Top Ten Bookish Confessions

Top Ten Tuesday

This won’t come as a surprise for some of my visitors, because my deplorable reading habits have already been discussed at length at a Friday Coffee Chat a long time ago.

But I might be able to come up with a few more, so here we go….




Top Ten Six Bookish Confessions

1. I dog ear

2. I break spines

3. I miss the due date at the library by 1 day, then have to pay for the full week

4. I sometimes, only sometimes, read the last page of a book when I am somewhere in the middle. However, that doesn’t tell me much as the last page invariably mentions people I haven’t heard of yet.

5. I almost never buy books new. Instead I swap or buy them used. The last book I bought new was “Girl Reading” and that was only because it wasn’t available as a used book anywhere.

6. The second I finish a Harry Potter book and close it I have forgotten the plot. I am not kidding. I do remember some events, like the Quidditch championship or that contest where that Quidditch talent with the Russian name rescues Hermione (a fact I could never understand, by the way, he only knew her a short time) from whatever threat (see, I have even forgotten that), but basically I have no clue about HP. All I know is that it is good boy vs. Mr. Evil.

Jean Rostand said:

Prerequisite for re-readability in books: that they be forgettable.

With that in mind, for me the Harry Potter books are as re-readable as they can get.

What are your Top Ten Bookish Confessions? I am curious!

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. You will find tons of more Top Ten Tuesday participants there.


The Paris myth

Don’t get me wrong. I like Paris, it is a great city that is well worth visiting.

However, reviews of "Paris in Love" made me realize that people have all sorts of ideas about Paris. Yes, Paris is lovely, it is wonderful, beautiful when the cherry trees are in bloom (if there are cherry trees, that is), the people are friendly, the food is gorgeous and the people have an unequalled sense of fashion. Yes, but this is so in every other city on the planet when you go to the right spot, the orchard, the right restaurant, when you are in the right frame of mind and when you are off (and preferably everybody else is, too).

I don’t know what it is about Paris that people seem to think that it is different from any other metropolitan area on Earth. I am sorry to say it is not. Not every Parisian ambles down the street to meet his friends for a Pernod and spends two minutes kissing before settling down to chat for hours. Not every Parisian gets up leisurely before slowly taking a stroll to his local boulangerie to get a delicious croissant and then go home again to enjoy his French pressed coffee and breakfast on his cast iron balcony looking over the roofs of Paris while the sun is slowly rising on the horizon, bathing the Eiffel tower in a soft light.

Instead people are just as pressed for time as in every other part of the world, they hurry to work, complain about rude waiters, get mugged and spend hours in a tunnel in a stinking subway squeezed in between cursing commuters during rush hour because some miserable sap has committed suicide on the tracks ahead. I am talking from experience.

So, yes, there are picturesque scenes in Paris, just like there are in New York, Copenhagen, Riga and Tokyo. Please, don’t give me all that stuff about Paris being the ultimate romantic lovers’ city with rose petals scattered in the streets.  It is perfectly fine to project your dreams about the perfect place into Paris and conjure it up in your head, but don’t make it sound as if this was reality. Because it is not.

Animum debes mutare, non caelum. ~Horace, and later Seneca

Just to counteract all that Paris glorification I am giving away a used copy of “A year in the merde” by Stephen Clarke today.

Sorry – the giveaway has ended.  


Paul West arrives in Paris to start a new job – and finds out what the French are really like.


Befriending people on Goodreads

Why do people befriend other people on Goodreads? I can imagine only a couple of reasons.

  • They like the same kind of books and therefore want to know what those people are up to reading wise.
  • They know the other person through book blogging or personally and want to keep in touch, like a bookish Facebook.
    If there is another reason – and there might be –, I would expect the “befriender” to send a short message to the “befriendee” why they want to be friends. Why would I approve a friendship with someone I have never heard of before and who has no books in common with me? GR_friends
    Recently I received a number of friend requests from people who have about 20 books in their “read books” list, none “to read” and who had about 315 friends (or many more). Needless to say a quick book compare showed that we had none in common, not one. Why, oh why, would I want to be friends with a Goodreads whore? 

The prices of e-books

John found this article on the Guardian about the development of the prices of e-books and the possible impact on the customer. I have to admit I hardly ever buy e-books. I used to buy some romance books that were comparably inexpensive (their prices are around $5), but for at least a year or so I haven’t bought any e-books at all. I either get them for review or from the library. But I am shocked at the prices Mr. Gillmor mentions in his article. I would NEVER buy the same or even more for an e-book than for a physical book.

How much would you spend for an e-book? And, more important, would you pay the same or more than for paper? And if so, why?


Book locations: 9 reasons why our library sucks

Since quite a few people were impressed with the pictures of our library café, I felt it was necessary to bring you all back down to earth with this post. The café might be lovely and the courtyard the nicest bookish hangout you can imagine, however, the library itself sucks.

It is a large library, it serves a city of about 500.000 people and has various branches all over the city with one main library in the center. It also has so-called "book buses" that visit schools on a regular schedule to enable pupils to get books even if their parents don’t take them to the library.

The main library is being renovated at the moment so part of it had to be moved to various nearby buildings, but the transition seems to have gone smoothly and it does not seem to be some improvised arrangement, but it looks as if everything works fine (the renovation will be going on for another year or two, I think).

So, what is not so great about this bookish place?

  • The opening times. The library opens at 11am and closes at 6pm, except for Wednesdays when it doesn’t open at all. Saturdays it is open for 3 hours and Sunday – that goes without saying, because it is the Day of the Lord and we are in God fearing Bavaria – it is closed again. Oh, hold on, wait a minute, on Thursdays it’s open one hour longer, until 7pm. That’s when all the people who have to work for a living might make it there to rush through it.
  • The staff is not really that helpful and/or friendly. There are some people who could actually work in the free economy and succeed, but all in all they are as friendly as Rosa Klebb.
  • It offers no events to speak of. When it does they take place in some suburb branch.
  • The few English books on offer are about two decades old. I am aware it is a German library but you would think that nowadays they would make sure that they are a tiny bit multilingual.
  • The late fees are outrageous.
  • They charged me late fees for one of the boys even though they accumulated because the book bus returned to his school only after the due date.  Is that my fault?
  • At the moment there are two buildings and, of course, various departments, each with their own return desk. If you have three books, let’s say a children’s book, a novel and a non fiction book you have to go to three different return desks in two buildings to return three books.
  • They have about four different cashiers (to pay the late fee), but invariably if you want to pay at a desk they will say “You can pay just about anywhere but not with me.”
  • Their website is boring, bleak and uninformative, apart from the standard info like opening times etc. If you don’t know the library and think, “I’m going to check out their website to see whether it is worth joining” you will undoubtedly decide against becoming a member.

So you think a nice café compensates for that? I don’t.


Teaching in Snyder Co., PA

I just came across an interesting post on Aleksandr Voinov’s blog. It seems that some people don’t approve of the use of pseudonyms when it comes to writers. I imagine that the same people call themselves “hotbabe” or “Kevinsmom” on their home cooking forum, but that is neither here nor there.

Anyway, Aleksandr links to an infuriating article in a sort of online newspaper about an English teacher who writes “racy romance” in her spare time under a pseudonym and is now being harassed for it. The affair takes place in Snyder County. Not that you would have ever heard of that place before, it is somewhere in Pennsylvania. I must apologize beforehand to all inhabitants of Snyder County who still have a brain left, I am not talking about you. I am talking about the others. And there seem to be quite a few of them.

The ones who must have received their own children by immaculate conception. The ones who don’t tell their kids about the birds and the bees. The ones who most likely teach their children about creationism. The self-righteous hypocrites who are better than everybody else when it comes to judging other people.

Why a parent would be concerned about the content of any book that a teacher published privately and which has nothing whatsoever to do with their teaching is a mystery. Why a teacher should be told that she has to decide between teaching and writing is a mystery. Why a teacher “shouldn’t be doing that.” is a mystery. A former student said “She is a good teacher but I had no idea what was going on behind the scenes." I tell you what was going on behind the scenes. Ms. Buranich was probably sitting at her computer writing those evil novels while drinking a cup of camomile tea. It is hardly unlikely that she was engaging in a sex orgy at the same time, taking drugs and getting drunk. And even if she had been, it wouldn’t be your bloody business.


Is bookmooch worth it?

book_mooch Some time ago I became a member of Bookmooch. So far I swapped all my books on a German swap site called Tauschticket and was happy with it. I was able to find lots of English books there, sooner or later most of the books on my wishlist turned up. They changed their terms and conditions recently and since then the books on offer have decreased a bit, so I thought I’d have a look what else is out there.

Bookmooch seemed a good choice since most of the books on offer are in English. I put five books up there, all available for international destinations, and, wow, all five books were requested within a couple of days. I was pleased, even though the postage money was quite a bit.

However, now my spirit has been dampened considerably. Really, NONE of the books I am interested in are available at all, let alone for international shipping (and I am NOT looking for possibly offensive or out of the ordinary books).

I know that Judith has found at least one book there (possibly more) that was shipped to her country, the Netherlands, but how successful in “mooching” books are Europeans in general? I am wondering whether Bookmooch is worth the trouble at all. 


Friday Coffee Chat

A heated discussion over my deplorable reading habits (see the posts here and here) has led Carin, Wallace and me to want to open a conversation at Carin’s Friday Coffee Chat. She asked me to do a guest post and I gladly did.

Please, join us at The Friday Coffee Chat at A Little Bookish!

The picture below is the worst that you will find on my shelves. Most of the damage has been done by a very adventurous chinchilla years ago. Even though I occasionally crack spines all titles can be read perfectly (told you, Carin) and all books are readable.

Jane Eyre and Felix Krull are in a bad shape but if you read a paperback that is not the best quality anyway for decades  over and over again I don’t think this can be avoided.



What’s with Google friend connect?

Lately I have noticed that with lots of giveaways you need to be a “follower” of the blog via Google Friend Connect. Why? What’s so special about Google Friend Connect, apart from the fact that everybody visiting your blog can actually SEE how many followers you have? Is it some self esteem thing? The more followers in your sidebar the more popular you are?

What if I subscribe to a blog in another way? Does that make me a less welcome reader? Why wouldn’t I be eligible to enter a giveaway just because I don’t want to use that Google Connect thing? Can someone enlighten me, please!


Networking friends

I like book networking sites to a certain extent. It’s fun to browse and find new books, read reviews and meet people with similar tastes. It’s nice to see what your friends are reading, whether they think the same about books as you do. It’s a good way to discover new authors and possibly genres to read.

What I don’t like are the networking junkies whose sole purpose in life seems to be to accumulate as many "friends" as possible on any given networking site. I suppose those people believe that to have a lot of friends means they are very popular. Fine with me as long as those friend hoarders stay among themselves.

Recently they have come out and extended their feelers towards the innocent though. The innocent being me.

Without any possible reason they invite me to be their friend. I wonder why. Especially on a book networking site I would think that the taste in books is the main criteria to invite someone to be your friend. This is not always so.

The people I got the last few friend requests from had the following books in common with me:

On a shelf of hundreds of books they were:
"Interview with the vampire" – a book almost everybody has read (especially Cruise and Pitt fans, who read the book in 1994)
"The Importance of Being Earnest" – a book almost everybody has read
"Wuthering Heights" – a book almost everybody has read
"Twilight" – a book almost every woman has read
Some Bill Bryson book – a book almost everybody has read

"The Importance of Being Earnest" – see above
"The Alchemist" – a book almost everybody has at home, I’m not saying they have read it.

"The Da Vinci Code" – a book everybody has read, even though, if they have read "Angels and Demons", there was no reason to. It’s the same book.
"Memoirs of a Geisha" – a book almost every woman has read (especially in or after 2005)

I don’t know what to make of this. Do those people really want to know what I’m reading right now? I can’t imagine. Do they think I want to know what they are reading right now? I don’t. If you want to be friends with people with whom you have only books like the above in common, why bother making friends at all? All you need to do is browse through the member list and look at everybody there. They would spare themselves the humiliation of being ignored and at the same time spare me a bad conscience.