Monday, December 30, 2019

February Mini-Reviews

February was a busy month for reading. I'm trying to think of why that might have been. I started a new job so you'd think if anything I would have read less. But I guess as I was getting used to having a driving commute again (something I haven't had in many years) and listening to books in the car I got through more than I would have otherwise thought. I read 7 books and most of them were new which means, lots of mini-reviews. So let's get to it.

Life at the Dakota: New York's Most Unusual Address by Stephen Birmingham
I can't remember at what point I decided I loved The Dakota, the apartment building in NYC, but love it I do. It's a beautiful building in a great location (even if originally it was so far uptown you may as well "be in the Dakotas") and it is my dream place to live even though it will never ever ever happen. It's featured in the novel Time and Again. Rosemary's Baby was filmed there. John Lennon and Yoko Ono lived there. So I picked up a copy of this book about the history of the building when it was on sale and dove in. The first half of the book about getting built and the scandal of building this place so far from all the fancy-pants people was very interesting. The second half of the book was basically gossip about the residents which was somewhat entertaining except I didn't know who anyone was and turns out I don't care about NY socialites. Of course the interesting thing is this book was written BEFORE John Lennon was killed so there's a lot of present-tense references to him which was jarring because I did not check the publication date before diving in. It also means there is a fair amount of casual racism. I would love to read an updated version and see if they got all of the attic apartments figured out, since in the '70s, it wasn't clear how many apartments there actually were, which you'd think would be an easy thing to figure out but nothing is clear when it comes to the Dakota.
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Noir by Christopher Moore
I love Christopher Moore. Lamb is still one of my most favoritest books. This was the first of his books I did as an audiobook and I was a little worried how I would like his stuff on audio. Especially because I hadn't listened to much fiction since I find it harder to pay attention to. And I think it may have hurt my enjoyment here because the book was fine but not as good as I would have hoped. It's a noir style novel featuring a mysterious dame who walks into a bar where our hero, bartender Sammy, works. There's also maybe aliens or a strange cult. Something strange is going on. I can't remember a lot of this book. I remember the style ("a size-eight dame in a size-six dress and every mug in the joint was rooting for the two sizes to make a break for it as they watched her wiggle in the door and shimmy onto a barstool with her back to the door.") which I liked. But the story itself I was basically "meh" on. Entertaining enough, but not one I'll probably re-read anytime soon.
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Earpedia: Animals by Sue Perkins
This was one of the Audible Originals that's only sort of a book but could also just be a podcast. Regardless, I count it as a book cos it came from Audible and that's how that works. So this is a "book" about a bunch of animals. Each episode/chapter is about a different animals (Bees! Koalas! African Lung Fish!) and if you like watching nature documentaries but think they could use some humor, this could be for you. It was for me. Plus, as lovely as Sandi and Noel are, I very much miss Sue and Mel as Great British Bake Off hosts, so this was a nice opportunity to hear her humor again.
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Bill Bryson's Appliance of Science by Bill Bryson
Another Audible Original, this one by Bill Bryson and others discussing scientific discoveries. It's a bit like A Short History of Nearly Everything-lite. Some interesting pieces except I only remember bits and pieces of this, despite loooooving Bryson. So take from that what you will
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Killer by Nature by Jan Smith
And ANOTHER Audible Original. Except this one is more like a radio play, full cast and sound effects and whatnot. Psychological thriller about a child-murderer and a copycat killer. I remember liking it and being engaged and I wanted the opportunities to pick it up again. But now, honestly, I can't really remember it. Which, that's not great, especially not for a thriller. I can't even remember if there is a twist. I think so? Thrillers usually have twists, right? I gave it four stars on Goodreads after reading it so I guess I liked.
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Full list of Feb books read
Life at the Dakota: New York's Most Unusual Address by Stephen Birmingham
Noir by Christoper Moore
Texts from Jane Eyre by Daniel Ortberg
Earpedia: Animals by Sue Perkins
Bill Bryson's Appliance of Science by Bill Bryson
Relish by Lucy Knisley
Killer by Nature by Jan Smith

Monday, December 9, 2019

The stress of library holds

I'm relatively new to library stuff, at least as an adult. I used to go to the library as a little kid and at some point as I got older I just started buying books instead. Which I still like cos of course, but I've finally embraced the library and I know, it's about damn time.
But I have learned of the stress of library holds. So I really only use the library for audiobooks through either Hoopla or Libby. And sometimes (many times) the book I want to borrow is already out and there's a waitlist. Fine, most of the time I'm not trying to read anything by any particular time, so I don't need the book RIGHT NOW. So I add the book to my hold list and go on my merry way. Some time later, I get an email telling me the book is available and isn't that swell?

Most of the time, yes, yes it is swell. EXCEPT sometimes I'm in the middle of another library book when my hold comes in. And now I have 2 weeks before that book is going to be returned (and I'll have to get back on the waitlist to try again) but I'm also in the middle of a different library book that's going to go back in 4 days. Now I'm watching the clock, looking at how long these audiobooks are and how many days I have and trying to figure out when I have time to get through these books before time is up. And it feels like I'm in an '80s action movie, trying to disable a bomb with a giant plot-convenient countdown clock.
And recently, I managed to finish Career of Evil riiiiiiiight before it automatically returned, with Libby sending me alerts that I'd have to go back on the waitlist. I enjoyed the book but the stress of having to finish it was not fun and I'm sure I missed crucial details just trying to get through it.

If you have any advice for managing your library holds, I'm all ears. Because I feel like I need to keep better track of what I put on hold and roughly when it should show up.

Monday, December 2, 2019

November Reading Wrap Up

One minute, it was time to turn back the clocks and then all of a sudden it's December and what the what? Things have been hectic the end of the month. Thanksgiving was a bit different this year. Or at least different for me. See, Tom always has to work over Thanksgiving so I always spent the holiday with my family. Last year, I stayed around home instead of traveling down south to see my dad because small child makes for stressful traveling, especially first time traveling and especially alone traveling.

This year I decided to tag along on Tom's work trip (families are welcome cos holidays) because while it would mean traveling with the little one, it would at least be us traveling together. Oh also, it was a trip to the Bahamas, for the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. It was also the first time in 15 years that Tom and I got to spend Thanksgiving together. That was fun, if not the most relaxing but really, can't complain.

My reading was a little sparse this month, in part because I spent time reading a book I ultimately didn't finish and thus isn't counted. Sigh. But anyway, let's look at those stats.

Number of books read
Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan
The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell

Number of pages read


POC Authors
Female authors

US authors


Book formats
audiobook - 100%

Where'd I get the book
library - 100%

Decade published
2010s - 100%

Resolution books
33% - just the one book. Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling, perhaps you've heard of her) is a UK author