Thursday, 21 August 2014

Library Loot-- Well Sort Of

Yesterday was my Play Reading class and afterwards I generally go to the State Library either to pick up something I ordered or to return things. I seldom pull books off the shelf to bring home. For one, they are generally by people I have never heard of. If I want something really good or current I need to place a hold on it and then pick it up when the library staff notifies me.  Secondly I have so many books at home that I shouldn't go anywhere near a library.

I have been in a reading slump. That's not to say I haven't been reading. I have, but I seem to get about 1/3 to 1/2 into a book and then lose interest. Nothing is really grabbing me. No idea why but we all do this from time to time.

I was walking into the library to pick up the DVD of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. I really want to see this as the short story by James Thurber has always been a favourite. I can't believe it is anywhere near as good as the short story.

I had a brain wave so to speak. My brain waves are rather innocuous so I don't get too excited about them. They can occur anywhere and usually don't amount to a lot but the idea did involve the library and I was there so why not.

I decided I would walk the stacks and pick the five slimmest volumes I could find. I knew I could finish them, I knew I'd have no idea about any of the books chosen and I knew they would vary by degree in how good, well written, interesting they are.

This is what I found as I walked up and down the aisles of fiction.

1.  The Betrayers by Robert Morrison. An uncle and nephew go to Bangkok to visit the sister who has been arrested for drug trafficking. They see her and she looks emaciated with circles under eyes and dark as bruises and the skin of her face stretch tight over her cheekbones.(from back cover.) Their father was an Australian artist who committed suicide not long before and the experience in Bangkok draws them all together. (Inside front cover of DJ) We'll see. 139 pages.

2.  Faces in the Crowd by Valeria Luiselli. In the heart of Mexico City a woman, trapped in a house and a marriage she can neither fully inhabit nor abandon, thinks about her past. She has decided to write a novel about her days at a publishing house in New York about the strangers who became lovers and the poets and ghosts who once lived in her neighbourhood.  In particular, one of the obsessions of her youth-Gilberto Owen- an obscure Mexican poet of the 1920's, a marginal figure of the Harlem Renaissance, a busker on Manhattan's subway platforms, a friend and an enemy of Federico Garcia Lorca. Somehow as she writes the two lives connect across the decades. 148 pages.

3. The Embassy of Cambodia by Sadie Smith. Now I have certainly heard of this author but not this book. Inside cover of DJ states "A rare and brilliant story from Zadie Smith taking us deep into the life of a young woman, Fatou, domestic servant to the Derawals and escapee from one set of hardships to another." Beginning and ending outside the Embassy of Cambodia which happens to be located in London. It is a story of how small things in an ordinary life always raise larger more extraordinary questions. Hmmm. 69 pages

4. Quantum of Tweed by Conn Iggulden. (From back cover) Albert Rossi has many talents. He can spot a cheap polyester at a 100 paces. He knows the value of a good pair of brogues. He is in fact the person you would have on speed dial for any tailoring crisis. When Albert accidentally runs over a pedestrian, he is launched into the murky world of murder for hire. Instead of a knock on the door from the police, he receives a phone call from a man who sounds surprisingly like Stephen Hawking. At that moment Albert Rossi decides to change careers. His life is about to get a whole lot more interesting.  This is a Quick Reads book which makes me think it must be one of those high interest low reading books. It is from England and at only 74 pages I am bound to finish it.

5.  Secrets by Patricia Scanlan. Published by New Island Public Door Ireland. It states- Kate is finding it hard to come to terms with her husband's unemployment. She and Bill are struggling to pay the bills. They don't have enough money for the children's Christmas presents. And having a boastful next door neighbour isn't helping either.  Then Kate's old friend Carmel phones to say that she'll be visiting soon. Carmel is glamorous and rich- she seems to have it all. What will Kate do? She hasn't told Carmel about Bill's job loss and she's too proud to admit that they're in trouble. But Carmel has a secret of her own.  76 pages

There you have it. I have 3 weeks to finish these five little books before they are due and then I plan to review all of them. I'm hoping to kickstart my reading habit again, gain more enthusiasm in what is still a chilly winter and at the end of those three weeks begin on my enormous TBR pile. Wish me luck.


  1. That's an interesting way to break a reading slump! I usually stick to magazines when I can't focus on books, but I might try your way next time I'm stuck.

    1. Hi Lisa, I went through my magazine mood. Got tired of them so now hoping to get back into books. Need to get off social media! Such a time waster when I am tired.

  2. That is a brilliant idea. I find myself revisiting old-friend-authors with a bit of a fear of the new at the moment, and stacks of books I feel a lack of commitment to open. I should do this using my own shelves!

    1. I was also thinking of doing that next. It's silly to get so many library books when I have so many on my shelves but I just felt like something totally different. I will really have to get into my thousands of TBR books.


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