Library Loot (12 April 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.

The library has just started a new programme for those under 2 – it’s a bilingual Mandarin-English singalong/story session. Hopefully it will expose wee reader to more Mandarin, since we don’t speak it at home (his grandparents don’t really speak Mandarin either, as technically their backgrounds are Hokkien/ Teochew/Hainanese/Peranakan). He seems to be enjoying it so far!

Predators and Prey (Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight, Vol. 5) – Joss Whedon et al

It was about time I get going with this series!

Buffy’s world goes awry when former-classmate-turned-vampire Harmony Kendall lands her own reality TV show, Harmony Bites, bolstering bloodsucking fiends in the mainstream. Humans line up to have their blood consumed, and Slayers, through a series of missteps, misfortunes, and anti-Slayer propaganda driven by the mysterious Twilight, are forced into hiding. In Germany, Faith and Giles discover a town where Slayers retreat from a world that has turned against them, only to find themselves in the arms of something far worse. A rogue-Slayer faction displaces an entire Italian village, living up to their tarnished reputation as power-hungry thieves. And finally, with the help of a would-be demon lover, Dawn addresses her unfaltering insecurities.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season Eight Volume 6: Retreat (Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Dark Horse)) – Joss Whedon et al

Buffy Season Eight Volume 6 showcases the first failure of the Slayer legion. Vampires have solid footing at the top of the totem and Slayers have been crushed to the bottom – in short, no one likes Buffy anymore… least of all this season’s mysterious Big Bad, Twilight, who is hot on her magical trail! Now that it’s the world against Slayers, Buffy must find a way to return the status quo to… status quo – and keep her girls alive long enough to do it! Enter Oz, the only person/werewolf Buffy knows who is down with the suppression of magic, and can take the Slayer army off of Twilight’s magic-specific radar. With Oz’s assistance the Slayers and Wiccans try to become “normal” through meditation and hard labor – although, not everyone sees the advantage of being magicless, namely, Willow, Giles, and Andrew. And they could be right; after all, is a peaceful life for a Slayer even possible?

The Broken Kingdoms (The Inheritance Trilogy) – N.K. Jemisin

Yay! I got the second book in the Inheritance trilogy (I loved the first). I couldn’t find the third though… it seems that someone else in the area is reading Jemisin too. For Once Upon a Time VI.

In the city of Shadow, beneath the World Tree, alleyways shimmer with magic and godlings live hidden among mortalkind. Oree Shoth, a blind artist, takes in a strange homeless man on an impulse. This act of kindness engulfs Oree in a nightmarish conspiracy. Someone, somehow, is murdering godlings, leaving their desecrated bodies all over the city. And Oree’s guest is at the heart of it…

Life Is Meals: A Food Lover’s Book of Days – James and Kay Salter
I can’t remember where I first heard of this book, but I’ve been wanting to read this for quite a while. This is for the Foodies Read challenge.

From the PEN/Faulkner Award–winning author James Salter and his wife, Kay—amateur chefs and terrific hosts—here is a charming, beautifully illustrated food lover’s companion that, with an entry for each day of the year, takes us from a Twelfth Night cake in January to a champagne dinner on New Year’s Eve. Life Is Meals is rich with culinary wisdom, history, recipes, literary pleasures, and the authors’ own stories of their triumphs—and catastrophes—in the kitchen.
For instance:
The menu on the Titanic on the fatal night
Reflections on dining from Queen Victoria, JFK, Winnie the Pooh, Garrison Keillor, and many others
The seductiveness of a velvety Brie or the perfect martini
How to decide whom to invite to a dinner party—and whom not to
John Irving’s family recipe for meatballs; Balzac’s love of coffee
The greatest dinner ever given at the White House
Where in Paris Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter had French onion soup at 4:00 a.m.

Sophisticated as well as practical, opinionated, and indispensable, Life Is Meals is a tribute to the glory of food and drink, and the joy of sharing them with others. “The meal is the emblem of civilization,” the Salters observe. “What would one know of life as it should be lived, or nights as they should be spent, apart from meals?”

Far Flung and Well Fed: The Food Writing of R.W. Apple, Jr. – R.W. Apple Jr

And on the same shelf there was this one! Also for the Foodies challenge

Celebrated journalist R. W. (“Johnny”) Apple was a veteran political reporter, a New York Times bureau chief and an incisive and prolific writer. But the role he was most passionate about was food anthropologist. Known both for his restless wideopen mind and an appetite to match, Apple was also a culinary scholar: witty, wide-ranging and intensely knowledgeable about his subjects. Far Flung and Well Fed is the best of legendary Times reporter Apple’s food writing from America, England, Europe, Asia and Australia. Each of the more than fifty essays recount extraordinary meals and little-known facts, of some of the world’s most excellent foods —from the origin of an ingredient in a dish, to its history, to the vivid personalities—including Apple’s wife, Betsey—who cook, serve and eat those dishes.
Far Flung and Well Fed is a classic collection of food writing— lively, warm and rich with a sense of place and taste—and deserves to join the works of A.J. Liebling, Elizabeth David, M.F.K. Fisher and Calvin Trillin on the bookshelf.

To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918 – Adam Hochschild
For the War Through the Generations challenge

World War I was supposed to be the “war to end all wars.” Over four long years, nations around the globe were sucked into the tempest, and millions of men died on the battlefields. To this day, the war stands as one of history’s most senseless spasms of carnage, defying rational explanation.

To End All Wars focuses on the long-ignored moral drama of the war’s critics, alongside its generals and heroes. Many of these dissenters were thrown in jail for their opposition to the war, from a future Nobel Prize winner to an editor behind bars who distributed a clandestine newspaper on toilet paper. These critics were sometimes intimately connected to their enemy hawks: one of Britain’s most prominent women pacifist campaigners had a brother who was commander in chief on the Western Front. Two well-known sisters split so bitterly over the war that they ended up publishing newspapers that attacked each other.

As Adam Hochschild brings the Great War to life as never before, he forces us to confront the big questions: Why did so many nations get so swept up in the violence? Why couldn’t cooler heads prevail? And can we ever avoid repeating history?

An Overdrive e-book
Beauty – Sherri S. Tepper
Also for Once Upon a Time

With the critically acclaimed novels The Gate To Women’s Country, Raising The Stones, and the Hugo-nominated Grass, Sheri Tepper has established herself as one of the major science fiction writers of out Time. In Beauty, she broadens her territory even further, with a novel that evokes all the richness of fairy tale and fable. Drawing on the wellspring of tales such as “Sleeping Beauty,” Beauty is a moving novel of love and loss, hope and despair, magic and nature. Set against a backdrop both enchanted and frightening, the story begins with a wicked aunt’s curse that will afflict a young woman named Beauty on her sixteenth birthday. Though Beauty is able to sidestep tragedy, she soon finds herself embarked on an adventure of vast consequences. For it becomes clear that the enchanted places of this fantastic world–a place not unlike our own–are in danger and must be saved before it is too late.

Wee reader’s loot:

The Baby Hustle: An Interactive Book with Wiggles and Giggles! – Jane Schoenberg, illustrated by Liz Conrad

What’s Wrong, Little Pookie? – Sandra Boynton

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

All Quiet on the Western Front

“This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped shells, were destroyed by the war.”

What I thought as I read this book: ‘What took me so long to get to this book?’

The answer – it’s a war novel.

Gulp.

That makes no sense because I read – and really liked – Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried.

And Erich Maria Remarque has written a heartbreaking, unforgettable story of World War One, from the eyes of German soldier Paul Bäumer.

“But when we go bathing and strip, suddenly we have slender legs again and slight shoulders. We are no longer soldiers but little more than boys; no one would believe that we could carry packs. It is a strange moment when we stand naked; then we become civilians, and almost feel ourselves to be so. When bathing, Franz Kemmerich looked as slight and frail as a child. There he lies now – but why? The whole world ought to pass by this bed and say: ‘This is Franz Kemmerich, nineteen and a half years old, he doesn’t want to die. Let him not die!'”

There is little need for me to tell you about this  book, for you have probably heard of it – or maybe read it in school. But if you, like me, have been hesitant to get hold of this book, let me tell you – go for it. It is a war novel, yes – and maybe for you that’s also a gulp, but it is a must-read. You cannot help but feel for these men – boys rather – as Remarque opens the book with discussions about food, a constant thought on their minds amid all the carnage and misery. And you feel all that wretchedness and agony. And as I type “wretchedness and agony”, I wonder if those are the right words to describe it, because that just doesn’t seem adequate. All the pain, all the suffering, all that fear, and those damn rats. How could anyone live through that? That is a huge part of Remarque’s tale, how these men-boys emerge from this experience, this incredibly traumatic experience, back into the world again.

“We are not youth any longer. We don’t want to take the world by storm. We are fleeing. We fly from ourselves. From our life. We were eighteen and had begun to love life and the  world; and we had to shoot it to pieces. The first bomb, the first explosion, burst in our hearts. We are cut off from activity, from striving, from progress. We believe in such things no longer, we believe in the war.”

Title: All Quiet on the Western Front (Im Westen nichts Neues)
By Erich Maria Remarque
Translated from the German by A.W. Wheen
First published in 1929
Source: Library

This is my first read for the War Through the Generations Challenge

I was curious to see what else Remarque has written, and just in case you are too:

Novels
(1920) Die Traumbude. Ein Künstlerroman; English translation: The Dream Room
(1928) Station am Horizont; English translation: Station at the Horizon
(1929) Im Westen nichts Neues; English translation: All Quiet on the Western Front
(1931) Der Weg zurück; English translation: The Road Back
(1936) Drei Kameraden; English translation: Three Comrades
(1939) Liebe deinen Nächsten; English translation: Flotsam
(1945) Arc de Triomphe; English translation: Arch of Triumph
(1952) Der Funke Leben; English translation: Spark of Life
(1954) Zeit zu leben und Zeit zu sterben; English translation: A Time to Love and a Time to Die
(1956) Der schwarze Obelisk; English translation: The Black Obelisk
(1961) Der Himmel kennt keine Günstlinge (serialized as Geborgtes Leben); English translation: Heaven Has No Favorites
(1962) Die Nacht von Lissabon; English translation: The Night in Lisbon
(1970) Das gelobte Land; English translation: The Promised Land
(1971) Schatten im Paradies; English translation: Shadows in Paradise

Other works
(1931) Der Feind; English translation: The Enemy (1930–1931); short stories
(1955) Der letzte Akt; English translation: The Last Act; screenplay
(1956) Die letzte Station; English translation: Full Circle (1974); play
(1988) Die Heimkehr des Enoch J. Jones; English translation: The Return of Enoch J. Jones; play
(1994) Ein militanter Pazifist; English translation: A Militant Pacifist; interviews and essays