Saturday, January 2, 2010

Reflecting on 2009 (in books)

One of the main reasons I detested 2009, being unemployed (months 7-14), was also the reason I was able to read a lot. Early in the year I managed to read Anna Karenina and Infinite Jest, two rather large books that I may not have read had I been working. One of these books, Infinite Jest, found it's rightful place in my mental list of favorite books of all time (FBOAT!).

In recent years I had been reading fiction almost exclusively and felt that I needed to break this habit. So when I started reading in 2009 I was determined to read more non-fiction. As the year drew to a close I found I had read 14 non-fiction titles (or approx. 23% of what I read). This was a major improvement of a previous ratio of 1 in 50. I have recently been writing down book titles and author names while listening to the magnificent Radio Lab and expect a stronger non-fiction showing in 2010.

My only reading regret is that I may have been too numbers focused and fear that I have read many of the books too quickly. I can only recall bits and pieces of plots and characters for many of the books I have read this year. 2010 will be the year I slow down and try to read more closely. At the same time I plan to read some of the larger novels I have skipped or have started and stopped numerous times (Yeah, I am talking about you Joyce).

So here is a list of books I read in 2009 with some of my favorites in bold:

**Birds of America: Stories – Lorrie Moore **
Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell
Adland: Searching for the Meaning of Life on a Branded Planet – James P. Othmer
Zeitoun – Dave Eggers
Fables – Aesop
** The Elegance of the Hedgehog – Muriel Barbery **
A Confederate General from Big Sur – Richard Brautigan
Dreaming of Babylon – Richard Brautigan
** The Hawkline Monster – Richard Brautigan **
Kitchen – Banana Yoshimoto
** The Devil in the White City – Erik Larson **
The Code of the Woosters – P.G. Wodehouse
Ubik – Philip K. Dick
Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
** Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov **
** Let the Great World Spin – Colum McCann **
Sputnik Sweetheart – Haruki Murakami
How to Be Good – Nick Hornby
The Death of Ahasuerus – Pär Lagerkvist
Pilgrim at Sea – Pär Lagerkvist
The Holy Land – Pär Lagerkvist
The Unlikely Disciple – Kevin Roose
Born on a Blue Day – Daniel Tammet
Homer and Langley: A Novel – E.L. Doctorow
Thousand Cranes – Yasunari Kawabata
The Man in the High Castle – Philip K. Dick
Thomas Jefferson: Author of America – Christopher Hitchens
Farewell, My Subaru: An Epic Adventure in Local Living – Doug Fine
In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto – Michael Pollan
Sappho: Poems and Fragments – Stanley Lombardo
Sixty-Nine – Ryu Murakami
In the Miso Soup – Ryu Murakami
Trout Fishing in America – Richard Brautigan
The Pill versus the Springhill Mine Disaster – Richard Brautigan
In Watermelon Sugar – Richard Brautigan
An Unfortunate Woman: A Journey – Richard Brautigan
The Big Sleep – Raymond Chandler
A Scanner Darkly – Philip K. Dick
The Easter Parade – Richard Yates
The Sportswriter – Richard Ford
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Philip K. Dick
** Infinite Jest: A Novel – David Foster Wallace **
The Road – Cormac McCarthy
The Art of Teaching – Jay Parini
Gourmet Rhapsody – Muriel Barbery
The Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell
Tree of Smoke: A Novel – Denis Johnson
How Proust Can Change Your Life: Not a Novel – Alain de Botton
Eats, Shoots & Leaves – Lynne Truss
This One Is Mine: A Novel – Maria Semple
How to Be Alone: Essays – Jonathan Franzen
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running – Haruki Murakami
Piercing – Ryu Murakami
Armageddon in Retrospect – Kurt Vonnegut
The Game-Players of Titan – Philip K. Dick
Galapagos – Kurt Vonnegut
Jailbird – Kurt Vonnegut
Invitation to a Beheading – Vladimir Nabokov
The Dharma Bums – Jack Kerouac
Wittgenstein's Mistress – David Markson

If you have made it this far and are interested in reading my poorly written reviews you can jump on over to my Goodreads profile.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Changing the library space.

Since starting at Potsdam I have been consumed with making the library a better environment for users to work in. Luckily for me I quickly found a like minded co-worker in Keith that would entertain most of my crazy ideas and even provide some crazy ideas of his own.

Most recently in an effort to both spruce up and increase traffic to our basement study area Keith suggested we hold an event that allows students to Graffiti the walls in our stairwells. It seemed like a crazy idea, but what was the worst that could happen? We could simply repaint the stairwell in the event of disaster.

The pieces soon fell into place, our director got on-board, and we found a latex based spray-paint that met the campus' safety requirements and the fire marshal's fire spread requirement.

The project was a success, one participant mentioned that it was the coolest thing the college had done in his three plus years as a student. The project also created a buzz on campus, generated attention for the library and made the stairwell more attractive.

A radical idea with a measured risk can have tremendous results.




Graffiti the Library 2009!

Graffiti the Library 2009!

Graffiti the Library 2009!


Graffiti the Library 2009!

Graffiti the Library 2009!

Graffiti the Library 2009!

Graffiti the Library 2009!

Check out more pics of the stairwell on our library's Flickr page