Dear Reader

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

Monday, October 13, 2008

Reading on the cheap

While the economy continues its free fall, many of us are trying to cut down on unnecessary expenses and looking for ways to save. I've started clipping coupons again and have now vowed not to look at my 401K statement for a long time.

What about those books, hmm? To paraphrase a famous quote, "Give me bread and books."

Here's a few ways I try to keep my book spending under control.

*Swapping - There are a plethora of swapping sites out there. Some specialize just in books, while others include books, CDs, DVDs and games. My personal favorite is Paperbackswap ( To get started you need to post 10 books and get two credits. If someone requests one of your books, you pay to mail it to them earning a credit. You can use that credit to request a book from someone else.

One feature I use on the site is the wish list - I've listed several books that I would like that are currently not in the system. When that book becomes available, I can either set it up so that it's automatically ordered or I receive an email alerting me. (For example, I recently received Neptune Noir, which is all about my favorite girl detective, Veronica Mars. PS: CW you still suck.)

When I read a book, I try to be very critical about whether I want to keep it or swap it. I've also picked up books for cheap along the way that I had a feeling would be in high demand with the sole aim of swapping them.

*The library - I wish I took more advantage of my library instead of too often giving into my book hoarding impulses. What could be cheaper than free?! Most libraries these days also have books on tape, CDs, DVDs and good old VHS tapes. If your library doesn't have what you're looking for, there's a good chance that they're part of a network. For instance, my library is part of the Minuteman Library Network, which means I can request materials from dozens of libraries. Many libraries also have museum passes available and free Internet access.

Libraries are also host to a variety of events: ESL lessons, movies, children's story time, book clubs, lectures, music, etc. I could go on!

* Used books - I occasionally hit a used book store new my house, Annie's Book Stop. The books are usually significantly cheaper than brand new books. With Annie's, I'll return books that I bought there previously for store credit.

Over the years, I've picked up used books many places along the way: garage sales, thrift stores, sidewalk carts and library sales. I LOVE the book sale the Friends of group does at my library. I've been able to pick up some neat, quirky books that were very inexpensive.

* Friends/family - I tend to freak out about lending books, especially ones I like, for fear I'll never see them. I have been lending more lately ... baby steps. But sharing books with friends and family is a great way to get more exposure for books and authors you enjoy. It's also a great way to find new authors/ books that you might not have picked up on your own.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

fledgling - Octavia Butler

For some reason it's taking me forever to finish a book lately. I'm so tired by the time I get home, that I'm ready for tv. We'll play an "old person's card" and chalk it up to the change in the weather.

I finally finished fledgling by Octavia Butler, which I learned about watching a HBO special before True Blood.

Fledgling centers around Shori, a 53 year old vampire, who wakes up hungry, alone and badly injured. Someone is targeting Shori's family and anyone who tries to protect her.
While Shori is a vampire (or Ina), she's also the product of genetic engineering. A mixture of human and vampire, it's believed her black skin and human DNA enable her to stay awake during the day and also go into the sunlight (although her exposed skin does burn).

I really found Butler's take on vampires interesting - unlike some books vampires can have children and mate, live in communities - men and women do live in separate communities and have a unique relationship with the humans surrounding them. Ina are bound to the humans they regularly take blood from and suffer a horrible loss if that human (symbiont) dies. This is a far cry from the dangerous, blood thirsty vampire who callously discards humans after feeding on them.

There were some parts of the book that dragged a little for me, but that might have been my reading state of mind. Overall, I found this an interesting take on vampires and a stirring look at racism and bigotry.

Monday, October 6, 2008

True Blood update

So, I'm sticking with True Blood but mostly at this point for the hope that it will actually achieve it's full potential and because I love the Sookie Stackhouse books so much.

Maybe I'm too literal but I find it jarring how one minute they have dialog verbatim from the book and the next minute they're adding subplots that aren't in any of the books. I don't if they felt they had to pad it because the first book was too short for a whole season.

Things that annoy me:

The Tara subplot - don't know why they have to make Tara so grating and abrasive when in the books she's actually successful and owns her own clothing store. The unrequited love for Jason... yeah, that's never been done before. And sleeping with Sam, ugh, do NOT get me started.

V juice - Yes people drink vampire blood and its sold on the black market. Last week's episode with Jason drinking a whole vial of vampire blood to me was ridiculous and over the top.

Sookie's abilities - Yes Sookie can read people's minds, but it's only explicitly acknowledged by a few people. For the most part, Sookie tries to downplay her ability and others attempt to live in a state of denial about it.

That said, the actor who plays Bill is growing on me and I think Anna Paquin is great. I also like the feel of the show. There's been some great images and scenes like when Bill wiped his tears and they flashed on his hankerchief with a smear of blood on it.

Subscribe Now!