Sunday Salon: Help! I’ve Been Foiled by the Library

Regular Shelf Love readers will probably know that I’ve been trying to read from my own shelves this year, and so I’ve been avoiding the library. I’m pretty good at leaving the bookstore with nothing more than what I went there for, but the library? No way. I’m only limited by how much I fit in my bag and carry home.

This week, I went to the library for the first time since December. My plan was to pick up Thérèse Raquin for the Zola Classics Circuit and maybe one other book if something caught my eye. Ha! I came home with 10 books.  Here’s the run down:

  1. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson. I’ve been wanting to try Anderson for ages, and I’ve heard good things about this book.
  2. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Ditto above. I just couldn’t decide between these two books, so I brought them both home.
  3. Seeing by José Saramago. The Double and Blindness are two of my favorite books from recent years, and I’m eager to read more Saramago. This one is actually a sequel to Blindness in which people submit blank ballots in an election.
  4. The Plays of Tennessee Williams, Volume 4. Includes Sweet Bird of Youth, Period of Adjustment, and Night of the Iguana. In my last Sunday Salon post, I wrote about how I don’t read plays much anymore. In the comments, Frances suggested that I join in on a shared read of Night of the Iguana. I do love Tennessee Williams and haven’t read this play, so I’m thinking about it and got this volume just in case I decide to join in.
  5. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters. The only Sarah Waters I’ve read is The Little Stranger, which I loved. I have The Night Watch on my shelves, but people seem to consider this her best work. I’m very eager to read it, but I wonder if it would be better to save it for last so her other books don’t suffer by comparison. [Edited to add: I decided to start with Fingersmith.]
  6. Hush by Jacqueline Woodson. Woodson is another highly regarded YA writer I’ve never read. This book about a family in the witness protection program looks like a good one.
  7. Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto. Yoshimoto is apparently very popular in Japan, but I haven’t heard much about her, other than Eva’s glowing review of this book, which actually contains two separate stories.
  8. American Born Chinese by Gene Luan Yang. A graphic novel comprising three separate but interconnected tales. I’ve had this on my list since it was recommended in an article on graphic novels that I edited over a year ago.
  9. The Dream by Émile Zola. A lot of people are reading Thérèse Raquin for the Classics Circuit, so I picked this up, just in case Jenny and I decide to alter our plans and read something different.
  10. Thérèse Raquin by Émile Zola. For the Classics Circuit. I’ve never read Zola, and this does look exactly like my kind of book.

Obviously I’m not going to have time to read all of these books before they come due, especially since I am going to continue reading books from my shelf. I decided it would be fun to set up a poll and let you tell me which one I must be sure to read before I have to take them back. So cast your vote, and share your thoughts on any of these books in the comments.

In Other News: The organizers of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, held in September, are looking for people to help plan the festivities for 2010. This was a fun event last year, but I understand that it took a lot of work on the part of the organizers and committee members. One of the things I learned from observing the festivities as a participant (not a helper) is that the book blogging community is huge and that events like this, which are intended to celebrate the whole book blogging community, can only benefit from helpers from many different circles of book bloggerdom. I’ve volunteered to help out, and I hope some of you will too. Visit the sign up post at the BBAW blog if you’re interested.


Notes from a Reading Life

Books Completed

  • Once Upon a Time in England by Helen Walsh. A devastating but very well-done novel about an English family and the troubles brought upon them by prejudice and their own tendency to self-destruction.

Currently Reading

  • Corrag by Susan Fletcher. Brand-new historical fiction about the 1692 Massacre of Glencoe. It’s off to a good start, with a condemned woman looking back on her life, and a series of letters by a minister and  Jacobite sympathizer who has gone to learn more of the massacre.
  • The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien. The riders of Rohan are headed to battle. Ride on, White Rider!
  • The Golem’s Eye by Jonathan Stroud (audio). The sequel to The Amulet of Samarkand. The story is getting more complex and political.
  • The Ode Less Traveled by Stephen Fry. Lessons in writing poetry. Still plugging away at this. Most weeks, I’m managing one poetry exercise. The most recent was on sonnets.

On Deck

  • A Civil Contract by Georgette Heyer. For the Classics Circuit. This will be my first Heyer, and some consider it her best, so I’m excited to read it.
  • Ptolemy’s Gate by Jonathan Stroud (audio). The final book in the Bartimaeus trilogy.

New Acquisitions

  • Petals of Blood by Ngũgĩ wa Thiongʼo. A novel that is apparently part thriller, part examination of the troubled politics of post-Colonial Kenya.

Books on My Radar

  • Siberia by Nikolai Maslov. A graphic novel memoir about life in the U.S.S.R. I’ve come to really like a graphic novel format for memoirs, and I haven’t read much about Soviet life. Reviewed at A Life in Books.
  • A Doctor’s Wife by Sawako Ariyoshi. A historical novel about a pioneering Japanese doctor and, most especially, his wife and mother. Reviewed at Whispering Gums.
  • Dearest Anne by Judith Katzir. An Israeli novel about a young woman’s coming of age and the complex sexual relationship between her and her teacher. Reviewed at A Striped Armchair.
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35 Responses to Sunday Salon: Help! I’ve Been Foiled by the Library

  1. gaskella says:

    Just finished the first half of the Two Towers. Having a break between halves with a short crime novel (Double Indemnity – a classic from James M Cain). Then it’ll be back to Frodo and Sam … Following that with Corrag too. I devoured Georgette Heyer as a teenager – loved them – I must re-read some – hope you enjoy it.

    • Teresa says:

      Annabel: I love the movie of Double Indemnity. I imagine it’s a great book. I really want to read more of those hard-boiled crime writers.

  2. Not read any Saramago, but hope to read Death at Intervals this month.

    Fingersmith is awesome. The problem with it is, after reading, the other Waters books fall flat. I’ve read Little Stranger and Night Watch as well, and didn’t enjoy either half as much as I did Fingersmith.

    • Teresa says:

      uncertainprinciples: I hope you get to the Saramago. I’ve only read two of his books, but I found his writing to be absolutely stunning.

  3. Marieke says:

    Now I’m not sure that my library’s “two book policy” isn’t more of a blessing than a curse… though I am envious of practically everyone else’s library’s selections. The good thing is, you can always go back and check them out again!

    • Teresa says:

      Marieke: Your library has a two book limit? Yes, I can see the benefit of that (although I wonder how it works for people doing research).

  4. Deb says:

    Check out your library’s website–they probably have an on-line book renewal feature, so you can renew the books you haven’t read when they come due without having to go back to the library.

    I voted for Fingersmith, which is a very good book with a wonderfully unexpected twist halfway through and then another one closer to the end. However, my favorite Waters’s novel is The Night Watch. It is told backwards, in three large sections, from the year after WWII back to the blitz of London. I think it’s her best book. Although I liked The Little Stranger, I thought it ran out of steam at the end (either than or Waters couldn’t decide what, if anything, the little stranger was). Fingersmith is also very good (as is Tipping the Velvet–although that felt at times like an unwritten dissertation in Victorian underground history).

    • Teresa says:

      Deb: My library does have an online renewal, so I do plan to use that–although it may not let me renew since I also have a fine of over $10. The librarian only let me take books this week because I was only barely over the $10 limit and didn’t have any cash on me. The computer probably won’t have such compassion.

  5. kiss a cloud says:

    Loved Yoshimoto and Saramago. I’ll be reading Therese Raquin but maybe next month, late for the Classics Circuit.

    But yay for reading Night of the Iguana with us! Looking forward to it. :)

    • Teresa says:

      Claire: I haven’t 100% decided about Night of the Iguana, but you are adding to the pressure ;-) I am hoping I’ll have time to squeeze it in.

  6. See, I have to walk to and from my library, so I can’t take too many with me, but my library lets you keep books for three weeks- and renew them twice!

    • Teresa says:

      Clare: My library is the same, and I walk there and back as well. But I also have a very sturdy shoulder bag that can hold a lot of books, and most of these are smallish paperbacks.

  7. Fingersmith is great. It was the first Waters book I read and I blew through it. Unfortunately, I’ve been disappointed by all her others, including The Night Watch. The only Zola I’ve read is Germinal so I’ll look forward to hearing what you think of both/either of your choices.

    Excited to see A Civil Contract is on the deck. While I wouldn’t say it’s my favourite Heyer, it’s certainly very good (and very different from her usual offerings).

  8. Lenore says:

    Fingersmith is amazing! My favorite of hers, and one of all time twisty faves.

  9. Steph says:

    Well, I do think that although this deviates from your resolution to read from your own shelves, a trip to the library can never be considered a bad thing! And you have so many great picks here that I can hardly blame you for the spoils you brought home!

    Didn’t realize Zola was being covered for the Classics Circuit. I have a copy of Thérèse Raquin that I need to read! I guess I should plan to hear quite a bit about in the coming weeks! :)

    • Teresa says:

      Steph: I do have fun browsing the shelves, so I can hardly regret a library trip.

      I think Theresa Raquin was the most popular choice for the Zola circuit, so you’ll probably hear lots of opinions on it :-)

  10. JaneGS says:

    I voted for the Tennessee Williams plays because I’ve been itching to read them myself. I love Streetcar, but haven’t read/seen anything else, and he’s a definitive American author.

    The library will get you everytime :)

    • Teresa says:

      Jane: I love Streetcar too. I’m still kicking myself that I let Cate Blanchett’s appearance as Blanche at the Kennedy Center pass me by. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is also very good.

  11. Melwyk says:

    Oh, I understand your library troubles! Impossible to leave with just the book you went in for ;)

    I love Saramago, so any of his are worth reading in my opinion. But I also really loved Kitchen, so either one of those would be the ones I’d pick up!

    • Teresa says:

      Melanie: Kitchen is so tiny that I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to squeeze it in. And if I don’t read the Saramago this time, I will be checking it out again.

  12. Jenny says:

    I voted for Fingersmith, but I just wanted to say, Speak is very well worth reading too. If Fingersmith hadn’t been in the running, I’d absolutely have gone with Speak. So if you find yourself wanting something short rather than long, Speak! It’s very, very good!

  13. Dorothy W. says:

    I’ve been meaning to read Zola for quite a while, so I might join you all for the classics circuit or maybe shortly after. Perhaps your posts will inspire me! I really loved Fingersmith, although like you I’m a bit worried about people who say it’s her best. I don’t want to be disappointed by the others either! But surely not everyone thinks it’s her best??

    • Teresa says:

      Dorothy: I’ve never read any Zola either, and after I read the descriptions of his books, I can’t imagine why I haven’t.

      And I have heard a few people say Fingersmith isn’t their favorite Waters, so there may be hope for enjoying the rest just as much or more.

  14. litlove says:

    Great finds! I would be very interested in hearing what you think of The Dream by Zola. I have it, but have never read it, although I was intening to include it in my academic book about fantasy and dream in the long 20th century (which means you can go over the edges of the centuries a bit!). It looked peculiar in a really intriguing way!

    • Teresa says:

      litlove: The Dream does look really good, but I’m not sure if I want to start my Zola experience with a book that’s atypical for Zola.

  15. Lesley says:

    Fingersmith is my favorite Waters books (I’ve read them all and loved them all to varying degrees) so that one definitely got my vote!

  16. Kathleen says:

    Congratulations on your loot! I’m reading Fingersmith now and loving it. I also read Speak by Anderson and it is really, really good IMHO. I’ve read another one by Woodson and loved it. Well you have a tough decision to make…good luck!

  17. Alayne says:

    We’re all weak when it comes to books. I had a bad morning yesterday so what do I do? I go to the bookstore on my lunchbreak even though I’ve grounded myself from getting anymore books from that place. I left with The Lace Reader and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. :) Happy reading!

  18. Alayne says:

    Oh, and thanks for posting about BBAW! I’m going to sign up right now.

  19. rebeccareid says:

    I go to the library all the time and always come home with extra books. I’ve been trying to be good this month, though, because time is limited…as always…

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