Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Handbook on Hanging

A Handbook on Hanging: Being a Short Introduction to the Fine Art of Execution by Charles Duff
Weight: 7 oz
Method of Disposal: Donate or give away

This book appeared after Vallan left for Chicago so I think it was initially part of her collection. I read it and thought it was okay. I do not have strong feelings one way or the other. It is a satirical book about capital punishment. The author dedicates the book to, “The Hangmen of England and to similar Constitutional Bulwarks everywhere.”

It is the end of August. The months just fly by.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Unspeakable Acts, Ordinary People

Unspeakable Acts, Ordinary People: The Dynamics of Torture
An Examination of the Practice of Torture in Three Democracies by John Conroy
Weight: 6.4 lbs
Method of Disposal: Donating or giving away. If I were you I would take this book from me.

I am currently reading Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism with rapt attention. I feel like I cannot put it down, though it is taking me forever to finish it. It is so difficult to read, but it is impossible to ignore. It makes me feel overwhelmed and powerless, but it also inspires me to resist. I will write about it again when I am done with it, but if you have not read it you should and if you have you should talk to me about it, even if you disagree with it-- particularly if you disagree with it. I am about 100 pages away from the end.
In the mean time, I am getting rid of a different book. Unspeakable Acts was handed down to me with several other books that were equally grim. I did not read it right away, but the day I picked it up I did not want to put it down. Or I did, but again felt like I shouldn’t. If torture is something we, as a nation, will be taking part in we should have at least a vague understanding of it. Conroy examines torture that took place in the United States (Chicago) and in Northern Ireland (by the British). He also describes Palestinians being tortured by the Israeli Army. He explores who tortures and how they rationalize what they are doing, the effects on those being tortured, and the faultiness of the information gained through torture.

Conroy writes that “ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process." This is so scary and yet so obvious to me now. There was a time in the past where I would have doubted it, but now I feel like I have seen people become numb to so many things first hand. I can envision the people I am surrounded with doing what they feel like they have to do for the greater good. I can see how the greater good becomes convoluted. I have read about the psychological experiments, the deplorable histories of the oppressed, the news.

I think you should read this book and, right now, you have the chance to get your own copy, free. Take it. Maybe if we all read about torture we will be less likely to take part in torture. If nothing else, we will have a better understanding of ourselves and others.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Computer Books

Enterprise Content Services: Connecting Information and Profitability by Greg Laugero and Alden Globe 2002
Fodor’s U.S. Travel Road Atlas (donating? Using for art? Crafts?) 2008
Murach’s Visual Basic 2005 by Anne Boehm
Professional SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services by Paul Turley, Todd Bryant, James Counihan, Dave DuVarney
Weight: 8.5 lbs
Method of Disposal: Recycling

I was going through a box of books I had for sale and found some very outdated titles that are not worth anything, probably to anyone, at this point. I have sold many computer books without writing about them, but I am writing about these because they must have been here forever. They weigh A LOT. How long have I carried them?

The map is probably still useful but also dated. I have not decided its future yet, but it will be gone by the end of the week. Maybe turned into letters/postcards?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
Weight: 1 lb
Method of Disposal: Giving away or putting in a donation drop for

I just got rid of a large stack of books today. I wrote about them, but I had not brought them to be donated yet. I gave some to my friend Gail, others to friends at work, and then the rest went into a betterworldbooks drop off. They seem to have popped up all over the city and make giving books away easy.

Today, I am going to disband Fingersmith. Sarah Waters is such a pleasure to read. I always get completely sucked in and do not put the book down until I finish it. This particular book centers around two young women, Sue and Maude. One is an orphan living among thieves and the other lives a secluded life in a large house with a wealthy but twisted man. Sue becomes Maude’s housemaid in a devious and well-thought out plot to get the woman’s money. Of course, Sue and Maude begin to develop feelings for each other, but survival always wins out in Waters’ novels.

I have already given away Tipping the Velevet, now Fingersmith, and then Affinity—the really sad one. I do have Nightwatch as well, but I still have not read it. Once I do you will see it here. Until then, let me know if you want this book or any of the others I post!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Girl, Interrupted

Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
Weight: 6.4 oz
Method of Disposal: Donating or giving away

Here is a look into what life was like in McLean in the late 60’s. If you read the blog post about the book Gracefully Insane , you will recognize that this book is about the same hospital. Susanna Kaysen spent almost two years of her life there with other teenage girls. This memoir inspired the major motion picture starring Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie. I would say that the book is better than the movie, as it almost always is. I found both the book and the movie to be okay but not incredible, though this is the best book I have read by Kaysen.

The history of mental institutions is frightening, and it is impossible not become absorbed in some of the stories that come out of them. The doctors and nurses often being described in a way that makes them seem far more “insane” than their patients, though not always. I am currently reading The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein, and that book opens with quite the horror story. She speaks of a young woman who went into the hospital for anxiety in the 60’s and after being tortured in the name of treatment is later labeled schizophrenic.

I am sure it will surprise no one that I bought this book sometime around the age of 16 when I was buying all sorts of Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath books. There is something about this type of memoir that attracts teenage girls. It is not totally fair because these adult women do have a story to tell that is not juvenile and that is important. It just seems to be a common theme involved in teenage angst, despite how talented, how traumatic, how brilliant, how whatever the writing may be. I guess teenage girls can relate to feeling like they do not have control of their bodies or their minds. They are empathetic to disorientation, confusion, and despair. They are growing up in a world with conflicting messages and enormous pressure.

Who knows who this book will find next. What they will be like. I hope they get something out of it.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sister of My Heart

Sister of My Heart by Chitra Banerjee Diva Karuni
Weight: 9.6 oz
Method of Disposal: Donating or giving away

I cannot remember if first-year required reading was The Mistress of Spices or Sister of My Heart. I know that in 2003 they were both assigned reading for me. One was campus-wide and one was in an English class. I remember hearing a lot of mixed reviews about both books. I also remember kind of liking them. 3 out of 5 stars.

I found Sister of My Heart entertaining, though I agree with others that some of the story lines are less than believable and that the author does” exoticise” India a bit much. It reads easy. Do not come at it hoping to learn a lot about India or to read something life-altering. Take it on vacation, read it on the odd weekend you have no plans, and try to enjoy the fantasy world within. A world where the characters are just a little to one way or another and do incredible things, hard to believe things.

Chitra Banerjee Diva Karuni visited the college and signed my copy of Black Candle, her collection of poetry. I think I will hold onto that a little longer.
If you want this copy of Sister of My Heart, you can have this one free of charge if you let me know soon.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

"I want to have your abortion."

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
Weight: 9.6 lbs
Method of Disposal: Donating or giving away

Fight Club was so fun to find when I was a youngin’. My friend Sarah recommended it to me, and I loved it. It got me on a Palahniuk kick that lasted for years, and has finally completely faded away. I have been so disappointed with him lately. I am not going to re-read Fight Club because I am afraid I have outgrown it, but I love how I loved it back then. I think I would still enjoy it today, and I do like the movie, but I also think it would just be different. I mean, I hope it would?

I have to say, there are days where I wish I could just go into a basement, fight someone I don’t know, leave, and go about my life. I am sure that is not what I am suppose to glean from this book, and I do cringe a little even thinking it since I remember some kids in high school making their own absurd/ridiculous “fight clubs” in the labyrinths of the local mall. I really would rather not relate to them. And have you seen the insurance mayhem commercials lately? What’s that about?
Anyway, Palahniuk should not be held up as a genius, but he use to be quick and fun to read—way before the days of Snuff. If you want this book, let me know ASAP.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

"If You Live Through This With Me I Swear That I Will Die For You."

Courtney Love: The Real Story by Poppy Z. Brite
Weight: 9.4 oz
Method of Disposal: Donating or giving away

There was a time, long ago, when I called Courtney Love one of my “Goddesses,” meaning she was someone who I adored. Her position in the line-up fluctuated throughout those youthful years. Sometimes she was on the list and sometimes she was not. She was surrounded by Gillian Anderson, Geri Halliwell, and Shirley Manson, amongst others I cannot remember. Maybe? I think Gillian was the only one who was consistent.

I bought this book in 1998 and that was the last time I read it. I was glad that it seemed to be from Courtney’s point of view, despite the author’s attempts to make it unbiased. At the time, I felt like we were hearing from everyone but Courtney. Everything she said was discredited or mocked. I could not help but feel something for her. It was particularly frustrating to hear people accusing her of Cobain’s death. None of us knew anything about anything, but it seemed absurd to blame her when he presented himself as someone with the potential to kill himself. Lyrics about death, depression, drugs, suicide, whatever. He talked about it. He wrote about it. Why villainize someone else because you are sad that someone you admired died?

Any who, it phases me not at all and it has nothing to do with my life. It is not something I ever think about, and I never hear anyone talk about it anymore. I guess this is a token of the 90s, but I am sure there is still someone out there who will want it. Oh, Courtney Love, I think I will go listen to Live Through This. Unlike Nirvana, I still really like it. Make fun of me all you want.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Diagnosis

The Diagnosis By Alan Lightman
Weight: 11 oz
Method of Disposal: Giving Away or donating

Creepy picture, yes?

I am on a rare long weekend (short vacation) from work, and it is so delightful, beyond wonderful. I am euphoric. I like the trees more. I notice the sky more. I laugh and smile more. It would be kind of sad if I weren’t so damn happy. I mean, that not being at work makes me feel this fucking good. I am spoiling myself too. I cannot afford it, but I cannot stop myself. This “vacation” (what’s the stupid slang word? Staycation?) being so unusual. I previously had purchased a Groupon for a massage with a friend. We had scheduled it for today. We went, we relaxed, we ate a ton of sushi. Does life get much better?

It is so disheartening and deadening to go into work all the time and do the same things every day, though most Americans do. For years and years and years. We may never be able to retire, depending on our career. As of now, it is not looking so good for my old age. My body is disintegrating with the physical demands, though I am passionate about what I do. My money situation is no good and there is no chance to save for the future. Yes, I realize I should not have put all that money out there today and yesterday, but sometimes mental health needs to take priority. I will sell some things, dog sit, and do some odd jobs in an attempt to make up the difference. I think of a card I have hanging over my computer. “When work feels overwhelming, remember that you’re going to die.”

In that vein, I am getting rid of The Diagnosis by Alan Lightman. It was not one of my favorite books of his, but I did like it. It seems that many people felt the same. The most disappointed reviews I have read were by people hoping for a medical thriller. I was not thinking that at all when I went into it. I just read that a man loses his memory on his train commute to work. All he can think of is the company slogan, “the maximum information in the minimum amount of time.” And I thought, how sad, to do be deadened by the routine. I felt like it was an analogy for many people’s mundane lives. As I read, I vaguely remember thinking that his brain shut down to protect him from his boring, overworked self. The problems really start when his memory comes back, after all.

Oddly enough, the book did not achieve its full potential because, while the character seems like he would be a guy you could relate to or feel something for (no matter what it is), you really do not. The character development is weak. The other problem, for me, is that I had expected something else from Lightman. It is not his fault, but I wanted another Einstein’s Dreams or even a Reunion. If you have any desire to own this book, free of charge, please let me know as soon as possible.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

"Having Fun Isn't Hard When You Have a Library Card!" -Arthur the Aardvark

The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq by Jeanette Winter
Weight: 12 oz
Method of Disposal: Giving to Sarah G.A.

I love this book. It is a book about a library in Basra and the people who love it. War creeps into the city and the people and books are in danger. Everyone flees the library except for the librarian, Alia. She gets people to help her move all of the books into her friend’s restaurant next door. Soon, the library will burn down. In a quiet moment, she gets a truck and moves 30,000 books out of the restaurant and into her home and the homes of her friends. She keeps the books safe and dreams of peace.

In a note from the author we are told about the real Alia who managed to save 70 percent of her library’s books before it was burnt down.

This is a children’s book about war and while I would like to protect kids from the atrocities adults commit, it is impossible. Children are hearing about the wars we have been fighting, they are seeing it on television, they are watching parents and siblings leave and sometimes not come back, they are playing video games, and repeating information they overhear to their peers at the playground. They know about war. The children growing up in the United States now only know a world in which U.S. soldiers are fighting overseas. They do not know war like the Iraqis know war. They cannot imagine what it is like in Afghanistan for the people who live there. This book, and others like it, offer the children a unique perspective they may not find in many other places. This book gently describes the fear, the danger, the humanity, the desperation involved in war. It is very very gentle. The child is also able to relate to the people of Iraq, instead of always being asked to other them.

If you are curious about children’s books that describe war, you might also check into Alice Walker’s Why War is Never a Good Idea. This one is less gentle. The images really show you something about war, and it is not something anyone wants to see. It will also be more controversial, I am sure. There are many arguments that people will make for what does make war a necessary, though deplorable thing. With both books, adults should read them first and think about how they will discuss them with children before they sit down and do it. I know some people are also upset with the Librarian book, but it is truly ridiculous. It is a great story. It presents a truth. An important truth and an incredible, real woman. It does not disrespect America, our soldiers, or Americans, as has been suggested.

I have decided to give this book to my dearest Librarian, Sarah, because I know she will love it too. She has a child on the way, but I am hoping that by the time her kid is old enough to read this book it will be unnecessary. I chose this book to get rid of because I went to my local library the other day and “renewed” my library card. I use parenthesis because I got my card the first week of my first year of college and never used it for years. I never even went back to the library. Libraries terrify me. I cannot tell you why. They should be my heaven on earth and probably will be eventually. Free books for days. Now, I get shy, anxious, and nervous. My friends, Tracy and Lynne, went with me the other day. I got my library card and three books. The Shock Doctrine, a book on rats, and another book on animal emotions. I chose books quickly because the library was about to close, but I am pretty excited to get started on all of them. You get a good, long time too. Three weeks. Who knew?

Thanks for the pictures, Lynne!

Kevyn Aucoin

A Beautiful Life: The Success, Struggles, and Beauty Secrets of a Legendary Makeup Artist 2003
Face Forward 2000
Kevyn Aucoin
Weight: 5.5 lbs

Method of Disposal: Donating, unless you want them
In the interest of beauty I am donating or giving away my Kevyn Aucoin books. I do not wear makeup, and I have next to zero interest in the make-up worn by celebrities. It is quite possible that the only reason I care at all is because of Kevyn Aucoin. He does some amazing transformations in both of these books. May he rest in peace.

Around the time I bought these books, I met my hair stylist. The two events were in no way related and have never been connected in any way until now. I went to have my hair done today. I use to see her regularly, but I haven’t been able to afford to get my hair done for years. It has been over two years since I visited her and yet, on the rare occasion I have someone else cut it and when I color it with color out of a box, I feel like I am cheating on her. I have been annoyingly self-loathing lately, and I knew I needed something to help me out. She always makes me feel better. I decided to call and see if she even still worked at the salon. She does, and I made my appointment. I saw her today, and it was so much fun. We talked forever, caught up, laughed, took up too much time. She, of course, also cut my hair. I love it, but I also just love her company, the attention, and the salon. I guess I am the prototype of a “woman” after all (just kidding). I am not really sure what I like most. The color, the cut, or the conversation. No matter what I feel so much lighter after getting rid of all that excess hair and so happy.

I came home, went to the local farmer’s market with two friends for veggie crepes, greek yogurt, a tiny amount of fresh fried okra, and a oatmeal cookie/cream cheese ice cream sandwich. From there, we went out for beer and much later discovered a wonderful little taco place with great vegetarian options. Too much eating and so much delicious-ness. I hit up a Goodwill and got some clothing necessities for very little money and two tennis rackets for fun. It was a pretty wonderful day. I am sad to see it go, but I guess I must sleep. If you ever want a great hair cut and/or color call Eve at Image Salon in Alpharetta,GA.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Lesson Before Dying

A Lesson Before Dying by Earnest J. Gaines
Method of Disposal: Donating or giving it to you if you want it

I just Finished A Lesson Before Dying and was not all that impressed. The last 10-15 pages were probably the best in the whole book, which is unusual. In my experience people have far more trouble ending a story than starting one. I, personally, have that problem. In the last pages, I cried when the inevitable happens, but it is hard not to when you are reading about an execution.

The majority of the book is not emotionally charged. At least, not through the writing, which is somewhat repetitive and basic. The story itself is great, but it gets lost in all the non-descript words and in the lack of plot development. I could never really believe in the relationship between the man sentenced to death and the teacher who visits him. I needed so much more in the character development arena. The poor prisoner, he is really never given fair treatment by the author. I do not get the feeling that he was much liked by Gaines. Maybe he got so caught up in trying to make Jefferson look a certain way that he forgot to allow him any independence, thought, or respect. I know we are seeing the perception of someone change from a “pig” to a “man,” but I think it could have been achieved in a less elementary way.

I do not think this is an awful book, but I would not suggest it to anyone. It just does not do execution, racism, its own characters, segregation any justice.

P.S. Day 4 has been great! Why can't they all be this good?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

From Chocolate to Morphine

From Chocolate to Morphine: Everything You Need to Know About Mind-Altering Drugs
By Andrew Weil, M.D. and Einifred Rosen
Method of Disposal: Giving away, do you want it?

Day 3 of quitting smoking is absolutely my least favorite so far. I felt like I could not focus all day, was irritable, and whether or not it was related, I was and am extremely nauseated. I thought the first three days were the worst but now I hear it is five and, of course, the two week milestone, and then the three month. So much work! I do not like this game. Not even a little. I have found that it is best to leave work and go straight home, try to ignore everything else I have to do and sleep. The Georgia heat really helps knock me out until night falls. I wonder how my cohort is doing (I am quitting with someone else), though I hear she is not well via text.

Did I mention that this whole process is deplorable? In honor of this feeling and in memorandum of my dear cigarettes, I am giving away From Chocolate to Morphine. I am sure I do not have to explain why. If you want it, let me know, and I will ship it to you free of charge. The information is dated, but it is fun anyway, and a lot of it is still accurate. The authors state that they are not writing a pro or anti drug book but, rather, talking about relationships to drugs. Separating non-use, from use, and then from abuse.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Not Appropriate For Work

The Guide to Lesbian Sex by Jude Schell
Weight: 1.3 lbs
Method of disposal: Selling

I am ending my second day of not smoking, and it does not feel great. I swing back and forth between being confident and cocky about how easy it is to quit, and then regretting that I have gone this long without a cigarette and questioning my reasons for quitting. There is one potential upside though. I have had a huge increase in my sex drive, though I fear it will be temporary and is more connected with the edginess and anxiety of quitting than anything else. I am slightly hopeful that the extra energy boost and increased health you get from not smoking will carry it forward past these first few weeks. I have always loved sex, and I never really stopped, but ever since I was raped in my senior year of college things have been a little off. I have been on a quest to get my old sex drive back since then, despite the fact that it may not be possible and is becoming less and less important to me.

In honor of day 2, I want to sell one of my beloved sex books. Up until now I have left that section of my library untouched. Given, I am not getting rid of one of my favorites, but I still consider this a huge step. I didn’t know if I would ever be able to let any of them go. I bought this one as a bargain book for $4.99 at a Borders long ago. I am tempted to say this book is not a great one, but I think it just depends on the situation. The pictures have been described as “tasteful” and the information as “helpful.” This seems to be true. The pictures are almost too tasteful and the information is basic. This would probably be a great book for someone who is just beginning to explore lesbianism or is just thinking about it. It would be most helpful in the hands of someone who is less in touch with or just starting to understand their sexuality and/or has less experience with sexual encounters. The author writes about the importance of flirting, what women taste like and how it is different and changing, how to use touch throughout sex, and affirms that lesbians do fuck.

Monday, August 1, 2011

224 books, 236.22 lbs

Art Nouveau Poster Cards in Full Color 24 Cards Edited by Hayward and Blance Cirker
Weight: 4 oz
Method of disposal: Taking apart into postcards and sending them to all my friends, recycling the cover

I am attempting to quit smoking and so I am highly distracted and disjointed. That is why I have decided to go with the easy-to-get-rid-of and 4 oz book of postcards. Can it really even be considered a book? I have carried it around with me since Waldenbooks, like all the other books. I have a stack of cards, right now, on my kitchen table. They are all written on, stamped, and ready to go out tomorrow. I love the USPS.