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Non-fiction, it seems

August 11, 2016

As I cruise through the stacks, nine out of ten books I pick up to read are non-fiction. I have heard people make this distinction before, but never really thought about it in terms of preference for one or the other (saying fiction is “the” other choice). Once upon a time, I was reading so much just to stay ahead of the breaking tsunami, my recreational reading had withered away. These days, I have three for four books going at one time, and I enjoy it tremendously.

Have you read Julia Whitty? Do so, and you will be rewarded. My latest gift from her has to do with extremophile bacteria that bind oceanic methane and prevent it from becoming a greenhouse gas in our atmosphere (Deep Blue Home). She also said something about these meek creatures being undiscovered and poorly understood, which ties right in with my affection for the meek. Check her out, especially “A Tortoise for the Queen of Tonga.”

My latest find is Gary Krist’s “Empire of Sin: A story of sex, jazz, murder, and the battle for modern New Orleans.” In this context, “modern” refers to the early 20th Century, so it really is a trip back to one of the haunts of my youth—and has added to my local knowledge. I used to go to NOLA to stock up on wine and cheese at Schwegmann’s, which was an grocery chain founded in 1869 at the corner of Piety and Burgundy in old NO. New Orleans has a colorful past, and Mr. Krist does a good job of dissecting a segment of it. Really quite good, and see a great insult below from its pages.

I continue as a part timer in a public library, and continue to have fun. At the same time, I wonder about my being there depriving early career folks of a chance to get their feet on the ground. I mean no offense, but finding any library job without actual library experience is tough, and internships may or may not be good enough. Anyway, bonus reading that I find as I go about the day to day business in any library is a huge advantage, and has brought great items to my hands and attention. I remember the titles of a couple (“Rain”, by Barnett I bleve, and “Seeing Trees” which is a wonderful tour of treedom for the non-botanist), but my brain is crowded with minutiae that may never come in handy when book titles and authors could logically occupy that memory capacity. Oh well. And I will sort out my pleasure at being in a public library and my concern with taking a spot a youngster could have soon, I hope.

Hope your concerns are well-sorted, mliswilltravel.

” I would rather be a maggot in the suppurating carcass of an insane mule than be that man Parkerson.” From Empire of Sin, p 148. This is the kind of low esteem garnered by a bluestocking, law and order Mr. Parkerson (who himself had led a lynching—in a good cause, of course) in turn of the 20th Century New Orleans. The context is too much to explain here, but just pick up the book and give it a read, please.

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