Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Trilogies...and Other Multi-Book Series.

Last year I read my first multi-book series. I realize this is absurd, 26 is too old to first pick up a series book, particularly when you are an avid reader. Which leads to another confession. Most of my life I have been hung up on classics. I really like them, and there are so many of them you can go on reading them forever. So when that's all you read you don't really realize how much work they are. You don't really get that books can have a more pure element of joy and fun to them. You get snobby and you think why would I bother reading that when I still have all these other books to read....

Anyway, that ended last summer when I was convinced to pick Harry Potter, we all know I did this begrudgingly, and then I loved it. And then I went crazy with series'. Twilight. Sookie Stackhouse. Outlander. And yesterday I finally picked up Lord of the Rings. All this to say, I am hooked. So when I saw that Abe books put out a Top 10 Trilogies list, I thought, I must put this up on Luminous (okay, yes, there are other factors too, living in a new city, no job, lots of reading time and all those 10 best lists going on over at Panda's...still.) So here is what they say are the 10 best. Most of these I don't even know:

1. Nick Bantock's Griffin & Sabine
2. Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials
3. Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast
Robertson Davies' Deptford
5. Louis de Bernieres' Latin America
6. Paul Auster's New York
7. Phillip Kerr's Berlin Noir
8. Roddy Doyle's Barrytown
9. Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars
10. Peter Dickinson's The Changes

So tell me, what are your 10 best...multi-book series?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Fond Farewell

Dear Luminous Readers,

Thank you for stopping by and being so faithful to my blog. Sadly, my goals and intentions have changed a bit since I started this blog nearly three years ago, and as a result I have done a crappy job of updating and maintaining it. Which means, it is time to retire. Obviously, my love for reading has not been swayed, but my desire to blog about the books I read has--- and thus it's demise. I attempted to make a list of all the books I read last year (which you can see below) it's not complete but it proves that I have been doing a poor job for a while of writing about them for awhile. Ah, well, thanks for a few good years. Read on, read on!

Yours Truly,


Midnight Sun, Stephenie Meyer
Breaking Dawn, Stephenie Meyer
Eclipse, Stephenie Meyer
New Moon. Stephenie Meyer
Twilight, Stephenie Meyer
Dreams from my Father, Barack Obama
Cataloging and Classification, Lois Mai Chan
The Archivist, Martha Cooley
Black Swan Green, David Mitchell
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Book 7, J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince Book 6, J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Book 5, J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Book 4, J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Book 3, J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Book 2, J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone Book 1, J.K. Rowling
Little, Big, John Crowley
The Amateur Marriage, Ann Tyler
The History of Love, Kate Atkinson
The Coming of the Book, Lucien Febvre & Henri-Jean Martin
The Stone Diaries, Carol Shields
Born on a Blue Day, Daniel Tammet
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke
A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson
Used and Rare: Travels in the Book World, Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone
The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Archivist by Martha Cooley

The Archivist has been around for a good ten years. Every now and then I see it pop up on a shelf at some over crowded book store, hidden among thousands of other books. The summary intrigues, the blurbs confirm its place in history, this book is a gem.  The writing is eloquent, the plot, well it constantly thickens, the story grabs and then pulls you in and leaves you wondering "seriously, this is her first novel?"  I only wish I had read Cooley sooner.

Matt, is an aging archivist at a well recognized, yet unnamed, east-coast school. He has in his charge of, among other items, a sealed vault of letters T.S. Eliot wrote to his would-be mistress, Emily Hale. (If you don't know the story here, it can all be summed up with a single picture, of which I have yet to find, but will do my best. Eliot meets Hale, Eliot marries Vivienne, Vivienne goes crazy and is institutionalized, all the while Eliot maintains a relationship with Hale, one which he can never fully confirm or dismiss.) To make things a bit more intriguing, Matt once had a wife who was unable to keep the lines of reality and fiction from blurring together...sound familiar, wait there's more. Then Matt meets a young woman Roberta (read here Emily Hale) and she is both the key to his unleashing of the past and his pursuit of the future.  Okay, so you are thinking this sounds obvious and too easy. Now add in an absurd understanding, on Cooley's part, of Eliot's work. Plus questions of love, religion, faith, insanity, books, solitude and so much more. There is so much in this novel. And the real kicker is, Cooley makes it look like a walk in the park. It feels so simple yet you finish it and there are so many questions. It penetrates the souls of its characters and a bit of the reader as well. I don't even know how to fit it all in.  So I end with this blurb, which I think sums it up well:

"Remarkable...Though Cooley has twinned the tales of poets and madness, Christians and Jews, caretakers and gatekeepers and betrayers, the stories never appear contrived, only very, very human." -Martha Baker, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Thursday, October 23, 2008

To Read Or Not to Read...Harry Potter

Right, so you may have noticed my lack of posting over the last few months. There are many reasons for this, but lack of reading is not one of them. I finally started the Harry Potter books, years after the rest of the world, in August. And today, I closed the cover on book seven--The Deathly Hallows. It feels a bit absurd to be posting about Harry Potter. In part because it's like posting about some fad that has come and gone. And what can I say that has not been said already?

So I write this post to anyone who has not read the books. Those people whose camp I was in just a few months ago. Maybe you are like me? You read the first few books, and you were not feeling it! I mean really how many books do you have to read in a series to start getting into it? Or you have seen all the movies, and while you like them, they have not inspired you to read the books. After all why read them when you can watch them in two hours. Possibly, you are just so sick of hearing about them from everyone else that it puts you off. Trust me, I understand.

But here is the thing. Generally, if nearly everyone you know is raving mad about something, be it good or bad, there is some truth to it. And its probably worth checking out. I admit I begrudgingly picked up the books, but I am so glad I did. Particularly books five, six and seven. They are so good. The ending so very much lives up to seven books of climax and that my friends is quite a feat! Yes, I know the writing leaves a bit to be desired but Rowling more than makes up for it with the story and I promise the writing does get better as the books go along. I promise, you will not be sorry. Even if you hate them--you can hate them with just cause!

On a final note, I will say this. I think the first two books are easily replaced by the movies, so if you are on the edge and don't have time for all seven, watch the first two movies and start with the third book!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Your Old Book

I always enjoy stories like this one.  It makes me excited for the other hidden secrets that shall reveal themselves in time.  

110 years ago a man named Charles H. Hackley donated a stack of books to his local library. The library Incorporated the books into their collection and then shelved them, storing one book, already 50 years old in a  glass storage case on the library's second floor where rare and fragile books were kept where it was eventually forgotten. "In 1999, library personnel started going through the books in that case, [and] discovered the Book of Mormon." According to the Muskegon Chronicle, "It was one of 5,000 books printed in 1830 by Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, after he said an angel named Moroni guided him to gold tablets documenting the teachings and lives of ancient tribes."  The book is likely to fetch around $70,000. Talk about a gold mine!

Ever wonder if you have a valuable book hidden in the far reaches of your attic or basement. It is possible. Many of the rare books that come on the market today are books were simply overlooked for a few generations. But how to know?  

A great place to start is by reading a small publication found on the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section  site called , Your Old Books.  It will teach exactly what makes a book rare and how you can go about figuring out the potential value of your item.  The number one rule: demand that is greater than the supply. You could have the only copy of a book in existence, but if no one wants it...well, then no one freakin' wants it. 

If you read through this document and you are still convinced that you might have discovered a gold mine, then its time to start doing some research. Sites like and abebooks.comcan give you an idea of how many copies of a book are currently being offered for sale.  

If you are now nearly willing to bet your pets life that you have a book that could pay off all your students loans and still leave enough money for a down payment on your dream house, then its time to contact a book seller. Don't bother going to your local library, it is against the law for them to tell you how much your book is worth. 

Good luck, and be sure to report back to Luminous when you strike gold.

Friday, September 05, 2008

The right to read.

Politics is not something that I have ever brought to the pages of Luminous before, but this story isn't just politics, it is about books and politics and therefore I feel confident that the story fits well to luminous' mission.  That is: anything related to books.  

Sarah Palin has been the talk of the town for a whole week now.  A few disturbing things have come to our attention about Mrs. Palin but this bit of news takes the cake for all of us who have dedicated our lives to the right for intellectual freedom. 

Shortly before becoming mayor Ms. Palin approached librarian, Mary Ellen Emmons, at the Wasilla town library about the possibility of banning some books, which books Mrs. Palin would not say.  Anne Kilkenny, a Democrat "who said she attended every City Council meeting in Ms. Palin’s first year in office, said Ms. Palin brought up the idea of banning some books at one meeting. 'They were somehow morally or socially objectionable to her,' Ms. Kilkenny said."(NYT.)

Mrs. Emmons, of course resisted all efforts at censorship, in accordance with the Library Bill of Rights. And how did Mrs. Palin respond to not getting her way? She fired Ms. Emmons shortly after taking office.  Mrs. Palin under estimated her constituencies, who made a great show of support for the librarian in question, and she was untimely given her job back. 

So what is the big deal here?

Our whole system of government was based on the idea that the purpose of the state was to preserve individual liberties, not to dictate them. The founders uniformly despised many practices in England that compromised matters of individual conscience by restricting freedom of speech. Freedom of speech – the right to talk, write, publish, discuss – was so important to the founders that it was the first amendment to the Constitution – and without it, the Constitution never would have been ratified.

How then, can we claim that the founders would support the restriction of access to a book that really is just about an idea, to be accepted or rejected as you choose? If the library is doing its job, there are lots of books in the collection that people won't agree with; there are certainly many that I object to. Library collections don't imply endorsement; they imply access to the many different ideas of our culture, which is precisely our purpose in public life. The best way to know your stance on an issue after all is to have a grasp of the opposing view point.  Libraries, of course, provide evidence that not everybody agrees with each other; but that's true, isn't it?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Harry Potter Book Club?

Let me take you back two years: It's the summer of 2006 and I am a few years out of undergrad and desperate for a dialogue about books. After much arm twisting to get a book club going and still no compliance on the part of my loved ones (I even tried to sneakily read books that friends were reading, books I had no interest in, just so I could talk to someone about books) I started this here blog. I figured, this way I could process what I was thinking about and maybe, just maybe, someone would come along who had read or was reading the book and talk to me. For the most part its been a success.

Now, part two. Harry Potter (henceforth referred to as HP). I read the first two HP books a long long time ago. Like in the late 90's. And, well, this was before the craze and I just did not get that into them. Years go by and slowly HP creeps into EVERYONE'S LIFE. But I refuse to partake, because I tried, and we did not work, and that was enough for me.

So along comes a certain friend, who shall remaine anonymous, with a sneaky little idea. The friend tells me he wants to start a book club, obviously I am giddy with joy, as he predicted. "What shall we read?" I wonder aloud. I should have seen it coming. "Harry Potter." Dang it! What is a girl to do? She has no choice. So I am in a Harry Potter book club. We have already meet once, for the first book, after which we watched the movie. I'm was probably the most negative. But it was really great anyway.

We are meeting again for discussion of books 2 & 3 next weekend. And, believe it or not, I've read both the books already. And even started the fourth one prematurely. Suffice it to say, I've moved past the poor writing and am totally into the story. I LIKE HARRY POTTER! Who woulda thought?

Now here is a fun little video for you to enjoy: