Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Library Loot: A Nice Browse Through the Stacks

I've been having trouble sleeping. Stupid insomnia. If only I could teach classes in the middle of the night! After dragging myself through my nine o'clock class on Tuesday, I had a break until 3 o'clock. Plenty of time to walk home and have a nice nap... or visit my library. Bed or books? The decision wasn't that difficult. The library was closer.

1. Letter From Peking - Pearl S. Buck. A 1957 novel about a couple who has been brutally separated by the Communist revolution. The husband is a Chinese-American professor and he chose to remain behind in China. Probably not a good move. She's American and in the United States with their teenaged son who is feeling conflicted about being 25% Chinese. I lovehate and hatelove the cover of this edition. Sketches of Chinese scenery bathed in a red background and Betty from Mad Men in the foreground. Her lipstick matches China. The checkout bar code covers the letter (presumably from Peking) that she's holding.

Here's a shot of the back cover. Is that taupe? Whatever it is, it's not her color. She looks sort of zombie-ish or possibly ready to hurl all over the title object.

2. The Way of All Flesh - Samuel Butler. I don't even know what this 1880s novel (Hi, Tuffi!) is about, but it's always there by itself at the tail end of all that fiction by Pearl Buck. It's kind of funny -- Buck was insanely prolific and Butler wrote just this novel. Strange bedfellows.

3. Passionate Uncertainty: Inside The American Jesuits - Peter McDonough and Eugene C. Bianchi. I know almost nothing about Catholicism, but I'm under the impression that the Jesuits are a heady combination of tough-guy and intellectual. Throw in the fact that this 2002 study is about American Jesuits and that can't help but make for powerful, intriguing reading.

4. Adventures with the Buddha - Jeffery Paine. This is an anthology of writings by nine Westerners who have travelled to Asia over the past century to become better acquainted with Buddhism. I recognized one of the authors, Janwillem van de Wetering, whose 1973 book The Empty Mirror was a refreshing read. Based on the variety of people and experiences in these pages, this volume looks like fun.

The bilingual self-checkout machine was being hostile to me today (no friendly computerized female voice, red flashing light, "Restricted" on the screen) because I was a little bit late with my previous haul. Last year, I meekly put the books I wanted back on the shelf and left, chastened. This year, I snorted derisively at the machine and silently handed my loot to the student desk clerk and he swiftly overrode the veto. Take that, BSCM! Nobody --no machine, anyway -- tells Bybee to eff off in two languages when she's operating on about three hours of sleep! Actually, everything worked out for the best. I must have made the student worker nervous, because instead of being due back in early December, I don't have to return this stack until late April! Library Loot, indeed!


Marg said...

Wow! That is a long check out period!

Enjoy your loot!

Eva said...

That's an insane amount of time! The Jesuit book totally jumped out at me: when I was little I wanted to be a Jesuit priest (I was raised Catholic), and I really enjoyed the memoir I read by one a couple of years ago (My Life with the Saints).

ambearo said...

I wish our check out time was that long. We only get 3 weeks! I'm sorry you have insomnia too. Boo!!!

Claire (The Captive Reader) said...

What a great selection! Enjoy your loot!

Willa said...

Interesting stack you have there and what that long a check out period, you should be able to read them all :-) Hate it when you have to speed-read to make it on time. Happy reading!

nat @book, line, and sinker said...

where are yooooou????

Carrie#K said...

April? Envious! I'm going to have Edith Wharton out that long but shhhh. Don't tell my library.

True Grit is a book? Of course it is. I must read it.

How was the Jesuit book? Weirdly, the Jesuits seem to be coming out of the woodwork in everything I read lately.