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04 January 2012 @ 11:24 pm
Books, books, books  
Boy, no one's reading my stories these days, except at AO3. It's like I'm writing into the void! The crickets and I are getting lonely...

I finished some books over the break, including my first encounter with the written No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. I loved the HBO mini-series (what a cast!), so when this book showed up at the library, I grabbed it: Tea Time For The Traditionally Built. This one is the 8th book or so, and occurs after the events in the TV series. Lovely style and atmosphere—it's total escapism. I imagine this is what the British would refer to as a "cozy."

One thing I got hung up on was that, rather than referring to "the late Mr. Polekutse," the characters would instead say, "Mr. Polekutse is late now." This prompted a snarky and highly inappropriate response, e.g., "Well! Let's see how punctual you are after you're dead!" Some unexpected character developments happened, too. Christopher read the book before I did, and I asked him whether he was surprised that Grace (Miss 97 Percent) was engaged. His answer was very defensive: "No—Grace can be very nice!" Well yes, she CAN be, but she rarely is. Mostly, Grace is opinionated, wrong, and argumentative. I.e., she has a disagreeable personality. Her fiance is very easygoing and patient, though, and she tries very hard to be less outspoken and impulsive. He brings out her best side.

I so wish they'd make a second season of this show, but that seems unlikely. Still, I'm very glad thelana did a post on it a few years ago and got me to watch it!

Before that, I read Sweet Jiminy, by Kristin Gore. It's set in the Deep South, where a young woman in a personal-direction crisis stumbles across an unsolved double-murder from decades ago, and starts digging into a case that was fated to be "cold" even before it happened. Highly readable and captivating.

Then I detoured through Kid Lit to read Tuesdays At The Castle. The castle in question is semi-sentient. When it gets bored (usually on Tuesdays, when the king receives reports and hears grievances), the castle changes: new rooms, corridors whose pathways shift, disappearing rooms. The current king is the tenth descendant of a former king's barber. The barber was chosen as the new king after the castle routed him to the throne room again and again, and once he was crowned the castle spewed the old king's feckless son out of a water closet and headfirst into a haystack. The rest of the book is just as quirky and delightful.

Next up: I'm reading Harry Potter #2 and a Lincoln Rhyme mystery, and starting (finally) The Hunger Games. Watch this space for followups!

 
 
 
Jas Massonjasmasson on January 5th, 2012 08:53 am (UTC)
Boy, no one's reading my stories these days, except at AO3

I hear ya. There's a lot I like about AO3, but the slow, slow death of LJ does sadden me, I must confess.

I'm on the hunt for some good books, but I couldn't get the Castle one or Sweet Jiminy over here at my library, alas, and they both sounded good...
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Bookshalfshellvenus on January 5th, 2012 06:11 pm (UTC)
Sorry about those two books-- they were both fairly new at my library, and the authors are American, so it might take awhile for them to migrate over the pond.

Do you have a reservation/hold system at your library?

I would be lost without it ours (it covers the librarys of multiple counties, and will transfer "holds" to your home library). One of the real tragedies happening in my city is the rabid reduction of actual books in libraries. Ours only has about 66% of the the number of "books-on-shelves" it had when we first began going there 10 years ago. There are more places for people to sit, more computers for people to surf the web (and usually, that's what they're doing-- not work, not school research, but just free surfing). All of this is at the expense of actual books, and every time I bring this up to one of the librarians they give me some disingenuous response that implies that I imagine that there are fewer books.

Well, no. I can see that most of the missing mysteries (still in good condition) were put up FOR SALE about two months ago, and not backfilled.

/rant
*koff*
As you can see, this is a touchy subject with me. :0
Jas Massonjasmasson on January 5th, 2012 08:29 pm (UTC)
Oh GOD yes. This is pet peeve for me as well.

I thought about an LJ rant about libraries and AO3 in a response to this! ;)

My library, to be fair, has really stepped up its ordering system, so you can order pretty much everything published over here and anything that crosses the atlantic (I could find another Ktistin Gore. Sammy's Hill?) BUT. Like yours, the number of actual books in the library is well down, so you can really only get something if you already know what you want... not finding a jewel through browsing. (To be fair again, also, there's no longer a charge for ordering like there used to be.)

When I was young (many moons ago) my mother made a huge treat of going to the library and picking out books each week. It was a highlight of my childhood. It's sad that kids won't have that any more.

/supporting rant ;)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Bookshalfshellvenus on January 5th, 2012 08:39 pm (UTC)
Yes! It's as if the people who run the library system have completely forgotten that BROWSING through books is how people usually select what they want.

It's not AmazonInYourHood.com. We don't usually know what we want before we get there!

Ours is notorious for having books 2+ in a series on a shelf, but no copies of Book 1.

On the plus side, something they introduced recently was libary shuffling. I.e., our shelves now have a mixture of books that normally live at other branches, so we're seeing a whole new selection in the "browsing" category.

Sammy Hill is a previous book by Kristin Gore, and I have no idea what her usual writing is like. But "Sweet Jiminy" had great flow, and showed all 4 main characters really well-- especially their differences in perception about the world and race. The main character is a young white woman, and she befriends a young black man. She's visiting her aunt, an old white woman, whose housekeeper (an old black woman) is the aunt of the young man. So you get both sides of the race issue, across the old generation (when the crime was committed) and the young generation (when things SHOULD be better but aren't necessarily so).

If it's in the system, you can try requesting it. I live for putting things on hold. Now I need to go back and scarf up a bunch of No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books, so Christopher and I can both read them. :D