Library Loot (2 October 2012)

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.

Whee! The husband was working from home today so I took advantage and popped off to the library during wee reader’s naptime.

And I must add, argh why is it that after fall officially arrives that the Bay Area makes a desperate last attempt at summer? It was 33 deg C in the afternoon! I can’t wait to pull on my thick socks and sweaters!

Hark! A Vagrant – Kate Beaton

As I mentioned previously, the graphic novels are located upstairs in the non-fiction section, and that’s also where plenty of people are studying, doing some quiet reading, so it’s not the best of places for wee reader – he’s not really that noisy as kids go but I think he’s gotten so used (fond?) of the library that he happily runs around and excitedly points out things, and also unfortunately, tries to pull out books. So on a rare solo trip to the library, I happily traipsed upstairs, and found some iteresting and new-to-me illustrators/writers.

Hark! A Vagrant is an uproarious romp through history and literature seen through the sharp, contemporary lens of New Yorker cartoonist and comics sensation Kate Beaton. No era or tome emerges unscasthed as Beaton rightly skewers the Western world’s revolutionaries, leaders, sycophants, and suffragists while equally honing her wit on the hapless heroes, heroines, and villains of the best-loved fiction.

She deftly points out what really happened when Brahms fell asleep listening to Liszt, that the world’s first hipsters were obviously the Incroyables and the Merveilleuses from eighteenth-century France, that Susan B. Anthony is, of course, a “Samantha,” and that the polite banality of Canadian culture never gets old. Hark! A Vagrant features sexy Batman, the true stories behind classic Nancy Drew covers, and Queen Elizabeth doing the albatross. As the 500,000 unique monthly visitors to already know, no one turns the ironic absurdities of history and literature into comedic fodder as hilariously as Beaton.

The Color of Earth (The Story of Life on the Golden Fields) – Kim Dong Hwa

This book is apparently one of the top ten challenged books of 2011

First love is never easy.

Ehwa grows up helping her widowed mother run the local tavern, watching as their customers – both neighbors and strangers – look down on her mother for her single lifestyle. Their social status isolates Ehwa and her mother from the rest of the people in their quiet country village. But as she gets older and sees her mother fall in love again, Ehwa slowly begins to open up to the possibility of love in her life.

In the tradition of My Antonia and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, from the pen of the renowned Korean manwha creator Kim Dong Hwa, comes a trilogy about a girl coming of age, set in the vibrant, beautiful landscape of pastoral Korea.

Ghost World – Daniel Clowes

Ghost World has become a cultural and generational touchstone, and continues to enthrall and inspire readers over a decade after its original release as a graphic novel. Originally serialized in the pages of the seminal comic book Eightball throughout the mid-1990s, this quasi-autobiographical story (the name of one of the protagonists is famously an anagram of the author’s name) follows the adventures of two teenage girls, Enid and Becky, two best friends facing the prospect of growing up, and more importantly, apart. Daniel Clowes is one of the most respected cartoonists of his generation, and Ghost World is his magnum opus. Adapted into a major motion picture directed by Terry Zwigoff (director of the acclaimed documentary Crumb), which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. This graphic novel is a must for any self-respecting comics fan’s library.

Roadside Picnic – Arkady and Boris Strugatsky

Via Shelf Love

Red Schuhart is a stalker, one of those young rebels who are compelled, in spite of extreme danger, to venture illegally into the Zone to collect the mysterious artifacts that the alien visitors left scattered around. His life is dominated by the place and the thriving black market in the alien products. But when he and his friend Kirill go into the Zone together to pick up a “full empty,” something goes wrong. And the news he gets from his girlfriend upon his return makes it inevitable that he’ll keep going back to the Zone, again and again, until he finds the answer to all his problems.

First published in 1972, Roadside Picnic is still widely regarded as one of the greatest science fiction novels, despite the fact that it has been out of print in the United States for almost thirty years. This authoritative new translation corrects many errors and omissions and has been supplemented with a foreword by Ursula K. Le Guin and a new afterword by Boris Strugatsky explaining the strange history of the novel’s publication in Russia.

The Essence of the Thing: A Novel – Madeleine St John

A haunting and hilarious novel that offers a rare glimpse into the fragility and changing nature of the human heart, this sad tale of love gone south captures the things women will do to hold on to love, and the things men will do to escape it.

Head Above Water – Buchi Emecheta

“As for my survival for the past twenty years in England, from when I was a little over twenty, dragging four cold and dripping babies with me and pregnant with the fifth one – that is a miracle. And if for any reason you do not believe in miracles, please start believing, because keeping my head above water in this indifferent society…is a miracle.” Buchi Emecheta’s autobiography spans the transition from a tribal childhood in the African bush to life in North London as an internationally acclaimed writer.

Too Close to the Sun: The Audacious Life and Times of Denys Finch Hatton – Sara Wheeler
I was inspired to pick this up after reading Beryl Markham’s West with the Night. Plus I really really enjoyed Sara Wheeler’s Terra Incognita and keep meaning to read more by her.

A champion of Africa, legendary for his good looks, his charm, and his prowess as a soldier, lover, and hunter, Denys Finch Hatton inspired Karen Blixen to write the unforgettable Out of Africa. Now esteemed British biographer Sara Wheeler tells the truth about this extraordinarily charismatic adventurer.

Born to an old aristocratic family that had gambled away most of its fortune, Finch Hatton grew up in a world of effortless elegance and boundless power. In 1910, searching for something new, he arrived in British East Africa and fell in love–with a continent, with a landscape, with a way of life that was about to change forever. In Nairobi, Finch Hatton met Karen Blixen and embarked on one of the great love affairs of the twentieth century. Intellectual equals, Finch Hatton and Blixen were genuine pioneers in a land that was quickly being transformed by violence, greed, and bigotry. Ever restless, Finch Hatton wandered into a career as a big-game hunter and became an expert bush pilot. Mesmerized all his life by the allure of freedom and danger, Finch Hatton was, writes Wheeler, “the open road made flesh.”

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


  1. Fabulous haul! The Colour of Earth sounds really interesting; I’d never heard of it before. Hark! A Vagrant has been on my TBR list for a while and I’m hoping to read it for the 2012/2013 Canadian Book Challenge so I’ll look forward to hearing what you think!


    1. I’m glad that I’m helping spread the word about Colour of Earth. I’m enjoying it so much that I went ahead and requested the other two books in the series.


  2. Your library loot is quite diverse! I haven’t read any of them yet, but am particularly curious about the illustrated books. I’m trying to restrain myself at the library, having no space whatsoever in my Oct/Nov/Dec reading planning left o__O

    Hope your haul is a good one 🙂


    1. I’m always fascinated to hear of planned reads! I sometimes plan a pool of books ahead of time, but often just go ahead and grab books from outside the pool too… no restraint whatsoever


      1. I think that is the best way to read… no pressure, no restraint, just reading whatever you feel like 🙂

        Sometimes I randomly grab a book that has a pretty cover or an interesting title, but not as often as I’d like. Maybe it’s time to start culling that reading list…


      2. Oh that’s the fun about browsing the library or bookstore. But sometimes I do pick up a book that looks interesting or that sounds familiar in some way (read it on a blog or something?) and then I am disappointed with it. So that’s the downside to not having a list!


  3. I love that unexpected capacity to visit part of the library that has been (for a variety of reasons) off-limits for a spell. Looks like you made good use of your time there too! I’m really interested in The Color of Earth but, really, you could slap any one of these on my current stacks and I’d snap it up!


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