Thursday, August 31, 2006

Downloading the Classics

I'll keep this one short, but wanted to draw your attention to an article my husband forwarded to me recently. Similar to Project Gutenberg, Google is now making thousands of classics available for downloading for free. Books whose copyrights have expired are considered public domain. Dickens, Shakespeare, and Dante are among those mentioned.

Could be worth a look...although there is something very appealing about an old-fashioned hardcover or paperback book that e-books just can't compete with. At least in my mind anyway :)

Autumn Reading Challenge

I just signed up for Carl V.'s 2006 RIP Autumn Reading Challenge and can't wait to get started. With Halloween only two months away, I've got some great spooky reading material lined up. The idea is to read five gothic, scary, or thriller type books during the months of September and October. There's a cool prize involved too. Here are my picks:

1. Gothic Tales by Elizabeth Gaskell
2. Dracula by Bram Stoker
3. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
4. The Haunted Looking Glass edited by Edward Gorey
5. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

And I am also throwing in Sarah Dunant's Trangressions for good measure. I'll be reading that for a book club I belong to and I think it qualifies as a thriller.

This got me thinking more about mysteries I loved as a kid. I was a huge Nancy Drew fan (and still am) and loved Trixie Belden. I've recently begun collecting the old Nancy Drew books again and will move on to the Trixie Belden collection when I am done. If you were or still are a Nancy Drew fan, you'll want to check out The Nancy Drew Sleuth Unofficial Website. You'll find everything you ever wanted to know about the character, her creators, and the fictional town of River Heights. Check out the president's collection (extremely impressive) and past conference highlights (yes, there are annual conferences, though I have yet to attend one).

For more Nancy Drew tidbits and laughs, you'll also want to check out Chelsea Cain's parody Confessions of a Teenage Sleuth and Melanie Rehak's Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her.

Trixie Belden paraphernalia seems to be a little more elusive, although I did find a cute little mystery bookshop in Camden, Maine on a recent vacation that is selling the whole Trixie Belden paperback collection. May have to buy the owner out of those books :) Speaking of Camden, Maine, if you ever get a chance to visit, make sure to check out their gorgeous library and natural ampitheater (check out the photo gallery), overlooking the picturesque town and harbor. Pure heaven. Oh and did I mention that in addition to the amazing library and mystery bookshop, there are three other bookshops in town as well?

Monday, August 28, 2006

Classics buying frenzy and NYC bookstores

After reading about the Barnes and Noble classics sale on several blogs, I lost all reasoning capabilities and made a ridiculous amount of purchases. I've been reading here and there about those of you that may have bought say 8 or 9 books during this sale, or perhaps even 16 or 17, but I have bought a whopping 34 books. Usually I am pretty good about taking my little notepad into the bookstores I frequent and jotting down titles that look interesting. My library card gets a good workout every week, but this past week, my credit card put the library card to shame.

I will say though that those 34 books only cost me approximately $100 with shipping costs waived and my 10% membership discount. I could barely even buy two pairs of shoes for $100, so my feeling is that 34 books at that price is quite a deal! At least that is how I have rationalized it to my husband, who just shakes his head and laughs. Can't wait for the shipment to come in, the titles will make wonderful additions to my collection. Dracula, Emma, War and Peace (not sure if I will ever actually get through this, but figured I'd try), David Copperfield, The Count of Monte Cristo, Moonstone, Madame Bovary, just to name a few.

Also found out recently that I am being sent to NYC in October for work-related software training. And the training facility is only a mere 6 blocks from the main branch of the New York Public Library. And only 12 blocks from The Gotham City Book Mart! Think I know what I will be doing in my spare time. If you've got recommendations of bookstores I should hit while in town, send them my way. Although I haven't lived in NY for several years, NYC is the city of my birth, and I'm ok with the subway system (so no need to restrict me to mid-town). Many memories of visiting The Strand with my parents :)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Hollywood Librarian

For all of you librarian types out there, check out The Hollywood Librarian.

"The first of its kind, this film will show the realities of 21st century librarianship in the entertaining and appealing context of American movies."

No release date is set yet, but you can view a 5 minute trailer on the website. A sneak preview was also offered at the recent ALA conference in New Orleans. I wasn't able to make it to the conference this year, otherwise I would have been in that audience.

I've never had the pleasure of visiting this bookstore, but thought it's "A Continuous Reading of Don Quixote" a neat idea. Proceeds go to Behind the Book. The reading wraps up sometime today, but if you live in the NYC area, might be worth taking a walk or subway ride over.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

T.C. Boyle, John Cheever, and other tidbits

I recently picked up a copy of The Stories of John Cheever at my local used bookstore and placed it in my very large TBR pile. Since then I have picked it up multiple times with every intention of getting started, only to be distracted by another book, work, mischievous pets, bill paying, etc. During my car ride home from work on Thursday, I heard the following on NPR: On Learning to Appreciate John Cheever's Stories by T.C. Boyle. The Tortilla Curtain being one of my favorite books, I was immediately intrigued by what Boyle had to say. I particularly enjoyed the following quote:

"Few prose writers can touch Cheever for the painterly precision of his descriptions, and the reward of them too -- his characters, locked in the struggles of suburban and familial angst, regularly experience moments of transcendence and rebirth in nature."

Boyle's quote, combined with my retired-English teacher father's advice, after teaching for many years in those Westchester suburbs Cheever writes about in several of his stories, has convinced me to move Cheever's collection of short stories to the top of my TBR pile once again.

After reading Danielle's blog this week, I've been motivated by her to crack open some of those classics that I too have been acquiring, but have never made the time to read. Trips to the library this week have added The Count of Monte Cristo to my pile as well. I also picked up a copy of The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. I have The Moonstone on reserve. Next, I will be trying to get my hands on a copy of Bram Stoker's Dracula.

While at the library, I also managed to find a copy of The Most Beautiful Libraries in the World, after reading about it on another blogger's site. I was very happy to see that The Boston Athenaeum made the list. I have been meaning to get there for months as it is within driving distance of my home. As soon as their weekend hours start up again this fall, I will be making that visit and hopefully purchasing a membership. The pictures in the book are amazing- I will probably buy my own copy just to have on display in my living room :)

Another book I came across this week was Read it and Eat: A Month-by-Month Guide to Scintillating Book Club Selections and Mouthwatering Menus. Considering I am in two book clubs, and actually just hosted one last night, I grabbed this off the shelf for future menu ideas. A fun book, with a good selection of genres and recipes to accompany each month's selections. Perhaps another book I may want to own. Last night's book club read The Memory Keeper's Daughter, which begins in Lexington, Kentucky. If I had known about Read It and Eat sooner, maybe I would have served some Kentucky bourbon pecan pie, instead of my usual cheese and fruit platter and chocolate brownies. There's always next time I guess.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Latest reads and Edith Wharton

Diana Gabaldon's Outlander started out as a book I thought I could easily sink my teeth into, but about halfway through I started to lose interest. I so wanted to like the book too knowing that there are several more in the series. There is nothing better than finding an author or character you love and knowing that once you finish one book there is another to follow. Maybe I'll try Outlander again some day when there are fewer books in my TBR pile that I am eager to get to. But will that ever happen?

Running with Scissors was another one I read recently. I had seen the movie trailer and thought hmmm...with all of the hype the book has gotten I should read it before seeing the movie. It certainly was a book I could not put down- it was like watching a train wreck. You know you should look away, yet you can't. Now that I've read the book though, I'm not so sure I will go see the movie. The squalor Augusten Burroughs described living in while staying at the Finches house was nauseating. People not bathing, roaches everywhere, bizarre habits of Dr. Finch himself- such as his toilet readings (what the hell was that?), and most appalling of all- the good doctor's assistance in helping a 14 year old Augusten fake a suicide attempt so that he could avoid school and spend more time with his 33 year old boyfriend. And adults are supposed to be the responsible ones??

After Running with Scissors, I decided I needed something lighthearted and turned to Anybody Out There by Marian Keyes. Being entertained by many of her previous books and hearing her speak (incredible woman btw), I thought her latest would be just what I needed to help me forget Running with Scissors. While not the upbeat novel that I thought it would be, Anybody Out There is still a charming story of the second youngest Walsh sister. ***Spoiler warning! Anna's attempts to connect with her dead husband Aidan through spiritual mediums is heartbreaking as she picks up the pieces of her life. Her outspoken sisters and slightly zany parents inject some humor into the novel and help make for a great read. With 200 pages left to go, I am already sure that this one will be circulated rapidly among my social circle.

Next up is a collection of short stories by John Cheever and The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton. After a recent visit to The Mount, I find myself on an Edith Wharton kick and have been rummaging used book stores for all of her works. If you've never been, her Lenox, Mass estate is worth the trip. Wharton's personal library collection was recently purchased by The Mount and brought back to her estate as part of the restoration. The gardens are beautiful and the estate's setting is idyllic.

Need to figure out what to take away with me this weekend. What would be a great read for a weekend of camping/white water rafting in the Maine wilderness? Any suggestions? I'm all ears.