Library Loot (16 February 2011)

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.

It never feels quite right when my dedicated shelf for library books sits empty. It’s a little sad. It’s a little forlorn. And just dying to be filled. And now it is, thanks to my quick run to the library after an early lunch – a quick one as it looked like it was going to pour any minute (of course it didn’t, but it’s still threatening to).

The Ventriloquist’s Tale – Pauline Melville
This won the 1997 Whitbread First Novel Award, and since it’s set in Guyana, it’s perfect for the Global Reading Challenge.

Pauline Melville conjures up vivid pictures both of savanna and forest and of city life in South America where love is often trumped by disaster. Unforgettable characters illuminate theme and plot: Sonny, the strange, beautiful and isolate son of Beatrice and Danny, the brother and sister who have a passionate affair at the time of the solar eclipse in 1919; Father Napier, the sandy-haired evangelist whom the Indians perceive as a giant grasshopper; Chofy McKinnon the modern Indian, torn between savanna life and urban future. This is a novel that embraces nearly a century, large in scope but intimate as a whisper, where laughter is never far from the scene of tragedy; a parable of miscegenation and racial elusiveness, of nature defying culture, magic confronting rationalism and of the eternally rebellious nature of love.

A Golden Age – Tahmima Anam

Also for the Global Reading Challenge. I first heard of this from Lotus Reads.

Rehana Haque, a young widow, blissfully prepares for the party she will host for her son and daughter. But this is 1971 in East Pakistan, and change is in the air.Set against the backdrop of the Bangladesh War of Independence, A Golden Age is a story of passion and revolution; of hope, faith, and unexpected heroism in the midst of chaos—and of one woman’s heartbreaking struggle to keep her family safe.

A Song for Summer – Eva Ibbotson
Claire at The Captive Reader has been reading a lot of Eva Ibbotson, so I was wondering what I’ve been missing out on, since I’d never heard of the author before.

In a fragile world on the brink of World War II, a young Englishwoman takes a job as a housemother at an unconventional boarding school in Vienna. Soon everyone at the Hallendorf School, from the headmaster to the mysterious groundsman, relies on her for nurturing, What happens when the menace of Hitler’s power reaches this idyllic world makes for a powerfully moving tale.

Bury Me Standing: The Gypsies and Their Journey – Isabel Fonseca
This was in the reading list from Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers’ Guide from the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University

After the revolutions of 1989, Isabel Fonseca lived and traveled with the Gypsies of Bulgaria, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the former Yugoslavia, Romainia, and Albania – listening to their stories and recording their attempts to become something more than despised outsiders. In Bury Me Standing, alongside unforgettable portraits of individuals – the poet, the politician, the child prostitute – are vivid insights into the wit, language, wisdom, and taboos of the Roma. In a compelling narrative account of this large and landless minority, Fonseca also traces their long-ago exodus out of India and their history of relentless persecution: enslaved by the princes of medieval Romania; massacred by the Nazis in what the Roma call “the Devouring”; forcibly assimilated by the communist regime; and, most recently, evicted from their settlements by nationalistic mobs in the new “democracies” of the East, and under violent attack in the Western countries to which many have fled.

Mouse Guard Volume 1: Fall 1152 (v. 1) – David Petersen
Found this while browsing the graphic novel shelves and thought it looked quite cute.

In the world of Mouse Guard, mice struggle to live safely and prosper amongst harsh conditions and a host of predators. Thus the Mouse Guard was formed: more than just soldiers that fight off intruders, they are guides for common mice looking to journey without confrontation from one hidden village to another. The Guard patrol borders, find safeways and paths through dangerous territories and treacherous terrain, watch weather patterns, and keep the mouse territories free of predatory infestation. They do so with fearless dedication so that they might not just exist, but truly live. Saxon, Kenzie and Lieam, three such Guardsmice, are dispatched to find a missing merchant mouse that never arrived at his destination. Their search for the missing mouse reveals much more than they expect, as they stumble across a traitor in the Guard’s own ranks.

The Dazzle of Day – Molly Gloss
Also for the Global Reading Challenge – for my seventh location I’ve chosen books set in space colonies!

Earth is ailing, and Quakers from various countries band together for a brave mission: build a self-sustaining spaceship, and travel to the stars to find another home. The Dazzle of Day chronicles the lives of people who grew up on the Dusty Miller and lived to see it reach its destination.

Spiritual, steady Kristina plays the middle note in Gloss’s triadic exploration of the inner lives of women; Verano begins the journey from Earth, and Vintro’s story comprises the finishing notes after the journey’s end. Onboard the Dusty Miller, a depressive malaise spreads throughout the colonists, and Kristina’s daughter-in-law Juko witnesses a suicide by a co-worker while mending the ship’s solar sails. Other players include Juko’s son Cejo, her quiet ex-husband Humberto, and her husband Bjoro, a scientist who visits the new planet’s inhospitable surface and lives to bring back reports. The colonists, who’ve lived their entire lives on a small climate-controlled ship, must decide whether to adjust to life on the chilly planet, prepare to terraform a section on its surface, or continue on to search for a more suitable home.

Every Patient Tells a Story: Medical Mysteries and the Art of Diagnosis – Lisa Sanders
House MD is one of my favourite TV shows, and Sanders’ monthly “Diagnosis” column in The New York Times Magazine was an inspiration for the show.

Medical diagnosis is the only form of forensics that none of us can ultimately avoid. As New York Times columnist Lisa Sanders shows in this book, correctly identifying the causes of maladies can be simple, even intuitive, or it can involve advanced tests and intricate cogitations that would boggle the mind of even a real-life Dr. Gregory House. Every Patient Tells a Story approaches diagnosis as a human pursuit, not as a chilling empirical procedure. Her stories are compelling, diverse, and often surprising. A reassuring look at making us well.

Brighton Rock – Graham Greene
Probably a book I should’ve read a long time ago, especially when I was actually living in Brighton! The book I borrowed didn’t have a cover though, but I like how striking this one is..

A gang war is raging through the dark underworld of Brighton. Pinkie, malign and ruthless, has killed a man. Believing he can escape retribution, he is unprepared for the courageous Ida Arnold, who is determined to avenge a death.

The Boy Who Catches Wasps: Selected Poetry of Duo Duo (Mandarin Chinese Edition)– Duo Duo
I was browsing the library catalogue for bilingual (Chinese-English) books when I came across this one. Duo Duo won the 2010 Neustadt International Prize for Literature.

Duo Duo began to write poetry in the early 1970s when the Cultural Revolution was still in full swing. He was obliged to write clandestinely, never imagining he would have readers. He continued to write throughout the 1980s, publishing in samizdat publications, and then more openly as the authorities relaxed their grip.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?
See more Library Loot here


  1. What a wonderful set of books. I’ve only read the Ventriloquist’s Tale, which I loved, and Brighton Rock, which I didn’t like so much but was certainly worth reading. And I’m intrigued by A Golden Age, The Dazzle of Day and Mouse Guard. Not the sort of books I’m drawn to read at the moment but I do like to hear about them, as there are too may great books out there to get to them all in a single lifetime.


  2. Oh, Mouse Guard: I’d forgotten about wanting to give that one a try myself, and hadn’t made a note of the author. Looking forward to your thoughts on that one. I have the Melville and Gloss novels on my shelves, but haven’t made it there yet. Hope you find lots of new favourites amongst your loot!


  3. What a great haul this week! A Golden Age, Bury Me Standing, and The Dazzle of Day are all new to me but will definitely be added to my TBR list. I hope you enjoy the Ibbotson as a break from some of these heavier, more intense tales.

    Enjoy your loot!


  4. I’m always intrigued when I see manga in readers’ library loot posts, but always seem to forget by the time I find myself in the library again. Looks like you got everyone commenting on Mouse Guard. Let’s hope I remember on my next library visit…

    Enjoy your books!


    1. Thanks, Christine! I always make it a point to hit the graphic novel shelves when I’m at my library, and bring home at least one with me. They make for such great reads.


  5. Mouse Guard is indeed adorable – I loved the illustrations of the little fierce mice when I read it last year.

    I look forward to your thoughts on Bury Me Standing. It sounds like a very intriguing travelogue.


  6. I looked for Mouse Guard over the weekend, but my library doesn’t have it. Determined to come home with some graphic novels, I borrowed and already read the first in The Good Neighbors series by Holly Black & Ted Naifeh and the Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi. I also borrowed the graphic novel of the Bronte classic Jane Eyre of which I’m in the middle right now. I’m happy to have finally sampled some graphic novels! 😀


    1. That sounds like a great graphic novel haul, Christine! I’ve not read any of those you’ve borrowed but have heard plenty of good about the Amulet series. Hope you enjoy them!


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