Friday, October 01, 2010

Library Loot: That Nonfiction-y Feeling Again

When I was in my library the other day looking for a copy of the Koran, I noticed that the 200s section (AKA the religion section) is actually pretty good. The Christian part of this section is solid with many scholarly-looking books about various aspects of different churches and sects. The Judaism section is a little skimpy and Hinduism and Islam barely get a nod. There's a brief wave to mythology and Native American religious practices. I can't remember seeing anything about Mormonism.
Buddhism is, of course, the clear winner with rows and rows and rows of texts -- most of them in Hangul. The 200s is a part of the library I've neglected since I came here, so when I saw all the glittering possibilities, my interest was piqued. I made notes for future library lootings. Here's what I picked up today:

1. Our Mothers' War: American Women at Home and at the Front During World War II - Emily Yellin. I saw this one at the edge of the 900s while making my way to the 200s. In a sea of Hangul, I love the way titles in English shimmer and beckon and tickle my peripheral vision. I dipped into this book here and there and everything was so intensely readable. Did I mention the pages and pages of outstanding, iconic pictures? This looks like a winner.

2. Menopause: The Inner Journey - Susanne F. Fincher. I found this one in the mythology part. Judging from a quick peek inside, it's probably a little too New Age-y for my tastes. Also, my hackles rose at the first sentence: The passage from middle-aged to elder, marked for women by the menopause, happens around the fiftieth year. There's also something about passing from being a middle-aged woman to a "young crone". Elder. Crone. Damn, that feels pretty harsh. I don't know why I didn't hurl the book as well as my breakfast and run screaming from the library. We'll see how it goes.

3. I Give You My Life: The Autobiography of a Western Buddhist Nun (originally published in German as Ich Schenke Euch Mein Leben) - Ayya Khema. This was one of a handful of English-language books in the Buddhist section. The author was born in Berlin, Germany in 1923 into a Jewish family and, at the time the book was published in 1997, was living as a nun in Allgau, the site of the first Buddhist monastery in Germany. Along the way, she seems to have experienced marriage and motherhood (there are pictures of her with her children and grandchildren) and traveled to many different countries. Illustrated with photos of friends and family, this seems like a portrait of a fascinating life.
Today was another 3-book haul. That's how it is when your main transportation is walking. Call me wimp, say that I'm merely a pretender to the shelves, but it's downright painful to lug 6-10 books uphill and downhill. UpHELL and downHELL, I should say. That trek informs quite a few of my reading/looting decisions. For example, I want to read The Forsyte Saga, but to do so, I must check out a bulging doorstop of a volume that is the collected works of John Galsworthy. There's novels in that overstuffed tome that not even Galsworthy gave a damn about.
I've determined that having a student who is a muscular Physical Education major and an inveterate brown-noser who obsesses about his (or her) English grade would be just the ticket for my library loot angst, but that particular combination of student is more difficult to find than you'd think. I'll have to struggle along with my paltry harvest for now.


Unruly Reader said...

Those are WASPs on the cover of Our Mothers' War! Please report back about this book -- I may have to do some more of that WASP reading that's like a dormant addiction.

Claire (The Captive Reader) said...

A very interesting selection! Sorry to hear that the Galsworthy was too massive to pick up this trip. The Forsyte Saga is a family favourite. My father got his first choice when it came to my name (Claire, for Claire Derwent from R.F. Delderfield's A Horseman Riding By) but his second choice was Fleur. Thank goodness that didn't happen!

Marg said...

I don't read anywhere near enough non-fiction.

Enjoy your loot!

Care said...

That last paragraph had me snorting my coffee onto my laptop - thanks alot. :)
and thanks also for the reminder to read my own doc's Menopause Matters book before I see her next month. I am committed to reading every page so when she asks me I won't have to lie.

Becka Barker said...

That menopause book sounds awful.