Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Old Filth by Jane Gardam

Old Filth is the story of Sir Edward Feathers, a lawyer, who as a young child was sent from Malaya to England to be raised properly. His father fading into the background, his school friend killed in the war and the death of his wife, have left Edward alone. After a certain number of losses Edward stops creating new connections.

What struck me about this novel is that everything in his life was designed to train him for the moment when he is alone and must carry on. Although on the surface this is a quiet novel where "not much happens", watching endless repetitions of loss resulted in this being one of the saddest books that I have read this year.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Librarian Costume

Librarian Costume
Originally uploaded by Librarian Avenger.
Darn. I found out about this too late for Halloween. I believe in the library world they are calling it the Librarian Hooker Halloween costume.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Revolutionary Wealth by Alvin Toffler

This is the latest offering by futurists Alvin and Heidi Toffler. As always, their ideas about the future are exciting and innovative. The emerging information wealth revolution comes complete with "prosumer" class who create (those who create goods and services "for [their] own use or satisfaction, rather than for sale or exchange"). While there is no doubt that the Internet will change the world, there is some debate about what that change will mean for the future. Interesting and thought provoking as always but not one of my notable books this year.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Anomaly by Anne Fleming

a·nom·a·ly (-nm-l) n. pl. a·nom·a·lies

  1. Deviation or departure from the normal or common order, form, or rule.
  2. One that is peculiar, irregular, abnormal, or difficult to classify: “Both men are anomalies: they have... likable personalities but each has made his reputation as a heavy” (David Pauly).

anomaly. (n.d.). The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Retrieved October 25, 2006, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/anomaly

Each in her own way an anomaly, the Riggs sisters grow up with the intense love/hate bond that sisters often have (and hopefully grow out of). In addition, the older sister, Glynnis has a disabled leg and Carol is an albino making school at time a torturous experience. Each must suffer the casual cruelties of their classmates and learn how to survive the emotional damage that is done. As they get older the two girls take distinctly different paths to discover their true place in the world.

Set in the 1970's in Canada, this first novel is smooth, polished and just a little quirky. I highly enjoyed it.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Gravedigger: A Novel by Peter Grandbois

Juan, the gravedigger, is a storyteller who gets his stories from the ghosts of the dead that he buries. While some of the stories he tells leave the family in peace others are not so comforting. Juan also struggles to raise his daughter alone after the death of his beloved wife. Esperanza, although a loving daughter, is also rebellious and tests the limits of her community by falling in love with a gypsy boy. This is an excellent example of magical realism and a novel infused with warmth. A lovely engaging story with humor to spare.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Interesting articles

I was going to post my newly updated list today but didn't quite get to it. Instead I thought I would link you to some interesting (at least to me) library related articles. #1 and #2 shows how much the Brits love their libraries:) You may notice that article #4 and #5 pulled one of the graphic novels that is on my "notable reading list".

"Thousands Blog for British Library." American Library Association. 2006.http://www.ala.org/ala/alonline/currentnews/newsarchive/2006abc/october2006a/britishblog.htm (Accessed 23 Oct, 2006)

"A Naked Display of Emotion over Library Closings." American Library Association. 2006.http://www.ala.org/ala/alonline/currentnews/newsarchive/2006abc/october2006a/kingsteignton.htm (Accessed 23 Oct, 2006)

"EPA Allegedly Plans to Reduce Access to Online Publications." American Library Association. 2006.http://www.ala.org/ala/alonline/currentnews/newsarchive/2006abc/october2006a/epasubs.htm (Accessed 23 Oct, 2006)

"Missouri Trustees Pull Graphic Novels, for Now." American Library Association. 2006.http://www.ala.org/ala/alonline/currentnews/newsarchive/2006abc/october2006a/marshallmo.htm (Accessed 23 Oct, 2006)

"Graphic Novels Draw Challenge in Missouri." American Library Association. 2006.http://www.ala.org/ala/alonline/currentnews/newsarchive/2006abc/october2006a/graphicnovels.htm (Accessed 23 Oct, 2006)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Miracle in the Andes: 72 Days on the Mountain and My Long Trek Home by Nando Parrado

Miracle in the Andes: 72 Days on the Mountain and My Long Trek Home is the account of the 1972 plane crash that left a group of young athletes from Uruguay stranded on a mountaintop with no food and little hope of rescue. Nando was the instigator of the escape trek through mountains that would have been a challenge to experienced mountain climbers with equipment, weather appropriate clothing and adequate food and water. Somehow, many of the crash victims survived and they still remain close today.

Of course, this story was made into a movie based on the book Alive so many will know the basic story. But Nando talks about it from a different angle, discussing feelings about the crash, his mother and sister's deaths and his feelings about his fellow survivors. He also looks at the portrayals of a couple of the less heroic boys with more understanding and compassion than he did as a young man and sees how emotionalism just showed the fear, not the steps these individuals took to overcome that fear.

You also find out what has happened to these men, what kind of lives they led and what they have done with these experiences which is a nice addition to the tale. Very well done and movingly told.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Exciting News

My sister and her husband asked if they could move to India for a couple of years (just for fun). Their respective bosses like the idea so it looks like it might actually happen. I will miss the easy access but on the plus side, I will get to go to India in the next couple of years. I now have to save money for a trip to Zurich and a trip to India. Guess I shouldn't give up the part-time job yet.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Futurist by James P. Othmer

The Futurist is, oddly enough, about a man who makes his living as a futurist. In other words, someone who analyzes trends and predicts the future. After giving what should be a career ending speech exposing himself as a fraud, he is recruited by a secret government agency to find out what the rest of the world thinks about Americans. Of course, things spiral out of control and he finds himself pursued by Johnson and Johnson (agency men), Nostradamus and assorted other strange characters who have taken exception to something he has said, done or thought.

This is another of those clever books that takes a great idea and turns it in to an entertaining story. There were several other books on this year's list that had the same feel to it but I enjoyed this one more. There are a few places that the pace was a little slow but overall a solid satire of our quest to know the future.

Monday, October 16, 2006

A question (Duplicated on MySpace)

Librarians (and former librarians): Please contact me directly instead of posting comments. I am more interested in library customer’s opinions right now. Thank you.

At work I am taking a look at new technologies, formats, etc...that promote or provide alternative access to books. What does everyone think about book trailers? Would this "commercial" entice you to pick up a book (assuming that the genre was something that interested you)?

How would you feel about having them playing (most of them have very little or no sound) in a library or posted on a library webpage.

Here are some examples:

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Mystery Guest: An Account by Gregoire Bouillier

This is one of those very "French" novels that is hard to describe but I will do my best. Basically this is the story of a man who has been invited by his ex-lover to be the mystery guest at an artists home. The man agonizes over the meaning of the invitation since the ex-lover left him with no explanations about why she was leaving him. Asking himself such questions as "Why did she invite him?" "What could she be trying to tell him?" and even analyzing the meaning behind the number of flowers at the party. (And I thought women were the only ones who over analyzed things.)

This is not a novel that captivated me but it was interesting and had a very old fashioned literary feel to it, similar to Virginia Woolf in tone.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Moral Disorder: And Other Stories by Margaret

Margaret Atwood is my all-time favorite author. I especially love her ability to take a modern day technology and then imagine what would happen if it were taken to extremes.

Her newest collection of short stories is completely different. This beautifully written short story collection presents episodes from the life of Nell, starting with the birth of her sister. Nell's life becomes more measured as time goes on, although you never feel she has settled into her skin. There is always an edge to even the most serene and domestic of these stories. Ultimately, she becomes the caretaker for her sister, her husband and her parents and these tasks help her become comfortable with the person she is meant to be.

This was a lovely collection of short stories although I could have happily read a novel that more fully explored the life of this character.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Every Visible Thing: A Novel by Lisa Carey

Every Visible Thing is a heartbreaking novel about the loss of a child and how that affects the rest of the family.

Alternating between the two siblings, Lena and Owen tell the story of their family's struggle to deal with the loss of the oldest child, Hugh, missing and presumed dead. The inability of the parents to deal with the loss of Hugh allows the two remaining children to slip further and further into trouble. As they struggle to deal with this loss in addition to the normal problems of childhood, the lack of guidance creates situations where the two feel alienated and alone. Bad choices are made, situations spiral out of control and eventually the family faces the potential loss of another of its children.

Although the structure of this book felt off to me, alternating between first and third person, I still enjoyed and was affected by this novel.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Health Insurance

I was sitting in my office today and heard a couple of employees talking about how much co-pays for our health insurance went up at the beginning of the month. Today I also missed a call from the same health insurance company. This doesn't seem like it is going to be a good thing.

Also, http://expat-experience.blogspot.com/2006/10/passing-of-hero.html to read about the passing of Buck O'Neil

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Rug Merchant by Meg Mullins

The Rug Merchant is a lovely, slow moving novel that beautifully mirrors the profound alienation that Ushman Kahn feels living in the United States.

The main character comes to American planning to work and eventually send for his beloved wife when he had created a good life for her. As he lives an isolated lifestyle selling carpets and saving money, his wife has become pregnant and quietly divorced him. In his grief and loneliness he wanders the airport late at night and one night he meets the young, beautiful, very American, Stella. He is drawn to her youth and sense of belonging and soon is having an affair with her. Unfortunately, the very qualities that attracted him in the beginning soon leave him feeling more isolated than ever.

I did enjoy this novel but in the end, nothing has been resolved. In the end he remains alienated.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Field Notes from a Catastrophe by Elizabeth Kolbert

Field Notes From A Catastrophe is an interesting book that calmly lays out the evidence to support the fact that the earth is now the warmest it has been in the past 420,000 years. She then goes on to talk about differing scientists viewpoints of what this might mean. At the core, all of the important scientists in the field agree that the warming means that the planet is on the edge of a major climate change. The main point of contention seems to be the time frame in which that will happen and how much longer we have before that outcome is irreversible.

Very nicely done without the alarmist tone that many writers on the subject develop (probably because the potential outcomes are alarming.)

Friday, October 06, 2006

Sufficient Grace by Darnell Arnoult

Sufficient Grace is the story of a woman suffering from schizophrenia. When she starts hearing the voice of God she leaves her husband and ends up staying with the African American woman who had taken care of her as a child. Throughout the book her family struggles to come to terms with the new direction their family has taken and adapts to the changes in surprising new ways.

Interestingly enough, this book does not paint a bleak picture of the effects of mental illness on an individual or a family. In the end, everyone involved is better off than when they started. I enjoyed this book and you can tell that this was written by a poet. There were some lovely uses of language during the course of this novel.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Library conference: Day 2

Today I did several conference related sessions such as dealing with mental health issues and outreach on a budget. I also went to a fun one with one of my favorite authors, Jim Butcher. He writes a paranormal detective series. The main character is a wizard and he solves magical crimes. He started life as a SF geek but turned into a highly entertaining presenter.

Tonight I went to the awards dinner and the speaker for the evening is a writer/editor for Mad magazine talking about censorship. Very provocative and entertaining. I also won a mp3 player and got to see some people that I don't get to see very often. Best of all, my conference work is all done except for the extremely early morning meeting tomorrow.

Life is good.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Library Conference report

I went to a very interesting opening session today. The presenter was talking about the new structure of information and how the "younger" generation is accessing and using information (by the way, did you know that IQ's have been getting higher every year since the the beginning of the 1990's, they have to keep making the tests harder to make sure that "average" stays the same).

He showed some shots of brain activity of different age people as they were looking at websites, printed text, etc... I love that kind of stuff. Brains are amazing pieces of equipment. Anyway, he talked a lot about online use, social communities and online information competition. He also talked about how libraries need to reposition themselves in the coming years so that they are not perceived as obsolete.

Interesting statistic:
1.1 billion uses of libraries in the U.S. per year
.2 billion tickets are sold to all sporting events per year
(I don't know where he got this statistic but will find and put up a reference when I locate it.)

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Books and Something to ponder

I am off to our state library conference tomorrow and will hopefully have some time to read between sessions, etc... If I don't start reading faster pretty soon I am going to have to take a week off to catch up. Right now I am reading Field Notes To A Disaster and Sufficient Grace. Field Notes is another book about the damage we are doing to the environment.

Have I mentioned lately that we are bad, bad people who are killing the planet.

Have a great day:)

To Ponder:
A case of access to books helping to maintain sanity?

Monday, October 02, 2006

Bad librarian

I am a bad librarian. I still haven't finished a book. Personally I blame other people and mowing. (I have been told that my yard is not that big and mowing is no big deal but it is so!)

My next door neighbor's gentleman friend was going to bring me some straw bales so I did put some scarecrows out yesterday. Hopefully the bales get here soon so one of my scarecrows doesn't look like his head is suspended a couple of feet in the air above his body. That sounds much scarier than it looks. Pretty much just looks dorky.

I have been browsing amazon looking at Halloween costumes. Since my friend Brent won't get the Jack Sparrow costume I can't dress up as a pirate wench. I did see a nice Marilyn Monroe costume but I hate having to remember to talk like her all evening. If I absolutely can't decide I can always dig out the witch, nun or Lady Godiva costumes. It is always good to have a standby. I wish I could find a good Xena: Warrior Princess costume. I love Xena (no, not like that!)

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Malls and Excuses

To see what has happened to the only mall I could tolerate, take a look at another KC blog http://happyinbag.blogspot.com/2006/08/mauled.html. This is what is left, give or take. I loved that mall (unfortunately for the reasons it is now a big pile of rubble). It was smallers and easy to get in and out of, not overcrowded with hoards of teenagers and still had a good selection of everything except shoes. Now it is gone and I am very sad.

I haven't got a new book for you today but it has been a busy weekend. Friday, I had a job interview, work happy hour and date. Yesterday, I worked all day and had a friends birthday/going away party/band thing and date. I am going to try to crank out a book or two today in between mowing and trying to get a couple of bushes replaced.

This summer was hard on my garden and it didn't help that I didn't have time to baby stuff along.

My article finally came out, a year and a half later. I don't know if I will get used to the time lag for scholarly journals. Once I write something I want to see it right now.

October is Sarcastic Awareness Month

I got all excited about this until I found the description...

Sarcastic Awareness Month is (1) For those who realize they are sarcastic and want to get it under control; (2) for those who are sarcastic and want to get better at it; and (3) for those who are forced to live or work with people who are sarcastic. Sponsor: Sarcastics Anonymous.

I guess the first step is to admit you have a problem:)

A sarcastic booklist courtesy of Fiction_L:

  1. Adams, Douglas. The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy
  2. Armour, Richard. "It All Started With" series
  3. Barry, Dave. Dave Barry's Complete Guide To Guys
  4. Barry, Max. The Company
  5. Buckley, Christopher. Thank You For Smoking
  6. Chen-ho, Wang. Rose, Rose, I Love You
  7. Cook, Glen. Garrett, P.I. series (starting with Sweet Silver Blues)
  8. Crews, Harry. The Mulching Of America
  9. Cuppy, Will. How To Tell Your Friends From Apes
  10. Cuppy, Will. The Decline And Fall Of Practically Everybody
  11. Gibbons, Stella. Cold Comfort Farm
  12. Heller, Joseph. Catch-33
  13. Hiaasen, Carl. Nature Girl
  14. Hooker, Richard. M*A*S*H
  15. Jones, Diana Wynne. The Tough Guide To Fantasyland (October 2006)
  16. Leyner, Mark. The Tetherballs Of Bougainville
  17. Lopez, Steve. The Sunday Macaroni Club
  18. MacLeod, Charlotte. Rest You Merry
  19. McCrumb, Sharyn. Bimbos Of The Death Sun
  20. McCrumb, Sharyn. If I'd killed Him When I met Him.
  21. Moody, Rick. The Diviners
  22. Moore, Christopher. Lamb: The Gospel According To Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal
  23. Moore, John. Heroics For Beginners
  24. Parker, Robert B. Spenser series
  25. Pascall, Jeremy. God: The Ultimate Autobiography
  26. Pierre, D. B. C. Vernon God Little
  27. Pratchett, Terry. Discworld books
  28. Pynchon, Thomas. V
  29. Recknor, Ellen. Prophet Annie: Being The Recently Discovered Memoir Of Annie Pinkerton Boone Newcastle Dearborn, Prophet And Seer
  30. Shankman, Sarah. I Still Miss My Man, But My Aim Is Getting Better
  31. Shuo, Wang. Please Don't Call Me Human
  32. Stahl, Jerry. Plainclothes Naked
  33. Stout, Rex. Nero Wolfe series
  34. Townsend, Sue. The Queen And I
  35. Vonnegut, Kurt Cat's Cradle
  36. Waugh, Evelyn. Loved One: An Anglo-American Tragedy
  37. Westlake, Donald. Sacred Monster


  1. Bierce, Ambrose. The Devil's Dictionary
  2. Browne, Jill Connor. The Sweet Potato Queen's Book Of Love
  3. Bryson, Bill. A Short History Of Nearly Everything
  4. Eggers, Dave. A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius
  5. Franken, Al. The Truth (With Jokes)
  6. Frazier, Ian. Coyote Vs Acme
  7. Grizzard, Lewis. Don't Bend Over in the Garden, Granny, You Know Them Taters Got Eyes
  8. Hitchens, Christopher. A Long Short War: The Postponed Liberation Of Iraq
  9. Ivins, Molly. Who Let The Dogs In?
  10. Macdonald, Dwight. Parodies: An Anthology From Chaucer To Beerbohm *And After
  11. Martin, Reed C. Reduced Shakespeare: The Complete Reader's Guide For The Attention-Impaired (abridged)
  12. Moore, Michael. Dude, Where's My Country?
  13. Nash, Ogden.Notaro, Laurie. The Idiot Girls' Action Adventure Club
  14. Parker, Dorothy.Pollitt, Katha. Virginity Or Death!: And Other Social And Political Issues Of Our Time
  15. Reinhardt, Susan. Not Tonight, Honey: Wait 'Til I'm A Size 6
  16. Sedaris, David. Me Talk Pretty One Day
  17. Stewart, Jon. America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide To Democracy Inaction
  18. Twain, Mark. The Innocents Abroad
  19. Walker, Douglas. The Official Rock, Paper, Scissors Strategy Guide
  20. White, Bailey. Mama Makes Up Her Mind