Not A Review

library holdsI recently discovered The Bennet Sisters book blog, and then I pretty much requested everything she said she’d liked from the library. When my latest holds came in, I had about a dozen Austen-themed reinventions (including at least one obvious bodice ripper), a book about magical cat clans that my little student is reading, and also some historical texts on education under Mao. Fortunately for me, the Somerville West librarians hate their jobs so much that I doubt they’d expend the energy for curiosity about patrons’ reading habits.

Pictured here is my latest round of holds: More Austen spinoffs, a Hamlet Choose-Your-Own-Adventure I heard about on Tumblr, it’s been about a year since I last read Doctor Zhivago so I thought I’d make myself sad again, I requested The Danish Girl when everyone was talking about it, which is probably why I had to wait, and more historical fiction.

Speaking of way too many library holds, BookRiot has a way-too-accurate post on the top reasons to binge-request from the library.  Here in Boston, our public libraries are connected, so I can get pretty much everything I want through another Massachusetts library in a couple days. Plus you can request online so whenever you come across an intriguing book review or NPR fiction podcast, you can get that book right away. It’s almost as fast as Amazon. Plus, did I mention the part about the books being free?

I think my beloved NYPL has more ebooks, or at least has way more ebooks that appeal to my tastes, but since there’s a branch right by my new place in Boston, I don’t mind walking down there to pick up my books. The BookRiot piece even mentions carrying extra canvas bags for picking up half a dozen holds (It’s like Sarah S. Davies just looked into my purse to write this).

I also found this list of Jane Austen Novels Ranked By Sexy Character Loathing but the author is wrong, wrong, wrong in listing Persuasion near Pride and Prejudice. Wentworth is an actual jerkface who is TRYING to be a dick, and while Darcy is just not at his best in crowds or with strangers. Jerkfaces are not sexy. But handsome, brooding men who are just waiting for the right woman to understand them? I just swooned.

And finally, a friend on Facebook shared this piece about why what we read matters. This type of essay usually highlights the superiority of literary fiction over popular fiction, or genre fiction, commercial fiction, bestsellers, whatever the author considers lowbrow, and reaches the conclusion that people who read literature are way smarter than plebs who read for fun. Ugh. To me, the definitions of literary and popular are fluid, and there’s a lot of sales and marketing going it these categories, and at some point we have to stop acting like a genre novel can’t possibly be emotionally moving or have literary significance simply because it’s set in outer space or has teenagers in it.

Anyway, the piece compares deep reading (when we’re engaging more of our senses, which I think is what most of us enjoy about reading) with light reading (engaging only with the surface definition of the words, like when flipping through a magazine or scrolling a listicle, although obviously we can light-read novels too). One can skim To Kill a Mockingbird for an exam, or one can think deeply and critically about rereading Harry Potter for the twentieth time, and it’s pretty clear to me which is more intellectually stimulating.


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