Love Your Library, July 2022

Margaret posted about books picked at random while volunteering at the library, and the way a certain type of cover can draw you in or fit your mood. I’ve certainly experienced this, too!

I’ve noticed that, lately, my library system has been making an effort to cover gaps in its holdings, purchasing books to boost its collections of LGBTQ and postcolonial literature: reissues of novels by Caribbean and Indigenous (e.g. Maori) authors, more by trans people, Black British authors from the Virago Modern Classics series, etc. They also tend to buy up writers’ back catalogues, especially if reprinted as a uniform series – I keep hoping they’ll do this for Sarah Hall. Though I volunteer at the library twice a week, I don’t have insider knowledge; it’s still a mystery to me how and why some books get ordered and some don’t.

Since last month…

 

READ

  • Orchid Summer by Jon Dunn
  • Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
  • Secrets of the Sea House by Elisabeth Gifford
  • This Is Not a Pity Memoir by Abi Morgan (for book club)
  • The Summer of the Bear by Bella Pollen
  • Transitions: Our Stories of Being Trans, ed. Juno Roche et al.
  • Stormy Petrel by Mary Stewart
  • Madwoman by Louisa Treger – reviewing for Shelf Awareness

 And from the university library:

From whence this amusing quote about library books:

“No T. More in any of the bookshops, so tried Public Library. Can’t think why one never thinks of Public Libraries. Probably because books expected to be soupy. Think this looks quite clean and unsoupy. You get fourteen days. Sounds like a sentence rather than a loan.”

(I sometimes get perfume-y books, but not soupy ones. How about you?)

 

I’ll zero in on one of these, Lessons in Chemistry, because there are 50 reservations after me in the queue – that must be a record for my small library system! Bonnie Garmus made her authorial debut at age 64; you can be sure she’ll be in the running for the next Paul Torday Memorial Prize (awarded by the Society of Authors to a first novel by a writer over 60). Elizabeth Zott is a scientist through and through, applying a chemist’s mindset to her every venture, including cooking, rowing and single motherhood in the 1950s. When she is fired from her job in a chemistry lab and gets a gig as a TV cooking show host instead, she sees it as her mission to treat housewives as men’s intellectual equals, but there are plenty of people who don’t care for her unusual methods and free thinking. I was reminded strongly of The Atomic Weight of Love and The Rosie Project, as well as novels by Katherine Heiny and especially John Irving what with the deep dive into backstory and particular pet subjects, and the orphan history for Zott’s love interest. This was an enjoyable tragicomedy. You have to cheer for the triumphs she and other female characters win against the system of the time. However, her utter humourlessness/guilelessness felt improbable, the very precocious child (and dog) stretch belief, and the ending was too pat for me.

 

CURRENTLY READING

Continuing with my flora and summer themes; continuing to linger in Scotland; reading about the amazing birds filling our skies (and nesting in our eaves):

  • Where the Wildflowers Grow by Leif Bersweden
  • Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding (for book club)
  • Swifts and Us by Sarah Gibson
  • Black Narcissus by Rumer Godden
  • Tenderness by Alison MacLeod
  • Where the World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean
  • Golden Boys by Phil Stamper
  • The False Rose by Jakob Wegelius
  • Summer by Edith Wharton

 

What have you been reading or reviewing from the library recently?

Share a link to your own post in the comments. Feel free to use the above image. The hashtag is #LoveYourLibrary.

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18 responses

  1. I was put off Lessons in Chemistry by all the hype but a friend recommended it to me last week so I’ve added it to my list. Good to have a second opinion!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I liked it enough to recommend it. I mentioned it to a book club friend at a party last week, in fact.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I read Lessons in Chemistry as a fable; I was fine with EZ’s uncompromising attitude and flat affect and the dog because I didn’t see it as a realist novel in the slightest. I was a bit nonplussed by the three episodes of violence but I loved it for the wish-fulfilment, I have to say.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The violent scenes did seem to come out of nowhere. I had to wonder if EZ was the way she was because of the trauma in her past, or if she was being presented as on the spectrum. A definite wish fulfilment fantasy by the end!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved Lessons in Chemistry – but then I would, wouldn’t I? Thought the dog was fab. I’m glad you enjoyed it too, but on reflection I do agree the ending was too neat.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Half of what I read on holiday was library stuff–the multiple Cadfael mysteries, the Georgette Heyer, the Mary Stewart, and the James SA Corey! I’m finding that there are gaps but also surprising gluts (the Cadfaels are all available through the ebook holdings). Still haven’t figured out the procedure by which to request the library buys a book, though. I’m going to have to go to an issue desk and talk to a real person, I suspect.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very good! I’ve not borrowed an e-book via my library system before, but I know that’s an option. Ideally I’d like to find a form where one can anonymously request/suggest a book for purchase. If I mentioned every new or backlist release that ever popped into my head to read, they’d soon tire of hearing from me!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, that what I’d like too–and indeed that’s what I expected to be able to find on the library website; it seems the most obvious solution. But… nothing.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for the honourable mention, Rebecca. And I’ve so far read not a single one of the books you mention this time 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re my most faithful participant!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Yes, perfume-y books, and also smoky books too, unfortunately! We try to let those air out before reshelving.

    I loved Lessons in Chemistry but I am a sucker for a smart heroine and a happy ending – especially in these depressing times. I loved the dog especially, which is unlike me because 1. I’m more of a cat person and 2. I tend to avoid books with animals because they’re usually in peril. But this dog was so perceptive and charming I couldn’t resist falling for him.

    I’m glad to hear your library is filling in gaps in the collection!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve had to get rid of unread books I got from a Little Free Library because of the cigarette smoke smell on them.

      I agree it was refreshing that Six Thirty wasn’t in peril! (Well, he was a couple times, but he turned out fine.)

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Ha, I just finished Lessons in Chemistry and gave it exactly the same rating 🙂 (I read a library copy, which I managed to pick straight off the shelves – I think I must have been there just after they put the new books out). For me it was very much a book of two halves. The first half hung together and worked for me, despite its zaniness, but it all went off the rails after she started the cooking show – I just found its appeal so unconvincing and I totally agree about the child and dog.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was curious how you’d been getting on with it! Initially I was confused that it all seemed to be backstory to the cooking show, which I had thought was going to be the most important element. And I agree it was unlikely to be a hit show in the real world. (P.S. I usually prefer the U.S. cover, but I hate this one! It’s a boring chick lit/romance look.)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree! I’m not a fan of either cover but the US cover is terrible and I think would genuinely have affected my reading experience.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. P.S. Have you seen the bizarre U.S. cover for Disorientation?

        Like

  8. I read and reviewed a Simenon title and a so-so Aldous Huxley novel, both from the library, but mostly I’ve been trying to whittle down a phalanx of TBR paperbacks due for despatch to local charity shops.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. An admirable goal! Once it’s finally built, I predict I’ll be singlehandedly stocking our local Little Free Library for years with the proof copies and other paperbacks I regularly discard.

      Like

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