Tuesday, January 02, 2024

Books Read - 2023

This year had no real pattern ... no plan ... I just pulled books from the pile. I was given a few books by a sister-in-law who had read them in her neighborhood book group, so couldn't just leave them in the community center. (I figured that if I didn't want to read them, I would give them to my public library book sale!) Here's the 2023 list:
    At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier [Book discussion book from a sister-in-law]
    From Prison Cells to PhD: It is never too late to do good by Stanley Andrisse
    Red Harvest: A graphic novel of the Terror Famine in 1930s Soviet Ukraine by Michael Cherkas [GN=Graphic Non-fiction]; ARC @work
    Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng [Book discussion book from a sister-in-law]
    How Far the Light Reaches: A life in ten sea creatures by Sabrina Imbler
    Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender YA - LTRC
    First-Hand: A Memoir of Life in 1950's Mandeville LA by J. Vernon "Butch" Smith
    Let's Talk About It: The teen's guide to sex, relationships, and being a human by Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan [GN=Graphic Non-fiction]
    Cheer Up! Love and Pompoms by Crystal Frasier, Val Wise, and Oscar O. Jupiter [GN=Graphic Novel; LYRTC @work]
    Museums & Women and other stories by John Updike
    Saint Juniper's Folly by Alex Crespo [YA, ARC]
    Glengarry Geln Ross: A play by David Mamet [@work]
    My Selma by Willie May Brown [ARC, YA - intro speaker at ALA LibLearnX 2023]
    Nothing Interesting Ever Happens to Ethan Fairmont by Nick Brooks [ARC, YA, signed by the author]
    Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson [@work]
    Jikji, light from the East III published by Cheongju Early Printing Museum

Note that prior year reading lists are linked from this page:

Thursday, June 08, 2023

ALA Annual Conference - Chicago!

Updated 6/12:  Calendar synch completed ... and photo from Midwinter added for visual interest.

 Here is my tentative schedule for ALA Annual -- in Chicago! Note that it is still tentative! There are Thursday events for me ... I have events in the official ALA Scheduler which have yet to migrate to my Google calendar -- but they will!

If you have previously viewed this, you may want to refresh to be sure that you have the latest version of my calendar.

(Note: I have figured out how to make "Agenda" the default view.) Clicking on any event will show details. I have also mastered having the time zone correct, but this time I am again living in the Conference time zone! 

Thursday, January 26, 2023

ALA Midwinter ... Ooops, LibLearnX 2023

Here is my tentative schedule for LibLearnX (formerly known as ALA Midwinter). Note that it is still tentative!

I am driving to New Orleans on Friday, and will be leaving (perhaps with an airport stop) after the closing ceremony on Monday (Note: I have figured out how to make "Agenda" the default view," I think.) Clicking on any event will show details. I think I have the time zone correct, but this time I am living in the Conference time zone! 

Of particular note, I am the "moderator" for Willie Mae Brown who will be talking about her new book My Selma. I am nervously looking forward to that event. (Saturday at 4.)

Friday, January 06, 2023

Books Read - 2022

There are themes to this past year's reading. First, this list is in reverse chronological order. The last read is the first.

Actually there are two themes and they are biography/autobiography and lengthy (fat) books. Other than Cheever's writings, what I read was all biography/memoir. Some might argue that even the Cheever writings are memoir-like. He certainly drew on his life experience and the places in which he had lived. [Reading Cheever was the completion of a sequence that I started in 2021 by reading his daughter's works, including ... wait for it ... biographies she had written and her memoirs.)

The second theme/pattern - especially for about the first 3/4 of the year was length. It seems like two book, how much could that be? But if counted in pages, that almost 2,000 pages. The Grant biography was almost 1,500 pages. That's three books totaling almost 3,500 pages.

 The combination of reading the Grant biography and The 1619 Project was very appropriate. Grant, as an army general and as President, tried to set the stage for a fully equitable society. His role (other than as the General) was not something of which I had been aware. I understand better why his portrait is on the $50 bill!

The end of the year introduced a new aspect: graphic non-fiction. Prior to reading Maus, I don't think I ever read a full graphic novel. While people would say that the three I read were graphic novels, they really aren't. Maus is a "told to" memoir; Monumental is a documented biography; Gender Queer is a memoir. They are not fiction ... hence my "tag" referring to them as GN=Graphic Nonfiction.

On to 2023!

Having said that, here's the 2022 list:

    Dirtbag, Massachusetts: A Confessional by Isaac Fitzgerald signed by the author
    Monumental: Oscar Dunn and His Radical Fight in Reconstruction Louisiana by by Brian K. Mitchell, Barrington S. Edwards, Nick Weldon GN=Graphic Non-fiction
    Gender Queer: a memoir by Maia Kobabe GN=Graphic Non-fiction
    Maus (both volumes - box set) by Art Spiegelman GN=Graphic Non-fiction
    The 1619 Project:a new origin story Edited by Nikole Hannah-Jones [creator], Caitlin Roper, Ilena Silverman, and Jake Silverstein
    Home Bound: An uprooted daughter's reflections on belonging by Vanessa A. Bee ARC, signed by the author
    Dragon Teeth by Michael Chrichton
    Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher
    Complete novels by John Cheever, Library of America; Blake Bailey wrote the chronology and notes for this volume. [At 906 pages, I feel like this should count for more than one book!] Blog post here.
    Collected stories and other writings by John Cheever, Library of America; Blake Bailey wrote the chronology and notes for this volume. [At 1004 pages, I feel like this should count for more than one book!] Blog post here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Grant a significant biography

Grant by Ron Chernow [book cover]
Earlier this year a friend posted on Facebook about the bicentennial of Ulysses S. Grant (April 22). I quickly realized how little I knew about the 18th President. I knew he had been a general, and was the commander of Union forces who accepted the surrender of Robert E. Lee at Appomattox. He also had a reputation for being (depending on to whom you listened) a heavy drinker or a drunk. I also believed that his administration was wracked with scandal.

The book by Ron Chernow is massive. The copy I borrowed was in large print - and the text ran to 1,289. Those pages are followed by another 190 pages of notes, bibliography, and photo/illustration credits. (It is a pretty fat book at 1,479 pages!)

Grant was much more than just a general and a drunk. While this biography talks about his drinking issues, Chernow notes that whatever drinking Grant did was away from any significant activities. He was not ever drunk during a battle or a crucial time in his administration. Some of that credit belongs to one of his personal assistants, and to his wife Julia. He did have a "drinking problem," but especially at the end of his life, he seemed to be able to control it. According to this biography, he never drank leading up to and during a battle. He would occasionally go on binges. There were two people who helped reign him in, one was his wife Julia, and the other a long-suffering and long-serving assistant John A. Rawlins. It's a fascinating relationship, and there is one (much shorter) version of the story on History.net.

I strongly recommend the book. The description of Grant's political acumen and actions as President were not something I had known about. The election of his successor ushered in the era of Jim Crow, which undermined much of what Grant tried to do as both a General and as the President.

The very end of his life was sad in that he rushed to finish his memoirs (published by Samuel Clemens/Mark Twain) in order to leave funds for his wife. The next time I drive east, I will try to visit both his tomb (in New York City) and where he spent much of his final time writing in Saratoga Springs (NY). I suppose, his version of his life should be added to my reading list!