Posts Tagged ‘obsessive list making’

12th October
written by Steph

*only you're not at all surprised, are you? As we saw from my recent post regarding our newly acquired bookshelf meant to deal with our overwhelming TBR book situation, clearly the last thing I needed was to buy more books… so you know that that’s exactly what I went out and did! It’s a sickness I tell you! And McKay’s is no help since I trade in most of my books there once I’ve read them, so the cycle is never-ending. Based on our instore credit, this haul cost a whopping $2.20, so while my shelves might not thank me, I promise you my book buying habit isn’t sending my family to the poorhouse. Full rationalization of my haul after the jump… (more…)
24th July
written by Steph

It's been a few months since Tony and I last made our way to McKay's. Preoccupied with Borders bankruptcy sales, we haven't had much time for used books when so many new ones were looking for homes, but this past week, all that changed. We were in the neighborhood (McKay's is very close to our favorite Vietnamese restaurant), and decided to stop by to see if I could get a cheap copy of the movie Whip It, my latest obsession. We couldn't, but no trip to McKay's would be complete without a quick jaunt down the fiction aisle, where I swiftly found two books I just had to have! The Distance Between Us is a Maggie O'Farrell title that my collection is missing, and now I only lack her very first novel before I'll find myself in possession of all her novels to-date. I also picked up Old Filth by Jane Gardham, for two reasons: 1) I am convinced she and I will get along swimmingly once I actually get around to reading her; 2) I picked up a copy of The Man in the Wooden Hat on one of my other shopping jaunts which is a retelling of Old Filth from another character's perspective, so I know I would be better served by reading Old Filth first! The other three books, I am happy to report, were actually Tony's choices, as he has a bit of an obsession with Everyman Library editions, so could not resist picking up these beautiful copies of Pale Fire and Pnin by Valdimir Nabokov and One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. You'll recall that I didn't have the best luck with Lolita when I read it last year (it was definitely one of those books that made me feel like I was simply not smart enough to be reading it!), but you may be surprised by the Marquez acquisition. After all, I have been very vocal in the past of my love One Hundred Years of Solitude, so surely I must already have a copy of it on hand, right? And indeed I do! In fact, I actually already have an Everyman's copy of this book. So, why the double acquisition? Well, my first copy was also picked up second-hand, and I wasn't exactly diligent about checking the pages, and it wasn't until I got home that I realized it had been marked up with highlighters. It in no way diminished my enjoyment of the book (or Tony's for that matter), but the prospect of having a pristine copy was too much to resist.

And so now, I find myself with two near identical copies of a favorite book and have decided the best thing would be to share the love. So I am offering up my original, much-loved and marked up copy of One Hundred Years of Solitude to a new home. Apart from the markings (that sadly cannot be erased, but are quite minimal... maybe only 5 - 10 pages of the total book), the book is in excellent condition, including its original dust cover and a ribbon bookmark. If you're a reader who would like to experience this amazing book and have no compunctions about nominal marginalia, then please let me know in the comments below. I'll ship anywhere in the world, for great literature truly should know no boundaries. If more than one person expresses interest in the book, I'll randomly select a winner next Sunday (that is July 31)... so make your desire known by Saturday night at the latest! I now return you to your regularly scheduled programming... which I realize has been far from regular. Two words: SO. BUSY. I should have some new reviews up this week, however, so you'll have that (and maybe this book?) to look forward to!
8th June
written by Steph

Notice Emmy stage right thinking "One day I will be crushed to death by these papery things"...

So, Nashville is now a one Borders town. We used to have three, but two have now officially closed for good, which greatly saddens me since the closest non-used bookstore to me is now a BooksAMillion, which I hate because they have a religious bent that makes me uncomfortable, plus they're 5 miles away (and I used to be able to walk to one of the RIP Borders in just 10 minutes!). Other than that, you have to drive all the way out to West Nashville in order to go to a Barnes & Noble or out to Brentwood if you want to see the last remaining Borders. When I happened into Borders on the final day of their closing sale, a mother and her daughter wandered in and started asking where they could find a fully functional bookstore and it was so depressing because there no longer are any in the vicinity. Within the past year, Nashville has seen three bookstores close and that makes me REALLY sad.

Anyway, it was a total fluke that I happened to walk to Borders on what was their very last day in operation, meaning all of their merchandise was 80% off. Things were largely picked over, but I did manage to find several books to rescue from the pulp pile. Normally I find that my reading tastes don't match those of the most bookstore patrons, but this time I did enter into something of a competition with another shopper, as we kept reaching for the same books. I admit, I got rather cutthroat and managed to walk away with the following books: (more…)
12th May
written by Steph

It seems like I spend all my time on this blog apologizing these days! Prolonged absences punctuated by a post promising that I am back for good (à la Take That circa 1995), only to disappear into the real world for another extended period. This time, real life whisked me away to a six-day conference in Naples, Fl where I sometimes hobnobbed with vision scientists from around the globe, but mostly spent the time lizardlike, lazing by the pool and taking the occasional dip in the ocean. I brought four books and managed to finish one, but I never seem to get as much reading done at these things as I think I will. Probably because of all that quality programming on HGTV and Animal Planet that I am otherwise deprived of when at home!

So I am back now just as many of you are planning to fly away to BEA and take your own little blogging breaks, which is amazing timing, no? Well, there’s nothing to be done about that, so as I scramble about and try to get my life in Nashville back in order, I present to you my latest acquisitions from a mini-splurge at McKay’s a few weeks back when dissertation proposal stress was making my brain bleed. Because in the end, is there anything more soothing than new books? Get the complete low-down on my haul after the jump! (more…)
11th April
written by Steph

Please support your local bookstores so that I don't go to the poorhouse...

By now, many fellow bloggers have posted about the spoils of trips to Borders locations that are closing in the face of the corporation's recent declaration of Bankruptcy. In the Nashville area there are three Borders locations and all but one are closing their doors. The first location that is slated to close does so at the end of this week, so Tony and I decided to go check it out one last time to see if there was anything left worth bringing home. With literature prices slashed to 70% off, I didn't expect to really find anything, but as you can see from the above picture, clearly I did. Turns out that my reading tastes are perhaps not quite as mainstream as the general public's. Their loss is my gain, and all that, but I feel like one thing that has been missing from many of the posts I've read about these store closings is how unbelievably depressing the atmosphere is. The closing of any bookstore makes me sad in principle, but to actually witness a repository of books being dismantled, the shelves bare, books carelessly shelved any which where... depressing is the only word. Thankfully I was able to bring some lovelies home with me so they can escape the indignity of the pulp pile, but my visit to Borders did reiterate to me just how little most people value and treasure books. Sad. But enough maudlin musings. Let's revel in the good stuff after the jump! (more…)
30th March
written by Steph
I once had a friend tell me that I probably got as much enjoyment out of making lists of books I wanted to read as I did actually reading said books. What can I say? I'm a list maker and love to plan! Like many other book bloggers, I'm always on the lookout for my next great read, and while other blogs are great resources, sometimes I feel like the same books pop up in my Google Reader again and again. That's one of the reasons I love bookstores: I love browsing around and just randomly picking up books and finding titles I've never heard of before. Of course, I'm not immune to the great prices that online shopping can provide, but personally I find book browsing on Amazon (and the like) to be a little tedious and it seems a lot harder to discover surprises that way.

Depiction of YNR interface

Enter YourNextRead. While this isn't the first site I've stumbled across that purports to help readers find their next book, this is one of the best and most effective interfaces I've found. The premise is pretty simple: you type in the name of a book or author that you like, and a little web of related books pops up. Click on one of those, and new titles appear that are related to that second title. Lather, rinse, repeat. What I particularly like about this process is that it kind of operates on the whole "six degrees of kevin bacon" principle. As you click through interesting book options, it's a bit like choose your own adventure, but the books are ultimately linked in some way to that first book you picked. I do like that you can influence the direction of subsequent title suggestions as it's just so much more interactive than a simple list. Additionally, for each title that pops up that is linked to the central book, you can indicate whether you think people who enjoyed the central book will actually enjoy each linked book. I assume that these votes then influence the likelihood of that book showing up again when someone else chooses the central book in the future. One problem I have with Amazon recommendation systems (and many other book recommendation programs) is that they seem to rely too heavily on suggesting other books by the same author. Of course it stands to reason that if I enjoy Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen that I might very well like her other books, but I could probably have figured that out on my own! I am always looking for new authors, and I've found that YourNextRead does this very well. For instance, on a recent search, I put in Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris as my starting novel. From there, I jumped to A Life Apart by Neel Mukherjee (never heard of him!) which looks good enough to warrant further investigation. From there I jumped to A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (a book I have and intend to read in the future), where I then jumped to The Summer of Naked Swim Parties by Jessica Anya Blau (another new-to-me author). That one didn't seem like my cup of tea, so I backtracked to Goon Squad, and instead tried Come, Thou Tortoise by Jessica Grant (??? exactly!), which seems delightful. From there it's onto The Irresistible Henry House by Lisa Grunwald which sounds effing awesome. And again, is completely new to me. I'm starting to feel a bit like Thursday Next with all this book jumping, plus I think you get the picture. Along the way, I had seven different alternatives to check out each time (plus there's the option to refresh if a central book isn't presenting anything you think looks appealing), but just from this little experimental jaunt, I've found three new books that are now on my wishlist. Dangerous for those of us with bookbuying impulse control, but a really fun way to explore the book universe. If you feel like you're stuck with the same old stuff in your reading pile, this may be just the way to liven things up! Try it out; it's wildly addictive! And feel free to share in the comments any of the book chains you create!
21st March
written by Steph

The end of The Worst Book Slump Ever of 2011?

I have seen the future, my friends, and apparently my life ends with me being crushed by the piles of books that have taken over my apartment. What a way to go, eh? Seriously though, I think my reading slump may be nearing its end. I mean, I can’t go and buy 21 books over the course of two days and claim that books and I aren’t on speaking terms, can I? I mean, that would just be silly.  These two piles of books are from two separate hauls… on Friday, I took a personal day because the weather was so nice… which doesn’t exactly justify how I wound up spending two hours INDOORS at McKay’s, but just roll with it. The books in the right column are the ones that I picked up there. Then on Saturday, Tony and I took a little roadtrip up to Louisville, Kentucky which just happens to have several Half Price Bookstores! After hearing so much great stuff from so many bloggers who live in HPB cities, I knew we had to visit one. And that is how the second stack of books (the one on the left) happened. So what exactly did I pick up? I’m so glad you asked! (more…)
26th February
written by Steph

The first (and last?) books of 2011

If you'll recall, I vowed at the start of the year that I was going to refrain from purchasing books and would instead focus on reading books I already own. Obviously, this little pile here is proof that I was unable to keep from bringing new books into our home. I really tried to refrain, but McKay's did me in once more. In my defense, I will say that I went and traded in some books that I had culled from our shelves and did not leave with more books than I dropped off AND we only had to pay about $2 after getting our trade-in voucher. So here's what I wound up with:
  • The Harmony Silk Factory by Tash Aw - One thing that's been harder for me in terms of sticking to my own books is that I have way more US & and UK authors than I do international authors, so I have felt I've been quite limited in my reading scope so far this year. When I read about Tash Aw over at Chasing Bawa recently, I flagged him as an author that I needed to read. I've never read a Malaysian author before and think his first novel will be a great introduction.
  • Kiss Kiss/Switch Bitch/My Uncle Oswald by Roald Dahl - I like that Dahl's short stories and writing for adults is quite dark and twisted. This seemed like a good investment as it compiles some of his best non-PG work in one handy volume.
  • The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh - Ghosh is another author I've been wanting to read and while there were a few of his books at McKay's I decided to try this one because it spans Burma, India, and Malay, which are all places I'm interested in. I'd like to read more (South East) Asian writers in particular when it comes to reading internationally, so I'm happy to add this to my collection.
  • The Pleasure of My Company by Steve Martin - We all know that An Object of Beauty made me a big fan of Martin's fiction writing, so while I'd already snagged a cheap copy of Shopgirl on a past visit to McKay's it seemed only right that I should also rescue his second novel from the bargain section as well. I'm intrigued by this one because while I've heard less about it, some people argue that it's better than Shopgirl...
  • Memento Mori by Muriel Spark - I am on a wicked Muriel Spark kick at the moment. I read The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie right before I started blogging back in 2008 and didn't think much of it. But for whatever reason, I felt compelled to pick it up again and just recently finished a vastly superior re-read of it and now I feel like I must own and read everything Spark has ever written. Was very excited to find this one at McKay's as many feel this is even better than Jean Brodie.
  • Mantissa and The Collector by John Fowles - I am also obsessed with the idea of John Fowles of late. I haven't read anything by him, but I feel like I've been wanting to challenge myself of late and think his writing may fit the bill. I will probably tackle The French Lieutenant's Woman again before I try either of these, but I am sure I'll be happy to have them.
So there you have the proof of my lack of will and resolve. Rather than lashing myself for my bad behavior, I think I shall just look on the bright side about accruing these new lovelies and will satisfy myself with the knowledge that this splurge could have been so much worse. Compared to past expeditions this is a positively restrained and meager haul, wouldn't you say?
23rd December
written by Steph
Today we are leaving (not on a jet plane, alas, but rather our Mini Cooper, Pip... at least he has heated seats! And no screaming infants!) to head up to Minnesota (or as I affectionately refer to it, MinneSNOWta) to spend the holidays with Tony's family. We depart in just under 2 hours, so in the interim, I will be busy scurrying about making sure we have everything packed, updating my ipod with sundry podcasts, and of course finalizing our reading loot for while we're away. Actually, scratch that last one since I have finalized my picks and Tony had his figured out last night. Here's what Tony will be reading during the holidays:
  • The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore by Benjamin Hale (to review for BookPage)
  • West of Here by Jonathan Evison (to review for BookPage)
And here's what I'm bringing with me
  • The Wilding by Benjamin Percy (Indiespensible #22...halfway through!)
  • The Instructions by Adam Levin (Indiespensible #23)
  • True Grit by Charles Portis
  • Wicked by Gregory Maguire (won at a Dirty Santa Swap this year)
  • Orion You Came and You Took All My Marbles by Kira Henhan (won from Kerry over at Hungry Like the Woolf)
  • A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick (won from Erin over at Erin Reads)
I probably could have just stuck with The Instructions since it is such a BEAST, but I figured I'd bring a variety of things and be optimistic that I'll get looooooots of reading done. As you can see, I am not bringing any books that I HAVE to read for review since I'm making holiday reading all about me!!! (Because clearly this time of year is all about being selfish... right?) What will you be reading this holiday? When we get back I'll post my best of 2010 list as well as reading plans for 2011; I know some have already published theirs, but as the year isn't yet up, I don't want to prematurely cap it off only to read something supremely awesome and miss out on pimping it out. Alas, Tony's family only has dial-up internet, so we'll be absent from the blogging world for the next week or so, so please all have safe and happy holidays, however you celebrate, so we can all catch up when we're back!
2nd December
written by Steph

Now these are souvenirs I can get behind!

For those of you who read Matt's blog, A Guy's Moleskine Notebook, you'll know that during our day spent with him, he took us to his very favorite bookstore in San Francisco, Green Apple Books. One of the things that immediately impressed me about GAB, as well as many other bookstores we popped into while in SF was just how much character they all have. A far cry from the cereal box Borders and Barnes & Nobles that dominate here in Nashville. GAB is one of those delightful bookstores that is just stuffed to the gills with shelves of books, so that the perfume of paper is heady in the air. Add to that narrow aisles and creaky wooden floors and you have a wonderful haven for lovers of books. One of my favorite sections at GAB was the discounted new book section, where overstock books were going from anywhere between $4 - $7. Normally at McKay's $4 for a book is at the top end of my budget, but the selection was so dizzying and exciting, especially in terms of the international fiction, I knew I needed to splurge and bring home some babies. It soon became clear that our carry-on luggage wouldn't cut it with my treasure trove, so we decided we'd have to mail my book bounty back to Nashville. After the jump, I'll dissect the titles I picked up in more detail. (more…)