Currently Reading

  • 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
  • Patience & Fortitude by Nicholas A Basbanes
  • Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling by Richard Lyman Bushman
  • a People's History of the United States: 1492-Present by Howard Zinn

Friday, August 7, 2009

We've Moved!

Thats right, the blog has moved and had a name change. Come join me at and check out Life in the Stacks! See you there!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Booking Through Thursday: Recent Serious

What’s the most serious book you’ve read recently?
(I figure it’s easier than asking your most serious boook ever, because, well, it’s recent!)

This is rather difficult as I read significantly less fiction than I should. As you can tell from "Currently Reading" at the top of the page, all four books I'm reading at the moment are non-fiction. However, if I had to choose one, I'd probably have to say a People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn, or maybe the Joseph Smith Biography. Patience and Fortitude is a good read, but its rather fluffy. Charing Cross Road is an epistolary and rather laugh out loud funny, think female Lewis Black Chewing out a British Bookseller, and you've got the basic idea. The Joseph Smith biography, I'm obviously kind of speechless on. The thing has its ups and downs, definitely has some "What the..." moments, but overall its pretty dry and boring. Zinn's book is extremely interesting in approach and ideas, but it feels like walking through thick mud at times, which is why in the end, it ties with the Smith biography. I just can't decide.

More Bookstores Today

Just got back from Magus Books and the University of Washington bookstore. Picked up a copy of Q's Legacy from the UW store I had them transfer from another branch. It wasn't the edition I was wanting, but I'm gonna keep it anyway. Still going to find a twin to 84 Charing Cross Road, but I figure there's no harm in having more than one edition, which, I guess says something about me as a bibliophile. What can I say, I like the book.

Found a copy of Tales of Beedle the Bard for $2, didn't buy it though. My girlfriend said something about having a copy she'd be willing to give me, although the connection was horrid, so I'm not quite sure if I heard her right, I hope so. Its a measly $2, but then again I'm not exactly rolling in money at them moment.

Which brings me to Easton Press. DEAR GOD IS THIS LOVELY AFFORDABLE BOOK PORN OR WHAT! Check out to see what I mean. They've got sets of Chronicles of Narnia and the Dark is Rising, VERY NICE COPIES, that I've just gotta have. I read Narnia as a little kid to the point that one of the books split in half. Also read the Dark is Rising, but didn't know until recently that there was a whole series. Also found a two volume set of the writings of His Holiness the XIVth Dalai Lama. Not sure they're the complete writings though, or they'd have to be pretty darn thick to include all the books he's written. Either way I wants it. It should be rather obvious by now that I'm a total bibliophile, infact, I hope to end up like the guy that writes Dr Johnson's Compendium of Fantastic, Whimsical, and Weird Books: This is quite possibly one of the most awesome book blogs I've ever seen, and I highly recommend it.

Title Revamp

After having kind of a blah title for the longest time, I've been thinking about renaming the blog. I mean, seriously, "A Reading Life" just doesn't really pull you in. So, any ideas, suggestions, etc, feel free to post in comments and I'll take 'em into consideration.

Book Buying Habits of the Poor and Bibliophilic

Well, poor is a relative term, I get $200 a month for expenses from my parents while I'm in college (dear God I hope she doesn't read this blog!) and most of it goes to going out with friends in one form or another (movies, DVD rentals, restaurants, etc) but an overwhelming majority of that money goes to books. Books seem to multiply in my dorm room and bedroom at home like unto paper rabbits, its nuts.

When I'm home, I have about a half dozen or so bookstores I'll visit about once a week, including used, independents, and B&N. *shivers with disgust* Now, I should probably mention the fact that I'm extremely picky about Barnes & Noble. I'll buy magazines from them, and occasionally a book, there are some gems, but most of their stuff is either BS, or I can get cheaper on the internet, even with their joke of a member's discount, which only really serves to take care of sales tax. Did I mention I don't like chain bookstores?

On the other hand, we've got a nice variety of used and independent stores here in Seattle. Half Price is amazing. I know what you're thinking, "Half Price is a chain, didn't you just say you detest chain bookstores?" Well, yes, but used bookstores are an exception because they're honestly more like independents in selection and atmosphere. Last week when I was at my local Half Price I found a bunch of books by a wonderful woman by the name of Alice A Bailey. Now, understand, Bailey was a Theosophist. These are the guys that started the movement back in the 1800's that degraded into what we know as the "New Age." These books however, are not what we think of as New Age now, they are vastly more thought provoking and challenging. Not to mention the fact that they're hard to find in brick and mortar stores, damn near impossible, actually. Which is why I just about fainted when I saw about half the set sitting on Half Price's New Age shelves, and snapped up a couple on the spot.

Half Price, however, is only the tip of the iceberg, and really the most boring part. Halfway between my house and that Half Price is a little place called Magus Books, an independent used book merchant in the truest sense. This place is lit by giant plate glass windows and halogen bulbs, peeling paint on the walls, the smell of old books in the air. Its absolutely awe inspiring. Just about the only thing missing for me about this place is the lack of stacks of unshelved books in the aisles. I've found Rosicrucian and Freemason bibles here (and kicked myself because I was broke and couldn't afford either) nice copies of the Her Krishna edition of the Bhagavad Gita from the 60's, all kinds of crazy odds and ends on the shelves. I could walk around this place browsing for hours, and it isn't much more than a hole in the wall. Not to mention the fact I've had my eye on a couple books in the antiquarian/collectible cabinet at the front of the store for a while now, if only they're still there when I have some money again, they'll be mine, all mine, MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! *rubs hands with a sinister grin*

Sorry, got a bit carried away there, Booking Through Thursday post should be up sometime this afternoon.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Booking Through Thursday: UNREAD BOOKS!!!

So here today I present to you an Unread Books Challenge. Give me the list or take a picture of all the books you have stacked on your bedside table, hidden under the bed or standing in your shelf – the books you have not read, but keep meaning to. The books that begin to weigh on your mind. The books that make you cover your ears in conversation and say, ‘No! Don’t give me another book to read! I can’t finish the ones I have!’

Honestly, the easiest way I have to do this is to point you to the "unread" collection of my LT profile: Fortunately I don't read many books other people, at least on LT read, so I don't have to worry much about spoilers. I have, however, been inspired by the Green Brothers:, and my bibliophilic friends to start reading fiction again, as well as some non-fiction that I have thats been sitting around for a while. :D

Friday, June 19, 2009

Turtle Feet by Nikolai Grozni

Turtle Feet Chronicles Nikolai Grozni's experiences studying Tibetan Buddhism as an ordained monk in Dharamsala, India. While we see a bit of his life as a monk, the book focuses to a disappointing degree on his eccentric friend Tsar, a Bosnian ex-patriot, ex-monk.

This book is amazing. While I wish it had spent more time on the monastic life and significantly less on his friends exploits, it does do a good job of showing how messed up living a completely cloistered life can make people. Fair warning however, do not read this book if you're into political correctness, uber-liberal, or any such thing. Grozni doesn't sugar coat his experiences, and he runs into some pretty stupid out of touch people. A primary example being one of his teachers, Geshe Yama Tseten, who looks up the identity of an animal he claims attacked him on a mountain top in a book about sea life, and is a vitriolic xenophobe when it comes to westerners, calling them fools, and putting them on the same level as domesticated animals in intelligence.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tuesday Thingers: Because I'm Bored

Ok, I should probably be vacuuming before my mom's friends (including a couple mutual ones) get here for her Tuesday knitting circle. Instead, because I haven't been at this for a while, I'm going to do this week's Tuesday Thinger, followed by one or two old ones.

Have you explored the new Collections feature? Do you plan to use the new Collections? Are you going to add any special collections? If so, what are they?

I'll admit it, I've been waiting for Collections functionality ever since I joined and heard rumors about it, sometime back in 06 or 07 if memory serves. I don't plan to use them, I use them, all the preconfigured ones, as well as a couple I made myself. With the advent of collections I took my "Religion & Spirituality Library" tag and converted it into a collection. Its sort of the focus of my whole collection, so I thought it deserved its own. Someone's probably achieved more complete collection of this sort of literature, but mine is still growing, and it is rather specialized. I also created a collection for all the books I read last year, and for the ones I'm reading this year. I've considered converting my fiction and non-fiction tags to collections, but I'm a bit on the fence about it.

What other weekly memes or round robins do you participate in? Is this the only one? Why Tuesday Thingers and not some other weekly Tuesday meme? Or do you do more than one?

In addition to Tuesday Thingers, I do the Sunday Salon, Booking Through Thursday, and am planning to add Musing Mondays to the list. If anyone knows of a weekly meme for Wednesday let me know at romartin at linfield dot edu. I got into Tuesday Thinger because it was started at Librarything, which I absolutely love, and is quite honestly an avid reader/bibliophile's dream come true in some ways

Cataloging sources. What cataloging sources do you use most? Any particular reason? Any idiosyncratic choices, or foreign sources, or sources you like better than others? Are you able to find most things through LT’s almost 700 sources?

I try to use the Library of Congress as much as I can. No reason really, just my own little idiosyncratic habit i guess. When I can't find records for a book in the LoC I usually use

Sorry for the weird formatting on this post. Just getting back into the groove and finding I have to relearn some of this stuff.


Found this meme and I figured I'd get things going again:

What's your favorite bookstore?
I'd have to say Quest Bookshop in Seattle. Its a metaphysical bookstore that is run by the Theosophical society. The Seattle branch's lending library is in a big back room and open to the public (although there's a membership fee to actually borrow books you can literally sit there and read the whole couple thousand book collection if you wanted). You could find just about any book you could possibly want to read about western or eastern religion and spirituality in the store or library, its incredible. Its just a little hole in the wall store, but I've literally gotten lost in there!

Have you ever traveled out of state or out of the country, just to visit a particular bookstore?
No, I can honestly say I haven't. I've gone to Powell's in Portland a number of times, but I was always in Portland to visit friends anyway. I would love to go to the Strand, however, and my well see about going to visit a cousin who lives there just to have an excuse.

Have you ever gone on a date to a bookstore? Would you consider a bookstore to be a romantic place?
I wouldn't exactly consider a bookstore romantic, although I have ended up at the local Indie shop in the town where I go to college.

What's the latest you've stayed out at night at a bookstore?
I can honestly say I've never stayed that late at any bookstore. Usually I'm there during the day.

Do you like to go with friends or by yourself?
If its someone thats willing to be on their own and dialogue a bit, but doesn't mind me not following them around all the time, book shopping with someone can be kind of fun. Mostly when I shop I tend to browse, picking up interesting looking books and reading pages at a time, so I really prefer to be on my own.

What would your dream bookstore be like?
I've come close to it with Quest (see first question). It'd be a place that specializes in Eastern Religion, Metaphysics, spirituality, etc, with big comfy chairs for reading (which Quest has in the lending library, the retail store in the front is too small, and its pretty packed with shelves). I'd be on a first name basis with everyone working there, I'd be able to mention some obscure teacher no one's heard of, and they'd know who they were right off the bat and be able to tell me if there was anything in stock (somehow Indies especially don't really sit with me well when the people who work there don't even know their own stock.) It'd be well lit, mostly by big windows that let lots of light in during the summer, and good quality lamps (not those horrid halogen atrocities) in the summer.

What's your favorite specialty bookstore and what does it specialize in?
See the first question.

Have you ever worked at a bookstore or wanted to? Do people ever mistake you for a bookstore employee and ask you questions as you browse? 
Never worked in a bookstore, but would like to. However, I'd go for a job in an independent or used store before something like B&N, although I wouldn't pass up a job and Barnes and Noble were it offered, especially in this economy (employee discount DROOL). I can honestly say i've never been mistaken for an employee. However, at least in the religion area of the Barnes and Noble at the University District in Seattle I could probably do a better job of locating a book for someone than most of the staff. I've certainly spent enough time in that nook to know the stock pretty intimately.

Do you like bookstore cafes? Would you consider a bookstore a social destination as opposed to strictly a retail destination?
Honestly I'm not a big fan. People tend to bring stock up there before they've bought it from what I've seen. This usually results in the book getting damaged or food smudged on it, and when I go to a bookstore I usually expect to find the stock in good condition, minor shelf wear excepted. Shelf wear, however, does not and has never included food stains water marks, or any of a number of things I've found in books in some stores (not naming names).

What's the silliest thing you've ever done in a bookstore? Ever been kicked out of one?
I've been known to take books on Buddhism and Hinduism and mix them into the Christianity section. Christians do it all the time, so I figure its only fair. *evil grin* Never been kicked out of a bookstore though.
Somehow I let this drop by the wayside and haven't written anything in a number of months. I'll try to get things back on track over the rest of the summer, although I'm not sure how much longer I'm going to be able to pull it off as I'll probably have to take a break for the first half of the coming academic year as I'll be writing my Capstone Thesis.