Saturday, June 5, 2010

Anybody want a cookie?

One of my favorite books as a child was The Tiny Little House by Eleanor Clymer, which is, sadly, no longer in print. Clever monkey that I am, I still own my copy and it is in pretty good shape, all things considered. On a whim I pulled it out of the closet the other day and reread it. For those who are unfamiliar with the book the plot revolves around two little girls who love the tiny house that is sandwiched between their two apartment buildings and who wind up turning it into a cookie shop for an old woman. It is a very cute book with great illustrations, and it renews my love of the girl's name Alice. And of course, it makes me want to eat cookies. I remembered that peanut butter and chocolate cookies both were featured in the climatic scene where they convince the irate landlord to allow them to transform the neglected little house into a shop by stuffing his face with cookies, and I also remembered that there were recipes at the end of the book. Sadly, there is only one, for sugar cookies, and I already have a fabulous recipe for those.
At any rate, the book got me to thinking that perhaps this is one of the reasons I love to bake. Here, in my of my first loves (books), is the story of how homemade baked goods not only calmed an extremely angry man down, but also enabled a little old woman to be self sufficient. Behold the power of baking! I really do think that this book helped sow the seeds of the idea that homemade baked goods have the power to bring people closer. I could wax very philosophical about the symbolism of breaking bread together, but it is a Saturday morning after all, so I won't. I may have to bake some cookies this weekend though. If you have children and happen to come across a copy of this book in a used book store, by all means, snatch it up. (My copy originally sold for fifty cents; the book is tiny too, perfect for a child's hands, so look carefully.)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Confessions of a Librarian

As I have mentioned before, my job consists primarily of ordering and cataloging the new materials for my library. In addition to this, I'm also responsible for doing the majority of deselection or weeding as it is known in the library world. My confession is this: I enjoy weeding as much, if not more, than ordering the new books. Gasp! I love, love, love unpacking the new books when they come in, but the actual ordering process can be rather tedious. Weeding on the other hand consists of me spending large spans of times happily exploring the stacks, analyzing the collection, and pulling the outdated or damaged books from the shelves.
We have a small library and have no room currently to expand the bookshelves. This means in order to make room for the new stuff I have to get rid of the old and outdated. Many librarians hate to weed, which is not something I understand. I get that some people love books so much that the thought of getting rid of one is hard for them, but books with inaccurate information or offensive terminology don't help anyone. And in my opinion, having a bunch of outdated books on a topic is the same as not having anything. They won't go out and your patrons will think that your whole collection is outdated.
It is possible that the reason I so enjoy weeding is that my library was not weeded for years prior to my employment so I find all sorts of interesting and almost comical content loitering on our shelves. But then again, I loved weeding at the public library too, but that was primarily because of how shabby and sometime down right nasty the books could get. I bring all of this up because I recently came across the following book: I Try to Behave Myself: Peg Bracken's Etiquette Book. It has a copyright date of 1963 and is hysterically funny. This is because it does not stick to the main points of etiquette but includes chapters on how to get rid of guests when the evening is over, and when not to have sex.
Here's a quote from the back of the book:
"No man who calls his wife 'Mother' or 'Fats' all day can justifiably expect a bonfire that night--or has Henry Fielding put it, 'a warm partaker of the genial bed.'"
Now, if I worked in a public library I might consider keeping this, despite the fact that it has not gone out once in ten years. However, since I work in an academic library an outdated, albeit comedic, etiquette book doesn't have a place here. But fear not, I ponied up the book sale price of $1.00 for a hardback and have taken it home with me.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

WWW Wednesday

What have I finished reading? I finally finished Boneshaker by Cherie Priest, which I ultimately ended up enjoying, but can't give the same sort of effusive praise as others since 1)I still found the character of Zeke to be annoying, 2)I dislike ambiguous endings, and 3)it took me so long to get into. I also read Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, which is every bit as good as anyone has ever said it was and more. So good in fact that I feel I have to read the sequel to find out what happens next. Not want to read it, have to read it.
What am I currently reading? I have two books going at the moment. The first is The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by W.R. Philbrick which I am reading in pursuit of my ridiculous Newbery goal. I set it aside for the moment for two reasons though. 1)Homer and his newly appointed doofus of a guardian are about to get scammed which I was not in the mood for and 2)because my book club book this month is a chunkster and I wanted to get going on it. That's the second book I am reading right now: The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. I'm not sure how I feel about it. The vocabulary used is out of this world, but right now I don't enjoy either of the main characters. Perhaps at this point in the novel we aren't supposed to.

What will I read next? Quite possibly Persepolis 2, but other contenders are Graceling and The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells.