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Library Loot: January 20-26, 2010

January 20, 2010

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?

No vlog today, because my library closed itself unexpectedly yesterday, so I couldn’t pick up my holds, so I couldn’t record a video. I’ll be getting my holds this afternoon though, and since there’s no vlog, I’ll be doing the rambly-text version of listing my books!

Also, I decided to give my blog a bit of a makeover! I can’t mess with the code at all, since the free version of WordPress doesn’t allow that, but I did pick a theme with a customisable header and colours (although I can’t change the text colour). I don’t think I’ve changed my blog format for two years, so I’m excited to see a new, more Eva-ish look (coloured tights! Pride and Prejudice!). I’ve also decided to decorate my sidebar with my favourite authors and links to some marvelous short stories available for free online (the latter idea I totally ‘borrowed’ from Nymeth, although mine are more ‘short stories I’ve read and loved that I could find online’ than ‘some of my favourites ever’). Feel free to offer feedback; I’m still playing with it a bit, so I’m definitely open to suggestions!

Right…on to my loot.

I am *so* excited that The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa is finally available. I put a hold request in for it towards the end of last month, for the upcoming Japanese Literature Book Club discussion (on the 25th), but then I got really nervous that it wouldn’t arrive in time. So I’ve been stalking my account at the library, and it arrived yesterday! Of course, then my library closed, thus thwarting me. But it’s open again today, so I’ll be starting this one very soon! And I’ve learned my lesson about planning ahead…I’ve already put in a request for A Wild Sheep Chase which is a semi-official read we’ll be discussing on March 10th.

Three of my other holds were classics by strong women! I picked up Between the Acts by Virginia Woolf, because I decided I wanted to read it before reading the nonfiction book The Things That Matter, which is looking at seven classics and the life lessons they contain. Between the Acts is the only one of the seven I haven’t read, so I figured I might at well go for it! Also, I’m skipping the upcoming Woolf in Winter selection, To the Lighthouse (since I read it last year), so this way I’ll still be reading a Woolf every fortnight! I have absolutely no idea what the book’s about, which is rare for me and a classic, and I think that will make my experience even better. Meanwhile, I snagged the eighteenth century travelogue The Journal of Madam Knight by Sarah Kemble Knight for the Reading the Decades Challenge. I’m really excited about my 1700s focus, and my first book (The Sorrows of Young Werther) took me by surprise with how readable it was! This one is very slim, which is neat, but I think for my next selection, I’ll be plumping for a nice big novel. Teresa of Avila: the Book of My Life is another classic nonfiction! I already had it on my list for the Really Old Classics Challenge, but I’m specifically reading it now because Jason and I ended up abandoning Ahab’s Wife but still wanted to read a book together. I was worried this would be all dense and mystical, but I’m 75 pages in, and so far it’s been nothing but a delight! I’m reading a modern translation by Mirabai Starr, which has a rather casual register. Apparently,the original Spanish was in a similar register, so the translation is faithful. St. Teresa herself is simply charming, and she was quite the reader!

That last of my holds to arrive was Matilda by Roald Dahl. This is for the Flashback Challenge, since I loved it as a child! I was actually hoping to get it in Russian, since I could have sworn I saw that version in my library’s catalogue, but sadly no. I can read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or Witches in Russian if I want…but I’ve been really craving Matilda. I haven’t read any of Dahl’s books since I was about 10, so I’m really curious as to what I’ll think of him now. After this reread, I’d love to explore some of his stuff written for older audiences, so if you have a favourite Dahl book, suggest away!

So, any sane person would think, “Great, six books this week from the library.” But no. Here’s what I thought when I went last Thursday and saw only two holds were in (the St. Teresa and the Madam Knight): “Wow. This is so sad. I can’t possibly leave the library with just two books. Why haven’t more holds arrived?! Obviously, I’m not requesting enough books. Let’s go browse the new books.” And so I found myself staring at all of the new nonfiction arrivals at the library. And there were several that seemed like perfect Women Unbound choices! So I brought home six ‘extras’. hehe

I was attracted to Babysitter: an American History by Miriam Forman-Brunell, because I was a babysitter in my youth, and then after college I was a nanny for a year. So the whole topic intrigues me! In Her Own Sweet Time by Rachel Lehmann-Haupt is about modern American women’s motherhood choices…it’s part memoir, part cultural/scientific stuff (I’ve already read it). I have this strange attraction to books about the issue of becoming a single mother by choice, even though I’m not a mother and not even positive that I want children. I think it’s because I’m suspicious of marriage, lol. At first, I picked up Pink Brain, Blue Brain by Lise Eliot, because I was sure it was going to anger me. (Books talking about the bioligical, ‘programmed,’ ‘inherent’ differences between the genders usually do.) But then I discovered that Eliot is a neuroscientist who wrote this book to *dispel* all of those ideas. The book looks at how even small differences in the way society treats young brains affects how they grow, which in turn contributes to gender differences. I’ve got high hopes for this one. It’s funny…the Women Unbound Challenge has made me much more open to memoirs than I used to be. I don’t think I would have even read the back of Gringa: a Contradictory Girlhood by Melissa Hart last year! Anyway, it’s a memoir about Hart’s childhood torn between her mother, who ends her marriage for a woman and begins life in a Hispanic neighbourhood, and her father, who is your standard white middle class guy, and who is eventually awarded primary custody because the judge considers lesbian relationships “unnatural.” Yeah. I read the first few pages, and Hart’s style is really good!

The other two books I chose are more international. Dragon Fighter: One Woman’s Epic Struggle for Peace with China by Rebiya Kadeer caught my eye because I’ve been participating in the China Challenge, and it’s a book about one of China’s ethnic minorities (the Uyghars). I’ve read a bit about them and their difficulties in the past, but not a whole book. And when it’s about a strong woman leader, I couldn’t resist. :) A few years ago, I read quite a few Iraq-centered books, both political and cultural centered ones. But then last year, I didn’t read any! So I had to pull Sisters in War by Christina Asquith off the shelf. Asquith is an American/British journalist, and she spent 18 months in Baghdad. This book looks at two Iraqi sisters and their lives after the war as well as about two outsiders, an American and Palestinian, who found a women’s center. So it’s sure to be chock full of women’s rights issues. :) I tend to really enjoy nonfiction books written by journalists, and I’m excited that Asquith also has a previously published book about teaching.

And that’s all of my loot for the week! Have you read any of these? Where should I begin?

93 Comments leave one →
  1. January 20, 2010 6:03 am

    Yay for The Housekeeper and the Professor! I also just got it from the library, and I’ll be reading it for the JLit Book Group. Looking forward to reading your thoughts on it soon.

    Yay for Matilda! Awesome awesome book that one. =)

    Very interested in the last two books on your list. Especially the one on Chinese minority. Might look into that one soon, hopefully.

    By the way, am liking your new look. Especially because the pics of your favourite authors link back to their pages! Yay for that too!

    • January 20, 2010 11:53 pm

      Awesome! I think it’s going to be a huge discussion! :D I’m glad you like the Fave Authors column-I was worried it’d be too busy, but now that it’s up I love seeing the faces of my favourite authors all the time. hehe

  2. January 20, 2010 6:04 am

    Nice header, and great loot. You always make me feel so inadequate at the lack of books I read, and also that I have no knowledge of current literature, as most books you choose I have never heard of!

    I am going to read some Woolf for the challenge too so I look forward to your reviews on that. I am heading to the library this weekend so as per your previous post, despite my ‘not sure if I agree with you’ status (still like you though, and your blog, a lot! ;) ) I am going to make a conscious effort to leave the classics section and go and see if I can find something that takes my interest that isn’t written by someone white and middle class. ;)

    • January 20, 2010 11:54 pm

      I’m excited to see where your conscious effort leads you! You know, there are classics by non-white people too, lol. I think that’s the most challenging genre, and since I love classics, I totally sympathise with you.

  3. January 20, 2010 6:23 am

    Oh no Vlog… you know how I am a fan of those heehee. Loving the new banner a lot, looks really fresh and very you. I am mad keen to get The Housekeeper and The Professor after seeing it discussed on a website book show yesterday (more about that on my bookish bits on Saturday) and so will look forward to your thoughts on that. I am in the process of getting The Converted One to try some Dahl and Matilda is on the list, Dahl wasnt well known in Brazil.

    • January 20, 2010 11:55 pm

      I know! Blame my library for randomly closing! ;) Can’t wait for your Saturday post. And good luck w/ the Converted One and Dahl!

  4. January 20, 2010 6:34 am

    As always, you’re increasing my wishlist with every post like this! I’ve just posted my own library loot.

  5. January 20, 2010 6:36 am

    And erm, oops. The Mister Linky remembered the last thing I entered into a (different) Mister Linky and I forgot to delete ‘Goodbye Tsugumi’ from the name bit. Thankfully I did manage to change the address. I’m an idiot.

    • January 20, 2010 11:55 pm

      LOL I do that w/ Mister Linky’s on a regular basis! I can fix it for you. :)

  6. January 20, 2010 7:12 am

    I look forward to your review of The Housekeeper and the Professor. (P.S. I just sent you e/m to offer a WP sug)

    • January 20, 2010 11:55 pm

      Are you joining the book discussion?

  7. January 20, 2010 7:30 am

    The Housekeeper and the Professor is SO good, one of my favorite reads from last fall. I hope that doesn’t mean you won’t like it. :D

    • January 20, 2010 11:56 pm

      lol-I think we have similar taste w/ international authors, actually. :) I think every blogger who’s read it has loved it, so I expect I will too!

  8. January 20, 2010 7:32 am

    Tales of The Unexpected by Roald Dahl were very popular during the 70’s. I never read them, but I did see the programmes linked to them. They were all weird and wonderful short tales with a twist at the end. I am hoping to read Sophie Dahl too this year and look at their different writing styles. She has had a lot of good reviews this year.

    BTW, the blog is looking lovely!

    • January 20, 2010 11:56 pm

      Oh-I’ll put Tales of the Unexpected on my list. Thanks-I’m a fan of short stories, especially ‘weird and wonderful’ ones!

  9. January 20, 2010 7:55 am

    Aw, yay for Matilda! It was always one of my favorite Dahl books as a little kid – except I mildly resented Matilda for learning to read when she was three (i.e., younger than I learned). Are you looking for grown-up Dahl, or for more of his kids’ books? Charlie & the Chocolate Factory and James & the Giant Peach are both wonderful; ditto The BFG.

    • January 20, 2010 11:57 pm

      LOL I learned when I was 4. I mildly resented Matilda for her powers! Even though they left at the end, so then that was ok. ;) I’ve read a bunch of his kids books when I was little (including the ones you mentioned), so I’m more curious about his grown-up stuff now.

  10. January 20, 2010 8:04 am

    I thought the Housekeeper and the Professor was excellent; enjoy!

  11. January 20, 2010 8:45 am

    LOVE the new look! It’s definitely more you! There are so many books I want to read here. I too was a babysitter for a long time, so I want to read that one. Blue Brain Pink Brain looks good and so does Gringa. So many excellent books! I can’t wait to read your reviews so I know which ones I should read. :D

  12. January 20, 2010 9:16 am

    All of these look great! And speaking of looking great, I noticed you gave your site a face lift – it looks fabulous! Very streamlined and very 2010! ;)

  13. January 20, 2010 9:52 am

    I have The Housekeeper and the Professor in my TBR pile, so I’ll be anxious to see what you think.

    • January 21, 2010 12:25 am

      It seems like everyone who’s read it has loved it, lol.

  14. January 20, 2010 9:54 am

    I love that the cover of the babysitters book is that Norman Rockwell painting.

    • January 21, 2010 12:26 am

      Isn’t it awesome looking? It totally caught my eye when I was browsing!

  15. January 20, 2010 9:56 am

    I love your new look! It must feel good — like just after getting a good hairstyling :-).

    The last two books look especially interesting to me. Looking forward to what you think of them — then I may pick them up for myself to read.

    • January 21, 2010 12:26 am

      Thanks-and that’s a great analogy! It does feel good. :)

  16. January 20, 2010 10:52 am

    Read Gringa! Read Gringa!

    Seriously, thanks for mentioning the book, and here’s a link to the oh-so-weird book trailer:


    -Melissa Hart

    • January 21, 2010 12:26 am

      Thanks for stopping by Melissa! And for making me laugh. ;)

  17. January 20, 2010 11:34 am

    I like the new look! You got some good loot, too. Looking forward to the reviews. :)

  18. January 20, 2010 11:38 am

    It was interesting to read about your library loot :) I loved the cover of ‘The Housekeeper and the Professor’ – so beautiful! (is that a Cherry Blossom tree on the cover?) Roald Dahl’s ‘Matilda’ is such a lovely book!

    It was interesting to know that Rebiya Kadeer has written a book called ‘Dragon Fighter: One Woman’s Epic Struggle for Peace with China’. I have read about Rebiya Kadeer before and I have read contradictory views about her – some say that she is fighting for the rights of the minorities in the Chinese province of Xinjiang, while others say that she was an ally with the Chinese government and profited economically by it but when things soured between her and the government she repositioned herself as a fighter for the rights of minorities. I am already looking forward to reading your review of her book :)

    Your blog’s new look-and-feel is quite interesting – the fonts are bigger the pictures are bigger and the reader can see your favourite writers and short stories on the right. I also liked the picture of one of your favourite writers Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on top. She looks so beautiful!

    • January 21, 2010 12:29 am

      It is a cherry blossom tree. :) They’re so beautiful!

      I’m really curious about Kadeer as well, and I’m always hesitant about autobiographies. I’ll let you know how it goes!

      That’s interesting that everything looks bigger to you; on my laptop, the fonts look smaller! lol And isn’t that a beautiful picture of Adichie?!

  19. January 20, 2010 11:43 am

    I just wanted to say that I LOVE the new look Eva! I especially love the “favorite authors” sidebar with the pictures included. Very…lit-chic!

    • January 21, 2010 12:29 am

      Thanks so much Chelsea! I was hesitant about adding the author pics at first, but now they make me happy to see them all the time. lol

  20. January 20, 2010 12:31 pm

    My maiden name is Kemble, which is rare to find anywhere. So when I saw Sarah Kemble Knight’s book on your list to read, I was so excited! I’m trying to track down a copy and have my mom searching the family records to see if she was related. What fun!

    • January 21, 2010 12:30 am

      I think she was a British woman; this is her travelogue of journeying from Boston to NY! Enjoy your heritage research!

  21. January 20, 2010 12:37 pm

    I’m on pins and needles waiting for The Housekeeper and the Professor from my library for the 25th. I can’t wait for your thoughts on Teresa of Avila’s book. I think I’d enjoy that. Those last two sound fascinating. You have one terrific library. I’ll check mine for these 3 but I’m skeptical. Enjoy your loot woman!
    I did a special Waiting on Wednesday post (you’ll want to see this one) which took all my energy so no LL post unless I do one a couple of days late.

    • January 21, 2010 12:33 am

      I’m glad I”m not the only one who was anxious about it arriving from the library! Off to check out your Waiting on Wednesday post. :)

  22. January 20, 2010 12:42 pm

    I’ve read both The Housekeeper and the Professor and Between the Acts, the former is great, the latter is not one of my favorite books by Woolf, but -well it is still by Woolf! :)

    The new look is great, very stylish.


    • January 21, 2010 12:35 am

      I’m curious what I’ll think about the Woolf now! And I’m so glad you like my make over. :D

  23. January 20, 2010 1:10 pm

    I just finished The Housekeeper and the Professor yesterday and loved it. I know you will too! And you might think this is crazy but I don’t think I’ve ever read Matilda. I need to fix that!

    • January 21, 2010 12:35 am

      lol-I don’t think it’s crazy! Sad, perhaps, but not crazy. ;)

  24. January 20, 2010 1:23 pm

    It’s been a while since I’ve popped by: I love your new look. Oh, and Matilda is my favorite Dahl. Made me happy to see it there in your pile. :-)

    • January 21, 2010 12:35 am

      Thanks Melissa! It’s my fave Dahl too. :D

  25. January 20, 2010 1:52 pm

    The babysitter book looks good.

    I have the free version of WordPress too and I think you can change the font colour, although you have to do it individually for each post. If you look on the Visual tab of the input box for creating a new post or page, and click on the last button on the right (Show/Hide Kitchen Sink), another row of buttons appears underneath and one of them is for font colour. But as you say, you can’t change the default colour without altering the coding, so you have to use the font colour button with every post. I change the font colour when I remember to do it because my default is grey and I think black is easier to read.

    • January 21, 2010 3:49 am

      Thanks for letting me know. :) I meant that I couldn’t change all of the font colour at once, the way that I can customise the link colour. But I suppose I could just do it by hand if I weren’t quite so lazy! lol

      • January 22, 2010 5:11 am

        Yes, I do wish it was possible to customise the font colour. My standard is grey and I keep changing it to black, then adding another para and forgetting to change that one – which creates a kind of piebald effect.

  26. January 20, 2010 2:09 pm

    Love your header!! Looks really nice and book-adequate! :)

    Btw, looks like you got an interesting bunch of books. I’m interested to see how you find Sisters in War!! That looks like a must-read.

    • January 21, 2010 3:50 am

      Thank you! Sisters in War sounds really good, doesn’t it?

      • January 23, 2010 8:53 am

        You bet it does!! I really want to dig into it!

  27. January 20, 2010 2:44 pm

    Ooh, The Housekeeper and the Professor. I really want to read that because I’ve seen quite a few positive reviews about it floating around the book community.

    More Virginia Woolf! Can’t wait to hear about it. ;)

    Matilda! *squeals* Overrreaction? Non. My favourite childhood book. I loved Roald Dahl as a child and still do. Matilda was an example of the first time I went to see a book-to-film adaptation and said, ‘This is missing from the film … That never happened in the book.’ I think I was about 9!

    I like the look of Sisters in War. I look forward to your review on that one.

    What an amazing loot as always, Eva. No books for me this week. Just carrying on with my TBR pile. :D

    • January 21, 2010 3:50 am

      Matilda wasn’t my favourite childhood book, but I definitely enjoyed it! I enjoyed the movie adaptation too, even though it took a lot of liberties. ;)

  28. fleurfisher permalink
    January 20, 2010 2:56 pm

    You will love The Housekeeper and the Professor. And, as ever, I’m intrigued by your other books. And the new look is wonderful too.

    • January 21, 2010 3:51 am

      Thanks! And I’m super excited to start The Housekeeper and the Professor. :D

  29. January 20, 2010 3:01 pm

    I love your new header, Eva. It’s sophisticated yet warm :)

  30. January 20, 2010 3:43 pm

    I haven’t read any of the books in your library loot this week but I hope they are all enjoyable for you.

  31. January 20, 2010 4:18 pm

    Reading THe Housekeeper and the Professor along with the Japanese Lit Group too. :)

    • January 21, 2010 3:52 am

      Wonderful! I swear; I’m loving this new book blogging trend of all reading the same book at once. :D

  32. January 20, 2010 5:11 pm

    Just stopping by to say that I love your new look!

    • January 21, 2010 3:52 am

      Thanks! That means a lot since I love your layout so much. :)

  33. January 20, 2010 6:10 pm

    I can’t wait to hear what you’ll think of The Housekeeper and the Professor.

    I love your new layout! Very nice!

    • January 21, 2010 4:13 am

      Thanks! I can’t wait to read it. :)

  34. January 20, 2010 6:50 pm

    Wow… all of those non-fiction books sound really interesting! I should try to pull myself away from the fiction shelves sometime, haha.

  35. Juanita permalink
    January 20, 2010 7:55 pm

    I hope the vlog returns next week; it’s the highlight of my Wednesdays. I read The Housekeeper and the Professor last year and loved it. I’m a fan of the memoir and Gringa looks interesting. I’ll have to see if my library has it.

    • January 21, 2010 4:13 am

      Aww: thanks Junita! I promise there shall be a vlog next week. :)

  36. January 20, 2010 8:21 pm

    I just bought the Housekeeper and the Professor for 60% off! I can’t wait to read it, I’ve been eyeing it for a long time.

  37. January 20, 2010 8:24 pm

    I love the new look! And that header is just perfect for you.

  38. January 20, 2010 8:39 pm

    Love the new layout! Especially the book in your header :)

    Of your loot this week, Matilda is my favorite. Of course I love all the Roald Dahl books, but Matilda is especially wonderful.

    Happy Reading!

    • January 21, 2010 4:14 am

      I agree-Matilda was extra special Dahl. :D

  39. January 20, 2010 9:34 pm

    Ohmigosh, I JUST noticed your new layout! Love it. LOVE that it’s P&P you’re reading. Not that I’m surprised :-)

    • January 21, 2010 4:15 am

      lol! Thanks so much Aarti! And long live Jane! :D

  40. January 20, 2010 10:17 pm

    Great loot! I haven’t read any of those books so I wouldn’t know where to start but I’ve heard such good things about the Housekeeper and the Professor so that’s a good place to begin!

    • January 21, 2010 4:15 am

      Yep-I’ll definitely be starting that one soon since the discussion is on the 25th! :)

  41. January 21, 2010 8:03 am

    Great books! I’m completely intrigued by The Housekeeper and the Professor since I’ve seen so many mentions of it around the blogosphere. I’m also right on board with you on Roald Dahl re-reads. I haven’t yet, but Matilda is at the tippy top of my list along with George’s Marvelous Medicine.


    • January 22, 2010 1:14 pm

      I’ve read it now! It wasn’t as good as I expected, but a decent read. :) I think you’ll love Matilda!

  42. January 21, 2010 9:30 am

    I’m glad I decided to join the Housekeeper discussion! I’m enjoying it but not a favorite. I guess I should wait until i finish to decide for sure. Mrs. Dalloway convinced me by the end.

    I do like the look and the author pictures on the side :)

    • January 22, 2010 1:14 pm

      I’ve read it now, and it won’t be a favourite of mine either. But I didn’t dislike it, so that’s good at least. ;)

  43. Jane permalink
    January 21, 2010 8:39 pm

    I can’tbelieve it
    look what I picked up at the library yesterday,
    I HAD NOT been to your blog for a few weeks.
    ooo library synergy at work.


  44. January 22, 2010 11:13 am

    It seems like you have a lot of great reading ahead of you. You’re constantly showcasing interesting books that I HAVE to have on my TBR list or shelves. I’m reading The Housekeeper and the Professor for the Japanese Lit Group and adding everything else to my TBR list.

    • January 22, 2010 1:15 pm

      I swear, all my fave bloggers are doing the Japanese Lit Group! :D

  45. January 23, 2010 8:30 pm

    I liked Matilda, although it isn’t my favorite Dahl. I think I’ll add Pink Brain, Blue Brain to my TBR list, as a contrast to Why Gender Matters. Thanks for the library loot!


  1. Library Loot « Fleur Fisher reads
  2. Library Loot « Olduvai Reads

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