Bildungsromans

Here we have one of the most impenetrable cataloguing words available. I mean, I know it’s not strictly a cataloguing word, but it is not a word I have encountered anywhere else in my life. 

Defined as “apprenticeship” or “coming of age” stories, usually fiction, the origination this form is commonly attributed to Goethe (according to Wikipedia), which is kind of appropriate I guess. At least, I’m only marginally ashamed to say I’ve never read any Goethe, but the very name just seems to suggest that he might have created a literary genre with such a cumbersome moniker.

In any case, we do not use this term in our library catalogue, but defer to the simpler Coming of age–Fiction. I’m all for young library users understanding stuff without having to have it dumbed down for them, but there are limits.

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Living with a wild god

Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever's Search for the Truth about EverythingLiving with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever’s Search for the Truth about Everything by Barbara Ehrenreich

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I picked this one up because I am a fan of Ehrenreich’s other work, and because since I was younger I’ve had an abiding interest in religious experience, particularly “alternative” religious experience. I don’t have much use for fanaticism, from whatever part of the spectrum it originates. I wouldn’t call this work fanatical, exactly, though Ehrenreich’s early descriptions of her atheism are somewhat borderline. Perhaps this is just the enthusiasm of youth, as this book is based largely on a journal she kept when she was an adolescent. I have to say, for the first half of this, I had to almost force myself to go on with it. I was a little lost, much less interested in what she had to say than I wanted to be. I eventually had to look up the word “solipsism,” to make sure I had the meaning right, since it appears, in one form or another, several times on nearly every page of the early chapters. This is the story of one woman’s quest to find meaning, and to discover whether there really is a God, or whether “religious experience” is a real thing, and if she, in fact, had one (much to her apparent bewilderment). It’s a story that seesaws between classic or typical and utterly unique. I’m not sure which one, if either, it is. She has a scientific mind and background and training, and a family with a staunch adherence to atheism, so she would seem to be the last person to experience the mystical directly. But then she does, and it colours everything she thinks and does from that point forward (actually she is preoccupied with the metaphysical even before her encounter with God, but it certainly grows afterward). However, when I read it, after some buildup, I expected to be more wowed by it than I actually was. Perhaps this was intentional. I didn’t really get drawn into her story until later, when she enters the ’60s, becomes involved in anti-war activism and feminism, and begins to question her role in the scientific research community. That’s when the Barbara Ehrenreich I recognized from her earlier works emerged, and that’s when I got interested. She does kind of rush through this period, and the narrative is a little uneven that way, or maybe it just felt like she spent way more time describing her early adolescence because I wasn’t as captured by that part of the story. In any case, in this section she begins to explore some very interesting ideas about “spirituality” (a term she hates) and mental illness, and their possible linkages throughout history. Ehrenreich’s clear but descriptive style is terrific here, and kind of saved the story for me. If her writing wasn’t a joy to read, I’m afraid many of the ideas expressed here might not have come across to me so well. I’m happy I read this book, and I’m happy I’m finished reading it.

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Flip, flop and fly

I love my flip-flops. For years I couldn’t wear them because for whatever reason, I couldn’t find any that didn’t hurt the tender skin between my first and second toes. But now that I’m older, I guess my skin is thicker. Literally. So now I go around in flip-flops quite a bit during the summer. In fact, even when I’m doing chores around the house, particularly working in the kitchen, I like to wear my flip-flops.

When I was younger, I called them “thongs.” That was before the titular underpants became ubiquitous, and now I can’t use that word without thinking of that little lacy string that appears above the waistline of some women’s pants, usually at inappropriate moments. According to Wikipedia, these shoes are also known as jandals, pluggers, go-aheads, slaps, slides,step-ins, and chankla, among others (most of which, incidentally, I’ve never heard).

When I first thought of putting something about this beloved footwear on my blog, my question was going to be, “who invented the flip-flop?” But of course, because they are among the simplest possible garments, along with loincloths and cloaks, they have been around forever, and their invention couldn’t possibly be attributed to a single person, or even a culture.

The CBC radio program Head to Toe recently aired an episode in which the host asked people whether flip-flops are appropriate work attire. Sadly, as a librarian, even a solo cataloguer such as myself, I do not think flip-flops are appropriate footwear for my workplace. I do wear an open-toed sandal when the weather allows, but not my favourite bright blue rubber variety.

 

flip-flops

Reading and eReading

I have seen this post a number of times, on Grammarly and other places, a photo someone took of her/his mother using a Kindle eReader as a bookmark. Sadly, my wordpress newbie-ism is showing and i can’t figure out how display the photo to this post. So you’ll just have to follow the link. Or show me how to embed the photo here.

In any case, I realized I have something similar going on in my own life, although rather than using the device as a bookmark, it simply has a place in the ever-growing pile of analog reading material on my bedside table (mostly library books).

To wit:

bookpile

Twitter update

If I could apply one adjective to my personal usage of Twitter it would be “inadequate.” I follow almost the same number of tweeters as tweets I have made (in the 70 range at the moment) and I have about 5 followers, about half of whom are related to me. My boyfriend and I talked about Twitter the other day, and he observed that Twitter seems to be mostly for celebrities and people who enjoy celebrity culture. I wasn’t sure I agreed with that, since I think of the 70-odd tweeters I follow, only about a handful are celebrities in the pop-culture sense. Most of them are library-related sites. But, today, I followed my first “real” celebrity, and it is Mayim Bialik, whose Twitter handle, in case you’re interested and too lazy to Google it, is @missmayim. I consider her to be kind of a celebrity anomaly, since at least half of her brain is clearly occupied by things other than what is going on in Hollywood, and in fact her Hollywood career, while perfectly successful at the moment and for quite a few years now, seems like it could almost have been her back-up plan. Also her name is the Hebrew word for Water, which I think is really cool. Anyway here is a link to her website, as well.

Phooey Dewey, Part II

Here’s another one I encountered recently. Anxiety. Books about anxiety can be classed in a couple different places. 152.46 is for anxiety disorders (emotions), while 616.85/22 is for anxiety (mental disorders or illness). In my mind, this is a pretty fine line. I suppose in some cases the distinction may be obvious with a fairly cursory glance, but other times it may require a longer look at the item in hand to determine its true nature. As a solo cataloguer, I usually don’t have that kind of time.

Phooey Dewey, Part I

Here is the Dewey Dilemma I encountered a week or so ago. I had to make a distinction between 914-919 (Geography & Travel) and 940-990 (History). Simple, right? Well, what about when a book about a country contains what appears to be equal measure of descriptive travel/geography information and historical information? Instinct tells me to go to our existing collection and find similar materials and see where they’ve been classified in the past. So I did that, and of course, there are books classed in both areas. Eventually I put the book in hand in 940-990, because those numbers are more commonly used, and in our collection the rule has generally been that we put things there unless they are pure geography, or “Canada in Pictures” -type works. So that’s how I figured out that one.