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review 2017-11-29 16:17
The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu / Joshua Hammer
The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu: And Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts - Joshua Hammer

To save precious centuries-old Arabic texts from Al Qaeda, a band of librarians in Timbuktu pulls off a brazen heist worthy of Ocean’s Eleven.

In the 1980s, a young adventurer and collector for a government library, Abdel Kader Haidara, journeyed across the Sahara Desert and along the Niger River, tracking down and salvaging tens of thousands of ancient Islamic and secular manuscripts that had fallen into obscurity. The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu tells the incredible story of how Haidara, a mild-mannered archivist and historian from the legendary city of Timbuktu, later became one of the world’s greatest and most brazen smugglers.

In 2012, thousands of Al Qaeda militants from northwest Africa seized control of most of Mali, including Timbuktu. They imposed Sharia law, chopped off the hands of accused thieves, stoned to death unmarried couples, and threatened to destroy the great manuscripts. As the militants tightened their control over Timbuktu, Haidara organized a dangerous operation to sneak all 350,000 volumes out of the city to the safety of southern Mali.

 

I was fascinated by this account of the libraries/archives of irreplaceable old manuscripts in Arabic and other languages of North Africa and the Middle East. The first chapters introduce us to the main players in the manuscript biz, as they try to find & trade for these delicate, rare documents and set up local archives to store them.

I think many people forget how sophisticated the Arab world was, back when Europe was languishing in the Dark Ages. They were responsible for maintaining scientific knowledge, mathematics, medicine, and philosophy, while Europeans were being held back by a repressive Church. The Renaissance began when Europeans re-discovered the books that had been preserved by the Arabs.

I don’t know about you, but I remember being taught the history of civilization in grade school. I think it must have been about Grade 5 or 6 that we learned about Mesopotamia being the Cradle of Civilization and being part of the Fertile Crescent. And still, Western governments & researchers seem to be surprised to discover that non-European people had complex civilizations complete with books & universities. I was glad to see the people of North Africa hanging on to their patrimony and keeping these manuscript collections in their own countries, as they have the expertise to read and interpret them. Too often this kind of collection gets whisked off to some Western repository where it attracts limited interest and travel costs prevent African scholars from accessing them.

Reading about the history & variety of extremists in the area certainly gives one pause. So many of the names of the major players were familiar to anyone who follows the news, especially the kidnap victims. I was interested to fill in the details on why these events happened and what else was going on behind the scenes. I still don’t really comprehend the level of hostility of groups like Al Qaeda and the Taliban to art, culture, and literature, but I understand that they have a potentially mistaken idea of what early Islam was like (just as many fundamentalist Christians seem to have a skewed view of what early Christians were like). It seems like most fundamentalists have the same view of the world, i.e. that it is just a temporary waiting room before the real deal, the hereafter. What a limiting way to look at the world!

As a library worker who has dabbled in archival and museum collection description, I have to say that I was sincerely jealous of the people who got to work with the marvelous collections described in this volume. I would give my eye teeth to be involved in the cataloguing & digitization of such a significant resource!

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review 2017-11-23 19:37
The Julius House / Charlaine Harris
The Julius House - Charlaine Harris

Love at first sight turns into newlywed bliss for former librarian Aurora Teagarden-until violence cuts the honeymoon short.

Wealthy businessman Martin Bartell gives Roe exactly what she wants for their wedding: Julius House. But both the house and Martin come with murky pasts. And when Roe is attacked by an ax-wielding maniac, she realizes that the secrets inside her four walls—and her brand-new marriage—could destroy her.

 

When your hobby is studying True Crime stories, what do you want as a wedding present? Well, a mysterious house where the whole family has vanished without a trace, that’s what. And that’s exactly what Aurora Teagarden gets from her new husband, Martin. She gets a few other secrets rolled into the bargain without her knowledge, however, that lead her to wonder whether she’s made the correct choices for her life.

The amount that I enjoy Charlaine Harris’ mysteries seems to depend more on my frame of mind than anything else. When I’m in a receptive mood, I’m willing to just go with whatever scenario she dishes up. When I’m perhaps a bit cranky, I start questioning those plot choices and I don’t enjoy the story quite so much.

This time out, I feel a bit cranky about things. Although I thought that the reveal of what actually happened to the Julius family was very well done, I found the relationship developments between Roe and Martin to be questionable. Who in their right mind goes into a marriage with unanswered questions of that magnitude? When you have an opportunity to question the ex-wife, why would you shut her down? And why would you ever go to your former date for marriage counselling?

Yeah, yeah, small town, limited number of people, blah, blah, blah. I’ve lived in a small town and I don’t find it realistic. But I’ve never lived in the Southern States, so what do I know?

I actually own a copy of the next book in the series, which I picked up in a second-hand bookstore. So I guess I will be continuing on at some point, when I have the crankies under control.

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text 2017-10-13 16:40
Thank you for the welcoming! + The Library I visit

Hello again guys!

 

I am so happy with your comments in my last post and I am here again writing because I want to thank you all and I am gonna check up your profiles and read some reviews, but unfortunately I am studying a lot and don't have enough time. 

 

+

 

 

I also wanted to say that I am going every day to my local library to study German and keep up with some of my readings.

 

At the moment I am reading:

 

 

  • a biography about Tolkien (portuguese)
  • Chi (mangá/german)

 

It is being a great experience :) I can check always new books plus I am surrounded by books and it is cozy and brighter than my house haha.

 

+

 

So yea, I think that's all for today :) I am going to check out more your profiles soon! 

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text 2017-09-19 18:47
Weekly TBR for Week of September 18, 2017

Not much movement on my holds unfortunately. 

 

 

Borrows:

 

Cover image for World War ZCover image for The May Queen MurdersCover image for With MaliceCover image for Lyra's Oxford

Cover image for Deeper Than the DeadCover image for Wild SeedCover image for Circle of Friends

 

Holds:

 

Cover image for The Tea Girl of Hummingbird LaneCover image for StartupCover image for Defy the Stars Series, Book 1Cover image for Neverwhere

Cover image for Into the WaterCover image for In a Dark, Dark WoodCover image for The Cruelest MonthCover image for The Little StrangerCover image for Woman No. 17Title details for Hangsaman by Shirley Jackson - Wait list

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text 2017-09-12 15:45
Weekly TBR for Week of September 11

I totally forgot to post one I think the past two weeks.


Since I am going to be out of pocket pretty much til Friday after today, I thought I update my library borrows and holds. I will not show you books I hit as wishlists to keep track of them or my recommendations. This will end up being a long post. 

 

Borrows:

 

Cover image for World War ZCover image for The May Queen MurdersCover image for With MaliceCover image for Night Shift

 

Holds:

 

Cover image for The Tea Girl of Hummingbird LaneCover image for StartupCover image for Defy the Stars Series, Book 1Cover image for Neverwhere

Cover image for Into the WaterCover image for In a Dark, Dark WoodCover image for The Cruelest MonthCover image for Lyra's Oxford

Cover image for The Little StrangerCover image for Woman No. 17

 

 

 

 

What is your TBR pile looking like? 

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