TBR List Declutter, Issue 27

Craziness is afoot later this month, so during this relatively less hectic time I’m trying to squeeze in some TBR list decluttering for posting during the crunch. Let’s see how I do.

Wondering what this is all about? Check out the introductory post.

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TBR List Declutter, Issue 26

We’ve had our first snow of the year, a good 4-5 inches on the ground and the trees and the rooftops. My children were outside shoveling the driveway with their dad and playing in the snow. They came in laughing and rosy-cheeked. I sat with a cat on my lap and read and ate popcorn and Spanish chocolate and drank La Croix and occasionally looked up to enjoy the snowy outdoors through double-paned glass.

I’m not usually so Scrooge-like about the first snow of the season, but the disinterest does give me an excuse to sit down and go through a few more titles on my TBR. So, silver lining!

Wondering what this is all about? Check out the introductory post.

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TBR List Declutter, Issue 25

This issue of the TBR List Declutter is a bit delayed. I thought I’d gotten wifi at all of the places we were staying on vacation, but it turns out I didn’t. And in coffee shops in León, Spain, no one seemed to be working at tablets or laptops—they were all drinking coffee and eating gratis pastries and talking animatedly to one another (we-ird)—which left me feeling too self-conscious to post from there.

If you want to know the truth, I don’t really feel bad about missing my arbitrary weekly schedule for my TBR List Declutter. I was in Spain, goshdarnit, and it’s difficult to feel bad about anything in Spain, except for the fact that I was exhausted trying to understand and speak Spanish for ten days and traffic circles always make me cry, but in the face of castles and mountains that belong on postcards and cathedrals that also belong on postcards and beautiful, freezing beaches (postcards) and tapas for Thanksgiving (Instagram), I’m certainly not going to feel bad about not posting about books I don’t want to read.

Okay fine, I do want to read some of them. Don’t mind me; I’m just in a whiny mood because of the jet lag. (I know: boo-hoo, no one twisted your arm to go to Spain, did they? No, they didn’t, but that doesn’t make me any less tired.)

Wondering what this is all about? Check out the introductory post.

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Bookends: November 2017

November. Holy moly. November.

It was fun, but oh, so tiring. My family traveled 15 out of 30 days, were in the capitals of three nations, and I lost ten pounds (not intentionally; I always lose weight when I’m traveling and then my son got a stomach virus, and, well, there you are). Sometime I’ll write about all of it (except the stomach virus), but it might have to wait until January. In the meantime, check out my Instagram (see sidebar) for images of our adventures.

In between all of that, I read a few books, and that’s what this is all about. I would have read more if those movies and games on the airplane seat backs weren’t so compelling. I’d say I hope to have more titles to report in December, but December’s going to be a whole different brand of crazy, so more reading is probably too much to ask.

At any rate, here are November’s books:

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TBR List Declutter Week 24

Well, it’s Thanksgiving in the United States, but I’m not celebrating it as I usually do. I’m not going to tell you how I’m celebrating it because I’m writing this three weeks ago, and I’m not sure yet how I’m celebrating it. I’ll have to leave you in suspense until a future post. My eight-year-old would call that a cliffhanger.

Wondering what this is all about? Check out the introductory post.

Titles 231-240: Read More

TBR List Declutter Week 23

It’s the week before Thanksgiving in the U.S., but as I’m writing this, it’s only November 4. It’s a kind of lame sort of time travel, but it’s all I’ve got. Well, I guess I could do the opposite and write a blog post today and then date it in the past. Then I can predict the future. Or I guess I’m kind of doing that in this post, predicting what I’m going to cut from my TBR and what I’m going to keep in two weeks. I never really thought of just how powerful I am on my own blog. Welcome to my kingdom. (Queendom? Realm? Domain? Fiefdom?) I’m a benevolent ruler, so I’ll let you choose your own tribute.

Wondering what this is all about (Aren’t we all right about now?)? Check out the introductory post.

Titles 221-230: Read More

Crying in the Library of Congress

My family are library super-users. We manage holds, checkouts, renewals, and returns with a carefully balanced choreography. We love libraries so much that when my children go to bookstores, my daughter spends an hour reading portions of books, taking note of the titles she wants to check out from the library, even when we’re there for the express purpose of buying a book to take with us while we’re traveling.

When my children learned that on our recent trip to Washington, DC, they would have the chance to visit the largest library in the world, they were thrilled. “How many books do they have?” “Do they have translations?” “Do they have movies?” “Do they have the Warriors series [by Erin Hunter]?” “Can you check things out?”

Most of our questions were answered by looking at the Library of Congress website. 164 million items, including 38.6 million+ books in more than forty languages. They do have movies. They probably do have the Warriors series. You can’t check things out until you’re sixteen, when you can get a card to check things out within the library.

“How do you check things out within a library?” they asked. I assured them that was a question that we could ask our tour guide. Even not being able to check things out, they were excited to look at so many books.

The afternoon we’d set aside for our visit, we set out from our hotel to walk to the library. It took a little longer to walk there than we’d anticipated, and we found ourselves running up Capitol Hill, getting through security at the library, and arriving, breathless, just in time to join the tour group as they were walking up the stairs.

The tour was really cool. The library is incredible, with murals and statues and mosaics on every surface; you couldn’t swing a cat without hitting an allegory. If security would let you bring a cat into the Library of Congress. And if you felt like swinging it.

My children waited patiently throughout our hour-long tour, learning all about the art and the history of the library.

Once my daughter pulled me aside and in a stage whisper said, “It’s been forty-five minutes, and we haven’t even seen any books.”

“Don’t worry,” I assured her. “It’s a library. We’ll get to see books.”

And just a few minutes after, we did get to see books…from the Main Reading Room observation deck a couple of stories up and enclosed in glass. There were rows and rows and rows of books, and my children were practically salivating to get in there with all of them.

And then that was it.

As the tour ended, our tour guide, Harvey, said, “The greatest thing about the Library of Congress is that it’s for everyone! You just need to be sixteen or over and have a valid drivers license or passport to use the reading rooms.”

My daughter asked, “Is there any way someone under sixteen can go into the reading rooms?”

Harvey looked from my son to my daughter and then to me. “No, I’m sorry. Maybe you could ask Congress to make an exception.” Laughter from the rest of the tour group.

It turns out that not only can someone under sixteen not check things out, they can’t even go into the reading rooms. They can’t even, ironically, check books out from the Children’s Literature Center, the contents of which are held in the General Collections, which are only available to those with a readers card, i.e., those over sixteen.

For example, they do, in fact, have Erin Hunter’s books—like her Firestar’s Quest, but you have to request them from the Jefferson or Adams Building Reading Rooms, to which my children do not have access. Screenshot of what you get when you look up Firestar’s Quest in the the LOC online catalog:

My children were not prepared for this.

Crestfallen, we went across the entryway to visit the re-creation of the Jefferson library. There my son looked up at me and began to cry.

“Mommy, he lied.” (“He” meaning Harvey.) “He said that the library is for everyone, but it’s only for people sixteen and older.”

My daughter was more stoic, but still I found myself hugging and comforting my children in the middle of the Library of Congress, surrounded by books they could neither read nor touch.

Luckily there was a Young Readers Center, a room where my kids could sit around reading books that were great for middle-grade readers but lacking for those between the ages of twelve and sixteen. It was like margarine when you’re expecting butter, but it was down an echo-y and very reflective hallway, which they enjoyed. It salvaged the trip for them a little, but the injustice still stings.

At bedtime that night, I told them a story (shamelessly paraphrased from From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler) about two children and their mom who hid out in a bathroom at the Library of Congress and then snuck out after the library was closed to read books all night in the Main Reading Room. We talked a bit more about how unfair it was that they couldn’t use the library.

“I know Harvey was kind of joking,” I said, “but you really could write to Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey when we get home. And to our representatives. And we can ask all of our friends in different states to write to their representatives in Congress and ask them to change the rules.”

“Senators must get a lot of mail,” my daughter said.

“Yes, they do. But if enough people write, the letters will catch their attention. They’ll think there’s a groundswell of public support for allowing people under the age of sixteen to use the Library of Congress.”

“What’s a ‘groundswell of public support’?”

“Time for bed now, my darlings.”

TBR List Declutter, Issue 22

For me, this November is a month packed with so many fun things. I’m scheduling several weeks in advance, so if something really big happens and I fail to mention it, that’s why. Well, something big besides more books disappearing from my TBR.

Want to know what this is all about? Check out the introductory post.

Titles 211-220: Read More

TBR List Declutter, Issue 21

According to my handy graph, November for me is the start of two months of increased TBR growth. Will I be able to make it to the first of the year without completely sabotaging my TBR Declutter? Ah, the suspense!

Wondering what this is all about? Check out the introductory post. Read More

Bookends: October 2017

With October’s Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon, I have read my way out of my September slump, but I’ve developed an unhealthy taste for YA novels. Unhealthy not because YA is inherently non-nutritious (although oftentimes it is) but because I feel like I’ve become accustomed to fast-paced, plot-based, and/or melodramatic fiction, and that doesn’t bode well for all of the more substantial books on my TBR. Alas!

An update on our pet snails: We released them a few weeks ago, and I presume that they are now cavorting happily in our garden, storing nuts and seeds and building cozy little cabins in preparation for the New England winter.

Now on to my October books!

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