Posted by: greentangle | January 7, 2018

Why I Love Libraries

First, a Yellowstone aside. I saw an ad last week which momentarily made me fantasize about working in Yellowstone again. Not for either of the large companies I worked for, but in a small building in the center of the park renting bear spray. I thought it would be fun to be there talking about bears all day instead of credit cards and hotel rooms as I did in the past, but it isn’t an option for a non-driver. Meanwhile, my former roommate who has worked there the past eight years, loves the place at least as much as I did, and is one of the nicest people I’ve met, had such a miserable experience with the company last year that he hasn’t applied to return. It’s a shame the way the company treats its employees.

I always have a list of upcoming books on hold at the library but I don’t think the list has ever gotten this long.

I just finished Bliss(ters): How I Walked from Mexico to Canada One Summer by Gail Francis. This hiker from northern Wisconsin leans socialist, needs solitude, has a sense of humor, and wrote a much more enjoyable book after hiking the entire trail unlike that more famous woman who hiked the Pacific Crest Trail.

I’m 3/4 through Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann. This reporting of how the government pushed Indians to Oklahoma where they got rich from oil and therefore were killed is a quick read with lots of photos, but I don’t understand why it has become so popular and highly praised.

I’ve barely started Twilight of American Sanity: A Psychiatrist Analyzes the Age of Trump by Allen Frances which was started before the election and focuses more on the country’s values and delusions than on Trump himself who the dedication refers to as a blowhard (and a Mencken epigraph mentions a downright moron in the White House thanks to the plain folks of the land).

I also have Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi, the first book of a young adult sci-fi trilogy about our near-future ecologically destroyed country.

There’s a long list of books I’m on the hold list for.

Robicheaux by James Lee Burke is the 21st in the series featuring the title character which I’ve been reading from its beginning in the late 80s. The series was originally set in New Orleans, which is what caused me to start reading, and then moved to more rural Louisiana. At this point the plots are often repetitive and irrelevant as this most literary of mystery series focuses on the character’s morality, alcoholism, and sense of loss, and the country’s racism and decay.

Additional novels include The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce, a highly praised tale of music and love, Heart Spring Mountain by Robin MacArthur, whose book of short stories I read earlier, drew my attention with its Vermont setting and interesting women, Lullaby Road by James Anderson continues the story of a truck driver in rural Utah, Green Sun by Kent Anderson features a Viet vet turned cop in 1983 Oakland, and The Largesse of the Sea Maiden by Denis Johnson is the final collection of stories from a praised author I’ve never read.

Visionary Women: How Rachel Carson, Jane Jacobs, Jane Goodall, and Alice Waters Have Changed Our World by Andrea Barnet needs no further explanation; nor does Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell by David Yaffe. Silence: In the Age of Noise comes from Norwegian Erling Kagge who spent fifty days on a solo hike across Antarctica. I may not actually read Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff since I don’t need insiders to confirm my opinion but I was the 9th person to put a hold on it when it hit the news; at this writing, there are 41 people in line. I think Playing with Fire: The 1968 Election and the Transformation of American Politics by Lawrence O’Donnell will be more interesting and one of many books about the fiftieth anniversary of another tumultuous year.

The list of ecological books includes The Death and Life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan, The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World by Jeff Goodell, Megafire: The Race to Extinguish a Deadly Epidemic of Flame by Michael Kodas, Sustaining Lake Superior: An Extraordinary Lake in a Changing World by Nancy Langston, and Himalaya Bound by Michael Benanav.

Back to fantasy fiction for Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang, and La Belle Sauvage (The Book of Dust I) by Philip Pullman, first of a trilogy set in the world of his famous previous His Dark Materials trilogy.

There are some books I’m going to have to get through interlibrary loan: Bosstown by Adam Abramowitz is a novel featuring a Boston bike messenger, and The Living Forest: A Visual Journey into the Heart of the Woods is a coffee table book by Llewellyn and Maloof. A couple more music biographies: Lightfoot by Nicholas Jennings (I’m surprised our library didn’t order this one given our proximity to Canada and that shipwreck and that he’s played here many times) and Soul Survivor: A Biography of Al Green by Jimmy McDonough—whenever I play Green’s music, I wind up playing it repeatedly for days.

There are another dozen which I’m not sure yet if the library is ordering. Highlights are The Promise and the Dream by David Margolick about RFK and MLK, This Radical Land: A Natural History of American Dissent by Daegan Miller which sounds like it could be one of my favorites on this list, and Hippie Food: How Back-to-the-Landers, Longhairs, and Revolutionaries Changed the Way We Eat by Jonathan Kauffman.

Not to mention the library’s cds and dvds; I recently watched Westworld which was very good, and the latest season of Game of Thrones (2019 is a long time away, but these books will help me get there).

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