Monday, 5 October 2009

Library Loot: the Good, the Bad, and the Uglier


This is an ugly pile of library books and now that I have collected them I feel completely uninspired to read them. Not All Tarts Are Apples by Pip Granger (doesn't that name sound like a variety of apple?) in particular completely puts me off reading it; I requested this title after seeing the Roxanna Bikadoroff cover which is far more enticing than the edition I have which, in all honesty, offends my suppressed inner literary snob.

The Persephone, of course, is attractive; it's such a pristine copy of Round about a Pound a Week that it almost feels like my own copy. I'll be reading this for book group this week and I even have a matching bookmark that came with the Persephone bi-annually last year on the book's release.

Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan is the latest Oprah book choice and was suggested by Eva for my personal African literature project. Another title for this project that I borrowed this week is The Opposite House by Helen Oyeyemi; I have been intending to read this -and Oyeyemi's latest novel- since reading The Icarus Girl earlier this year and snagged a copy that I noticed on the library's display for Black History Month.

I also borrowed What is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng by Dave Eggers which strictly isn't for my project as Eggers is an American novelist but it is set during the Sudanese Civil War and the other Claire of Kiss a Cloud enthuses about it, which is reason enough.

Lastly is the most hideous copy of Manservant and Maidservant by Ivy Compton-Burnett for Stuck in a Book Simon's read-along. I can't complain too much as it is an out-of-print title and copies are somewhat rare and costly. I have been wanting to read ICB since my friend did her thesis on her work whist we were doing our Master's together and more so since reading The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett, even though, by rights, the Queen's disdain for her should put one off.

This loot is definitely a case of the good (the Persephone), the bad (the Granger), and the uglier (the Ivy Compton-Burnett)!

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Marg encouraging library use and its promotion.

25 comments:

verity said...

I think Pip Granger is a very appropriate author for that title! Sometimes library books just aren't that attractive, but at least they are free and if you don't like them you can take them back without giving them house room. Do you have a shelf for library books?

Paperback Reader said...

True. I should be grateful and not so much of an aesthetic snob.

Do I have a shelf for library books? Hah! I hardly have shelf space for most of my books. I have a library pile in front of my bedside table that also includes some immediate TBR titles.

Rachel said...

Haha! That book is so ugly! But at least it's not yours. Quite a varied lot there - I'll be interested to hear about the African ones as I haven't read much African literature. I am hoping my library has the ICB but I'm not holding my breath as they never have anything older than about 1999 in there. They're obsessed with only having pristine books which is fine when you want a new release but other than that they are a bit useless!

Paperback Reader said...

Rachel, I'll need to take a photograph of the front cover when I come to read it to do its ugliness justice! At least I can return it, indeed.

My library loot often reflects my particular tangents of a given time; my last pile (most of which I still have to read) are mainly Japanese and/or Sensation reads.

I depend on the library at times for older books that are out-of-print and have been quite lucky so far ... touch wood.

Dot said...

I'm the same with the library sometimes, come home with a pile of books but uninspired to read them if the covers aren't nice or if someone has folded the page corners back!

Paperback Reader said...

Dot, glad I'm not alone! I hate dog-eared books. Library books should be taken care of just as if they were your own.

JoAnn said...

If a library book looks bad or smells bad, I can't read it. I may make an exception for looks or condition if it's a book I *really* want to read, but not for odor!

Darlene said...

That is rather an ugly pile, save for the Persephone, isn't it! I'm really looking forward to reading what you think of Round About a Pound a Week, it's a title that I'd like to read myself.

Lezlie said...

What Is The What is a great book! It's odd and took me a bit to get into, but in the end I loved it! If your curious, my thought on it are here:

http://booksnbordercollies.blogspot.com/2009/01/what-is-what.html

Lezlie

Steph said...

Hahaha! I find it funny that you've borrowed all these books only to find them unappetizing - I do the same thing! I take out a huge stack of books and as soon as I return home, I want to read none of them!

I don't think I'm quite so picky about the covers of my books, but I am picky about how they are printed and the typeface. If the type is too thick or "smudgy" it really puts me off of reading a book.

And at least you can borrow Persephone books from your library! I guess they are not a big enough hit in the U.S. (or at least in Nashville) as the only title available in my library system is Miss Pettigrew!

claire said...

Ohh I hope you like What is the What! You may have been the first to listen to my incessant ramblings about it! Haha.

StuckInABook said...

Glad you've got ICB ready! I actually quite like the Gollanz covers, very plain but quite striking - but I think I am in a minority. My copy has no dustjacket at all, it's just a sludgy brown colour. In fact, all ICB books have had plain or hideous covers, until the new NYRB Classics ones. Maybe that's why she's not in print here...

Paperback Reader said...

JoAnn, I'm the same! I also hate finding things like food in library books. I had a bad experience earlier this year when I found a long hair attached to what appeared to be a piece of scalp in a borrowed book from the library. Ugh.

Darlene, I started to read it last night! So far it's very different from other Persephones I've read but I like the study quality.

Lezlie, great! I'll be sure to read your thoughts once I've read it; glad to know someone else loves it.

Steph, most of these were library requests so I didn't know what they looked like when I ordered them but I go off on so many reading challenges that I often change my mind about books by the time it comes to collecting and reading them!

I am lucky that I'm able to borrow Persephones; I think there's about half a dozen of the catalogue that are available from the library and so far this is my second.

Claire, of course I listened! It intrigued me and Eggers had been on my radar but I hadn't read any of his work.

Simon, don't forget the Virago covers - so of those were pretty! I'm sure if she was reissued, she would be in demand.

Vivienne said...

I picked up The Icarus Girl to read recently. I read an article about Helen Oyeyemi and found that her books sounded very interesting.

Paperback Reader said...

Vivienne, I quite liked The Icarus Girl; it was an interesting story.

Eva said...

I haven't read that short story collection yet, so I look forward to your review! :)

I'm a snob about library covers too. And the attractiveness of the books totally determines the order I read them in.

Danielle said...

I love library books, but I have to admit I don't always want to borrow the older ones as they've been handled by so many people. I tend to get in line for the new releases (nice and pristine), but sometimes it's just an older book you want to read. I really should join in on reading ICB--I've been meaning to get to her, but you know how that goes.... :)

Gavin said...

What an..interesting..pile of books! I find it hard to read older titles from the library, sometimes the pages feel like they are going to fall out.

I have to say that Pip Granger sounds like a nom de plume to me:)

Paperback Reader said...

Eva, I'm looking forward to the short story collection! I've hear great things.

The attractiveness of a book makes all the difference (including in books that I own).

Danielle, I do indeed know how it is! I also love to have newer, pristine editions, although recently I've been a little paranoid about the twelve people or so before me in the queue for a book at the library who have all had it in their possession over a short period of time.

Hi Gavin, thanks for commenting. The ICB title is probably the oldest book that I've had from the library for some time; I do hate brown, speckled pages.

True, it could very well be a pen-name although not just for this one book.

savidgereads said...

This post made me alugh and laugh, its so true that a books looks can sway you with suddenly not fancying it. I had several bokos swapped on readitswapit that werent the cover advertised... oh it infuriated me! It's important stuff.

Paperback Reader said...

Simon, it is crucial stuff! I always hunt down particular editions/covers and am cross when they are the wrong ones.

tanabata said...

I know what you mean about not really wanting to read those books that are so beat up. The joys of borrowing books from the library.

I'm not a huge fan of Dave Eggers, from my limited exposure, but have heard such great things about What is the What that it's on my 'someday' list.

Paperback Reader said...

This will be my first time reading Eggers, Nat, so I'm curious how I'll find him.

Rebecca Reid said...

It always surprises me when an ugly library cover distracts me from the book itself! But it certainly does.

I've heard great things about many of those books. I hope that you like them!!

Paperback Reader said...

Rebecca, I definitely judge library books by their covers it would seem!

I hope I like them all too...