Friday Finds on Saturday

I am working on a keynote for a group of librarians. The theme of the conference is “Librarians on the Edge” and the focus is how librarians are shaping the future.

I’ve been really enjoying BiblioTECH by John Palfrey. The book is a manifesto for libraries with a multitude of examples of innovative online and face to face libraries. Palfrey has also recommended a variety of books and I am trying to check them out of the library. I put a hold on Library: An Unquiet History by Matthew Battles and got the message this morning that it was in.

I spent some time browsing the shelves as well and came away with some gems:

Sense and Sensiblity, Joanna Trollope’s contribution to The Austen Project

The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

The Sandman Overture Deluxe Edition by Neil Gaiman

I’m not sure I’ll have time to read them all in the next two weeks but I can always renew them.


Slow Reading Plus Loving My Library

Finished The Accidental Tourist and liked it more than A Spool of Blue Thread: maybe a stronger plot with clearer connections between the characters.

Anne Tyler tells human stories with characters that verge ever so slightly on the stereotype. The Leary siblings in The Accidental Tourist seem almost too quirky, tied as they are to the past and their own routines and needs. It makes personal relationships difficult and marriage almost impossible unless the spouse understands those needs and can make accommodations in the name of love. Macon Leary has gotten out, it seems, until an almost unspeakable tragedy leads to the end of his marriage and his return to the arms of his sister and brothers. It takes Edward, his dog, to help him reconnect to an unlikely “fixer” who helps him really see the world outside the cocoon he has built.

Now I’m working through Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson by S.C. Gwynne. A think book but Gwynne knows how to tell a story. He fits in the details and yet balances them with human interest. Even the battle descriptions, usually a turn off for me, are well written. I’m reading it for the nonfiction “challenge” on Library Thing but decided it’s more important to me to read slowly than finish it by the end of the month.

Meanwhile, kudos to my library: when I was in a couple weeks ago, the librarian turned me on to their digital magazines. WOW! I’ve printed a few recipes from Bon Apetit, read a feature about Joy Mangano in Good Housekeeping, and enjoyed browsing the other available subscriptions. It’s a wonderful service, easily accessible from my laptop or iPad.

We got about 10 inches of snow and ice during the big storm. Enough to keep me tucked inside: made beef stew and the most amazing Liege Waffles from King Arthur Flour. They were delicious made in my plain old waffle maker and I’m looking forward to toasting them for breakfast this week.

Library Resolution Revisited

I did a quick search on library on this website and discovered two January entries (2011 and 2012) that resolved to use the public library more. Clearly, it was not a resolution last year since, when I logged in the other day to reserve a book, I discovered that my card had expired in 2014.

But, I’m back at it again this year: as I’ve gotten more involved in the reading groups sponsored by LibraryThing, I am discovering lots of books that aren’t on the shelf. Some may have free versions through Amazon but, mostly, I would have to pay for the digital versions. These are generally books that I won’t reread so the library seems like quite an economy. My library has a savings calculator that gives an estimate of the cost of the services you use. I think it’s a monthly calculation (I was a little confused by the number to be entered so counted each book as a “service” that I used). Including two books, a magazine (the librarian showed me the online magazine access they offered) and one interlibrary loan, my cost was $76.00. I may be able to cancel at least one magazine subscription.

Last year, I made reading my ROOTS (my own tomes) a priority and managed to read 45 books I already owned, 10 more than the goal I set at the beginning of the year. It doesn’t look like LibraryThing has a group for setting a library book goal but it doesn’t mean I can’t set my own. I’m going to start with 30 as a goal.  I checked out three today, two Anne Tylers for a book challenge and the next Steve Berry Cotton Malone mystery. I know I’ll continue borrowing Berry from the library. The books are good but I really don’t need digital copies.

Here’s the ticker:


Breaking the Book Buying Habit

So far, I have stuck with my resolution not to buy books.  The local library is tiny but has a great fiction selection.  I could have easily walked away with three or four when I visited earlier this week.  I limited myself to just two: The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff, a tale of Mormons and polygamy set in the time of Brigham Young, and A Lesson in Secrets by Jacqueline Winspear, which is part of her Maisie Dobbs mystery series.  It was the latter that caused the most temptation I’ve faced so far.

I have read the first two books in the series–Maisie Dobbs and Birds of a Feather.  But this one is the eighth book in the series and as I read the cover blurb, I realized I wanted to continue to read them in order since besides being great mysteries, they tell the story of Maisie’s life.  All the books are available on the Kindle; there is even a bundled set of the 3rd and 4th books for a mere $15.  And Kindle books don’t take up any shelf space at all.  But a resolution is a resolution so I headed to the library website and put in my request to have it brought from another branch.  Now, I wait patiently to get the email indicating it has arrived. In the mean time, I am immersed in I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb, which came form my own collection.

I also kept my resolution at the library itself which is selling a bag of books for just $2!  Truth be told, there wasn’t much of interest on the carts but that hasn’t ever stopped me before.

NB: I made it through a visit to Books A Million where I drank a latte, surfed the web and only browsed.  But they gave me a $5 coupon for online and I ended up with the second volume of Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Chronicles, The Pale Horseman. The first book in the series–The Last Kingdom–is already on the shelf and the sixth volume–The Death of Kings–just came out.  LOTS more reading to look forward.

My New Library

Despite having a wonderful library in Williamsburg, I rarely darkened the door in the past decade.  I am a book buyer rather than a borrower. It hasn’t always been that way.  I’ve been a library volunteer, and in my commuting days–pre-Audible and ipod–I often stopped by the library to check out audio books, but once I worked from home, it just seemed like a chore to drive downtown. And, frankly, I was something of a snob: I was not interested in being on a waiting list for a book when I could just order it from Amazon or download it from Audible.

But the local library in our small town has great appeal. It is within biking and even walking distance of the house.  It is small with somewhat odd hours.  It has taken me some 10 months to finally stop by.  But today, I pulled into the parking lot and headed in for my card.  I left with Geraldine Brooks’ Caleb’s Crossing, Norah Jones’ Seems Like Home CD and an indy film called Lebanon, Pa.  (My parents live about 10 minutes from Lebanon so it seemed like kismet.)

It is a small shop but they are part of a regional network so books can be ordered online and delivered to my branch.  There are comfortable sofas, racks of magazines, free wifi, and Internet connected computers.  I’m imagining pedaling over to drop off books and browse the shelves…once better weather arrives, of course, since it hardly made it above freezing today.  Meanwhile, I am looking forward to settling in with another Brooks novel, this one based on the life of a 17th century Wampanoag Indian.

There were a few folks there, using the computers, looking for new books, and it felt good to be part of the community in this way.  My only regret is that they don’t have a reading group. There is a book group at another branch in the larger town with a good grocery store.  They are reading State of Wonder by Ann Patchett for January.  Patchett’s been in the news recently with the opening of her book store in Nashville.  Maybe it’s a sign?

Support Your Public Library

I am reading a library book! That’s right…a public library book that I will have to return in two weeks. Of course, I’ve already had to renew it once but I’m confident in my ability to finish it this time. I checked it out along with another book and a music CD when I attended a Civil War presentation held at the library. It had been so long since I had been there that I had to update my card information!

I have nothing against public libraries and, in fact, think they are one of the best institutions. During our travels in early Internet days, we often found access at libraries. I volunteered in the public library in my home town when I was a teenager, shelving books and cutting out name tags for the pre-school reading circles. Actually, I even volunteered at THIS public library during their summer reading program. And, in the days before I controlled my own money, I was a public library user.

But I’m not any more. I like owning books and being able to come to them in my own good time. I may think I want to read a book right away when I’m holding it in my hands at the library, but who knows what might happen by the time I get home. That book may have reminded me of another one that needs to be read first. And, if I really want to read a book immediately, I won’t wait to go to the library to check it out: I’ll just buy it on one of the two ereaders I now own. If it’s not available digitally, I would just as soon buy it from Amazon than drive to the library. Sad, but true. I have joined the “buy it now” generation, unable to postpone pleasure. And, even sadder? When I do buy a book, I almost never read it right away. It goes on the shelf and waits its turn, which may come sooner or later. So, I could certainly allow the library to store it for me and then go get it when it gets to the top of the list.

This year, I am going to try to become a public library user. As I clean out my books for the move to the farm, I’ll donate some to the library for their book sale. And, I certainly don’t want to buy any more analog books since I will just have to move them, so I’ll look to the library. Of course, there are plenty of unread books on my shelves but there’s something about knowing I have wider access that comforts me. I just like having books around me, endless possibilities for learning and laughing, musing and marveling.