Yesterday I picked up some books I had reserved at the library. Allowing patrons to search the catalog online and reserve books no matter where in the Spokane Public Library's system they reside is a priceless tool that most libraries can provide now that they are no longer dependent on card catalogues.
We are allowed to reserve 20 books at a time and my reserve list is often full. This is because I read reviews of books before they are published and request them right away. They sit on my reserve list for weeks and sometimes months while they are still on order. So my active list is only about 10 books or less.
But a little bird has told me that there is talk of increasing the number of books we are allowed to reserve. (They will undoubtedly call it the Mary Drew Reserve List Increase Policy.) That would be a boon to many of us.
Here are the books I borrowed yesterday:
Elders, Ryan McIlvain
Ordinary Grace, William Kent Krueger
The Travels of Marco Polo, Marco Polo
All That I Am, Anna Funder
The Good Earth, Pearl Buck
The Body Never Lies: The Lingering Effects of Cruel Parenting, Alice Miller
I put Elders and Ordinary Grace on reserve because they have been suggested for next year's Buff Orpington Tournament. Yesterday afternoon I read the first 30 pages of each and I can recommend both of them, judging from how they begin, the characters we meet, the setting, the plot (gleaned from inside the book jacket), and the quality of the writing. They both concern religion.
Elders is about Mormon men of 20 who are in Brazil on the two-year missionary work required of every Mormon lad. An enthusiastic Brazilian missionary is matched with an American man 18 months into his two-year stint. He is losing his enthusiasm and perhaps his faith. They rub one another raw at first but eventually they reach a comfortable friendship. Both are searching but with very different results.
Machiavelli and Marco Polo made their way onto my list because I realized I had read neither and they are pretty basic. I just discovered that there is some question about whether Marco Polo actually went where he said he went and did what he said he did. I don't think that matters. The book is a classic even if it's quasi-fiction.
All That I Am went on reserve because a handful of the people whose reading I follow on Goodreads have it on their virtual TBR pile and Fay at Read, Ramble recently recommended it. Published in 2011, the book takes place in Berlin just as Hitler becomes chancellor and then in England to which a quartet of young people flee. They attempt to bring the dangers of the Nazis to the attention of the world and the story of that attempt is given us in a document written by one of them as it is interpreted by another 60 years later.
Fay at Read, Ramble is also the inspiration for my decision to re-read The Good Earth by Pearl Buck. There has been much controversy over the years about Pearl Buck's novels and whether she deserved the Pulitzer Prize and whether her books are worthwhile. I think it's safe to say they are middlebrow but that does not make them unworthy. I was encouraged to read this by my father when I was about 10 and I still remember parts of it vividly. But I suspect I missed much of the point of the story.
And finally, I got the Alice Miller book, The Body Never Lies, because I read in an interview with Hilary Mantel that she was re-reading all of Miller's books. Miller's theory, propounded through all of her books, is that many people must admit that their parents demeaned them when they were children, criticized them too sternly, or physically punished them, and that these cruel parenting styles have left a lasting scar on them now that they are adults. I have read Miller in the past and I am ambiguous about her theory. So much is true but much strikes me as way off the mark.