Tag: bookshelves

Well, the summer reading program has definitely got me using our library again!

I tried to find books for the challenge which are already on my TBR backlog- and then got overeager- oh yes, I do want to read that one, and that one, and this one too . . . !

The challenge only asks me to read one graphic novel, one book a librarian recommended, check out and use one cookbook, etc. I borrowed eight graphic novels, four cookbooks, three recommended titles, and a few others just on a whim. Hope I can read them all before the due dates!

A while ago I said to my husband, why don\’t we put shelves behind the bed? where there\’s empty space between the headboard that leans back, and the air duct that juts out. I looked for a long time and couldn\’t find any ready-made bookcase that would fit at just 9\” deep. So he finally built some for me:

I held things up, moved cords for the drill around, painted. Took us about two days. Then spent a few hours rearranging my library to make use of it! Which was the fun part. These are all TBR books. First row in:

and the rest:

(And it\’s only half-I have eight other shelves of TBR). Happily this got them all off the floor, and allowed me to rearrange the permanent books so none are double-stacked or horizontally wedged in. As you can see in before and after pics below, of another wall in my bedroom. The stack on the floor in the corner is mostly books I read since the pandemic started. I had no place left to shelve them into the permanent collection.

Now there\’s space and then some! It\’s so nice they all have a bit of breathing room too.

What’s a birthday, without a few new books? I placed an order mid-October with Powell’s, and the last of them finally arrived today. I’m just delighted. Thank you to my husband, my parents and my in-laws who all enabled this little splurge!

I miss the library. My kids do, too. Third-grader is bemoaning the fact that she\’s read all the books on her shelves and has nothing new (this is true). Well, except the Magic Treehouse series. She tried a few, didn\’t really care for them. So I put them up on the book swapping site I belong to, and let her pick some titles for herself. Half a dozen on the way now!

Then I decided to support an independent used bookstore, and made an online purchase. I looked for titles by some of my favorite authors that I\’ve been wanting to try (most of which are not available at the library anyway). Did the same on the swapping site. Here\’s all those:

Discovered a fellow member with very similar taste in reading material. Who was offering two-for-one on the paperbacks. So I also chose a ton of unknowns, just for the heck of it. (I have lots of points on that site to use up). In the mood for juvenile fiction, so ended up with this lot, which came today:

Finally, picked these out for my kid. I might read some of them, too! She just got a new book for her birthday, so has something to read now. A family member gave her a gift card and guess what, she used it to order a book by her favorite author- however it\’s not out in print until July. Now she has more books while waiting for the one she really wants (seventh in the Upside-Down Magic series).

Of course, I\’ll always let her borrow age-appropriate books from my shelves, but she\’s not quite as keen on animal stories as I am . . .

A peek at one of my TBR shelves, although the focus when I took the photo was a plant (this was on my garden blog).

Some time ago I rearranged all my TBR shelves (there\’s twelve now, with three additional stacks on the floor). Mostly by subject- so if I was in the mood for fiction, fantasy, a memoir or natural history, it would be easy to find something. But I also shelved all the books I\’ve heard about from other bloggers, and those already on my written TBR from other sources, together. Figured it would give me some motivation to read ones I can cross off an actual list. This selection comprises four shelves out of the twelve. Sadly, I keep looking at them but have not felt like picking any up yet. Still working my way through stacks of Audubon and Defenders of Wildlife. Tried to read more of Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell last night, made it through only three pages.

Like many of you, I thought I was going to make a large dent in my TBR shelves these weeks, but have found it difficult to maintain focus and enjoy books. Instead I\’ve been reading periodicals.

Three of these we have regular subscriptions to- National Geographic, Tropical Fish Hobbyist and Amazonas. The rest I got free once off CL– two large cloth shopping bags full. I gladly took it because most were exactly the subject matter I enjoy- environment and nature. Audubon, World Wildlife, Nature Conservancy, National Parks, Sierra, Defenders of Wildlife and more. The stack of them all on my bedroom floor is literally more than a foot high. I assumed when I picked these up it would take me years to get through them all- dipping in here and there, between regular books. Now it\’s kind of my mainstay. For how long I don\’t know.

They\’re all relatively recent- I think the oldest issue is from 2016- and it\’s nice that a lot of them have stories about positive change and progress. Monarch butterfly numbers on the rise. Wolves and cougars repopulating into new areas of the country. Land set aside for wildlife, species protected, operations harming ecosystems altered or shut down. Of course a lot is about things that need to be done, raising alarm for problems around the world. But I am glad to read the positive stories- people do care, and a lot of good is happening out there.

I was travelling over the holidays. It wasn\’t intended to be a bookish trip (aside from the fact that I finally got through some books on my e-reader). We had quite a few flights and I didn\’t want to haul books around, plus I didn\’t anticipate finding many English books in the Spanish- and Dutch-speaking countries we visited (or at least, slim chance that among the small English selection there\’d be anything I actually wanted). But in spite of that I brought two home:

The first is a YA (or J Fic?) graphic novel El Zoo Petrificado by Joris Chamblain (The Petrified Zoo). Turns out the original isn\’t Spanish but French, so this is already a translation. I looked it up when I got home and there doesn\’t seem to be an English version yet. We were in a small newstand/gift shop in a main bus station on Gran Canaria, killing some time and making a purchase to get change for the bus. Picked out a few items for the kids as souvenirs, and this book kept catching my eye. I thumbed through it in the shop- it appears to be about some kids who together with an old man start painting animals on the walls of a derelict zoo- and then I don\’t know what happens. I was really intrigued by the artwork and apparent subject matter, and I thought I just might be able to understand enough of it to enjoy it rather than struggle at translating every other word, since it\’s written for youth. We\’ll see! If I do manage to read it, this will be the first foreign-language book featured on my blog.

The second book has quite another story. On our last day abroad we stayed in a nice but very futuristic-feeling airport hotel, Citizen M. It had lots of large, open areas set up like living room spaces, to relax or eat in. With tons of floor-to ceiling shelves full of fake plants, classy bric-a-brac and books. It looked like someone just bought a ton of unwanted, cheap books secondhand to fill these shelves and make it look homey. But book nerd that I am, I actually scanned the titles while eating, and found this one by Peter Dickinson that caught my interest because it has similar subject matter to another book I\’m reading right now (Elegy Beach by Peter S. Beagle); in both stories the alteration of the world is called The Change. I like the illustrations, too (but the cover image is pretty awful).

I read the first few chapters while my husband watched the news, and then approached a staff member on the way back to our room. I asked if the books were decorative only, or if I could read this one? He shrugged: Oh, sure, you may keep it for yourself. He probably thought it was funny or odd I wanted this old, juvenile apocalyptic fiction. But I was tickled pink.

Here\’s another foreign book I\’ve newly acquired. This one is a gift I received in the mail, from the Netherlands. One of my vector artworks is being used by a village association in Westenschouwen to represent their legend of a mermaid. My drawing was included in their book of the village history, and they sent me a copy of it! I\’ve asked my husband to read and translate it to me a bit at a time- so far we\’ve gotten through the introduction (he is fluent in Dutch, whereas I know about four words). I have written more about it over here, on my art blog.

Not to be outdone, my husband also picked up a new book while we were at a museum in Galdar. There was a countertop next to the lockers with a row of books and a notice about Book Crossing! None were in English, but my husband happily picked out a German crime/thriller, and left in its place a Dutch paperback he\’d finished reading earlier on the plane.

On a different note, I was disappointed to find I can\’t do book splurges from Loudoun County surplus anymore. There was a little storefront just outside of town where unwanted stuff from government offices was sold off. Including tons of books weeded out of school libraries. I used to go there once every other year or so, and I could fill up three or four boxes of books for what amounted to thirty dollars- it ended up being less than twenty cents a book. I hadn\’t been in a long time (since I got so much from The Book Thing recently, and a large regional library sale earlier in the year). I was looking forward to taking my older daughter this vacation week. But it\’s now closed. They now only conduct online auctions, and unfortunately I don\’t want to buy huge lots of books unseen. I\’m not in the business anymore of selling off used ones on Amzn (tried that already, didn\’t work out for me). Well, I guess it\’s better to not overdo it on the used books anyhow. There are two tall piles in my bedroom already since I ran out of shelf space, and I need to work at getting the floor cleared again!

It was my birthday last week. I found, to my delight, that the Book Thing of Baltimore had just reopened (they were closed for a year due to a fire). It is basically a free book exchange. The place holds over 200,000 donated books. I asked my husband if for my birthday treat, we could stop there (for several hours) on the way to visit family. He obliged- and I wasn\’t the only one who got books! We donated, too- my kids and I all cleared some space off our shelves. We gave the Book Thing three boxes full of books, and brought home five in return. My six-year-old picked out nine books (in good taste- some Little Critter, a few Golden Books and a picture book about collie puppies that I remember fondly from long ago), my teenager got about fifteen (YA fiction and some cookbooks- she\’s honing her skills), my husband found just over twenty- mostly on history and languages. I combed all my favorite sections: sci fi/fantasy, general fiction, travel, classics, biographies, gardening, biology, animals/nature, women\’s studies, anthropology and staff picks. Here\’s my glorious haul. I don\’t at all feel bad for adding so many piles to the floor in front of my TBR bookcase- it will probably be a year or more before we visit that place again.

The first two in this stack I have actually read, and been on the lookout to add to my collection. The rest, I am familiar with the authors so eager to try more of their work:

These are ones I instantly recognized because they\’re on my listed TBR:

A few oversize/ photography heavy books:

The ones I got just because they looked interesting:

and a few possible oops– I already had a copy of Thirteen Moons– promptly sent this one out in the mail thru Paperback Swap when we got home. I know I have tried Mary Renault several times and not really enjoyed it… and I am pretty sure I once had a copy of Wild Animus, tried it and discarded onto the swap shelf. I guess the cover blurb caught my eye for the same reason again!

The book love didn\’t stop there. I received a few gift cards- one for Powell\’s! -and after getting a few items for my aquarium, I mostly used the rest to round out my collection of Gerald Durrell. The first one arrived today- Ark on the Move (with photos!) Thumbing through it I fear I made a mistake: it has chapters about pink piegons and bats, so I think this is another case where one of his books was published under two different titles. I\’ve also ordered Golden Bats and Pink Pigeons– and I bet it\’s the same text. Will have to make a few returns… I wish I could find a list somewhere of his titles pointing out which have alternative titles.

While I was updating my LThing catalog today, I took the time to add in all the titles I have on my e-reader. I didn\’t realize so many. One hundred. I\’ve only read seventeen of them! It feels odd to put them in my catalog. Do you count e-books, when you\’re tallying up your books? They feel intangible: I often think- if my device suddenly quit working, or got lost or destroyed -all those books gone in an instant (I should copy all the files to my computer as backup). And yet there\’s a plus to that: if there were a fire, and I wasn\’t preoccupied with getting my kids safe out of the house, I\’d probably grab my sketchbooks and the e-reader. It would only save a fraction of my library, but it would be something. There\’s so much unread stuff on it because I tend to forget they\’re there. Upcoming travels, it will finally see some use again.

Yesterday the library branch next town over had its annual sale. The two branches closer to me raised their prices the last sale I went to, but this one still had hardbacks at $2 and softcovers $1 each. I don\’t mind spending when it supports the library! Here\’s my haul, with a few notes:

I\’ve still got a mild fascination with sailing and fishing operations. Thus Fishdecks. Nature Wars is about how urban sprawl is mixing with wildlife that adjusts to human presence -kind of like that book that called them \’weed animals\’ I\’m thinking, only a lot more current. I\’m finding that the more gardening I do, the less instructional and encyclopedic books appeal to me, but gardening narratives sure do. Those in this stack appear to be more of the narrative type, except for Success with House Plants. It just looked so thorough I couldn\’t pass it up, and the pictures are very clear. Ditto with the aquarium fish book. I probably don\’t need another bonsai book, I haven\’t even read or applied the use of the ones I already have, but this one was very attractive. The horse book here looks a bit dated (especially in quality of photographs) but it seems to be full of stories illustrating the various points, so I thought it might be good. I\’m gradually adding to my Calvin and Hobbes collection. But I haven\’t paid attention to which of the volumes are compilations of several others, so I probably have a duplicate or two.

These I all got just because they looked interesting. The Wild Truth is about Chris McCandless, told by his sister. I wasn\’t aware that she\’d written a book! A Wayside Tavern is a duplicate- oops. I have another copy of that one picked up at the last sale. Caught my eye for the same reasons… I have not yet read any James Fenimore Cooper so here\’s a go with The Deerslayer. I just looked it up- it was the last book he wrote of his series, but it\’s a prequel to all the others- so probably a good one to start with! Alien Animals looks interesting, although another old, dated book- about introduced wildlife in various areas of the world and the problems they cause. Unicorn Mountain is an older fantasy novel about unicorns that are discovered living near a ranch and someone wants to get footage for a wildlife tv program but then they find out the unicorns have a disease so should they intervene? I like the straightforward-sounding approach to unicorns (the story doesn\’t appear to have magical elements). Backyard Giants is about competitions to grow the biggest pumpkin. Castaway appears to be about some guys who deliberately lived on an island to see how they could survive there- reminded me of Thor Heyerdahl\’s books when I thumbed through it- due to the writing style and age of the photos.

And these titles caught my eye because I\’ve seen them on your blogs and they are probably all on my TBR lists here somewhere. I\’m reading One Thousand White Women right now. It will be interesting to come back here in a few months (or years, who am I kidding) to see how my actual reading of these compares to the initial impressions that made me pick them up.

I also got a few knitting books for my twelve-year-old.

So I\’m participating in James\’ (supposedly) final TBR Triple Dog Dare. I just forgot to post an announcement because I\’ve been busy. The Dare basically means from now to April first I will only read books off my TBR shelves. With one exception- this short stack of library books I checked out earlier last month. Most of these titles were on my TBR lists, so they count too I think. But the main goal is to actually get through more of those books that have been patiently sitting on my shelves for so long…

Let\’s see how it goes!


All books reviewed on this site are owned by me, or borrowed from the public library. Exceptions are a very occasional review copy sent to me by a publisher or author, as noted. Receiving a book does not influence my opinion or evaluation of it


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