Library Loot, and the pleasures of browsing

Library Loot… what a nice idea for a meme! This is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.

I snuck off to the library all by myself yesterday. What a treat! It seems like I almost always have a kid or two in tow, which is great in some ways, but it does make it hard to browse.

I reeeeeeeeallly love to browse. No question that reading book reviews and getting recommendations from friends is a great way to find good books, but browsing is the very best. For one thing, the design and, well, heft of the book are very important to me. Too-tiny margins or covers that won’t open flat (say) are a huge deterrent even if the book is otherwise awesome. Picking up a book and holding it in my hand is an important part of deciding whether to read it. For another thing, there is something very special and satisfying about stumbling across a book you’ve never heard of and discovering that it’s your own private treasure. Standing there in the library, thumbing through an intriguing-looking volume, perhaps reading page 69, wondering whether this one might be the next treasure — what could be nicer?

That said… when I went to the library yesterday I had a specific book in mind <grin>, The Uses of Enchantment by Heidi Julevits, which had been recommended to me by a friend <grin>. It wasn’t on the shelf however, so browse I did! As you can see, I didn’t get very far from my starting point: everything here is by authors whose names fall between I–K.

The Sisters from Hardscrabble Bay, by Beverly Jensen. Sisters in the title is what caught my eye. I myself am the older of two girls; my sissy and I are very tight and sister is a big part of my self-identity. Anyway, this a historical novel about these two sisters growing up in New Brunswick and Maine and it looks right up my alley. I’m afraid it’s going to be a sad read though. The author died young, of pancreatic cancer, and this was published posthumously. It will be hard to forget that fact while reading.

Another intriguing title: Abyssinian Chronicles by Moses Isegawa. Don’t you just love the word chronicles? This was described on the back as being Uganda’s answer to Midnight’s Children. Well, Midnight’s Children is one of my all-time favorite novels. If this is half as good, it’s sure to be awesome. Plus I know nothing at all about Uganda. Yet…

Lucy, by Jamaica Kincaid. This is one of those books I’ve been meaning to read for years and just never got around to. And speaking of look and feel, this is one beautifully-designed little book. Really looking forward to reading it.

The Bridegroom, a collection of short stories by my newly-discovered favorite author, Ha Jin. When I googled him after reading Waiting I learned that many of his stories take place in the same fictional city, Muji. That is one of my favorite literary devices. I love love love it when authors write about different characters in the same fictional setting. Wendell Berry’s Port Williams stories are a prime example. Ray Bradbury’s Green Town stories are another. (This is quite distinct from series, by the way. I am talking about groups of stories that feature different characters, different perspectives, possibly even different times, but in the same town. Best of all is when the protagonist from one story makes a cameo appearance in another. It’s like making eye contact with the author.)

A nice haul this weekend!

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  1. I agree with you on browsing. It’s such a relaxing yet exciting thing to do. I don’t browse as often as I would like to though it’s a great way to past the time and find new books. I hope you enjoy your library loot.


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