Oct 12, 2010

In Which I Return

Hi all. Remember me?

Now that I’m more or less settled in and finally beginning to adjust to all the crazy changes the past month has brought to my life, I think I’m ready to start blogging again. I really can’t tell you how much I’ve missed all my blogging friends this past month, or how often I questioned the wisdom of depriving myself of my daily interaction with you all during a time of so much stress, novelty and isolation. If I ever forget how much blogging really adds to my life, thinking of the past month will surely remind me.

My time here has had its ups and downs so far, but I can happily report that library school has been very interesting so far, even if a bit different than I’d imagined. My first few assignments include writing essays on censorship, on Google, and on a children’s or YA work of my choice (Chaos Walking Trilogy, here I come). I think I’m going to have quite a bit of fun.

My local library
(My new local library. Could it possibly be any cuter?)

As I both feared and expected, not all has been quiet on the book acquiring front. The picture below shows my loot to date, and if that seems like a lot of books, well, that would be because it is. But I can’t tell you how many times I made use of huge amounts of self-restraint and walked away from a used bookshop or charity shop empty-handed. Then there was that one sad afternoon when I was in desperate need of book buying therapy and hauled home a total of twelve books… but let us not speak of that. On the bright side, some of those were actually free, as the International Society here hosted a welcome giveaway for international students. Wasn’t that lovely of them? My plunder included not only books, but also all sorts of useful household bits and bobs which I hadn’t even realised I needed yet.

My Book Pile of Shame
(My pile of shame - click to enlarge. In my defence, I have at least already read some of them.)

One of the highlights of my time here so far was visiting the Elizabeth Gaskell – A Connected Life exhibition at the John Rylands Library. A Connected Life is an exhibition of Gaskell’s letters, manuscripts, first editions, and personal objects (such as her passport, teapot or writing materials), and it’s part of the celebrations of the bicentenary of her birth. Interestingly enough, the structure of the exhibition was actually quite similar to the one I helped organise in my previous job, and having some knowledge of the kind of behinds the scene work that goes into something like this made the whole thing even more interesting.

Gaskell Display
(A Gaskell display at the library’s gift shop. Sadly - but understandably - we weren’t allowed to take photos of the exhibition itself, so this is all I have to show you.)

The exhibition included letters by Gaskell to eminent Victorians like Charles Dickens, and letters to her from the likes of Harriet Beecher Stowe or Elizabeth Barrett Browning (!!). There was something very intimate and even actually moving about seeing all these people’s handwriting; about seeing Gaskell’s everyday objects and getting a glimpse of how she lived her life. I suppose that more than anything else, it made me realise that all those people were once actually alive, that they were real human beings just like any of us (yes, cue in Professor Obvious). I find that in my relationship with my favourite authors, especially dead ones, I tend to somehow be both acutely aware of their humanity and to completely lose sight of it. It’s a strange mix of feelings, and seeing this exhibition stirred them all up.

Anyway: the exhibition was amazing, but so was the library itself. The John Rylands Library is an impressive, cathedral-like Victorian building founded by Enriqueta Augustina Rylands in memory of her husband, and my knees might have buckled when I first entered the historical reading room. Also, there was a smaller room with an exhibition on 3000 years of gay narratives – what’s not to love?

The wonderful John Rylands Library
(The John Rylands Library*)

Going back to Gaskell, I was talking to the lovely Iris on Twitter the other day, and she told me she’s going through a bit of a Gaskell obsession. I can tell you I feel one coming on myself, and I suspect she’s on her way to become one of my favourite Victorian authors. I hope to post my thoughts on North and South later this week, and if you look closely you’ll see a few of her other books in my acquisitions pile. I’m hoping to get to them very soon.

As you can probably tell, I really love my new city so far, even if it’s taking me a while to find my footing here. Other highlights to date include an arts festival in my neighbourhood where I finally got to see a Punch & Judy show, the many parks and public gardens, an exhibition celebrating the fifty years of Alan Garner’s The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, and the absolutely wonderful People’s History Museum (where I saw a fantastic exhibition on a hundred years of social protest). Also, there’s a literature festival coming up very soon: I found out about it too late to get tickets for Jeannette Winterson, but I’m going to an event featuring Miguelanxo Prado (a Spanish comics creator who did work for the Sandman, among many other things), and to another one about the Moomin stories, where Tove Jansson’s niece Sophia Jansson will be present. There’s always a lot going on here – more than I can keep up with, to be honest – and I look forward to telling you all about all sorts of bookish events in the future.

The lovely lovely park where I walk where I'm sad, always with good results.
(A park just down the street from my house, where I’m hoping to do some reading when the weather allows. Which is to say, for a few more weeks and then not until sometime next April.)

As I’m sure you’ll understand, my Google Reader is inevitably getting the Mark All as Read treatment, but I’d really love it if you told me about any good books you’ve read lately, or pointed me towards any posts that you think I’d enjoy reading (on your own blog or any others - and I mean it!). I can’t tell you how happy I am to be back, or how much I’m looking forward to catching up with you all.

*Not my own photo, as sadly my digital camera died on me and is currently being repaired. Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/49627256@N00/4481881764/


  1. yay you!!!!! I am so happy to read your wonderful thoughts and feelings and hear about your new live and town. You add so much my daily blog reading and your absence has been noticeable.

    I'm glad there's all kinds of fantastic things for you to do, all of which I envy!

  2. Yeah, I'm glad you are back. I'm jealous of that huge stack of books. I see Slamerkin in there which is on my tbr list. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts whenever you around to it!

  3. Ahhhh! I was actually going to comment on the Gaskell I saw in your acquisitions stack before I got to the part where you talk about her! I think I'd like her, but I haven't read anything by her yet. So I look forward to hearing about any future Gaskell tear you go on!

    Also: Love that I saw a couple Sayers in those stacks.

    Glad you're loving your new city; I totally understand it taking awhile to get your footing, though! Not sure I've fully gotten mine here yet, and I've been here more than a few months already.

    OK, this feels like a very rambly comment, much moreso than I usually write. But I think you'll be OK with that. :)

  4. Oh, a talk about the Moomins. They're everywhere here. And having made a Finnish friend I'm reminded of them constantly. I of course still need to read them.

    And I can't even begin to describe how jealous I am of the Gaskell exhibition. Especially with your description of the letters. I seriously considered flying over while reading this, but I don't think I have that kind of money.

    I loved this:
    "I find that in my relationship with my favourite authors, especially dead ones, I tend to somehow be both acutely aware of their humanity and to completely lose sight of it."
    I feel that way too, so often!

    And as for you library, it looks incredibly cute. I never thought I'd use that word for a library, but it is really the only fitting one.

    What does the purple, um, box with "a connected life" on the Gaskell gift shop contain? I'm curious. I'm also curious about all the other books displayed there, obviously!

    Um, sorry for the long comment. I'm just so glad that you're back1

  5. I'm so happy to see you back! You were missed. Your new home sounds lovely. You are right about your local library -- makes you want to go right in! I hope you get quite a few weeks to read in that park too. I'm picturing myself there right now :o)

    I don't have any particular posts to point out to you except for maybe "Un Lun Dun" by China Mieville -- did you read that one? It's my most recent post. My reading has mostly been for RIP V. I just LOVE the RIP challenge!

  6. I'm so glad to see you back and blogging! You have definitely been missed. Your new location looks great, certainly more active on the literary front than mine. That Gaskell exhibition looks fantastic, and I am a bit jealous that I can't go myself!

    Charity shops are ridiculously dangerous places to visit; I confine myself otherwise I may end up buying more books than I can carry home at the end of the day.

  7. My god, I am such a sap...I am sitting here with tears just streaming down my face. I can't even put into words quite why. They are happy tears, of course, because I'm just so damn glad you're back!!!!

    I so want to come live in your new city!!! :D It's not only just incredibly beautiful, but I just love its attitude. And I would learn sooooo much--oh, it just sounds so wonderful! Hmmm...wonder if they've got any opening for biology professors...

  8. Welcome back! Just in time for me to take my own six week break... sigh.

  9. So glad you're back! Love the photos. I'd wander in that park in any mood, it's beautiful.

  10. So very glad you're back and settled in to your new home. And I'm jealous you got to see that Gaskell exhibit (and of your library).

  11. Ana! I'm glad you're having a good time in Manchester as moving to a new place can be kind of scary, but good to see it's treating you well. You've seen some great sights already haven't you, how gorgeous that reading room looks. And the International Society sounds so nice to throw you a do and provide some essential things (I speak of books not of kitchenware). Great haul and lots of solid British authors in amongst the pile I see (yay The Little Stranger). Today I saw a book on Amy Reads that might be right up your alley called 'Annabel' by Kathleen Winter: http://amckiereads.wordpress.com/2010/10/11/review-annabel-by-kathleen-winter/ .

    Before you left for the UK I had a Tove Jansson present that I was going to send you (I'm afraid it's not my Moomin Papa mug but it is still very nice), but I kept it back because all your books were going into storage. Would you like it now, with a view to possibly getting it signed by her neice at the festival, or would you prefer to wait until next year so you don't have to lug it home?

  12. So glad to see you back! I agree, it does sound as if there is a lot going on over there, and I hope that you will get to experience your fill of book related events and exhibitions. I also see that you have a copy of Slammerkin in that pile, and am so excited to see it there! You are in for a treat with that book, and I am looking forward to hearing what you think of it. Actually, I am really looking forward to hearing about all of your books and bookish news. I have really missed you!

  13. Yay! It's lovely to have you back. I'm jealous of all of your new adventures and your new books and most especially your trip to the Gaskell exhibit. I look forward to your forthcoming posts on books and library school.

  14. Welcome back Ana! It is so good to hear that you are adjusting to your new life and that all is well. I look forward to more bookish posts in the future and hope you will continue to enjoy your time at school!

  15. Oooh, what lovely surroundings and wonderful places to visit! I am jealous. :) I'm glad you're enjoying your new city.

  16. Great to hear from you! I have much too much unfiltered choice in my reading now without your blogging! :--) Your new place looks lovely!

  17. Ana! I'm so happy to see this post from you and that I had a great time reading it!! Through your eloquent writing, I felt as if I was right there with you as you shared your thoughts/experiences with us.

    I'm also glad to hear that you're adjusting well to your new life. The library just looks wonderful, and that park seems like a great place for reading!

    I look forward to reading your forthcoming posts!! :D

  18. Welcome back! I lovelovelovelovelove your new library; it looks like it belongs in a Dorothy L. Sayers novel! (Speaking of which, I wasn't at all surprised to see Sayers in your stack of books).

  19. OMG YOU MOVED TO DIDSBURY!! (I recognized the library.)

    That's my favorite neighborhood in Manchester (I used to live in Rusholme.)

    Let me know if you need any advice or recommendations or anything... coming from Rusholme, I know where the best kebab is. ;)

  20. It sounds like school has kept you quite busy! It's good to have you back, Nymeth.

    The library sounds amazing. I am glad the Elizabeth Gaskell exhibit was a good one. I had one of her books in my TBR pile that I'm looking forward to reading one day.

  21. Great to hear from you, Ana! The Gaskell exhibit sounds amazing, wish I could see it. And yeah, that's basically the cutest library I've ever seen! Congratulations on settling in a bit :)

  22. I'm so glad you are back, Ana, and glad you are settling in to your new city. The John Rylands Library looks fantastic, as does the People's History Museum. I am happy and excited for you.

  23. Welcome back, Ana! I'm happy you are settled in your new city and moving about. You're right, your new library could not be any cuter.

  24. Welcome back...it's nice to hear that you're settling in!

  25. Welcome back! So glad you're settling in; your new surroundings look lovely - especially that cute little library :) Hope you are finding library school okay -- look forward to hearing how you do with it.

  26. Yay! Welcome back! Glad to hear you're settling in well in your new city. The library is adorable!

  27. Welcome back!! Sounds as though you are settling in wonderfully (such a gorgeous library & what a great "reading tree"). You have been missed. Terri is right: do read Un Lun Dun (and her review on same)--it's a wonderful book, even though it's not by Mrs. Gaskell ;)

    Take full advantage of your experience & post only when & if you wish. Have fun! :D

  28. Welcome back, Ana! I'm glad to hear you're more or less settled in your new corner of the world (for the time being, at least). Love your stash of books, love the library and love the author suggestion (Elizabeth Gaskell). So yes, you're back! The world is a much better place again :)

  29. I'm so happy to have you back! I don't think you've written a separate post for North and South so I'll say it here: I really dislike Gaskell, her way of justifying every good thing that her characters do with religion is seriously disturbing. I much prefer the BBC adaptation which completely got rid of this part and made Margaret a much stronger character. In the book I found out (and especially her mother) simply terrible. I can't remember if I finished it.

  30. Just to say it's lovely to hear from you and I hope you continue to settle in well. I remember when I lived in France it took me until Christmas to feel comfortable in my new land. I'm sure you'll do better than me! But it's perfectly normal to feel discombobulated at first - books help!!

  31. Welcome back!!!

    It's good to know you are having fun. The library is absolutely gorgeous.

  32. Wow, that library is amazing, I'd love to visit it one day myself!

    PS: I bet every one of us stopping by here get as many books as you have :)

  33. Welcome back! Who knew there was so much going on in Manchester. I lived just over the Pennines in Sheffield for four years and made the trip to Manchester quite regularly.

    Sounds like you have found lots of great things to do so far!


  34. That's a beautiful library, and I can't even tell you how envious I am of your seeing a real Punch and Judy show! And dude, do not feel guilty for buying books at charity shops. Even in the smallish town where I was living when I lived in England, there were just an unfair number of used book shops and charity shops with massive rows of bookshelves. I can only imagine how much worse (better?) the situation must be in a proper city.

  35. You're back - HURRAY!!! Seeing this post pop up in my google reader just made my day. Gorgeous photos... your new acquisitions made me smile.

  36. I'm so happy you're back! You've been missed. It's wonderful to see, well, just how wonderful things are going for you right now–what a beautiful place!

    As far as your pile of books, I recently read Caroline Stevermer's When the King Comes Home, so I'm interested to see what you make of her collaboration with Wrede.

  37. Welcome back!!! You've been missed, but it looks like you've been having a lot of fun settling in to your new city. The pictures look gorgeous. I can't wait to hear more from you :)

  38. Glad you're back! Wish I were there! Love the library and park pictures.

    As for the books, I've just finished The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters, but I don't think it's as good as Affinity, her other novel which I read last year.

  39. Oh yay, you're back!We missed you, Ana! Glad to hear you're settled in and that you love library school.

    That pile of shame, I want it! ;D Iris is really spreading the Gaskell obsession. I haven't read anything by her but now I'm desperate (and the stupid library doesn't have her works in English, but that's what the uni library is for I guess ;) ).

    Your library is amazingly cute really, must make browsing all the better!

    On the reading front, I'm currently working through The female malady (which I'm pretty sure you've read, where else would I have heard about it!? ;). Anyway, it's fantastic!

    Enjoy your new life and I'm looking forward to your posts!

  40. Hmm, it looks to me like at least a couple of those could certainly be counted as school-related acquisitions. So, they probably don't count for regular book acquisition karma. ;) Well, and really, depending on what kind of library work you're interested in, *all* books count as library work-related... I use this particular justification ALWAYS.

    Welcome back! Very glad you're settling in.

    ps. I really wish any libraries near me looked anything like yours. Wow.

  41. Oh welcome back Ana! You were very much missed and we're glad to have you back! I'm so glad to hear that you're doing well, even if some days are a bit lonely. I think a lot of us bibliophiles can probably understand--the tendency to be a little bit more introverted than extroverted makes things tough at times. You'll do fine, though--you shine such a bright light that people can't help but adore you. :)

    Your libraries look amazing. I might be a little bit jealous (or a lot!). And I hope you'll continue to share about your school work, etc. I'm a little bit of a voyeur when it comes to that kind of stuff--always wanting to know what everyone else is learning. :P

    Glad to have you back again!!!!!!

  42. Welcome back! You seem to be having a jolly good time!
    I'm afraid I didn't blog at all lately (but I'm trying to start anew -- New blog!) and read very little too... but I'm back to Portugal and, guess what, I'll probably be visiting your home town by the end of this month, too bad you won't be there!
    Enjoy yourself and enjoy library school, and we're all waiting to read your news!

  43. Amy: You really are too nice to me! It's great to be back - you all add a lot to my life as well, and I missed you tremendously.

    Linda: I'm hoping to get to Slamerskin before too long - but then again, I could say that about others on the pile :P

    WorldLily: You'll be happy to hear that one of the Sayers has already been read, and the other is lined up for very soon :P I'm sure it'll take me a while to feel completely at home here, but I'll just try to be patience. There's a lot that I enjoy already. Also, I am indeed more than okay with long (NOT rambly :P) comments!

    Iris: I so wish you could fly over for the Gaskell exhibition! You could stay with me of course. I'm sure you'd enjoy it every bit as much or even more than I did. Sadly the purple box is not really a box but just a leaflet for the exhibition! And yes, the books they had displayed there all looked so interesting. I'm dying to get my hands on Jenny Uglow's Gaskell biography in particular.

    Terri B: I'll make sure I go click to read your thoughts on Un Lun Dun! I read that one earlier this year and enjoyed it a lot!

    Meghan: I think confining myself will have to be my new strategy, yeah. It's just too dangerous to go out there :P

    Debi: You're not a sap! Or maybe we're both saps :P Either way, you know I love you anyway. PLEASE come and live here! I'm sure they DO need biology professors - if not, we could probably bribe one of the ones they already have to move elsewhere, and all would be well ;)

    Amanda: Wha? Six weeks break? What did I miss?

    SuziQOregon: Yes, isn't it? And it's always full of people walking their dogs, which also helps when I really miss mine.

    Avid Reader: Thank you! It's so good to be back :)

    Jodie: First of all, thank you in advance for the Tove Jansson present, which I'm sure is lovely :D I've decided not to worry too much about carrying all my stuff back for now - I'm sure the solution will involve having friends and family visit me before I return and carrying stuff back for me :P But anyway, as we're meeting next month there's no need for you to spend on postage; you can just bring it then! Also, many thanks for the link to Amy's review!

    Zibilee: It sounds like I really ought to read Slammerskin soon! I'll move it up the pile for sure. And aww, thank you! I've missed you as well!

    Jessica: Thank you so much! I look forward to telling you all about school and all my future bookish adventures.

    Kathleen: Thank you so much!

    Katy: Thank you! I really am - it seems a great place to live in so far.

    Jill: lol - I'll do my best to help with those choice issues ;)

  44. Everyone seems to be reading/talking Gaskell right now. I'm loving it!

    I just finished reading North and South for the first time and I can feel myself wanted to jump right back into other novels of hers that I read back in my first couple years of university. Sigh. So many book, so little time!

    Also wanted to say, I love seeing handwriting from authors, people from the past. It's so personal. I'm only sort of worried that we won't leave any handwriting behind, seeing as how we do everything online nowadays. I still keep a handwritten journal... :)

  45. So glad you're back! It sounds like you're going to be having a great time at school!

  46. Alright there stranger?! Good to see you back. :)

  47. Welcome back! I am drooling over your local library, your weather, and your library loot. I'm such an Anglophile, it sounds wonderful. Some great books on your stack, I hope you find time to read them all. And it sounds like you're enjoying library school so far. Good luck!

  48. Oooh how did I miss this post yesterday. I am so glad to hear that England is treating you well. It looks like you are having an amazing time and I am beginning to think that I live in the wrong part of the UK.
    The Tove Jansson event leaves me drooling. I can't wait to hear more about that. I love the library too, it is definitely very English.
    I couldn't help but laugh at your newly acquired book pile. Our charity shops are lethal!

  49. Oh, the return of you. I'm thrilled. I'm glad to hear that you have a great library nearby and enjoying your time. I laughed at your pile of books :) But as Vivienne said, the charity shops here are absolutely irresistible for great bargains!

  50. Welcome back, Ana! Glad to see that some green VMCs have already made it into your collection.

    I noticed the Manchester literary festival last week and thought of you. Enjoy! I am most envious of the Sophie Jansson event.

  51. YAY! Yay to everything - you being back, your amazing and gorgeous library, you being back, library school, you being back . . . :)

    So happy to hear everything is going well for you! Love your pile of shame, btw :)

  52. Yay yay yay yay! Welcome back!!!!

  53. I've missed you and I'm glad to see you're back!!

  54. Such exciting times! I love the pictures you shared. It all looks so quaint and ready to use. We're excited to have you sharing more. :)

  55. Wonder why I can't see the pictures??
    But hey, welcome back! :)

  56. Melody: Aw, thank you so much! It's so good to be 'talking' to you all again :D

    Memory: I hadn't thought of that, but it does look like something out of Sayers! I was lucky to find those books in a 3-for-£5 promotion. I've already read the first and must get to the second soon.

    Jennie: Ha ha, I wondered if anyone would recognise it :P My bus goes past Rusholme every day, but I've yet to venture on the Curry Mile. I'm REALLY unadventurous when it comes to trying new foods, but I think that living here is going to change that. Anyway, yes, Didsbury is really lovely :D Charlton is pretty awesome too - THAT was where the little "accident" with the twelve books happened :P

    Wendy: Thank you! It's good to be back. And I hope you'll enjoy Gaskell as much as I have.

    Emily Jane: Thank you! Like Iris was saying, I never thought I'd describe a library as "cute", but this one just begs for the word :P

    Gavin: Thank you! There's so much to see and do here - a very exciting place to live!

    Brenna: Thank you so much! And it really couldn't :) Going there always makes me happy.

    Jill: Thank you so much!

    Melanie: I'm enjoying school so far, though I prefer the classes that deal with ideas than the ones about the practical details of cataloguing, etc :P But as I always tell myself, it's part of the job, even if not the most fun part.

    Megan: Yes, isn't it? :D And thank you!

    ds: I'll do my best to have fun :D It's great to be back! As I was telling Terri, I've read Un Lun Dun before, but that only makes me want to read her thoughts all the more!

    Lightheaded: Aww, thank you so much :D

    Sybillee: You know, to my surprised I actually liked her approach to religion - I didn't know she was a Unitarian at the time I read the book, but when I found out at the exhibition it made sense. Personally I thought that her way of using it to justify people's actions was more on a surface level, and that at the end of the day, the characters were more motivated by simple human kindness and sympathy than by anything else. This is true of Higgins despite the fact that he leans towards agnosticism (and I say "despite" from a Victorian point of view - I myself don't think non-believers are any less likely to be kind people, of course!), just as much as it is of Margaret herself or of her dissident father. I really liked that scene where Higgins, Margaret and her father all kneel down together despite the differences in their beliefs, and the narrator tells us, "It did them no harm". Anyway, what I most appreciated was the fact that even though religion plays a large role in the book and in the character's lives, there was enough openness and tolerance that I didn't feel that I, as an atheist, would be unwelcome in the novel's universe, or that my worldview would be demonised by the narrative voice. This is a rare feeling for me, especially when reading older books, so it made for a nice change. It's too bad you never got to post about the book, because as you can tell by my long rambling reply I'd love to have a conversation about this :P

    litlove: Thank you so much! I've been trying to be patient and remind myself that these things take thing. But every week has been a little bit easier than the previous one, which is something!

    Violet: Thank you!

    EstrellaAzul: If you every make it to this corner of the world, I'd love to show you that library :P And yes, I know you all understand my book addiction ;)

    Marg: I never knew you'd lived near here! I have to admit I might be a bit biased when it comes to being impressed with how much there is going on here, because I come from a small town where absolutely nothing ever happens :P

  57. Looks like we all missed you. I read some books you had reviewed (most notably Tooth and Claw) and wanted to say "wow, you were right!"

    Don't you feel all intellectual and stuff when you have any business in a library that looks like the ones in your photos?

  58. Welcome back! And I'm glad you're settling in to your new city. And I naturally assumed the first thing you'd do would be to acquire some new books;) I'm not sure if you've read this but I finished The City & The City by China Mieville last month which I thought was brilliant.

  59. Welcome back, Ana! I'm so happy, so excited to see you again! *jumps up and down* I'm not kidding. Seriously.

    I really like the look of your local library. Very cute. And I'd love to read in the park too. And, and, and, look at your book acquisitions!

  60. Hooray! Welcome back! (Also, your pile of shame makes me feel better about my pile of shame, so there's some small comfort at least. Plus, there are quite a few books on there that are also on my TBR pile, and whichever Sorcery & Cecelia book you have - the first one? I can't tell because of the flash - I think you are absolutely going to love.)

    As for posts of mine that you've missed, I think you would really like the House of Mystery graphic novels. I've only read the first one so far, but it was really reminiscent of The Unwritten, with a hefty dose of Sandman rolled in, and is all about the power of stories:


    Glad to have you back!

  61. Hooray for the return of Ana! We missed you. That's a pretty nice pile. I love your new library. My new library is pretty great too -- I should post some pictures.

    New books... well, right now I'm reading Tamsin, which is turning out to be great, and i just finished listening to Fragile Things, which of course I adored. :)

  62. Those are two of the most lovely library photographs I've ever seen.

    Maybe it's because I'm a writer, but to me a library is the closest thing I have to a holy place.

  63. Glad you're back and glad you are settling in even if it has been a bit bumpy. The Gaskell exhibit sounds fantastic. And the Rylands library! Wow!

  64. Jenny: It is much worse! Or better :P I'll try to keep your words in mind and not feel guilty. I can always donate some of these back when I move again.

    JoAnn: Aw, thank you so much!

    Clare: Thank you! I'm very much looking forward to reading the Stervermer and Wrede book. I've been hearing about it for years, and I'm in the mood for regency stuff.

    Amy: And I can't wait to post more, and to find out what you all have been up to :D

    Alessandra: I've actually finished The Little Stranger recently as well! I'm not sure where I'd place it in my Sarah Waters scale, but I did love it a whole lot.

    Bina: lol, she really is. I hope I can help her convince you to try Gaskell soon :P I actually haven't read The Female Malady yet, but I might have mentioned it before, as that and all of Sholwater's other books are on my wishlist. I can't wait to hear what you think of it!

    Kiirstin: Yep, a couple are school-related, but more in a "my professor mentioned this in class and it sounded interesting" way than a required reading one. But hey, that still counts, right? Also, I love what you say about all books being library work-related... I'm going to start telling myself that ;)

    Trish: Thank you! I've only been back a little while but I've noticed you're around on Twitter more and blogging a bit more often as well, which needless to say makes me very happy :D Thank you for the encouragement - this week I talked to more people than I had in the previous two combined, so now I'm feeling a little more optimistic.

    Scribachina: What a pity that I won't be there! I'd so love to show you around. Make sure you visit 100ª Página, which is an absolutely lovely bookshop and café in the city centre. And almost across the road from it, you'll find the museum where I worked for a year :P Don't miss the lovely gardens!

    Jen: I love all the Gaskell talk as well! It's funny; I was offline for a long while and had no idea so many other people where reading her too. Also, I share your fears about the disappearance of handwriting... it makes me sad to think about.

    Belle: Thank you so much!

    Darren: So, when are you getting on the train and coming for tea and book browsing? :P

    Karen: The weather has been lovely these past few weeks, but somehow I don't think that's going to last. Ah well, at least the library says ;)

  65. Welcome back, Ana! The photos are lovely--I'm jealous of your stack of books and that cute library! I'm still an undergrad but I'm starting to look into library schools. I'm thinking I want to go to graduate school in England but the thought of being so far away from friends and family is a bit daunting. I'm looking forward to further posts about your experiences in school and in England! Maybe one of these days I'll start seriously looking into schools over there :) That cute little library provides ample incentive!

  66. Glad to have you back, Ana! Glad to know that you are having a wonderful time in your new city! The pictures you have posted are very beautiful! I love your library - looks so beautiful and cute! And 3000 years of gay literature - that is awesome! The park near your home looks beautiful and seems to be a wonderful place to read!

    I loved the book collection you have acquired! I have 'The End of Mr.Y', 'Journey to the River Sea' and 'Clouds of Witness' on my 'TBR' list :)

    Hope you have a wonderful time and looking forward to reading about your literary adventures in your new city! Also Happy Reading :)

  67. Welcome back! Looks like your new school and neighborhood are beautiful and that you're settling in well. :)

  68. What great pictures! Reading in parks is the best. Your post prompted an inner montage of beloved benches. I'm just surfacing briefly from my autumn of cement and dirt dragging and back-throwing-outing and porch building, then it's back to the belt sander for me. I've been missing book blogging too!

  69. Yay you're back! :-)
    That library looks SO cute, so lovely! Oh Nymeth, it sounds like you're having a great time and I'm sure you'll love the whole experience. I'm so happy for you. :-)

  70. My bank manager's just fainted at the thought of me going book-browsing with a Nymeth! LOL!

    Seriously, though. We'll definitely have to meet up at some point. :D

  71. Welcome back! I'm so glad to have your blog to turn to, now that Jenny will be off traveling and settling in to NYC.

    Love the pictures, yearn for that library, and am charmed by the title of this post. I adore novels with chapter headings like that!

  72. Welcome back!

    It looks like you moved to the cutest place ever!!! And I'm in serious envy of your schoolwork ... sounds like "play time" to me! (I joke ... I'm sure it is a challenge but still ... to write about those topics! How wonderful!)

    And I love your "pile of shame." May we all have one as big and wonderful!

  73. EEEEEEEEEEEEE!!! You're back! <3 I'm glad to hear things are well for you, hun, and that it sounds like you're enjoying yourself loads.

    Welcome back, sweetie! We've missed you! (And that pile of shame looks simply lovely. I hope you'll enjoy the lot of them!)

  74. Welcome back Ana! I've missed reading your blog this past month and I'm glad to hear you're enjoying your new life. :)

  75. Vivienne: I wish you could come to the Tove Jansson event! In fact, I wish you and my other UK blogging friends were nearer. But I *will* make my way down south at some point, and we all have to get together for tea and book talk :P

    Clover: They really are! And they're everywhere! At this rate I'll need a new, bigger flat soon :P

    Claire: Green VMCs have been very easy to find in used bookshops so far, but people seem to be remarkably ungenerous when it comes to donating Persephones ;) Ah well, hope springs eternal :P

    Emily: lol - thank you :D It's so good to be back.

    She and Kathy, thank you so much!

    Becky: I'm excited to share more as well! In no time you'll have had enough of my blabbing ;)

    Mee: Hmm, I wonder if it was a temporary problem with the image hosting? I hope it works now!

    Jeanne: So glad to hear you enjoyed Tooth ans Claw! As for the library, it's normally full of kids running in and out, which, while making me quite happy, does spoil that sort of mood rather :P

    chasingbawa: Thank you so much! I haven't read The City & The City, but I keep hearing wonderful things about it.

    Alice: lol :D Thank you so much for the warm welcome!

    Fyrefly: Yep, it's the first Sorcery & Cecilia book - I've finally listened to you all! You and Memory and Jenny never steer me wrong, so yep, I'm pretty sure I'll love it!

    Daphne: You should! I'd love to see your library! And hooray for Tamsim and Fragile Things - loved them both :)

    Shelley: I know exactly what you mean!

    Stefanie: It's just a lot to get used to at once - new country, new city, new house, starting grad school and suddenly being really busy... but there's more than enough to keep me happy and motivated, so all and all I really can't complain :)

    Tina: I won't lie, the change has been a bit overwhelming at times, but I still think that coming here for grad school was a good decision and that it'll be worth it in the long run. The program itself seems excellent so far, and I think part of the reason why I'm having trouble is because I'm so horribly shy. Most people would make friends much more easily than me :P Anyway, if you end up deciding to apply for a program here, I'd be more than happy to give you tips and advice :D

    Vishy: The exhibit on gay literature included mentions of The Epic of Gilgamesh, which I thought was wonderful! As for the park, it's indeed a lovely place, but already it's starting to be too cold for me to read there. Or maybe it's just that I'm a Southern Europe girl and not used to the climate - I still see people going around in t-shirts and I'm already wearing 3 layers and a scarf :P PS: I'm horribly behind on e-mail, but I will reply to yours very very soon!

    Heidenkind: Thank you so much!

    Trapunto: I've yet to find my one regular spot in the park, but I think it's only a matter of time. I've always been the kind of person who gets attached to one particular place and never budges :P

    Joanna: Thank you :D

    Darren: lol! Well, the good news is that there are many wonderful used bookshops that allow us to go crazy without the consequences being *too* disastrous :P

    Mumsy: Thank you! And I'll be honoured to help make Jenny's absence from blogging a little easier to bear :P Also, I love those chapter headings as well :)

    Jenners: It's a challenge, but a fun challenge! I can tell I've made the right decision by how much I look forward to all my assignments :P

    Shanra: Aww, thank you so much :D The pile might have grown since I posted this *cough* :P

    Heather: Thank you! I've missed reading everyone's blogs too!

  76. Ana - Thanks for your 'rambling reply' actually, it's very interesting to hear your thoughts about this.

    It bothers me time and again when there's a mention of religion each time a character does something good, especially since I have tons of problems about the whole reward system inherent to religion ('be a good person so you can have a good afterlife') that makes any kind of decision motivated because there's something at the end of it and it's a pretty sad thought. I can't remember the book much but Margaret justified everything through that to me and I got really tired of it. The miniseries is brilliant because they never mention her motivations so you assume they're not religious and she's also much more certain of her beliefs. It did bother me that in the book it's mostly pity that prevails and that is the thing that pretty much drives her. Cue miserabilism, Dickens' fashion, as you can tell I loathe that. I seem to remember comparisons of Higgins' daughter (was her name Bessie? I can't remember) to a saint or whatever which is seriously glossing over poverty and that doesn't sit well with me.
    FINALLY Margaret doesn't seem to realize it's not just a portion of people living like that it's the majority, I wish she could have realized that.

    I always wonder what Gaskell thought would happen after the end of the book - would Margaret still bring baskets of food to people (which is not a sustainable source of food, of course, I just read a book - The Agency #2 The Body at the Tower written by a contemporary author but about Victorian London- that shows exactly that. Will Thornton give their better wages? Will children still work at the factory after what happened to Bessie? I think Gaskell did pretty much what Dickens did, which is paint a picture and suggest that charity is the solution without ever thinking about an alternative that would actually change things, for example child labour laws and better access to education. It's not terribly far away in time either but to me the fact that these authors didn't see it or hope for it shows that they still thought of their relation to poorer people as a relation of paternalism and nothing else.


  77. I recently bought North and South to read as I have never read Gaskell before, nor saw the mini series. Love the photos of the libraries and glad everything is going well so far. Thanks for sharing and welcome back.

  78. So wonderful to have you back Nymeth! Loved all the guest posts but of course we want to hear from you :)

    I love the book buying as therapy. Isn't that the best!

  79. I'm so glad you are getting settled in your new home -- I love that library. So adorable. And I'm sure the books will be quite a comfort to you. Enjoy those last weeks of reading outside on that lovely park bench!

  80. Welcome back! Sounds like you're settling in just fine, and I agree that your new local library is cute! Wish they looked like that around here.

  81. I so enjoyed this post -- and getting a glimpse into your life at the moment! You're right: your local library is impossibly cute. I love it.


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