19

Book Crimes

With less than three weeks to go until my wedding, my reading time is suffering in a bad way. Every day is some kind of wedding related something: trials to make me beautiful, meetings to make the venue beautiful, fittings, running down the perfect ribbon/candles/stationary, writing thank you cards, crafting timelines, dropping off cake toppers, tracking down the right kind of rentals – these things take up an insane amount of time.

The good news is that it’s almost over and then! Then I will go to Powell’s.

In the meantime, I will try to put reviews up as much as I can but the (reading) future looks bleak.

Today though, I thought we could discuss book crime. Without any further segue way…here’s a list of things I consider bookish crime.

Seeing the movie before reading the book. The other day I won tickets to the premier of This Is Where I Leave You based on the book by Jonathan Tropper. And I was all excited until I realized that I hadn’t read the book. In my world, this is the ultimate book crime: seeing the movie without having read the book. Admittedly these days you really do need to be more choosey – seems like all movies are based on books and we can’t possibly read/see them all. But seeing the movie without having read the source material (when said source material is available) seems like a shortcut to me, one that can’t be undone. If the movie was great and then you want to read the book, you will go through the reading all “it was better in the movie” or God forbid “that’s not what it was like in the movie!” Thankfully I’ve now read This Is Where I Leave You and look forward to a proper comparison when I see the movie tomorrow night.

Buying move tie-in covers when the originals are available. Equally criminal. I get it – sometimes you have no choice because the movie poster covers are the only ones available and getting this version is a lesser book crime than not reading it before you see it. But given the option? Original book cover should win every time.

Destroying books in the interest of arts and crafts. Pinterest has been a great help to me in the months that I’ve been crafting my wedding day. But it’s also the reason that people keep tearing old books apart to make crafts. Paper roses made out of pages torn from your favourite books? Ink drawings on the pages of old dictionaries? Backdrops made out of stapled pages? Bookmarks made out of book spines?! These hurt my heart. It should come as no surprise that there will be a literary bent to my wedding but no books were harmed in the making.

Stealing my books. When I loan you my books, I expect that you will read them, look after them and then, crucially, return them to me. Otherwise you’re just stealing.

Defiling library books. I feel like the library has similar expectations and hopes that you won’t get nasty crusty detritus smeared all over the pages. Or drop it in the tub. Or spill food on the pages. Or let their books get infested with bed bugs. All of these things: book crime.

Having no books in the house and being proud of that fact. I know that people love their e-readers. I get the appeal, even though I still do not want one. But not having any books in your house because you have an e-reader is the worst thing I’ve ever heard. People that describe books as “clutter” might as well rip out my heart and stomp on it. Books are not clutter and a “room without books, is like a body without a soul” (Marcus Tullius Cicero) so there!

What do you consider a book crime?

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21

I exercised zero control at the library!

I’m getting married in just under three months. Let’s just take a moment and think about how insane that is.

Sh*t’s getting real. And expensive. I may or may not have fallen off the book buying ban wagon. I have been exercising zero self control but it’s time to get my butt back to regular library trips.

So I went to the library and it was awesome. Every time I go back to the library after a lengthy absence I’m blown away all over again that all of these wonderful books are available to me for free. There is nothing better than free books.

I wandered around and started grabbing books left and right. Finally, a place where I don’t need to exercise any self control! I never get any of the Speed Reads. I don’t like the pressure. But good lord, if I was ok with that, there are so many books on those shelves that I want. Truly an embarrassment of riches.

This is the point in the blog post where I tell you about the books that I got at the library!

Every time I go, I always get an Agatha Christie. It’s probably official library policy somewhere: when one visits, one must take home one Agatha Christie mystery. This time was no different and I got Cat Among the Pigeons. I’d never heard of this one but the cover was purple and that was enough of a reason for me.

While I was in the Mystery section anyway, I poked my head around the Rs and wouldn’t you know it? Ian Rankin’s Saints of the Shadow Bible was there. Multiple copies! Mine.

Last year I realized that I loved Elizabeth Gaskell. But I thought I had already read all of her work (Cranford, Mary Barton, Wives and Daughter, North and South) but I was wrong! There was still Ruth to love! That too was added to my pile.

When I finished The Kingmaker’s Daughter, I found myself intrigued by The White Princess, despite my best intentions. I didn’t love The Kingmaker’s Daughter but the end was so…unfinished. I knew I’d eventually have to read the follow up. I haven’t come across it at very frequently – it was one book that I knew I wasn’t going to buy. But it was waiting for me at the library this time.

I keep hearing amazing things about The Storied Life of AJ Fikry. I’ve come across it in bookstores and I haven’t bought it. I ended up finding it tucked in among piles of books just returned and decided that it was the perfect time to actually read it. I can’t wait to get to this one.

I’m watching The Borgias with Jeremy Irons on Netflix right now and loving it. There’s a lot of really cool history happening but it’s an era that I’m not familiar with. I don’t know very much about different popes or the kings, dukes and leaders of Italy as it was; Italian history in general actually. The show has made me want to know more and when I found a biography of Lucretzia Borgia (one of my favourite characters on the show) I needed to have it. I suspect that this will be one of those times I’m sad that I didn’t buy the book.

Finally, I grabbed a biography of Queen Anne. I know about as much about the Stuart monarchs as I do about Italian history and I’m looking forward to remedying that.

What do you think of my library haul? Have you read any of them?

8

Why I’m Not Allowed in Bookstores for a While or I Have No Willpower

Do you remember a few short weeks ago when I was banning myself from going to the library until I had made a more sizeable dent in the piles of books I already had at home?

Well I have managed to stay away from the library. But the bookstore? Less successful.

I guess going to the library was preventing me from losing all self control in the bookstore. I should have thought the library ban through a little more.

Honestly, I think reading one book for an extended period of time (The Goldfinch) and then following it up with a book of equal length (Firefly Summer, a Maeve Binchy but still hefty) might have caused me to go a little stir crazy. I visited book stores to remind myself of all the other reading treasures out there as a way to encourage me to read faster and harder, and ended up bringing more of them home with me.

It started with an innocent weekday excursion to battle some restlessness my fiancé had been feeling due to our penchant for binge watching series on Netflix. He suggested the bookstore, I went with it. And came home with Here I Go Again by Jen Lancaster, The Secret Mistress by Anne Easter Smith  and Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield.

And a mug covered in hearts because it was adorable.

stacks

Whoops.

In the long run, three extra books isn’t the end of the world. But that was before I went to a second hand bookshop over the weekend. This extraordinarily well stocked and laid out shop meant that I kept falling over book treasure. At first my willpower was strong. But I was soon overpowered by bookish desire and books kept falling into my arms.

That run saw me cart off the following: The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy that I’ve been meaning to read for eons and which will no doubt lead me to watching the Damien Lewis led mini-series shortly thereafter; Quentins by Maeve Binchy because I love Maeve Binchy and her books are always good to have on hand to reset your book mojo; The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie with a wicked vintage cover because Agatha Christie; and a book about sports for the fiancé because I’m a giver.

To sum up, I have zero bookish willpower, I will never get my Tsundoku problem under control and I really need to find a way to work less so that I can actually read all these books.

2

Trivia Collecting

Last year I didn’t read enough non-fiction. This was a conclusion I reached after doing my 2012 Year in Review. I typically enjoy reading non-fiction (mainly biographies, histories and certain works of cultural significance) but for whatever reason, last year was mostly about fiction for me.

So I decided that in 2013, I would make more of an effort to read non-fiction.

As of this writing, I have definitely kept my word. With myself, but really if you can’t keep a promise to yourself…this seems to work with books and reading but never quite stretches to when I try and make myself go for a run. I can rationalize all kinds of ways not to do that.

But non-fiction I did read.

As of writing, I have read 64 books this year and just over 20% of those have been non-fiction! I even did math to make that come out in a percentage.

I read some completely irreverent books by some very funny ladies (Jen Lancaster, Mindy Kaling and Jenny Lawson) that totally count as non-fiction. Bill Bryson took me on a tour of the home through the ages, giving me all sorts of trivia that is sure to come in handy for ice breakers or games of Trivial Pursuit. I satisfied some of my Downton Abbey withdrawl with a closer look at one of the women who was mistress of Highclere Castle and enjoyed a very gossipy biography of the Churchills.

I loved Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead and recognized a lot of my own behaviour and hang ups in her words. I read Howard Schultz’s Onwards about the culture at Starbucks which did absolutely nothing to curb my daily Starbucks addiction. I loved Nancy Jo Sales’ The Bling Ring even though it made me want to watch a seriously trashy reality show (Pretty Wild) to see firsthand some of the events she described. (It’s on Netflix if you get the same urge)

Overall I know that my very favourite non-fiction read this year (and maybe ever) was Far From the Tree: Children, Parents and the Search for Identity. That book still pops up in my life every once in a while – like this morning when the cover of my local paper showed a transgendered girl grinning from ear to ear in her new identity while her parents fight for her right to be identified as a girl in school. Far From the Tree was one of the most honest, eye-opening, heartbreaking, hopeful and brilliant books I’ve ever read.

And I just went to the library and picked up 3 more non-fiction titles (Great Expectations: The Sons and Daughters of Charles Dickens, High Society: The Life of Grace Kelly and Christina, Queen of Sweden: The Restless Life of a European Eccentric) so we’re not done with 2013 yet!

I think a lot of people tend to dismiss non-fiction as boring or hard to read. But there are some insanely well-written non-fiction books out there. Sometimes they even make you forget that you’re learning new things.

And you know that when I’m done with 2013, I will totally be able to kick your butt at Trivial Pursuit.

1

Libraries for the Win

I’m a book buyer. I have been for a long time. I take pride in my library, offering my favourites to friends, encouraging people to take a wander through the shelves in awe of my exquisite literary taste.

Before my first bout of funemployment in 2010 it had been a long time since I’d been to the library for pleasure. Let’s be honest here – I barely needed to go to the library for school either. Online subscription services meant that I could get all the ‘real’ source material I needed for papers without ever leaving my house.

But when I wasn’t working, the library was suddenly my only option for new books. All of a sudden, I was a library regular. I was surprised by how many awesome books they had at my disposal. And all of them were free! And I could take out as many as I wanted!

The months that I was looking for work were not nearly as bad as I thought they’d be because I never once was deprived of fresh reading material, a criteria in my world for happiness. I devoured biographies, discovered a love for Agatha Christie, PG Wodehouse and Maeve Binchy and delighted in finding books I’d never heard of.

But then I went back to working. And my library visits dropped off in favour of new book buying expeditions.

I’m still working (knock on wood) but I went to the library on my lunch break the other day. See, I’m getting married and it turns out weddings aren’t cheap so book buying at this point seems kind of extravagant. My office is right around the corner from a library and it would be wrong not to take advantage of that kind of proximity.

The library around the corner is magic. I’d never been to this branch but as soon as I walked in, I felt like I was at home. I meant to grab one or two titles but walked out with five (A Pocket Full of Rye, Sister Queens, Wives and Daughters, Heart & Soul, and Valley of the Dolls). A little overzealous on my part; I had a hard time getting them home!

If these titles turn out to be my new very favourites, I will be sad to give them back. But there’s also something so satisfying about knowing that someone else is going to come after me and discover their same magic

Libraries for the win.