Reading Journal (5 August): Library Loot

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I love libraries, and I particularly love my library system. I’ve found that I can get any book, essentially. The one I wanted to read this month that they didn’t have in the huge system (Abraham Lincoln), I requested, free of charge, via Inter-Library Loan. It came within a week.

I’ve found that since I started “reporting” to you what I read each week, I’m being less irresponsible with my library requests. I used to just put a hold request anytime I wanted a book, and then I’d pick it up, change my mind and return it. Now I’m thinking more carefully about what I’ll actually get done before I have to return it to the library. I’m being more responsible. I’m not starting (or even requesting) books that I don’t intend to finish.

I’m checking out fewer books as a result, but I feel good because I know I’ll get to them. I even went to the library today and didn’t get any new books for myself! Of course, I also go through 5-10 picture books for my son every week!

What’s your library loot plan?

Do you just get whatever you want on a whim, do you browse at the library, or do you plan and structure your library pick-ups to only get what you are planning on reading that week?

How many books do you normally have checked out at a time? How many of them do you read?

Finished Reading

See my notes by each book below.

  • Twenty Years at Hull-House by Jane Addams (290 pages; nonfiction). FINISHED! I read this because of my interest in turn-of-the-century Chicago, and I’m glad I did. (reviewed here)
  • The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (375 pages; fiction). FINISHED! I read this for fun, and it sure was fun!
  • Pretend Soup by Mollie Katzen and Ann Henderson (95 pages; children’s nonfiction/cookbook). FINISHED! For The Spice of Life Challenge. I really enjoyed this, and I look forward to making some of the recipes with my son in the coming weeks.
  • Abraham Lincoln: A Man of Faith and Courage by Joe Wheeler (280 pages; nonfiction/biography).  FINISHED! For the U.S. Presidential Reading project.

Currently Reading

See notes by each book below.

My Books

  • The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins ( audiobook, on 22 of 38 segments, 25.5 hours total; fiction) My current audiobook; downloaded via I love how the volunteer narrators really try to read in character for this book! Mr. Fairlie was hilarious! The only down side of audio is that I’m dying to know what happens next, and the audio takes a long time.
  • The Stories of John Cheever (20 of 61 stories, 820 pages total; fiction/short stories). Part of my Pulitzer Challenge. My goal is five to ten stories a week.
  • The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne (75 read of 180 pages; children’s fiction). I’m reading this aloud to my son, a little bit every day.
  • Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathon Swift (30 read of 355 pages; fiction). I started this in a random moment. For My Children’s Literature Project. I’ll aim for a little progress each week.
  • The [Barnes and Noble] Poetry Library: John Donne (42 of 98 pages; poetry). My current poet. I’m going to read some criticism and commentary in the coming weeks. It’s harder to read than the modern poetry I’ve read lately, but that’s not a bad thing. It just means I need to slow down.
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison (275 pages; fiction). For the Beowulf on the Beach Challenge. This is one of my favorite books. I haven’t read it in five years, though, so I guess I’ll see if it still has the position.

Old Library Loot

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.

  • The Arabian Nights II, translated by Husain Haddawy (23 read of 270 pages; fiction). I’m once again enjoying the stories, but I miss Scheherazade. Now I know why the other volume’s translation was best.
  • The Chicago School of Architecture: A History of Commercial and Public Building in the Chicago Area, 1875-1925 by Carl W. Condit (220 pages; nonfiction). Not yet begun. I should make good progress during this week.
  • An Edge in the Kitchen by Chad Ward (45 read of 210 pages; nonfiction/reference). For The Spice of Life Challenge. I didn’t make much progress, but I’m still enjoying it whenever I read it!

New Library Loot

I got one new book this week.

  • Castle Waiting by Linda Medley (455 page; fiction/graphic novel). I got this on a whim, just because I haven’t read a graphic novel since last October; the three I read last year were nonfiction. This one is fiction. Not yet begun.

Fantastic Finds

I added a lot to my TBR this week, thanks to all your great input. I tried to make an effort to comment more frequently, and as a result, more got added to this list! Oops. This is dangerous.

My favorite non-review post was Book Club Classics post of Oprah’s “Mood Boosting” books. Quite a mix of books! I like the list.


  • The Night Watch by Sarah Waters. Nymeth at Things Mean A Lot says in her review that the novel moves backwards in time and that “it’s all so perfect you feel you’re there.”
  • Uncle Tom’s Children by Richard Wright. Lou at Lous_Pages says “Read it right now!” I didn’t know Wright wrote short stories.
  • The Chosen by Chaim Potok. Myrthe at The Armenian Odar Reads says this is her favorite reread. I haven’t ever reread it, but I loved it when I read it as a kid. Time for a reread myself!
  • The Other Hand/Little Bee by Chris Cleave. Jackie at Farm Lane Books says it’s going straight to her top books of all time list.
  • Nothing But Ghosts by Beth Kephart. Amy @ My Friend Amy recommended this YA novel, as did Kathy from Bermuda Onion, in comment to my post asking about non-stereotyped YA novels. Kathy reviewed it here.
  • Deb Caletti, Scott Westerfeld, Maureen Johnson, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Amanda from The Zen Leaf recommended these books/authors in a comment to my post asking about non-stereotyped YA novels.
  • The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. Yule Time Reading says it’s an “eloquently told tale.” Plus, I love that cover! One of my IRL friends just mentioned it to me yesterday too.
  • The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt. Nymeth at things mean a lot says in her review that it may be her new favorite Byatt book, after Possession. I liked Possession so I should give this a try.
  • The Trail by Franz Kafka. Amanda at the Zen Leaf also read the Graphic Novel and liked that take on it.
  • Flush by Virginia Woolf. On Oprah’s Mood Boosting Books list (found via Book Club Classics), this book is a biography narrated by Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s dog. Sounds hilarious!


  • The Looming Tour: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright. Books ‘N Border Collies says this is a very accessible history of pre-9/11 issues.
  • The People’s Choice by Herbert Agar. A 1934 nonfiction Pulitzer winner; AK at Pulitzer Palaver was surprised by the interesting insights into the first 29 presidents.
  • The Book of William: How Shakespeare’s First Folio Captured the World by Paul Collins. Teresa at Shelf Love reviews this short popular nonfiction book about the influence of Shakespeare’s folios. Sounds great!
  • Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne. Chris at book-a-rama said she read this because she’s always been too intimidated to read Darwin himself, although she wanted to. I too want to read Darwin, so maybe this would be a better place to start.
  • A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf. Amanda at the Zen Leaf found a lot of interesting issues were addressed in this book.
  • American Lion by Jon Meacham. BermudaOnion is giving away a copy of this Pulitzer Prize winner (in biography). I really hope I win!
  • 14 Cows for America by Carmen Agra Deeby. Maw Books says this picture book about an African community after 9/11 is just stunning!
Reviewed on August 5, 2009

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

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  1. Thanks for the link!

    My library trips are just as unstructured as the rest of my life. 🙂 I wander around, grab whatever looks interesting. I may get to it before I have to bring it back, I may not. It’s a lot like my bookstore trips, only much less expensive and causes less pile-up due the the “bringing back” part.

    Have a great day!!

  2. Oooh, John Donne. I haven’t heard about him since undergrad. If I recall correctly we had a good chuckle over Julia. You are right, the vocabulary and dynamics of the poetry in that time period can be overwhelming. I look back at my anthologies and cannot believe that I actually wrote papers on them. Haha.

    Also, Yay for the re-read of Beloved. I haven’t read that one if YEARS and its on my shelf calling out to me. I’m terrible at rereads though.

    Finally, you found yourself some great finds!

  3. Wow, sorry to overload your TBR list like that, haha! I hope you enjoy some of those.

    I’ve not heard of Castle Waiting, so I’m looking forward to hearing all about it. I hope it’s a good experience for you.

    And I want to say you’re far more disciplined than I am – I could never have waited through the audio version of Women in White. You say the librivox version is good? It’s sort of hit or miss there, so I’m alway a little leery. If it’s good, I might download it for a reread (re-listen?) sometime.

  4. Sometimes I make a short list for my library visits otherwise I tend to wander around without any sense of what it is I have been wanting to read! I do always hit the new books section to see what’s in and may grab a few titles that strike my fancy, and I am always up for trying things out just because they catch my eye… that’s what libraries are for, right?

    I am a habitual overborrower, though. I will often take out way more books than I ever intend to finish, but I’m ok with that since if there’s a place to indulge and splurge, I figure it’s the library! If a book goes back unread, so be it! It’ll be there waiting for me in the future if the desire to read it (or borrow it… heh!) overcomes me once more.

  5. Wow, it sounds like I’m the most structured library go-er out there! I almost always know what I’m getting before I go.

    Lezlie, isn’t the fact that they’re free the greatest thing about libraries?!

    christina, I kind of wish I’d read Donne in school so I could learn something. Just reading it on my own is definitely overwhelming to say the least. I hope the commentaries I’m getting from library will help me a bit.

    I don’t reread very often; I’ve decided to try and reread something every month. I love to reread a favorite!

    Kathy, thank you for the giveaway!

    Amanda, I am going crazy with Woman in White right now. I normally listen when I’m in the car and when I’m doing chores (i.e., just pop on my headset while I’m working). I’ve been going out of my way to do chores today, so I guess that’s a good thing, right?

    Yes, Librivox is pretty hit or miss. I like the narrators on this one. The person who put it together made sure that the same people did the different voices, so except for a few of the Marion chapters (where were done by an American; the British accents of the rest of them really add to it), the narrators all feel “in character.” The Mr. Fairlie guy hit it right on the head, it was so funny the way it was read.

    Steph, I’m always amazed by people who browse for books; I’m always a list person. But I’m trying to loosen up. I know, there’s no pressure to read a book if I check it out. But whenever I mention a new “library loot” book, someone is sure to say “Oh I look forward to your thoughts.” And then I really want to read it. So I’m becoming more careful for whatever ends up in my check out pile. Interesting how it worked that way.

    Jackie, you’ll notice, though, that most of the books I read in the coming weeks will still be classics….July was a more “modern” reading month, but I’m now once again craving the old stuff! It’s just all on my TBR for when I get in a modern mood again!

  6. Castle Waiting is one of my favourite comics – I so hope you enjoy it!

    Normally I go to the library with specific books in mind, but every now and then I bring home a random find. It always makes me happy to bring home a book I’d never heard before and which sounds great. And for FREE! I heart libraries.

  7. I’m in the same boat as you with Beloved – I’d be really curious to re-read. I last read it when I was in high school (!), and I don’t think I really had enough life experience to understand it on any very sophisticated level.

    Libraries kind of bend my mind. I’m much more of a book-buyer (I write in them), but sometimes if there’s a book I want to read, that I don’t anticipate liking enough to want to own, I’ll check it out of the library. Kind of a small category, though! I definitely finish all the books I check out, unless one turns out to be so awful that I give up on it.

  8. Nymeth, I’m glad you like Castle Waiting. I’m looking forward to it. Castle Waiting was kind of a random pick up, so I do like it too. I’m grateful for libraries so I can do that.

    Emily, I loved Beloved when I read it in high school: it was kind of an amazing wake up call that books could be so much more than the YA I was reading at the time. So I look forward to rereading it and seeing how it withstands the test of time for me personally.

    That’s great that you really only read books that you’re sure to love! Amazing. I’m the opposite: read it for free and then buy it if I love it. Except then I never have the money to buy it. My “books I want to buy” list is huge!

  9. That’s exactly my problem whenever I try the read-it-then-buy-it method. I often don’t want to commit to buying a book I’ve already read. Then, even if I do buy it, I don’t feel like it’s really “mine” until I RE-read, complete with underlinings and marginalia. I admire the lightness of living that library-goers enjoy, though!

    And I do occasionally end up buying books that I don’t love, but there aren’t too many. I usually read 20-30 pages in the bookstore before buying, so I have a good sense of what I’m getting into. 🙂

  10. I usually know what I am going to pick up when I go to the library but in the summer, I do tend to go overboard with book holds and can’t get to all of them. I have started adding book titles to my Goodreads page so I can at least keep track of what I wanted to read.

  11. Emily, Oh I’m not a book writer. I just can’t bring myself to write in a pretty new book. So I don’t have that problem. But I do like to reread my pretty new books. Reading in the bookstore is a nice idea! I normally order online, though, so no way to do that 🙁

    Juliann, I go overboard with holds ALL THE TIME. Argh.

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