Category Archives: Book Report

So I read this book…

106 books unread (meme)

Below are the top 106 books tagged “unread” in Librarything. If you didn’t know, I totally work for them now, so I figured I’d better participate! (Whatever, I totally wanted to.) I learned that I don’t re-read a lot.

The rules:
Bold what you have read, italicize books you’ve started but couldn’t finish, and strike through books you hated. Add an asterisk* to those you’ve read more than once. Underline those on your tbr list.

Jonathan Strange & M. Norrell
Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment
One hundred years of solitude
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion
Life of Pi: a novel
The Name of the Rose – I think my dad likes this one. I know he owns it.
Don Quixote
Moby Dick – I have to, having lived in New Bedford
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
A Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveller’s Wife
The Iliad
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations
American Gods
A heartbreaking work of staggering genius
Atlas shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran
Memoirs of a Geisha
Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
The Canterbury tales
The Historian
A portrait of the artist as a young man
Love in the time of cholera
Brave new world
The Fountainhead
Foucault’s Pendulum
The Count of Monte Cristo
A clockwork orange
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible
Angels & Demons
The Inferno
The Satanic Verses
Sense and sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One flew over the cuckoo’s nest
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Oliver Twist
Gulliver’s Travels
Les misérables
The Corrections
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The curious incident of the dog in the night-time
The Prince
The Sound and the Fury
Angela’s Ashes
The God of Small Things
A people’s history of the United States : 1492-present
Cryptonomicon – I keep starting it
A confederacy of dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The unbearable lightness of being
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake : a novel
Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Northanger Abbey
*The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
The Aeneid
* Watership Down
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit
In Cold Blood
White teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers

Why are there no Babysitter’s Club readalike lists?

I’m just going to use Outsidecat to rant on reference questions I get.

Since my library has such a small space, we tend to get rid of things that don’t circulate – series takes up a lot of space, and although the occasional young person (or adult) inquires about them, it’s not worth the real estate.

A 19-year-old patron came in looking for the Babysitter’s Club series. As I asked her questions, I inferred that she had a low reading level. BSC is a great hi-lo (high interest, low reading leve) series – the language isn’t very difficult, but there’s enough responsibility and teen angst to appeal to older readers.

I found a few readalike lists that included BSC, but they all seemed to be about a younger age group. What I wish the interslice tubes could send me is a list of books like BSC for hi-lo readers.

Reference interview failures

A patron came in today asking for books for his 10- and 12-year olds on stealing and teasing animals, respectively.

I’m so impressed and glad the dad came to the library looking for information about these difficult issues, and I was sorely disappointed to find very little in the way of books that would address the animal cruelty issue at a level appropriate for a 12-year-old.

Every time I encounter this kind of situation, I think “Someone should write that book.”

(I realize that there is probably a book out there, but seriously, I couldn’t find it.)

Blogosphere niche: reviewing children’s books for out-loud reading

I read a lot of kid lit blogs, which often dictate what I buy for my library’s collection. It occurred to me just now that I would very much like to review children’s books, and specifically I think I have a knack for determining what kind of read they are. With pre-readers and early readers, there are a lot of options.

* Making up the story yourself, without reading the words (this requires a certain amount of storytelling illustrations)
* Stories where the words are the weight of the book (where the text tells most of the story)
* Stories where the illustrations are the weight of the book (where the illustrations shine)
* Stories to be read quietly at bedtime (quiet, cozy books with lots of small detail)
* Stories that are loud, raucous stories to read out loud (good for librarians doing storytime!)
* Stories that end up being playacted out
* Stories that are written so a early reader and a savvy reader read together

Along with reviewing the book as a whole, it would be nice to describe what kind of read it is.

So how do I start reviewing for a blog? I’d better email some of my favorite kid-book-bloggers to ask.

Post request: The Amazon Kindle

I’ve had my first request for a post! I really like that Stephanie did this, because I’ve become out of the habit of posting (on the upside, I’ve picked up the habit of flossing), and I need to kick myself into gear.


So, the Amazon Kindle. Stephanie wondered about my views on the cute little ‘wireless reading device’ that Amazon is pushing. As I am a librarian, the daughter of a librarian, a book lover, a reader, and a fixer of books, you’d think I’d HAAAAATE the idea of a digitalberg book.

I’ll give it to you in my new favorite format (that I learned about from reading soldering iron reviews):

The gut feeling on the device

*Much easier to read than previous versions of ebooks. Not as bit-tastic, and the screen doesn’t glow brightly, so it’s easier on the eyes.
*Don’t have to flip pages, leaving other hand free to eat snacks.
*Wireless means insta-access to more books. No waiting till the library opens, or for your Powell’s shipment
*Don’t need to have crap paperback copies of books you’re never going to read again cluttering your bookshelf.
*With one 10 oz. machine, you get hundreds of pounds of books – better for traveling.

*Requires electricity, which doesn’t work so hot after the zombie revolution, or in the bathtub.
*If no one publishes paper books, we’ll lose all the stories… after the zombie revolution.
*DRM (access control) may make lending a book impossible. I mean, I’m sure libraries will have different access than individuals, but I won’t be able to lend you my copy of Harry Potter.

Now, for what this all means, here’s my realistic look. Not everyone will be able to afford these babies, so I don’t think we have to worry about the death of paper publishing. My hope is that publishers will chose to treat good books by printing them on nicer paper, in fancier cases, and will become somewhat more collectible. I think mass market romance novels (and the like) will continue to be printed in their standard form. This is based somewhat on socioeconomic demographics, and on the exchangeable nature readers treat the books.

I think cover art is still important. Even with digital books, people judge books by their cover art! And I can imagine when you boot up a book, you’d see the cover art. It gets you in the mood for what you’re reading. It’s kind of like how our library system has cover images for lots of the books, so when you’re searching online, you can tell what the book is about. I think (especially for janky library software) it’s easier to tell if some thing’s a novel, nonfiction, kids, etc. based on the cover.

The Wall The Wall

I think the Kindle (and the others that will follow) will bring an ease to our paper use, boost the quality of existing paper publishing, increase the number of books written without going through publishers, and just like all the digital technology before it, continue to inspire a subculture of low-tech, self-published materials (like zines). I think because of DRM and technological limitations (at least until the next breakthrough) paper books and ebooks will live in symbiosis, maximizing the benefits of both.

If this post leaves your brain spinning and your heart racing, a great novel to read is Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age. The plot revolves around a similar technology that allows a single book to act as the one-and-only resource needed for someone to navigate life. This book is one of my favorites. I also like that it’s described as “a postcyberpunk novel”. It’s so accessible as a story, and incredibly well-written. My mom would like it (if she hasn’t read it already – she kind of has a thing for Neal Stephenson books), my grandmother would like it, and my brother would like it. There. Read it!

Bookity update

I work in a library. I love Goodreads. I love it when I read a friend’s review on Goodreads, then walk over to a shelf and now have the same book in my hands. That’s pretty powerful stuff, right there.

So now I have The Namesake in my hot little hands, and will begin reading it right after I finish The Pleasure of My Company. The Namesake was suggested to me by E, and The Pleasure of My Company (which I can only refer to as You Enjoy Myself) was introduced to me by Keem, who brought it up as a fine example of Steve Martin’s humor.

This is literary instant gratification. The instant novel’s gonna get you.

Turkey Day

As a children’s librarian, I am obligated to celebrate the major holidays. For storytime today, I chose the rite-of-passage craft of making hand-turkeys. I’m sure I don’t even need to explain what they are, for everyone knows.

I’ll show you anyway, because it’s so quintessentially American:
Hand turkey

I’m not a big theme-girl, so I’ve never tried to craft a storytime theme all about bears, or about flowers, or whatever. Today, though, I felt the need to present a Thanksgiving-related series of stories. As I crouched near the Thanksgiving books, looking for age-appropriate stories, I realized that at least half of the stories were about turkeys. In every single book, the point of the story was that the assumption would be that the turkey would be eaten, and in the end, it would not. I don’t know if this is a common theme because it’s an early lesson in plot twists, or because secretly all children’s authors are vegetarian.

I could have easily made the theme of this week’s storytime “Where Meat Comes From”, and open the eyes of those three-year-olds who don’t realize that turkey is made out of turkeys. I chose not to. That’s not my fight. Not this time.

The Trees Fight Back

From one of my favorite comics, The Perry Bible Fellowship:

The Unforgiving Tree

I was always weirded out by the original. I understand the analogy to be that of a caring adult – ready to give the shirt off their back to make the next generation happier. I think that paradigm is outdated.

Kids are assholes with cell phones. With all the baby boomers, you’d think the we could rewrite the story. You come to the tree, it talks to you, it gives you some apples, you leave with the apples, then you come back and mulch it, then spray for tent worms.

It was a dark and stormy night.

Madeleine L’Engle is dead, long live Madeleine L’Engle.

She introduced me to tessering tessering in A Wrinkle in Time, and provided me with a quote that lived on my wall in high school and college. (Frustratingly, I can’t remember it, nor can I find it in the Interslice.)

Last night, Jason and I drove to Boston, and on the way, I read aloud the first two chapters of WiT. The consensus was that Charles Wallace, in all his infinite wisdom, is a little annoying. Still, the book holds great re-reading value, and we both enjoyed it.