Sunday, January 30, 2011

Weekly Wrap-up for January 30, 2011: Library Book Sales, New Acquisitions, and Reading.

This last week was finals week as the kids finished their first semester and took their final exams. I get all new kids next Tuesday and I am excited to start fresh and implement some of my own ideas into the classroom. Right away I will be teaching The Glass Castle to my seniors and instructing them on how to write their own mini-memoirs. My sophomore American Literature students will be diving into Of Mice and Men, a book I am not a fan of. I will have a big challenge in front of me to make sure that I can teach it in a way that I end up loving it as well!

My two U.S. History classes will start learning about WWII, so that should be a fun few weeks. I have a lot of interactive activities planned, including a few webquests. Hopefully it all turns out well!

Besides being stressed out about grading essays, I also had some fun moments this week. My library was having their used book sale, so I made sure to set aside time on the first day to head over there. It was packed, as usual, but there were a lot of great things! I managed to walk away with a quite a few new additions to my shelves. I'm apologizing in advance for picture quality. I was fighting the kitties who wanted to attack and eat my new books as well as explaining to the husband where all these came from. :)

This first stack from top to bottom contains the following:

Echoes from the Macabre by Daphne Du Maurier: Since I adored Rebecca, I had to snatch up this collection of short stories as soon as I saw it.

Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse: I have this one on my list and just haven't gotten my hands on it. It has a glorious cover and was in great condition, so it was a good find!

Midwives by Chris Bohjalian: A fellow teacher had this with her at lunch and the premise sounded interesting, so I grabbed it for a future read.

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck: This is one I have heard great things about. I'm a little annoyed with the amount of tape all over the book, but hey, it was $1!

The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera: I have another title by the same author on my shelf (The Unbearable Lightness of Being), so this gets to join it (it was an impulse buy)

Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt: I was certain I didn't have this and since the book looked brand new, I bought it. Then I came home and realized I already owned it...anyone want it? I'll ship it to you if you live in the U.S.!

The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope: This was another book that looked brand new and since its a classic, it needed a home on my classics bookshelf.

Howards End by E.M. Forster: I read A Room with a View as my 3rd book off my list and loved it, so hopefully this one is as good!

This second stack from top to bottom contains the following:

Three Comedies by W. Somerset Maugham: Since reading The Painted Veil and loving it, I decided to start collecting other pieces by Maugham. This has three of his plays.

The Social Contract by Rousseau: A philosophical piece I once read in college for a history class. I lost my copy and have been looking for one ever since. I really enjoyed it, so I hope to read this again (eventually).

Evangeline by Longfellow: This is another piece I read in college and really enjoyed. This was a cute little edition, so I had to have it.

The Sea, the Sea by Iris Murdoch: Yet another book that just called to me. I seem to recall reading a review of it recently, so I picked it up and shoved it in the bag.

Four Major Plays by Henrik Ibsen: This was a pretty Oxford Edition (which I do love) and contains a couple of the plays on my list, including A Doll's House, which is being read for A Year of Feminist Classics in March.

So Long a Letter by Mariama Ba: I have seen reviews for this pop up everywhere, so when I saw it, I grabbed it and clutched it close (I also scared a little old lady in the process). I may have squealed as I grabbed it. Apparently it is hard to find??

Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy: This is actually a title I cut off my original list. Now that I have a copy, I want to read it....but we'll see.

The Prince by Machiavelli: Yet another book off my list, and a pretty Oxford classic!

This third and final stack contains the following from top to bottom:

The Best American Short Stories 2005, 2002, and 1998: I am going to try and make a point of reading more short fiction, so when I saw these I picked them up. Flipping through them, I can tell that only a few stories will appeal to me, so I am glad I didn't buy these at a regular book store.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon: I have been intrigued by this one since seeing it in the bookstore years ago, so I was happy to find a nice copy.

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides: A long-time goal is to read all the Pulitzer Prize winning novels, so this is a step towards that goal.

The Reader by Bernard Schlink: I grabbed this thinking I didn't already own it. But I do. So if you say the word and live in the U.S., I'll mail it to you. :)

The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud: This was another impulse buy.

Quite the loot, huh? I actually restrained myself this time, mainly because we are running out of room. :) But I saw people walking out with bags of books, so I was quite tame.

The first time I went a year ago, I didn't check the books for writing on the inside before I bought them and regretted that when I got home and looked at the more closely. Now I always check to see the inside condition as well. Do you have requirements for buying used books?

Even with finals and grading, I still had a decent week reading. I read A Raisin in the Sun for my pseudo buddy review with Amanda, a large chunk of Oliver Twist in preparation for the upcoming readalong, and more of War and Peace for the post going up tomorrow morning (although, at the time of writing this, I am behind and don't know if I can finish volume 2 in time for the post tomorrow!).

This week I need to make a lot of progress reading War and Peace, as well as reading the first three chapters of Ulysses for that readalong. Yeah, I'm a little nuts.

I also want to start something fun to alleviate all that heavy reading...any ideas?

Lastly, I want to point you in the direction of three excellent posts (that all went up on Friday) that I think you all need to read. I know that all three of them got me thinking about my reading process and how I view reading:
  1. Jillian from A Room of One's Own: Are we crazy to be reading so fast?
  2. Jaime from The Broke and The Bookish: To read or not to reread?
  3. Darlyn from Your Move, Dickens: "That the world may know he loved me once..."

Hope you have a great reading week!


  1. My requirements for buying books is becoming a bit silly, but I know what I like!

    I try to avoid all paperbacks (yes, I'm serious) and all my bookshelves but one are void of them. Paperback copies that I like, I've been working on replacing with hardcovers. I just like the way they look on the shelves.

    I also try not to buy remainders, books with writing in them (unless they're from over 50 years ago with beautiful scrawling letters and language) and NO book plates. I have one book on my shelf with a book plate that I HAD to buy and along with the remainders I have, this drives me crazy. I have a problem with upgrading these as well.

    That's most of my (book related) eccentricities.

  2. I love library sales! Mine is coming up in 2 weeks and it's one of the only exceptions I made to my buy ban. :D

    The Good Earth is so good! I was surprised how much I loved it. And I've never read any of Maugham's plays! I really want to find one sometime!

    When I go to used sales, I always check inside to make sure there is no writing or highlighting. I'm a huge fan of trade paperbacks and will buy them over hardcovers whenever that's possible. I'm NOT a huge fan of hardcovers or mass market paperbacks. Hardcovers I'll buy if they're cheap, MM paperbacks only if there is no other option and it's a book I won't find anywhere else and it's in pristine condition. So not often. :D

  3. I always end buying duplicates too at the library sales, but they are such good bargains, I'd rather take the chance! Enjoy your new stuff!

  4. I love Steppenwolf and it's on my re-read list for this year. (Damien was also really good and I want to read The Glass Bead Game this year. *sigh* I just love Hesse).

    Good luck with Middlesex. I couldn't get into it AT ALL. I think I'm alone on an island with that though. :)

  5. I missed the library sale here at my new library, but I am determined to go next year!

    For a light, fun read, you might want to try the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I'm reading it again (sort of as a palate cleanser from a pretty intense series I just finished), and it is just hilarious!

  6. I think I have at least half a dozen copies of Angela's Ashes at home; its a book we push on everyone who visits because its soooo good.

  7. Grading. The one drawback of teaching. :) I feel your pain.

    Congrats on the giant stack of books! I can't wait to hear your thoughts on Middlesex. I just loved that one.

  8. Crazy, of your 21 finds this week, I have read 11 of them. Even one of the more esoteric ones (Looking Backward). You have a lot of great reading ahead. Subject wise Angela's Ashes is pretty heavy, but it reads much more easily than then big boys you are tackling right now. It might provide some relief.

  9. Some great titles here. I prefer to buy new books because I like the feeling of opening a new book and knowing noone has read it before me - sad I know. When I do buy secondhand, I would have to check for writing inside and underlining and my pet hate - people who mark typos and errors!

  10. You got some awesome books! I didn't even know libraries had sales. I should find out if mine here in MN has one. :)

  11. Oh gosh I am very jealous of your haul. It doesn't matter to me whether a book is hardcover or paperback but I do prefer them without writing.

    I would love a copy of Angela's Ashes if you haven't already given it away. Its been on my list for a while but I just haven't gotten around to getting it. You are very kind to offer it up.

  12. I love the library book sale! I can always tell which are the most popular books in town because there are invariably eight to ten copies of the same book scattered about the room.

    I rather liked Midwives, but can't say the same for The Emperor's Children. It was an impulse book for me as well, but I was pretty disappointed in it.

  13. Oh my goodness, SO MANY great books here! I love library sales and always buy way too much (but in support of a great cause!). I really hate any kind of marking (highlighting, underlining, etc) in my books, so I always check for that before buying. There's also a condition threshold I won't go below. Oh, and if a book smells musty, it's out; I get all sneezy if I read a musty-smelling book!

    Middlesex is a book I hope to get to semi-soon, at least. If you'd like informal company reading it, let me know :-)

  14. Oh, how fun -- a used book sale! I've never been to one.

    I've been trying to make a point of reading short stories/poetry as well. I'm sticking to classics mainly, because they're tried and true. :-)

    Thanks for linking me!!

  15. you got a great lot of new books! congratulations! i really want to go book-shopping now, but my mum is tired and i don't have money to go on my own :( but, as my new semester starts tomorrow, i'll go book-shopping on saturday with my dad... luckily i'll get som "pleasure" books besides my school ones :D

    lots of luck!

  16. READ MIDDLESEX NOW! Okay, a little overnethusiastic perhaps.

    I've wanted to read The Way We Live Now for awhile. I met Tony Kushner last year and I told him I liked Victorian literature, he said it was one of his favorites.

  17. Oh boy. You need to do what I do; just happen to find the new items in your closet. Works everytime. ;).

    Love, Mom

  18. I hope you absolutely love The Shadow of the Wind!!!

  19. What a great book stack. I totally would SQUEE at SO LONG A LETTER. I love that book. Must find a copy for myself.

    When you teach THE GLASS CASTLE and the writing of memoirs, make sure you teach the kids to not be all whiny and full of self-pity. I hate memoirs for the whiny, but love THE GLASS CASTLE because it's so awesome and not-whiny.

  20. You picked up a good stack of books! Middlesex is one of my favorite books! Difficult to read for the first 50 pages or so, but after that...fabulous! Can't wait to hear your thoughts on it.

  21. I definitely check the inside of used books, and I don't just look - I also smell (imagine the strange looks I get at the bookstore). Once I bought a used book and it wasn't until I got home that I realized it smelled strongly of cigarettes. The stench was bad enough to make my fingers retain the odor after holding the book for a while. Gross.

  22. You got some GREAT books!!! I'm especially excited that you have a copy of The Good Earth. Maybe you'll join the discussion I'm leading for the Classic Reads Book Club?! :)

  23. Hesse, Kundera, Forster, and Maugham are some of my favorite writers - and Middlesex and The Reader are both great books (I would go so far as "brilliant" for Middlesex). Great stacks!!

  24. Shadow of the Wind=one of the best reads I've ever had the pleasure of plowing into over the course of three days. Honestly, you'll love it. It's a classic on its own. I was referred to this blog through my friend Jenna [readwritelive] and I absolutely am going to pay more close attention to it. I'm Abbey and I blog about my life as a third year English major who is applying to a study abroad program and graduate schools. I think our blogs have a lot in common and I really have enjoyed the portion of yours I've had the oppertunity to make my way through.

  25. Oh, what a lovely stack of books! I read Midwives while I was pregnant planning a homebirth--which is perhaps the worst time to read it. It was really wonderful, nonetheless.

    Thank you so much for the links to those posts. I have been overwhelmed lately and have fallen way behind on blog reading, so having a little guidance about things I might miss is wonderful.

  26. I just finished the first book in your list, du Maurier's Echoes of the Macabre. Pretty amazing stuff, especially the two most famous stories, "The Birds" and "Don't Look Now." I have not however read Rebecca.