A Solution Staring Me In The Face

I read mostly fiction.   For years I’ve been meaning to read more nonfiction, and I add more and more nonfiction titles to my Goodreads TBR, but there they sit, as I continue to devour novels.  However!  I’ve just stumbled upon a pretty obvious solution to my problem. PUT THE NONFICTION ON HOLD AT THE LIBRARY, LAILA.

See, one of the perks of working at a library is everyday access to the library catalog, where I can check and see if new titles have been added before they’re published.  (Patrons can do this too, it’s just that I’m here all the time and think about it more often than the average person, probably.)  So when I know the new Michael Connelly or Kate Atkinson book is coming out soon, I put myself on hold and hopefully will be near the top of the list.  But for some reason, I NEVER THINK to put myself on hold for nonfiction.  I’ve got a hold list full of fiction (and movies and compact discs ) instead.

A few months back I put White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson on hold.  When it came around to me, shockingly, I read it!  So I thought, “This worked so well, why don’t I look at my Goodreads list and put some more nonfiction on hold?”

Here are three nonfiction titles I’ve recently placed on hold (book blurbs from Goodreads:)

the-last-castle-9781476794044_hrThe Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation’s Largest Home by Denise Kiernan.  (“The fascinating true story behind the magnificent Gilded Age mansion Biltmore—the largest, grandest residence ever built in the United States.”)  At the moment I’m number 81 out of 91 waiting for it. (Knoxville isn’t too far from Asheville, NC, which is one reason I think that there are so many people waiting for this.)

51GLNSdDDqL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_The Radium Girls:  The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore.  (“The Curies’ newly discovered element of radium makes gleaming headlines across the nation as the fresh face of beauty, and wonder drug of the medical community. From body lotion to tonic water, the popular new element shines bright in the otherwise dark years of the First World War.

Meanwhile, hundreds of girls toil amidst the glowing dust of the radium-dial factories. The glittering chemical covers their bodies from head to toe; they light up the night like industrious fireflies. With such a coveted job, these “shining girls” are the luckiest alive – until they begin to fall mysteriously ill.”)  I am currently number 12 out of 16 waiting.

9780553447453Evicted:  Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond.  (“Even in the most desolate areas of American cities, evictions used to be rare. But today, most poor renting families are spending more than half of their income on housing, and eviction has become ordinary, especially for single mothers. In vivid, intimate prose, Desmond provides a ground-level view of one of the most urgent issues facing America today.”)  There isn’t a waiting list for this one anymore, but I’ve suspended my hold until January, when I’ve hopefully made a dent in the books I’ve got on my nightstand at the moment.

So now that you’re shaking your head at my obtuseness, tell me:  if you’ve ever wanted to make shake up your reading habits, what are some strategies you’ve used to actually get those books in your hands?  Have you read any of these books, or if not, do they interest you? What is your balance of fiction to nonfiction?  Let’s chat in the comments!

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WWW Wednesday (December 6, 2017)

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking On A World of Words.  Give her blog a look and join the discussion!

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

at-mrs-lippincotesCurrently:

At Mrs. Lippincote’s by Elizabeth Taylor.  Where has this book (and this author) been all my life?  This is right up my alley.  She reminds me of Barbara Pym (one of my favorite authors.)  It is funny and sad and witty and I am excited to have her whole catalog to explore after this!518kAM5wEIL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

 

White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson.  Oh my goodness.  I can only read 5-10 pages of this at a time because it makes me so damn angry.  I am learning things about Reconstruction, the Great Migration, and the aftermath of Brown V. Board of Education that I should have learned in school.  It’s making me so sad that, even though I had what most would call a “very good education,” I remained so ignorant of the history of race relations in the U.S.  It’s a very short book with lots of well-researched end notes, so I should have finished this already. But the means white people have devised to keep African Americans from achieving equality are mind-boggling and infuriating.

Recently Finished:

51gqBvjRITL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_Silent Nights: Christmas Mysteries edited by Martin Edwards.  I’ve been wanting to try one of these British Library Crime Classics for a while now.  Uneven, like most short story collections usually are.  But there were a handful of outstanding stories, so I’m glad I read this.  (Ethel Lina White’s “Waxworks” was a story I won’t soon forget!)  I’ll be writing a review in the next week or two (she says hopefully…)

 

 

Up Next:

I’ve got a ton of books checked out right now, so I’m kind of overwhelmed by all the choices!  Here are just a few that I should read soon and get back to the library (waiting lists on a couple of these.)  But you know me – my next read might be something else randomly chosen from my shelf at home!

What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons,  The Burning Girl by Claire Messud, and Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout.

 

Read any of these?  Anything look tempting?  What have you just finished reading?

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I *Might* Read This Winter

toptentuesdayHey there!  It’s Top Ten Tuesday time again, hosted by The Broke and Bookish.   I haven’t participated in one for a while.  But I do so love talking about TBRs – my own and yours as well!  It’s so much fun to anticipate the things we *might* read soon.  I am not a book planner, but I know some of you follow a pretty strict schedule. I’m very moody when it comes to reading, so I may get to these this coming winter – or I may not!  I just thought I’d share some of my picks and maybe get you talking about your own.

Lady Susan, The Watsons, Sanditon by Jane Austen.  This has been lingering on my Goodreads TBR since 2008!  And I now possess a copy of my own.  2018 is the year I finally read this!13120860

Dead Scared (Lacey Flint #2) by Sharon Bolton.  I read the first in this series recently and loved it.  I’m itching to get to the second, in which DC Flint goes undercover as a university student investigating a rash of apparent suicides.

We Were Eight Years In Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates.  I think Coates is just brilliant, and I’ve read parts of this essay collection in The Atlantic.  I am hoping that Santa brings me this one for Christmas!2edce15dd0865323d6ec6776d200de48-w204@1x

Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? by Kathleen Collins.  I’ve had this short story collection lingering on my iPad for nearly a year! I’m not a big e-book reader – when I get home from work I don’t really want to read on a screen.  But I bought this and a few other things really cheap last winter, so I really need to read them.

Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong.  My blogger friends who have read this seems to all really like it.  And it’s gotten good critical reviews as well.

Wizard and Glass (Dark Tower #4) by Stephen King.  Back in the summer I was all about the first three of this series.  Then I had to read some other stuff.  But now I’m read to jump back in!

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson.  I bought this intending to read it this year; didn’t happen. It’s massive but I’ve heard and read nothing but good things about it and I will complete it in 2018.

The Body in the Library (Miss Marple #3) by Agatha Christie.  After reading my first Miss Marple mystery this year, I’m ready to try another one!  Agatha Christie makes for good cozy wintry reading.

What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons.  From Goodreads: Raised in Pennsylvania, Thandi views the world of her mother’s childhood in Johannesburg as both impossibly distant and ever present. She is an outsider wherever she goes, caught between being black and white, American and not. She tries to connect these dislocated pieces of her life, and as her mother succumbs to cancer, Thandi searches for an anchor—someone, or something, to love. 7126

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.  Hey, remember when I had that poll on my blog that you all voted on and this ginormous classic novel won?!?  Yes, I was supposed to read this one this year.  Whoops!  🙂

Have you read any of these?  Do any appeal to you?  What are you planning to read this winter?

Fiddling With With My Reading System

So a few posts ago I mentioned this Book Riot essay about whittling down the TBR pile and said that I would tweak it a bit to fit my TBR problem, which is prioritizing library books over the books I’ve bought.  Working in a library makes it nearly impossible to avoid putting the newest books on hold as soon as they’re in the system. It’s a perk, because I’m almost always near the top of the holds lists.  But as those hold copies come in, if I’m not on top of them all the time, I can quickly be buried in new books that can’t be renewed (because others are waiting.)

Since reading that essay, I have indeed experimented with a new reading system:  two of my own purchased books for every one library book.  And it’s been working beautifully! I’ve read FOUR of my own books in about a month, which is practically unheard of for me.  (In case you were wondering, they’re John Crow’s Devil, How It All Began, A Few Green Leaves by Barbara Pym, and The Zero by Jess Walter.)51u0JxuMEWL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_

HOWEVER.  (You sensed that was coming, right?) A few new library books sneaked up on me and arrived before I wanted them to.  And they’re much-buzzed about ones that I’m excited to read: No One is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts and Borne by Jeff Vandermeer.  So I am thinking that my little system is going to be coming to an end very soon. 31451186

But I do like this alternating library books with my own books thing, so I’m going to make a conscious effort to do that more, especially when I don’t have a lot of new holds coming in.  I try to make use of my library’s “Vacation Stop” system and push back holds if I’m nearing the top of the waiting list, but sometimes I forget to manage it.  All in all, for a mood reader and heavy library user like me, the “Two For One” system is too restrictive to use long-term.

So what about you?  That Vacation Stop thing is a helpful feature – do you make use of yours to manage your own library holds?  Have you ever tried a new reading system? How do you choose your next book?

Top Ten Tuesday: My Spring TBR

Hey there!  It’s Top Ten Tuesday Time again, hosted by The Broke and Bookish – they’ve been on hiatus and I haven’t participated in one for a while.  But I do so love talking about TBRs – my own and yours as well!  It’s so much fun to anticipate the things we *might* read soon.  I am not a book planner, but I know some of you follow a pretty strict schedule. I’m very moody when it comes to reading, so I may get to these this Spring – or I may not!  I intend to read them sometime, in any case, so this list is partly based on what my library holds look like, and partly random.

All We Shall Know by Donal Ryan.  I WILL read this very soon, as it’s one of my choices for 746 Books’s Reading Ireland Month.  So I plan on taking it with me to the beach next week!

Kissing the Gunner’s Daughter by Ruth Rendell.  It’s been too long since I’ve read an Inspector Wexford mystery and this is the next one on the list (I’m working my way in order, very slowly.)

51Ma6eymR0L._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_Exit West by Mohsin Hamid.  This one just sounds too good, and I’m high on my library’s hold list for it.

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez.  I’m going to suggest this as one of our book group’s choices when it’s my turn to host next month – I hope they choose it!

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance.  I have to admit, I’m not super excited to read this, but I want to at least give it a try, since it’s such a big book for our moment in time.  If any of you guys have read it, please let me know what you think.

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae.  I bought this on Kindle for $1.99 recently and it looks funny and sharp.

Whatever Happened to Interracial Love by Kathleen Collins.  Another recent super cheap Kindle find.  Short stories written by an African American woman in the 1960’s only just now published.165208

Difficult Women by Roxane Gay.  Love Roxane Gay.  More short stories.

Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki.  “A sinister, sexy noir about art, motherhood, and the intensity of female friendships” according to Goodreads.  I liked her first novel, California.

Happy All The Time by Laurie Colwin.  Romance and comedy of manners.

Have you read any of these?  Do you plan to?  Do you plan out your reading by month or season, or do you fly by the seat of your pants?  (And what’s up with that saying anyway?  That’s a weird one.)  What’s on your Spring TBR?

 

 

Reading Update

How’s it going, guys?  Today’s my last day at work for a week (woohoo!) since it’s my son’s fall break and I want to spend time with him.  We were supposed to be going to South Carolina on Sunday but had to cancel because of the hurricane.  I feel so badly for all who live in its path.  It’s scary stuff.  My family and I will do some fun things over the next week and we’ll try again for a beach trip in March or May of next year.  Let’s all send out some heavy prayers for the people of Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.

9780385678414I just finished Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d by Alan Bradley, the eighth book in his Flavia De Luce mystery series.  I have enjoyed these books up until now.  Flavia is a precocious twelve year old heroine in a small British village in the post-war period, who just happens to help solve murders.  Sadly, this one may be my last.  Not only did it unfold at a dreadfully slow pace, but the mystery wasn’t that compelling.  And the ending!  Ugh! A terrible thing happened and I think it was completely unnecessary.  Oh well.  It was a good run.

I just started reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus.  Only 29 pages in and it’s beautifully written so far, as I expected it would be.  It’s for my book group meeting on the 16th, which I may not attend due to a conflict.  But I’ve been meaning to read it for ages, so I’m glad to have the prompt.126381

I recently finished Hope Jahren’s excellent memoir Lab Girl. If you’re the least bit interested in nature or science, and you enjoy memoirs, I highly recommend it.  It’s not the least bit dry or overly scholarly, yet I promise you’ll never look at trees the same way again.  She’s so smart and she has such a passion for the natural world.  She really lays it out there about how challenging it is to be a scientist in America and constantly have to scrounge around for funding.  Here’s my favorite passage, where she is reflecting on her love for her only child, a son, who happens to love beating on a palm tree with whatever implement he can find.

Being a daughter was so difficult for both my mother and me; maybe our line needs to skip a generation in order to extinguish the cycle such that it cannot be repeated.  So I’ve set my heart on a granddaughter – as always, my greed for love is unreasonably premature.  Based on my projections, there’s more than a small chance that I’ll die before she’s born, particularly if our line continues to skip or bifurcate.  And perhaps this is the way it was meant to be, for me anyway.

Nevertheless, here on this sunny day, I can’t resist my temptation to put a message in a bottle: Somebody remember.  Somebody someday find my granddaughter and tell her.  Tell her about the day that one of her grandmothers sat looking out of her kitchen window with a pen in her hand.  tell her that her grandmother didn’t see the dirty dishes or the dust on the windowsill because she was busy deciding.  Tell her that in the end, she decided to go ahead and love her granddaughter several decades too early.  Tell her about the day that her grandmother sat in a sunbeam and dreamed of her to the soundtrack of a tree being flogged.

812c5592-fb87-11e5-8b45-86e4300cc57e-780x1163As a mother of an only child, a five year old boy, who also loves to beat on trees, I can share that I bawled when I read this.

I hope you all have a great weekend and that you’re reading some great books!  Have you read any of these?  Tell me what you’re currently reading or what you just finished in the comments.

Top Ten Fall TBR Books

Y’all should know by now that I can’t resist a TBR list – mine or anybody else’s.  So I had to get in on this week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme, hosted by The Broke and Bookish, which is Top Ten Books on Your Fall TBR.  My Fall TBR is the same as my Winter, Spring, and Summer TBR.  It’s just one massive Goodreads list of 500+ titles that I add to and delete from constantly.  But these are the books that I’m most likely to read before the end of 2016.

  • White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi.  For my first ever R.I.P. Challenge!
  • The Sundial by Shirley Jackson.  Also for the R.I.P. Challenge.  I intend to eventually read everything Shirley Jackson has written.  This will be my fourth.
  • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.  I am SO READY for this one.
  • The rest of Lab Girl by Hope Jahren.  I started reading this in July, got halfway through, and had to turn in back in to the library because it had holds on it.  It STILL has holds on it, but I’m reading it now and I’m confident I’ll finish it this time.
  • Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d by Alan Bradley.  This just came in for me at the library this week.  This is a fun, light mystery series.
  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.  I own it and I have heard NOTHING but good things about it.img_0325
  • Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler.  This book has a New York City foodie setting, two things I like. Who knows, I may hate this, but I’m going to give it a try.
  • Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.  My book group is reading it for this month!
  • Modern Lovers by Emma Straub.  I really enjoyed her last novel, The Vacationers, and I have high hopes for this one.
  • Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen.  I am one of the biggest Boss fans you’ll ever meet. He and his music are everything to me.  I pre-ordered this the day I heard it was coming out.  My copy is heading to me through the mail as I write!

Have you read any of these?  What’s something you’ll be reading in the next couple of months?