Library Resolutions and, of course, Library Loot

I love the library, always have, always will, but this year i have to find a better balance. You see, I bring home so many library books that I read relatively few of my own. The size of Mount TBR is quite ridiculous. And so is the size of my library pile, and the number of books that go in-out, in-out.

So what do I do? Well I checked my library pile and more than half the books there are books I ordered in from reserve stock or from other branches. So until my birthday (March 2nd) I will order NO BOOKS! I’ll add them to a wishlist instead.

By March 2nd I should have reduced my pile significantly. From then on I’m allowing myself two reservations a month, and I may well monitor that in my sidebar.

Plus I’m going to keep a library notebook and note down books I want to read but really haven’t got time for. Then I won’t have to bring home books just in case I forget the details between library and home. It has happened!

No book comes home unless I have time to read it before it’s due back.

Does that sound like a plan? There may be an odd slip, but at least I have a strategy.

Meanwhile, I have bought books home. Just three little books this week.

Here they are:

After the Fire, a Still Small Voice by Evie Wyld

“After the breakdown of a turbulent relationship, Frank moves from Canberra to a shack on the east coast once owned by his grandparents. He wants to put his violent past and bad memories of his father behind him. In this small coastal community, he tries to reinvent himself as someone capable of regular conversation and cordial relations. He even starts to make friends, including a precocious eight year old named Sal. But it is not that easy for him to let go of the past. Leon is the child of European immigrants to Australia, living in Sydney. His father loves Australia for becoming their home when their own country turned hostile during the Second World War. His mother is not so comforted by suburban life in a cake shop. As Leon grows up in the 50s and 60s, his watches as his parents’ lives are broken after his father volunteers to fight in the Korean War. Leon himself goes from working in the shop, sculpting sugar dolls for the tops of wedding cakes, to killing young men as a conscripted machine-gunner in Vietnam. In the fall out from the war, Leon thinks he might be able to make a new life with his woman, make a baby, live by the sea in a small shack. But something watches from the cold shade of the teeming bush. Set in eastern Australia with its dark trees and blinding light, where the land is old but its wounds are still wet, this beautifully realized debut tells a story of fathers and sons, their wars and the things they will never know about each other. It is about the things men cannot say out loud and the taut silence that fills up the empty space.”

I have heard so much praise for this book that I just had to bring it home.

Pastworld by Ian Beck

“Pastworld. A city within a city. A city for excursions and outings. Pastworld is a theme park with a difference, where travellers can travel back in time for a brush with an authentic Victorian past. But what if the Jack the Ripper figure stopped play-acting and really started killing people? For Caleb, a tourist from the present day, his visit goes terribly wrong when his father is kidnapped and he finds himself accused of murder. Then Caleb meets Eva Rose, a Pastworld inhabitant who has no idea the modern world exists. Both Caleb and Eva have roles to play in the murderer’s diabolical plans – roles that reveal disturbing truths about their origins.”

Not my usual sort of book, but it’s beautifully produced and it called me.

The Quickening Maze by Adam Foulds

“”Based on real events in Epping Forest on the edge of London around 1840, “The Quickening Maze” centres on the first incarceration of the great nature poet John Clare. After years struggling with alcohol, critical neglect and depression, Clare finds himself in High Beach Private Asylum – an institution run on reformist principles which would later become known as occupational therapy. At the same time another poet, the young Alfred Tennyson, moves nearby and becomes entangled in the life and catastrophic schemes of the asylum’s owner, the peculiar, charismatic Dr Matthew Allen. For John Clare, a man who had grown up steeped in the freedoms and exhilarations of nature, who thought ‘the edge of the world was a day’s walk away’, a locked door is a kind of death. This intensely lyrical novel describes his vertiginous fall, through hallucinatory episodes of insanity and dissolving identity, towards his final madness. Historically accurate, but brilliantly imagined, the closed world of High Beach and its various inmates – the doctor, his lonely daughter in love with Tennyson, the brutish staff and John Clare himself – are brought vividly to life. Outside the walls is Nature, and Clare’s paradise: the birds and animals, the gypsies living in the forest; his dream of home, of redemption, of escape.”

I liked the look of this when it appeared on the Booker shortlist last year and so when it appeared on the returns trolley at the weekend I picked it up. I’ve started reading and my first impression is that the prose is lovely but the story may not quite live up to it.


Have you read any of these? What did you think?

Which book should I go for next? And which are you curious to know more about?

And what did you find in the library this week?

See more Library Loot here.

24 responses

  1. I admire your strategy, even as I shudder while contemplating it. 😉

    The first book sounds wonderful, and since I just joined the Aussie Authors Challenge, I want you to read and review that one so I can decide whether or not to read it. Entirely selfish motivation though!

  2. Sounds a lot like my strategy. No book browsing for me at the library. I always bite off more than I can chew. I keep a list on Google docs of all the books I want to read at some point. Helps me remember where I heard about them too.
    Love the cover of After The Fire, A Still Small Voice.

  3. Good luck with the library strategy! A library notebook definitely makes sense. I think i’m going to take up that idea especially since I can’t help wandering the aisles with a barely manageable pile of books (and finding more books I want to read and then feeling all sorts of anguish and despair).

  4. After The Fire, A Still Small Voice is incredible so I hope that you enjoy that. I will be interested to see what you make of The Quickening Maze, I will say no more on that until then.

  5. I’m really looking forward to After the Fire. Forced my local library to purchase it and they just let me know they got it in – though I’m starting to have a library hoarding problem too. It’s kind of selfish – like, I’m going to keep other people from reading this for six weeks just in case I decide to pick it out of my pile!

  6. I’ve heard great things about the first book on your list! I hope your resolve holds up well. Personally, I am trying to use the library MORE, but also need to find a balance. Dec & Jan, I think I’ve done quite well in reading off my shelves. I’m quite happy with myself 🙂

  7. After the Fire sounds very good!

    I really need to go through my library list and be a bit tough with myself, but I don’t think I really can! Good luck with your strategy though!

  8. I thought about not placing books on reserve for a few months too but changed my mind in a hurry. I don’t think I can do it, though I admire you for trying it. I really need to start reading some of my own books also I love going to the library every week and finding books I might not have heard about otherwise. I’m voting for the Evie Wyld book. I have it on my TBR list and hope to get to it someday. Happy reading.

  9. I think that is a great strategy and one that I should incorporate. I find that I bring home a ton of books and then ignore my own shelves. I really want to read more of my own. I’ve been trying to be good but I need to try harder!!

    The 3 you brought home look great!

  10. Hi fleurfisher. I think you’ve got a great strategy there and I try to follow a similar one myself because like you, I already have so many books on my own shelves that I really want to read as well. So I usually bring home 1-3 books every other week from the library.

    Enjoy your books. All three look and sound fascinating!

  11. I clearly need to adopt your plan. My reserving has gotten a wee bit out of hand. I’ve heard good things about the Beck, and the Foulds also looks intriguing.

  12. I’m going to check my library catalogue to see if I can find Pastworld. It sounds excellent. And yes… library books. Our library put our book allowance up to 12 and I was thrilled and took the full 12 out for months. And then realised I didn’t have time to read them all! So now I keep to around 6 or so and feel I have them under control. On the other hand I’m still restricting my book buying a bit so I do find the library a very useful place for a free book fix.

  13. Your library plan sounds feasible — I work in a library and see every new book so I’ve had to resort to keeping a notebook or I’d be hauling home armloads every day. I also have many of my own which have been languishing for ages, and I’ve been making an effort to read some of them through the Attacking the TBR challenge. It has actually been working quite well.

    Of course, now you’ve just pointed out 2 more books for me to put on my library TBR — the first and last. Love the cover of the first book you picked up! And it sounds fascinating. The Quickening Maze sounds intriguing, but I am not always fond of real people in fiction, so I’ll have to see how I like it.

  14. I wish you luck in your endeavour! I am also attempting to find a balance and all of my recent library loots have been requests only.

    After the Fire, A Still Small Voice is a wonderfully evocative and powerful novel; I was very impressed by it and enjoyed it immensely.

  15. Eva – I’m not thrilled with the strategy but I have to do something. I don’t have as much reading time now as I did a few years ago so I do have to prioritise.

    Linda – I still browse so that I don’t miss anything but anything I don’t think I can fit in in the next couple of weeks goeson the list.

    Olduvai – The notebook is working well for me so far. I’m reassured that nothing should slip through the net.

    Kathy – I’m sure there will be lapses, but I have to try.

    Jo – I’ve had the same problem. This time around I have a hardback notebook so there’s less chance of missing it – and it has a pen attached.

    Simon – I’ve heard so much good about After The Fire.. that it is definitely a priority.

  16. Lija – That’s good point. I know what I’m looking for and order if necessary, but a lot of people just look on the shelves. And I’m delighted that you’re doing your bit to improve the quality of library stock!

    Stacy – Thank you – I’m going to need it!

    JoAnn – I definitely plan to read more of my own books now. I’ve been guilty of reading library books just because they’re there when I have better books on my own shelves – no more!

    Laurel – I’m trying to find that balance too, but it’s difficult. The more you read the more you discover I’m finding.

    Aarti – I pass the library on my way home from work and it’s difficult to resist popping in just in case. I hope you can keep that balance!

    Pussreboots – Yes it is, and the opening that I read in a queueat the post office was lovely!

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