December TBR

Eventually I’ll get around to doing an monthly TBR wrap-up.

E v e n t u a l l y . . .

Anywho – these are the books that I intend on reading this fine freezing cold month of December!

Graphic Novels

Old Man Logan Vol. 0

Enter the Wastelands: a Battleworld realm where heroes have been wiped out and villains rule with an iron fist. In the midst of this dystopian chaos, one man may make a difference. A reluctant warrior who was once the greatest mutant of all. A man known as Old Man Logan. Never before has the former Wolverine been needed as much as he is now, but even the best there was at what he did may be outmatched by the evil lurking in nearby realms! Now, Logan must battle the horrors of mutantkind unleashed, the sins of genocidal machines and the rampaging hordes of the undead. And as Logan traverses Battleworld and learns its secrets, he must face the patchwork planet’s thundering police force! He may be old, but Logan’s job is far from finished.

 

Another one of those graphic novels that a patron recommended to me. Wolverine/Logan is one of those characters who I grew to love through the X-Men movies. I was never a big fan of him in the cartoons, but there’s just something about the way in which Hugh Jackman brought him to life that worked for me. I’m hoping that the comic book version of Wolverine will be more live-actionish than cartoonish – if that makes any sense.

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FICTION

Ajax Penumbra 1969

San Francisco, 1969.
The summer of drugs, music, and a new age dawning. A young, earnest Ajax Penumbra has been given his first assignment as a Junior Acquisitions Officer – to find the single surviving copy of the Techne Tycheon, a mysterious volume that has brought and lost a great fortune to anyone who has owned it. After a few weeks of rigorous hunting, Penumbra feels no closer to his goal than when he started. But late one night, after another day of dispiriting dead ends, he stumbles upon a 24-hour bookstore and the possibilities before him expand exponentially. With the help of his friend’s homemade computer, an ancient map, and the vast shelves of the 24-hour bookstore, Ajax Penumbra might just find what he’s seeking…

 

loved Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore so you best believe I was super hyped when I saw this land on my shelving cart at work. Needless to say, it was an instant checkout moment. I can’t wait to read about the bookstore was like pre-Penumbra.

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How to Find Love in a Bookshop

Nightingale Books, nestled on the main street in an idyllic little village, is a dream come true for book lovers–a cozy haven and welcoming getaway for the literary-minded locals. But owner Emilia Nightingale is struggling to keep the shop open after her beloved father’s death, and the temptation to sell is getting stronger. The property developers are circling, yet Emilia’s loyal customers have become like family, and she can’t imagine breaking the promise she made to her father to keep the store alive.
There’s Sarah, owner of the stately Peasebrook Manor, who has used the bookshop as an escape in the past few years, but it now seems there’s a very specific reason for all those frequent visits. Next is roguish Jackson, who, after making a complete mess of his marriage, now looks to Emilia for advice on books for the son he misses so much. And the forever shy Thomasina, who runs a pop-up restaurant for two in her tiny cottage–she has a crush on a man she met in the cookbook section, but can hardly dream of working up the courage to admit her true feelings.
Enter the world of Nightingale Books for a serving of romance, long-held secrets, and unexpected hopes for the future–and not just within the pages on the shelves. How to Find Love in a Bookshop is the delightful story of Emilia, the unforgettable cast of customers whose lives she has touched, and the books they all cherish.

Hmm, are we potentially on a bookstore themed reading binge? Anywho, it’s always been a slightly unrealistic romance fantasy of mine to find love in a bookstore (or library) and this book just sounded like it presented a world in which I would very much like to live in.

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NON-FICTION

The Shirley Letters

The Shirley Letters, written from the mining camps in 1851 and 1852, are something valuable and rare — a portrait by a woman of an era dominated by men. They offer a vivid picture of gold rush life, from accounts of murders, fearful accidents, bloody deaths, a mob, whippings, a hanging, an attempt at suicide, and a fatal duel to bars lined with that eternal crimson calico which flushes the whole social life of the Golden State, and the rare and welcome luxury of oyster feasts. With the wild grandeur and awful magnificence of the Sierra as background, this classic account presents a picture of the gold rush that is at times humorous, at times empathetic, and always trustworthy.

 

This is SFPL’s On The Same Page selection for November/December and I’m trying to read as many of the OTSP selections as possible. It also helps that I’ve developed a slight obsession with Gold Rush-era Bay Area history. It sounds like a really awesome reading & I’m looking forward to delving into it!

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Red: The History of a Color

The color red has represented many things, from the life force and the divine to love, lust, and anger. Up through the Middle Ages, red held a place of privilege in the Western world. For many cultures, red was not just one color of many but rather the only color worthy enough to be used for social purposes. In some languages, the word for red was the same as the word for color. The first color developed for painting and dying, red became associated in antiquity with war, wealth, and power. In the medieval period, red held both religious significance, as the color of the blood of Christ and the fires of Hell, and secular meaning, as a symbol of love, glory, and beauty. Yet during the Protestant Reformation, red began to decline in status. Viewed as indecent and immoral and linked to luxury and the excesses of the Catholic Church, red fell out of favor. After the French Revolution, red gained new respect as the color of progressive movements and radical left-wing politics.

In this beautifully illustrated book, Michel Pastoureau, the acclaimed author of Blue, Black, and Green, now masterfully navigates centuries of symbolism and complex meanings to present the fascinating and sometimes controversial history of the color red. Pastoureau illuminates red’s evolution through a diverse selection of captivating images, including the cave paintings of Lascaux, the works of Renaissance masters, and the modern paintings and stained glass of Mark Rothko and Josef Albers.

This book literally fell on my foot at work. I was minding my own business, shelving reserves and this book just took a nose-dive off the shelf right onto my foot. Of course, I had to know what this monster of a book was and when I read the first half of the synopsis I knew that I had to request it for myself. Plus, it just seems fitting to read a book about the color red during December.

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& that’s all folks

That brings to a close my December TBR. It seems like a lot, but honestly, it’s not that bad. Classes are over December 11th which means I’ll have a ton of time to conquer my TBR and to work on some more bookish content for you guys! Let me know what you plan on reading this month or if you’ve read any of the above mentioned books!

Hope you have a wonderful day & read a wonderful book,
Rae

 


*I receive a 5% commission from all books purchased through my Book Depository affiliate link.

Book Review || Alice: Memoirs of a Barbary Coast Prostitute

Why I Picked This Book Up:

Alice: Memoirs of a Barbary Coast Prostitute

I’ve always been interested in how prostitution has evolved and developed over time and how prostitutes view themselves and are viewed by others. I’ve also always been interested in San Francisco / Bay Area history during the Gold Rush and up until the end of World War II. Essentially, this book sounded like (and was!) an amazing combination of both of those interests which is exactly why I checked it out.

SYNOPSIS

In 1913 the San Francisco Bulletin published a serialized, ghostwritten memoir of a prostitute who went by the moniker Alice Smith. “A Voice from the Underworld” detailed Alice’s humble Midwestern upbringing and her struggle to find aboveboard work, and candidly related the harrowing events she endured after entering “the life.” While prostitute narratives had been published before, never had they been as frank in their discussion of the underworld, including topics such as abortion, police corruption, and the unwritten laws of the brothel. Throughout the series, Alice strongly criticized the society that failed her and so many other women, but, just as acutely, she longed to be welcomed back from the margins. The response to Alice’s story was unprecedented: four thousand letters poured into the Bulletin, many of which were written by other prostitutes ready to share their own stories; and it inspired what may have been the first sex worker rights protest in modern history.

For the first time in print since 1913, Alice: Memoirs of a Barbary Coast Prostitute presents the memoirs of Alice Smith and a selection of letters responding to her story. An introduction contextualizes “A Voice from the Underworld” amid Progressive Era sensationalistic journalism and shifting ideas of gender roles, and reveals themes in Alice’s story that extend to issues facing sex workers today.

REVIEW

★★Research | ★★Writing Style |★Format
(in case you’re wondering: ✮ = 1/2 star)

THE FANTASTIC

Lemme just start by saying that this book was absolutely amazing. I honestly do not have a single complaint at all!

The research was nicely done. Anderson and Angus definitely did some diving into the history of San Francisco’s Barbary Coast district, the San Francisco Bulletin, and the role that editor Fremont Older played in the exposure of criminal activity, political corruption, and prostitution in post-Gold Rush era San Francisco. I enjoyed that the editors also briefly discussed how and where they found their sources. There was a lot of utilization of San Francisco Public Library’s microfilm collection along with the History Center and it was nice reading about how they pieced everything together. An even bigger bonus was the wonderfully formatted bibliography – I’m a sucker for a nicely formatted bibliography.

Rating the writing style of this book was slightly tricky for me. I didn’t know if I should rate Anderson and Angus’ writing separately from Alice’s or if I should rate them together. In the long run, I decided that I should just rate them together. The introduction is of course written by the editors and they did a fantastic job. They introduced new ideas and the history of the era with fluidity and everything was explained clearly and concisely. The rest of the book was written by Alice Smith, or at least Alice Smith telling her story to an unknown ghostwriter. I will say that for or a serialized memoir published in 1913, Alice’s life story is told with amazing emotional depth. I don’t know how much was the work of the editors, but her memoir reads as if it could have been written in recent years. It’s absolutely amazing and the themes Alice discusses are still relevant to this day.

And lastly, the formatting of this book was very well done. I tip my imaginary hat off to Anderson and Angus for the way in which they chose to present this book. The introduction provides context for Alice’s memoir which is broken up into four parts and between each part there are a few of the letters written to the editor. It all just flowed very nicely and created a very smooth reading experience.

Final Thoughts & Recommendations

Obviously, I really enjoyed reading this book. I have an incredibly soft spot in my heart for sex-workers and for the people who choose to pursue that line of work. It’s something that I’ve had experience with and, for me, there’s a very therapeutic quality to reading about how other women maintained or coped with the lifestyle.

I would recommend this book to people are who are;

  • interested in San Francisco history; specifically the Barbary Coast district
  • fans of memoirs
    &
  • interested in the lives of sex workers

It really is a fantastic read!

Hope you have a wonderful day & read a wonderful book,
Rae

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*I receive a 5% commission from all books purchased through my Book Depository affiliate link.