Sunday Lowdown #62

Interesting Notes from Class:

This week we read about ways to conserve, preserve, and repair library collections, including what to do if there is a disaster, such as flooding, fire, mold, or pests.

One of the best ways to preserve a book is called “book training.” Put the book spine down on a table and open the front and back covers. While keeping this position, open the first twenty or so pages of the front of the book, then do the back twenty-ish pages. Keep doing twenty more pages, front and then back in order to “train” the book to open without cracking the spine. — from “Practical Preservation and Conservation Strategies for Libraries,” 2018, by Brian J. Baird, p. 25-26

Books that are not properly cared for, which includes controlling food and beverages, humidity (72 hours = mold), heat, freezing temperatures, sunlight exposure, and water damage, are susceptible to the following pests that like paper and book glue: book lice, book worms (beetle larvae), silverfish, cockroaches, termites, bedbugs, and rodents — from Working with Library Collections: An Introduction for Support Staff, 2017, by Hali R. Keeler, p. 138

This Week’s Blog Posts:

Thanks for all the compliments on my pandemic post! And special thanks to everyone who sent me a selfie! I love them so hard. While I used to think digital pictures meant we weren’t look at photo albums anymore, I realized that with my Pandemic 2020 photo album, I look at the images frequently. You make me smile, and I appreciate you deeply for that. If you want to share with me a selfie (it won’t be posted online!) to go in my photo album, you can send it to I love how the photos people are sending me are often couched with the comment, “I haven’t had a hair cut in ages…” Hair control isn’t happening for me either, dear reader. If I put on a face mask, people might mistake me for my dad thanks to these eyebrows.

Thursday’s The F Word by Liza Palmer was a total hoot. It made for some good conversation about what happens when people change the shape of their bodies. How might their internal reality not match how thin cohorts feel other thin people should behave? This book made me LOL for real, but it was thought-provoking, too.

Next Week’s Blog Posts:

It’s never too late to talk about The Vagina Bible by Dr. Jen Gunter. On Tuesday, I’ll give you my review of the audiobook version, read by the author, of this must-have reference book.

On Thursday I’m doing something a big different. Some Grab the Lapels followers have read and loved The Valdemar books by Mercedes Lackey. Others have never heard of Lackey and wouldn’t be interested in a novel that’s about eleventy books into a series. That’s fine! On Thursday, you’ll see two reviews pop up from me: 1) The Silver Gryphon by Mercedes Lackey & Larry Dixon, and 2) Upright Women by Sarah Gailey. That way, if you’re not into #ReadingValdemar or feel out of the loop, you’ll see get something in your inbox that may appeal to you.

In Other News. . .

Yes, I’m still reading Tibetan Peach Pie by Tom Robbins to the spouse. I learned he’s not a Boomer, but actually from The Silent Generation (Robbins was born in 1932). Since last Sunday, Robbins basically fell into a publishing deal, another one of those moments that make me unfairly (maybe?) roll my eyes at Boomers, apparently even if they’re not Boomers. Woops!

Emily @ Literary Elephant and I were planning to buddy read Actress by Anne Enright, but I got 45 pages in and stopped. The writing just felt wonky to me, especially when the words didn’t quite match what the author was trying to communicate. I abandoned a contender for a major literary prize so I could read a novel about a hairdresser in a trailer park. This may tell you things about me.

I got my copy of Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby in the mail. I ordered this collection of essays through a local independent bookstore website, meaning she gets part of the revenue. Is anyone else doing something different to support their local businesses during the pandemic? If you need a book and don’t have a local indie bookstore in the U.S., consider ordering HERE.

Next, I feel like we’re not really talking about food? Getting it, making it, eating it. This has all become weird. Like the paranoid weirdo I am (okay, I did see lots of people who coughed and sneezed into their hands pre-pandemic), I’m too nervous to get food from restaurants because I would then have to count on those people practicing the good hygiene I do. #PARANOID. Thus, I run into the grocery store like I’m on some sort of Conan the Destroyer-type quest, get my shit, and run out, making sure to Purell my eyeballs and whatnot before I get into the car.

Grace Jones plays Zula in Conan the Destroyer

This year for Easter, instead of going to see family, I’ll be making a spinach meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and green beans. Don’t get too excited; some of this stuff is mix-in-hot-water easy, but it should be good! Ham is typical Easter fare, but much like toilet paper, pig products have disappeared into the unknown. The spouse and I also have a mission to walk through a neighboring apartment complex and procure some Cadbury Eggs (this is Anne’s fault) from the Aldi’s on the other side of the toll road. No Cadbury Eggs, no Easter.

Lastly, don’t forget that starting May 1st I’m doing a Flannery O’Connor read-along. Many of you own her stories in various books, but you can also find them online or locate The Complete Stories in your library’s e-book collection. The reading order is available in my linked post.

Books Added to the TBR Pile:

Thank you to Laila, Gil, Hannah, and Bill for their recommendations!


  1. I’m not sure about book training. I barely open some books for fear of harming them. My father was very anal about books and he seems to have passed it on. I’m glad you get pleasure from our photos, there is already a sense of community around Grab the Lapels, something we appreciate in these difficult times.


    • Thank you, Bill! I hadn’t even realized that the community I’m trying to build turns to look at each other. The reason I feel that way is because when I visit the blogs of folks who follow me, they have their own set of followers who don’t come to Grab the Lapels. It’s weird how that works, but I think it largely has to do with reading interests. There are some bloggers who focus on YA who I just adore as people, but I’m not interested in picking up YA novels, for example.


  2. Thanks for the shoutout! Okay, once I read the paragraph on book training I know I HAVE to try it. I always read mass market paperbacks or trade paperbacks so books not laying flat is a real problem. To clarify, do I alternate front-20 and back-20, or do I do them simultaneously? (I’m kind of anal and so am very afraid of cracking the spine…)

    I’m interested in joining your Flannery O’Connor read-along! I’ll see if I can obtain a decent copy of her Complete Stories. If I won’t be posting, I’ll be sure to look out for your reviews – I have only read “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” but I still think about that final scene often.


    • According to the instructions, you open 20 pages from the front and then open 20 pages from the back. Then, you just keep going back and forth. A book should, over the years, end up with a rounded spine. This indicates that the book is used a lot, but the spine is not cracked.

      I’ll be posting once per week for the Flannery read-along. Folks don’t necessarily need to write their own reviews each week, especially since reviewing is time consuming; however, they’re welcome to leave their thoughts in the comments of my reviews! So excited you’ll be joining along, Gil! *hint hint* there may be online copies of the book…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for the shout-out! I’m sorry that you didn’t like Actress, but life is too short to read things that you don’t enjoy. I wish I DNF’ed more books – I tend to hold out naive hope that a book I don’t enjoy will improve, only to be disappointed and wish that I had just DNF’ed it. And I look forward to your review of Wow, No Thank You! That one is on my TBR as well 🙂


    • I spent so many years being mad while reading because I was trying to hold on, working under the assumption that everyone else was smart and I was too stupid to “get it.”

      Have you read the rest of Irby’s books? I highly recommend reading them in order, as her life builds throughout them, and events in her first book certainly shape her in others. She actually lives no too far from my city, so I did meet her in person. She’s EXACTLY like her books!

      I’m going to listen to your recommendation next. I’m thinking it will be good in audio because the authors are podcasters.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That must have been such a frustrating feeling! Sometimes I feel that way when I like a book that everyone else seems to hate – like I was too stupid to miss the red flags or the problems with that.
        And I haven’t read Irby’s other books yet, so thank you for the recommendation! She sounds awesome and I’m really excited to read her (I’ll start with the first book).


        • I never thought about it the other way around — liking a book everyone else hates. Usually, I read something that I like that I “shouldn’t,” and that makes me self-conscious. When I wrote a post about some campy novels I read when I was 18 and how embarrassed I was, everyone empathized and shared their own “shameful” reads! These days, I’m looking for something that makes me experience visceral emotion, and I’m finding it all over the place: fantasy, women’s fiction, nonfiction, etc.

          Liked by 1 person

    • Yah, they’re eating the glue! *barf* I wrote a whole post about why I’m really selective about which books I keep, and it was largely due to pests, mold, etc.

      How are you holding up in quarantine, Kellen?


  4. Book training sounds interesting! I don’t think I’ve ever broken a hardcover spine and don’t tend to worry about them, but I am very careful about my paperbacks (I usually read them with a finger on the back of the spine so I can feel if it’s getting close and adjust my hold) so it might be interesting to try it for that.
    I lol’d at your mention of hairy eyebrows- I’ve seen lots of concern over lapsed hair care but not eyebrows- I’ve just realized I’ve been neglecting mine also!
    It is too bad you didn’t get on with Actress. I’m planning to sample it tonight and then start reading probably by Wednesday; I’ll let you know if I struggle with the writing also! But I am looking forward to reading some Flannery O’Connor stories with you, at least! 🙂


    • My husband’s hair is so straight and fine that any little woops in a haircut, and you can see it. Well, yesterday we played hair salon in the kitchen. Desperate times and all. Too bad Kitty isn’t interested in eyebrow wax, cuz whoa.

      I suppose I’m not even really sure what it means to crack the spine of a book. I know in the read it said that the pages will start falling out, and I’ve never had that happen, so…?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Every day’s a new adventure in quarantine! It’s interesting to see how little things like haircuts can become a day’s big project, and something to be proud of when it’s complete. We will probably all look a little funny when we come out of our homes at the end of it though! 🙂

        With paperbacks I just get a crease in the spine if I open it too far, and other than finding it a bit ugly it’s not really a problem, so I’ve let it happen now and then. With hardbacks I think it’s harder to manage a broken spine, but there are a few old copies at my library that I’ve see it with, including at least one with chunks of pages in the middle that were completely detached. I’ve never seen it in a recent book though, so I thought maybe it was something to worry about more as books age. I had no idea librarians were training books!


        • To be honest, I’m not sure how many library staff are actually training books. The reading recommended that people working on desks have a pile of books that they just keep at when they aren’t helping patrons. But that implies there aren’t 100 other things on our to-do lists, too. For instance, we’re doing a retagging project (those tags that make the door alarm go off) that’s taken at least a year. Then there’s cleaning books. People spill who knows what on those plastic covers all the time. There’s weeding and logging new books, too, which oftentimes get priority because we don’t want an old book hanging out in the system and the patron can’t find it because we pulled it, and we want those new books to go out ASAP.

          Liked by 1 person

          • All good points. I think they’d have more time for training books at a small library like mine, I do catch the librarians reading or otherwise not actively working when the desk isn’t busy, now and then. I forget bigger libraries have a lot more going on! No door alarms at my library, and only one set of shelves for new books, so things like that won’t take as long. But that said, I never have seen anyone training books even in their spare time!


            • We’re not allowed to read at work because we’re paid with tax dollars. We should always be doing something (and there’s almost always something to do). At the very least, I would think staff at a small library would dust shelves or clean the covers (a never ending task).

              Liked by 1 person

              • Ah, yeah, I hadn’t thought of the tax dollars in regards to librarians reading at work. To be fair it’s very rare that I’ve seen this, and the library is kept up very well so it’s not something I’ve ever begrudged them for even though I can see how that would be frowned upon. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a dusty shelf or dirty cover so they must be keeping up!

                Liked by 1 person

  5. Your meatloaf sounds nice! I already love cooking and I’m really enjoying having more time to do so, even if it’s harder to get food at the moment (no car and drastically reduced bus services mean I’m basically reliant on whatever is available in my little local shop, which is not normally much). One of the things I am going to do with my time before I have to start working again next week is make myself a fancy three-course meal one evening that’s as close to restaurant quality as I can make it, though I haven’t decided what it’s going to be yet.


    • Did you can anything from your garden last year? I know you had some nice produce going. I want to hear more about this fancy meal and hope you take some pictures and do a blog post about it. It’s nice to hear how people are doing, even if they aren’t reading as much. I think that’s something we all had to figure out because readers seemed fairly split; some thought they had to read way more with their free time, and others couldn’t read at all. That doesn’t mean we can’t reach out on our blogs. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • I did pickle some runner beans, but I’ e eaten those all already! Canning isn’t such a big thing over here and I am hesitant to do it without someone experienced showing me, because of the risks.

        I’ll definitely think about doing a post about it. I am starting to get my reading mojo back again. I couldn’t read anything for a few weeks but I’m currently gradually working my way through Ducks, Newburyport. Which is quite the book to try and break a reading slump with!


          • I couldn’t in good conscience recommend it – I agreed to read it with a few friends so I am persevering, but I am finding it to be totally unbearable drivel. (Other people who are reading it like it, so I’m the odd one out – but I feel very strongly that you should save yourself and pick something fun!)


  6. I’ll just mention here that I live less than 2 miles from the Cadbury factory in Bournville, and it’s true that the whole area smells of chocolate. Also the railway station is painted Cadbury purple!


  7. Yay for cadbury eggs!!!! So true, it makes easter, it truly does. Although I spent last Easter down in PHX and realized the US doens’t have quite the same devotion to Cadbury as Canada does, it was harder to find?

    I’m disappointed to hear Actress has wonky writing, I’m planning on reading it for my next radio segment (Mother’s Day theme) so I’ll be dread it if it’s terrible 😦

    And Yay for Vagina Bible! I’m looking forward to that review.


  8. You’re right about food right now, it all feels kind of weird and survivalist. We ordered out for the first time this weekend and I felt okay about it. Since we didn’t get to have any of our previously planned date nights and who knows when we will in the future, we opted for an at-home date. And it felt nice to support a local restaurant that we normally enjoy. I’m trying really hard to support local businesses right now, even though I’m also trying not to buy much. Our farmers market has gone online so I’m making that my first stop to shop for food; some of the farms are in our area so it’s also been fun to load up the girls in the bike trailer and do pick-ups.


      • Us too, we normally do a date at least once a month and very often do take-out on Friday nights.

        The farmer market online is so great! Right now, the market is allowed to go ahead but only for food and with very limited numbers so I’m not quite sure how that will work. I have vendors I’ve frequented in the past and didn’t realize they work in my neighbourhood. Just this morning the girls and I went for a sunny walk to pick up shampoo bars!


        • My mom has been seeking out people who live near her who sell things who aren’t part of a market. She learned about a lady trying to sell chicken eggs, so now she gets chicken eggs on her porch. My mom works at a prison and organizes food trucks that come to the prison so the staff can order something hot to eat. She found out one of the food truck people lives not too far from her, so now she’s getting ready made meals delivered to her door and help keep this woman in business. I love how we’re all thinking about doing out part more locally lately. I know I have.

          Liked by 1 person

          • That’s such a good idea! I’ve been pleased to see more people embrace local shopping recently too. One friend pointed out that even if she wanted to shop from Amazon, everything is taking so long! So many of our local businesses are really bending over backwards to help people out. I was waiting until spring to buy Pearl and Rose new summer shoes and then last week was wondering how I could find them. Turns out the lady who runs the local kids shop will e-mail me pictures and I can pick them up at her house!


Insert 2 Cents Here:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s