Thursday, September 28, 2017

Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life by Yiyun Li

Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your LifeDear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life by Yiyun Li
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Today I awoke eager to read more of the Yiyun Li memoir, Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life. Pondering her life and rich literary history, her teachers, her mentors, the books she wrote and read that mattered to her, she also circles back to her two suicide attempts and experience with depression. She talks of memory and time. as well as transitions ordered by a new language. Born in China which she left to go to college in Iowa, she writes in English. This is another moving memoir expanding my to-read list by a dozen or more titles. During the time she is unwell, she focuses on journals and letters: Tolstoy, Turgenev, Stefan Zweig, William Trevor, Katherine Mansfield. A cover blurb from Mary Gaitskill says it perfectly: "A must read for anyone trying to stay sane in a world that might be perceived as insane."

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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

My Reference Shelves

    My Reference Shelves (with thanks to Mark Lammers of for the idea)

    When I was in my mid-thirties, single and a bit lonely, living in a townhouse with a roommate who was not a reader, I was hired to work Sundays in a bookstore in Larkspur, CA. During the week, I had a regular job suitable to my marketing degree but this afternoon stint was my nirvana. We were allowed to read any book in the store as long as we treated it with care and took off the dust jacket. For Christmas, we got to choose one title as our gift. I chose The Complete Oscar Wilde. After a year or two, I threw caution to the wind and took a managerial position running a new Doubleday bookstore opening in San Rafael. A huge store of 5,000 square feet, much of the backlist was provided, but I had ample leeway to buy anything I thought would sell. And I could buy books at cost.  I went crazy, like the proverbial cat with catnip or chocoholic left in the sweet shop, I decided that this was the time to amass the reference collection of a lifetime. Even though I didn't speak German or Italian or Latin yet alone Kurdish, I knew I needed dictionaries in these languages. Every payday I brought home at least one of the books listed below. Then I married Michael,  a fellow bibliophile, and the collection expanded. When we knew we were moving back to Seattle, perhaps never to have access to books at cost again, we went into overdrive. Now, after years of service, one day they will have to go, be weeded and sent to a library sale.  We have Google.

Guide to Mexican Witchcraft
Spurred by a friend's interest in full moons south of the border, we used this for ritual ideas.
Webster's New Geographical Dictionary
A Child's Geography of the World (hillyer)
Once there was no Google and we looked up obscure lakes and islands and seas in these helpful tomes.

The Penguin Dictionary of Saints
Not for religious reasons, but for literary purposes, I was glad to have this at hand when a saint was referenced in a novel or poem.

Modern Proverbs and Proverbial Sayings
The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs
Who doesn't love a proverb? A picture is worth a thousand words. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Easy come,easy go.

Concise Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English: From a Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English by Eric Pa
New Dictionary of American Slang
The Slang Dictionary: Or, the vulgar words, street phrases, and "fast" expressions of high and low society :  Many with Their Etymology, and a Few with Their History Traced - Scholar's Choice Edition
Before there was an Urban Dictionary online, there were slang dictionaries you could sit and pore over to learn new words and weird associations. "Juke box or juke joint" is possibly from the Gullah word "juk" meaning infamous and disorderly, but scholars still research the word and attribute it to West African Wolof, Bahamian or Haitian, or even Scottish roots. See, how easy it is to get lost in etymology.

Oxford Companion to Classical Literature
This is a gem if you care about poetry or literature. It won't be weeded.
The World Treasury of Children's Literature 
The New Guide to Modern World Literature
Not objective at all, I delight in the author's strong opinions.
Benet's Reader's Encyclopedia Masterpieces of world literature
Was it Heathcliff who died? Or Mr. Rochester?
The Penguin Book of Infidelities
The Oxford Companion to American Literature
The Oxford Companion to English Literature
The Oxford Companion to American Literature
These were my bibliophilic favorites, lists of books and authors and characters and plots. My passions ebbed and flowed back and forth between these and the travel bibliographies and the cooking bibliographies like The Traveler's reading guide : ready-made reading lists for the armchair traveler.
The American Guide: A Source Book and Complete Travel Guide for the United States

Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques
The Remarkable Lives of 100 Women Artists (20th Century Women
Roman art and architecture
The Herder Dictionary of Symbols: Symbols from Art, Archaeology, Mythology, Literature, and Religion
You can't put this one down. Symbols indexed by shape.

Bartlett's Familiar Quotations : A Collection of Passages, Phrases, and Proverbs Traced to Their Sources in Ancient and Modern Literature
Macgill's Quotations in Context
Brush Up Your Shakespeare
Dictionary Travellers Quotations
The Oxford Book of Ages
Inquire Within or Three Thousand Seven Hundred Facts Worth Knowing
This very old book was a gift, tongue-in-cheek because I worked in library reference, but who could resist? A trivia addict's dream.

Schott's Original Miscellany 
New York Times Crossword Puzzle Dictionary by Tom Pulliam

Great Composers: Reviews and Bombardments by Bernard Shaw
The Lives of the Great Composers
The Encyclopedia of Jazz
New Kobbe's Complete Opera Book
The Grove Press Guide to the Blues on CD
"Rolling Stone" Jazz Record Guide
The NPR guide to building a classical CD collection

The New Biographical Dictionary of Film
Dark city : the lost world of film noir
Somewhere in the Night
The Film Encyclopedia
Movies, the Ultimate Insider's Guide

Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide
     Our is from the 90's. Internet headline reads "Ending After 45 Years – Internet Kills Iconic Print Paperback." With and, Leonard has crossed over online.

A Book of One's Own: People and Their Diaries

ABC for Book Collectors by John Carter

Uncommon Fruits & Vegetables : A Commonsense Guide
Fruit: A Connoisseur's Guide and Cookbook (Alan Davidson)
On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen
The New Food Lover's Companion by Sharon Tyler Herbst
Food Lover's Companion, The (Barron's Cooking Guide) 3rd Edition
The New Larousse Gastronomique: The Encyclopedia of Food, Wine & Cookery
Schott's Food and Drink Miscellany
Culinary Americana
Cookbooks Worth Collecting by Mary Barile
The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America: 2-Volume Set
Food:  A Culinary History from Antiquity to the Present by Jean-Louis Flandrin

Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable by Ivor H. Evans
The Classic Fairy Tales (Opie)
Aegean Mythology
Mythology, Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes by Edith Hamilton
An Exaltation of Larks by James Lipton

The Penguin Book of Infidelities by Stephen Brook
The Oxford Book of Death (Oxford Books of Prose & Verse)
Dead Ends: An Irreverent Field Guide to the Graves of the Famous (Plume)
Infidelity and death, Oxford has us covered.

Kurdish/Turkish French English Dictionary
The Random House Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged by Jess Stein
Cassell's Standard French Dictionary by Denis Girard
Langenscheidt's Shorter German-English, English-German Dictionary
 Portuguese-English Dictionary (English and Portuguese Edition) by James L. Taylor
Collins-Sansoni Italian Dictionary by Vladimiro Macchi
Langenscheidt New College German Dictionary: German-English - English German T… by Langenscheidt
Col Robert French Dict (English, French and French Edition) by Robert Le
Langenscheidt's Pocket Dictionary: Spanish-English / English-Spanish (Engl… by Langenscheidt
Cassell's New Latin Dictionary (Thumb-indexed) by D. P. Simpson
Random House American College Dictionary 
The American College Dictionary by Clarence editor Barnhart
The Little Oxford Dictionary
Merriam-Webster Dictionary (pocket paperback)
The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary, New 5th Edition (mass market, paperback) 2014 copyright
My mom played Scrabble regularly as did many friends. Now M and I play a couple times a week and update the dictionary with each new edition. We played daily on our rainy Mexican honeymoon and he never won. Now, he wins about one out of every three or four games and continues to improve. I do fine but stay the same, still forgetting if "le" is a word, or is it "te?" Le is not a word. Te is.

Roget's International Thesaurus 

Indian Herbology of North America
The American Horticultural Society Encyclopedia of Gardening
American Horticultural Society A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants
The Apples of New York 
      How my pomologist (apple-grower) spouse coveted this, and finally there it was in a stack in MacLeod's Book Store in Vancouver, BC. Money was no object. This was the bible.
      Speaking of bibles, I do have a couple of King James editions with my name imprinted by devout grandparents, almost new.

Trees of Seattle: The Complete Tree-Finder's Guide to the City's 740 Varieties
Book of Fresh Flowers: A Complete Guide to Selecting and Arranging
The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds: Western Region (Audubon Society Field Guide Series)
National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Rocks and Minerals (National Audubon Society Field Guides)
National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Night Sky (Audubon Society Field Guide Series)
The National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers: Western Region

These horticultural books and guides were heavily expanded during my gardening period which has now passed. I am not sure why, perhaps the knee replacements, perhaps the seduction was in planning not planting. The yard is stuffed with greenery, most of the exotics have passed on.

The New Encyclopaedia Britannica 15th Edition with Great Books
The 30-volume 1984 edition which we will still take out to do in-depth research. The last thing we sought was after a play about Alexander the Great and his teacher, Socrates. The Britannica info and the Great Books were exemplary resources.