I’ve been trying for a while to deaccession a stack of books that I weeded from my shelves before all of these shelf by shelf photos were taken. I don’t feel the need to make any money from them but I do feel the need to make sure they go to a good home. Often I take them to my local Friends of the Library for them to sell in their well-stocked, well-run sale room. But for some reason, sometimes I feel maybe there is a better place to donate them. So lately I have been placing handfuls of books in those little free library kiosks that people have been installing in their front yards across the USA (and UK? or Canada? or elsewhere?) Good plan, right? Maybe.
I’m about to say something that may be a little controversial. In my normal routine I pass between 8 and 12 of these little libraries on a daily basis. When I first saw them popping up I was so excited. Sometimes taking a book, other times leaving one or two. But now I kind of feel like they are everywhere and I think we may have reached a cupcake shop-level tipping point of ubiquity. Perhaps I wouldn’t mind so much if the quality of the contents of the kiosks were a little better. Now before you call me a book snob, you must realize I am not passing judgement on James Patterson titles or 50 Shades or anything like that. No, I am talking about the fact that either the library keepers or the people leaving books have decided to dump all the junk that charity shops won’t even take. Dated real estate guides, study guides for whatever, thinly veiled religious or political tracts, self published tomes, and perhaps worst of all, self-help books. Perhaps I am being a snob, but if I am, it is in the name and honor and glory of fiction. Don’t waste your time on that other stuff, people! Okay, now I’m starting to sound like a fanatic of another sort.
Maybe my problem is this: In my community we have plenty of access to “helpful” books from libraries, bookstores, and online. Seeking and/or acquiring these titles is more like a transaction than the kind of serendipitous discovery for which these little libraries seem much better suited.
Oh, who am I kidding? I’m annoyed that they aren’t chock full of fiction!
This nation needs to read more fiction. In 2000 I worked a second job at a Barnes and Noble and every time someone came looking for a Chicken Soup for the Soul book or the latest self-help book they saw on Oprah I was always tempted to walk them over to fiction instead. (Nothing against Oprah, I gladly would have walked them over to one of her book club selections.) I’m tempted to remove everything from these little libraries that isn’t fiction and replace them with a curated stack of the novels I am looking to get rid of. Many of those I actually liked and many more are worthy books that I just didn’t care for.
Part of me wants to keep filling them with fiction (my donations do seem to disappear). Maybe rather than be annoyed by them I need to keep filling the neighborhood with fiction. Hmm, now I see myself buying books just for that purpose…
Like I said, I think I am tired of all those damn little libraries.
SHELF NINE: 34 books, 12 unread, 22 read, 65% completed
Findley, Timothy – Spadework (completed)
Findley, Timothy – Headhunter
Findley, Timothy – The Piano Man’s Daughter (completed)
Findley, Timothy – The Wars (completed)
Findley, Timothy – You Went Away (completed)
Findley, Timothy – The Telling of Lies (completed)
Findley, Timothy – Dinner Along the Amazon (completed)
Findley, Timothy – The Last of the Crazy People (completed)
Findley, Timothy – The Butterfly Plague (completed)
Findley, Timothy – Not Wanted on the Voyage (completed)
Findley, Timothy – Famous Last Words (completed)
Based on the 10 Findley books listed here that I have read, plus Pilgrim from Shelf 8, and a memoir somewhere else in the library, you would think he was one of my favorite authors. And at one time I may indeed have said that, but I am not sure it has ever been true. Highly recommended by a dear friend, I plowed through most of his work in my late 20s/early 30s. At one point I even went to a reading he did when Pilgrim was published. In fact, it might be the only author event I ever made a point of going to in my entire life. If I am being totally honest my love of Findley’s work was more aspiration and pretense than actual love. I definitely think he writes good books and I enjoyed reading them, but love is not a word I should have used. However, since I was so much younger when I read all of them I think I need to do some re-reading before I make a final judgement. In particular I want to re-read Famous Last Words which, among other things, fictionalizes the Duke and Duchess of Windsor in Bermuda in WWII. I’m also keen to re-read Pilgrim about a character who never dies. And The Wars has one of the most moving scenes of sending children off to fight wars that I have ever read.
Fisher, M.F.K. – Not Now but Now (completed)
Fisher, M.F.K. – The Boss Dog
This is what I wrote in 2013 when I read Not Now but Now: Food writer Fisher’s only novel is really four related novellas. Each one stars a woman named Jennie who one can’t help but root for despite her insanely selfish modus operandi in each story. Jennie is incarnated in England, Europe, and America and she shows up in 1928, 1947, 1927, and 1882. I didn’t expect this kind of mean, wanton hussy from Fisher’s pen. Fascinating stuff.
Fitzgerald, Penelope – The Means of Escape
Fitzgerald, Penelope – The Beginning of Spring
Fitzgerald, Penelope – The Blue Flower
Fitzgerald, Penelope – Innocence
Fitzgerald, Penelope – The Golden Child (completed)
Fitzgerald, Penelope – Human Voices (completed)
Fitzgerald, Penelope – The Bookshop (completed)
Fitzgerald, Penelope – The Gate of Angels
Fitzgerald, Penelope – Offshore (completed)
Fitzgerald, Penelope – At Freddie’s
Alphabetically speaking, the first of the two great Penleopes. I know that there are those of you out that that would say there are more than two, but for me they are Fitzgerald and Lively. I also know that some of you have a hard time keeping them separate, but I find them very different and easy to keep straight once you have read one of each. Until I wrote out this list, I thought I had read more of Fitzgerald’s work than I have. Maybe it is because I have read The Bookshop twice. Fitzgerald didn’t start getting published until she was in her 60s. Her work is so good I can only imagine what she might have been capable of if she had started earlier.
Fitzhugh, Louise – Harriet the Spy (completed)
Thanks to my 6th grade teacher Julie Mosman who read it aloud to us, this is perhaps my favorite childhood book. Re-read about a million times then and since, I must admit that my most recent re-read a few years ago left me wondering what the moral of the story is. And thanks to Frances for buying me this wonderful reprint of the first edition with the author’s wonderful illustrations.
Flanagan, Richard – The Narrow Road to the Deep North
Flint, Margaret – Enduring Riches
Ford, Robert – The Student Conductor (completed)
Always a fan of novels that deal intelligently with classical music, this is one of my favorite books of all time. It is about a young conductor set against the crumbling of the Iron Curtain.
Forrester, Andrew – The Female Detective
I love these British Library Crime Classic editions for these covers. I have yet to read any.
Forster, E.M. – The Life to Come (completed)
Forster, E.M. – Maurice (completed)
Forster, E.M. – A Room with a View (completed)
I’ve read all of Forster’s fiction. In fact, I think I have read all of it at least twice each, if not more. I think I have a few more of his titles in a stack of mass market editions that will show up here later.
Freud, Esther, – The Sea House
Frost, Frances – Innocent Summer
Gale, Patrick – A Place Called Winter (completed)
I had never heard of Gale until Simon Savidge gave me this book when we went to Booktopia last year. Not a perfect book but really, really enjoyable and kind of touching. Kind of a Canadian Brokeback Mountain of sorts.
NEXT TIME: Galgut to Gordon