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Excuse the Rambling

January 7, 2008

The problem with reading books quickly is that it doesn’t leave much space to do anything other than book reviews on my blog (since I don’t post more than once a day).  This year, I’m trying to review 70% of the books I read, which is an improvement on last year’s 59%.  Ideally, I like to review all my challenge books, and then other random books that I read that are actually good (I try to avoid doing bad reviews, unless the book really deserves it!).   And since today’s the last day of my vacation, I’m sure that my book reading will slow down tremendously.  But still, it’s a little frustrating!

So today, even though I have a review of Never Let Me Go all lined up, and it was an incredible book, I’m just going to write. Carl’s latest post “Ode to the Public Library” got me curious about my own library habits. I know that I use the library a lot (especially when I was at college, in a town so small there was no bookstore), although my mid-year discovery of bookmooch slowed it down. So, being me, I had to go to my 2007 books read page, and see just how many were library books (as an aside: I noticed I had forgotten to record one of the books I read during my sans computer period-whoops!). It turns out that of 206 books, 75 came from a library, which is a touch over one-third at 36%. Not too shabby! And this year, with my current ban on bookmooch and bookstores, I expect the library to be my best friend. My favourite experience in the library is when I treat it like a bookstore. Instead of coming in with a list of books I want, I’ll browse, maybe checking some favourite authors, and pull whatever interests me off the shelves. And unlike the bookstore, where I have to worry about paying for all of the interesting books, it’s free! There’s a kind of magic in filling up my huge bag with books without any worries. Also, it’s easier for me to abandon a library book if I end up not liking it, since it didn’t cost me anything.

I’m reading this really neat book right now called Bury Me Standing. It’s about gypsies, and the auther’s experiences traveling around Central Eastern Europe (aka The Balkans) to meet with (and in one case live with) them. When I was in St. Petersburg, gypsies were very common; once, a pack of gypsy children swarmed a friend of mine and me as we were walking around. They were always, especially after the swarming, rather frightening and at the same time pitiful…it was an uneasy set of emotions that made my inner liberal quite ashamed, so it’s good to read a book that makes them human. The author has some guts too; she traveled all around the Balkans in 1995, and throughout some of the poorest regions in Europe. It’s compelling stuff.

I’m trying to decide whether I should start on Rob Roy or The Pickwick Papers next. The latter needs to be read this month, while I have until February to read the former, but Scotland is sounding more appealing right now. While I’m always reading more than one book, I try not to read more than one from the same genre: it gets too confusing. Maybe I’ll give them both the fifty-page test and see which ones grabs my attention!

 I’ve decided to join another challenge.  Yes, I know.  But this one is a non-fiction one, which I need!  It’s the Planet Earth 2008 Challenge hosted by Classical Bookworm. At first she suggested picking books based on the ten themes, but now she provides a much simpler version based on four key areas: the lithosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, and atmosphere (with book suggestions for each). Participants can choose to read one in each section, or two-three on the lithosphere and one other one. I’m going to go with the first option, plus a couple extras:
The World Without Us by Alan Weisman: several bloggers put this on their top-10 lists, and I think it’s a good way to kick off the challenge. (more a general introduction than one of the areas)
Snowball Earth by Gabrielle Walker: from the future into the past, this one looks at the theory of a Harvard scientist who postulates an extreme ice age 600 million years ago that created life today. (lithosphere)
Storm World by Chris Mooney: because you can’t do an earth challenge in this political atmosphere and not read a climate change book, and I’ve already seen the movie of An Inconvenient Truth A New Orleans native, Mooney uses the issue of hurricanes (and how governments prepare) to look at political debates over global warming, and the fuzzy area where science and politics live together. (atmosphere)
Annals of the Former World by John McPhee: a geological history of the fortieth parallel, by an author that seems to only get praises. (lithosphere)
Web of Life by Fritjof Capra: combines the recent scientific reserach into a ‘grand theory’ of ecosystems and life. (biosphere)
Song for the Blue Ocean by Carl Safina: a personal and scientific exploration of the ocean, both along its coasts and reefs and it its depths. (hydrosphere)Library Haul :)

And, to finish everything off, here’s a picture of my library haul from today, artfully arranged on my awesome woven bag that I use in the library and to lug bookmooch packages to the post office (click on it for big picture):

20 Comments leave one →
  1. January 7, 2008 4:27 pm

    Ooh Bury Me Standing is such an interesting book!
    I love to check out lots of books from the library but most of them go back unread. I’m really trying to whittle my TBR stacks so that’s my goal. Last year I did keep track of my library books and I did pretty well. Now I’m going to try and keep track of books bought. I’m scared :)

  2. January 7, 2008 6:17 pm

    All my books read in the past 5 years now (with the exception of college books and books given to me as presents) are library books. I gave up buying books when I ran out of room to store them…not that the temptation to purchase new books ever cease (it strikes whenever I wander into a Borders or B&N), but for now, during my makeshift post-college years, the library will have to suffice. I like to think of the library as a candy store where everything is free and you can try all the flavors without the consequences. And since you don’t have to worry about paying for it, you can go hog wild and read things you wouldn’t consider if money were an issue.

  3. January 7, 2008 11:24 pm

    Iliana, I have that problem too! Usually, I try to limit myself to around 3 fic and 3 non-fic, unless I know I’m going to read them all right away! I bought 34 books last year, which while not horrible, is quite a few.

    TY, that’s impressive! I’m at that storage point as well; today, my mom was telling me about the B&N sale since she knows I’m trying to ‘build a library,’ but I explained I have to wait until I more space to keep up on that! And I love the library as candy store image!

  4. Dark Orpheus permalink
    January 7, 2008 11:40 pm

    I think I have “Bury Me Standing” on my unread pile!

    But you’re doing better on blogging on your books read than I am. It takes time for me to write something substantial or significant about a book, so I often just spend the time reading a new book instead of blogging about an old one. ;p

    There was a library within walking distance near my workplace — but that closed down last year. When it was still around, I would make weekly visits — at least once a week — to the library just to see what’s available. It has allowed me to read many books I am curious about but not interested enough to buy.

    The library has helped me save so much money. *sigh*

  5. verbivore permalink
    January 8, 2008 12:53 am

    Can’t wait to hear what you think about Never Let Me Go. That one is on my shelf as well and I hope to read it sometime soon.

    I used to use the library much much more but now when I want to find books in English I often need to buy them. Which is a little frustrating. But Bookmooch saves the day as well!

  6. January 8, 2008 1:22 am

    DO, too bad it closed. :( The library is a big money saver! (especially when, like mine, there’re no late fees) I’ve gotten a lot better at talking about books in the last year; when I look back at my ‘thoughts’ from early last year, I giggle and cringe at the same. But sometimes, I just don’t really have anything to say, or barely anything, so that’s when I do cluster-reviews.

    Verbivore, you’ll find out tomorrow! Suffice it to say, I’m still a huge Ishiguro fan. :D It’d be difficult to have to buy all English books-especially at Swiss prices. :( Go bookmooch!

  7. Myrthe permalink
    January 8, 2008 2:15 am

    Bury me Standing sounds very interesting! Who is the author?

  8. January 8, 2008 7:14 am

    Myrthe, the author is Isabel Fonseca. :) The link to amazon is the upper left corner of my blog, if you want to learn more.

  9. January 8, 2008 7:20 am

    I like your challenge reading list. I must get around to reading Bury Me Standing.

  10. January 8, 2008 11:36 am

    Merrick! That’s one of my favourite of the vampire chronicles. I didn’t like what she did with the character later in the series, but that’s a whole other matter. Merrick is just great. I need to re-read it one of these days.

  11. January 8, 2008 1:33 pm

    I got quite a load from my library yesterday as well.

  12. January 8, 2008 3:55 pm

    I use my library A LOT – we are so fortunate to have a beautiful, new building, with an extremely current new books section, as well as good, solid foundation of older books as well. Additionally, we’re in a county system which allows us to search and reserve from a large database of books, which can be delivered to our local branch for free.

    I feel like a kid in a candy shop when I go in there (with my big canvas “I Love The Library” bag. You’re right, it’s so cool that they’re all free :)

    Loved this post – glad to find you via Gautami.

    I have a new bookblog with a giveaway for BAFAB week. Check it out:

  13. January 8, 2008 6:14 pm

    Yeah the library is my friend. I have pretty much run out of room for books and I am storing like half of them at my parent’s house. Space is just too tight right now!

    I’ve found though that I almost always check out 3 books, and it is pretty much inevitable that I end up not liking one of them and never finish it. So I don’t know what the deal is, why did I check it out in the first place? Oh well, at least it didn’t cost me anything!

  14. January 8, 2008 6:51 pm

    Stefanie, it’s a good book! :)

    Nymeth, I’m fairly certain you recommended Merick to me as your favourite Anne Rice, and that’s why I grabbed it. :D

    Ladytink, awesome! (and welcome to my blog)

    Ravenous Reader, thanks for dropping by! Sounds like your library rocks. I’ll go check out your giveaway!

    Kim, I have to limit myself at the library, otherwise I end up checking out way more than I could ever hope to finish in the time period. I don’t really want a huge house when I’m older, but there’s going to have to be a big library room!

  15. January 9, 2008 6:14 am

    Bury me Standing sounds quite good – I’m definitely adding that one to the TBR list.

    Do you know that Daughter of Fortune (in your pic), has overlapping characters with House of the Spirits and A Portrait in Sepia? I re-read them in order of publication 2 years ago.

  16. January 9, 2008 1:53 pm

    I’d love to hear what you think about the book Tested. The schools profiled here and in her previous book are local. Plus I’m a fan of non-fiction books about education. I’m a big library user as well. But it gets hard to keep track of what’s in the rotation. I always joke with the librarian that I rent books, not borrow them. :)

  17. January 11, 2008 9:26 am

    John McPhee is always a good choice! I look forward to seeing what you think about him. And I should really start recording whether I get a book from the library or not. I have a whole shelf dedicated to those books brought in from the public library (and that’s not counting those I use for research)! :)

  18. January 12, 2008 6:07 pm

    Alisa, I didn’t know that! I’ve read House of Spirits, but I haven’t read Sepia. *sigh* I’ll have to see if the ibary has that one first!

    Mellymel, I’m looking forward to reading it-that’s neat that you know the schools. :) Fast Food Nation focused a lot on Colorado Springs, which is local to me, and I think I enjoyed it a little bit more because of that!

    Sarah, I wish I had a shelf for the library! I just keep them all in my big library bag. :) The McPhee book is intimidating, because it’s sooo huge (I love chunky fiction, but chunky non-fic is another story), but so many bloggers seem to like him that I’m going to try my very best!

  19. Mel Ulm permalink
    January 17, 2008 11:18 am

    I some how came on Bury Me Standing by Isabel Fonseca only a few days after it was published. I have always been interested in stateless group and after reading Bury Me Standing I read all the books I could find in English on Gypsies (not that many really) but if someone was going to read only one this is the best introduction. From her book you an feel like what it means to be a Gypsie (Rom) without two much romantic embelisment-a very good read and glad to see it is still being enjoyed.


  1. Some Really Good Non-Fiction « A Striped Armchair

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