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Library Chicken Update :: 10.31.17

Library Chicken Update :: 10.31.17

Welcome to the weekly round-up of what the BookNerd is reading and how many points I scored (or lost) in Library Chicken. To recap, you get a point for returning a library book that you’ve read, you lose a point for returning a book unread, and while returning a book past the due date is technically legal, you do lose half a point. If you want to play along, leave your score in the comments!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Now, I am 100% pro-candy, but hear me out: what if all the bibliophiles got together with all our old books that we are ready to pass on and then we trick-or-treated each other (dressing up as our favorite literary characters and authors, naturally) so that we each ended up with a bagful of books?? I mean, we’d need fairly large bags, obviously, but when I imagine hearing “trick or treat!” followed by the satisfying thwack of a book into my treat bag I get very happy...

 

Modern Lovers
By Emma Straub

I’m a fan of “getting the band back together” stories, where we see how long-term relationships have changed over the decades as friends interact and age. This is literally one of those stories: we follow two couples, close friends since their college days, when three of them were in a band and briefly experienced vicarious stardom via the fourth band member, who left the band, became wildly famous (with one of their songs), and then died young and tragically. Now a movie is being contemplated about their old bandmate and not everyone is excited to see their past up on the big screen. The younger generation (each couple has a teenage child) complicates things further with a possible romance of their own. This is the third novel I’ve read by Straub and my favorite so far.
(LC Score: +1)


The Last and the First
By Ivy Compton-Burnett

I’ve been gradually working my way through Ivy Compton-Burnett’s books without any particular plan, so I was surprised to see (in the introduction to this edition) that this was her last novel, edited and published posthumously. Usually that’s not a great sign, but Ivy’s acerbic dialog and her usual cast of characters (including controlling and passive-aggressive matriarchs, ironic young men, and dourly humorous servants) are all on display here, proving that even at age 85 she was still in fine form.
(LC Score: +1)

 

 


Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse
By Faith Sullivan

If I’m wandering through the library and spot a book with a title like Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse OF COURSE I’m going to pick it up immediately, regardless of how high the to-read stack is at home. This novel is apparently one of a series written by Sullivan about the fictional small town of Harvester, Minnesota and the personalities that inhabit it. Our protagonist is a widowed schoolteacher, who reads novels — especially those by P.G. Wodehouse — to distract herself from the difficulties and hardships of her life. It’s an interesting (and relatable) idea and I’m always up for a slice of small town life, but the more I learned about the citizens of Harvester, the more concerned I became. The schoolteacher receives ugly anonymous threats via mail for decades. Her son is viciously bullied both as a child and as a brain-damaged war veteran. Nasty gossip causes a town newcomer to lose his job, and eventually drives him to suicide. While I agree that Wodehouse is good for what ails you, it seems to me that maybe the schoolteacher would have been better off just moving to a new town.
(LC Score: +1)


I’ve enjoyed Jill Lepore’s nonfiction so I was looking forward to this novel, set in Boston in 1764 and telling the story (in alternating narratives) of a disgraced young woman who disguises herself as a boy and becomes an apprentice to a Scottish painter (who is himself on the run from his creditors). As the painter becomes disturbed by his strange feelings for his young apprentice (and the apprentice wonders whether it is safe to let him in on her secret), we also follow a subplot where two slaves have been wrongfully accused of murder after the mysterious death of their master. A murder mystery in pre-Revolution New England, an over-the-top romance involving disguised lovers, and angry commentary on racism and slavery (provided by the painter’s best friend, a brilliant and highly educated black man) — by all rights I should have loved this book, but somehow it never quite came together for me. Guess I’ll have to go back to the library and get another stack of Lepore’s nonfiction work.
(LC Score: +1)


This is an eclectic collection of Smith’s essays from various sources and occasions. Smith can be intimidatingly intellectual and a few of these pieces were a bit too highbrow for me (hardcore literary criticism involving authors I’ve never heard of, a deep dive into Italian cinema, etc.), but I do love her writing.
(LC Score: +1)

 

 

 

 


HARRIET TUBMAN IS THE BEST AND MOST AWESOME BUT HOW AM I ONLY LEARNING THE EXTENT OF HER AWESOMENESS NOW?!? (IT IS A TRAVESTY AND FLORIDA’S PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM — LOOKING AT YOU, BREVARD COUNTY — SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF ITSELF.) SHE SHOULD BE ON ALL THE MONEY AND HAVE ALL THE STATUES AND I IMMEDIATELY NEED AN ACTION-ADVENTURE MOVIE RETELLING HER REAL-LIFE EXPLOITS RESCUING ENSLAVED PEOPLE AND SPYING FOR THE UNION SO PLEASE MAKE THAT HAPPEN.
(LC Score: +1)

 


Mark Twain: A Life
By Ron Powers

Picked this up to prepare for our reading of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in middle school literature. I had no idea that Mark Twain was such a diva. I suspect he’s one of those people who I love to read about but would almost certainly have found insufferable in real life.
(LC Score: +1)

 

 

 


Yeah, I don’t really want to talk about it: RETURNED UNREAD
(LC Score: -7)

Library Chicken Score for 10/31/17: 0
Running Score: 107 ½

 

On the to-read/still-reading stack for next week:


Curriculum Review: Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons

Curriculum Review: Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons

52 Weeks of Happier Homeschooling Week 41: Make Up Your Mind to Make Happiness a Priority

52 Weeks of Happier Homeschooling Week 41: Make Up Your Mind to Make Happiness a Priority