Dear Reader

Random musings on reading and books from a librarian in training.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Bookworm is hitting the beach

Dear reader,

There will be lull in posts because Bookworm is going on vacation. The wireless connection/ ability to go online is very spotty so I don't know if I'll be able to post much. I'm hoping to figure out my wireless router thingy (thats the technical term!) before I leave.

I hopefully will have much to write about it when I get back. The combination of the fact that the television set remains off for my entire vacation and my family members' early bed times means I usually end up reading a lot. I set aside six books to bring, but think that might have been overly ambitious.

(The above picture is the view of Lake Ontario we have at night.)

Happy reading! I'll be back on August 11.

Sally Lockhart returns to TV

Philip Pullman may be best known for his Dark Materials series, but he also wrote another well performing series of books. The Sally Lockhart series is completely different genre. It’s a mystery series set in Victorian times.

PBS Masterpiece Mystery will be re-airing The Ruby in the Smoke and then showing The Shadow in the North

New Life for Pullman’s First Series -

Friday, July 25, 2008

Reading poll

I saw this on a blog I like to read – A Cat and Twenty ( I thought it sounded like fun and although no one tagged me :p I thought I’d do it. So the rules are:

1) Bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE.
4) Reprint this list in your own blog.

I guess I should get cracking on my Dickens and Austen reading!

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman (I’ve read Golden Compass. Two more to go!)
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Ronald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Chime in on the comments about books you've loved on this list or want to read. Or feel free to mock some of these books - The Five People You'd Like to Meet in Heaven. ::shudders::

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Pinch me, I'm dreaming!

Pardon me while I squeal like a crazed fan girl for a minute. WHHEEE!!!

Ahem. So Comic Book Tattoo comes out July 29.

Spinner interviews one of the artists involved in the project.

Comic Book Tattoo: Colleen Doran

Tori Amos Inks Her 'Comic Book Tattoo' –

Tori’s doing a musical!

Tori Amos Is Writing a Musical –

Speaking of swooning (somebody catch me quick!), HBO has some videos for True Blood are online. True Blood are based on Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse books.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Twilight Midnight parties

Move over Harry Potter, there’s some competition in town – Bella Swan. The last book in Stephenie Meyer’s comes out the first Saturday next month. Like Harry Potter, a number of midnight parties are in the works for the release of Breaking Dawn.
According to the Associated Press, the first printing of Twilight was 75,000. Two books later that number was bumped up to 1 million for Eclipse. The series has taken off. Meyer’s The Host is also on the New York Times bestseller list and Twilight is ranked number four according to Amazon’s sales rankings.

Vampires at midnight! Parties for last 'Twilight' –;_ylt=ApUhuAxvuHH1rKQFdlM0jb9REhkF

The library in tough times

I’ve written about my respect/ love of libraries. They are great resource for people from all walks of life. Over at the Consumerist today, there was a post about how the library is a great resource in tough times.

They are:

You can get pretty much any book at the library

Yes, we have movies

Kids Activities

Save Money and maybe your life!

Make new friends

Find a new job

Libraries listen to consumers!

The post touts that many libraries have inter-library loans, rent videos very cheaply ($1-2) or for fear and have a plethora of services and activities.

Many libraries also have passes to local attractions such as museums or aquariums.

So whether times are tough or you’re flush, the local library is a gem.

Monday, July 21, 2008


For just $25,000-plus you could own a first edition copy of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and the typewriter Douglas Adams used to type the scifi classic.

Buy the typewriter on which Douglas Adams wrote Hitchhiker's Guide for $25,257.94

This Hemingway look alike contest cracks me up. That’s a lot of a Hemingway doppelgangers.

Florida man wins Hemingway look-alike contest –

The LA Times is cutting back its book staff and may be shuttering its standalone book review section.

LA Times to Fold Standalone Book Review –


Publishers Weekly has a write up on the upcoming Comic Book Tattoo, which is a collection of comics inspired by Tori Amos songs. I already pre-odered my copy!!

Image Comics and Tori Amos Ink Comic Book Tattoo –

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Books on tape goes high tech

I’ve been on the hunt for audio books lately. I have several long car rides this summer and there’s only so much music you can listen to during an eight hour car ride.

Here’s the thing: Books on CD are expensive and they’re also pricy on iTunes. So they’re usually something I don’t want to buy.

Audiobooks are also a rare time that I don’t always go to the library. I feel like it’s usually difficult to find what I want and it involves too much browsing in hopes of finding something worthwhile. My library has some sort of program where you can download books for free, but they’re not compatible with iPod.

I’m picky about some things … I wanted an audio book that I can put on my iPod or burn on a compact disc. I thought that if I had books on my iPod it might actually get me out walking. (We shall see…)

eMusic to the rescue.

The service also has audiobooks. For about $10 per month, I get two credits. I downloaded Are You There Vodka, It’s Me Chelsea. I can burn it on a CD or put it on a MP3 player. I burned several chapters on CD, so I could give my iPod a break when I went away this past weekend.

Are You There Vodka? Is currently selling for $18.95 on iTunes. So I feel like I’m already ahead money-wise.

I was also impressed with Border’s audiobook selection – they have great prices and a variety of options. I just downloaded Into The Wild for free and uploaded it on my iPod.

There’s something relaxing about listening to a book while driving.

Happy listening!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Reading under fire

File under: Say what now?

Keith John Sampson, a janitor and student, at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis was accused of racial harassment after a coworker complained about Samspon reading a book on the Ku Klux Klan.

The book: Notre Dame vs. the Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan. As the title hints, the book was about the students' and university’s struggle against the KKK.

Sampson tried explaining that he was reading a historical account, the book was actually anti-KKK and that the book came from the university’s library. To no avail. He was told his actions were the equivalent of racial harassment and similar to bringing pornography.

After outside pressure the university has apologized to Sampson.

One would hope of in all places an institution dedicated to higher learning, one could read a book without fear of persecution or offending others. How can we learn from the past and plan for the future if reading about events that have taken place is offensive?

Indeed, if Sampson had been reading say Hustler in front of a female coworker I would have said no, no, no. Not allowed. But a non-fiction history book?!

When we crack down on freedom of expression even if it’s just the act of reading, we all lose.

(Note: the book cover shown was apparently not the same as the one of the book Samspon was reading.)

IUPUI says sorry to janitor scolded over KKK book -;_ylt=Avcpuf72BlMEdaNLpJk6gVRvzwcF

American Politics Aren't 'Post-Racial' -

Monday, July 14, 2008

Library theft on a grand scale

There probably won’t be a CSI Library any time soon. If there was, however, two librarians at Western Washington University should definitely star.

Thanks to the duo’s observations and quick thinking, a Montana man faces 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

I stumbled upon this fascinating and infuriating story when looking up another library thief – Thomas Pilaar, who was recently sentenced to 10 years in prison and a $53,549 fine. According news reports, Pilaar, who lives in Denver, had seven library cards under his name and other people’s names for multiple libraries in the Denver area. He used those cards to “borrow” more than 1,000 books and DVDS that he sold online.

The Rocky Mountain News breaks down the costs to the libraries:

“Denver Public Library last year estimated its losses at $35,000, while Douglas County reported that Pilaar had $11,000 worth of overdue materials, mostly pricey coffee-table books and DVDs.”

According to the Associated Press, a woman who purchased books on Craigslist notified authorities after spotting librarian identification.

I have to admit this intrigued me because a number of online booksellers/ swapping sites feature old library books – presumably ones the library or friends of organization sold. I’ve bought old library books online. The friends of library group for my library also has an amazing sale every year and I’ve bought CDs and books that I’ve posted on my paperbackswap and swap a cd accounts. To stress I legitimately bought those items.

Not too long ago I purchased a hard cover Charlaine Harris book at, which is owned by eBay, that was marked as an ex-library book. I’m taking this seller at the word and have no reason to doubt them. As did the people I sent CDs to on Swap A CD. But, it does make me wonder, how can you really tell that these books/CDs/records/ movies were sold by the library?

I would think this could be a very tough challenge especially for sites like eBay,, Amazon or Craigslist where the volume of items being sold is mammoth.

Target: rare and priceless works

James Lyman Brubaker was also selling pilfered items on eBay, but his theft was much more sinister and insidious than Pilaar’s.

This is quite the tale. According to the Calgary Sun, after librarian Julie Fitzgerald thought a patron was acting strangely near the rare books she made to sure to examine them.

“When the man left, the books -- government material dating back to and possibly handled by President Abraham Lincoln -- were found to have been cut with a razor, with some 648 pages gone. “ (Source Calgary Sun, emphasis mine).

In a truly tv twist, fellow librarian Rob Lopresti, who writes mystery novels, was on the case. They were able to track down items on eBay that matched what was missing and set a trap using third party bidders.

Once a crime lab verified the library books were the source of the auctioned goods, police had enough for a warrant.

And folks, it just gets crazier from there.

Police discovered about 1,000 books – of which 832 may have been stolen. Included in that collection, were a number of priceless, one-of-a-kind first editions. Records showed that Brubaker had 9,000 eBay sales and made out with a half a million dollars.

The Great Falls Tribune reported that investigation indicated 108 volumes of government books were vandalized and 648 pages of maps and colored plates were missing.

More from the Tribune:

“Of the 832 volumes, 604 books were published from 1900 to the present, 207 published from 1800-1899; and 21 published from 1749 -1799. To date, 338 of the texts have been determined to have an aggregate value of $89,110. Based upon known values, the calculated total theft loss amount is approximately $220,000. Damage to existing volumes where certain pages were removed by a razor or similar device has not yet been determined.”

Breaking the public trust

Yes, there is a difference between a priceless historical artifact and a DVD, but the damage both these thieves inflicted is similar. They forcibly removed a public resource that’s free to all; whether it’s a historical map for use by scholars or a popular book or DVD. And for what? To make money.

What a disgusting, selfish act. Libraries are a sacred space. Anyone can go to a library and have access to hundreds of books and historical artifacts. Even local libraries typically have important local historical records.

The impact of such thefts is devastating. It’s not just stealing from one person or institution but literally hundreds of people, who will now never be able to look at a certain map or document.

Thankfully, due to some sharp thinking both men were caught before they inflicted even more damage.

More reading:

Great Falls man pleads guilty to stealing rare library books

Librarians helped detectives sniff out man who robbed 109 libraries and vandalized thousands of precious volumes

Library book bandit gets 10 years in prison

You Don't Love Me Yet - Jonathan Lethem

Billed as a romantic comedy – You Don’t Love Me Yet – takes place within the isolated inner circle of a group of LA hipsters. Lucinda is working in a friend’s art exhibit – a complaint center. The artist, Falmouth, posts signs seeking peole to call and complain. Lucinda soon becomes entranced by a man who regularly calls. Lucinda shares the "complainer's" insights with her band’s songwriter.

After hearing them play at an “aparty” – they were originally supposed to play inaudibly – the complainer asks to play in the band. He thinks he has a stake in the band because their new songs incorporate his complaints.

It seems everyone’s life is in a state of flux or confusion. The singer, Matthew, kidnaps a depressed kangaroo from the zoo where he works. Lucinda careens around, making foolish choices.

Some of the language was very evocative and there are some interesting concepts such as the creation of art. If art like music is collaborative who owns the songs? The one who came up with the ideas, the one who melded them into words or the one who puts music to the words?

Overall, I was a little disappointed in You Don’t Love Me Yet. I really liked Motherless Brooklyn, but felt this didn’t really compete. At times I felt like the hipness or edginess was too forced and I couldn’t really relate to the main character Lucinda. It reminded me of a lot of new independent movies I’ve seen that seem to be strange and weird just for the sake of being quirky.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Walk in the Woods

I finally was organized enough to make it to the library book club. This month we read A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. In it, Bryson chronicles his adventures on the Appalachian Trail.

Overall, I found this enjoyable. There were many very funny, light hearted moments like when his hiking companion suggests that instead of using backpacks for the second part of their trip, they use newspaper delivery bags. He says have you ever seen a newspaper delivery boy with a hernia?!

There’s a lot of interesting information about the history of the trail, environmental damage such as chestnuts dying off due invasive species and the communities near the trail.

He goes to one coal mining community that had to be evacuated because the coal underground started burning. Highways crack because of the fire. Apparently coal fires can burn for years.

There was also some neat facts about nearby Mount Washington (NH) – it gets 246 inches of snow every year, snowpeaks of 20 feet. According to Bryson, one storm in 1969 dumped 98 inches (8 feet) on the summit in three days.

In the end, Bryson doesn’t hike the entire trail. I did find that a little disappointing and felt the end was anticlimactic with Bryson and his friend bailing before they finished hiking the Maine portion.

Overall, an interesting at times hysterical read.

Sookie's coming to TV

Hmmm… I may just have to check with the lovely folks at RCN to see how much HBO is because… deep breath … True Blood is coming this fall! True Blood is based on Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse books.

HBO’s site:

Pop Candy,

Anna Paquin is Sookie Stackhouse. Hmmm… the actor who plays Bill was in the Starter Wife. I was picturing a non-blond playing this role. Someone sort of like Rupert Everett.

Anyway, I cannot wait!!!

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Times weighs in on Film Club

I always find it interesting to read a review after I’ve finished a book. Sometimes I enjoy it even more than reading it before the book because I’m entering the book without any preconceived notions or on the lookout for some perceived flaws.

I recently finished Film Club by David Gilmour, which overall I thought was a pleasant read. The Sunday Times book review tackled it this weekend.

Overall it’s a positive review with Douglas McGrath noting: “…it’s a heartfelt portrait of how hard it is to grow up, how hard it is to watch someone grow up and how in the midst of a family’s confusion and ire, there is sometimes nothing so welcome as a movie.”

I agreed with him that the book does stumble every once in awhile. I was also curious why Gilmour didn’t demand more from his son, say that he work part-time or pay for groceries.

McGrath also had troubles with some of Gilmour’s writing: “Gilmour has a fondness for simile that sometimes exceeds his gift for it.” I didn’t notice this as much, but I think if I re-read it, some of the wording might stick out at me more.

Home Screening -

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Geek Gear

A friend recently surprised me with this really cool gift (to celebrate my…shhh… birthday). It’s an iPod ca se that looks like a cheesy 1970s sci-fi book – Scavengers in Space. “Intriguing and fast paced declares the American Library Association.

The pictures wouldn’t come out but when you open it (it can open like a book), there’s like a library flap with a card that says property of with due dates.)

This gift is layers of cool people: It’s a neat iPod cover, it ’s also a groovy book knick knack. And, apparently there was really such a book. Scavengers in Space was written by Alan Nourse and came out in 1958.

According to Wikipedia, Nourse wrote science fiction to help finance his schooling. He also wrote a novel titled Blade Runner, but while the movie is called Blade Runner the movie’s plot and characters came from Philip Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

And I’ve learned something new!

Back when I used to go to tag sales and the local thrift store more often, I used to keep an eye out for campy books like The Plants. Ohh, killer plants. So I get a kick out of it for the reason too.

Many many layers of coolness!

New bookshelves

I was behind on loading pictures from my digital camera. I bring you ::cue the horns:: my new bookshelves. I actually have an entire shelf devoted to vampire lit (pictured here), which surprised me a little.

I even had room to display some pictures like the family photo to left. Guess which one I am? (Hint: I'm rocking the plaid and bowl cut)

I got them at the wonderful Woodstuff, who I'm going to plug. I think they look pretty!


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