Library Loot (6 May 2010)

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.

Woohoo! I love that my library lets users hold books for free –  they only make you pay if you don’t pick it up by the specified date. I’ve obviously made use of this – and from the looks of the hold shelves, so have lots of other people – and two of my holds were ready to be picked  up today. And the other discovery I made today were the graphic novel shelves, which interestingly is located in the non-fiction section.

Reef – Romesh Gunesekera

I’m not so keen on this synopsis – spicy? lip smacking? enough already. This was one of the books I requested, as I continue with the Sri Lankan leg of my Reading The World Challenge (challenge page).

“Exotic,” “spicy,” and “delicious” are adjectives rarely applied to first novels; however, Reef had critics on both sides of the Atlantic smacking their lips. Reef is the coming-of-age story of Triton, a talented young chef so committed to pleasing his master’s palate that he is oblivious to the political unrest threatening his Sri Lanka paradise. The London Times called it “incessantly pleasurable,” and Booklist writes, “After slowly and reverently savoring Gunesekera’s debut novel, it’s easy to see why this flawless book was shortlisted for the Booker Prize.

The Sandman Vol. 8: Worlds’ End – Neil Gaiman
All Sandman, all day. I wish! But I’m afraid that my Sandman journey seems to be drawing to a close. It’s Volume 8!

A “reality storm” draws and unusual cast of characters together. They take shelter in a tavern, where they amuse each other with their life stories. Although Morpheus is never a focus in these stories, each has something to say about the nature of stories and dreams.

Passage – Connie Willis
I’ve been quite keen on reading something, anything, from Willis. Partly because of the reviews over at books I done read.

One of those rare, unforgettable novels that are as chilling as they are insightful, as thought-provoking as they are terrifying, award-winning author Connie Willis’s Passage is an astonishing blend of relentless suspense and cutting-edge science unlike anything you’ve ever read before.

It is the electrifying story of a psychologist who has devoted her life to tracking death. But when she volunteers for a research project that simulates the near-death experience, she will either solve life’s greatest mystery — or fall victim to its greatest terror.

At Mercy General Hospital, Dr. Joanna Lander will soon be paged — not to save a life, but to interview a patient just back from the dead. A psychologist specializing in near-death experiences, Joanna has spent two years recording the experiences of those who have been declared clinically dead and lived to tell about it.

It’s research on the fringes of ordinary science, but Joanna is about to get a boost from an unexpected quarter. A new doctor has arrived at Mercy General, one with the power to give Joanna the chance to get as close to death as anyone can.

A brilliant young neurologist, Dr. Richard Wright has come up with a way to manufacture the near-death experience using a psychoactive drug. Dr. Wright is convinced that the NDE is a survival mechanism and that if only doctors understood how it worked, they could someday delay the dying process, or maybe even reverse it. He can use the expertise of a psychologist of Joanna Lander’s standing to lend credibility to his study.

But he soon needs Joanna for more than just her reputation. When his key volunteer suddenly drops out of the study, Joanna finds herself offering to become Richard’s next subject. After all, who better than she, a trained psychologist, to document the experience?

Her first NDE is as fascinating as she imagined it would be — so astounding that she knows she must go back, if only to find out why this place is so hauntingly familiar. But each time Joanna goes under, her sense of dread begins to grow, because part of her already knows why the experience is so familiar, and why she has every reason to be afraid….

And just when you think you know where she is going, Willis throws in the biggest surprise of all — a shattering scenario that will keep you feverishly reading until the final climactic page is turned.

Checkpoint: A Novel – Nicholson Baker
After reading – and loving – Baker’s The Anthologist, I’ve been looking forward to reading something else by Baker.

Meet Jay.

Meet Ben.

Jay has summoned his old friend Ben to a hotel room not far from the nation’s capitol. During the course of an afternoon, they will share a delicious lunch and will crack open a bottle of wine from the hotel minibar. They will chat about everything from Ben’s new camera to Iraq to the unfortunate fate of a particular free-range chicken.

And Jay will explain to Ben exactly why and how he is planning to commit a murder that will change the course of history.

Britten and Brulightly – Hannah Berry
Chalk another one up for the book blogs (I just don’t remember which one it was specifically) as this is where I first heard of this graphic novel. I flipped through this at the library, and what great graphics! I was excited to see this on the shelves.

Private detective Fernández Britten is an old hand at confirming the dark suspicions of jealous lovers and exposing ugly truths of all varieties. Battered by years of bearing ill tidings, he clings to the hope of revealing, just once, a truth that will do some good in the world. It is a redemption that has long eluded him.

Then Britten and his unconventional partner, Brülightly, take on the mysterious death of Berni Kudos. The official verdict is suicide, but Berni’s fiancée is convinced that the reality is something more sinister. Blackmail, revenge, murder: each new revelation stirs up the muddy waters of painful family secrets, and each fresh twist takes the partners further from Britten’s longed-for salvation. Doing good in the world, he discovers, may have more to do with silence than truth.

A haunting story of love and grief, sharply written and luminously drawn, Britten and Brülightly is sure to establish Hannah Berry in the front rank of graphic novelists.

American Born Chinese– Gene Luen Yang
The problem with discovering the graphic novel shelves is that I couldn’t resist checking them out. Oh here’s another I’ve been wanting to read!

Jin Wang starts at a new school where he’s the only Chinese-American student. When a boy from Taiwan joins his class, Jin doesn’t want to be associated with an FOB like him. Jin just wants to be an all-American boy, because he’s in love with an all-American girl. Danny is an all-American boy: great at basketball, popular with the girls. But his obnoxious Chinese cousin Chin-Kee’s annual visit is such a disaster that it ruins Danny’s reputation at school, leaving him with no choice but to transfer somewhere he can start all over again. The Monkey King has lived for thousands of years and mastered the arts of kung fu and the heavenly disciplines. He’s ready to join the ranks of the immortal gods in heaven. But there’s no place in heaven for a monkey. Each of these characters cannot help himself alone, but how can they possibly help each other? They’re going to have to find a way—if they want fix the disasters their lives have become.

Salmon Doubts – Adam Sacks
I first saw this on Puss Reboots, and it looks like an interesting read.

Beautifully illustrated and deeply imaginative, the cast of conversing fish in Salmon Doubts philosophize about the meaning of life as they make their ultimate journey upstream to spawn. With lushly-rendered artwork, uproarious humor, intricately imagined settings, and striking, inventive page layouts, Adam Sacks envelops readers with his genius. The characters in Salmon Doubts fall outside the conventions of the “funny animal” or “anthropomorphic” comics genres – they look like animals, and do not wear little waistcoats or drive little automobiles. But saddled with the full weight of consciousness and speech, they testify just as much to the Human Condition as to Natural Selection.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?
What did you get from your library this week?


  1. I’ll be interested to see if you find Reef lip smacking. American Born Chinese has long been on my tbr list. Enjoy!


  2. I hope you enjoy this Sri Lankan leg of Reading the World… My older son just read American Born Chinese for the Challenge too. It was interesting that he didn’t really pick up any of the race nuances, though we talked a bit about it afterwards. Maybe you saw his review on my latest update for the Challenge –

    And Salmon Doubts looks great – I look forward to reading what you say about it.


    1. I’m pretty excited to start reading books set in Sri Lanka, partly because I don’t recall having ever read any with that setting before. Quite a few of my friends have visited the place, and it’s quite gorgeous I hear.

      American Born Chinese has been on my TBR list for a while, thanks to many book blogs, so I’m looking forward to reading it. While I am Chinese, I grew up in Chinese-dominated Singapore, so it’ll be interesting to read about growing up American Born Chinese. By the way, I liked your son’s review!


      1. Yes, I would love to go to Sri Lanka too – there’s an elephant orphanage there and I love elephants!

        And I look forward to reading your review of American Born Chinese – you’ll have an interesting perspective on it. I have only read snippets of it – mostly the bits I had thrust under my nose amidst great chortles!


      2. I’ve visited elephants in Chiang Mai too! One of the highlights of my life has been the elephant “safari” – my son was 22 months old and was perched in a carrier on my husband’s back!

        I’m so glad American Born Chinese was a hit!


  3. Besides Salmon Doubts, I’ve also read American Born Chinese. The book is worth reading all the way to the end to see how the three plot threads come together.


    1. I just read American Born Chinese (and am now trying to get the husband to read it). It definitely surpassed my expectations, especially with the use of the Monkey God story.


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