroll (NF travel)
  • Our Hearts Young and Gay – Cornelia Otis Skinner (F) – giant large print as that’s all the library had… at least I won’t need my reading glasses!
  • The Empathy Exams – Leslie Jamison (NF personal essays)
  • MaddAdam – Margaret Atwood (F – speculative)
  • Chinatown: A Portrait of an Unseen Society – Gwen Kinkead (NF-travel/sociological)

Any suggestions to start with?

And I’ve just finished a couple of crackin’ good novels – reviews to come!

Aaah. It’s good to be a reader.

Fridays are more fun with this…

john-lydon

(John Lydon was a key figure in the punk movement. Also known as Johnny Rotten of the incomparable Sex Pistols and Public Image Ltd in a later time, he was a staple of my teen years in that he (and the band) were an influence on almost everything at that time in musical history.

I didn’t really appreciate his influence until later in the day, but looking back – he was a genius in some ways and rocked the music world boat in an enormous way that continues to this day.)
 

Reading, Reading, Reading….

readathon

I engaged in my first ever Readathon the other day. I had seen a sign at the library recently and had been intrigued — intrigued enough to sign up for the event, and so that is where I spent most of Saturday afternoon – at what our library very sweetly called a “reading party”.

From 1p-4p, there we were (rather a small group) at the library in a quiet community room just reading away (silently) and being provided with lavish snacks and drinks. This event was part of National Readathon Day (which was new to me), and we were asked to tweet every now and then and just # tag it so that our event could be counted in the national figures. What fun. (Seriously.)

I don’t know why, but I really enjoyed this community of silent reading. In the past, I had always been puzzled by those who do 24-hour readathons in the blogging world, but now I understand that idea and although it would be unlikely for me to be able block off 24 solid hours, I do know that I could block off a significant part of the day to dedicate to reading. I just need to schedule a day and time, and bingo — off to my own personal Readathon. It’s a fabulous idea, and if you ever get the chance to participate in a community-based one, jump at the opportunity. It’s a very perfect reading set-up (or at least mine was!).

So – who wants to come to a reading party?

(Thanks to the City of Lubbock Public Libraries for hosting.)

Little Free Library in Town… Or Not.

A churchified Little Free Library. Close, but not quite there.

A churchified Little Free Library. Close, but not quite there.

Having read about the Little Free Library project (see here for more details), I was all excited to spot one downtown the other day. AND it looked empty and primed for donations…

So I collected a varied selection of titles of books from my shelves, put them in a bag in the back of my car for next time I was that way, and looked forward to that moment of contributing to this great community-focused project.

And then I happened to drive by it on Sunday, and found that it wasn’t actually a Little Free Library. (I had understood LFLs to be community-driven, a place where you pick up and donate titles for others to enjoy.) It was not to be…

As I walked up to it, I saw that the little box was actually shaped like a church with a spire etc. That didn’t bode well, but I investigated further. On the little window was a sign that read: “Please feel free to take one. Please – no donations accepted.”

Hmmmmm.

And then I looked more closely at the surroundings and finally saw that there was a religious mission type organization there just a few doors up. Darn it. It was just a method of passing their message, it seems, although they had a sign that said “Little Free Library” which is false advertising to me in some ways.

I was so disappointed. I ended up taking my books to the FoL book site after that, but it was with a heavy heart as I had been thrilled that our town was taking part in this. It was, but not in the usual way.

Positive side: People in Texas have heard of this project at least and implemented a version of it. Positive side: People are hoping other people will read. That’s two good things at least.

The Re-Entry into Reality…

So I’ve just returned from a blissful few days in Cabo san Lucas which was fabbo and I finished loads of books. When I have got things a bit more sorted out and back to normal lift, I’ll be back with regular posts.

In the meantime, here is some library love for you… It made my day to find this original stamp label and have lovely memories of the librarian chink-chonk-ing the date stamp in the books that I was checking out when I was a kid…

What particularly cracked me up about the photo below was the evolution of where the stamps were placed on the label here. The stamping person starts off with this brand new label in 1978, and very carefully places the first date all lined up on the very top line. (Good start.)

Then the second (green) stamp comes along (a few years later), and that too is lined up, but misses a few lines… Time passes and the third stamp is put here – still very nicely lined up but missing a few spaces. Not too bad. All is good.

Then the 1990’s hit and rebellion bursts into the library. The person stamps in the other column (pushing the edge of the Comfort Zone) and thus opens the door to a pretty wild free-for-all stamping extravaganza where all the rules are gone. Random rules!

Then the Voice of Reason and Routine strikes back in the 2000’s and it’s back to the original column and back in the lines…

(The black “Received” stamping person was a rebel through and through. Not one straight one in the whole label. Whoo. Watch out for that one…) 🙂

 

Thirkell_book_library

The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize and Simplify your Life – Francine Jay (2010)

Having been a fairly regular reader of the Miss Minimalist blog (written by Francine Jay, the author of this book), I had a good idea of what to expect with this to-do book, and although the ideas and concepts may not have been particularly new to me, it was fun to read a book by someone who feels the same way as I do about materialism and the world (books excluded!).

The middle section where she takes you room-by-room using the same steps in great detail gets to be slightly boring, and once you have read one chapter, it’s not an intellectual stretch to apply those steps to another room in the house. And I do have to admit that there were places where I thought she was padding her writing – perhaps for a word count from an editor? Don’t know. (A minimalist author who uses plenty of words. Slight irony.) But big picture – a helpful book to simplify life that was written with enthusiasm.

It was refreshing to read writing by someone as enthusiastic about minimalist living as I aspire to be, and who is not completely wired into the materialist race that seems to be going on nowadays for some people.  The last section at the end of the book is more of a philosophical take on voluntary simplicity and not having so much stuff. Again, nothing too new for me, but good to hear it from someone else.

This is quite well written, nicely and logically organized, and has some good ideas and reminders. It also had some interesting concepts that I immediately grabbed on to as they made perfect sense. One of the concepts that Jay talks about is “resist the temptation to recreate the outside world within our abodes.” (Yes, she does sound rather snooty in that sentence, but she’s not like that throughout the whole book.) Jay then goes on to delineate what she meant by that, and with me and my *slight* book obsession, it meant that there is no need to recreate a community library in my house.

I don’t need to own it to enjoy it.

I have a great library network in town, and if they don’t have what I am searching for, then I can utilize the inter-library loan system (which goes nationally) and if that doesn’t work still, then I could also access the TTU library services. Or just buy the damn book online somewhere.

So – after reading this and realizing that *cough* I might be *cough* slightly recreating a library of *cough* mostly unread books in my house, I decided to go through some of the books I own, and cull them. (Don’t really like that word as it reminds me of the baby seals massacre. 😦 )

So, I went through my shelves quite ruthlessly and got rid of some titles, some of which I had been holding for twenty years or more. Honestly, if I haven’t read them in 20 years, I am thinking it’s fairly certain that I am not going to read them any time soon so why give them the space?…  (I realize here that I am probably giving you the impression that I emptied shelves and shelves of books and that my cases are bare… Not quite, but less packed than they were which is progress. Minimal, but progress. :-))

Other points from the book which seemed to resonate with me:

  • Which is more valuable: the item or the space it is taking up?
  • Surfaces are not for storage
  • One in, one out – we already use this principle, but it’s a good reminder that it includes books as well

I don’t want to give you the impression that our house is hoarder-level craziness or anything. It’s already spacious and we don’t have a lot of stuff (on purpose). I do recognize that I do have rather slightly *cough* too many books in the back room… They stay corralled there though, and when you enter the house, you would think it’s a fairly minimalist house already.

So, suffice to say, a good and fast read which reminded me to stay on the Minimalist path and get rid of stuff. “Better out than in” as my Mum would say (except she was talking about other things!)…

🙂