Thursday, September 2, 2010

Library Loot

Had to run some local errands, almost had heat stroke - it is unbearable today. I mean, we're talking Sahara desert heat + humidity. I don't think I can remember ever having lived through such a ghastly summer, heat-wise. Of course I left Rocky at home. Even though chihuahuas orignally come from Mexico, I fear the heat today would have done my little boy in.

Anyway, I'm back from the library with an armful of books I'm really looking forward to reading. (When that will be, your guess is as good as mine, since I still have a stack of library books waiting to be read from the last time I ventured forth. It is a never-ending merry-go-round. But in a good way.) What to read first??

I don't know much about the books I'm showing above except that they've been recommended and seem to be the kind of thing I'd like. As you can tell, my reading taste is all over the place. I just gather a bunch of books around me, then pick and choose. I'd rather own the book I'm reading, but the library sure is handy when getting to know certain authors you may have heard of and never read for one reason or another. This way you're not out any cold, hard cash if you don't, God forbid, like the book.

One of the memes going around is a Time Travel Challenge and I thought about entering, but then remembered how much I dislike reading on deadline. Too much pressure! This is the only drawback about library reading, but my library is very liberal about renewing almost ad infinitum. The time travel book by Jack McDevitt, Time Travelers Never Die sounded too good to miss. I like time travel books, most especially those by Connie Willis. We'll see if McDevitt measures up to Willis. I'm asking for the moon, I know.

Down the Rabbit Hole by Peter Abrahams is the first in a series I'd never heard of before a couple of days ago. (Hey, I can't know everything!) But I learned that Abrahams is also Spencer Quinn the author of the ultra-fabulous Chet the Dog books, and really, that's all I needed to know. I am really looking forward to liking these books set in the small (and slightly sinister) town of Echo Falls. Author Stephen King gives this series a glowing recommendation which is nice to see. (Not that I read King, but I think he's a guy who knows a good book when he reads one. Oh, and this is a YA series. But you know, YA books seem to have come into their own lately.
I first heard about Down the Rabbit Hole from Nan over at Letters From A Hill Farm in one of her reviews. I check out her wonderful blog often.

Another YA book (sheer coincidence) I picked up today, When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. This one is set in NYC and appears to have a slight touch of the supernatural running through the story of a young girl, Miranda and her best friend Sal. From the front flap: This remarkable novel takes place in the real world but holds a fantastic puzzle at its heart. Recommended on several blogs as a great read for young and old alike.

Miss Hargreaves by Frank Baker was highly recommended by Simon over at the Stuck in A Book blog. Simon is what I call an against the tide reader, in other words, he reads books that are not necessarily current or best sellers or overly popular. He reads lots of literary stuff and writes about it in a very charming way. In other words: he reads what he likes. (Kind of like me though maybe I read more current books than he does, I know I read much less literary and more genre .) I like his blog very much.

Miss Hargreaves was written in 1940 and its author, Frank Baker died in 1983, but it has recently been re-released in trade paperback by the excellent publisher, The Bloomsbury Group. The story is another one with the touch of the supernatural about it. On a lark, Norman Huntley and his friend Henry invent a fictional friend, an old lady they name, Miss Hargreaves. Within a few days, inexplicably, she shows up on their doorstep. This book was also highly recommended by Nancy Pearl over on her blog. I take Nancy's recommendations especially seriously, so I was glad to see she too loved this book.

The Dark Vineyard by Martin Walker is the sequel to a book I liked very much and reviewed a few days ago: Bruno - Chief of Police. I can't wait to see what's been happening in the little French village of Saint-Denis. Another murder or two, seems most likely. Judging by the excellent first book, I believe this series is going to be a favorite of mine. It's almost like taking a trip to France without leaving your house. Almost.

When I first heard the title of Marisha Pessl's hefty book, Special Topics In Calamity Physics, I thought, no, not for me. What do I know about physics?? (Well, I did read Cryptonomicon and loved that.) But I think this book is much less about physics, per se, than it is about the life of a precocious sixteen year old girl, Blue van Meer. From the back cover:

Blue van Meer's world of intellect, murder and mystery is smart, edgy and irresisitable.
Sounds good to me. A confession: I do like books that are narrated in the first person by a precocious youngster. i.e. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley or Cold Flat Junction by Martha Grimes. Of course it helps if the stories are very well written, too.

Note: the painting at the top of my post is by artist Deborah DeWit Marchant.


  1. What is wrong with you walking to the library in this heat??!?! Make sure you carry a card that says to call me in the event they find you face down on madison street!

  2. Thank you for your concern, m'dear. Ha! I am fine.

  3. think that's bad? Try working in a library surrounded by books that leap off the shelves screaming 'Take me home with you!' - or the ones that slink up on you unnoticed and whisper seductively in your ear 'spend an hour with me, you know you want to...'

    I bring so many books home my TBR pile is like a mini-Matterhorn ;-)

  4. Thank you for the mention Yvette, that's very lovely - and I do hope you enjoy Miss Hargreaves! I'm so grateful to Nancy Pearl for bringing it to more people's attention.

  5. You're more than welcome, Simon. I'm glad I found your blog. Nancy Pearl is also a great source for books - isn't she? One of my favorite writers is Connie Willis and I discovered her through Nancy's BOOK LUST book. So for that alone, I owe her. Thanks for posting, Simon. I have high hopes for MISS HARGREAVES.

  6. I read Special Topics in Calamity Physics when it first came out and really, really enjoyed it. And, I'm ashamed to say, I've had Miss Hargreaves on my shelf for five or six months now and still haven't started it. I'm looking forward to it but it's one of those books that has been so praised that I'm almost anxious to read it!

    Enjoy your loot!

  7. Hi Claire, thanks for dropping by. Yes, I will enjoy my loot. ;) There are certain books that sit on my shelves as well, waiting patiently to be read but, for whatever reason, are always being shifted to the back of the line. Sad, but true.


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