Sunday Lowdown #42

This Week’s Blog Posts:

Although I shared three reviews this week, that won’t be the norm. Monday, I posted my review of Owlsight, the sophomore novel in the OWL MAGE trilogy by Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon. I enjoyed the expansion in what the authors mean by “villain” and the ethical debates characters engage in.

Wednesday I reviewed Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett, and I was surprised to learn that a few of you had this novel on your radars. I give fair warning about what may turn you off, but also why you should keep reading.

Friday brought the poo review — that is, my review of Judith Flanders’s nonfiction book The Victorian City: Everyday Life in Dickens’ London. Everyone focused on the phrase “turd canal,” which doesn’t make me proud, but you definitely got the point I was going for in my efforts to share just how gross the city was before efforts to deal with sewage were made by the government.

Next Week’s Blog Posts:

Continuing with nonfiction, you can catch my review of Prison Baby, a memoir by Deborah Jiang Stein on Tuesday. Raised in a loving Jewish family, mixed-race Deborah at twelve-years-old finds a letter in her mother’s dresser drawer asking a lawyer to keep Deborah’s birth — to a drug addicted mother while incarcerated — a secret.

On Thursday I’m bringing in another writer to share what she wanted to be when she grew up, how that has affected her writing, what kinds of writing she does, and what her latest book is about. Please stop by to welcome Lindsay Lerman to Grab the Lapels.

Books Added to the TBR Pile:

I don’t have the space to fit in a whole ranty post about libraries, like I said I would, but here are the basics: I had this stupid thought that libraries sort of function like warehouses of books. So long as a book is at the library, it will be available to me. What a surprise to no one but me when I learned after trying to find a copy of a book I’d marked on Goodreads as “TBR” and “SJCPL” (my library) on the card catalog, that there is no record of it. Weeded from the collection! In fact, after I returned Prison Baby to the library today I learned it had already been weeded while in my possession. *faints dead*

So, now I’m doing a big push in 2020 to attack my four reading project goals and read everything else from the library, not my personal TBR collection. This also means that I’m buying books at the local Friends of the Library sale if it’s on my “TBR” and “SJCPL” Goodreads shelf. It’s safe at my house, but not safe from those diligent librarians! Plus, 50 cents per used book to help the library is always nice.

Thanks to Cupcakes & Machetes for her recommendation in the comments section of my review of The Victorian City.


    • I’m really trying to add more graphic novels. I have spent the last couple of years largely reading my own TBR books, but now I see the error of sitting on a library TBR pile.

      The library where I work checks for things like if the book has been borrowed in the last year. I’m not sure how a book I had checked out from the library by my house could be weeded while in my possession. The bar code is needed to remove a book from the system. It’s so odd to me.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Friends of Library sales are great, and often an excellent way to get cheap hardback copies of hard to find books. Weeding is of course a problem, but then you discover the one book you really want, and have been the only person to read in ten years, still isn’t going to be weeded. And when it finally is they won’t tell you in advance.


    • I wish there was a button on the site that would let me “get in line” if a book is weeded. You’d think that would save them the time of lugging the books to the sale place and then organizing them. Then, they sit on a shelf and wait for someone to buy them.

      Weirdly, fiction costs 50 cents and nonfiction is a dollar. I asked the cashier if that was a fact tax. She didn’t get it.


  2. Interesting comment about libraries. I guess, when it comes to physical books, weeding is unavoidable, or they can’t take in new books. Oh, and I loved your review of The Victorian City (turd canal and all…).


    • I’ve noticed a number of books are now e-book or e-audiobook only, so they’ve kept the book but got rid of the physical copy. Shelf space is likely an issue, and what with more people getting comfortable with technology, e-books are a great option.

      Thanks for reading The Victorian City. It sure got a lot of attention!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m sorry about the weeding. I have a set of old and actually quite boring books about bibliography that I saved from my old university library, though i fear they’re up for weeding from my collection quite soon! Your set of book covers looks to include some fascinating titles.


  4. Food Choices book looks interesting, but will it just make me sad? I look forward to your review! And, sad about the books being weeded from the library’s collection, although not surprising. There are just too many damn books haha!



    • I’m dyin! 😀

      The nice thing is the Friends of the Library now has a book sale every Friday. It used to be only the first Friday of the month, meaning the place was UTTER CHAOS. My anxiety couldn’t handle it.

      The Peter Singer books were all added after I remembered an argument that he made about giving away all resources you have that are beyond what you need to survive. Imagine how different the world would be if we did that.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You know, I knew that about library collections but I had never considered it in terms of my own TBR. I’m taking a break from library books until the end of the year in order to work through some of the books on my list that I already own but now you have me questioning everything!


    • I spent two years reading my own books and really made a huge dent in the pile. It was super satisfactory. But now all those library books are going away, meaning if I still want to read them in the future, I will either need to buy them or get an inter-library loan, which takes 1-4 weeks to arrive. So, in 2020 I’m shifting focus to library books.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Weeded out while in your possession! That is tragic!

    I’ve also added Through the Woods to my TBR recently, and My Best Friend’s Exorcism. Unmentionable has been on my radar, I’d be curious to see your thoughts on that one!


  7. I enjoyed You’ll Grow Out of It.

    Weeded while in your possession? That’s so weird. If something is on a weeding list here, and when I go to pull it off the shelf it’s checked out, well, then that book gets a second chance at life! That’s how we do it anyway.


    • I hope I like Klein’s book. I like her work with Big Mouth on Netflix.

      At our library, the librarian makes a list of books to pull, she goes and gets them, gives us the cart, and we remove them from the system using the bar code on the book. If I didn’t have the book, I would have to know the bar code.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve been thinking about weeding at the library a bit as I’ve been visiting a library new to me that seems to be very trendy in terms of collection size. They’ve weeded everything so nothing sits on the bottom shelf and they’ve weeded all the shelves left so that only half of the shelf is full, allowing for a book to be displayed in the empty space. I walked in and had a minor heart attack to the effect of, “But…but…where are all the books here?!” as my hometown library has all the shelves full to capacity. Then, to my surprise, I hear the librarians say the collection needs to be weeded because, “The shelves are too full” and “It looks cluttered!” I could have fainted on the spot. They already don’t own any books and they want to weed?? A look at the collection indicates that the bulk of the children’s fiction is only three years old, five at most. You want an older book? You have to order it in.

    But what’s interesting to me about the way this library weeds their collection is that I think they must do it because they assume patrons CAN order in books from elsewhere. (So I suppose you’re out of luck if you wanted something the same day.) But what if EVERY library stopped thinking of themselves of repositories of books and knowledge? What if they ALL started weeding so they have half their shelves bare and no books older than five years? Where would we be? Would libraries even be serving their function anymore? Right now I use libraries quite often for the reason that they have older and out-of-print and niche books. If my library is only going to have current, hot titles, they’re really just like a free Barnes and Noble.


    • It’s an interesting question. As book lovers, I think we feel that any quality book must stay. However, if that book hasn’t moved off the shelf in a year, it’s not right for that library’s patrons. I’ve seen books 2-3 years old being weeded, but that could be a couple of things 1) it’s not moving off the shelf, or 2) they bought multiple copies when it was a hot, new title and are getting rid of the excess. It sounds like what you and I both want in our heart of hearts is a college library that has a dozen floors and keeps all the books because people may need them for research. Frequently, when I look up a book to get an ILL, I notice that it’s colleges that still have it. Maybe that’s the way it should be? I don’t know. But the fact that your new library has half the shelves full is odd to me. I do understand displaying books, but they don’t have to be displayed on the shelf itself. Do a funky pop-up display. I created one for a class; I got titles for “National Nut Day” and was quite creative with what I added to the mini-display. We have these taller carts that aren’t wide that could be randomly placed around the library as mini pop-up displays, for example.

      I will say that my new-ish manager came from a library system that was set up like a bookstore, and it’s totally a style of library-ing. The organization, at the very least, is more familiar to patrons, it seems.


      • I understand weeding books that don’t circulate, but was confused to see two librarians staring at shelves that were just over half full and saying they needed to week because it “looked crammed.” That suggested to me they were weeding for aesthetic purposes, since they weren’t scanning books and it actually looks like all double copies have been weeded, aside from books that are probably on school reading lists. I just don’t get it! Can’t the shelve be 2/3 full and then they weed later based on condition and usage and currency? Apparently not!

        That sounds like a really cool display! And I like the idea of a pop-up display. It kind of makes going to the library feel more exciting, like, what will pop up today? 😀


        • I thought so too, but the director of the library doesn’t like small pop-up displays. She thinks they look messy (is what I’ve heard). I’m not a librarian, but to my knowledge, weeding should never be done with a glance at a shelf. These people sound…interesting.


  9. Trying to come out of hiatus again! Prison Baby sounds interesting, I did manage a few nonfiction books in November.

    Books don’t always stay in circulation at the library. Sometimes I’m looking for older titles and can get them filled via ILL but sometimes that’s not the case


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