Wednesday, February 29, 2012

a truly representative smattering.

The other day (well, ok, nigh on two weeks ago now) I participated in my library's book club.  What fun!  It's been so long since I was in a book club, and the last one wasn't that great, I thought: exclusively monopolized by the 55 year old lady who had organized the thing and everyone too cowed by her to disagree with what she said about a given title.

The book club is lead by two of my coworkers, and they are doing a fantastic job.  I went this first time in my official capacity as new Adult Services Librarian, so people could meet me, but I will be going in future for my own enjoyment.

The book was Stiff, by Mary Roach, which I had read before. The highlight of the evening was that one of the organizers had coordinated with the author, and we were able to Skype with her for about 40 minutes!  She is relaxed, well-spoken, witty, quite what you would expect from her writing.  She didn't have a prepared talk, just took questions from the group (about 18 people came: great turnout!).  She wouldn't tell us the title or topic of her next book, which she expects out in April 2013.

I realized that she has several other books that I have checked out and meant to read, and turned in without having opened them.  I will make more of an effort to follow up on those titles.

Star Trek: The Next Generation (Season 3), starring Patrick Stewart, by Paramount.  I remember TNG being on the air when I was younger, and I've seen reruns in the intervening years, but I don't think I was ready for it until now.  Before, all I could see were they 80s costumes and hair and the crappy sets.  But now that we are working through these, they are pretty cool, in a completely geeky sort of way.  The University library up on campus has a few books about how Star Trek has impacted other avenues of sci-fi and greater society; I have my eye on those for when we've worked through everything.

Beauty and the Werewolf, by Mercedes Lackey.    This was a little different in that it combined a fairy tale retelling with the author's 500 Kingdoms series.  An interesting retelling, fit with the rules she has set up for her world.  Good for a weekend.

Sugar in My Bowl: Real Women Write About Real Sex, edited by Erica Jong.  One of my assignments is to update our sex (nonfiction) section and our romance/erotic literature holdings.  They are a little lacking.  (Ha!)
This was an interesting book, and all over the place.  There were some graphic sex recountings, but those are the ones that didn't seem to fit (contrary to what you might expect based on the title).  The more thoughtful pieces talked about, but didn't recount, sex.

For All the Tea in China: How England Stole the World's Favorite Drink and Changed History, by Sarah Rose.  382.  This was a very interesting book.  In addition to the expected information about how tea has been made historically and its place in Chinese and English culture, there was also relevant information about opium in Indian and China, the Opium Wars, the way the East India Company worked, and ship design.

For Her Own Good: Two Centuries of Experts' Advice to Women, by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English.  The focus of this is not what I expected.  I ended up quitting after 82 pages.  Even though it isn't what I anticipated, it is still extremely interesting, but it is a kind of heavy book, like the kind of thing that would have fit really well in my Women's History course.  It isn't the kind of thing you can read for 15 minutes or half an hour at a time; it's the kind of thing you read while taking notes.

Knitting Nature: 39 Designs Inspired by Patterns in Nature, by Norah Gaughan.  These are some interesting designs, but not the kind of thing I normally wear.  I think I can make them, but I'm not brave enough to wear them.

Where's Walrus?, by Stephen Savage.   This picture book was recommended by a patron who is one of our Friends of the Library.  It is wordless, and fantastic!  Buy it, buy it, buy it.  When I brought it home for my son, we had to read it three times in a row, then again the next day.

Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper, by Diablo Cody.  792.7  This was weird, or at least odd.  It is a pretty slim book, and there were definitely parts that could have used more depth.  The author hints at actions or history for herself, but doesn't really go into detail.  She recounts what happened and when, but she doesn't talk much about the other girls she works with, or personal details.  We know what happened, but it doesn't feel like we really get to know her.

Playaway View, featuring National Geographic: Born of Fire, Ocean Realm, and Destructive Forces.   I just found out about this format, but apparently it's been out for a year.  I emailed our Midwest Tapes guy and he sent us two demos (which we later found out were a 2-week loan-- now not seeming so generous).  I cannot say I'm impressed.  This a hundred-dollar piece of equipment, and I don't know if this particular one is faulty or if they are all like this, but it doesn't play smoothly at all.  It hiccups, almost like a buffering problem, at irregular intervals between 2 and 20 seconds.  The first title played ok for almost 20 minutes, just a little bit of lag, all pretty spaced out, but then the hitches became so frequent that sentences weren't understandable.  I started the other two selections, and they were also incomprehensible. 
My preschooler was fascinated, partly, I think, because it's a cool little toy, and partly at the nonstop pictures of volcanoes.  I, however, was not very impressed at the poor quality.  You can see the pixels.  Pixels!  I can't see them on my phone, which was the cheap-o free-loyalty kind. 
This may be a cool thing to look at again in the future, but not within the next 3 years.  The technology to make this a cool, workable, usable thing exists, and fairly cheaply; the makers just have to put it together. 

1 comment:

Ted Viveiros said...

I enjoy reading your reviews even though I don't read very much. Very interesting being able to speak with the author via Skype.