Archive for January, 2010

LIST EXCITEMENT

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

Yes, list excitement is upon us. Okay, “us” may be a stretch, but I know Kathy reads lists, Carolyn sometimes reads lists, Millie reads lists, and Bill is said to like lists a lot, so close at hand I have a groundswell of support for thinking the Roseledge Books List is going to be a big hit. What is the List, you ask? And isn’t list excitement an oxymoron?

The Roseledge Books List (RBL) is an accumulating roster of Roseledge Books’  books ordered, books sold, books blogged, books noted as possible, and any other categories that come to mind. It is browse-able, scannable, searchable, rearrange-able, and from it, orderable.

To check out this latest excitement, click on Roseledge Books List under Pages (to the right of your Roseledge Books Blog screen), browse the list and enjoy the Roseledge Books worldview. If a defining book is missing, send me a comment. Maybe the list should be the Roseledge Books Regulars’ worldview. I’m flex — well, in spirit anyhow.

Fig. #74.  Think browsing shelves as you look through the Roseledge Books' List, even if you have to twist awkwardly to see the "extras" shelved beneath the stairs of Roseledge.

Fig. #74. Think browsing shelves as you look through the Roseledge Books' List, and be glad you don't have to twist awkwardly to see the book "extras" shelved beneath the stairs of Roseledge.

Then, if you simply must have a title that minute, click on the blue title and the Amazon.com listing for the most recent paperback edition comes up. With another click in the right Amazon spot, you can order it from Amazon.com and Roseledge Books gets a small percentage. This is for those of you who have tried to convince me that a “drop and ship” book business is the off-season way to go, but as I only get to the Tenants Harbor Post Office about once a week in the summer when Roseledge blossoms and my scooter is behaving, using Amazon.com seemed a much more reasonable option, summer or mostly housebound winter. Besides, although getting rich quick or ever will not happen this way, who of Maine chooses excess?

The RBL is proving immediately useful. Yesterday my latest New York Times Book Review (1/1/10) came, and there among the “New and Noteworthy” paperbacks was Jeffrey Lent’s After You’ve Gone, which will please one RBR who likes Jeffrey Lent and another RBR who likes family stories set in Canada and all of those Roseledge Book browsers who like Maine books and agree with the oldtimer who said of Nova Scotia, “It’s Maine only moreso.” Also, among the advertisements on pp. 2-3 (with the double-page ads, usually in the middle, my favorite ad pages) were two newly published books to note: David Hosp’s Among Thieves and Rebecca Goldstein’s 36 Arguments for the Existence of God. I’ve read two earlier works by Hosp and liked Dark Harbor, set in Boston, a lot but The Betrayed, set in Washington D.C., not so much. Publisher’s Weekly called it “lackluster.” This new hardcover, however, takes place in Boston AND has the Gardner Museum art theft as its reason for being. Roseledge Books loves art novels and, sometimes, Boston and, next year, when Art Thieves is available in paperback RB will have it.  Meanwhile, it will be on the RBL to remind me.

I love Rebecca Goldstein’s books, especially The Mind-Body Problem, Secret Attractors, and The Late Summer Passion of a Woman of Mind. Now maybe they will be reprinted in paperback and RB can get them this summer which will make waiting a year for the paperback edition of 36 Arguments for the Existence of God a whole lot more tolerable. Again, with the Roseledge Books List, I have handy a way to remember this good news promise.
Not as cold today. Squirrel tracks dot the new snow, but no rabbit tracks. Rumor is that Max(imus) the Dreadful (cat) has been attacking rabbits, but as he is currently serving a two-week timeout that no piteous yowls will curtail because his owners who go nuts with the yowls are away and a tough neighbor is feeding him, maybe the rabbits will be back. I’ll keep you posted.

A GIVEABLE BOOK?

Monday, January 11th, 2010

Today is very cold (7 above, -11 windchill) and very beautiful with Alberta Clipper snow swirls, especially against the barn red garage. Mine is a lively, urban backyard, seen through a big H window, though the squirrels, rabbits, and birds must be resting. The alley people who go to Joe’s Market on the corner are out in force; the garbage and recycling trucks have been by with an extra truck in tow for holiday leavings; and soon the shovelers will rid the walks of the powdery snow before the temperature plummets, as is the forecast. A neighbor clears the block’s public walks and alley with his frontloader Tonka toy because he is a good guy and because he owns a duplex at the other end of the long block. It’s January in Minneapolis, uncertain footing keeps me mostly housebound, and the next good book lurks.

Fig. #71. Remembering, remembering...

Fig. #71. Remembering, remembering...

I just finished P. D. James’ latest paperback, The Private Patient. It was smooth but long, and I didn’t learn anything new about the series characters or the place, so it was just okay. The fun is choosing what to read next. It’s a non-fiction day, and Tom Gjelten’s Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba: The Biography of a Cause beckons, but Marilyn Stasio twice recommended (New York Times Book Review 10/15/09, 12/3/09) Emily Arsenault’s The Broken Teaglass as a debut mystery with lexicographers as detectives, all pluses. I love to think about building dictionaries and the word authority they convey, and I need a belated Christmas gift for the fussiest librarian/friend in the world who really knows reference books, also likes dictionaries and has surely read all mysteries, especially cozies, ever written. This could be a winner. Of course, I have to test it first, a one-handed challenge as it is only available in hardcover.

I hope I’ve not been spoiled by K. M. Elisabeth Murray’s Caught in the Web of Words: James Murray and the Oxford English Dictionary, my all-time favorite dictionary-making book. Great-granddaughter Murray writes a compelling biography of this most unusual man and uses family artifacts and lore to add the telling detail I love. Think rooms of cubbyholes full of 3×5 p-slip or learning languages from Bibles in vernacular. I know Simon Winchester’s The Professor and the Madman is a good read, but his emphasis is on one OED word-reader’s connection with James Murray, and okay I haven’t read it, but I don’t think it would add much to the dictionary-making processes that are the highpoint of Murray’s book. Sometimes having savored the best, the best is enough. My worry is that Arsenault’s mystery may fall short for the same reason.

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That was yesterday. Today, ever colder and 100 pages into Arsenault, I think The Broken Teaglass may be just offbeat enough to be giveable. But the issue of giving a book about something to someone who knows A LOT about that something remains a hazard. If there is a choosing rule somewhere in all of this, maybe it should be: don’t give someone who knows a lot about something a book about that something, especially a novel. But how, then, does unconventional thinking ever have a chance to jar the mainstream mind? I hate rules. They so rarely fit.