Saturday, February 20, 2016

The World Loses Harper Lee

It is with great sadness that I have found out today that Harper Lee has passed away aged 89. Born in the same small town her famous book 'To Kill A Mockingbird' was set, Nelle Harper Lee has lived her life with the same people and wrote that one book about a lawyer who defended a 'black' man who was accused of raping a white girl in a time when people assumed the worse of others. 

Harper Lee grew up in a world similar to Scout and her world in the book. Lee lived next door to Truman Capote and they were best of friends and she lost her mother at a young age, with only her father to bring her up - him being a lawyer as well. He battled a case similar to the one in the book - but he lost it and never practiced law again.

Lee went to university and studied law but didn't finish and decided to write, and this is where 'To Kill A Mockingbird' came out - her only book. Then, last year, she published 'Go Set A Watchman'. 
The people of her town have said that Nelle Harper Lee was a wonderful person to know. She taught the world about how not to judge people until you 'have walked around in their skin'. And how true that is.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Oh! The Irony!

The other day, I wrote a post about libraries freaking me out - and they do! It's the matter of so many books with too many germs on them, and not knowing where they've been. 

I know that sounds crazy, but that's me.

Anyway, this got me thinking about bookstores and how people go and handle books there; and where those books have been before landing on the shelves at those places. And you know something? Bookstores don't bother me at all. You see, these books don't have a history of being with every single person in the city before it came to be in my house. It's been to the publishers, the printers, then packed into a box, taped up, tossed into a truck and shipped out to a bookstore.

These books have that gorgeous new-book smell too! I love that smell, it's intoxicating! It's a very clean and sweet smell that a new book has and I love it. 

But once a book has been in a library for a few years - or even a few months - it loses that new-book smell. It's been in a few houses and I simply cannot touch it. Yes, I can look at it, but touching it is another thing all together.

Second-hand bookstores vary from each other. There's one at Browns Plains which cleans each and every book as they come in. They wipe them over and spray them, look at them carefully and then add them to the collection after putting them into the computer. 'The Very Good Book Shop' is one place I love going to because of how they handle their books; and I never hesitate to add my books to my collection because I know how they've been handled.

'Archives Books' on Charlotte Street in the city, however, is a dusty bookstore - not to mention haunted (the back section has up to 5 spirits in there who are not happy) and their books aren't clean, but they have history to them. I'll bring them home and clean them before adding them... even put them in apple peelings and coffee and in the freezer if needs be to clean the odour off them (yes I did that once - just once to a book years ago and it worked well!). 

However, library books are a no-go zone. I still haven't touched that Nick Earls book I borrowed on Monday... and I now have to return the stupid thing. Now, to pick it up without feeling disgusting and put it into a bag to return it! Oh! Yuk, it's gotta go into my car! I'll put it on the floor in the bag. I can't have it on the seat next to me - I don't know where it's been! Until my next post, happy reading.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Libraries Freak Me Out

Today I went out to a public library for the first time in over a year. The place freaked me out. I didn't like being there. 

I'm not sure if it was the computers, all the people using the internet, the three security guards who were haunting the place (yes, they have security guards at the Logan Central Library now) or the row upon row of books that are sitting there waiting to be read by people.

I sat there in a chair waiting for a group session to start a reserved room (I was an hour early; as I wanted to sit and read; but silly me I forgot my book!) and instead, I looked around to see how much my local library had changed. Not much really - just it had internet and wifi, and security guards walking around looking really bored (and believe me, they were bored). 

Then, it dawned on me about why this place put me on edge: these books have been taken home by somebody else. They've been coughed on, sat on, sneezed on... they've been carted around in somebody's bags, or a dog might have slept on them in a teenager's bedroom floor. Yes, I was having the typical reaction of a not knowing where these books have been.
Even when I found a book I was interested in and I picked it up, took note of the ISBN, put it back, I really wanted to wash my hands. I know that sounds weird and germaphobic. But here at home, I know where my books have been (well, okay, most of the time); and when they come home, I wipe them down and Glen-20 them with a spray so they're clean. That sounds really over the top, but that's how I keep my home library the way it is - clean. 

I did borrow a book from the library. But when I got it home, I carefully placed it in such a way that it wasn't touching any of my chairs, my bed or anything personal... because, well, I don't know where it's been before my place. 

And yes, public libraries freak me out. Home libraries don't. I think it's because public libraries have so many books that I haven't read, haven't seen, don't want to see and there are so many aisles of the same thing the sight of them overwhelms me. However, a home library has many books in a small space and it's a lot of things in all at once; not spread out across a huge space. 

So, what about you? Do libraries have this affect on you? Or am I alone in this? Until today, I didn't know these buildings had this affect on me; not when they used to be places of comfort and wonder to me when I was younger. I wonder what changed? Until my next post, happy reading. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Best Bargains at Craft Group

It's been two months since I attended my local craft group and just yesterday I went to it again for our first meeting. And what a stinking hot day to get outside to go somewhere! We did get some rain with a few grumbles of thunder, but that didn't do anything to cool Brisbane down - our city just got hotter and more humid. And seeing I didn't buy any books in January, I thought to skip the 'In My Shelves' Monthly and just jump straight into what I bought yesterday. 

But I seem to find the best books at my craft group. The ladies there have the best things in their bookcases. I think it's because they taste in reading is decades old and I'm the youngest one there who loves the classics; but I did find some great books on the selling table. 

The first book I spotted was 'Gardens in Perspective' by Jerry Harpur. It's a nice big hardcover book on Australian gardens and how to get them to look just they way you want them to look with the right plants. It's an old-fashioned book - and that's what I love; old-fashioned gardening in my little garden. I got this one from the book trolley for only a dollar; what a bargain!
The next two were fiction books from the show table and I dug around for them. The first one is 'The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie' by Alan Bradley and 'The Moon is Down' by John Steinback. I had to judge how much I wanted to pay for these books. So I paid $1.00 for the first one and only .50c for the Steinback one; as it was a pulp fiction. 

I do love getting great books for even better prices; and it's amazing where you find the best books - in the most unusual places, which normally aren't bookstores. So, where have you found the best books in your life? Which one was the best bargain, where did you find it and was it a huge surprise to find it where you did? Until my next post, happy reading.