Creepy Classics

As someone whose reading preferences lean towards the light-hearted and uplifting, it’s rare that I read something dark. But over the years, I have read those wonderfully creepy tales by Poe, and I’ll never forgot how downright shocked I was when I read Dracula, having expected something far more demure and reserved from a Victorian novel. I added The Picture of Dorian Gray to my reading list a few years back, so I have ventured down the path of creepy reading, but it’s not somewhere I go very often.

To those who haven’t read Dracula, you need to read it. Is there anyone out there who hasn’t read Edgar Allan Poe? Probably not, so I won’t recommend those (but just in case you haven’t – they’re short, so you don’t have to invest a lot of time, but they are thoroughly frightening and just right for this time of year). My suggestions for this post aren’t very quirky or unusual (being classics..), but they do fit nicely into the October/Hallowe’en theme. I still haven’t read Frankenstein or Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and I really should get around to those one day, because those would also fit this reading category, from what I’ve heard. Are there other creepy classics out there? Does anyone have any other recommendations? Oh, and check out my corresponding Bookstagram! (don’t forget: wmgirl01 on Instagram)
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Happy autumn, and happy reading!

To Buy, or to Borrow?

Which do you prefer? I almost always buy my books, unless I’m not sure it will be a good read, in which case I borrow it from the library. If I like the book I borrowed, I’ll probably buy it after reading it and add it to my collection. The question is, where will I buy it? Online, or from a physical bookstore?

The other day I was in a bookstore and saw a book I liked, but did not buy it, for various reasons. Yesterday, I decided to go back to the bookstore to purchase that book, but it was out of stock. Amazon, however, has the book, but unlike most of the time when the book is much cheaper on Amazon.com, it is the same price. I decided that I would forego the instant gratification of buying the book right then online, and would wait the extra few days until it’s in stock at the bookstore. But it’s so hard to wait!

Have you ever had to make that choice, between buying a book online, or waiting to buy a book from a physical bookstore? What did you do? I admit, most of the time, I do buy my books from the cheaper online source, but often price is the deciding factor. In this case, however, when the price was the same, I felt a moral obligation to support my local independent bookseller.

On the other hand, a lot of people choose to borrow books instead of buy them. What makes one choose borrowing or buying? For me, I love books and want to have a collection of my own. Do those who usually borrow not want their own collection?

What do you think? Do you buy or do you borrow? Do you buy online or from a bookstore? Is supporting the local indie bookstore a lost cause anyway?

Controversial Books

My sincere apologies for not writing much lately. Life has been far too busy and is starting to seriously impair my ability to write an engaging blog. Blogs are meant to be fun and not a source of stress, however, so I continue on and blog when I can, in the hopes that you all understand and don’t hold the infrequency of my posting against me.

Now that it’s well into September and school is in full swing, I wanted to do a post on controversial books. I’ve just begun reading The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie, and I still recall the uproar it caused when it was first published in 1988.
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Last year I read Native Son by Richard Wright, which has been ‘challenged’ repeatedly since it was published. The challengers are right – it does have very explicit sexual scenes and violence, but it is an incredible book. I still can’t believe it was written in 1940, with a searing social commentary on race relations in the United States that is still relevant today.
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I’m looking forward to the epic read that Satanic Verses promises to be, and I wonder what controversial books all of you have read. Did you enjoy it (or them)? Did you wish you hadn’t read it, or agree with those who challenged it – that it should not have been published? Or did you like it so much you wish it were required reading for everyone?

Blogging Shout Out!

One of the great things about having a blog is the great community of bloggers you get to meet. I have really enjoyed finding and following new blogs, and I realized it is long past time to introduce three of my favorite blogs to you so you can get to know them too!

So Many Books – the agony and ecstasy of a reading life, by Stefanie Hollmichel.
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I enjoy reading this blog, and I really like the Bookish Quotes page – I think that’s a unique, personal touch that helps to set this blog apart from the rest. Stefanie has lists of all the books she has read over the years with active links to their reviews, as well as an alphabetical list of all the blog entries down the left-hand side of the page, so you can easily get to the post you’re looking for.

Words Read and Written – the ramblings of an Aussie Book Blogger by Jodie.
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This was one of the very first blog I started following. Jodie’s blog has thousands of followers (I can only dream of that!), and I find her posts engaging and easy to relate to. Along with reviews, she also often features author interviews, which are always interesting!

Dolce Bellezza – for literary and translated fiction is my newest find, and I’ve already added several books to my To Read list based on reviews from this blog.
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Bellezza is refreshing because there are books mentioned and reviewed here that I would not otherwise have heard of! And who doesn’t love discovering new books?!

I hope everyone checks out these blogs and enjoys them as much as I have. And who knows? You might discover your new favorite blog, or a book you never knew you were missing.

Biblio Body Art

I like books, obviously. I would even say without reserve that I love them. And there are a lot of people out there who share my enthusiasm, based on the number of Instagram profiles I’ve seen where people unabashedly proclaim their love for the codex. However, I think I can safely say that I will never love a book so much that I feel the need to put it in my skin. It turns out that I might be in the minority on that one, because there are a lot of pictures of book-related tattoos out there.

Let me say that even though I’m not a tattoo person, I do enjoy looking at interesting body art, and what could be more interesting than art about books?

44 Adorable Tattoo Designs for Book Lovers by Sortra.com :
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36 Stunning Book Tattoos That Are Surprisingly Badass at Buzzed.com:
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Literary Tattoos at POPSUGAR.com:
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I hope you enjoy these creative nods to literature as much as I did!

BIBLIOtherapy

Bibliotherapy is a concept that was brand new to me two and a half years ago when I began my degree in Library & Information Science. But after writing a short paper on its pioneer, Sadie Peterson Delaney, it is now a subject dear to my heart.

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(image retrieved from http://www.marksdailyapple.com/bibliotherapy/#axzz3efmm29TA)

Sadie Peterson Delaney (1889-1958) single-handedly pioneered and established the concept of bibliotherapy. She was tireless in her efforts using books to help the disabled, the mentally ill and the blind. She began her library career in 1920 at the New York Public Library and was committed to community outreach. She worked with children from all backgrounds and while she was there, developed an interest in helping the blind, so she learned both Braille and Moonpoint, a simpler version of embossed reading developed by William Moon in 1847. (Gubert, 1993)

In 1824 Delaney moved to Tuskegee, Alabama and stayed there until her death in 1958. While there, she was the chief librarian of the US Veterans’ Administration Hospital. When she arrived the library had 200 volumes and within one year, they had 4,000. Interestingly, some of the books she introduced first were fairy tales. She is quoted as saying, “there seemed no books suitable for mental patients,”(Gubert, 1993 p. 125) as though fairy tales were. Ms. Peterson clearly knew what she was doing, however, as she earned numerous domestic and international citations and recognitions, including selection by the Mitre Chambers in London, England as one of America’s important women in 1934. As a direct result of her many published articles, the ALA (American Library Association) formed its first committee studying bibliotherapy in 1939. (Finding Aid for Sadie Peterson Delaney Papers 1921-1958. Retrieved from: http://www.nypl.org/ead/3605)

Her aim was to aid wounded, crippled veterans who were bed-ridden and had no way of moving past the horrors they had endured during the first World War. Delaney even had books projected onto the ceiling for those who were completely immobile (Gubert, 1993). The ALA has a definition of the word on its website followed by over a page of articles on the topic and its wide range of possible patients, from troubled children to mentally ill adults. (Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/tools/bibliotherapy)

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(image retrieved from http://verve-academy.com/bibliotherapy/)

Bibliotherapy has not yet reached its full potential. It is far from mainstream, and the average person on the street has never heard of it (please correct me if I’m wrong!!). But, there have been some articles written about it, and here is one from the BBC, published on January 6, 2015: Bibliotherapy – Can you read yourself happy?

The Verve Academy: Bibliotherapy – A Novel Cure to Stress is a good article about a practicing bibliotherapist, Ella Berthoud.

Mark’s Daily Apple wrote a good article on the concept entitled, Bibliotherapy: The Power of Books in 2011.

So when you’re feeling stressed or if you think you might benefit from some therapy, don’t rule out bibliotherapy!

Terror and Treachery

Recently, I read two non-fiction books that I heard about from friends. The first, Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan, was a page-turner. A vibrant, healthy, twenty-something woman suddenly becomes psychotic, and then, even worse, she loses her ability to speak properly and even to move. What makes this book so frightening is that what happened to the author could, in theory, happen to anyone. Susannah developed an autoimmune disease and was the 217th person in the world to ever be diagnosed with it. That was in 2009. The figure has quickly grown and continues to, as people become more aware of it.
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The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man by Luke Harding is an interesting tale about a young NSA employee who got disgusted with the carte-blanche information gathering that was going on unimpeded. He risked it all to expose the NSA’s shocking invasion of the world’s privacy.
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Which Book Memories Do You Treasure?

For readers of this post who have children and are looking for something to read with them, here are some of my favorite books from my childhood. It has been decades since I’ve read them, but they will stay in my heart forever. I wonder, what makes some books leave such deep impressions on us, while others don’t? I’m sure the illustrations have something to do with it, but there’s more, too. I can’t put a finger on it, though.

Here are three books that come to mind that I read at a very early age, and that I still love to look at whenever I visit my old room in my parents’ house:

1. What’s the Matter With Carruthers? written and illustrated by James Marshall (1972)
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The copy I had as a child has a certain, unmistakable smell, which takes me back as soon as I open the book. The adorable, quirky story is about Emily (a pig) and Eugene (a turtle) as they try to figure out why their friend Carruthers (a bear) is so very grumpy. Even their tuba and tambourine serenade doesn’t do the trick! At the end they find out why.

2. The Visit written by Joan Esley, illustrated by Eloise Wilkin (1980)
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Eva, at The Sycamore Street Press, did a post about this book, and includes pictures of some of the pages. Please check it out!

3. Noddy by Enid Blyton (1949-1963)
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My father started reading Noddy books to me when I was about 5, and I still have the collection. These books have adorable illustrations and stories that show positive problem-solving and conflict resolution.

And so I ask you, dear readers, are there some books from your childhood that will always be in your heart? And, are you familiar with any of the books in this post?

Quirky Videos to Brighten the Book-Lover’s Day

As the title of this post suggests, I wanted to give my readers some smiles and create a fun post. The videos below are endearing and quirky and I enjoyed them, so I hope you do too.

1.  Uptown Funk parody, Unread Books

2.  What happens in a bookstore at night? The Joy of Books

3. The Fabulous Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

4. All About That Bass parody, All About Them Books

Are Your Books in Good Hands?

As we all know, books have been around for centuries, and many have survived to prove that fact. Tragically, most books printed today (mass market, trade publications) are predicted to last a mere 60 years. Why? Because of the mush they’re made of that breaks down quickly and is very acidic – unlike the rag paper that was used in the 15th century that still survives today.
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*second image retrieved from http://www.collaborations.com/Ebay/abtre.htm

So while caring for your books may seem pointless if your collection is largely composed of recently published popular books, every little effort helps in making sure they last as long as possible. If you’re a regular follower of this blog (thank you!!) you will have seen various posts in the Healthy Books category here, but today I thought I would point the way to others who have also published quick tips on what to do (and what NOT to do!) to keep your books healthy.

  1. Care For Your Collectible Books: 18 Essential Tips by emptymirrorbooks.com
  2. How To Care For Your Books: 5 Tips by apartmenttherapy.com
  3. Dos and Don’ts for Taking Care of Your Personal Books at Home by the New York Public Library
  4. How To Care For Your Books by the Washington Post