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review 2020-02-10 05:32
The Library Book - Susan Orlean

Susan Orleans' story about the LAPL fire in the 1980s is really an amazing piece of writing. It not only is a great book advocating and promoting public libraries and their mission, but also is a harrowing telling of the fire that destroyed a huge amount of the library's collection and almost the library itself.

 

The way she weaves the library, it's history, it's mission, and the fire and its subsequent investigation is, honestly, one of the best pieces of writing I have read about libraries.  Her interviews with the librarians, the library staff, the patrons, and those who helped save LAPL is really wonderful and heart-felt and reinforced why I love libraries and wanted to be a librarian in the first place.

 

 

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review 2019-12-15 15:22
This Book of Mine - Sarah Stewart, David Small
This Book of Mine - Sarah Stewart

Outside it is sunny, but chill and windy with occasional strong gusts. The leaves are mostly gone now, so not so much for the cats to watch with close interest. But every gust causes the lightweight chairs on the porch to move a bit and that hollow sort of wooden noise makes them feel threatened and startled and they have to go see what that was, but there isn't anything.
On such a morning it is a lovely thing indeed to be tucked up in the sun with two blankets (the sofa fabric isn't a good texture) and a mug of coffee (very pale and very sweet) and as many of the cats as I can mediate between, and a stack of books. I had a Santa Raptor cookie for breakfast. This is Sunday morning goals.
And this book, This Book of Mine, is the literary embodiment of this contentment. Stewart and Small are always excellent, individually and together. And there's a charming Small-designed bookplate printed in on the flyleaf. I am a sucker for special endpapers.
So if you happen to be choosing a gift for a child, one who may not have their own books, or maybe doesn't have any yet, this would be a lovely idea. There are a diverse collection of readers portrayed, different ages, different settings, which is always a positive.

This is a library copy, but I have a couple of gift-drives to shop for, so yay, I found just the one to order in bulk. W00t! contentment multiplied by knocking out a little more shopping without having to leave my nest.

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review 2019-12-11 23:47
It all started with Marx;: A brief and objective history of Russian communism, the objective being to leave not one stone, but many, unturned, to ... Stalin, Malenkov, Khrushchev, and others - Richard Willard Armour
It all started with Marx;: A brief and o... It all started with Marx;: A brief and objective history of Russian communism, the objective being to leave not one stone, but many, unturned, to ... Stalin, Malenkov, Khrushchev, and others - Richard Willard Armour

I finished this one and it took forever because I didn't like it. And then I more or less immediately started English Lit Relit. It could have been a bad choice: if I was just tired of Armour's sameness, then another would have been an awful idea.

But I'm really enjoying English Lit. Yeah, my degree is in English lit, so I know more about the topic, which probably helps some. That isn't the big difference though. The big difference, in my considered and re-considerd opinion, is that Armour doesn't know as much about communism and/or Russian history.

In Marx the jokes rarely rise above "he was short". So, not quality humor.That's both terribly obvious and not actually amusing.

English Lit, though, that's his specialty. So the jokes are more clever, more subtle, and for that matter, probably better auditioned and rehearsed. It's easy to imagine Armour the Professor lecturing on early English poets. You're plowing through a thousand years of literature in a semester, your text is a fat, heavy Norton Anthology printed on tissue paper to fit in as many pages a possible. Some of it is familiar, or stirring, or new to you, but much of it is just a tedious droning on and on about the same tired symbolism and such. You maybe get something three things that stopped being amusing a couple of centuries back, and once in the whole class if you're lucky there's something that really amuses you. In that setting a lighthearted lecture, or a throw-away line, can really wake you back up.

 

So, that was an interesting thing to realize.

 

Library copy

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review 2019-11-23 19:23
Something Wicked This Way Comes - Ray Bradbury
Something Wicked This Way Comes - Ray Bradbury

The prologue begins with an opening line reminiscent of A Christmas Carol: "First of all, it was October, a rare time for boys."

Forty or so years ago I read this and identified with the boys, of course I did. This time I couldn't. So it was just a bunch of wordplay and monologuing and there was no horror to it anywhere, just an ad for an imaginary place I wouldn't be welcome. He did say some nice things about libraries, though, so I'm giving it a couple of stars.

Library copy

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review 2019-10-19 18:01
Haunted House Mini-Edition - Jan Pieńkowski
Haunted House Mini-Edition - Jan Pieńkowski

Just as I have Christmas books that I break out and read every year in November and December, I have this one book that I read every year as part of my All Hallow's Read/Halloween Bingo/spoopy-months celebration (spooky-adjacent sorts of things that aren't scary but are amusing).

 

This is something I picked up lo! these many years ago, because of course part of the Halloween observance is giving seasonally-appropriate books. They lost interest in it ages ago, but the mix of expected (skeleton in the closet) and unexpected (octopus washing dishes) still it delights me every year. And amazingly, hardly any of the moving bits came off or tore. Some of my September and October reads are re-reads, but the only other piece I return to very often is Click-Clack the Rattlebag, the audio version read by Neil Himself.

 

Personal copy

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