Mini-Reviews – Books for Bibliophiles

Hey all! I don’t really feel like doing a full review today, so instead I’m going to do some mini-reviews for Books for Bibliophiles. 🙂

Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks: A Librarian’s Love Letters and Breakup Notes to the Books in Her Life (Annie Spence)

dearfahrenheit451Description from GoodreadsLibrarians spend their lives weeding–not weeds but books! Books that have reached the end of their shelf life, both literally and figuratively. They remove the books that patrons no longer check out. And they put back the books they treasure. Annie Spence, who has a decade of experience as a Midwestern librarian, does this not only at her Michigan library but also at home, for her neighbors, at cocktail parties—everywhere. In Dear Fahrenheit 451, she addresses those books directly. We read her love letters to The Goldfinch and Matilda, as well as her snarky break-ups with Fifty Shades of Grey and Dear John. Her notes to The Virgin Suicides and The Time Traveler’s Wife feel like classics, sure to strike a powerful chord with readers. Through the lens of the books in her life, Annie comments on everything from women’s psychology to gay culture to health to poverty to childhood aspirations.

My Review: I loved this book so much that I plan to purchase it as a reference book. The letters were funny and poignant, and the lists of “what to read when you don’t know what to read” were spot on. I highly recommend this for any bibliophile.

The Shelf: From LEQ to LES: Adventures in Extreme Reading (Phyllis Rose)

theshelfDescription from Goodreads: Can you have an Extreme Adventure in a library? Phyllis Rose casts herself into the wilds of an Upper East Side lending library in an effort to do just that. Hoping to explore the “real ground of literature,” she reads her way through a somewhat randomly chosen shelf of fiction, from LEQ to LES.

The shelf has everything Rose could wish for—a classic she has not read, a remarkable variety of authors, and a range of literary styles. The early nineteenth-century Russian classic A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov is spine by spine with The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. Stories of French Canadian farmers sit beside those about aristocratic Austrians. California detective novels abut a picaresque novel from the seventeenth century. There are several novels by a wonderful, funny, contemporary novelist who has turned to raising dogs because of the tepid response to her work.

In The Shelf, Rose investigates the books on her shelf with exuberance, candor, and wit while pondering the many questions her experiment raises and measuring her discoveries against her own inner shelf—those texts that accompany us through life. “Fairly sure that no one in the history of the world has read exactly this series of novels,” she sustains a sense of excitement as she creates a refreshingly original and generous portrait of the literary enterprise.

My Review: I dare you to tell anyone who is NOT a bibliophile that you are reading a non-fiction book about a lady who decided to read a random shelf of books in her library, and not have them look at you like you’ve grown a second head. To be fair, it DOES sound a bit crazy, but this book was actually very interesting. Rose not only describes the books, but the world in which they were written and the authors themselves. It was pretty fascinating…but also spoiler-y, so don’t read the sections about books in your TBR pile. 😉

84, Charing Cross Road (Helene Hanff)

84CharingCrossRdDescription from GoodreadsThis charming classic love story, first published in 1970, brings together twenty years of correspondence between Helene Hanff, at the time, a freelance writer living in New York City, and a used-book dealer in London at 84, Charing Cross Road. Through the years, though never meeting and separated both geographically and culturally, they share a winsome, sentimental friendship based on their common love for books. Their relationship, captured so acutely in these letters, is one that has touched the hearts of thousands of readers around the world.

My Review: This really was a charming little book. Reading correspondence between a book seller and a reader doesn’t SOUND like it would be interesting, but it really was. It was also short, so it wouldn’t kill you to give it a try, now would it? 😉

The Phantom Tollbooth (Norton Juster)

PhantomTollboothDescription from GoodreadsFor Milo, everything’s a bore. When a tollbooth mysteriously appears in his room, he drives through only because he’s got nothing better to do. But on the other side, things seem different. Milo visits the Island of Conclusions (you get there by jumping), learns about time from a ticking watchdog named Tock, and even embarks on a quest to rescue Rhyme and Reason! Somewhere along the way, Milo realizes something astonishing. Life is far from dull. In fact, it’s exciting beyond his wildest dreams…

My Review: Yes, this is a kid’s book. Yes, it’s not really about books. But it IS for lovers of language. This was a fun little adventure book and I think it would be a good introduction to word-play for children.


Read any good books-about-books lately? Post about them here! I’m always looking for suggestions!

 

 

Advertisements

Sweeping the Shelves #7

Howdy folks! Welcome to the seventh installment of Sweeping the Shelves, the weekly challenge where I try to convince myself that I DON’T NEED ALL THESE BOOKS! 🙂

The Bridge at Ardendale (JW Kent)

bridgeatardendaleDescription from GoodreadsSo, what does a legendary mercenary do when he retires? “He finds him an out of the way place… where they grow good barley and hops. Sets his-self up brewing ale, and mayhap finds a soft, curvy lass or two to keep his bones warm at night….” But when Fergus walked into the Upper Arden Valley he found far more than he had bargained for.

Final Verdict: I’ll be honest, this is one that, based purely on it’s description, I probably would have donated. But it was written by a co-worker, so I have to at least try it. 😉 — KEEP

The Forgotten Garden (Kate Morton)

forgottengardenDescription from GoodreadsCassandra is lost, alone and grieving. Her much loved grandmother, Nell, has just died and Cassandra, her life already shaken by a tragic accident ten years ago, feels like she has lost everything dear to her. But an unexpected and mysterious bequest from Nell turns Cassandra’s life upside down and ends up challenging everything she thought she knew about herself and her family. Inheriting a book of dark and intriguing fairytales written by Eliza Makepeace—the Victorian authoress who disappeared mysteriously in the early twentieth century—Cassandra takes her courage in both hands to follow in the footsteps of Nell on a quest to find out the truth about their history, their family and their past; little knowing that in the process, she will also discover a new life for herself.

Final Verdict: Well, what bibliophile can resist a description like that? — KEEP

Neverwhere (Neil Gaiman)

neverwhereDescription from GoodreadsUnder the streets of London there’s a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks. Richard Mayhew, a young businessman, is going to find out more than enough about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his workday existence and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and utterly bizarre. And a strange destiny awaits him down here, beneath his native city: Neverwhere.

Final Verdict: I really, really want to read this, I just keep not getting around to it. Ooo, wait…I think…::checks phone::…YES! Mom got me the radio drama version of this for Christmas!!! Bye bye, paperback! — DONATE

People of the Book (Geraldine Brooks)

peopleofthebookDescription from Goodreads: In 1996, Hanna Heath, an Australian rare-book expert, is offered the job of a lifetime: analysis and conservation of the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, which has been rescued from Serb shelling during the Bosnian war. Priceless and beautiful, the book is one of the earliest Jewish volumes ever to be illuminated with images. When Hanna, a caustic loner with a passion for her work, discovers a series of tiny artifacts in its ancient binding—an insect wing fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hair—she begins to unlock the book’s mysteries. The reader is ushered into an exquisitely detailed and atmospheric past, tracing the book’s journey from its salvation back to its creation. 

In Bosnia during World War II, a Muslim risks his life to protect it from the Nazis. In the hedonistic salons of fin-de-siècle Vienna, the book becomes a pawn in the struggle against the city’s rising anti-Semitism. In inquisition-era Venice, a Catholic priest saves it from burning. In Barcelona in 1492, the scribe who wrote the text sees his family destroyed by the agonies of enforced exile. And in Seville in 1480, the reason for the Haggadah’s extraordinary illuminations is finally disclosed. Hanna’s investigation unexpectedly plunges her into the intrigues of fine art forgers and ultra-nationalist fanatics. Her experiences will test her belief in herself and the man she has come to love. 

Final Verdict: Ok, I take back what I said for The Forgotten Garden…what kind of bibliophile can resist a description like THAT? — DEFINITELY KEEP

The Wreckers (Iain Lawrence)

thewreckersDescription from GoodreadsThere was once a village bred by evil. On the barren coast of Cornwall, England, lived a community who prayed for shipwrecks, a community who lured storm-tossed ships to crash upon the sharp rocks of their shore. They fed and clothed themselves with the loot salvaged from the wreckage; dead sailors’ tools and trinkets became decorations for their homes. Most never questioned their murderous way of life. Then, upon that pirates’ shore crashed the ship The Isle of Skye. And the youngest of its crew members, 14-year-old John Spencer, survived the wreck. But would he escape the wreckers? This is his harrowing tale.

Final Verdict: Well, I snagged this one from a library sale to give to my niece and nephew, so I guess that counts as donating it. But I’m gonna read it first! 😉 — DONATE


Today’s Count: Keep = 3, Donate = 2

Overall Count: Keep = 22, Donate = 13