Books Magazine

Project Winnow: Sunday, January 6, 2013

By Bluestalking

 

Happy Sunday from sunny and cold Chicagoland, where we're enjoying our second wonderfully mild winter in a row. Blizzard? What's a blizzard? An ice cream treat at Dairy Queen, that's what, because it's certainly not in our forecast.

No back-breaking shoveling here, no watching through windows as the men-folk dig us out from under snow measurable in feet, defying all known laws of physics by managing to stay upright on our sharply inclined driveway, sure-footed as sherpas. We haven't even had our first (of an average two to three) instance of a city snow plow knocking over our mailbox. Another forty to fifty degrees and it'll be virtually tropical. Bliss. Slide, tectonic plates, slide! If I close my eyes I can almost imagine a white sand beach, palm trees swaying in the wind, water so blue it's aquamarine. Then the sub-freezing air blows in my ear and I cry like a baby - jolted back to reality.

Yep, still Chicago. Bubble popped.

I've been such a productive member of society today: taking down the Christmas tree and decorations, getting some laundry done, changing the beds and what-not. The day before I was an intrepid explorer, cutting my way through the jungle that is, was and will again be my office, a stark reminder why I'm culling through my book collection in the first place: there is simply no more room. Even double-stacking my bookshelves and filling available closet space, still they're spilling out all over.

If this were only my house, and I lived alone, bookshelves would line every, single wall. And maybe they should, in a just world. Look on Pinterest and see all the crazy-inventive bookshelves bibliophiles have made. Makes me wish I had the carpenter gene because I certainly could never afford to have specialty shelving. Ikea and Target are my designers. Certainly nothing wrong with that but ah, some of these artistic shelves...

 

Wovenbookshelf

Even the traditionals...

 

Bookshelveswhite

 

Maybe I'll do something creative in my office, take a corner and go wild. It wouldn't have a lot of impact on all these books squeezing us out of our home but I'd love the feeling of creation. Let's back burner that, shall we? The year is young.

 

On the block today are nine books I took off my shelves at random. And so it begins.

 

IMG_2394

 

ON THE BLOCK:

 

1.  The Story of Mary MacLane by Mary MacLane

2.  The Last Witchfinder by James Morrow

3.  Kelroy by Rebecca Rush

4.  Take the Cannoli by Sarah Vowell

5.  In the Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant

6.  The Writer on Her Writing, Vol. I by Janet Sternburg, ed.

7.  This I Believe by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman, eds.

8.  The Bible According to Mark Twain by Mark Twain

9.  Lectures on Literature by Vladimir Nabokov

 

1.  Mary MacLane - fascinating young woman, no doubt, and I've read the description: the declaredly fun, outrageous ramblings of a 19 year old girl from the wild west. But technology sealed her fate as soon as Amazon told me her book's available free in Kindle edition. I know, I know. But it's the space, too, not only the quality of the book. So sorry, Mary. If I find myself with a hankering to read about your life I'm going with my Kindle.   BEGONE!

2.  The Last Witchfinder, now this one's not as easy. I'm crazy for the subject matter, though not a historical fiction fan (see below). Ratings are good at both Amazon and Goodreads, which is probably why I bought it in the first place. Invoking the FIFTY PAGE RULE.

3.  Kelroy must have been part of my 18th-C lit phase. I'm over that now. Believe me, read three or four of those and that's all it takes. I don't foresee suddenly becoming mad to read more and if I do, chances are finding something via Project Gutenberg won't be a problem.  BEGONE!

4.  I heard Sarah Vowell speak at a nearby venue and she signed my copy of this book - along with a couple others. It's mine, folks. All mine. She's quirky and smart and has the most outrageously wonderful voice, though I know a lot of people find it irritating. But I don't. Have a listen to her 'Assassination Vacation' on audio. Classic deadpan humor. KEEP.

5.  Of all the books in today's batch, this may be the most controversial decision. Unlike pretty much every other reader, I'm not a fan of historical fiction. My problem with it stems from my anal-retentive nature, the librarian side of me that doesn't want to have to puzzle out what's real and what's fiction. And there's nothing so inherently appealing to me about this book I feel I'll be at a loss if I don't read it. Sorry...  BEGONE!

6.  Writers. Women writers. I'll probably end up keeping it but, just in case, FIFTY PAGE RULE. A little surprised I'd invoke that for my twin loves of women's lit and books about books? They're not all created equally; some are much more readable, interesting and useful than others. If I'm never going to refer to it, why let it take up precious, limited shelf space?

7.  Essays, written from the gut by real people, not professional writers, about things that matter to them. KEEP.

8.  Mark Twain... I'll admit, he's not my favorite American writer. But I love that he was irreverant, so "in yo' face!" on subjects other people skirt. But I own his major works in lovely hardback editions. Do I have what's in this volume? Now that I don't know. Is it something I can't obtain for free electronically? Don't know. FIFTY PAGE RULE. Plus a little research.

9.  Finally, Nabokov. That crazy old genius. My undergrad degree's in literature and I've been known to read a few books of literary criticism in my day. But I think I'm over that now, at this stage of life. I just don't have the time. I'm panicking at the knowledge I can't fit in all the primary works, much less criticism of them. Forgive me, Vladimir.   BEGONE!

 

Not a terrible beginning: nine book, four removed from my collection, two I'm keeping for sure and three receiving a stay of execution for now.

Any of my decisions make you howl in dismay? Any you agree with?

 

Lisa


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