Upcoming Reads

I recently rediscovered the magic that is the Free Library. It happened a few weeks ago, on the way back to work from lunch with some friends. The conversation went something like this:

All: I love books! (Me too!) (I love books too!)
Lynn: Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to get free books? As many as you wanted?
Me: There is. It’s called…the library.
Herbie & Chris: [lol]
Lynn: Okay, fuck you guys.

I recognize now in the retelling that my response comes off as super sarcastic, but I promise it wasn’t (I am apparently only capable of sounding sarcastic, as anyone who knows me in real life will attest to). Lynn’s inquiry had honestly sparked a realization, though; something so simple and obvious, given my growing book collection and dwindling B&N gift cards, that I can’t believe it took me an unintentionally sassy, Phở-brained comment to remind me: the Free Library is amazing. When I was a kid, my library card got a serious work out, and the joy of visiting the main branch each week and coming home with a stack of new, exciting, hard-backed adventures to dive into –accompanied by the gloriously familiar crinkle of the plastic book covers– remains a highlight of my childhood. Why hadn’t I carried that into adulthood?

Well, I finally did. I renewed my library card and have been singing its praises ever since. And while the intervening years have seen some changes to the way the library operates (I can place holds on any title online, for pick up at my local branch; they don’t use rubber stamps or check-out cards anymore) the overwhelming enchantment hasn’t faded in the slightest.

Herewith, some upcoming reads:


1 // Ajax Penumbra 1969, Robin Sloan
I was so smitten with Sloan’s “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore” that I can’t believe I didn’t know until recently there was a second (prequel?) book in the same story. All I can tell you about the first one, if you haven’t read it  already(why haven’t you read it already??), is that it is set in a bookstore in San Francisco, involves a secret organization of book lovers (where do I pledge my allegiance?), and that the cover glows in the dark. It was one of the best books I’ve ever read, hands down, and I am beyond thrilled there’s another one in the same vein.
2 // The Painted Girls, Cathy Marie Buchanan
I recently checked this out from the library, with the intention of waiting to finish Donna Tartt’s “The Little Friend” first, but there was no way I could restrain myself. I’m already 100 pages into “The Painted Girls,” and it has everything I love: Paris in the 1880s, ballet, Degas, did I mention Paris? The story focuses on three young, impoverished sisters, one of whom becomes a figure model for the famous artist’s series of Danseuses. The narrative flips between the older two sisters, and I am so far loving all of the historical details.
3 // Red Joan, Jennie Rooney
I actually received this book for free from Europa Editions, a wonderful and welcome surprise in my mailbox one afternoon. I’d joined their mailing list and was rewarded with this hefty historical fiction (I’m sensing a pattern), about the KGB’s longest serving British spy, thus making it the first time joining a mailing list has ever benefited anyone, ever. I love Europa Editions, from their selection of authors to the binding and paper choice of their books, and had recently finished their edition of “The Elegance of the Hedgehog” when “Red Joan” showed up. This may be getting ahead of myself, but I’ve been toying with submitting my manuscript to them when the time comes.
4 // Gilded Youth, Kate Cambor
This book had been in my Amazon cart for months, as I’ve been intrigued by the plot since I first came across it: a coming of age story set in the early 20th century of the scions of three of France’s biggest cultural influencers, including writers Victor Hugo and Alphonse Daudet. Cambor’s book captures the “hopes and disillusionments of those who were destined to see the golden world of their childhood disappear.” You know how I feel about late 19th/early 20th century Paris, so this seems like an obvious book to place on my “to-read” shelf.

What are you guys reading these days? Any recommendations?

22 thoughts on “Upcoming Reads

  1. My very first apartment here was across the street from a public library, so I’ve been in on the secret for years :-) I’m reading “The Little Friend” right now!

    1. What a lucky apartment address! What on earth ever made you move away?? ;) How are you liking “The Little Friend”? I’m almost done, which is a good thing as it’s due back on Tuesday! xo

  2. The best….the absolute very best….is to reserve a book online for your Nook. An email comes and the story magically appears on your Nook. Those tricky little men inside the cover that Jamal bought me!! Like my keys, it disappears just as quickly 21 days later. Poof! Gone, girl!

    1. I tried signing up for the digital side, but there was a waiting list 1000+ people long for the one title I wanted! That was the end of that idea, haha. xo

  3. Just borrowed Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution by Caroline Weber. Previously read Marie Antoinette: The Journey by Antonia Fraser after watching the 2006 movie which was based on it.

    1. I’m sensing a theme! That’s a great movie, isn’t it? So luxe. I might have to add those titles to my list! xo

  4. I’m pretty sure I’ve had that exact same conversation before…
    I love the library! When I lived in Pittsburgh I spent SO MUCH time at the Carnegie Library. Then I moved home and spent some time perusing my hometown’s library. Then we moved here and I got a library card at the local branch and the librarian seems so happy to see someone my age in there. Ha! They’ve been doing construction there recently though, and I’ve been trying to work my way back through my bookcase at home, so it’s all re-reads or old forgotten about books for me lately! I always love seeing what you’re reading though :)

    1. That’s awesome, Marine! I feel so ashamed of all the years I missed out on between age 10(ish) to now! But I’m doing my best to make up for lost time. Is your local branch the Bala one? I’m with you, I love re-reading old favorites and I never tire of the good ones :) xo

  5. I’m so jealous. the American library here in Paris is unfortunately not free. and the French libraries don’t have a lot of the newer non-fiction books I’m after. that said, might still be worth it to join :)

    1. Oh, it’s not?? That’s such a shame, I figured that would be my “go-to” library when I inevitably pack up and move there, haha. I am also burning with envy that you can read non-fiction in French. Mon dieu. xo

  6. J’ai eu presque la même conversation avec une amie il n’y a pas longtemps ! Ma fille adore lire et à chaque fois je le acheté des bouquins. le problème ce que il n’est rentre plus dans sa chambre et ça commençait à être ennuyeux. Un copine ma dit : “Mais pourquoi tu ne vas pas à la Bibliothèque?” Je me sentie toute bête, je n’avait même pas pensé ! Depuis on la carte et ma fille elle es très contente, el prends des libres tant qu’elle veut ! C’est gratuit et écolo !! Vive les Bibliothèques publiques !! xo

    1. C’est gratuit et écolo et magique! Et moins chere que acheter des livres chaques semaines, bien sur! Je veux un tee shirt qui dit “Vive les Bibliothèques publiques!” haha. ça c’est parfait! xoxo

  7. All interesting picks! The Painted Girls particularly grabbed my attention.
    I do have a library card but I almost never go there. I already have so many books to read for work that I struggle finding time to read books for myself. I try, though. :)

    1. I can imagine that’s quite a struggle, though I do think it’s a hardship I would gladly endure. ;) My job is to read all these books? Can do! Haha. (I know it’s much more involved than that, Charlotte, please know I’m kidding!) xo

  8. Yay to Ajax Penumbra 1969. I’m working on a couple long books at the moment but had to start The Heap House when it arrived in the mailbox yesterday. I couldn’t help myself and it has illustrations scattered throughout (I am a giant child)

    1. Never underestimate the power of illustrations in books. The first page of every Harry Potter chapter was like a new present to unwrap. xo

  9. woah woah – i am actually kind of amazed that the public library has an online component like holding books online – what! wuht iz teh future? also, kind of bummed about the rubber stamps. i loved getting those yellowed cards with all those dates on them, some fading with the memories of the person who held that card previously. i must say, this post has inspired me to visit my own library. i have a new one considering i have not visited the inside of our downtown library since we’ve moved (i’ve definitely walked past it many a drunken nights on my way home from a bar with friends…)

    1. I know, right?! It’s just another sign of our digital age: I don’t even have to leave my house or interact with people until the book comes in (and of course you get a notification email about it). The convenience factor is huge, obviously, but I do really miss the antiquated details that made the whole thing so charming. Date cards! Wandering the stacks trying to find something new! Oh well. I guess I should just be grateful we even still have libraries anymore. Philly has had to close a ton because of budget cuts, so I’m not complaining over a bygone era. xo

  10. Yeah, the public library’s the best. I mostly take out recipe books and bookmaking books, but I’m currently reading ‘We are all completely beside ourselves’ by Karen Joy Fowler. I really enjoy her writing so I’ll probably look for more books by her after I finish.

    1. That’s such a smart idea to borrow cook books! That’s Jamal’s territory, and we got most of ours at my bridal shower, but how do you know you want to buy one unless you try it out? Aside from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, obviously. That’s a staple ;) Thank you for the recommendation! I’m noting her name down for my next visit! xo

    1. Haha I hear you on the “many piles” lifestyle. It’s been much more manageable since I’ve been borrowing books, the piles are all temporary now, aside from the books I already had on my shelves (I also gave a bunch away to a used bookstore around the corner from me). xo

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