Sunday Salon: Help Me Choose My Library Reads

I’ve been doing quite well reading from my own shelves this year, partly by avoiding the library. But I can’t avoid it all the time! I love the library. There are lots and lots of books, and they’re free for the taking. And what’s more, I can take the books home, enjoy looking at them for a time, and read them or not at my whim. If I don’t get around to them, back they go, where they will wait for me to take them home again the next time they suit my fancy.

Plus, of course, I don’t necessarily want to buy every book I’m planning to read, so I often use the library for books I’m reading for a book club or the Classics Circuit. It was the upcoming Classics Circuit on Meiji Japanese Classics that took my to the library this week. And of course, I couldn’t leave with just the two books Jenny and I are thinking of reading. I had to fill my bag with all I could comfortably carry on the walk home—so I have eight books I’d love to read, but know I won’t have time for before they’re due.

Last time I brought a big stack of books home, I let you, dear readers, help me choose what to put at the top of the stack. It was great fun, especially since your votes led me to read Fingersmith, so I thought I would do it again. Here’s the loot I’m choosing from. Vote in the poll and/or leave a comment with your suggestions. (Of course, I will be reading one of the two Classics Circuit possibilities.)

In other news: Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon is coming on October 9. This is the first time I haven’t had theatre commitments or been out of the country, so I’m looking forward to it. I’ll probably just plug away at whatever book(s) I’m reading by Saturday. I also have plenty of short story collections, a few graphic novels, several novellas, and a bunch of immersive tomes on hand. In past years, I’ve often focused on one long thrillery book on Readathon day (think Wilkie Collins), which has worked great because those kinds of books are the ones I want to spend hours with. As usual I’ll be donating 10 cents for each page I read to a classroom library project at Donors Choose.

Edited to add: I chose my specific projects this afternoon, all three involving high schools in the region where I grew up and actually taught high school for a couple of year. Please check them out, and throw a few bucks their way if you feel so inclined.

Notes from a Reading Life (Sept. 22–Oct. 2)

Books Read

Currently Reading

  • The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (reread)
  • The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Vol. 2 by M.T. Anderson (audio)
  • Paradise Lost by John Milton (church book club)
  • Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World by Nicholas Ostler

New Acquisitions

  • The Distant Hours by Kate Morton (unsolicited review copy)
  • Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay. Won in a BBAW giveaway at Mysteries in Paradise

On My Radar

  • Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self by Danielle Evans. A short story collection about the lives of African Americans today. Video review by the Washington Post’s “Totally Hip Book Critic” Ron Charles.
  • Santa Evita by Tomas Eloy Martinez. The strange story of Eva Peron’s corpse. Reviewed at Caravana de recuerdos (as well as the blogs of other members of the Unstructured Book Group. Richard’s review is just the first that I spotted).
  • Never the Bride and Something Borrowed by Paul Magrs. The first two novels in a series about two older ladies battling the forces of evil. Reviewed at Juxtabook
  • Candide by Voltaire. I thought this was all philosophical and dense, but CB James referred to it a being like “A Series of Unfortunate Events” for adults. I’m seeing the musical later this year, and now I’m wondering if I can sneak in a reading.
  • One Day by David Nicholls. A couple have a fling on their graduation night in 1988, and the narrative revisits them on that same date every year for 20 years. Reviewed at Other Stories.
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36 Responses to Sunday Salon: Help Me Choose My Library Reads

  1. Iris says:

    That is such a fun idea, to let people choose your library read :) Fingersmith will be hard to follow up on!

    I’m happy to hear you get to join in on the read-a-thon. I should start making some plans for what to read as well..

  2. Giada M. says:

    The Color of Earth is an enchanting book! I loved it very much and I can’t do otherwise than recomment it to you!

    • Teresa says:

      That’s very good to hear. I hadn’t heard anything about this book–I just picked it up because it was so pretty, which is not my typical way of choosing!

  3. leeswammes says:

    I don’t know any of your library books so I can’t help you choose. I did add Neuromancer to my wishlist, I had forgotten all about it, but I should read it sometime, I think.

  4. I voted for American-Born Chinese; I’ve seen it around and I enjoyed Yang’s Prime Baby.

  5. Deb says:

    So far, I’m the lone vote for Ivy Compton-Burnett’s dysfunctional family masterpiece, MANSERVANT AND MAIDSERVANT. (Burnett’s own family life was beyond dysfunctional–including the double-suicide of two of her sisters). If you do decide to read her book, I recommend reading it as if you were reading a play–because so much of it is simply dialog and it really helps to have individual “voices” in your head as you read.

    As for me, there are voices in my head telling me it’s time to make breakfast!

    Whatever you choose–enjoy your reading!

  6. I cannot stay away from my library! I really need to read the books I own, as well as the books I already have checked out, but it never works out that way!

    • Teresa says:

      I’ve not gone to the library nearly as much this year as usual, but it’s the perfect distance from my house when I feel like going for a walk. When I do have a stack of library book, I try to read one book from my own shelves for each library book, and I don’t sweat it if I can’t get to all the library books.

  7. Marieke says:

    I voted for American Born Chinese, because I have it on my shelf and may get it down for the read-a-thon! Looking forward to it.

    • Teresa says:

      I think American Born Chinese will be a great choice for Read-a-Thon day. It was anticipation of the Thon that sent me to the graphic novel shelves!

  8. I voted!

    But will not tell you which one!

    Here is my Sunday Salon post!

  9. Frances says:

    You’ll never guess what I voted for! Saw your comment over at Richard’s and must say that the book finding its way into your bag was indeed a sign. Would love to have you read with us and hope Round 2 with Perec is every bit as satisfying as our first go-round.

    I also just picked up a copy of Manservant and Maidservant. It was on sale at P&P for only $4.98. How could I resist?

    And go you for supporting Donors Choose! The best!

    • Teresa says:

      Ha! I figured I could count on any of the unstructured readers who happened to stop by to vote for the Perec.

      And I love Donors Choose. It’s such fun to choose a project and then the photos when it’s funded. A great way to support schools!

  10. Jenny says:

    I haven’t read any of those! But I voted for Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids, because I like the title and the description best. So feel free to disregard my vote, as it’s almost completely arbitrary.

    • Teresa says:

      There’s a strong chance I’ll end up reading Nip the Buds, because besides sounding interesting, it’s also short. Plus, it’s fun sometimes to read and review something I haven’t seen around the blogosphere. Oe won the Nobel Prize, so he’s bound to be worth trying.

  11. Richard says:

    Like Frances, I had to vote for the Perec, too, Teresa. It’s the only way I could think of to try and “adopt” you into our book group for a month! Also, glad to see that Tomás Eloy Martínez’s Santa Evita got put on your radar recently. It’s such a fun, wonderful read. Cheers!

  12. kiss a cloud says:

    Hi Teresa! Please delete the upper comment as it was me using another account (personal). Thanks!

  13. softdrink says:

    I had to vote for Emotionally Weird, just because of the title!

  14. Oh, I have heard about the George Perec novel, but never read it. I hope you get around to it eventually, so that I can hear what you think…

  15. Steph says:

    I was selfish and voted for Emotionally Weird by Kate Atkinson – I actually own a copy but haven’t gotten around to it, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on it… Also, can you ever go wrong with Atkinson?

  16. Gavin says:

    I love the poll idea. I have cast my vote!

  17. rebeccareid says:

    I’m really curious to hear your thoughts on American Born Chinese.

    • Teresa says:

      It looks like a lot of people are since it has gotten the most votes. I’ll definitely make time for it on Readathon day. It’s nice to have some graphic novels on hand.

  18. Dear Teresa,

    I chose _I Am a Cat_ because I am reading _Kokoro_ and intend to continue onward. But I can’t say enough good about the Kenzaburo Oe or the Akutagawa (called the Poe of Japan–so good for October). So it was a touch competition.

    My own, I would probably take on either The Sound of the Mountain or Beauty and Sadness, but neither qualify for Meiji (then neither does Kenzaburo Oe).



    • Teresa says:

      Jenny and I have decided to read I Am a Cat for the Classics Circuit, so I’ll definitely read that this month. I do want to try Oe at some point, so I’m glad to get your endorsement of it, and the Akutagawa. I hadn’t really heard anything about Akutagawa, but I loved the film Rashomon, which was why the story collection caught my eye.

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