Reading Notes: 13-16 and Observation Note 53

I am going to combine SuperWendy’s TBR topic with my Reading Notes this month. Hopefully this works well enough that I can repeat it through the year. The topic is Short Shorts here are some are various books I have been reading including one romance novel.

Reading Note 13: Home inspiration. I read through two interior decorating books in succession that had been languishing in the library TBR for only a month. Both heavy, hard back books printed on substantial paper stock. The sort of design books that costs a lot and you are loathe to put in any discard pile for years to come.

The first I looked at was The Kinfolk Home – an offshoot from the magazine by the same name, it purports to support the “Slow” movement. It was definitely slow. So slow that I got bored of both the pictures and the stories of the families that lived in these homes. I am Marie Kondo’s nightmare, I am not a minimalist. I believe that design lovers are now referring to people like myself as being “maximalists”.  I love vibrant colour and a home filled with books and curios, art and bibelots reflecting the life adventures of the occupants. Which is the opposite of what this book contains. All beige, grey, linen and black. Perhaps the slow movement requires homes to be uncluttered so as to encourage contemplation. I found no joy in the sleek interiors but I certainly can understand that someone who has the opposite approach to my own desire for home aesthetics would love this book.

In contrast, Little Big Rooms: New Nurseries and Rooms to Play In was delightful and full of colour and deep understanding of how a home works when young children need to feel that they are completely in the home, and not an adjunct design that could at any time disrupt an adult space. Even though my own children are now (young – ahem) adults, there were elements of young children’s play design that reflected how I used our own home space when they were little, albeit with a much tinier budget. I loved this book.

Reading Note 14: Quasi rural romance. I praised Penelope Janu quite a lot last year. In December I read On The Right Track which has the hero from In at the Deep End’s hero’s twin brother.. I enjoyed this book espite my deep dislike of horse racing. The book isn’t as rural as the book cover lets on. I liked the movement between the Southern Highlands and the Eastern suburbs of Sydney. But I do like my story telling a bit tighter than most standard novels, and though it was well done, I found that the storyline on the 25 year old crime that may have been committed that the international-man-of-mystery-spy hero was investigating through the whole book dragged on just a tad. And there was just such overriding sadness in this book especially with the complex (and thankfully unresolved and unapologetic) mother who had rejected the heroine Golden at birth with her grandfather raising her. I also liked heroine Golden’s lovely relationship with her sister.

Observation 53: Sunday Librarian no more. I have resigned from my library job. This took months (and could I say years) of contemplation. 2019 had sickness find both my husband and me this year. Tiredness, illness and the need to complete studying have led my decision. Having worked 11 of the last 18 years as a regular (weekly with the exception of annual and sick leave) Sunday Librarian across 3 different employers, I am now looking for a Monday – Friday job. I have paid my dues in LibraryLand and no longer can bear sacrificing every weekend. I don’t mind if I am asked to do a rotation of one in four, or one in three but I cannot take on weekend work as my standard weekly contracted hours again. In light of the work that women do, I have willingly taken on these roles because it helped facilitate my family’s decision to do tag-team parenting as well as supporting my study regime. But it is now time for future thinking and my future involves weekends not working. Considering that the majority of public library work that is advertised these days have a Monday-Sunday clause, I am not sure if my future includes public libraries. Watch this space.

Reading Note 15: David Sedaris. Last night I saw David Sedaris do a reading of his essays and diary entries at the Enmore Theatre in Sydney. I am long a fangirl of both Sedaris, and the theatre which holds such special memories for me as it was one of Sydney’s two Greek cinemas back in the 1970s and 1980s. Sedaris was, as ever, funny and erudite – his observances so sharp, his loyalty to his family, his wry love of his boyfriend Hugh, his love of jokes – I just lapped it all up. I especially love that he does book signings where he sits for hours talking to people. Two hours of waiting in line, John and I were 4th from the end, when we finally got to speak with him. He signed our books, I gave him my Greek cinema trivia (to which he was surprised) and then he offered me the remnants of his T-bone steak for my dogs. I hesitated for a moment before turning him down. I may be a fangirl, but I draw the line at taking an author’s food remnants home with me.

Reading Note 16: Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu. I will do this book a disservice and just describe it as incredible and seminal writing that is necessary reading for all Australians and anyone who is interested in the colonial systems of displacing and misrepresenting the knowledge practices of first nations people. I am only half way through the audiobook for now, but I also mean to return to the print version which also has illustrations and photographs. Hopefully, I will write more about it next month.

I still have a way-high TBR. However, I don’t believe that the reading pile can every be completely read.

Observations: Notes 18-30

Every few months, I will post a series of observations that I have collected during that time.  I work 4 days a week, study 2 days a week and faceplant every Saturday so it has taken me a while to write . It is unrelated to my previous Observations post. 

Note 18: Mum. My mum was ill for most of 2018. The first half of the year she was constantly in hospital, so in the second half of the year we were all on edge. She wasn’t ill enough to return to hospital, however pneumonia in octogenarians is quite serious. As mum says, every other funeral she attends is due to older people succumbing to pneumonia.

Note 19: Photographs and Mum. I would spend the occasional weekend with my mum, whenever my sister who lives with her was away, as I didn’t want to leave her alone. Mum would just cough uncontrollably for the majority of the time that I was with her. The more she coughed, the more she became distressed. To distract her, I would pull out her albums. Her photographs have aged over the years, but going through them calmed her coughing. She would tell me of her friends, her aunts, the young children in the photos. Continue reading

On reading for wellbeing

Earlier in the year, I thought that doing a PhD, working in 2 casual jobs as well as doing home-family things wasn’t enough so I enrolled my self in a 6 week MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) offered through Warwick University by FutureLearn called Literature and Mental Health: Reading for Wellbeing. The course was on how reading can be a balm, a salve for a variety of mental health problems. Each week addressed a different condition – stress, bereavement, trauma, heartbreak, depression and ageing. The hosts Jonathan Bates and Dr Paula Bates interviewed famous people like Stephen Fry and Ian McKellen as well as not-so famous people (well to me anyway – they might just be UK famous) and there were also set readings (which were not compulsory). Most of the readings were poetry or excerpts so these were easy to get through.  Continue reading

Getting Lost in LibraryLand

I got lost getting to work yesterday. It was my first ever shift at this particular branch and even though I gave myself an hour to get there, I found myself dismally lost, rushing through the shopping mall where the library is located. I walked into 4 shops to asked staff for directions and they all were surprised and had no idea that there was a library in the mall. I asked 2 separate people sitting reading (my thought being that “hey -they read. They’ll know where the library is”) and they too were surprised and did not know of the library’s existence. At this point I was not only stressed but I was also despairing of the kind of people that go to a jam packed mall (it had airconditioning on a 38C/100.5F day). I called my colleagues who were very understanding and suggested I asked for directions to McDonalds which is right next to the library. I turned to the person walking past me, asked for where the Maccas was, and of course, they knew. Not even a few minutes later I was at work. Flustered due to the heat and my run around but also saddened by the lack of people who were even aware of the library’s existence.

I can’t really blame the people walking in the mall. For such an important institution (well, important to some of the population), libraries rarely have advertising budgets for their whole services. Most libraries do a fair job in promoting events and in marketing aspects of their services but as a whole, libraries don’t have some big blockbuster ad campaign on buses, in the media etc. How can they, if you look towards the dystopian future of libraries in England where 441 libraries have been closed in the last 5 years with another 149 earmarked for closure, I think librarians everywhere are squeamish in looking over their shoulder and spending money on services and collections that their patrons need rather than on some expensive ad campaign.

Once I found the library, my lovely colleagues told me that EVERYONE’s first shift at that branch results in a stressed out Lost episode. And then, I got to do my favourite thing – a first shift at a library explore! I have worked at this particular library network for over two years and in this time I have browsed the catalogue many times, reserving and transferring materials from this new (to me) branch many times. But, as many digital information designers will let you know, there is a keen difference in the way that we search for books on the shelves and books in a physical library.

Library Haul
Continue reading

Victoria Dahl and Taking the Heat

Victoria Dahl's Taking the HeateIt will come as no surprise to regular readers of my blog or my twitter, or even people who have met me in person, that I love Victoria Dahl’s novels. Do a search for her in my lookitupdooblidob to the side and you will find many mentions of her. So when she told me she was writing a male librarian – YES! a male librarian – I ordered her book when it finally came out and bit my lip in anticipation. Would he even come close to the hotness that is Richard Hindon in Lillian Peake’s The Library Tree. This would not be a difficult task.

I had my reservations. This book was perhaps too close to my own professional life. From the outset, I need to say that I mean no disrespect towards any of my current and former male colleagues, but I have never thought anyone in the LIS sphere to be particularly attractive. So the absolutely amazing, hot, sensitive, buff, amazeballs librarian Gabe MacKenzie in this book truly felt like a fantasy man. He didn’t feel real. He was so far from real that he started to edge toward a paranormal romance hero (this is as close as I can get to this month’s TBR challenge for SuperWendy) – he could climb rockfaces, he creates digital (*snort*) magic in the library, he has a talented tongue in the bedroom and a sexy trim beard as his mild superpower to help him out. He is a figment of Victoria’s imagination! No such man exists! This was becoming such a reading block for me, I decided I needed to discuss this travesty with my husband. Here is our exchange: Continue reading

Library fine by me

I’m a shocking borrower. I am completely unreliable. I forget to renew my books, I forget my due dates, I am constantly late and I am forever paying overdue fines. I like to consider my overdue fines to be my annual donation to the betterment of the local library of which I am a patron.

A few months ago, my mum finally convinced my sisters and me to clean out her garage. This was a mammoth task. I threw out huge, and I mean HUGE amounts of my high school assignments and notes that I stored away over quarter of a century ago. I was impressed by my calligraphy, by my writing style but none of it deserved being kept. Except for this overdue notice:

Overdue Notice

Oh yes! The notice is on embossed paper! I feel so special! Digital overdues can’t compete. There is no mistakening my habitual nature. Here is another one:

Another overdue!

This one is not fancy. It must have only been a first notice. Every time I have overdues I have an excuse as to why I have been late:

– I forgot.

– I didn’t check my mail.

– I lost the due date slip.

– One book slipped under the driver’s seat when I was driving all 45 loans back to the library and the other 44 were on time (well, make that 38 because 6 were from a previous visit).

– My sister borrowed my books and we fought so I couldn’t ask her to return it because a stand off is a freakin’ stand off.

The point is though, that I always return the books. Always. And yes I accrue overdues which I always pay without complaint. A few weeks ago I paid $66. Yep. That is 6 romances just in that one overdue. This time my excuse was that I went away on holiday, lost my charger so I was offgrid for 4 days during which time my overdue notice arrived but I didn’t look at my email until my 13+ items had accrued at $1 a day. I know. A bit “dog ate my homework” but it is true. These overdues were from my uni library which is much more expensive than my local library. Continue reading

Little library thoughts

Every morning, I walk past a little library. I have been doing this for the past 2 years. When it first started there was an excited sense of discovery. I found lovely books on a daily basis. I scored 2 Julia Quinn books, Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s biography, complete box sets of M*A*S*H, Darren Shan (autographed!!!!). In return, I would place much loved doubles and clean new books that I did not have the time to read.

 

Little Library - November 2012

Little Library – November 2012

 

 

 

Last year, this little library was so popular that many in the community would leave all their books, whether they fit in the box or not. AT first , they were still interesting and new. Continue reading