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Library Loot: December 16-22, 2009

December 16, 2009

library-lootLibrary Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by myself and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

Want to share your loot? Marg has the Mr. Linky this week.

I’m in a rambling mood tonight, but the webcam has been misplaced (and not by me…), so instead I’m going to ramble in print. ;) I’ve been trying to keep down my number of holds since it’s almost the end of the year, and I think I’ve actually been doing pretty well. Keep in mind that this is three week’s worth of loot! Speaking of which, I always do my LL posts based on my library account, so books that I’ve checked out, read, and returned already since my last loot post obviously won’t appear. Also, I’ve decided to start including DVDs I get (I needed quite a few, because I have 3 hats to crochet before Christmas, lol). Oh, and my apologies, but I just don’t have the time to link all of the titles this go around, so you’ll have to look them up for yourself if they sound interesting.


I was happily looking at my ‘Current Challenges’ page, thinking about all the ones that end in December that I already finished, when I suddenly realised that the My Year of Reading Dangerously Challenge required twelve books, not ten. So much for complacency! So I grabbed two last essays collections from lists I made for other challenges, and with any luck I’ll be reading The Boilerplate Rhino by David Quammen (science essays) and Every Day is a Good Day ed. by Wilna Mankiller (essays by native/indigenous women) before the end of the month. Meanwhile, I chose The Last Days of the Incas by Kim MacQuarrie to be my last World Citizen read (since I created the challenge, I’ve been reading two books a month for it); I needed a history book, and I hadn’t read many books focused on Latin America. I’m almost done with this one (I’m over 400 pages in), and it’s been really good!


Death of a Red Heroine by Qiu Xiaolong is for the China Challenge-it’s a mystery set in 1991 Shanghai. I’m over halfway through it (I have the large print edition, and I’m around page 500 of 700), and while I’ll probably end up reading the next book in the series, about once a chapter an incredibly annoying sexist remark pops up. The Book of Chameleons Jose Eduardo Agualusa is for the Lost in Translation Challenge, but I’d love to read it this month, because it’s written by an Angolan and that would add another country to my map of books read this year! ;) I’m counting Translucent Tree by Nobuko Takagi for the Japanese Lit III Challenge, but I honestly have no idea how I ended up putting it on hold. I even double-checked to make sure it was my name in the book, because I don’t recall ever having heard of the title or author before! So it’s a mystery.


I picked up two more titles for the Spice of Life Challenge, which if I get to this month will give me eight total, the higher expectation of the highest level. One is a nonfiction book, Hunger : an Unnatural History by Sharman Apt. Russell that I’ve been wanting to read since Rebecca reviewed it earlier this year. The other is a novel, The Mistress of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. I saw the movie based on the novel a few years ago, and while I wasn’t hugely impressed with the male lead, I liked how the story itself had a fable feel to it. I’m hoping the book’s stronger than the movie. :)

The next nine books, I originally categorised under ‘random,’ but that’s not really true. I got them because I want to have a nice reserve of American POC authors to keep my ratio balanced (several months ago, I pledged that for the rest of the year, 50% of my US fiction reads, 50% of my international fiction reads, and 25% of my nonfiction reads would be written by people of colour), because several of the novels I need to read for challenges and/or my personal rereading resolution are by white American authors. I always feel a bit awkward saying I got a book based on the ethnicity of the author, and of course I only get books that also sound amazing to me, but it would be disingenuous to pretend that I wasn’t consciously seeking them out due to my pledge.


Translations of Beauty by Mia Yun came up in my library catalogue when I searched for Korean American fiction (I’ve read a lot of POC since I made my 50:50 resolution, but I haven’t read many Asian American authors). So it looked it up, and it’s a story about twins! (That’ll be my third in the past few months, lol.) I love books about sisters, and books about immigrants, so I have high expectations. Like Trees, Walking by Ravi Howard has been on my radar for awhile now; the title and subject matter (a lynching) are just so powerful. But it was an interview with the author on the blog White Readers Meet Black Authors (w/ the hilarious address of http://welcomewhitefolks.blogspot.com , LMAO) that made me want to get to it sooner rather than later! Hunger by Lan Samantha Chang was on my November Novella Challenge list, and it sounded so good I knew I wanted to read it, even though that challenge has ended. Isn’t that cover pretty?! Plus, it’s kind of fun reading two books entitled Hunger close together. (Yes, I am a total nerd.)


Back in high school, I was a John Grisham fan (and Tom Clancy…yes, at the same time I was reading Jane Austen and Neil Gaiman and AS Byatt and Jumpa Lahiri and Dorothy Sayers, etc., etc….what can I say? I have catholic tastes). So when I saw that Blood on the Leaves by Jeff Stetson was a legal procedural thriller type of book set in Mississippi, I knew I had to try it out! Isn’t that cover gorgeous? My library copy’s cover isn’t nearly as pretty (it looks much more like a Grisham cover, lol), but I’m still excited. :D I feel like I’ve seen praise for Sugar by Bernice McFadden all over the place, but it was BrownGirl Speaks (who just announced the coolest reading challenge, btw!) who pushed me into putting it on hold now. I started it today; I’ve 50 pages in, and it’s marvelous! I’m not sure how I came across The Salaryman’s Wife by Sujata Massey, but it’s set in Japan featuring a 27-year-old Japanese American woman teaching English Tokyo who gets involved in a murder investigation. Um, let’s see…an expat teacher, a single woman, a mystery…I wonder why I would ever be drawn to that. ;)


I read and loved The House on Mango Street a couple of years ago, and I’ve been wanting to read more of Sandra Cisneros ever since. I haven’t read too many books by Hispanic American authors (seriously, you’ll see when I do my stats post, but most of my POC reading has been by African American authors…I’m guessing that’s because of the awesome African American book bloggers I follow and their inspiration!), so I decided to add Caramelo to the pile. This thing is HUGE (unlike The House on Mango Street), but it starts in the 1920s (one of my fave time periods!) and goes through the 50s. I’m all about sweeping generational stories. :) I picked up Indian Killer by Sherman Alexie, because I loved Reservation Blues so much, and I’m in more of a novel mood than a short story one, so I’m reading his novels in publication order. But this one involves a serial killer in Spokane, and since I’m always in the mood for a mystery, I’m excited. Let in Rain Coffee by Angie Cruz seems to cement my Hispaniola-authors kick (first Julia Alvarez with her Dominican Republic childhood, then Edwidge Danticat representing Haiti but with a novel set in DR, and Cruz is from the Dominican side again). It’s an ‘immigrant experience’ book (which I love…I am all about immigrants and expats), but eventually the family leaves America to return home, which I think makes it extra interesting. And the cover’s really pretty!


It seems I always have one or two graphic novels in my library loot these days! I got Emiko Superstar by Mariko Tamaki because I really enjoyed her other book Skim. This one has a cute cover too! And Jeff Smith’s Bone: Volume One because of Chris and Debi.


I also decided to give manga another shot, in part because I thought I was going to go on a Sandman binge and wanted some POC graphic novels to balance it out. But I ended up returning Absolute Sandman: Volume Two after finishing Seasons of Mist, which I didn’t enjoy at all, and accepting that at this point in time, Sandman is not for me (I still love you Gaiman!). Anyway, I still might give these a try. :) I got Good-bye by Yoshihiro Tatsumi, because I read that he was a big player in the history of manga and really inventive. I read this one last night, and I still have a bad taste in my mouth. I plan on writing a paragraph on why I hated (yes, I know that’s a strong word) it in my Sunday Salon, but for now I will say if ever there was a ridiculously anti-women collection of short stories, this is it. Ick. I have yet to try the other three, which are all the first volumes in series, and which I think were recommended to me on Twitter. There’s Bleach: Strawberry and the Soul Reapers by Tite Kubo, Black Jack Vol. 1 by Osamu Tesuka, and Death Note: Boredom by Tsugumi Okba. One of my readers told me that I should probably read at least the second volume of a manga series before writing it off, which I think is great advice. So as long as I mildly enjoy these books, I’ll be getting volume two for each of them as well.


Finally, we have the totally random books. The Wild Things by Dave Eggers has gotten a lot of buzz, and I’ve been on queue for it for some time. The reviews have been mixed though, and I’m not sure which side of the continuum I’ll fall on, so I’ve been staring at the cover indecisively for at least a week. I actually checked out The Zanzibar Chest by Aidan Hartley, which is a nonfiction book about Hartley’s experiences as a white Kenyan reporter on assignment in sub-Saharan Africa and which was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Nonfiction (that’s how I came across it in the first place) earlier this year. I didn’t get around to reading it, but my nonfiction books from the library were looking sparse (I was down to six, and in the middle of two of those!), so I went on a bit of a nonfic holding spree three or four nights ago and this one arrived the soonest. I really hope I get to it this time. :) And The Sorrows of Young Werther by Goethe is another carryover from my November Novella challenge list. I realised recently that I haven’t read any fiction by Germans this year! And I’m always up for another classic. :)


My preferred crocheting/knitting movies are period dramas or documentaries. And I was in more of a British historical mood than ‘let’s learn stuff!’ mood when I put these DVDs on hold. The Winslow Boy feautures Jeremy North, who I really enjoy, and is based on a play (I love movies based on plays!) set in Edwardian England (love those Edwardians!). So really, I’m not sure what could go wrong. ;) The Lost Prince is a BBC production that looks at WWI through the eyes of Prince John, King George V and Queen Mary’s youngest child. Love in a Cold Climate is based on a Nancy Mitford novel (I really must read her someday soon) and follows three young women from 1929 to 1940. Finally, I got ‘set’ 3 of Foyle’s War, a BBC mystery series set during WWII that was recommended to me by one of y’all. I highly enjoyed the first season, and I put the second one on hold too, but someone has it checked out so this one arrived first. :) If you’ve paid close attention, you’ll notice that these movies each follow each other in history, and between them they span a nice chunk of recent English experiences. Yes, I’ll be watching them in chronological order. Because once again, I am a nerd.

And there you have it! I really hope whoever moved my webcam remembers where they put it soon, and with any luck I’ll have a vlog for you next week. :) (I already have seven holds waiting for me to pick up, and I was just at the library yesterday, so I know I’ll have some material! lol) Until then, let me know if you liked this looser, more wordy approach to Library Loot more or less than my usual style. Or let me know if I’m being to self-absorbed to even ask!

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51 Comments leave one →
  1. December 17, 2009 12:26 am

    Library Loot is my favorite feature of yours…I like it when you vlog and I also like your wordy rambles…often you’ll write something that “hooks” me into putting the book on my wishlist!
    This week…what treasure!!!

    • December 17, 2009 12:45 pm

      That’s good to know Susan! Thanks! :)

  2. December 17, 2009 12:57 am

    You’ve got an amazing list of books there, and I’ll be looking forward to reading what you thought about them.

    Interesting how you’ve got Bones, because I’ve also just put a hold on it, and am waiting for it to arrive at my local library!

    I haven’t read any of the books you’ve got here. But I’m somewhat of a manga and anime fan. Though I didn’t read the manga for Death Note, I absolutely loved the anime. And just a little trivia for you, if you don’t already know: the main character from Bleach is called Ichigo, which phonetically also means ‘strawberry’, hence the title. =)

    Happy reading!

    • December 17, 2009 12:46 pm

      Maybe there will be a Bones epidemic sweeping the blogosphere. :) Thanks for sharing the trivia-I didn’t know that, and it’s always fun to know little things like that!

  3. December 17, 2009 1:00 am

    Oh I’m glad you like Foyle’s War! And I loved The Lost Prince. Happy crocheting!

    • December 17, 2009 12:46 pm

      I’m glad to hear a good report on The Lost Prince!

  4. December 17, 2009 1:38 am

    Caramelo is wonderful. It’s just like a long version of House on Mango Street. I love both! I’m also looking forward to reading Wild Things, but then I’m an Eggers fan (especially because of What is the What) so am guessing I’ll be on the positive camp.

    • December 17, 2009 12:46 pm

      Wonderful re: Carmelo! I’ve never read Eggers before, so I have no idea if I’m a fan or not. :)

  5. December 17, 2009 3:39 am

    I like your rambly style – it definitely gives me an insight into why you chose the books! Normally your vlog does that but without it this is fun too. =) A lot of the books on your list sound interesting to me, but the only one I’ve read is Bone! My library only had up to volume four, so that’s all I’ve read, but I’m hoping to acquire the omnibus edition soon. I hope you enjoy it!

    • December 17, 2009 12:47 pm

      It sounds like you enjoyed it, so that makes me more excited. :)

  6. December 17, 2009 6:30 am

    I liked the rambly style as well as the vlog! Lots of fun to hear what you got, happy reading!!

    • December 17, 2009 12:47 pm

      Thanks for letting me know Rebecca!

  7. December 17, 2009 6:40 am

    Do you walk around the library with a trolley, in order to carry all your finds? I do love to see what books you get out everyweek.

    • December 17, 2009 12:47 pm

      LOL I just put them all on hold, so I can go directly to the holds shelf and put them all in my bag. It does take some careful packing sometimes, and I’ve seen the security guard trying not to laugh at me. ;) Then I do the self checkout thing.

  8. December 17, 2009 6:55 am

    I like both the vlog and when you ramble. Looking forward to each of your post and the books that you picked up.

    I’m excited to see that you have picked The salaryman’s wife by Sujata Massey, I think she describes the Japanese culture very well and the difficulties that Rei (the main character) faced. I really enjoyed her books (1-8). Book 9 “The girl in a box” was a bit too far fetched and forced and unfortunately my library does not have her 10th and last book.

    I ramble quite a bit too =)

    Happy Reading!

    • December 17, 2009 12:51 pm

      I didn’t realise Massey had so many books! I’m so glad to hear a positive report on The Salaryman’s Wife. :)

  9. December 17, 2009 6:59 am

    I haven’t read any of those but it looks like you got some great books. There are a lot of beautiful covers!

    • December 17, 2009 12:52 pm

      When I first started doing Library Loot, I tried to find the covers that I actually had from the library. But now I just pick the prettiest! lol

  10. December 17, 2009 7:50 am

    So many pretty things, you are corrupting my booklist :) I think ‘Daeth of Red Heroine’ is worth continuing with, I really loved the sidekick and his family situation which I sort of remember being a bit more progressive than the views the main detective holds.

    • December 17, 2009 12:52 pm

      lol @ corruption! I’m kind of sick about hearing how perfectly dutiful the sidekick’s wife is, so I wonder if that changes as the series progresses. I feel like the sexism is getting worse the more I read. :/

  11. December 17, 2009 7:52 am

    Yay, Bone. I hope you like the series. The first book especially made me laugh and laugh. :)

  12. December 17, 2009 7:54 am

    The only book I’ve read from your loot is Caramelo. I struggled with to follow the many characters, but the language is beautiful.

    • December 17, 2009 12:53 pm

      I happen to LOVE a huge cast of characters, and I’m so glad to hear about the language. :)

  13. December 17, 2009 8:13 am

    You always find the best looking books at your library!

  14. December 17, 2009 8:43 am

    I saw a Sherman Alexie, I think it was Reservation Blues, when I was looking at a local school district’s “book of the month” calendar (I was waiting for a client’s IT dept to take care of something and had to sit with a colleague of mine while we were waiting so we chatted about books for a bit). The blurb made it sound really interesting. I’ll have to add him to my TBR list at this point. :)

    As far as Bleach, I watched the beginning of the anime (about 26 episodes in) with my boyfriend. It’s not the manga but it was fairly entertaining. I just have a hard time sitting still long enough to watch multiple episodes. Somehow reading doesn’t really have that effect on me…

    Everything looks so good! I wish I could just add almost all of those books to my hold list at the library, but I need to avoid taking out anything else if I want to finish what I already have.

    I look forward to reading what you think about these books!

    • December 17, 2009 12:54 pm

      Reservation Blues rocked! It was his first published novel too (he had short story collections and poetry collections published earlier). I totally sympathise w/ trying to avoid library holds right now!

  15. December 17, 2009 8:57 am

    Ugh, you are so evil! Oh, and by the way I know you are a fan of Sherman Alexie, so go to YouTube and search Sherman Alexie on the Colbert Report if you haven’t already seen it. He has an interesting interview.

    • December 17, 2009 1:14 pm

      Ohh-thanks for the heads up on the interview! And I’m not evil! ;P

  16. December 17, 2009 9:00 am

    i hope you enjoy bone! it’s truly awesome.

    • December 17, 2009 1:15 pm

      I didn’t know so many people enjoyed Bone! I might grab it now and just read it.

  17. December 17, 2009 9:04 am

    What a great idea! I didn’t know The Mistress of Spices was a movie, but I really loved the book! LOVED it! Also loved her book Sister of My Heart.

    • December 17, 2009 1:16 pm

      I’m glad to hear you loved it! I saw the movie because I enjoy that actress (the one who was Miss Universe…she was in Bride and Prejudice too…why can’t I remember her name?! lol). And as long as I enjoy Mistress of Spices, I’ll add Sister of My Heart to my TBR list! :)

  18. December 17, 2009 9:39 am

    That’s awesome. Glad you’re enjoying Sugar. And you got some great books this trip.

    • December 17, 2009 1:16 pm

      I can’t wait to put together a list for the disapora challenge! :)

  19. December 17, 2009 10:20 am

    Thank you for including Sugar!

  20. December 17, 2009 10:39 am

    So many books that you’ve picked up look really good! I’ve found that this year I’ve really branched out in my reading in terms of the international scope of what I’ve picked up (though I’m nowhere near the globetrotter that you are), and this is something I’d like to continue next year as well. I know where I’ll be coming when I’m in need of inspiration!

    Also, I have to say, what is with all these oddly flippant sexist remarks that keep cropping up in books? In the past month I’ve picked up two books that have had these glibly sexist moments that have really perturbed me… am I just getting more sensitive about this kind of stuff or what?

    • December 17, 2009 1:18 pm

      I LOVE literary globetrotting! In my wrap-up post this year, I’m going to specify which books I read that brought me to which countries, so that might be helpful if you’re looking for specific ones. :) And I don’t know why there’s so many random sexist remarks in books, but I do know that every Chinese male fiction writer I’ve read has a sexist writing style. It’s weird and annoying. I think I’ve gotten…not more sensitive, but more aware, if that makes sense this year!

  21. December 17, 2009 10:46 am

    I love the wordy post! Enjoy Death Note. I read some of them and found them very good.

    • December 17, 2009 1:19 pm

      Glad to hear good things about Death Note! And I’m glad you enjoyed the post. :D

  22. December 17, 2009 11:21 am

    I’m also a massive Jeremy Northam fan, and really liked The Winslow Boy as a sweet play. I think I saw The Lost Prince, too- it won all kinds of awards when it was on Masterpiece, I think. Enjoy!

    • December 17, 2009 1:20 pm

      I’m tempted to just type ‘Masterpiece’ into a DVD search of my library catalogue and get all my dvds that way! lol :) And my intro to Northam was him playing Mr. Knightley in that version of Emma. I don’t care that he’s way too young to be book Knightley: I love him! ZOMG, the strawberry field scene…it breaks me heart every time.

  23. December 17, 2009 11:24 am

    Mistress of Spices is a fantastic book!!! I have not seen the movie yet, but the book is a very compelling and engaging story. I am curious to see your review.

    • December 17, 2009 1:20 pm

      I’m so glad to hear that about Mistress of Spices! You’ve made me much more excited to read it! :D

  24. December 17, 2009 2:14 pm

    Nice loot! Can I come over and hang out with you? :)

    Mistress of Spices is a cool little novel but not her best. She wrote Sister of My Heart which I absolutely LOVED. The follow up book to it is Vine of Desire. You have have to check them out.

  25. December 17, 2009 3:15 pm

    Very nice loot! Of the books you mention I have only read The Salaryman’s Wife. I liked a lot the first few books of Massey’s Rei Shimura mysteries, but somehow lost the interest along the way. I will read them all eventually, though. (I have not read the last two) I want to know what happens to Rei. :)

    The Lost Prince is very interesting, though somewhat heartbreaking & I simply love Foyle’s War!

    Greetings,
    Tiina

  26. December 17, 2009 7:12 pm

    Eva, there are so many great books in this post! I love your rambling style, it sounds just like you.

    I also liked the first few novels by Sujata Massey but haven’t caught up to the series. And I am so pleased to see you have The Book of Chameleons out – I really enjoyed it, and it has so much to say about memory and identity. I didn’t know until I had already read it that the lizard in the story is a nod to Borges. Interesting, if only I was more than passing familiar with Borges, to see the connections.

  27. December 19, 2009 6:39 pm

    I will never know how you read so many books to check so many out all at once. Books I see that intrigue me:

    Death of a Red Heroine
    Translations of Beauty
    Sugar
    Let it Rain Coffee
    The Zanzibar Chest

    Your love of immigrants and expats helps fuel my infatuation with other cultures. Love it!

  28. January 4, 2010 8:06 pm

    This is a great site I couldn’t stop reading. black expressions clubs

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