Wednesday, October 23, 2013

On Catching Up

I periodically get behind on some of my reading; this usually happens with newspapers and magazines. I love to read all kinds of journalism, from the very light Entertainment Weekly to the New York Review of Books. Of course, working in a library, I have access to many of these publications in print form at work.  Because of this, and my thrifty nature, I fluctuate between either 1) subscribing to a lot of magazines at any given time and 2) letting the subscriptions lapse while convincing myself that I will read them at work during my lunch hour. Of course, I never actually do that, so I go back to subscribing.

Right now I subscribe to these magazines and journals:

New York Review of Books
Publishers Weekly
Library Journal
Martha Stewart Living
Country Living
Entertainment Weekly
Chronicle of Higher Education
Information Today

This is much abbreviated since I'm in one of my cutting-back phases. Magazines that I would really like to subscribe to include The Economist, Rolling Stone, Vogue, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and Time.

I read The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Daily Beast, and more online.

I also get a number of journals because of my professional memberships:

Library Resources & Technical Services
Library Administration & Management
Library & Information Technology
College & Research Libraries
College & Research Libraries Newsletter

And I get Cataloging & Classification Quarterly because I'm on the editorial board.

I don't read the professional journals cover-to-cover; there's not enough time and I'm not interested in every article. I'm much more likely to read the fun magazines and journals cover-to-cover. The question is when do I read them!

When we began to plan our move to Albany last year, I started to get behind on a number of my magazines and journals. I did my best to keep up, but getting the house ready to sell took up much of our weekends, prime reading time for me. I refused to toss months' worth of New York Review of Books, so I carefully packed them up and shipped them all to Albany. After the move, which took place on December 28 last year, it seemed like every weekend was taken up with stuff around the house, exploring the Albany region, and travelling to see family that we're now much further away from. It took until late summer before I was able to carve out time to catch up on them, and I plowed my way through well over a year's worth of NYRBs! Of course, I couldn't read them all cover-to-cover, so I focused only on the book reviews and essays that I was most interested in.

I recently uncovered another small stack of unread magazines that I had bought at the State College Barnes and Noble. I occasionally go to a bookstore and buy a bunch of magazines that I don't regularly read, just for variety. I can't blame this backlog of unread magazines on the move, though, since they're from October 2011. Mike refuses to read even a day-old newspaper, because "it's old news," he claims. I, however, enjoy reading older publications. This set of magazines was particularly fun, since they were published during President Obama's first term and the political coverage was interesting given how things turned out in the 2012 election. One item in particular was fascinating: a condemnation of President Obama's unwillingness to stand firm against the Republicans in the 2011 debt ceiling crisis. I couldn't read the whole article, since I found the recent related events too stressful. I'm glad he held firm this time around!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Book Expo America

I've mentioned Book Expo America (BEA) a couple of times already; in this post I will share a little more information about it.
According to its website, BEA is the “#1 Book and Author Event in the U.S.” It’s the annual gathering of the American Booksellers Association and includes over 2,000 exhibitors, more than a thousand authors, over 80 educational sessions, and more than 30,000 attendees. Its audience is intended to be independent booksellers, publishers, librarians, educators, authors, agents, and rights professionals.  If you like books, then this is the convention for you!

The convention is usually scheduled in May or June of each year, and has been held in New York City for the past several years. Previously it had been held in larger cities around the country such as Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. In 2014 and 2015 it will continue to be in New York; in 2016 it will be going back to Chicago.
The convention usually runs for four days with the first being reserved for educational programs, although they can also be found scattered throughout the following days as well. The next three days are the highlights of the convention: when the exhibits are open. There are also many special events scheduled throughout the convention, some of which cost extra; others of which are free to all attendees.

I published an article in the PaLA Bulletin a few years ago that was called "Book Expo America: Tips and Tricks to Make the Most of Your Experience" in which I shared ten tips for getting the most out of the meeting. As I update that article, I will post the tips here. I would encourage all librarians, authors, or other book industry professionals to take advantage of BEA and give it a shot!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Returned by Jason Mott

The Returned by Jason Mott is a quiet, thoughtful novel about a phenomenon in which people who have been dead, some for many years, return to life. They are the same age and in the same form as when they died. The story revolves around Harold and Lucille Hargraves, whose son Jacob died at age eight more than 40 years ago. It is impossible for them to reject their son when he is brought to their door by an agent of The International Bureau of the Returned, or simply, The Bureau. But questions linger in their minds about who he really is and whether he could truly be their son, who drowned on his eighth birthday in 1966.

The Returned is an exploration of the many ways that people react to the unknown or what appears to be the miraculous. Some folks welcome their lost friends or family members; others are frightened of them; still others are filled with anger because their own loved ones didn't return. A major theme throughout the book is how the returned are treated by others or by the government. Civil rights issues are front and center as the returned are rounded up and confined to prison camps.

Harold, Lucille, and Jacob are memorable characters who will remain in your heart long after you finish this book. The Returned is being heavily promoted in Publisher's Weekly, Booklist, and other book review publications. I received my copy in May at BEA. This is Jason Mott's first book; he's someone to look out for!

The Returned was published by Harlequin Mira in 2013 (ISBN: 9780778315339)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Raising My Rainbow by Lori Duron

Never having had young children of my own, I'm not normally drawn to parenting books. Although I do have stepsons, they were already teenagers when I met my future husband. So when I saw a promotional advertisement for Raising My Rainbow on the Shelf Awareness list, I ignored it. But I was intrigued enough by the subtitle to pick it up and begin paging through it when I saw the book at my local Barnes & Noble.

Raising My Rainbow: Adventures in Raising a Fabulous, Gender Creative Son is based on a blog of the same name written by Lori Duron. It describes her experiences raising her son, C.J., who is drawn to all of the things usually more attractive to girls: dresses, dolls, princesses, and the colors pink and purple. Ms. Duron shares both the worries this brings to her and her husband, but also the humor. The book covers two years of their lives after she began to notice his interest in "girl" things at age 3. She relates conversations that she's had with C.J.'s teachers as well as doctors and psychologists with whom she consulted.

Ms. Duron chose to write a blog about her experiences, a decision that has helped put her in touch with others who are experiencing similar challenges. She describes some of the intolerant behavior that she and C.J. have encountered, but also the positive relationships they've developed.

When I picked up this book in Barnes & Noble, I was waiting while my husband took his son shopping. I sat in the cafĂ© with a cup of coffee, and managed to read close to 50 pages before we left the mall. Once at home I quickly read the rest of the book within a few hours, probably a record for me. It's very readable, with clear, concise prose. Ms. Duron has honed her writing skills well on her blog, which she continues to maintain at: Raising My Rainbow. This book would be an excellent read for parents, anyone who works with children, and teens. It's impossible to read this book and not come out of it rooting for C.J.!

Raising My Rainbow was published by Broadway Books in 2013 (ISBN: 9780770437725)

Sunday, October 13, 2013


Welcome to Books High and Low, a blog intended to provide reviews of new books, but also film, television, and more. My goal is to post 3-4 times per week and I will be reviewing both fiction and non-fiction. I read a wide variety of fiction, including contemporary and historical fiction, literary and popular. I enjoy mysteries, science fiction, fantasy, and more. My non-fiction interests include history, memoir, and biography, and anything else that catches my interest. I've kept a journal of all of the books that I've read and films that I've seen since 1994. I start three new lists each year: films, fiction and non-fiction. I've enjoyed going back over the years to see what books I read and when, which ones stuck with me, and which ones I can't even remember.

Here's a list of the five most recent fiction books that I've read:

1. Jason Mott The Returned.
2. Hannah Kent Burial Rites.
3. Dave King The Ha-Ha.
4. Ivy Pochoda Visitation Street.
5. Louise Penny How the Light Gets In.

Some of these I received when I attended Book Expo America, held in New York in May, 2013. This is a great convention for booksellers and librarians; it's possible to get advance reading copies of upcoming fall titles, and there are hundred of authors in attendance, speaking at special events and signing their books. To find out about the 2014 BEA convention, check out their website:

Book Expo America

Here's a list of five recent non-fiction books that I've read (I'm not counting the books that I read for work):

1. Lori Duron Raising My Rainbow: Adventures in Raising a Fabulous, Gender-Creative Son.
2. Gwen Cooper Homer's Odyssey. (This is actually about a cat!)
3. Nica Lalli Nothing: Something to Believe In.
4. Chelsea Handler Are You There Vodka: It's Me, Chelsea.
5. Molly Katz Jewish as a Second Language, 2nd ed.

So, you can see that there's a bit of variety!

In my next post I will write about some of these books.