QUESTIONS for the Avid Reader Part II

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QUESTIONS for the Avid Reader Part II

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Editado: Maio 26, 2019, 8:59am


Club Read mostly discusses fiction, with a few notable exceptions. Outside the world of non fiction though, there are other forms of writing besides the novel.

Do you read poetry, plays, sagas, or any other form of expression besides the novel? What is it about them that speaks to you?

edited for grammar

Editado: Maio 4, 2019, 5:11pm

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Editado: Maio 4, 2019, 6:29pm

I read memoirs occasionally. I get frustrated when people write about family trauma without letting the experience percolate a bit so it goes beyond the "ain't it awful" point. The Glass Castle case in point.

Maio 4, 2019, 7:58pm

I like some non-fiction, socially-oriented histories and memoirs, primarily. I'd like to read more philosophy, poetry and plays, but in a theoretical sort of way that really means I don't plan to get around to it anytime soon.

Maio 4, 2019, 8:25pm

Hmm. I’ve drifted away from poetry for the time, but I’ve been reading some Shakespeare, which is a poetry. So, that means I am reading plays, but only Shakespeare. I haven’t really read other plays ever. Not sure what saga means. Others could include literary magazines (I haven’t been reading them lately, but have in the past), essays (reading James Baldwin this year, so yes), short stories (not recently), graphics novels (it’s been a while). So, some, definitely, but not by any real plan, just happenstance.

Maio 4, 2019, 9:16pm

Outside of novels in the world of fiction (which is I think what you're asking?), I like poetry a lot, and graphic novels/comix, and I'm a huge short story fan. I also like blended fiction/nonfiction genres if they're done skillfully (embellished biographies, crossover essays). I rarely read plays.

Maio 4, 2019, 10:46pm

I have a degree in theater and currently work for a performing arts organization. So, I used to read a lot of plays. Not so much recently. I've never really read poetry, although it is certain high on my list of things I "ought" to do. I do enjoy the odd short story collection, but don't actively seek them out.

Maio 5, 2019, 1:04am

Poetry matters a lot to me, even if it does get swamped by novels and non-fiction when I look at the number of books. I generally have a “big poet project” on the go for a specific writer in the canon I feel don’t know enough about, reading works by and about them - at the moment it’s still Petrarch, although I haven’t added anything there for a bit. And I usually have an anthology or a collection by a modern poet on my bedside table - George Szirtes at present. But they often stay there for months...

I went to the theatre a lot in my teens and student years, and read quite a lot of plays then as well. That’s tailed off rather, mostly because I got out of the play-going habit when I moved to a non-English-speaking country, and became much more interested in going to concerts.

Maio 5, 2019, 6:51am

Besides novels, I read short stories, novellas, poetry, an occasional play or graphic novel, and well, pretty much anything that attracts my attention. Some years I read more of some form or another than other years. For example: one year I read all of JCO's novellas (9), another I read a few volumes of what was called "flash fiction," another year it was several anthologies of women writers from other parts of the world.

I'm not a heavy reader of nonfiction, although I seem to be reading more than previous years. I enjoy reading about literature (i.e. tragedy, the Gothic, regional literature, popular literature, a specific author's lit, Scandinavian crime lit and so on). Of the most recent purchased nonfiction the topics are: forensics, race, secularism, essays, women in early America, evil, trees, Michelle Obama's memoir and Madeline Albright's book (part memoir) on Fascism.

Maio 5, 2019, 8:01am

I almost always have a nonfiction book going - usually something historical like a biography or cultural/societal study of a time period that interests me. I sometimes like memoirs, particularly in audiobook format if it's someone current.

I don't tend to read plays except for the occasional Shakespeare. I sometimes like essays if it's an author I've read other places and want to give a try. And poetry is one of those things I keep trying to like but haven't really connected with. I think my problem with poetry is that it isn't the same skill as sitting down to read a novel for an hour, and that is always how I approach it.

Maio 5, 2019, 9:45am

I occasionally read short stories and novellas, but I don't think I've read any plays or poetry since high school. I have read collections of essays, though not for a long time (though technically I suppose Dear Santa fits the bill).

Maio 6, 2019, 6:25pm

My current reading project takes in poetry, plays, and history (16th century) there are not an awful lot of novels from that time.
As I gain more knowledge of the life and times of that era then the plays and poetry certainly do speak to me. The interesting thing is to have an understanding of what people read and to witness at first hand, as it were the individual voices in the development of literature. I have discovered some beautiful writing and reading chronologically it is like reading history in the making.

Editado: Maio 6, 2019, 11:43pm

I really enjoy reading poetry, though I've not managed much dedicated reading of it this year. I have, however, hit a lot of plays. It's great to be exploring those again. I have a few poetry collections to start, trying to read a couple per day.

Non-fiction is actually more my focus than fiction. Even with my re-reads (largely fiction), I still read just a touch more non-fiction than fiction, discard the re-reads and the ration is about 60-40 in favor of non-fiction. For me it's easier to pick out non-fiction I'll enjoy, because so long as I'm getting information from the book it can have some issues (extremely dry, going down rabbit holes, getting away from the point, etc...). When I read too much mediocre fiction I start to feel burnt out on reading in general. History has been my happy place since I was a kid, but any non-fiction feeds that desire for new information and interesting facts that I can repeat to people and use to win quizzes.

Maio 7, 2019, 6:26am

Aha, if we're talking both sides of the coin then I do read a fair amount of nonfiction too—I'd say a third to a quarter of what I read is non-.

Maio 7, 2019, 8:48pm

I enjoy poetry - mostly story-type, Kipling and Frost and Benet rather than, say, William Carlos Williams or e.e. cummings. But I tend to memorize favorites and recite them to myself rather than read them. I mostly don't read plays. I do read essays now and then - I love Stephen Jay Gould, enough that I just got his book of baseball essays at the library sale (I am _not_ into baseball...). We'll see if he drives me nuts with this. I love his evolutionary biology essays, though, I think I have all of his collections and have read all of them more than once. Graphic novels, yes, cookbooks that are stories, yes, music books ditto... I'm usually reading a big non-fiction book (though I haven't done very well with that this year) as well as various fiction books; the non-fiction is a table book, to be read in small bits and digested before I go back to it rather than diving in and reading it straight through. So I don't read "as much" non-fiction - definitely not as many books, not even as many pages of non-fiction as of fiction (oh, and I'll read short stories etc, though I prefer novels), but I'm reading non-fiction as often as I am fiction, usually.

Editado: Maio 12, 2019, 5:07am

As I have aged, I've been more interested in non fiction. Ive always been drawn to travel narratives, historiies (Barbara Tuchman, Norman Cantor, Francis Geis), science (Dava Sobel, Oliver Sachs), anthropology and essays. I read some biographies, tho Im rather picky - I don't like when the author digs up the dirt, or makes the subject perfect. Used to read lots of poetry and plays, don't much now.

Maio 24, 2019, 12:49am

I read poetry (I write it and teach it, so I like to read it). Right now my favorite poets are Charles Simic and Ada Limon. I find some comforts in it. 2016 and 2017 were big Auden years for me. I had read Alexander McCall Smith's book on Auden (What Auden Can Do For You) and I thought he could help me with my malaise. He did and he didn't--but I did enjoy reading his poems and thinking through them. I also like memoir. I really enjoyed Daniel Mendelssohn's book An Odyssey. I can't help but compare my feelings about my father to his experience. I also like non-fiction. I am currently reading Rebecca Stott's Darwin's Ghosts which is very enjoyable. I understand she's written a memoir, and I'd like to read that.

Maio 24, 2019, 3:18am

poetry for me too, as you may know - it seems connected to feeling present, or offers a glimpse of it, and it has many other aspects too of course. reading it is a type of learning that helps me in being me.

i read some philosophy and some therapy/counselling things too - in their own way doing some of the same. my path to poetry was really validated by training as a counsellor. i also like memoirs and bios/autobios, especially of poets. And also of course reading a lot more spirituality and religious writing - Buddhist, Daoist, Christian, Islamic - which is intimately connected with poetry.

Maio 24, 2019, 9:01am

>17 Denise701: Mendelssohn's An Odyssey seems to get really nice comments. It’s on my shelf.

>17 Denise701:, >18 tonikat: thinking about the poetry I’m not reading right now. Hmm. Maybe tim to try again to get back into it. (Maybe I need to try something more foundational - as an excuse, anyway)

Maio 24, 2019, 5:07pm

>19 dchaikin: wise man once say, 'follow your bliss' dan

Maio 26, 2019, 9:04am

image from Book Riot


Most of us here in one way or another keep lists of what we have read.

However, do you keep lists of what you intend to read? How do you, or do you, organize them? Do you carry them with you "just in case"?

If you do keep lists, do you actually follow them, or do you just like the process of making them?

Editado: Maio 26, 2019, 9:46am

I didn't use to bother with keeping a record, but these days (the last 4 or 5 years, maybe), I use a simple list on my phone to make a note if I hear about a book or an author new to me that I want to follow up. Usually not used for books that are important enough to order right away, but more for things I vaguely want to look out for if they pop up in a charity shop or somewhere. I also use it occasionally as a short-term memo for things I want to pick up next time I go into the library, or when I want to gather a few items for an order to save postage.

I do quite often remember to look at it when I'm book-browsing, but it's rather tip-of-the-iceberg - I currently have some 23 open items on the list, and about 30 already crossed off. So I doubt if it accounts for more than 7 or 8 books a year.

>21 SassyLassy: Lord of the flies on the road would be a great title for an experimental novel!

Maio 26, 2019, 9:59am

No lists. I'm a read-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of gal these days. (I do sometimes have to make a checklist of books I still need to review, and on my phone I have a list of books that I have ordered ahead of publication at the bookstore, but that's it).

Maio 26, 2019, 10:33am

Lists, I think I have to admit that I love lists...

I have a separate LT account for books I'd like to acquire. It is over 800 titles I think, some of them I'll never buy nor read, I know it but can't find the strength to cross them off...

And now that I live far from bookshops, I find myself planning more carefully my visits there. I am starting a list for "must buy" books for next time I'll go (sometimes in June), and I am considering as well making a list of books I would like to buy second-hand, in order to look more thoroughly to them next time I visit used book bookshops.

And of course, I usually don't follow my list, at least not completely, not buying all the "must buy" books (because, after all, looking at the book, it is not as "must" as I thought) and buying a few unplanned books that "must" be bought...

Maio 26, 2019, 11:01am

I have a list on my thread here of all the CR BBs. I have a list on my phone that are recommendations from various people while I'm out and about (mostly from bookclub). Finally I have an Excel spreadsheet that contains next books in series I'm reading or authors I like.

Maio 26, 2019, 11:08am

I don't keep lists of what I want to read generally, but I do have a list of possibilities for Bloom pieces. Other than books I need to read for work for one reason or another, I'm a pretty random and impulsive reader... but what I do have is lots of shelves of TBR books that my eye wanders over from all points in the house, which always inspires me.

Maio 26, 2019, 12:45pm

I have lots of neglected lists, including my Wishlist and To Read collections on LT, and, well, those bookshelves full of books to read. This is why I have a little fear of news lists, I already have an overwhelming amount of books I want to read. Of course, as most everyone here knows, I’ve been making plans with themes where each month has a book from each theme and have been following it close enough these past several years that I keep making them. I’ll add that most of the books on these lists are ones I didn’t own when I made the list. (I may have some of the most neglected tbr shelves around.)

Maio 26, 2019, 6:13pm

I mainly have to-read lists now because of my library and Audible wishlists. I recently added up all the books on the lists, and the unread books on my shelves and it's about 2000 books. Which explains why I'm a little more lax adding to them now. Luckily I'm not prone to hoarding unread books on my own shelves, so the weight of unread books is mostly digital.

Editado: Maio 26, 2019, 6:24pm

definitely -- I went through my library and rated things p1, p2 an p3 . . . and then had to add p1* in boh poetry and fiction . . . and do I read these books? mostly not . . . why, when I know how much I'd like to? is it like no shade in the shadow of the cross, just too much to bear, i need my hedgerows? i have no idea, but i do read more when i follow my heart and the breezes that blow through it from day to day.

Maio 27, 2019, 3:42am

Where would I be without my lists. Planning what to read is almost as much fun as doing the reading - the expectation rarely disappoints. I have three/four reading projects on the go at the moment and all the books that I want to read are included on those lists, this year certainly I have not read a book that is not included on those lists, not sure how I feel about this loss of spontaneity, but it seems to me that if you do a lot of research on what to read you had better get down to doing the reading. Perhaps as I am getting older I need more order in my life or rather I don't want to waste the time that I have left.

I do not carry my lists with me. I have just been persuaded to get a smart phone or rather a friend insisted in giving me her old phone and so I feel obliged to use it a little, but I am so familiar with my lists that if I am browsing in a book shop (very rare these days) then if I see a book on my list it leaps out at me.

I think I have answered the question about whether I use my lists. I admit to getting much pleasure in crossing through the books I have read from my lists.

Maio 27, 2019, 8:45am

I read from the 1001 books you must read before you die list, which has a convenient app. That is enough to remind me of all the classics I want to get to (even if a specific book isn't there, the author generally will be and that will jog my memory).

For newer books, both fiction and non-fiction, I use a combination of library and amazon wish lists. I do find with new books that if I don't read them pretty close to the moment that they are published and being talked about, my interest wains. So I clear out those lists periodically.

I also used to enter books "TBR" into my LT library, but I haven't been using that for the past few years as I find the library and amazon a little more convenient since I can also access the books there.

Maio 27, 2019, 9:20am

I also follow the 1001 books list and lately have taken up collecting nyrb books and then there are the new(ish) award-winning/translated books that catch my eye...

There are so many books I want to read that I can become paralyzed by the options. So, I use various GR & LT groups group reads and challenges to narrow the options to a reasonable number. They are listed in my CR thread (which I do update, even if I have stopped posting reviews) and also copy into a notebook I carry with me.

I am fairly good about choosing the 2-3 books I read each month from these lists.

Maio 27, 2019, 9:41am

I love a good list. I store book bullets from CR and interesting titles I read about in the weekend papers in an Amazon list. Whilst I enjoy a lot of random buying from secondhand bookshops, if I'm going to order some books from the library or treat myself to a new book I 100% use my wish list. A lot of great titles speak to me from other people's threads that I would never get around to remembering and reading if I didn't have them jotted down somewhere.

Editado: Maio 27, 2019, 1:12pm

I usually jot down lists on sticky notes from CR BB or other sources. They get buried under other lists and then I find them again later. Sometimes I look them up right away to see if I want to read them. I have shelves of TBR books in my home, so just browsing the shelves helps me find the next read. I also have tons of them on my Kindle. As others have said, I am rather random and impulsive, unless I am reading books to review. I also like the Category Challenges, which keep me busy making decisions about what to read next.

Maio 28, 2019, 8:58pm

I used to keep a small notebook that I filled with titles I discovered from friends and family members (still remember being handed 'Dune when I was 14 by my then boyfriend, said it was a classic, He was right - and got me well on the road to sci fi) Id also catch titles on the radio, or notice interesting titles in newpaper book reviews. Back before Amazon and searches, it was a challenge for me to find a treasure I'd had on my list in some little place, Now, its just too easy, getting online has sppoiled us. But that doesn't stop me from browsing places i go to find a lost treasure!

I keep a list of reads coming out (usually off NYT br, or discussions here, and go to my indie on that date to see if its in, I also keep a list of books I want for gifts

Finally I have been keeping a reading journal since jr high. Now i just write the title, author and rating., helps me keep track of what im reading Going back through those old lists gives me ideas of what i want to reread

Maio 29, 2019, 10:16am

I do not generally make and keep reading lists that dictate which books I will read in a set period of time. While I admire those individuals who can plan out their reading to such a degree, I know from experience that I am not one of them. In point of fact, if I try to make a list of, say, books I want to read this quarter, I have essentially made a list of books I will not read. The one sort of exception to this particular list aversion of mine is the list of book selections for my in-person book group; I want to be sure I have read the books we will be discussing before the discussion date, so having a list in that case is helpful. I have it written down in my book journal, which I basically always have with me.

The lists I do maintain tend more toward the reference end of the spectrum. I have a list of the books I own that I have not yet read in a Google spreadsheet, and I have a "TBR wishlist" where I record books that sound interesting to me and that I might want to read. I also keep series lists in a notebook that lives in my purse, since I cannot guarantee I will always have internet connectivity when I am trying to figure out which book comes next in the series I am looking at (and of course the publishers don't want to put numbers on them or anything like that).

Maio 29, 2019, 11:00pm

I keep a wishlist on Amazon where I store titles I want to read. I use my Kindle as a record of books read.

Anything else seems like a duplication of effort, though I used to enjoy making records and lists for their own sake. I used to imagine some beloved granddaughter finding my lists and devoting her life to reading through it, charmed by my brief and pithy notes on each.

Jesus. What a fantasy. Kids just throw that stuff away now.

Though I did read through my own gramma's Jules Verne collection after she died. Got a glimpse of her inner yearning for adventure. I like to imagine her in heaven devouring the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Maio 30, 2019, 10:17pm

I keep notes on my phone for some book bullets - more ones I get in person than on LT, but some of both. I have a wishlist on LT, but it's kind of awkward - searching (in the app) doesn't show you what collection something is in, so if I wishlist it then check it looks like I have it. And my problem with keeping mental notes is that once I've impressed on myself that I'm looking for _this_ book, I will continue looking even after I've found it...

For TBRs - not much. I do have a page in my Book Stats spreadsheet (which I created/borrowed from Roni and modified in order to make tracking, and posting on LT, easier) for Currently Reading which contains a bunch of books that either I started and put aside or I intended to start soon (soon has stretched to 2+ years in a couple cases...). It does also contain what I'm reading now, if I get to updating the spreadsheet before I finish the book. And because I don't always do that, I now keep notes on my phone of what I started when - and have now started reviewing in there, just because I always have it with me.

The other thing I'll do is, if I _know_ I'll be reading this book next (sometimes several nexts - that's usually a series), I'll put in a future reading date when I think I'll be finished with the current book. That brings it to the top of the list, in my ebook app (Calibre Companion), so it's easy to find. I use that most often when I'm starting a several-book series and don't want to bother searching for the next one, just want it handed to me.

I don't plan out my reading, other than series and the like; like others here, if I'm told to read something (even if it's me doing the telling) I'm more likely to read something (anything!) else. I've never been successful with a book club, and even shared reads of favorite books on LT don't work well. I have, and have not (re)read, the first three books in the Dick Francis shared read - they're sitting on my desk so I could pick them up any time, but between January and now I haven't managed it yet...

Maio 31, 2019, 1:27am

>37 nohrt4me2: Oh you never know what kids will be interested in. When I was growing up I picked through every scrap of paper my parents ever wrote on. I keep a lot of my journals and things around. Maybe none of my nieces and nephews will care, but you never know. I'd fight a lion for reading lists kept by my mom, aunts, or grandparents. I've even planted the seed of interest (potentially) by getting book journals for nieces and nephews and talking about how I log my own reading. We can but hope!

Jun 4, 2019, 12:33pm

I don't keep a list of things I intent to read soon or anything, although I usually do have a few subject-to-change ideas in my head about what I want to get to next.

I think, in a very real sense, my list of "things I intend to read" exists on my actual TBR bookshelves, as well as in a slightly less concrete form as to "to read" collection/tag on LT. I fully intend to read every one of those 900 books! Really! I also have an LT wishlist full of books that I may or may not ever actually acquire and read, but certainly want to. That list is ever-expanding and is now even bigger than my list of owned but unread books. And since I can access it via the LibraryThing app, and I almost always have my phone with me, I guess it's true that I do carry it with me "just in case." It's certainly come in handy in bookstores and at library sales.

(It is possible I might have a slight problem, but you guys all understand. I know you do. :))

Jun 4, 2019, 1:01pm

>40 bragan: (no no, I see no problem at all)

Jun 5, 2019, 10:56am

>40 bragan: and >41 dchaikin: Occasionally I feel like it might be a problem (like yesterday I bought three new books and today I got another book out of the library even though I have *shelves* of TBR books) but then I think there are worse things to be addicted to. And it's not even really an addiction because it doesn't stop me doing non-reading things. Well except cleaning ;-).

Jun 5, 2019, 6:25pm

>42 rhian_of_oz: Yes, yes! I have a cartoon someone sent to me that shows bookshelves full and toppling over, with the caption, "Today I WILL clean my house! Oh look, a book!"

Jun 10, 2019, 2:28am

>42 rhian_of_oz: Yes, I tell myself that all the time. "Oh, well, it's better than being addicted to heroin!"

Jun 10, 2019, 5:06am

>44 bragan: Ahem. Your wishlist has 1000 books not 900 :-)

Jun 13, 2019, 2:35pm

>45 avaland: The wishlist -- books I don't own but want -- has 1000 books. The TBR list -- books I already own but have't read yet -- has 900.

But I'm going to read all of them! Allllll of them! This is a completely realistic goal! I swear! :)

Jun 13, 2019, 3:11pm

>46 bragan: Whether your intention is possible should be easy to figure out. I did it one time: Figure your yearly number of books read. Multiply it by the number of years left in the life expectancy for your demographic (or use

That was the angle I used for my now-defunct reading blog. I see it's still visible. Maybe I'll get back to it sometime, but it cuts into my reading time.

Editado: Jun 13, 2019, 3:33pm

I don’t think I want to know whether my intention to read all my books is possible. That way I can plan on living forever.

Jun 13, 2019, 3:39pm

I have 20 or so lists in my library account (some are long series I am working through, some are authors I am reading through and some are just random things I decided I may like). I tend to actually make some progress on those - slowly asking the library to get me the books.

Outside of that, I am really really bad at following reading plans. So I quit making lists - I just read whatever comes up. I used to buy books that I felt I may want to read, I had cut that considerably (the library is a great thing) and I am trying to work through some of my books. Kinda.

Jun 13, 2019, 3:46pm

>47 nohrt4me2: Heh, actually, I've used this handy tool to make the same calculation. According to it, I'll finish making my way through the TBR shelves in 7 years and 2 months, at which point I will have just turned 55. Which would be perfectly, reassuringly doable, except that it's making the deeply, deeply silly assumption that there won't be any books added to it in the meantime.

Jun 13, 2019, 3:48pm

>50 bragan: And... oh dear, oh dear. I found an old blog post of my own where I posted the results of said calculator in 2015. The projection then was that I should be finishing in November of 2020. Yes, well...

Jun 13, 2019, 9:32pm

>50 bragan: Say, that is a handy tool. I have time for 360 more books unless I hike up my reading rate. Ulp! I clearly need a bucket list!

Jun 14, 2019, 2:10am

>48 lisapeet: I am more inclined to follow lisapeet's strategy. No calculation, an unmanaged list of books to read (owned or only prospects for future trips to the library or the bookstore), and therefore, no alternative but having to live forever to go through all of these books! As you can see, I am a very pragmatic person.

Jun 14, 2019, 6:41am

>50 bragan: But wait! Won't you still be adding to your wishlist during those 7 years?

Editado: Jun 14, 2019, 12:05pm

>50 bragan: I'm sure someone clever could amend it to take into account the number of new books acquired (i.e. bought or borrowed) in one year. Though of course if this number is greater than the number read in a year then the answer to when you'll get through your TBR pile is never. :-)

ETA: Oh dear I just tallied up the number of books I added to LT last year and it will probably surprise no one that it was greater than the number I read.

Editado: Jun 15, 2019, 10:21am

oh - my - goodness --- yes that's a handy tool, and i could read all my highest priority books at my current rate, but its the age it gave me, very real and of course nearer than ever, wow.

and unmanagement is how it (that age) got so near this way. and unmanagement may be my way with book lists really.

Jun 14, 2019, 1:41pm

>55 rhian_of_oz: Last year I bought 311 books and read 161. Even if you take into account the fact that some of those purchases were multiple formats of the same book, and some were purchases of books already read, my TBR pile is not going away any time soon.

When I use the calculator from >50 bragan: I try to add in a fudge factor to account for rereads and future additions to my TBR and TBR wishlist, but it's all guesswork in the end.

Jun 15, 2019, 3:26am

>50 bragan: Love this tool! You want to calculate your TBR time and before you get to the calculator, you get an ad to subscribe to a newsletter on books, to get more temptations! I guess it's fair enough and well targeted ad, but there a nice irony, isn't it?

Jun 17, 2019, 6:26pm

>55 rhian_of_oz: I think it might require differential equations, which I was never any good at. :) But, yes, I think the primary goal is to keep it from growing without bounds towards infinity. Which you would think would not be as hard as it is...

>58 raton-liseur: Ha! They seem to know their audience! I think my ad blocker saved me from that one, at least.

Jun 19, 2019, 10:52am

A more realistic calculator would predict an increase in tbr books between now and death. The key entries would be the rate of increase and my life expectancy. Fudge factors, such as House capacity threshold and potential changes in house capacity, might also need to be taken into account

Jun 19, 2019, 11:18am

House capacity? Just add more shelves or get a bigger house or a storage unit or move some to the garage or. . . .

Jun 19, 2019, 12:59pm

covered that with the “potential changes in house capacity “ 🙂

Jun 21, 2019, 4:23pm

Stormy Weather, Georgian Bay by F H Varley, 1921, oil on canvas
image from National Gallery of Canada


Weather seems to be unseasonable over vast swathes of our various countries.

Does such weather affect what you are reading, or for that matter, your actual reading routines?

Editado: Jun 21, 2019, 6:25pm

Nice Group of Seven painting.

No, weather does not influence my reading in any way, except that I tend to be involved in the story much more on sultry days. I made the mistake of reading Faulkner's The Unvanquished during a hot humid spell, and it was like drowning in molasses.

Jun 21, 2019, 10:24pm

weather affects my reading when its 110 degrees in the shade, and I have to stay indoors to read. Much rather be outside in my garden. But that certainly doesn't stop me from reading. And i've never gotten into 'beach read' for the summer; I read what i want when I am in the mood to read it.

Jun 22, 2019, 2:30am

Nope. Reading outside is painful - too much sun, or too dim are my choices (in sun or shade). So I read indoors pretty much all the time. We had a nasty hot spell last week (90s F when normal is 70s F max) - it didn't slow down my reading much, though it did make my tracking somewhat haphazard. I didn't feel like getting on the computer at all. Tracked in notes on my phone, though.

I've had a few oddities, though not recently - reading an Alaska story while I'm roasting doesn't actually cool me off any, but it distracts me. And similarly reading a desert or jungle story while shivering under a couch throw makes me forget I'm freezing, somewhat.

Jun 22, 2019, 2:38am

Does such weather affect what you are reading

Usually no, but the time of the year might: I'm more likely to read something "wintery" - that takes place in winter, that features snow, etc. - in winter, for example.

or for that matter, your actual reading routines?

Not on a day-to-day basis now that I don't live in a house with a garden anymore. When I did, I was more likely to read in bed under the duvet in winter (when the house got pretty cold), on the sofa under a blanket for most of the year, and outside in the garden or in the living-room with the door wide open when the weather was nice.
Occasionally, when I can be bothered, I take a book to the park.
Some people read less in the summer when they spend more time doing outdoorsy things - gardening, hiking, etc. - and cosy up with a book in winter. This has never been the case with me.

Jun 22, 2019, 5:31am

I track my reading by Month and Year so I had 11 entire calendar years of data to have a look at :-). It turns out month-by-month there's a 3 or 4 book difference between my lowest and highest averages (both mean and median).

I read most in February and March which I suspect reflects a downturn in social activities (post Christmas/New Year and before Easter). Rounding out the top five we have September, October and November which is Spring here. Not sure what explains that.

(Sidenote: It's really clear which are the 11 months I was out of work and the following 8 months where I was working on a casual basis.)

I don't believe the weather affects what I am reading - I have to consider how I might test that hypothesis empirically ;-).

Jun 22, 2019, 6:07pm

>68 rhian_of_oz: Yes, the experiment-design would be tricky... :-)

Changes in weather around here usually have a time-base much shorter than the time it takes (even me) to read a book, so there’s not much obvious influence - maybe I would pick something light like a crime story for an afternoon sitting on the balcony, but that’s as far as it would go. I don’t think I consciously match the theme of books I’m reading with the current weather, but there could be subconscious filtering going on. Who knows...?

My numbers still usually seem to have a dip in summer, although the difference is less than it used to be when I was working. So there obviously is a seasonal effect, even though I’d have expected it to be the other way - my most focussed reading tends to get done when I’m travelling, away from the distractions of home, and I travel more in summer than in winter. Concerts, cinema and TV also tend to be winter activities, so I don’t know when I get to read all those books.

Jun 22, 2019, 6:50pm

I read less when the weather is good. I am a fair weather person. I pick nice days to go walking, I pick nice days to do gardening, nice weather means sunshine and temperatures above 20 degrees centigrade. I like drinking wine in nice weather. I'm always up for going out somewhere or socialising when the weather is nice all of this impacts on my reading time.

Jun 25, 2019, 4:20am

Good weather is such a rarity in NI that the merest blink of sunshine also sends me away from the books and outside. I find it's not just the weather but the seasons that affect my reading rate - in the summer the amount I'm reading seems to go down. I think there are just too many other things to do.

Jun 25, 2019, 6:38am

I read mainly during my two-plus daily hours of commuting time and in bed at the end of the day, plus any bits of down time when I have a chance to pick up a book or periodical. But that's all indoor reading, so weather/temperature doesn't affect that. I have a bit less time to read on the weekends, absent all that time spent on the train, and if the weather's nice I'll try to get in a long walk or some yard work time—whereas if the weather's crappy I might be more inclined to sit down with a book. Or not, since I only have one day a week to do errands/housekeeping/socializing and any extra time usually goes to one of those three things.

Jun 25, 2019, 9:09am

>68 rhian_of_oz: Let us know if you come up with a test design and we can all help out.

Maybe the expected heat wave in parts of Europe will answer part of what I was wondering, which is, whether a change in weather from the expected alters reading plans. For example, if you are expecting a long hot summer, and have selected books accordingly, and then the weather persists in rain and fog, what happens to your reading plans? Also, if winter suddenly becomes mild and sunny, does your normal winter fare veer to the lighter?

Jun 25, 2019, 10:43am

The weather here had been unexpectedly cooperative so besides a few very hot days, there is still enough wind(and not so high temperatures) to make reading on the balcony in the evenings comfortable. Of course, not changing the time here means that it is dark before 8 (by 7:30-7.45 is it too late to read comfortably from a paper book) so not much time for reading after work but still... My old apartment (I moved 3 years ago) had its balcony on the west side making it impossible to read there in the evenings; this one is on south and east - making it pretty nice after work - as long as it is not too hot.

My reading projects are not season related. The summer means that I do not walk as much (too hot) so I tend to read more - if I do not get distracted with something else (last summer I ended up listening to old time radio dramas for most of the summer instead of reading for example). I seem to be starting some bigger reading projects around the summer but that has more to do with how busy I am at work (everyone on vacation slows down things) than with the season per se.

Jun 25, 2019, 6:21pm

At this point in time I have twelve and a half years of fairly detailed reading logs at my disposal, so I poked around at the data some to see what I could discover. My conclusion is that weather and season have little, if any, significant impact on my reading habits. Holidays, parties, and vacations, on the other hand, are more likely to reduce the amount of reading I do (I'll still read, just not as much).

I usually read indoors, though I am not adverse to reading out of doors. I rarely make extensive reading plans, so a change in the expected weather isn't likely to have a major impact on what I choose to pick up to read. I will say I probably read slightly less when the weather is extremely hot and humid, but we don't usually have long stretches of weather like that in NH, and I do have access to air conditioning.

Jun 27, 2019, 3:47pm

We have had flooding in the last couple of weeks, and my internet was out for a week and a half! Horrors! I could not surf the web so much, so I read more than I sometimes do. (My modem got fried, so I now have fixed wireless which is soooo much faster.)

Jun 28, 2019, 8:15am

I think the only time the weather affects my reading is when it's raining on my walk to or from work, so I can't read while I'm walking because the pages would get wet.

Jul 3, 2019, 7:02pm

>77 bragan: you read while you walk? Now that's a talent. I would end up face planting within a few yards.

Jul 3, 2019, 8:53pm

>78 AlisonY: I read on my walk to and from the library.

Jul 4, 2019, 2:39am

Heh. I was famous (in my family and school) as a teen for reading as I walked - I had, and still have, great peripheral vision so I'd see the lamppost, fire hydrant, sidewalk crack and dodge it without ever actually looking away from the page. I haven't tried it in a long time. Though there are a lot of people looking at phones and walking these days - a lot lighter and easier to hold than a book, but the same sort of attention-drawing. Some aren't so good at the splitting of attention (walking out across a red light...).

Jul 4, 2019, 8:28am

I live in an area where you see guys looking at their phones and smoking while riding a bike.

Editado: Jul 4, 2019, 9:37am

>77 bragan: (etc.) Makes me think of the narrator of Milkman...

>79 rhian_of_oz: Even though the city library is a 20-minute tram ride away where I live now, I never read library books on the way home: I think that still comes from the hard lessons of childhood, when you could only get three books out at once and our branch library was only open at coming-home-from-school time about twice a week. Finishing the first book whilst walking home meant there was a serious danger of hitting an Out Of Books error before the next fix was available.

>81 nohrt4me2: Since the 1st of July it’s illegal to have a phone in your hand whilst cycling here in the Netherlands - I wonder if that means we’ll see more teenagers reading books whilst cycling...?

Editado: Jul 4, 2019, 1:09pm

It always amuses me when people express surprise and confusion at my ability to read while walking, because, a) it seems to me to be really, really easy if you have any peripheral vision at all, and b) yeah, these days everybody does seem to look at their phones while they walk and nobody seems to think that's odd or difficult. Except for me! I find it harder to keep the screen still and the light levels right and my focus appropriately allocated when staring at a phone.

>82 thorold: The library only let you have three books at once?! Horror! Mine let you check out 15 at a time, so I'd go with a backpack and fill that up, as well as the basket on my bike. Sometimes it took a little cramming, but I always managed it.

Jul 4, 2019, 3:46pm

>83 bragan: Yes, three books was tough. I think it went up to four when you got adult tickets, and then six when they installed a computer and went over to magnetic cards. So the limitation might have been the paper-ticket lending system rather than their trust in the reader to keep track of the books.

Going back to reading and seasons, I caught myself today rushing to finish a long book before going on a trip so that I could post a review here. Instead of doing the sensible thing and saving it to read whilst sitting around in airports. Oh well, there are more long books where that one came from...

Jul 4, 2019, 3:53pm

My elementary school was an easy block away from my house, so i always walked there reading a book. Also had a bad habit as an adult to start reading something while walking - and one time outside the library tripped over a curb. A lilttle girl, maybe 4 years old came up to me and said 'you shoudl be more careful!', Yeah kid, thanks (at least her mom asked me if I was ok)

Jul 6, 2019, 2:50pm

>84 thorold: We could check out six library books when I was a kid. The problem was that I would finish them in a day and a half and then have to go back and get more. Not a problem so much when the branch library was just six blocks away. However, when it closed, the bookmobile only came by on Fridays, so it was a long wait. Sometimes I just read the books again, or convinced my dad to take me to the main library downtown for more books.

Jul 14, 2019, 12:29pm


"In fact, when I finally shuffle off this mortal coil, you will have to pry a book out of my cold, dead hands." Michael Cart

What will happen to all your books once you have left this world? Have you arranged an organized disposition of them; do you hope to take them with you; is there a plan?

If nothing formal is in place, what do you think will happen to your lovingly acquired books?

What would you like to happen to them?

Thanks to lisapeet for the idea behind this question. Thanks also for the question of whether now that the topic has come up, will you be inspired to "put a plan in place"?

Jul 14, 2019, 3:32pm

I have been giving my books away as I go.

What will happen to the books on my Kindle? Hmmm.

Jul 14, 2019, 4:40pm

I just gave away much from the library of children's books in my classroom to other teachers - I am retired and don't need all of them (tho it honestly broke my heart I know they went to very good homes) I did keep some that are near and dear to me that I cannot part with yet, and suspect I will gift them to others as the opportunitie arise.

I think of my favorite books, and realize that they will not all be favorites of others. I have notes as to which dear friend will get what, which books need to go to the rare book seller, which ones need to be donated to schools. ; all others are up for grabs and I assume will line the bookshelve in our local Goodwills.

Jul 15, 2019, 11:09am

I'm not overly worried about what happens to my books when I'm gone. I know they won't end up in the trash and that's the main thing. We were raised to revere them too much for that.

My siblings would be the ones sorting things and they might argue over my comics (particularly the Donald Duck/Uncle Scrooge collections and Pogo). Otherwise the vast majority would just go to the library book sale, which is fine by me. Hard to say if the nieces or nephews would be interested in much. Obviously they'd be fools not to scrabble over the books since it's an excellent and varied collection, but there's no accounting for taste!

In general I'm not concerned about what happens to any of my possessions. If my teacup collection goes to a niece or nephew, great, if they all go to Goodwill that's okay as well. There are personal papers (journals, letters) I keep in case a niece or nephew is as interested in (or nosy about) that kind of record as I am, but I know that's luck of the draw. My mom kept all her journals even though I think she'd have slightly preferred we burned them all when she died, so you never know when someone keeps an item just for themselves or some future goal.

Jul 15, 2019, 1:19pm

Well, if I got hit by a bus tomorrow, I imagine the books would be donated to somewhere. I don’t imagine my kids or wife wanting many of my books. They all read a bit, but not what I read. My in-laws, meanwhile, have been thoughtfully giving stuff away for years including their collection of books. Many to us. But they’ve kept their favorites. (Honestly, it will be really sad to break up their quirky and lovely collection, mainly dating from the late 1960’s.) If I dodge the bus, I’ll keep their model in mind.

Jul 18, 2019, 10:12am

Like Dan, I imagine my books will be donated somewhere. I might chose a couple of books to be cremated with me. I like the idea of my ashes and some book ashes together contributing to the soil (providing they've removed the titanium from my knee & neck....and any metal bookmarks...LOL )

Jul 18, 2019, 2:51pm

>92 avaland: Not to be an insufferable know it all, but based on recent experience ...

There are strict rules about what you can be cremated with. Ditto what can be placed in a grave with your ashes. I wanted to place my mother's copy of Jane Eyre under her urn, but the sexton would not allow it.

Also, if you are making an organ donation, the body is usually sent directly from the donation center to the crematorium, and there is not time to go get the book.

You can place items in a coffin to be buried at the discretion of the funeral director.

You can, of course, burn a book and scatter the ashes on top of a grave or pour a libation as long as you're discreet. But I opted to keep my mom's copy of Jane Eyre.

Fun fact: In some states, you can designate a couple acres of your property as a family cemetery, which portion of the land is not taxable.

Jul 19, 2019, 5:38am

I suppose the short answer is I don't care what happens to them when I die. However I am already feeling guilty about burdening my wife if she survives me with disposal of my stuff. There are large collections of CD's, Lp's as well as the books. I don't really want to start getting rid of stuff while I am still alive, but I think I will probably have to start at some time - but not quite yet.

It is a problem for us 20th century people. People born in the 21st century will probably have everything digitalised if they are lucky enough to still have a habitable planet when their time is up.

Jul 19, 2019, 6:52am

>93 nohrt4me2: I actually knew most of that :-)

Editado: Jul 19, 2019, 1:07pm

>94 baswood: Having spent six months of my life reaming out my late parents' posessions, I would say listen to your guilty conscience. Your wife may not be in great shape healthwise if you die first, and dumping your stuff on a sick person is a huge burden.

I started digitizing my "can't live without" books on my Kindle and donating the physical ones.

Jul 19, 2019, 12:24pm

A couple of weeks ago, I visited Wallington Hall in Northumberland, which is still crammed with the books acquired by various generations of Trevelyans and Macaulays, most of them historians. Books all over the place, arranged thematically without a thought for appearance, and (we’re told: of course the National Trust doesn’t allow mere mortals to take them off the shelves) full of interesting annotations.

I’ve always had a little dream in the back of my mind that something like that could happen to my library. Even if it’s unlikely that anyone would want to turn my apartment into a museum, maybe the library could be donated in toto to one or other of the places of learning that keep asking me for money...

Totally unrealistic, of course: I’m not a famous Victorian intellectual (contrary to what some of my friends claim), the collection is far too random to be interesting as a whole for anyone except myself, and there’s little in it that has any rarity value. And quite a lot of the books have already been thrown out once by academic libraries, they aren’t likely to want them back.

I think what I’ll really do (in “a few years’ time”, i.e. probably not until too late) is pick out books that really could be interesting for specialists and offer those to relevant organisations or to anyone in the family who shows signs of being interested. The rest can be thinned out as and when I need to move house. Given the state of the secondhand market at the moment, the chaff will most likely end up going in bulk to a charity or a house clearance firm anyway, so I don’t think thinning it out ahead of time will help anyone much, except by creating gaps that will be filled by new books...

Jul 19, 2019, 3:12pm

>92 avaland: Love that idea, which naturally leads to what those books would be: JCO?

Jul 19, 2019, 3:14pm

I have no formal arrangements in place, but I have, on multiple occasions, told my mother, my sister, and my best bookish friend that in the event of my death they should take whatever books they want -- I trust them to cooperate on that -- and sell or donate the rest to anyone that will take them. The local public library in my small town might not be able to take them all -- the space they have for selling donated books is already full to bursting -- but the main branch in the nearest city almost certainly would. They have a huge booksale twice a year and I'm pretty sure they always welcome donations and aren't too picky about what they are. Although transporting them all would be an issue, I grant. Maybe they can thin them out with a yard sale or something first.

The only thing I care about, I've told them, is that the books don't end up in a dumpster somewhere, and if they do, I will come back and haunt them all. (I don't believe in ghosts, but if I have to, I will start doing so just so I can follow through on this threat.) Fortunately, they are all great respecters of books, so I am confident no haunting will be required.

Jul 19, 2019, 4:28pm

>99 bragan: I donated most of my mother's books to prisons (have to be paperbacks) and her.local library Friends group sale.

Jul 20, 2019, 2:32am

I'm still working on a huge backlog of unread books. I have most of my favorites in e-versions, though that doesn't mean I've gotten rid of the paper copies of same; I do have quite a few that I either read and enjoyed enough to get an ebook (and then got rid of the paper copy) or got an ebook (in some form of cheap - Amazon sales etc) of something I had in paper, read the ebook and (mostly) then got rid of the paper. I only need to live another 50+ years to get through my backlog...except I keep getting more...

Answer to the question: No idea, probably donated to the library booksale (from which many of them came) after my family culls through them.

Jul 20, 2019, 5:44am

>98 SassyLassy: Probably Handmaids Tale*, A Bloodsmoor, Romance, an Angela Carter yet to be determined & Middlemarch, maybe some poetry by Jane Kenyon and Carol Duffy.

*Now that I think of it, I might leave HT and chose a lighter Atwood, perhaps The Blind Assassin...LOL

Jul 20, 2019, 7:04am

I hope that many of my family and friends would want to peruse my book collection and choose one or two to keep - most of my family and friends are readers. The rest will be donated to local libraries or schools. I don't keep many TBR books, most of my collection is books that I have read and loved and want to own.

My 96 year old grandma recently passed away. My mom went through her things and brought me the book that was on her nightstand and that she was presumably reading when she died, a large print edition of Anne of Green Gables. I've added it to my shelves and it means a lot to me to have it.

Jul 20, 2019, 10:09am

>103 japaul22: I am glad you kept Gramma's book. My Gramma had a bunch of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells sci fi. Who knew that an old lady who sewed her own aprons and kept chickens and sheep in the upper Midwest spent her evenings dreaming of exploration and adventure?

Jul 20, 2019, 11:36am

Well, I guess I should answer this, since it was my idea. I've been thinking a lot about this since a couple of years ago when I had to clean out my mom's co-op after she went into a nursing home and had to figure out, in a hurry, what to do with her library. It was really weighty process—not in the sense of oppressive, but intensely meditative. And maybe because I had to do it all fast, over a few weekends—we needed to sell the place before her Medicare ran out, because at that point Medicaid would get all her other assets and we'd be stuck paying her mortgage out of pocket—I thought about it hard over a short period of time.

Books and reading were an important part of my mom's and my relationship, and her relationship to reading helped form mine, but I had to separate out my feelings about that from her physical books. Much as I would have loved that literary ideal of merging our libraries, the fact is that I already have a big house full of books—a large number of them not yet read—so any of hers that I took would be more about sentimental value than a plan to read them. And my capacity for sentiment is... waning, I guess, as I grow older and the deaths around me begin to ramp up. Being surrounded by her books would have been lovely, but in practice they would be just so many more things—to move whenever we leave this house, or for someone else to deal with when I die or go to a nursing home. So the thought I finally sat with and was OK with was the same thing I got to when I had to clear out all her art supplies and sketchbooks and paintings from her garage (much of which didn't really appeal to me aesthetically)—these gave her an enormous amount of pleasure, and that was their job. I don't need to be responsible for them after that. I kept a few inscribed books, a few rarities and signed editions, and a few that I just couldn't part with. A handful, really. The rest went to the local Friends of the Library for their book sale. (I wrote an entire essay on this at Bloom, if anyone wants to read it—please don't feel obligated to do so, though. I'm not here for the self promotion.)

So as far as MY books... If I drop dead before my husband—which is doubtful but lord knows anything can happen—I'm pretty sure he won't touch them. Which means either way, whoever goes first, my son will end up having to deal with them. Sorry, kiddo. He's a big reader, though maybe not a bibliophile the way I am... but I can't even guess how he'll feel about my books and everything else down the line. Right now he's in med school and has zero head space for thinking about this kind of thing, so I wouldn't even ask him. But he does know that I don't care what happens to any of my stuff after I'm gone. It can go to the library, to his friends, to my friends, whatever. I don't love the idea of burdening him with it all, but the books are probably the most straightforward of all my stuff. I do think that eventually we/I will want to leave this house, which will mean downsizing, so I'll be forced to deal with some of this then. I don't have the extra energy or bandwidth to do anything about it right now, though, so for that reason and many more I'm hoping for a bunch more good decades.

Jul 21, 2019, 2:13pm

It's a good question, as sometimes I do think about it. The more books I hoard, am I just storing up needless extra pain for my kids at a point in the future when they have to do the inevitable house clear out?

I expect my books would be mostly dumped on a charity bookshop, and I'm OK with that. They've given me a lot of pleasure reading them and looking at them (like most of you, no doubt, I just love seeing lots of books around the house), but I'm not precious about wanting my kids to hold on to them. They may or may not be into reading when they get older, and if they are they'll no doubt have their own book mountains they want to get through. What seems like a really interesting collection to me now will probably feel outdated in years to come, even if it's just that the jackets and editions that start to feel their age, both in terms of quality and style.

Ago 17, 2019, 3:19pm

Although my sisters might keep a few, or reading tastes are different enought that most would go to Goodwill or the library.

My mother was terrific at sorting/getting rid of things before she and my father downsized. I know this is something I need to think about, but I haven't got around to acting yet.

I've been involved with sorting out my cousin's stuff (died with no will on the other side of the country), and I can definitely say clearing out is no fun. The less stuff there is, the easier on your loved ones.

Editado: Ago 19, 2019, 1:22pm

Question 12

I thought I'd throw a question in here while SassyLassy is otherwise occupied. Here is probably is one of the first questions used on the original Questions for the Avid Reader or an early precursor but I always find the answers interesting.

Can you name a book or books which disturbed you in a way that made you think outside your box or question your assumptions....(as opposed to, say, something from the horror genre). Name the book or books and talk about how it affected you.

From the Oxford dictionary: adjective
upsetting or disquieting; dismaying

To get you thinking, I will note that one of the frequent answers back all those years ago was We Need to Talk about Kevin.

Ago 18, 2019, 7:42am

Off the top of my head:

Two books read in the 80s disturbed me profoundly because they touched on the personal. Of these two, Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood was the most powerful and has been re-read many times since then. The other is Inside the Third Reich: Memoirs by Albert Speer. I read this book after watching the movie; I remember being disturbed because I identified with Speer at one point.

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison disturbed me when I first read it.
Lolita put my off Nabokov (except for his literary essays). Both of these books contain violence against young girls, of course. While the Morrison has stayed with me, the Nabokov has not.

The Triumph of the Spider Monkey and Zombie and others by Joyce Carol Oates, the disturbance is less the murders than the exposure to the humanity of the serial killers. I do not shy away from disturbing books and I love JCO because in so many books she intentionally uses disturbance to manipulate the reader.

And yes, the Lionel Shriver book was disturbing and I had many conversations across the bookstore counter with many readers. We needed to talk about Kevin, so to speak.

A interesting and disturbing recent read which has been reviewed by Nickelini and myself, and relates to all of the above, I think:

Evil: The Science Behind Humanity’s Dark side by Julia Shaw

Ago 18, 2019, 9:44am

Hmm. Guess I should be careful to differentiate disturbing from depressing (The Unwinding) or from books that pissed me off (The Making of Donald Trump), or books that just really shocked my awareness (The New Jim Crow)

My head has evolved some resistance to being disturbed, so the book that comes to mind is my high school reading of 1984. At the time I had some sort of cowboy view on life where anyone could find a way to get out of anything. Then I read the later part of this and realized Winston was doomed and there was nothing he could do about it. He really couldn’t answer 2+2.

Ago 18, 2019, 9:55am

>110 dchaikin: Excellent differentiation, Dan. At this point in my life, I avoid those books I think will piss me off.

I wonder if it makes a difference if one picks up a book expecting to be disturbed/shocked? (I wondered why I hadn't listed more nonfiction)

Editado: Ago 18, 2019, 10:04am

Not a book but two stories I have no mouth but I must scream by harlan elison and the sound of thunder by ray bradbury

will second handmaids tale a book I have been unable to reread (and can't watch the show)

>111 avaland: At this point in my life, I avoid those books I think will piss me off.

that has been my mo for quite a while. I get that we should read books to get differing opinions, but Im old enough to have heard them all and would rather read something that will give me some enjoyment

Editado: Ago 18, 2019, 7:55pm

Dorothy Allison's Bastard Out of Carolina. I grew up sheltered from a lot of the world's ills, and although I read widely throughout my teens and 20s about all sorts of hard worlds that didn't match up with mine, this book—which I read when it came out, so in my very late 20s—drove the narrator's reality home in the most visceral way. I remember reading the last few pages and just sobbing out loud. For all my adult reading, this is the text that brought home to me a large piece of what I didn't understand.

I know there are others, but that's the one that comes to mind first and foremost. The Handmaid's Tale was also really disturbing—I haven't watched the show, just read the book many years ago.

I've made it a point to keep reading work that throws me out of my box. Much as I love a good comfort read, I also feel like it's in my best interest to stay compassionate, aware, and unsettled, because that's how the world goes (side by side with being full of wonder and beauty).

Interestingly, We Need to Talk About Kevin left me a little high and dry—and I had a high schooler when I read it. It always felt a bit like a thought exercise to me, and never really hit me where i lived.

Editado: Ago 18, 2019, 12:25pm

Oh - Grapes of Wrath I was 11, 12. Like lisa's book it was my first experience with how others really lived. One day I came to dinner surely cross and started cry when my dad scolded me. He asked me why I was crying, when I told him the name of the book, He had me bring it to him, he put it up on a shelf and promised we'd read the rest of it together. And we did. My dad was a great reader and while I'd often go with him to booksales and stores, after that he started handing me books, and we'd talk.

Been a Stienbeck fan ever since. A while back, I think on Readerville, we had a thread devoted to his work and managed to go through most of them. Rereading it as an adult was enjoyable; I know I misssed a ton when I was younger, but could see lots of places that had shocked me to the core.

Ago 18, 2019, 1:00pm

The first book I can remember really disturbing me was Im Westen nichts neues (All quiet on the Western Front) - up to that point I'd grown up with a smug childish sense that the problems of the world solved themselves as soon as socially-concerned novelists like Dickens, Anna Sewell and Sinclair Lewis took the trouble to write about them, but something clicked for me at that moment and I wasn't able to detach myself from the horrors that were happening to Remarque's characters. I don't know what it was specifically about that book (I didn't have the same sort of reaction to Goodbye to all that, for instance) - maybe just the fact that I read it in German made it trigger a different set of synapses...

Editado: Ago 18, 2019, 3:59pm

Nuala O'Faolin's My Dream of You. I have a complicated and largely antagonistic view of my mother's Irish-American relatives, but the novel forced me to better understand certain aspects of Irish history and immigration.

Editado: Ago 18, 2019, 6:07pm

>115 thorold: he wrote two more, sequels, first one was the road back about their journey back home which I liked and Three Comrades which I didn't finish.

Ago 18, 2019, 7:14pm

L'etranger by Albert Camus. This was a book that I read as a young man and I could identify with Mersault the outsider or the stranger and was angered by the ending which seems to be saying that he was the victim. When I re-read it a few years ago i discovered that it was much more sinister than I had first thought. Mersault is a man who finally understands that living a life is an absurd situation. We all know that we are going to die it is just a question of when and so if like Mersault you commit a crime (an unprovoked murder in this case) it is just another of the absurd events in living your life. You accept the situation and then you are free.

I find the ideas in this short novel profoundly disturbing and find myself thinking about it from time to time.

Editado: Ago 23, 2019, 4:06am

crime and punishment by dostoyevsky, I feel much as Isaiah Berlin did about it, maybe as I was not strong enough in reading it . . . Or maybe when I say strong I mean was not with faith enough and followed it too much, as it is such faith that gives strength I feel. Now I wonder suddenly if Dostoyevsky then could assume more faith to face such? Now it makes me wonder, having clarified getting lost so well, made it part of our lives so much, choose your route, assorted hate (not to mention that you may face due to any number of ways of being) — it makes me wonder if more than ever we need to show the stories of crimes avoided, faith found. I was surprised the final part was so short when I read it, maybe as the error was so obvious? Maybe what is right needs fewer words. But we seem to need it spelled out all the more now, in nuance and understanding, not judgement and hard lines of unforgiveness — I don’t mean the punishment so much, though see what Tolstoy meant on that, but in part, but more as to start with needing to show alternatives to the crime, options to be true without that, maybe, reasons and ways to find faith (maybe just in ourselves and each other) and avert horror, deny the certainties of fear with which we are often bound.

Ago 19, 2019, 1:37pm

Such interesting answers!

Ago 21, 2019, 3:59pm

I know I've come across books that have changed my worldview - made me suddenly realize something I thought was a given wasn't for a lot of people. But because they _changed_ my worldview, I now can't remember what changed - what I was thinking before - so can't remember what books they were.

Ago 21, 2019, 4:36pm

>121 jjmcgaffey: Sounds like the plot of a science fiction novel, LOL.

Ago 30, 2019, 9:51am

>108 avaland: Thanks avaland.

Thinking about your question, I would say The Merchants of Grain and Diet for a Small Planet, which made me think about food resources in a completely new way, and in a different sphere, The Wretched of the Earth and Shake Hands with the Devil. While fiction can be incredibly illustrative and moving, nonfiction in your sense of disturbing is often more powerful for me.

Editado: Ago 30, 2019, 9:59am

Mary Cassatt Women Reading c1900, from the Hirschl and Adler Galleries, New York, as seen in Women Readers in French Painting 1870-1890


It's Labour Day week-end. As the school year starts, it's the an introduction to reading for many children. One of the best predictors of reading success is having people in your world who read - seeing people engaged in reading and finding enjoyment in it.

Looking back, did you have such people in your world? If so, how did it shape your ideas on reading?

Ago 30, 2019, 10:32am

>124 SassyLassy: My mother read to us from the time we were babies. Her advice to us was “you will never be lonely if you have a good book to read”. And for her, coming to the U.S. from Ireland as a young war bride, I’m sure that sentiment was necessary. We lived in a very rural area, and she didn’t drive. I’m sure it must have been very lonely for her. We had a small library that we could walk to, and I’m pretty sure she must have read everything she could get her hands on. And her encouragement meant that we all learned to read at an early age.

Ago 30, 2019, 12:28pm

I definitely come from a reading family. Both my parents have been big readers from childhood and didn't budge on that when they had kids. My dad also started working in libraries either when I was a baby or just before I was born. If we had a day off school that both my parents worked we went to the library with my dad all day. I always liked reading, but 8 hours/day in a library for all of spring break is a little much.

After I learned to read I mostly wanted to read comics (I had specifically been waiting eagerly to be able to read Asterix myself). My parents always read chapter books to us, both before bed and during the day, and that was an ideal method of consumption to me. Only during the summer and on trips everyone would be sitting around with a novel which served as peer pressure for me to start reading them as well around age 8. I still love my comics though.

On the other hand, I find it interesting that my parents didn't recommend books to me very much. If I asked they would, but the specific recommendations were pretty few and far between. They saw I was reading plenty, so just didn't get involved. My mom only started recommending more after I got sick and had to stop working.

Editado: Ago 31, 2019, 11:08am

(Hoping ahead of time I don’t go too long here)

If my parents influenced my reading, I don’t really know in what way. I never saw them read and I don’t think my dad actually read (or reads) much of anything not related to the task at hand. My mother would read some novels and I would notice books scattered around the house, often Jewish authors. So I wonder what influenced me. Two things come to mind. First, my sister. She wasn’t a big reader, but she read some would always talk about what was going on in school and she loved some of her literature teachers and would talk about what they were reading and discussing for class. I relished this, sort of unconsciously. Four years later I would have some of these same teachers and answers questions based off my sisters stories instead of from what the teacher was telling us. The second is that I somehow grew up with a sort of Jewish mythology that Jews were scholars, or should be. I really embraced The Chosen - the movie. I think as a kid I had some annoyance related to this and my not reading, that I wanted, in a way, to be some kind of scholar, but whenever I tried reading a book, I got bored. Eventually later in high school I did start reading for fun. I’ll credit those teachers (especially my 10th grade teacher, a Mrs. Richardson). The the real answer to this question is mostly mysterious to me.

Editado: Ago 30, 2019, 3:23pm

I remember my gramma reading fairy tales and my acting them out as young as age 3. My mother told relatives I liked books, so I got a lot of them. She read them to me, but I also "read" them to my brother using the pictures as prompts.

Local and school librarians probably had the most impact on my reading choices until high school. Then it was my 12th grade English teacher.

I don't know that anyone ever encouraged me to read; in fact, I was often chided for reading too much. But reading was always my drug of choice, and it still is.

Ago 31, 2019, 2:10am

I was extraordinarily lucky in that respect - I grew up in a house overflowing with books, my parents were both teachers and passionate readers, and when they weren’t reading to us or trying to find us something to read to keep us quiet for 5 minutes, there was my German grandmother who would read us Heidi, Erich Kästner and Wilhelm Busch, and my father’s great aunt, a teacher who had qualified sometime before 1914(!), who would read us selections from Longfellow, Tennyson and Scott. (And probably Mrs Hemans as well, but I can’t swear to that...)

It was probably a knife-edge chance whether I would grow up to be an obsessive reader or a lifelong book-hater, after all that. Anything in between was clearly impossible...

Ago 31, 2019, 3:11am

I grew up in a reading household - I've never lived any place that didn't have large numbers of books around. My parents read to me (or told me stories - many made up on the spot, my dad's a storyteller) from when I was very small, and when they were too busy I was quickly reading to myself. I definitely remember being given Dick and Jane books to read when I first went to school and finding them incredibly boring next to the Little Golden Books and Serendipity books I was reading at home. The vocabulary wasn't much larger, but the stories were a lot better. I enjoyed reading, so I was given books and bought books and collected them - when I was 9, I owned (myself, not my parents) over a thousand books. I was the most bookish in the family - Jenny Nose-in-a-book - but we all read (past and present tense).

Ago 31, 2019, 6:28am

"The rentrée littéraire is a practice adopted by French publishers, characterised by a large number of new book releases (all styles and genres mixed together) and takes place every year between late August and early November. The majority of literary accolades are also awarded during this period.

Publishers print more books than the market can physically handle to create visual impact, filling bookshop shelves and ensuring good end of year sales. Every rentrée littéraire is defined by this sense of overproduction. During the 2014 rentrée littéraire, 607 books were released. Most works are only sold for a few weeks and half of these titles are left unsold, later recycled into shipping boxes.

Every year, the rentrée littéraire is the chance to discover new French authors. So why not take the time to peruse around a bookshop or two!"

The rentrée in France really feels like its a time for books.
I came from a poor working class family where people reading was the exception rather than the rule. My mum did read novels and so there were books around the house, my dad only read the newspaper. My education at a large comprehensive school which had a good library kindled my interest in reading and fortunately once hooked I have never stopped reading.

Editado: Set 4, 2019, 6:18am

>124 SassyLassy: Like Barry above, I came from a working class family—a reasonably large one. My father read the newspaper religiously each evening and when he had a little time (not often) he read books. I'm glad he did because he had a stockpile of Kenneth Roberts historical novels, WWII fiction, Reader's Digest Condensed books, and other odds and ends tucked into a little alcove behind the chimney. We were quite far from the town library and my mother didn't drive so in the summers I read: all of the books belonging to my two older brothers (I especially liked the Tom Swift series) and any gifts and/or handmedowns I got...(which included one old set of the Golden Book Encyclopedia that I read cover to cover). When I was 12 I read every adult book in the house including a 1950s era medical encyclopedia (whoa, the part on marital "relations" was racy!) and The Dirty Dozen (so much swearing!...or was that The Guns of Navarone?) . The only abridged book I can remember from all those RD Condensed books was one called Intern by Doctor X (definitely some racey content in there but I don't now remember what it was!). I'm pretty sure my parents were not monitoring what I was doing or reading (I was quiet and not bothering them).

My mother read some as a child and adolescent as I have her copy of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and several other books. I do not think she was a reader, per se. Growing up, I saw her flip through the occasional magazine but that's about it. To be honest, she didn't get all that much time to sit down. However, she volunteered to catalog all the donated books for the new elementary school's library (the "library" a back wall of the kindergarten classroom), so I went along to help, but I also read every book on that wall (I really had an insatiable appetite).

Books provided a window to a much bigger world, but also allowed me a certain measure of time "alone" for an introvert in a congested household.

Set 1, 2019, 2:09pm

My mother read to us as children, and took us to the library every Saturday. I don't remember she and my dad reading to themselves for fun much, but they were working and managing a farm and a household with 4 kids:)

I'm told my mom thought I had memorized the kids books we had at home beacuse I would read them to myself, and then discovered I was reading when I went to kindergarten & read to my classmates before school started. Been reading ever since.

Set 1, 2019, 2:45pm

As others noted, I came from a working class family. I saw my dad read the newspaper and some magazines, and my mom read magazines too. After my dad retired, he read books voraciously, and always had boxes full of paperbacks in his car to take to the library exchange box.

I grew up in a household full of books. My parents read aloud to us daily, and some of the books were loved so much they fell apart. We also had a magazine rack full of comics, also falling apart and taped back together. We received books for gifts and special treats, and had subscriptions to kids magazines and then teen mags. Our local branch library was within walking distance, and we checked out books there weekly. After it closed, the bookmobile took its place and my dad took us there every Friday after school. I still own some of the books I had as a kid and that my dad gave to me.

Does anyone else remember those Arrow and Tab book clubs from Scholastic? My mom gave us money and we bought books from them. The kids in our classroom could hardly wait to see the teacher walk into the room with that Scholastic box! Yippee!!

Set 1, 2019, 3:37pm

( >124 SassyLassy: Great question, terrific answers)

Set 3, 2019, 11:12am

>134 LadyoftheLodge: Re comic books--I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the influence MAD Magazine had on my literary tastes. It was 30 cents (CHEAP!) back then.

Set 4, 2019, 12:49pm

I don't remember being read to as a kid, but I used to get into bed beside my mum on a weekend morning and read out loud to her while she was trying to get an extra few minutes sleep. Looking back I'm sure she was delighted...

Neither of my parents were (or are today) book readers, and my sisters aren't big book readers either. To be fair my parents worked very hard so there probably wasn't much time for books. My Dad has always enjoyed reading the newspaper, and my mum prefers magazines. I do remember my parents being very encouraging of my love of books, and there were always plenty of new titles in the house for me to get through.

Set 6, 2019, 8:44am

>124 SassyLassy: Yes, my mother was (and still is) quite a reader. She read to me a lot before I started reading for myself, kept books in the house, bought books for me (often at flea markets and yard sales when I was very young and money was tight), and took us on regular trips to the library. And, of course, often had her own nose buried in a book. (My sister and I quickly learned that that was a great time to ask for for things, because she'd often reply with a distracted "uh-huh," which we could take as permission. Of course, she'd then get annoyed afterward.)

Mind you, she may have well come to believe she created a monster, as it was difficult throughout my childhood to ever get me to put my book down and do anything else.

My dad, on the other hand, never read very much, although he did eventually develop something of a taste for Stephen King.

Editado: Set 6, 2019, 12:02pm

>124 SassyLassy: - my mum read and reads popular novels mainly and crime, some biography - she was good at reading aloud. Her mum likewise, in fact I found her wonderful at reading to me. My Dad read papers and lost of magazines for work (medicine) but also novels (less as I got older - he loved Tolstoy and Hardy, but think he'd mainly read them before me), but he also read science and history and non fiction.

I was very much encouraged to read -- and then my being good at it was taken for granted, I think - in some ways as a boy i was steered from certain things (at the moment I'm reading The Secret Garden which I was definitely stopped from reading (as it was "for girls" and in fact I was enthused precisely by how the girls at school loved it)). As I got older i was definitely encouraged to go out and do things, not read. Partly the times interfered too -- all my friends saw Dickens say as dull, and I now wish i had read him, but it was also a sense of the future, suddenly there were computers, and somehow a lot was seen as old fashioned that I wish i had read now, and much that might have been avoided would have been. Science fiction was a stop gap. I wasted so much time reading-wise.

Set 6, 2019, 3:13pm

As I'm relatively new to the group, I just found this thread. Here are my answers:

Question 8: What do you read besides fiction?
These days I read about half fiction and half histories/memoirs. I don't read nearly enough poetry.

Question 9: Do you keep lists of books to be read?
I keep a list for about a third of my reading. What I mean is, I alternate between 1) going out and buying a new book to read; 2) reading a book that's already in my house; and 3) reading from a (relatively) short TBR list. These are the next books in series I'm in the midst of, books I've been given as gifts and books I've purchased and decided to read sooner (goes on this list) rather than later (goes into the general population on my bookshelves). Thereby, a third of the books I read come from that list.

Question 10: Does weather affect your reading?
I read more in the winter because I spend more time outdoors. Nothing particularly relevatory there!

Question 11: What will happen to my books when I'm gone?
Well, I'm hoping my wife will still be on hand to read them. Or she can do what she wants with them. But, I guess the answer to the question is, I have no specific plan at this time.

Question 12: Can you name a book or books which disturbed you in a way that made you think outside your box or question your assumptions.
Offhand, I book that comes to mind is Geek Love, because it was the strongest description of pure evil I can recall in a novel, and because the source of that evil was still able to attract unrestricted love from an otherwise insightful person.

Question 13: Did you have people in your life who read to you?
Oh, yes. My mother read to me several times a week, at least, when I was little. Dr. Seuss was a highlight. Also, sometimes I'd ask her if we could look at the dictionary. I liked the words that had those little drawings next to them. So I developed a love for storytelling and language, but also a love for the words themselves.

OK, I think that catches me up!

Editado: Set 7, 2019, 10:10am

Books, reading, and education were a big deal in our house when I was growing up. My parents were very much of their time and place—New York borough–born, middle-class, first- and second-generation Jews for whom those three things were given enormous weight as a path of upward mobility and just plain enlightenment. They were very much the People of the Book types you mention in >127 dchaikin:, and bought into that wholesale. My father went to Brooklyn College and eventually grad school at Yale and Columbia and became a career professor of anthropology, and my mom met him at Columbia when she went back to finish her degree after her first kids were in school.

I have hazy memories of my dad sitting on the floor with me teaching me to read when I was four or so, and they both always encouraged me to read widely and over my head—none of the many books in our house were off-limits to me. My dad, especially, would give me books when I was younger and want to talk about them—some educational (but interesting) like History Begins at Sumer, but also lots of great kids' classics and poetry starting early (thank you, parents!). I was never lacking for books. And there were also lots of journalism- and criticism-heavy periodicals around the house, the New Yorker and New York Review of Books and the NY Times Book Review, so I grew up reading those as well, and I know that's the reason I'm a good writer now. Later in life, in my teens and after, my mom was a great source of books, and was constantly giving me something to read or recommending something.

I know how privileged I was—both for having that start in my reading life and for living in a milieu where my friends read as well. I went to good schools and while I received a pretty crappy education, all things considered, I did have a whole reading cohort that modeled that kind of thing for me for life, so I've always been drawn to fellow curious readers and always been able to surround myself with them.

And of course I did the same for my kid—all of the above—and he turned out to be a reader who enjoys the act for the fun of it (maybe not just now, because he's in med school and all he reads is class material, but he always has enjoyed reading and I'm sure will again).

Set 8, 2019, 10:54am

>138 bragan: I agree with the "created a monster" thing. My mom had trouble getting me to "get my nose out of the book" and do other stuff. She drew that line at me reading at the dinner table. I tried to sneak an open book on my lap, but that did not work.

Set 11, 2019, 12:26pm

>142 LadyoftheLodge: Isn’t that how we all learnt the art of reading the list of ingredients on the jam jars/sauce bottles/cereal packets? Or at breakfast reading our fathers’ newspapers upside-down...

Set 12, 2019, 8:08am

>139 tonikat: I wonder if it is right to say I was stopped from reading The Secret Garden. I was definitely discouraged from it, and it’s interaction with my awareness of taboo and me led me to let myself be discouraged. But do I remember for sure such discouragement even directly, maybe, but indirectly yes amidst lots of other nudges that way,
Mistress Mary has just met the Robin and Mr Weatherstaff, and how I wish I’d had such healing confirmed back then. Not altogether absent but hidden in some ways.

Set 12, 2019, 8:46am

>139 tonikat: >144 tonikat: I think peer pressure counts for a lot too. I read all kinds of rubbish in childhood that I’m sure I only came across because it was what “the boys in the class” were reading. And I sometimes had trouble persuading my sister to lend me her books...

Set 12, 2019, 10:20am

Set 13, 2019, 4:09pm

Love the answers to Question 13 and the photo. Will follow up later on the idea of gender and children's books. In the meantime, here is a question from karspeak, following up on children's reading. It arose from a discussion about what books to select for a middle schooler when school isn't enough of a stimulus.

image on Pinterest from Barnes and Noble


Thinking back on the classics canon when you were a child, which books would you still select to prepare a child for higher education?

Are there books once recommended for children you feel have not stood up over the years? Which would you drop?

Would you replace classics with "...more contemporary works, with more readable language, which focus on current issues—global climate change, refugee crises, etc."?

And a heartfelt plea: "...there are so many books to choose from, how does one choose?!

Set 13, 2019, 6:14pm

I never chose books for my kid to prepare him for higher education. I chose books I thought he might like, and then showed him how to use the library to find his own books.

Frankly, discussing the books--literary elements, theme, plot, character development, historical context--seemed more important than which books.

Required reading: I loved Alice in Wonderland and Lord of the Flies. I despised The Scarlet Letter and Great Expectations.

On my own: I remember being a big fan of Lois Lenski and Edward Eager in grade school, the Boxcar Children, the Borrowers, and boys adventure books like My Side of the Mountain. I

They still hold up for me, but whether they speak to kids now, no idea.

Set 13, 2019, 8:45pm

I'm not sure I was ever aware of a "classics canon" when I was a kid. Partly because I grew up overseas and moving from place to place, school to school every few years; partly because I never thought much of the books the school offered me, I was always reading something more interesting (and better written, usually!) that my parents gave me or I found myself. I remember a few of the required reading books, mostly with disgust. Heh - of the four nohrt4me2 mentions, I have still never read Lord of the Flies, I believe I read The Scarlet Letter but I remember _nothing_ about it. I enjoyed both Alice in Wonderland (and sequels) and Great Expectations, though I've only reread Alice. And I utterly hated Tess of the D'Urbervilles - that was in high school, I think, not middle school, but I wouldn't recommend it for _anyone_.

I loved Tom Swift (Jr) and Rick Brant, but on rereading as an adult find them repetitive and corny - and stupid, in the same way kids in Saturday morning cartoons are stupid (they're always splitting the party, for instance). Which doesn't make them bad for kids, maybe, I can't judge - especially since it greatly depends on the kid.

I also agree that talking about the books, both before (I think you'll like this, what are you looking for in a book) and after (what did you think of that, did you notice the themes in it, historical context, etc) is at least as important as the books themselves. Especially since thinking about what makes a book good or bad is the best lead to deciding which book(s) to read next, and what sort of books you (the individual, in this case the middle schooler) actually likes and enjoys reading and derives benefit from. Whether the benefit is just a pleasant time, or actually learning something, or...I don't know, being safely scared - again, that's up to the kid what they want.

Set 14, 2019, 1:15am

Maybe another transatlantic shift in terms, but I understand “higher education” as university-level, and by the time someone is preparing for that, they are no longer a child and should be well beyond the stage of parents choosing books for them. Unless we’re in John Stuart Mill territory, reading Plato, Xenophon and Herodotus before the age of eight.

As to “children’s classics” - that’s another tricky one, since the canon there seems to differ a lot from one country to another, and books seem to achieve “classic” status in less than a generation. I suppose the canon is defined by teachers and librarians, not parents, who stopped reading new children’s books far too long ago.

As an adult helping a child to pick books, I’m sure you have an obligation not to limit them to what you liked yourself, and to exercise a bit of (hindsight) judgment in steering them away from the more rubbishy side of what you enjoyed. But they’re always going to end up reading a lot of rubbish as well as the good stuff, and it probably won’t do them any harm. What matters is that they should be open to trying different kinds of books with different contexts and messages, not constantly buried in one safe groove. And, as >149 jjmcgaffey: says, talk about what they are reading, with you or with their friends.

I don’t think it’s helpful to say “I hated Lord of the flies” - or loved it - because someone one or two generations younger than you is going to come to it with a whole different range of feelings and expectations. But it’s fair enough to warn the child about to read it that it was written by someone who didn’t know the first thing about optics...

If I were actually asked to recommend books for a young person about to go off to college, then I suppose Porterhouse Blue, Decline and Fall, and The history man would give them a realistic idea of what to expect ;-)

Set 16, 2019, 1:05pm

>142 LadyoftheLodge: Yes, mine drew the line at dinner-table reading, too, especially if we were eating out in a restaurant, but that didn't keep me from bringing my book with me and casting longing looks at it as I ate. (I now go to restaurants all the time and eat by myself while reading, so take that, mom!)

She also threatened to punish me for something once by taking away my library card. I was aghast. :)

Set 16, 2019, 1:21pm

>147 SassyLassy: The more I think about it, the more I'm not sure I would recommend books for a kid, classic or otherwise, even if I might frequently have the impulse to do so if I had some kids around to foist them on.

Based on my own experience as a kid, it seems to me best to just let them read whatever they want to read. Nothing turned me off a book more effectively than being told I had to read it, and I'm quite sure some irreparable damage was done to my ability to appreciate certain things at all that way. I think even having books recommended to me by adults immediately made me kind of suspicious of them.

On the other hand, I'm not sure I had any irreparable damage done by reading older stuff that doesn't hold up.

Set 17, 2019, 2:50pm

>148 nohrt4me2: Joyce Carol Oates loved Alice in Wonderland also :-)

I also was not aware of any canon of children's lit. I read whatever I could find or whatever I was assigned in school to read. I read Jane Eyre first as a Classics Comic and Little Women abridged in one of those editions similar to Donna Parker and Annette Funicello series books (some will know what I mean).

Of course, I was aware of classic children's lit when my children were young, but I let them read whatever they wanted, which included some classics. But, more often than not, they included fairy tales, robot books (thanks to Asimov), and fantasies.

Editado: Set 17, 2019, 3:51pm

My take on Question 14:

Given that the question refers to preparing a child for higher education, I take it we are referring to books to be read in high school or maybe going back as far as junior high (or middle school). Just thinking back to the "classics" that made strong positive impressions on me throughout grades, say 6 through 12, I would say that Treasure Island, Johnny Tremain, A Wrinkle in Time (maybe more grammar school), Catcher in the Rye, The Sun Also Rises (you need a good teacher for that one), Fahrenheit 451 and/or the Martian Chronicles, To Kill a Mockingbird, Huck Finn and The Chosen are books from the classics shelf that come to mind quickly and that I would recommend to students to read.

I think it would be a fine idea to mix in more contemporary works, certainly. Working in books with particularly immediate themes (climate change, etc.) I think would be best accomplished with curricula that integrate course studies such as tandem teaching between literature and social studies courses, for example.

Looking back over my list, I see that it's mostly male and white, author-wise. I Know Why the Caged Bird sings comes to mind as a work that would fit in well with a high school curriculum. I read My Antonia in junior high but it didn't move me. I think that was too early for that book. I've never read Alcott. Generally speaking, I would say my list needs to be improved in the diversity department.

Set 17, 2019, 9:57pm

I think preparing kids for higher education isn't necessarily so much about the actual reading material as it is about learning to read and discuss critically, which can happen at any age. Hopefully they're getting it in class, but any child of someone who reads can have conversations at home, even if they're not formal (probably better if they're not, actually). I always tried to get hold of the reading list for my son's classes and read along with it at least a bit, and we could have some dinner table conversation about what he was reading—not literary theory or anything, but more along the lines of "Could you relate to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn even though the heroine was a girl, and do you think the writer was thinking about boys reading the book too?" or "Do you think To Kill a Mockingbird would be thought of as a racist book if someone wrote it now?" Just chatty questions to get him thinking about the idea that there was a hand, and decisions, behind the storytelling. I'm not even sure I had information literacy as part of my master plan so much as I just really liked having someone else to talk about books with.

I tossed as many interesting books his way as I could—a lot mentioned here (yes to Johnny Tremain and The Chosen)—also The Phantom Tollbooth when he was a bit younger and and Ender's Game, Tobias Wolff's This Boy's Life, and J.G. Ballard's Empire of the Sun when he was in middle school. Those are the ones that come to mind right away—there were plenty more.

Set 17, 2019, 10:09pm

>155 lisapeet: I am thrilled that A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is being read. Read it for the first time several years ago. Wonderful story.

Editado: Set 17, 2019, 10:16pm

>156 nohrt4me2: Well, this is probably 20 years ago... but yeah, I was also happy to see it on the class reading. I'm pretty sure he liked it too.

Set 17, 2019, 10:22pm

no one ever directed me, except in HS and College with their lists of course but iwen to the library so much I probaby read what was on the list....I did discover dysutopian literature, as well as more sci fi/fan. Oh and I became a fan of Vonnegut aftr reading Cats Cradle,

>155 lisapeet: s it is about learning to read and discuss critically,

Yes yes yes! Everyone should do this with their kids early; your questions are good; keep them open ended nd refer to your child's own experiences. (as long as they allow other opinions and dont get arrogant and bratty about their pet theories! geesh....

oh and btw if you are running a book club, and you pull out the publishers guide for a book and assign questions, in 5 minutes I'll be late for the door, if you know what I mean! Im not sure I'd even use some of them with kids!

Editado: Set 18, 2019, 10:49am

Great answers.

In a way my temptation to list books is a reflection of my prejudices in seeing this and of my experience and regret I guess in a way.

But yes, read critically, think critically and nowadays be prepared for the situations that is not responded to at the same level of honest engagement (especially in reference to liberal arts, humanities) -- but the tactics and expectations of jobs, of sellers, of complaints processes -- in some of which, I find, sounding like you get the whole development of culture thing can actually make you problematic (and I often think some sectors of society are intent on demonstrating the destruction of / irrelevance of such values). Too cynical? -- but then i have had a doctor assure me a long time ago that my arts degree was a "ten a penny" thing, and, well, of course it is best not to go into those details. So an understanding of the practical articulation of the best things you learn with power and modern life. It may be a bit late saying this in socio-political current circumstances, or learning it.

Encourage them to read freely - follow their hearts and interests -- flag up areas of neglect, including fundamental works to how we all got here. And yes daring to let them learn stories in abridgements if they wish but also that it is ok to read the real thing. Open to how their style may be different to our own, let them develop their own. Let them do other things, obviously - they may not want to read for all sorts of reasons, let it be there open, but approach the things needed in other ways -- talking, presentations, movies, tv, radio, games, sport, art, doing art, museums, music, galleries, countryside, time on their own not having to do all this - or anything, towns, travel -- all as resources allow and always distinguishing love from fear, allowing appreciation of that - even if unspoken. Writing, if they want, and however.

Higher education also means university to me -- i suppose that may mean different emphases, someone doing science my wish to have focus in their own time on arts awareness? They may not, but of course I feel it may help. Vice versa too. Having gone to a very academic school and also having had other experience at the end of that the whole university thing may come with a range of experience from high flyers that are already defining their reading and engaging very fully to those with more limited experience and confidence. either way I think it helps to challenge assumptions, especially of areas of interest and help engage -- there were definitely people I met at uni who were not very engaged with reading, including of their own subject. In a way are we not asking what may prepare children for adulthood - and nothing can except to prepare to meet challenge and build awareness of works that help. (edit - and open hearted inclusivity and connection to society)

You all know these things, its me working through, fighting a wish to list books and also understading my own journey.

For me poetry is huge as a way to learn - I always loved it but did not develop it as I wish as someone with a bent for it. Mad. There's all sorts of poetry. Some people raise their eyes at the idea -- fine for them, but I'd suggest it has been fundamental across many societies since the year dot that very much of their deepest wisdom was passed on poetically, often orally. i think that i could have lost my way with it, given I love it as do and have some ability with it, is symptomatic of our times and our own losing track -- and so sharing that in some way, what it is that is often invisible in the day but that poetry is one way to touch, letting people know it is there, and in many forms and maybe a broad view of what it is, what it touches and how it is relevant to them in their way, I think gives people options in our current way of life, and compensations. Could be songs or music or just the way they like things, even if that is to definitely say they hate poetry.

Biographies too (and auto). history -- and learning how despite all that wisdom we keep messing up, and maybe deliberately not allowing ourselves not to repeat the mistakes, how maybe there are some that benefit from that -- and maybe one day we'll get a bit better at a world being in line with its best, for everyone.

Novels, yeah.

Books, hell yeah. Books!

whatever helps them discover and follow their hearts and interest -- and at the same time gives perspective and considerations to balance and not trap in one dimensional views -- and a lot of that has to come from approach.

So, hey, now I don't feel like listing my personal list. Hope this is not a rant and it is a first essay, so please don't pull it apart too much. But oh, yes that is just it, allowing for a healthy view of the provisionality of just about everything we 'know', but how the Golden Rule is so called for very good reason, but allowing to bathe in the wonders of what they find helps them, and through that may help their others too.

Open also to how the very best thing may be to be able to sit alone quietly in a room, or by a stream, or on a bus, but in the moment. Books or no books.

Set 18, 2019, 4:00pm

Q14 - having one kid in middle school and another just out of it, now a high school freshman, I can confidently say I have no idea. Before that experience I would have had many ideas. At the moment I’m fascinated whenever they read (and they do). My daughter, the Freshman, will read Into the Wild, the Iliad and the Odyssey this year for class. I almost hugged the teacher when he showed me the assigned books.

Set 18, 2019, 5:06pm

>159 tonikat: that's what comes of thinking you might as well get up when you wake at 5.30 and write -- just inventing the wheel for myself -- and no, not a parent.

Set 19, 2019, 1:25pm


I think like many others have said there's little point in dragging a horse to water when it comes to books. Yes, I'd love if my kids naturally selected all the 'important' books as their own reading material, and I still sadly try to 'encourage' every now and again by planting a classic in their Christmas stockings, but I think the best way to create natural readers is to let them find their own genres and authors.

My kids are at the late primary / early secondary (high) school stage, so I'm delighted to see my eldest being introduced to a bit of Shakespeare, etc. I definitely see a difference from when I was at school in that secondary schools now seem to offer more contemporary books than we read. Kids do seem to pick up much more modern authors to read in this generation, whereas my generation was still reading books that were several decades old, so I think there is more of a disconnect in terms of the breadth of literacy language they are exposed to. Perhaps there is therefore more of a need of 'bridging' contemporary books.

I'm not sure I'd get rid of any, but when I've gone back and read some classics with my kids I've been surprised at how challenging some of the wording is. It makes me wonder whether I fully understood them when I read them as a kid or not.

Set 19, 2019, 3:57pm

>160 dchaikin: Wow! They have certainly grown up since you have been on LT!

Set 19, 2019, 6:03pm

Lois - so true. It all goes so fast

Set 27, 2019, 1:27pm

Recently I was away from home and took along Waverley to read. When I arrived at the cottage, I realized that much as I love the novels of Walter Scott, this particular place did not feel like the place for his books. I wound up reading completely different books. This lead me to wonder:


We all know that certain books need to be read at a certain time. Do books also have their own kind of atmosphere or locale, in which they should be read? For example, could you read the journals of Robert Scott, Robert Falcon Scott Journals, Captain Scott's Last Expedition on a beach?

Editado: Set 27, 2019, 10:18pm

I tend to get so immersed, I don't care where I am. Because I am not there, I am in the book. As long as people shut up and leave me alone, I can read anywhere for hours and hours except on vehicles that give me motion sickness. I prefer to read in bed. Any bed, pretty much.

Set 27, 2019, 5:16pm


Well, obviously, Scott Fitzgerald has to be read in suitably opulent surroundings, and Scott Adams is at his best photocopied and taped to a cubicle wall. But I don’t know if it would be possible to read the poet Richard Scott whilst cruising the backstreets of Soho late at night... :-)

In real life, I’ve found that it’s often more interesting to read books linked to a particular place in anticipation of going there, or afterwards whilst you’re still processing what you’ve seen.

Over-literal choice of reading to match the setting can even backfire: there’s every chance it makes you focus on the unpleasant contemporary things that weren’t in the book and shatters a few illusions, not to mention the risk that you make yourself look like the most superficial kind of tourist if someone spots you with your Penguin Jane Eyre in Haworth or Death in Venice on the Rialto. For travel reading, I normally only pick books with local associations if I didn’t know about them before going there. I’d no idea before visiting Volterra some years ago that DH Lawrence had written a travel book about Etruscan places (and I might not have found it very interesting if I had known...) but it was really fun to read it on the spot with a sense of discovery.

As you say, mood matters, but it’s not very easy to work out how: sometimes it feels right to be reading a book that reflects where you are and what you’re doing, and sometimes you want the opposite. Rather than the area you’re in, it probably makes more difference whom you’re with, how tired you are from what you’ve been doing, when it gets dark, and all those other trivial things. Sometimes you have long tranquil afternoons in the garden to read long tranquil 19th century novels, sometimes you just have the odd moment to yourself to leaf through a poetry collection or read a couple of chapters of a crime story.

Set 27, 2019, 5:41pm

Q15: For me...sometimes, each way. As thorold says, sometimes being in a place where a book is set enriches it (I read To The Hilt while driving over the Downs, and it was wonderful to see for real what the book was telling me about), and sometimes just distracts. I have read winter adventures while sweating through a heat wave, and summer/tropical ones while shivering and piling the blankets high - generally, the effect is to make me look up now and then and realize with faint puzzlement that I'm not experiencing the same things as the characters. Same thing if I read a book about starving right after a good meal, or one about feasting while waiting to eat.

I've actually experienced the opposite effect - I read Trustee from the Toolroom for the first time in a New England B&B, and now the feel of that place and the feel of the book are entwined for me. I've reread it several times, in my West Coast home, and I still feel like I'm in New England when I'm not paying attention - as much or more than I feel I'm in the Pacific islands (or any other of the various settings of that book).

Set 28, 2019, 10:11pm

It doesn't make a whole lot of difference to me where/when I read something. Like nohrt4me2, I'm immersed and far away from the physical world. I do like to read books about cold places in the heat of the summer and books about hot places in the dead of winter, but that's more whimsy than any desire to raise or lower my body temperature. I travel a fair amount for work and always think I should probably read something set in my destination before I go, or on the plane/train, but it almost never works out that way. One memorable exception: I read Jane Alison's Nine Island, which is set in Miami, shortly before going there and it was fun to walk around the area where the novel took place and have that overlay in my head.

That would actually be a fun thread, where you could ask for book suggestions based on where you're going or what you're doing. For instance, in November I'm going to Charleston for the first time—what would be a good book to accompany me or set my mental stage?

Set 29, 2019, 1:43am

>169 lisapeet: There is a long-standing but not very active LT group for exactly that purpose -

Needless to say, no-one’s done Charleston. It looks as though the most popular books set there are mysteries by Laura Childs. Several people have urged me to read Harlan Greene, but I didn’t like the one of his books I tried - my comment at the time was “John Boy Walton writing in the style of Andrew Holleran”.

Set 29, 2019, 8:25am

>170 thorold: Cool, Mark, thanks! I see a quiet thread like that and always want to bump it up. And too bad about the Harlan Greene, though if you hadn't said you didn't like it I probably would have jumped on a mashup of John Boy Walton and Andrew Holleran. Well... maybe.

Set 29, 2019, 4:04pm

>171 lisapeet: Pat Conroy comes to mind as a Charleston author. I’m not a big fan, but some LTers definitely are. I did enjoy The Water is Wide, his account of the year he spent on a remote island off the South Carolina coast, teaching school.

Set 29, 2019, 4:22pm

>172 karspeak: Hmm, good to know—thanks! Although I hated Prince of Tides so much I'm not sure if I want to go there (and to be really fair, what I hated above everything was the movie—the book doesn't even come close, loathesomenesswise).

Set 29, 2019, 6:50pm

>170 thorold: Easier to find than books set in Charleston, West Virginia at least!

I really don't have any need or drive to read books in specific settings, and I don't feel any sense of displacement when I make what others consider strange choices. My parents used to read The Long Winter to us during particularly hot summers, and claimed this cooled them down, but I've never had that work for me. While I'm reading, I'm reading, and though in fiction I might get deeply attached to characters, I don't live in the book to that extent (barring reading Asterix comics when I was a kid, perhaps!).

Set 30, 2019, 2:59pm

>153 avaland: I still have some of my Donna Parker and Annette Funicello books!! (Q14) Sorry, I have been traveling so am behind on the discussions. Another comment--When I taught public middle school kids, the librarian at our school was adamant that the kids not read Sweet Valley High books, which she considered junk, but the kids who had them passed them around to others. A few years later, she relented and purchased some for the school library just to get the kids reading. Same idea with Garfield cartoon books. I had some in my study hall room and they were loved and read so much they fell apart, and the kids would read the parts.

Out 1, 2019, 1:30pm

Q15 hmm. Wondering where to go with that question. Looking as answers above, I agree with Mark there is a mood aspect that is stronger than local, and like Lisa I like to read about places I’m going - gives a simple purpose and gives me a lot to think about once I’m there. I’m less good about reading about where I just was (or am - since I’m generally busy while there). But as for reading in a proper setting - I have tried to teach myself to make do with any setting when possible. So, I tend to bury that and instead think about things like - if I want to take notes, I need a table. Practical stuff instead of atmosphere, or instead of specific atmosphere for the book at hand.

Out 2, 2019, 11:56am

I don't generally try, or need, to match my reading to my location. As others have said, once I enter into a book, I go to that place, wherever it is and wherever I am. One thing I do like to do is bring books home from vacations that are evocative of the the vacation locales and histories. So then, when I read those books, I'm taken back to those vacations.

Editado: Out 3, 2019, 6:11pm

I always find it odd and interesting when people say they like to read books about or set in the places they're traveling to while they're there, because I find myself sort of instinctively recoiling from that idea. It seems... too much somehow. What I like to do, instead, is to buy books about the place I'm visiting -- usually about its history -- while I'm there, and then read them later while looking back on my travels.

(Or, in other words, kind of what rocketjk just said. :))

Out 4, 2019, 12:05am

>177 rocketjk: >178 bragan: Yes, bringing back books from a good trip is excellent. Especially if there's an interesting story behind them.

Which would be another good topic for this thread, yes? A favorite book souvenir story.

Out 4, 2019, 10:26am

yes, it would, I have one or two

I have read books for trips that I take, but like others, I travel in the book; I usually don't choose a book based on destination.

Out 9, 2019, 10:45am

I don't usually pick books based on destination either. When I am traveling, I try to read something fun, that does not require a lot of deep thought. Especially true when flying, which I dislike but is a necessary evil. Sometimes I buy books about the places I visit or set in the places I have traveled to. We love Key West, so I enjoy reading books set in that location, such as Turtle in Paradise.

Out 11, 2019, 6:28am

I travel a fair bit for work, mainly within the EU, and in the past I used to try to read something from somewhere that I was going to visit; it wasn’t so much to find out about it, more a way of reminding myself to read from different countries (and I always made sure never to be seen on the plane or in my destination reading one of these ‘local’ books, as that just seemed a bit corny). I don’t do it any more, because I’m no longer organised enough, but I do miss it - again, not the ‘preparation’ for visiting somewhere, but the fact that it was a pretty effective way of getting geographical variety into my reading.

Out 11, 2019, 10:23am

>179 lisapeet: >180 cindydavid4: Thanks for the suggestion. It will appear.

For now, however

Drowning from Obsession by Thomas Wightman


How do you feel about the use of books to create other objects or images? Does it bother you for instance to see botanical prints from the nineteenth century torn out of books and made into framed pictures? How about cutting books up, as in the image above; stacking books to made lamps... you get the picture.

in other words, does an older book have an intrinsic value in itself, to be preserved, or does its use in other forms preserve something which may otherwise have been destined for a scrap pile?

Out 11, 2019, 11:20am

Interesting question. Since digitization, I think the idea of books and manuscripts as artifacts has changed.

Books with important marginalia, rare copies, and the like should be preserved. I'd also like to see used books in good shape go to prison or school libraries, or libraries in needy areas. I have some physical books I keep for personal reasons that I wouldn't cut up.

But recycling old books into art or pulp, not a problem for me.

Out 11, 2019, 11:39am

>184 nohrt4me2: Pretty much exactly the same story for me. When I owned a used bookstore, sometimes people would buy books and then "confess" to me that they were planning to cut the books up for collages or other art/school projects. I always just laughed and said "Hey, once you buy it, it's yours to do whatever you want with." People thought I would be offended. Unless the particular copy was of some specific value, I'm fine with "book art" and I don't like to fetishize books as objects.

Sometimes people would bring in boxes of books, hoping for store credit or sometimes even just to donate, but the books would be so damaged--torn up, water curled, moldy--that I couldn't even put them in the dollar rack. People would say, "Well, I hate to throw books away. What should I do with these?" My little joke (well I thought was funny) was to say, "The technical term in the book business for books like these is 'recycling.'" I felt that if people were so concerned with having the kind of respect for books that would keep them from wanting to throw them out, maybe they would have enough respect not to crack the spines or leave them in the attic for 30 years to mold. Anyway, there are enough copies of The Gemini Contenders on the planet. It's OK to recycle one once in a while. :)

Out 11, 2019, 3:04pm

>184 nohrt4me2: >185 rocketjk: Yes, if you’ve ever had to deal with other people’s old paperbacks in bulk, you have to get a bit less fetishistic about the sacredness of the printed word. Especially if it’s been printed on behalf of Dan Brown or (insert bestseller of about ten years ago here).

On the other hand, cutting out and selling illustrations is a menace, as it makes some very interesting topographic or scientific books almost impossible to find complete (until the book is worth almost as much as the set of prints...). But it’s been going on for so long that there’s not much you can do about it.

I’m not a fan of Instagram book art — once you’ve made lovely things like the one in >183 SassyLassy: and taken the perfect photograph of them, they’re not likely to be much use to you, so you probably stick them in the general waste and they don’t get recycled properly. Not to mention all the kids who are thereby inspired to take a scalpel to grandma’s Folio Society editions and make a mess of it.

BTW - the artist in >183 SassyLassy: has surely missed a trick by carving up Angel pavement, pretty much a landlocked book as far as I can remember. Edgar Allan Poe would have been more to the point.

Out 11, 2019, 3:09pm

>186 thorold: " . . . by carving up Angel pavement . . . "

I didn't even notice what book it was. I read Angel Pavement a long time ago and really enjoyed it, not that that really adds anything to the conversation at hand. Squirrel!

Out 11, 2019, 3:19pm

>187 rocketjk: “Mr Pelumpton” on the side of the ship is a bit of a giveaway!

Out 11, 2019, 3:21pm

>16 cindydavid4: I'm one of those who objects to book art - I can squeeze myself by my objections if it's something that's either useless or ubiquitous (the 20-40 year old encyclopedia, yet another Dan Brown...), but my instinct at seeing something like that, however beautiful, is to wince. (I did try, briefly, to read the words and identify the book, but didn't recognize it. And yeah, for that artwork, it needed to be a seagoing book - preferably one about obsession, so Moby Dick!).

I help with our library booksale, including breakdown - the unsold books theoretically go to Goodwill or equivalent, but given the way they're handled (literally dumped into one of those huge boxes on a pallet), I suspect they mostly just get recycled. And this is very sad but there's nothing that can be done about it so I keep helping.

And there is no excuse for the framed prints taken from a book - unless the book was already destroyed and they saved those pages (unlikely). I can think of dozens of ways of getting those prints without destroying the book, all of which include either someone thinking about this at the very beginning of the book's life and making extra prints, or modern scanning and printing techniques (so really not helpful for most cases). But the amazing books destroyed for decoration's sake - ugh. It's as bad as taxidermy and trophy rooms.

Editado: Out 11, 2019, 5:52pm

>188 thorold: Well, I did say I read that book a long time ago. The character names are gone entirely from my memory bank. Oddly, though, I do remember exactly where I bought that book. Back in the late 1980s, early 1990s, the area around Valencia Street and 16th Street in San Francisco's Mission District was a sort of a bookshop row, with several very good stores within a block or so of that intersection. One such was a heavenly institution called Maelstrom Books. The back room of Maelstrom was filled by overflowing shelves of old hardcovers, with the area whimsically labeled "Unpopular Fiction." It was off of one of those shelves that I bought my copy of Angel Pavement for, evidently (I just looked), $1.50, according to the penciled in price on the inside cover. Maelstrom Books is long gone, as are most of the bookstores of that particular oasis. But I do still have my copy of the 13th printing of the 1930 Harper and Brothers edition of Angel Pavement which, to make a pathetic attempt to bring this back around to the topic at hand, I have not cut up to create an artistic, intriguingly layered, tactilely fascinating, retro-beguiling collage melding early 20th century sensibilities into an ironically hip portrayal of 21st century longing and loss. In fact, I've not even been tempted.

Out 12, 2019, 2:14am

Maybe I'm being paranoid, but it occurred to me a few minutes ago that my smart ass remarks at the end of my last post might be construed as a negative comment regarding the artwork SassyLassy posted above. Just to be clear, I was just goofing around, and I very much enjoy that work of art.

Out 12, 2019, 5:09am

I am currently sitting in my village library, but spending a bit of time on LT as it is very quiet this morning. We happen to have an ornament made of books turned into birds. I can't help but wince... We have few books in the library, and even less space, so some books are regularly given away, especially old ones or ones that are never borrowed, but I hate that and can't help think those books would be better off on the shelves. You never know, someone might, one day, want to read them and enjoy them.
I am tempted to artificially borrow all the books from the library so that they won't be thrown away, but it might not be in line with the librayrian ethics.
Sorry, my post is a bit off-topic, but those "book-birds" are a heartache each time I come here...

Editado: Out 12, 2019, 11:40am

I love book art, as long as it's not made from a rare book or plates from a book of fine reproductions—I used to profile book artists quite a bit on my old lit blog. Printed matter isn't inherently precious in itself—you could argue that one of the purposes of mass reproduction is to allow readers to interpret the concept of "use" in whatever way they want (cf. copyright law's First Sale Doctrine, 17 U.S.C. § 109, which holds that an individual purchasing an individual work from a copyright holder receives the right to sell, display or otherwise dispose of that particular copy, italics the Dept. of Justice's). I think of book art as a lot like quilting, giving something a second, often more vibrant and enduring, life.

For those who aren't averse to the idea, there are some cool examples here.

This touches a bit on weeding in libraries, which is super necessary to make room for books that are current, in demand, and hold up-to-date information. It freaks people right out, especially when a library does a mass weed. There's a really predictable cycle to library news when someone discovers that their local library has discarded a bunch of books—a practice that any good library will undertake regularly—and alerts the press, resulting in a lot of public fuss. Which is why current weeding practice suggests collection development librarians do it frequently, to avoid the dumpsters-full-of-books red flag. So not to discount anyone's gut reaction, but I feel like making art from discarded books is actually a cool way to repurpose them, maybe especially in a library.

Oh, one more cool book art thing while I'm thinking about it—almost ten years ago, but a great (in my eyes) example of repurposing (in this case, a locker full of white supremacist books donated to artists to have their way with and turned into a traveling display): Fine Art Of Book Destruction On Display At Library.

Editado: Out 12, 2019, 12:04pm

"... a locker full of white supremacist books donated to artists to have their way with"

Oh, boy. Censorship and destruction is OK as long as they're of ideas WE don't like.

Honestly, I want to know what those a-holes are doing and thinking, just as I am happy to have businesses fly Confederate flags so I can avoid shopping there.

I think there are certain books that MUST always be available in a public library: A copy of the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Federalist Papers, state constitutions, the Bible, the Quran, the Book of Mormon, "Das Kapital," " Mein Kampf," "Huckleberry Finn," etc. We are not a free society unless we have access to works that have shaped the world, for good or ill.

Public libraries have no business "donating" books to artists who will make a mockery of the ideas within them, awful as they might be. It smacks of state-sponsored censorship.

Editado: Out 12, 2019, 11:52am

>194 nohrt4me2: Well of course, but if you read the article you'll see that's not the case here. The library was one of several display spaces, not the donor. A former "Church of the Creator" member sold the books to the Montana Human Rights Network (who simultaneously made intact copies available to libraries and other cultural organizations for just the reason you mention):

The Montana Human Rights Network was now faced with the thorny question of how to dispose of the books and still come out smelling like a rose. They feared if they pulped or burned the books outright they would appear to be violating the church’s freedom of speech. The Network instead opted to send boxed sets of all 13 titles to Holocaust museums, human rights groups, law enforcement organizations, and academic libraries. But this still left them with thousands of books. A member of the Network contacted Helena-area artist Tim Holmes about creating an art exhibit with the books to provoke discussion about racism, anti-Semitism, and intolerance. Holmes contacted the Holter Musuem of Art, and, by January 2008, 60 artworks created from the white supremacist books were displayed in the first showing of what became Speaking Volumes: Transforming Hate.

Out 12, 2019, 12:04pm

>195 lisapeet: Well, that's all right then. I should do more than just lookit the pitchers. Thanks for clarifying.

Out 12, 2019, 9:54pm

>189 jjmcgaffey: For most of my life I felt like you. In my religion books are almost sacred; If we dropped a prayer book we picked it up and kissed it. When it was no longer usable, it was buried by a rabbi. Obviously this isn't done with other books but it made me look at books more than just books. They were objects, but there were also my memories, my past, my journey when I look at the ones on my shelves. I love being surrounded by books, have them in every room. But over the years I've purged shelves, and either donated or recycled books. I have seen some amazing art work done with books so I am not so concerned if the books are not ones someone wants. (here is a link to some really cool examples of unusual shelves using books )

I totally agree with you about books destroyed for decoration sake, books with rare maps and beautiful prints is a travesty (esp if its done to library books, whether local ones or at places like the Library of Congress. Those are usually taken to sell and unfortunately there are many buyers.

Yes older books do have intrincic value. They are part of our collective history and culture and should be saved. I collect chidrens illustrated books (from 1890-1929) and cringe at the thought of anyone cutting them up. . I know where my collection will go to, in the hopes they will go to people who appreciate them.

Out 13, 2019, 12:55am

Of course, there’s also the famous Joe Orton/Kenneth Halliwell case: they went to jail for their satirical book-art project. How things change...

Out 13, 2019, 9:45am

>198 thorold: OK, since 9 a.m., I have had a pleasant exchange with a friend about the feminism of Bette Davis, someone sent me links to Ben Whishaw reading "Dulce at decorum est" and a video of performance artists doing tableaux of Carravaggio's paintings, and now Orton and Halliwell.

And it's only 9:45. I don't think this day could get better.

Out 13, 2019, 9:57am

>199 nohrt4me2: Just wait until you’ve seen the weather forecast...

Out 13, 2019, 11:06am

Out 13, 2019, 1:19pm

A friend wanted me to take her to the next book swop in the village and I thought great, didn't know she was a reader. When we got there she said she was looking for the largest/fattest books possible preferably with hard covers. OK I said, what sort of books interest you? Oh I don't care she said I have recently got into book art, I cut them up and turndown pages. I was horrified at first, but thought - well a book swop is usually a place where people dump books, but I still felt a little uneasy about it.

Out 17, 2019, 12:02pm

I'm not sure I have any deep convictions about book art. Some of it is very cool, and there is surely a glut of old books from the last 50 years out there. But, that said, some of 19th century books (& older) are lovely art in themselves.

I do love my books and I am attached to many of them for a number of reasons, but I am far more discriminating about that now. More recently, I have found that sharing the books I read with people I know is often as pleasant as having them on a nearby shelf.

I have thrown away my old Scholastic juvenile titles from the early 60s (they were yellow and falling apart). Have I ever cut up a book? NO! (unless you count making Readers Digest magazines into Christmas trees -- surely, that is where all the book art originates from, don't you think?)

Out 22, 2019, 11:08am

>183 SassyLassy: It bothers me on an irrational, visceral level. I don't want to push the comparison too far, but it's almost a bit like looking at pictures of dead bodies, maybe.

I try not to express this much, because I know it's irrational, and people who make art out of books aren't generally doing anything remotely morally wrong, and there are good arguments for not turning physical books into items of worship or fetishization or whatever. And I've gotten better at not wincing too much. But the gut reaction is the gut reaction.

Nov 5, 2019, 6:32pm

As suggested above by lisapeet and cindydavis4

The image doesn't really relate other than it shows some of the many odd spots those great book finds can be made.

Image from a Sotheby's catalogue for their Travel, Atlases, Maps and Natural History auction featuring "remarkable works from the golden age of Dutch cartography".


with apologies to Baroness Orczy

We seek them here, we seek them there,
We readers seek them everywhere!
It is in heaven? Is it in hell?
Where is that damn elusive book we yell.

Readers find books just about anywhere. Some of the best finds are when we are not really expecting that title in that place, some are perfect for whatever place we find ourselves.

What is your own favourite book acquisition story?

Nov 5, 2019, 7:21pm

>205 SassyLassy: OK, my favorite book acquisition story.

Back in the 90s, there was a book that had recently come out that I really wanted, because I loved both of the co-authors. But I was a poor college student, and even as the kind of person who would rather buy books than food, I couldn't justify shelling out the cover price for a hardback.

Then a friend of mine took me to the giant $5-for-a-bag-of-books library sale an hour away in the nearest good-sized city. Because, hey, even I could justify spending $5! Needless to say, I had a fine old time grabbing all kinds of old paperbacks and things and stuffing them into my grocery bag. And as all that grabbing went on and space on the tables was freed up, library volunteers were bringing out more books and putting them down wherever there was room.

And as I stood there in front of some random table, like some sort of beautiful bibliophile's miracle, a hand reached out and set down the very book I had been so wistfully longing for, directly in front of me.

And that is how I got my copy of Good Omens. A novel that features a bibliophile miracle-worker. I dunno, maybe I should be thanking him. :)

Nov 5, 2019, 7:55pm

Oh what a great find! A Bookstar Bookstore just opened near us (early 90)and walked in like Id died and gone to heaven. A history section? A really extensive sci fi/fan section? Dungeon and Dragon game nights?....before leaving the store I looked at the new books and that one caught my eye. I cracked up reading the synopsis, and after all this time I reread it and still crack up. It was my first experience with anything by Pratchett or Gaiman, and certainly wasn't my last (I was able to get both of them to sign that first edition when they appeared in town, several years apart!

BTW the recent series is pretty darn good!

Editado: Nov 5, 2019, 8:00pm

I may have told this story, but one of my fav reads as a child was Little Women, read it a hundred times, as well as other Alcott books.When I went off to college mom decided to do some cleaning and I found she gave away all my old childrens books because I wouldnt be wanting to read them again.....Fast forward a few decades my DH and I were in the Boston area, and had to go to Cambridge and Had to go to the Alcott home. While there we spied a 1887 special edition of LW on sale in their shop. Oh I wanted it, and it was the most I'd ever spend on a book, and just couldn't do it. Fast forward a few months later, my DH hands me my annniversary present - the book I wanted! Was ready to kill him for spending so much money but huggedd him instead!

Nov 5, 2019, 8:10pm

>207 cindydavid4: The TV series was great! And, as I am no longer a starving college student, I currently have it wending its way to me on Blu-Ray, just so I can watch the extras. I really like not being a starving college student.

Nov 5, 2019, 8:13pm

>208 cindydavid4: I'm impressed if you managed to remain on speaking terms with your mother after that!

Editado: Nov 5, 2019, 10:45pm

by that time in my life, I kinda shrugged my shoulders....I know she loved me; but we were just so different, like oil and water. Wasn't until her last few years that we got at all close and Im glad for that.

agree about loving not being a starving student, or a starving newlywed. I collect children's illustrated books from the early 20th century and before. Its been nice to be able to get what I want. Tho i do eed to watch that since I am a Retiree and don't want to be a starving one!

Editado: Nov 13, 2019, 8:43am

Q17 — Finding books is much less of an adventure than it used to be. Pre internet, especially when I was young and naive, just about every trip to a secondhand bookshop involved some exciting discovery of a book I didn’t know existed. These days that only happens very occasionally. Most of the time, I know about it (e.g. from LT) before I go out to look for it, and if I really want it I’ve got it on order, or at least on an alert on ABE Books...

I think my favourite (silliest) book-finding story is from when I was living in York in the 80s. By any sane standards, York is something of a secondhand book paradise, but for some reason I used to get the train to Leeds from time to time and do the bookshops there. One Saturday I found a rather decayed Complete Works of Thackeray in the basement of a bookshop there. Thackeray was then (probably still is) very out of fashion, but I’d got interested in him through reading a couple of biographies, and wanted to go beyond the two or three well-known novels. I asked the bookseller what he wanted for it — he looked at me as if I wasn’t quite right in the head, then said I could have it for twenty pounds. Being a thrifty postgrad, I haggled a bit, and we ended up at ten pounds, with a free cardboard box and some cord thrown in, provided I took it away with me there and then. Which I did, and I managed to get it back to the station, onto the train, and then home from the station at the other end (a good half hour’s walk). The twenty-six volumes weigh in at about 15kg, so I’ve no idea how I managed to carry it all that way (but I’m sure I was too mean to get a taxi). I’m surprised I didn’t injure myself...

But I did go on to read most of it, with some pleasure, even if it did leave a trail of decayed bits of binding whenever you took one of the volumes off the shelf. And I’ve still got it sitting on an upper shelf.

Editado: Nov 13, 2019, 8:37pm

Hee, similar story - I loved Sharon Kay Penmans books about Wales and England during the Plantagenet era, and she mentioned that she used Thomas Costain Plantagenet series Pagent of England in her research. Got it at the library, and once I finished volume one knew I had to finish all four; very well done history. So my DH and I were in London perusing the bookstores on Charing Cross Rd. One of them had all four volumes of the book and I had to have them. At that time most of our traveling was by train and bus. I remember him having to load the books on his suitcase cart and for the rest of the trip lugged them from place to place. We ended up shipping them home. When we got home, we unpacked and he started looking at the books and cracked up - they were published in New York, not london so we could have gotten them here! He;s never let me forget that, making sure when I buy a book that it is what I think it is. Still, very glad to have them, and him

Editado: Nov 13, 2019, 9:46pm

Mine’s a theft. I’ve told it before here though. I was in a long line selling my textbooks back to the university bookstore freshmen year. Waiting there, inching along, I picked up a book with a curious cover and started reading it. It was a long painfully slow line and I got really into this odd book on a medieval monastery and it’s library. Eventually I got the front and they offered me so little for my books it was hardly worth my time in line. I stomped out and it was some time before I realized I still had the book I had been reading and not paid for. I called it even, kept the book, never sold my textbooks again. The book was The Name of the Rose.

Nov 14, 2019, 3:30am

I had others but can't remember, but one happened two weeks ago.

I was with a friend here in Tokyo and we went to a neighborhood called Jimbocho which is famous for its curry restaurants, bookshops and sports shops. We went there to get some mountaineering gear for myself but it happened to be that at the time they were having their used book festival. The bookshops in Jimbocho are all used book stores but not in the sense of finding a copy of Lord of the Flies at a discount. More like rare books that are hundreds of years old, made of parchment, or indexes from the 1920s about the current tax system.

However, new hiking clothing in hand, we were walking back to the station when I noticed a shelf sitting outside that said 2 books for 100 yen, basically 50 American cents for a book! Impossible to pass up such a wonderful deal we stopped to peruse the shelves. I found nothing for myself that I hadn't already read but I passed on a lot of recommendations to my friend. We go inside to pay when we find ourselves entering an adult video shop. Walls of bare-breasted, legs spread open, naked ladies all around us as we paid 4 dollars for 8 books.

Why an adult video store also happened to be selling used books I'm not sure as to why but we got a great deal!

Editado: Nov 14, 2019, 3:42am

>213 cindydavid4: Ah yes, the old “coals to Newcastle” trick... Been there, done that. Many times! It’s especially easy to get caught out on sites like ABE if you forget to check where the seller is shipping from before pressing the Order button. I have so many books that have crossed the Atlantic twice.

Nov 16, 2019, 8:37pm

>212 thorold: I also have a similar story. I went to a used bookstore in Elkhart, Indiana (probably around 1980), and found a complete set of Dickens, decent binding but a little worn. I got so excited, I bought the set for about $20 and that included the box to carry them to my car. I still have the set.

Nov 17, 2019, 8:24am

I tend to just acquire books in a boring way! I did find a first edition (in good condition) of The Grapes of Wrath in a Habitat Humanity ReStore for $1, which felt very exciting. Though it had a large first printing, so it's probably not so much!

Nov 17, 2019, 11:40am

I kept one book after my mother died: her copy of Jane Eyre. It was a discard from her high school library, I think picked up by her brother at a fund-raiser. It was very likely the copy she first read in the 1940s. My mother and I had a difficult relationship, but we both lived that book. So it makes me happy to have it to remember what we had in common.

Nov 20, 2019, 11:28am

image from the roxbury arts group website


Many of us on LT may have writing requirements at work, many of us write for our own personal satisfaction, some of us have even had the thrill of being published.

Whether you write currently or not, if you could write whatever you wanted, and had a generous publisher when it came to paper quality, illustrations, maps, photographs, diagrams, basically whatever you could dream of, what would you write?

Editado: Nov 20, 2019, 12:17pm

I do write, poetry and some essays and reviews. At the moment I have a bit more time to, but also have a lot of practical things to do, like get a new job.

So, I thought of your generous publisher and thought what they could be generous with might be time and some security. But then that may not be key, though it feels like it may be space to seek. What I thought I might like from them is belief - not misplaced. And in a way that might be to be loved, in many of its forms, even just respected.

And that is what I'd like to write, in whatever form - love. To show it, its paths and knots - and to show it feeling through (in the moment, dance in it) and maybe a bit Hitchcock-like show the absurd found in deafness to it whilst it abounds. Show maybe my own absurdity and that redemptions are possible. As in all that I'd have to work more on having it close, in feeling it, making it, without being kidded the way the world does all the time that it is a distraction from real life. As if. It's where we're at all the time, even when we cut ourselves off from it or cut others off, and always making mistakes in it, and not recognising other songs of it.

If we did that, whatever we write, it will shine through to someone.

(Today I will be especially sounding like someone in that adult education class in Good Will Hunting) (Vince? Vinnie?)

poetry, memoir (to make sense), prose fictions, screenplay/s

Nov 20, 2019, 12:25pm


The only fit and proper way to take advantage of such impossibly ideal writing conditions would be a project in the spirit of Borges’s Pierre Menard. Perhaps to spend a few years writing new versions, identical in every way with the original, of “Lord Emsworth and the Girl Friend”, which is the only work of English fiction(*) of a standing worthy to be compared to Don Quixote.

(*) OK, if anyone says “Mrs Dalloway”, I won’t fight them...


I’m a recovering poet (in the same sense as “recovering alcoholic” — you never entirely get over it), so the main danger if I were let loose with the freedom to publish anything would be a poetry collection. But I’ve also toyed with the idea of a travel book, or an epistolary novel based on my time as a complaints-handler (although professional discretion would probably put the lid on that — I wouldn’t want to find myself making fun of our actual clients, some of whom were differently-sane in very odd ways).

Nov 20, 2019, 1:20pm

>221 tonikat: like your answer, Kat.

I think I have too many insecurities to answer this question. Anyway, it would be deeply personal, that alternate reality where I actually write. Perhaps non-autobiographical personal essays of some sort.

Nov 20, 2019, 3:03pm

I actually have a manuscript that I have never tried to get published. It is a collection of humorous short essays about my time in grad school when I was getting my MLS and was always the oldest student in class, and also the only one who already had a Ph.D. Think Old in Art School. I would love to get out that manuscript and edit it and publish it, but I bet it would have a limited readership.

Nov 20, 2019, 9:34pm

I've been telling myself stories, fantasy and SF about a cross-time family, for literally decades. I doubt I will ever write them for anyone else to read, because I'm rotten at beginnings and worse at endings - all my stories start in media res, usually with someone calling out someone's name and they turn around and then the story starts (or someone wakes up - but the name-calling is more common). And they dribble off - nothing ever ends, there's always a bit more to be said, so the story goes on until I get distracted and start another.

Which is to say, if someone offered me money for these stories, they probably still wouldn't get written.

Nov 20, 2019, 9:53pm

I wrote poems and stories from the time I could hold a pencil, until I enrolled in a creative writing class as a freshman and realized it was all nothing special I really lost my confidence, tho since the internet I've discovered I can write posts or blogs with more ease. As much as I love to read fiction, I don't see me writing anything, even for myself.

Nov 21, 2019, 12:52am

I would write my critical theory that all literature is, essentially, gossip about the neighbors.

Nov 21, 2019, 2:45am

>220 SassyLassy:

I have never had dreams of being a writer despite every once in a while being hit with really good novel ideas (usually based on my own life). However, I have dabbled with the idea of translating and my fantasy always involves a publisher allowing me to choose the books I want to translate and gives me all the time in the world to do it (so I can keep my day job) and of course I am always given priority rights from the author, whom I also become great collaborators with. Obviously.

Nov 22, 2019, 2:28am

>228 lilisin: You wrote my mind, lilisin!

I've wrote short stories when I was a teen, as most of the teens, I guess. But I don't picture myself writting a book that would be worth publishing, I am probably not creative enough and that partly explains why I like reading fiction so much.

But translating, yes! That would be a dream come true. Starting with some children or teen books I think. Unfortunately, my understanding of languages is probably too empirical to be a good translator.
So, if I was offered the opportunity, I would need a lot of time, and a good training!

Nov 22, 2019, 4:34pm

I'm a (sometimes frustrated) poet, but don't particularly feel the need to publish. Sometimes I toy with writing a boarding school set YA novel, since I went to boarding school and it's a different kind of high school experience. Not really with any purpose in mind, just sometimes get an urge.

The dream publication would combine photography and poetry, I think, with interesting cut out windows in pages preceding the work that put a different spin on the pieces.

Editado: Nov 22, 2019, 5:23pm

I kept a diary of an overland trip on a motorcycle to India and back that I made in 1975/6. The trip lasted 18 months and I had the intention of writing a book when it was done. However I still have the box full of notes and have never really known what to do with them. Under the monicker of baswood I have had a few reviews published in a collection called A Fabulous Opera made by a group on Librarything:

As to what I would like to write - well of course it is reviews because it is what I do write, but can't think who would want to read them. They are best left shared on Librarything.

I used also to be a keen black and white photographer and back in the early 1970's I might have dreamt of having my photographs published, but when digital photography came on the scene I just lost interest.

Nov 24, 2019, 1:24pm

I think, in this dream scenario, I'm just legally getting paid for writing fan fiction with no plot. (Hey, I know what my limitations are.)

Editado: Dez 21, 2019, 8:10am

>223 dchaikin: ty Dan, just saw that

>222 thorold: i think there is a way i have to get over being a 'poet' just to be me, and see what happens writing-wise, i sometimes think i see something similar in others. For me this is in part due to general disbelief and humour at me in lots of others, leading to frustration and uncharacteristic self assertion in claiming what i do at times, together with other factors, like having doctor once tell me my arts degree, indeed all arts degrees, was a 'ten-a-penny' thing and that i needed to be taught how to think. My writing was not encouraged and I think some arts type knowledge/thinking is seen by some as dangerous.

and i think for us all, go for it with creativity, it gives so much to ourselves and others.

Dez 21, 2019, 3:20pm

1596 map of Newfoundland


In keeping with the generosity in Question 18 above, given an unlimited budget, as a holiday gift to yourself, what three documents would you like to have most? You needn't limit yourself to books; there are maps, musical scores, ephemera, letters and more, even counterfeits.

Dez 22, 2019, 11:41pm

oh my goodness - I am not sure where to begin.....

Dez 23, 2019, 1:17am


This is difficult. A few years ago I’d have come up with a list very easily, and it would just have been a matter of deleting the last 497 items to reduce it to the specified number. But the older I get, the less I seem to be interested in possessing things. I was reading last week about Alma Mahler escaping across Europe with the manuscript of Bruckner’s 3rd symphony in her luggage and it struck me how I’d hate to have that kind of responsibility. If some unique and irreplaceable item like that landed in my lap, I think my first instinct would be to donate it to a museum or library where it could be kept safe and scholars would have access to it.

Trying to suspend that thought and answer the question in the spirit it was asked in:
- a map like the one in the picture, but of somewhere warmer and with an “X” to mark the location of the treasure
- the manuscript of a previously unknown work by Franz Schubert
- the passport of a country of my choice, whichever one doesn’t seem to be indulging in a crazy act of political self-destruction this week

Editado: Dez 26, 2019, 7:18am

>236 thorold: before you tried to suspend your thoughts, I was on a parallel wavelength.

What can one do with only three documents? Perhaps one is a library card? Perhaps a second gets me into the Vatican library...or, as I just discovered, Lambeth Palace library in London? But I’ll need to learn a bunch of languages in odd faded handwritings to make use of all that. Anyway, a complete works of Nabokov would keep me busy for a year, maybe longer. I’ll take that - in some user-friendly form, please

Editado: Dez 27, 2019, 8:46am

>234 SassyLassy: - feels like a question from The Thousand and one nights that will backfire whichever syllables i utter to show me my truth.

i did think of complete works of Sappho from the Library of Alexandria (translated of course, for me), or the dead sea scrolls that went up in smoke, the missing parts of Parmenides or any of empedocles and others, but I'm not sure. Maybe a sort of ring of Gyges update that might show that part of my personality that will click with folk, or show it in them so i can connect, but hide me from anyone else, sort of passport /visa to communion with souls (a document, I get it) -- it would have to go wrong though, maybe as then you stop actually seeking as you're given it and gradually you sink into a sea of sleepers? have to in part to hide from all those that get you now? or a double process, you have to hide but your wits have gone anyway so it is taken from you too, you seized the grail wrong, again -- so, better, something that gives you power to help those you understand, but without harm, service.

Or maybe just a blank page and time and access to whatever writing I need, and time?

Dez 27, 2019, 9:41am

After the post by >238 tonikat: this is going to sound prosaic, but I want a first-class cruise ticket from Detroit to Quebec City to Greenland to Reykjavik; a diploma for a PhD in paleography (and all knowledge thereunto magically planted in my head); and an address for Tom Waits so I can send him my fan letter.

Dez 27, 2019, 10:46am

>238 tonikat: Liked your idea of Sapphos from Library of Alexandria, but I'd trade that for an actual library card to go back in time and visit, to see what else I might desire even more.....Or a hidden Gnostic gospel that will tell us the truth, whatever that may be!

Dez 27, 2019, 1:15pm

I would like to have my maternal grandmother's complete letters. I have a fair few that she wrote when they lived in Egypt, but that's only a tiny slice of her life (she died in Egypt when her kids were young, her siblings had died before her, her mother died six years later, and my granddad had a difficult time talking about her, so there's a lot nobody knows).

Perhaps also the correspondence of Elizabeth Gaskell, and all the original illustrations for Dinotopia.

Editado: Dez 27, 2019, 3:25pm

>239 nohrt4me2: they are good wants, I need to think of some like that

>240 cindydavid4: - now that is good idea, I'd need major language skills though, and the right wardrobe / make up

Editado: Dez 31, 2019, 12:48pm

My three:

A first edition of Lord Jim, signed by Conrad

A round trip ticket on the Tesla time machine so I can finally have that glass of wine and dinner with Philip Roth I've been yearning for for about 40 years

(Now I'm going to cheat and combine several . . . ) A complete set of my four grandparents' original birth certificates (such may not exist for my paternal grandparents, Jews born in Czarist Russia), marriage certificates and U.S. naturalization papers (again, this would be for my paternal grandparents; my maternal grandparents were the children of immigrants, born in the U.S.).

Dez 31, 2019, 1:55pm

Heck I don't need the paper work per se, just the dates would be wonderful soI can fill in the blanks in my family tree!

Dez 31, 2019, 7:23pm

I really ought to answer the last few questions, especially because #17 is one that I asked. My favorite finds are mostly from street booksellers or library sales, and the less-curated bookshops. Two that come to mind off the top of my head are a copy of the wonderful Brendan Behan's New York (illustrated by Paul Hogarth, whom I love) for $2 at the Friends of the Warner Library book sale in Tarrytown, NY, and a copy of Eudora Welty's One Writer's Beginnings, signed by the author and inscribed to someone random, from a street bookseller for $4 (to my credit, or else not to my credit at all, when he told me the price I asked him, "Are you sure?"… and then snapped it up unashamedly).

Question #18: I have a pretty dreamy job already, writing about libraries for a living full-time. But if I could jump ship and land in another role, I'd love to write longform nonfiction, essays, and reviews for journals like The New Yorker, New York Review of Books, the Atlantic, etc. Which is, obviously, about the class act publications, but also being paid to research something in depth and write long. That would be awfully fun.

#19: What would be my unlimited budget gift to myself? I don't really know. I'm not really a collector of rarities, first editions, inscribed copies, etc. One of the ancient Mappa Mundi maps would be cool, or some old cabinet of wonders engravings. I wouldn't mind an original Alexander von Humboldt or Charles Darwin drawing, but I don't think those are exactly on the market, so… I'll say I'd like more bookshelves. Built-ins, please.

Jan 5, 2020, 6:40pm

Time for someone else to come up with questions. Thanks to all who answered these questions over the past few years. I've enjoyed all your answers, and often had a good chuckle. Thanks as well to those who suggested questions.

Time now for those who haven't already found it to move on over to this 2020 thread:, which is off to a roaring start.

Jan 5, 2020, 7:55pm

Awe. Thanks Sassy. This was a terrific series of threads.