Sunday, June 13, 2010

Peculiar donated books

Behold! A new look for the blog. It was time.

Over the last year, we've received a steady stream of book donations from a patron. She had hoped to open a used-book shop with her mom but circumstances prevented it; now she's bringing those books to us, box by box. We open each one with anticipation. What wonders are awaiting us?

Sometimes there are no wonders, just old books that may have been valuable at one time but are no longer sought after. Author popularity comes and goes. Keep an eye on current culture - what book is the basis of a newly-released film? That book, one that may have been ignored for years, will suddenly be the book people want to read, along with everything else written by that author. The author's 'value' rises in the used-book world.

The same is true about subjects. In 2008, we couldn't keep a knitting book on the shelf. One would come in and go right back out. That tapered off a little in 2009, giving way to the newer hot topic, jewelry-making. And I'm reminded of the Poker craze of 2003 - it seemed that everyone wanted to learn poker strategies, inspired by the opportunity to play poker online (with websites trumpeting win thousands!) Poker books just sit there, now.

Back to the donated books. As I said, some of them had been worth a lot of money but nobody is interested in them now unless they collect the specific author or subject. The economy has stifled used-book prices, too. However, while they may not command a 'collectible' price, a lot of the books have a major coolness factor.

Some favorites:

Goat Gland Transplantation, worth about .25 as a book but priceless as a Cool Title. There was a time in the early 1900s when medicine was, well, weird. There was a lot of experimentation going on. This was one of the premier books on the subject.

Whistling as an Art (1925) - I had no idea that whistling has its own tablature.

Cutie, A Warm Mamma (1924) - Ok, this one is simply wonderful. Harold is an upright young man, Cutie is a woman of the night. The whole story concerns Harold's fall from uprightness. The best part of the book is the Epic Metaphor Awfulness. We suspect the authors did it on purpose. (A previous book by these two guys involved a character named Lesbia Lefkowitz.)

Father And Son (1946) - A government pamphlet covering what a father must teach his son about sex. The pamphlet is pretty humorous reading from a 2010 point of view, but it's also a good historic look at attitudes concerning personal health, marriage, and the family.

We have a cabinet in the branch that we're using to display some of the donated books, most of them children's books ca. 1880-1940. Patrons occasionally ask about them, wondering where they came from and whether any are for sale. One patron attempted a con, saying she had permission to look at the books and buy some. She was unsuccessful, in the end, but had convinced staff to open the cabinet and let her look. She talked about how wonderful it was to get a good deal. Ha! Someone alerted me and that was the end of that.

Donated books. One of the many things I love about working at the library.

Overheard on Twitter: Biggest lie in history: I have read and agree to the terms of use.

Next time: Tell Me A Joke. Stay tuned.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Waffleizer

Link-surfing is one of my favorite brainless activities, just letting the links take me where they will. I've found some terrific things, like the anti-mugging skirt created by a Japanese clothing designer (the skirt that - hey presto! - changes you into a faux canned-soda dispenser.) I've come across notable blogs, odd news reports, clever (or awful) merchandise, even readers advisories.

I was originally aided in link-surfing by Stumbleupon, a site I found during krl2.0. Just check the subject boxes that interest you and Stumbleupon will take you to something that fits those interests. I always check the Bizarre/Oddities box, just because. That's how I learned about Banksy, a graffiti artist whose work covers everything from political statement to sweet whimsy.

Stumbleupon also led me to JigsawDoku, an interactive brainteaser that helped me mightily during my Neville Period. Neville, by the way, is still nattering but only in the outer half of my hand. The nerve has consistently healed about 1/2" per month. At this rate, I should be Neville-free by June 2011 or so and I'll be able to type with all ten fingers. Now there's a goal.

Multi-link browsing led me to this, which just affirms that there are imaginative people everywhere. If I came across this rock, would I see Barney? Nope, probably not. I would see a rock.

I'm not sure how I found The Waffleizer (motto: Will It Waffle?) I'm reasonably certain that I started out at 101Cookbooks. There may have been a link in comments, which led me to another link, which led me to a blog, which...well, that's how these things happen.

The Waffleizer. I like this site. One of the things I most appreciate about it is the humorously matter-of-fact writing (the FAQs are wonderful.) I also like the fact that there is true curiosity there - he doesn't put any old thing in the waffle iron, but considers reasonable candidates. (Well, mostly reasonable. My jury is out about the cupcake trials.) You wouldn't think "pizza" in connection with waffling but after reading the post it makes perfect sense to give it a shot.

I actually tried one of his suggestions, waffling chocolate chip cookie dough. Our waffle iron creates hybrid waffles, not quite traditional but not quite the deeply-pocketed Belgian waffles either. The cookies surprised me by baking nicely in the waffle iron. Thank you, Waffleizer, for expanding my culinary horizons.

Overheard on Twitter: My next book will be 'Wikipedia Brown', about a boy detective who solves crimes by getting his friends to do all the work.

Next time: peculiar donated books. Stay tuned.

Saturday, June 5, 2010


Hi there! It's been awhile.

I'm enjoying my romp through KRL's humorous books. My current title is Dave Barry's newest, I'll Mature When I'm Dead. This book is responsible for unintended late-night reading. Dave's books are like the old potato chip commercial, you can't stop with just one. Chapter, that is. And pity the spouse who is trying to sleep despite the muffled laughter going on beside him. I've been paid back, though. I handed the book to Ken last week and invited him to take a humor break, give his brain a rest from Biology. Now he's the one snickering into the wee hours. (The vasectomy chapter is particularly entertaining.)

Dave's writing sneaks up on you. Ken likens it to watching someone spinning plates on those tall wobbly poles. The writing spins and spins and you think you're on track with it and suddenly - whoop! - the pole disappears and the words careen into unexpected and hilarious territory.

But the book I really want to highlight is Fork It Over: the intrepid adventures of a professional eater by Alan Richman, food critic. Food writing can be a mixed bag. Some books are more a collection of recipes or restaurant name-dropping than actual writing, while others are flat-out inspired. Fork It Over is one of the latter.

The book is a collection of essays that Richman wrote for Gentlemen's Quarterly. My favorite essay is about his search for the famed ill-tempered Jewish waiters of his youth (a chapter riddled with Yiddish phrases), but other essays are equally wonderful. He chronicles eating his way through dismaying East Coast barbeque, exploring the phenomenon known as Early Bird specials with his parents in Ft. Lauderdale, and pondering the difference between a dive and a joint. He dines, repeatedly and with some trepidation, at a restaurant connected to a Nation of Islam mosque. He travels to France with five men who take Wine Appreciation to an unbelievable level, men who have no problem with spending several thousand dollars on a meal (served with wine, of course.)

In the end, Fork It Over is really about Alan Richman, not so much the food. It gets a high recommendation from me. For what it's worth, Richman has received the James Beard Award 11 times.

Overheard on Twitter: About 5,090 Google results for "lookin for love in alderaan places"

Next time: The Waffleizer. Stay tuned.