Thursday, May 23, 2013

Fulfilling My Part in the Third Decree

A couple of days ago I posted my third decree of  "If I were King of the Library" which you can read here, or just scroll your way down. Briefly it decreed that each library worker gets to pick five items for all time, copies of which are kept in circulation forever in a special library within a library. There is more detail if you'll venture to that post, but I bring it up here only to say that I have picked my five choices. I may refine it a bit before it's all finalized and locked in, but this is my list. It's numbered because I really like numbering things, but it's not in any order or anything. And remember, it won't be a list of my most recommended items, rather one of slightly more obscured or downright vulnerable recommended items. And yes, I love them all.

King of the Schnorrers by Israel Zangwill
I practically created this whole decree so I could choose this book about a master beggar. I consider it foundational to all of modern comedy. Super entertaining too. And it is on the edge of disappearing.

On the Beach (a CD) by Neil Young
It's a little odd to me because Neil Young is not remotely in danger of being forgotten. But this album strangely seems to fall so far into the lower ranks of his canon that it feels half lost. It is my absolute favorite of all his albums. I'm not sure there is any guitar playing I have liked better anywhere and it is all fantastically depressing, ferocious, and lovely.

Fishwhistle by Daniel Pinkwater
I strongly considered here his The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death, but my feeling is that Fishwhistle was gravely under appreciated from the start, and is more particular and more on the cultural precipice. These are some of my very favorite short, comic memoir essays ever.

Summerhill, A Radical Approach to Child Rearing by A. S. Neill
Here is everything I needed to know about freedom. Summerhill is still the only kind of school I really believe in and the philosophy of my Library Kingship owes much to Summerhill. Is it disappearing? We don't have it, and I would throw every single book in our whole system related to education under the bus for three copies of Summerhill. I might even like doing it.

The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
I struggled mightily with my fifth choice, but now that I have chosen I feel even more solid about it than many of the other choices. For one, I really needed a woman author. Really. Seriously. Two, I needed a romance because romance saved my life, plus, awww, love. And three, I just so unreservedly and uncomplicatedly love it. It's just purely a joy to me to read.

What would you choose? Now is the time to comment. C'mon, at least just give me one. We have a library to fill!


  1. Great post! A little intimidating to follow. I'm going to think on it for awhile before I come up with my choice or choices.

    1. Thanks. Thinking about it is probably a good idea as I am already torn by misgivings and reconsiderations. Do come back and leave a choice or five though.

  2. Most of the books I would want to protect are ones that I think the library will always stock, but anyway...

    The Barchester Chronicles by Anthony Trollope: So sweet and heartfelt, innocent and entertaining. England back when everyone believed in God.
    Maus I & II by Art Speigelman. The first mainstream graphic novel and a story that needed to be told.
    The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. Highly entertaining, with the most complex and fascinating villain ever.
    The Secret History by Donna Tartt. Loved it and could see it being lost.
    Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand. Just excellent. Non-fiction, but so compelling, so well written.

    P.S. King of the Schnorrers is available in the Amazon Kindle Store for $5.94, and I got Fishwhistle for $2.99! Thanks for the recommendations. I'm kinda scared to buy K of the S. Don't know why.

  3. Funny you should mention Trollope... anyway, I am delighted you added your list and will immediately buy 5 of each for the metaphorical (hypothetical?) library within the library. Plus you get to pick another one in a year!
    I am starting to feel I should give The Barchester Chronicles a go. It's a bit intimidating though, all those thousands of pages. Is this how people feel when faced with another of my blog posts running into the multiple paragraphs and having no pictures?
    And I swear King of the Schnorrers is a pussycat. It's actually free online at project gutenberg.

  4. Oh, yeah! I have the Magic Catalog on my Kindle and can easily download all the books in the public domain from Project Gutenberg to my device. Thanks! I'll get it today.

    I know that Trollope looks intimidating, but once you get started, you won't want it to end. He builds a whole world, and you keep running into people you know as you read through the different books. And you get so wrapped up in the characters' dilemmas that it's hard to stop reading.

    1. Okay, leery of this sort of commitment I will bravely go ahead and say at some point this summer I will undertake to read The Warden is it? After all, you pretty much go ahead and read or try most things I mention. Do you really read that much? A friend at my job reads so many books like that it never ceases to amaze me. I think I read that much in a way, but not books, I mean not whole books, just pieces of things everywhere. I think I have a blog post coming about that.

  5. If I didn't already love this blog, I would now solely for your inclusion of Blue Sword on your list. McKinley is one of my favorite authors.

    The book that I always try to "save" from weeding is Quest for a Maid by Frances Mary Hendry. It is an upper juvenile/lower YA historical novel set in medieval Scotland. It is decidedly obscure. Highly underappreciated. And has been my favorite book since I was nine.

    Please order to save something from the dusty book weeding list it has to be checked out. I feel it is cheating if I check it out myself. So instead I sneak it into book talks like a ninja. If I can convince 1 person a year to check it out, it is safe!

    1. Thank you for your nice and kind comment. Really liked Chalice and Knot in the Grain and some others a lot, but Blue Sword is so much the one for me. I requested Quest for a Maid from interlibrary loan. I am all ready to read it. I have heard that about the check out once a year which I guess is partly what my dream of the staff library is addressing, all that recommendation and saving all in one. Anyway, I'll add Quest to the secret library list and if some library board somewhere goes on a vision quest and appoints me King five copies will be immediately acquired!


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