Sunday Salon: A Day at ALA

This weekend, the American Library Association (ALA) had its Annual Conference right here in Washington, DC. Of course, I had to take advantage of the chance to go and see the new books, and I was especially happy to go with the lovely Frances from Nonsuch Book, who has already blogged about our day. We’re already talking about heading up to the Daedalus Books warehouse store with Thomas of My Porch and any other local bloggers who want to come along.

As for the ALA exhibits? Well, there were books aplenty. Books for sale, books for display, and books for the taking. And the catalogs! I picked up a few free books and a stack of catalogs, talked to a few publicists, and lusted over many of the books for sale. There seemed to be more kid lit and young adult fiction than anything else, but there really was something for just about everyone.

So what exactly did I bring home? Well, take a gander:

Quite a mix here, as you can see. I’m not sure I’ll read them all, but I’ll skim a chapter or two before deciding. And check out that stack of catalogs! Plenty more to lust after in those pages, I think. Plus, I have a galley of Nicole Krauss’s Great House on the way.

As for today’s booty, I’ll start with the finished copies:

  1. Ivy and Bean by Annie Barrows (Teacher’s Edition). The folks at Chronicle Books were handing these out to anyone who stopped by. Frances tells me these are popular with kids at her school. I’ll probably hand this off to one of the many elementary school girls in my life, but I may give it a quick skim, just for curiosity’s sake.
  2. The Best American Magazine Writing 2009 edited by Chris Anderson. This collection from Columbia University Press includes articles by Naomi Klein, David Lipsky, Hanna Rosin, and others from The Atlantic, The New Yorker, GQ, and more. I love long-form journalism like this, but I rarely read it because I can’t bring myself to commit to a magazine subscription and I find it less than wonderful reading online. I’m very excited to have this!
  3. Hurricane of Independence by Tony Williams. The author happened to be signing copies when Frances and I stopped by the Sourcebooks booth. The book tells about a hurricane that struck during the American Revolution. I don’t read a lot of American history, but I do love learning about little-known events like this, and the author made it sound rather interesting, so I’ll give the first chapters a skim and see how it goes.
  4. Murder in the High Himalaya by Jonathan Green. I have a strange fascination with cold-weather survival stories, so this book from Public Affairs Books about the murder of a Tibetan nun on Cho Oyu mountain, 19 miles from Everest, caught my eye.

And now for the review copies:

  1. Wrong: Why Experts Keep Failing Us—And How to Know When Not to Trust Them by David H. Freedman (Little, Brown, June 2010). I am extremely cynical the “research” that tends to make headlines today, but only when I want to be. If I want to believe something I believe it. Both the cynic and the dupe in me find the idea of this book intriguing!
  2. Star Island by Carl Hiaasen (Knopf, August 2010). Hiaasen is one of many authors on the list of authors I want to try someday. So I grabbed an advance copy of his new book about a heavy-drinking pop star, her more presentable double, and a mistaken kidnapping.
  3. The Widower’s Tale by Julia Glass (Pantheon, September 2010). Glass is another author on my list of authors to try, and Frances tells me her previous book, Three Junes, is worth reading. This book is about a 70-year-old widower who allows a preschool to move onto his property, while his grandson gets involved in environmental “pranks” targeting the wealthy and affecting his whole family.
  4. What Good Is God? In Search of a Faith That Matters by Philip Yancey (Faith Words, October 2010). Back when I read more popular religious nonfiction (instead of the academic stuff I read now), Yancey was one of the few authors I found who got beyond platitudes and easy answers. In this book, he examines the role of faith in how people coped with a variety of tragic events (such as the Virginia Tech massacre, the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr).
  5. The Wolves of Andover by Kathleen Kent (Little, Brown, November 2010). I’ll confess straight out that I didn’t read Kent’s The Heretic’s Daughter because I got tired of hearing about it. Perhaps Kent will have a better chance with me if I can read her next book before everyone’s talking about it. The premise—a historical romantic adventure about two hired servants falling in love in Colonial Massachusetts—could go either way.

It’s a good thing class is nearly over for the summer, because it looks like I’ve got some reading to do!

In other news: Jenny and I will be discussing books, book blogging, and The Night Watch by Sarah Waters with Nicole on That’s How I Blog this Tuesday at 9 pm EST (6 pm PST). If you can’t listen in at that time, don’t worry—I’ll be posting a link to the archived version of the show when I post my review of The Night Watch later this week.


Notes from a Reading Life

Books Completed

  • The Winter Journey (Morland Dynasty #20) by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles. Another excellent addition to the series.
  • Heartburn by Nora Ephron. A funny novel about a woman who discovers her husband is having an affair. Reads a little like chick-lit from before the days of chick-lit.

Currently Reading

  • Small Island by Andrea Levy. An Orange Prize winner that I’ve heard good things about. I got my copy from the LibraryThing Early Review program. I haven’t actually started reading, but I’ve taken it off the shelf and intend to start reading tonight.
  • One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson (audio). The second Jackson Brodie novel. Not quite as wonderful as Case Histories but still an excellent crime novel.
  • Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons. I haven’t read this comic novel since college, and I’ve been wanting to revisit it.
  • Waiting for God by Simone Weil. A collection of Weil’s essays and letters that I’m working through slowly. Reading just one or two selections each week.

New Acquisitions

  • See above!

On My Radar

  • Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea by Guy Delisle. A graphic memoir about the artist’s two months in North Korea. Rebecca at Rebecca Reads says, “the comic reads like a novel, and I’m glad for the glimpse into a world I didn’t quite know existed as such.”
  • The Red House Mystery by A.A. Milne. I’ve seen this book mentioned elsewhere, but when Nymeth at Things Mean A Lot recommended it, I had to take notice because she loves all my favorite mysteries and has mixed feelings about the ones that I don’t like. Here’s what she said about Milne’s mystery: “humour abounds, as does witty dialogue and social satire, but the novel still acknowledges the dark side of human nature and the horror of the crime that has been committed.”
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14 Responses to Sunday Salon: A Day at ALA

  1. Frances says:

    Thanks again for the fun today! Can’t wait for the Krauss and other goodies in the mail too. Heady experience being around all those books! Daedalus Books will be fun too.

    • Teresa says:

      Thanks so much for joining me Frances. (And it’s looking like I’ll be doing some wine tasting and Green Valley Book Fair shopping this weekend!)

  2. cbjames says:

    I want to go to the ALA conference. I’m so jealous of librarians. I know the job is difficult and not all that well paid, but I’m still jealous.

    • Teresa says:

      If the conference is ever in your area, you should try to go. The exhibit hall passes are just $25 and available to the general public.

      And one of my regrets in life is not going to library school when the school where I was teaching offered to pay. Oh well, at least I like editing.

  3. Hi Teresa, I just commented on Frances’ blog. Lets choose a weekend day in July (except for the 3rd Saturday, oh, and the last weekend, I forgot to mention that latter one to Frances) for Daedalus. I’ll drive. Are you in VA, DC or MD?

    Gald you had fun today.

    • Teresa says:

      Thomas, Right now, my July is pretty well open after this coming weekend, but it’s filling up as we speak. Let’s get an e-mail going to set the date. And I’m in Alexandria, very close to DC.

  4. kiss a cloud says:

    Sounds like you had an amazing day! :D I’m eager to read your thoughts on The Night Watch because I purchased the book today. I saw it on sale the before the weekend and managed to go back for it. This’ll be my first Sarah Waters so don’t know what to expect exactly.

  5. rebeccareid says:

    ALA sounds like it was fun for you. And I’m glad Pyongyang caught your interest!

  6. I too just (finally) took Pyongyang off the shelf and read it – it was engrossing and informative, and I found myself wishing for a longer, more comprehensive treatment of the subject (which is as much a compliment as a criticism). I think the moment that struck me the most was the revelation that North Korean history operates on a different dating system – all events are dated from not the birth, but the *conception* of the Great Leader. Urgh. Slighty icky, no? But also fascinating – the life of the nation sprang into being the moment its leader was even a possibility.

  7. Heather says:

    Small correction – “The Best American Magazine Writing 2009” is by Columbia University Press, not Cambridge University Press. (I work at Cambridge, and was surprised that we would have published that title and it wouldn’t have somehow crossed my radar.)

    But that looks like a great stack of books! “Wrong” and “The Widower’s Tale” seem especially intriguing to me.

    • Teresa says:

      Thanks for the correction. I’ve fixed the post :) And yes, I’m looking forward to those two books in particular. I may read Wrong this week.

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