books I currently have checked out from my school library

Confessions of an English opium-eater, Sir Thomas de Quincy
Smoke : a global history of smokin
Hildegard of Bingen’s book of divine works with letters and songs
Holy feast and holy fast : the religious significance of food to medieval women, Caroline Walker Bynum
The golden legend : readings on the saints, vols. 1 and 2, Jacobus de Voragine
Psyche and symbol : a selection from the writings of C.G. Jung
Time’s arrow : or The nature of the offense, Martin Amis
The Puttermesser papers, Cynthia Ozick
The collected poems of Ted Berrigan
The flowers of evil, Charles Baudelaire ; translated by Keith Waldrop
Phantoms in the brain : probing the mysteries of the human mind, V.S. Ramachandran
The location of culture, Homi K. Bhadha*
Morality play, Barry Unsworth
The book of disquietude, Fernando Pessoa
Shakespearean negotiations : the circulation of social energy in Renaissance England, / Stephen Greenblatt
Berryman’s Shakespeare, John Berryman
The Dehumanization of Art, Jose Ortega y Gasset
Jesus as mother : studies in the spirituality of the High Middle Age, Caroline Walker Bynum.

I am charmed by the thought that a stranger could probably get to know me quite well just by periodically checking the list of books I have out from the library. This list alone tells you almost every single important thing you need to know about my life right now! Namely, that all I do is chainsmoke furiously while memorizing bits of Shakespeare and agonizing about the nature of art. And that I am rabidly interested in women saints and mystics at the moment. I always sort of hope that the librarians or the government are spying on my records. What wonderful psychological slices of my mind such lists are! I worry enough about identity and whether or not my own has any sort of common thread or consistency that I am pleased by things that seem to bring together a cohesive (if narrow) sense of me-ness. I like to think that if a friend stumbled across this list they would recognize it immediately as mine.

*I’m a little worried about this one. I have no recognition of the title and absolutely no memory of seeking this book out, much less bringing it home. I had to look it up on Amazon just to figure out what it is, and while it does sound like the sort of thing that I might seek out if I read an article of the author’s that sparked interest in my head, I remember no such experience, and I don’t see the book anywhere in my immediate environment. Maybe it was accidentally checked out on my card?? I should try to figure out if I actually have it or not. I’m not sure what would be more troubling — bookish amnesia, or someone accidentally (or — horrors! — purposively) checking it out under my name? Hmmm…

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~ by Not Alice on October 20, 2007.

4 Responses to “books I currently have checked out from my school library”

  1. HOLY SHIT! You are a MUCH braver woman than I! There’s no WAY I’d be responsible for keeping track of all those books – all those books that belong to someone ELSE! I’m getting a little heebie just thinking of it!

    Have you made it through Time’s Arrow? I’m wondering if it should be our next book club read….

  2. Hah, this is a REALLY low amount of books that I have out right now! Usually I have closer to 40 out from my school library at any given time! I’ve got really bad library habits, actually — my mom is a librarian, so I spent my childhood and youth with the knowledge that I had absolutely no consequences with library books, no late fines or limits. One of these days I’m going to start using a library that fines and then I’ll be totally fucked — I’m sort of incapable of remembering to turn them in on time. My school lets me renew my books through their website, which is great.

    I check out so many that the end of the semester is a grand scrabble to find them all, but I’m pretty good about keeping all of my library books in one massive, teetering pile by my bed, so I don’t much worry about accidentally mixing them in with my own (massive amounts of) books.

    Time’s Arrow — I was only about five pages in before I lent it to a friend. A friend who doesn’t attend my school. I know, I know — not only do I check out scads of books, but I actually go so far as to lend them out! I just gave it to her last night, and she promises to get it back to me by monday. I left it with her for an hour (she was stranded without a book and I, of course, had about five on my person) and of course after she’d started reading it I couldn’t take it away. It’s pretty interesting so far; I was sort of loathe to give it away because I was just getting hooked myself. I somewhat liked Amis’s new book, House of Meetings, which I read this summer, but I get a sense of him as a very grim author — Time’s Arrow is a Nazi book. I’m going to be reading it as soon as I get it back. I’ve heard a lot about it, lots of discussions on whether it’s actually a good book or not or if it’s just a really interesting technical experience. I’d say it’s definitely a candidate!

    My other suggestions based purely on things I’ve got in my immediately pending stack or want to add to it: something by Edwidge Danticat, who is a really good (but naturally devastating) Haitian writer; Barry Unsworth, who I’m reading a bit of now and finding a pretty good historical novelist; Cynthia Ozick just because I looooove her so much right now but haven’t read more than one example of her fiction; something by Carson McCullers (DEVASTATING but so good — I loooove southern gothic types of books); or maybe an African author, Coetzee or Assia Djebar (I’ve read quite a bit of Coetzee and having Waiting for the Barbarians in my stack for a class — never sure if I actually like him or not, but he’s very readable and ripe for discussion, and his books aren’t epically long or anything — and Djebar is supposed to be astounding, though perhaps difficult to find in non-academic libraries). Or, in celebration of her just having won the Nobel, and because I haven’t read her books and of course want to, something by Doris Lessing?

  3. Great list. If I were in Government, I’d watch you very closely:)
    I’ve only read Amis, Baudelaire and Pessoa of that list. But Confessions of an English opium-eater sounds interesting.

  4. Confessions of an English Opium-Eater is interesting — I’d recommend it if you have any sort of interest in old books by addicts. Also good: Jean Cocteau’s book about opium, which, while hugely repetitive, also has some really wonderful observations about art and life and the romanticization of the role drugs can play in an artist’s life. Also, it includes the drawings Cocteau made while in recovery, which are almost better than the book.

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