Bookshelves. They fill up so quick, especially if you are a bookaholic like I am. I thought today I would share some pics of my own.

Here's my main "these are the books I keep forever" bookshelf.

Now you ask what happens when I find new favorites and am out of room? That's when I weed ruthlessly. I only keep books that I know I will read again. Anything else hits the deck.

Here's another stack. These are those "life changing books" that I referred to here:

(BTW The skull is just for show.)

So have a great weekend! Book Slave.


Austen and Socrates

Hello blog-o-sphere,
I had an excellent memorial day weekend. It included an entire day when all I did was watch a series of historical docs that blew my mind and read. Highly recommend it to all.
Well let's get it on, baby (not like that you dirty birds!).

A Fine Brush On Ivory
This was a sojourn into high-brow literary criticism that took me back to my English Lit student days. Jenkyn's literary analysis of the six novels of Jane Austen is not for the weak. It definitely exercised my intellectual muscles. It should be noted that Jenkyn subtitles this "an appreciation," this shows that he is clearly a fan of Austen's work. His enthusiasm is apparent in his writing, especially when discussing Pride and Prejudice. While I don't buy some of his assertions, I did find this an in-depth critical read for Austen fans.

Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned
Having read his well-known novel Devil in a Blue Dress I decided to pick up another of his series. Devil and this book are about man's struggle with violence in a society that is against them. Socrates Fortlow, an ex-convict, struggles daily against his base nature. Throughout these short vignettes Fortlow is shown trying to help people. But it never comes off as "The Fugitive" due to Mosley's stark realism. I enjoyed this work immensely and will look out for other books in the Fortlow series.

What's in My Bag
Graphic Novels
Essex County #1: Tales From the Farm
Batman: The Long Halloween

Wonder Woman #19

Four Four Two

Check Out Count: Aaaahhh!

Have a great weekend all! Book Slave.


Pic for the Weekend

I just couldn't help but share this. For those who have read League of Extraordinary Gentleman (reviewed here, and here) I tell you the Invisible Man Lives!

Have a great weekend! Book Slave.


Critic Proof

Felt a little neglected? My humble apologies. Life does get in the way. Well here's a surprise post!

There are some author's that I will pick up no matter what the critics say. These authors to me are critic-proof. As you may have picked up already I currently work in a large independent bookstore. I've worked in "books" for a little more than 8 years. At one time it was part of my job to pick and choose what new books my store would get in. Because of this I got into the constant habit of knowing what books were coming out, and whether they had any buzz about them or interest. I also keep track of trends and what well-known authors are up to. Even though I am not a buyer anymore I still compulsively keep track of what's up. Occasionally I get a surprise, we don't all have crystal balls to look into.

However as I said at the beginning there are authors and subjects that will always get my attention no matter what anyone says.

Here's a short list:

Ian McEwan
I will read any book put out by this amazing author.

Alan Moore
As I've said before-Everyone should read all his graphic novels. They are incredible, literate, and often mind-blowing.

John Le Carre Espionage
I love spy stories. However I am more interested in intricate plots, grey old man spies, and moral ambiguities. Don't get me wrong James Bond is awesome, however I want my Espionage with meat. Le Carre, as a former company man, brings the breadth of his experience to these tales. He is not afraid to expose to dark underbelly. Everyone should read "The Constant Gardener."

Jane Austen
Revisionism be damned. Her stories are funny, romantic, and revolutionary. There's more going on than "women talking in drawing rooms." Austen, mind you she was not college educated, was the first to publish stories with a narrative voice. You can hear her voice/personal commentary within the story. She is a character herself; a reader feels as if Jane is a personal friend. This is why she is Jane, and not Miss Austen.

Cormac McCarthy
His books are integral discussions of the human condition. McCarthy is dark and raw. I can't wait for his next book.

These author's I would never miss. Have a great weekend! Book Slave.


Getting my "read-on"

Summer has finally come here with a vengeance. It is awesome. I have also had the opportunity to get my "read-on" so here we go!

Scott Pilgrim Vol. 4
This volume is subtitled "Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together" and he does indeed. As the titular subject of this series I have often found myself amused and frustrated by Scott's immaturity. I am so glad that O'Malley finally shows some growth and change. He gets a job, a new place to live, and continues to woo the mysterious Ramona Flowers. I have loved the humor and "video-game" style of this series. It definitely is unique. While this is not my favorite of the series, (shame on O'Malley for gimmicky lesbianism) I still found myself laughing out loud. Favorite line:"Scott, if your life had a face, I would punch it. I would punch your life in the face." Bwah!

Armageddon in Retrospect
As is usually the case, this last collection of unpublished stories is a mixed bag. Vonnegut is at his best when he is discussing the evils of war. Being grounded in real experience I was shocked at his accounts of men being driven to the brink. He reminds us that there is no "good war." Some of the more oblique stories didn't hold my interest as much. Still worth a read, especially at this moment.

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. 2
This rip-roaring sequel brings our team together to fight a martian invasion. It also seems that there is a traitor within their own group. The "war of the worlds" plot provides action, however this volume is more about character moments. I loved the psychological insight into the character of Mr. Hyde. Moore continues to write amazingly complex characters. As a writer he is willing to take great chances. He doesn't settle for soft characterizations and easy redemptions. Unfortunately Moore leaves us with a cliffhanger that he still hasn't resolved five years later. Why do you hate me Alan Moore? Why?

What's In My Bag
Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned
A Fine Brush on Ivory

Detective Comics #844

Film Comment

Check Out Count: Far Less Insane

Have an excellent Memorial Day Weekend! Book Slave.



A short entry this week for you all. I had a writing assignment all week (yes I don't just write for you all) so that put a dent into my reading/sleeping time. Yes I am quite exhausted. So no reviews this week. Apologies. However, in its place I will reccommend an awesome podcast. I've spoken about podcasts earlier. I'm quite obsessed. This new podcast is titled Books You Should Read. It's put out by the fine folks over at Simply Syndicated in the UK. The fun difference in this book podcast is that it invites anyone to record their own 10-15 minute book review. This means that listeners have the opportunity to talk about the books they enjoy and the passion is evident. I have really enjoyed it thus far so I thought I would throw it out to you all. Check it out.

What's In My Bag
Armageddon in Retrospect
Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned


Buffy #13

Check Out Count: Far too much.

Have a great week. I need some sleep. Book Slave.


Some essentials and a little autobiography...

Today I was helping a patron find a copy of The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton and I got to thinking. This title, which I have not picked up for at least 10 years, had been a book that upon reading it had changed my view of the world. Those of us who are readers, especially us that are extreme, know that there are at least three types of books. (Now I know this is a major simplification, but just bear with me here.) There are "disposable" reads, such as romances or mysteries. These books give us comfort in their formulas and reaffirm to us that the world will be okay. Miss Marple always finds the killer. Love will always conquer all. Then there are "spinach" reads. You read the books because you feel as if you should. Sometimes "spinach" reads can surprise you. This happened to me with Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson. I never expected to love it as much as I do when I picked it up. Same goes for Willa Cather. However you will never convince me that anyone reads Ethan From by choice. Ever.
And then there are books that are "life changing." These books are essential to our lives and inform are sensibilities. Sometimes I forget my phone number, but I remember the circumstances under which I picked up the following titles:
1. 1984 by George Orwell
I was coming home for the first time from college for Thanksgiving. I'd been away from home for the first extended period in my life and I was a bit homesick. While preparing for the trip I'd taken a spin through the massive school library. It was completely on a whim that I picked up 1984, figuring I needed something to read. Boy did I ever. For the trip home I jumped on a Greyhound at 7 am. The trip took 9 hours; that's almost triple what it takes in a car. Flipping open the book I was transported into the world of a totalitarian state. The fact that Winston Smith's only salvation is through insanity blew my mind. I am still captured by the mind-bendedness of the idea that "He who controls the past controls the future" and "He who controls the present controls the past." Finished the book on the trip back and have feared the government control of information ever since.

2. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
I picked up the book again on a whim. It was a part of a "Banned Books" display and I thought I would give it a try. I have always been a sucker for time travel stories but I found myself caught up in Billy Pilgrim's dilemma. He is a man lost in time. He is unable to stop the horrible events of his life. The horrors of Dresden, as the author experienced them first hand, made clear to me the futility of war. Vonnegut tells us here that there is no "right" war. Even World War II, for all it's nostalgia, was a horror to Vonnegut. He was nearly killed by his own country! I read the book in the space of 3 crazy days.

3. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
Now I picked this up because I had heard about the movie. The movie is famous now because it had a lot of up and coming actors (like some guy named Tom Cruise). I had heard about it in relation to Francis Ford Coppola who I already worshiped because of The Godfather. BTW I'm also a major Cinephile, but that's for elsewhere. I picked up the book at the old library on the second floor (it's gone now) where they kept YA books in spinner racks. This always required a bit of a search because the books were not typically in order. I finally found a copy with some stylish 60s greasers on the front and a sticker touting a television series. (Indeed there was a short lived television series, unfortunately I never saw it) It was this book that taught me the real differences between economic classes. Ponyboy is smart, yet he comes from the poor side of town and is jumped by upper class Socs. At the time that I read this I didn't know that in a few years I would see the effects of economic difference. I went from a lower class elementary school to an upper class middle school. Lest I say the experience was humbling. Girls like Cherry Valance would not have been friends with me either. Again I retreated back to The Outsiders and it's optimistic ending.

Have a great morning! Book Slave.


Sublime baby Sublime

Folks I dare say that summer is officially on! Perhaps I will take my book to the park...Sounds pretty awesome eh?

Scalped Vol. 1
This was the most acclaimed and talked about new comic series last year so I had to pick it up. And it did not disappoint. Set on an Indian reservation we follow a Native American lawman who is not only battling corruption but also his own demons. In this first story arc he sets up the connections between the two main characters slowly. They are irrevocably tied together by a past that involves violence and death. I was pretty enthralled and highly recommend this to those who are looking for a character study. I will warn you that this story is definitely rated R. Not for the weak. Check it out, this is the future of comics.

X-Men: Days of Future Past
I decided to review this classic story arc from Chris Claremont because I had heard it name checked in regards to Heroes. In the future the X-Men have been hunted down by Super Sentinels and are about to face nuclear war. Only four X-Men remain: Logan, Ororo, Kate and her husband Peter, and are joined by a wheel-chair bound Magneto, Franklin Richards and his girlfriend, Rachel, a telepath. There last hope is to change the future by changing the past, when the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants murder presidential candidate Robert Kelly and others. To do this, Rachel sends the mind of Kate Pryde back to the present to inhabit her body at age 13. This was revolutionary at the time and brings an end to the Byrne/Claremont run. However, reading this story I was more impressed with the action art and high-concept ideas rather than the actual writing. These issues are horribly dated in their use of dialogue, clunky exposition, and characterizations. Claremont over-writes to the point of exhaustion. There's so many thought balloons. It's tough-going. So while I enjoyed the headiness of time travel and crazy action, it'll be awhile before I pick up another older classic issue.

Fables #72
This was Part 2 of a two issue series involving Cinderella. I highly enjoyed this action-oriented arc. Who knew that Cinderella is a super-spy? She kicks serious ass. There was also a backup preview for the new "House of mystery" title coming out this week. The art was great, the story not so much. I probably won't be picking it up. Still I'd reccommend picking this up for the "Cinderella" story.

What's In My Bag
Armageddon In Retrospect
Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned

Comics Now!

Criminal 2 #2

Check out count: Crazy

"Summertime and the livings Easy" as Sublime says. Enjoy! Book Slave.


Difficult Management and Grand Theft Auto

Today we are going to talk about a "difficult" topic that's pretty universal.
First some background: Management where I am employed has challenged me to improve staff relations in our department. How can I help us become more of a team? Now this is a difficult task in any industry, but especially difficult in a service industry like librarianship. Librarians serve the public on a long term basis. Let me tell you: working in a library is a pretty stable job. However it can take one bad patron experience to ruin your day.

(Now I warn you if this subject bores you to tears, then here's a fun treat, Enjoy)

Hopefully this will keep the teens occupied this weekend since the weather is turning nasty.(Hey teen services here's an idea: Grand Theft Auto tournament! Just throwing it out there)

Review and Some Library Applications

It is no surprise that over time negative experiences can create librarians that are known as crabs. One crab can then infect a whole team. So in order to gain some help in these matters I picked up a copy of "Dealing With Difficult People" written collaboratively by Harvard Business School Press. This book contains a series of short concise essays on the main topic. I was drawn by the promise of the timesaving guide logo on the cover. I found some chapters more easily applicable than others, whereas the latter half of the book was more geared toward managers/executives.

The most interesting/applicable chapter was titled "Crabs, Cranks, and Curmudgeons" written by Constantine von Hoffman. I highly agree with the notion that an effective manager must be able to use Emotional Intelligence (EI). EI is defined as "the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves and for managing emotions well in ourselves and our relationships with others. (38) How much of our judgements of our fellow co-workers is influenced by our own personal emotions? It is easier to change behaviors rather than personalities. Is that crab in your office a crab because it's their "way of life" or because of their position? Hoffman effectively emphasizes that it is a manager's job to ask these questions effectively and then make a plan of action. He emphasizes that it seems even worse to do nothing about it all.

Library applications: Look at your co-workers and use some EI to evaluate where you fit into your team.

Another effective chapter titled "Don't Just Do Something-Sit There" written by David Whitemyer discussed how to use conflicts to improve the interactions of the group. As a feminist I always get huffy about the idea that women are more apt to make "tempests out of teapots" whereas men just "have it out" and are done. I do find that a women driven industry such as librarianship it seems more difficult to resolve simple conflicts. It's up to the manager to decide when to step in and how to resolve. Whitemyer emphasizes the importance of the manager to realize the difference between institutional issues and interpersonal conflicts.

Library applications: Take a look and evaluate what team conflicts are resolvable through one-on-one dialogue. When does management need to step in?

The rest of the book centers around conflict resolution and performance appraisals. The heavy emphasis here indicates to me that these are the biggest issues for a manager. I also have a suspicion that the management book/coaching industry would have us believe this in order to sell books/seminars. Perhaps I am wrong. Managers are people too (I guess) especially in libraries. Libraries tend to have long-term employees and managers who do not want to "rock the boat." However I think that constant evaluation is the only way towards improvement. This book seems to emphasize that in it's final chapters. I found this book to be an easily concise and step-oriented book that I recommend to future managers.

Have an excellent Weekend! Book Slave.