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Familiar Diversions

I'm a librarian who loves anime, manga, and reading a wide variety of genres.

Currently reading

Space Battle Lunchtime Volume 1: Lights, Camera, Snacktion!
Natalie Reiss
Progress: 20/120 pages
Jennifer Foehner Wells
Progress: 58/367 pages
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet: A Novel
Becky Chambers
Progress: 148/441 pages
The Count of Monte Cristo
Alexandre Dumas, Bill Homewood, Naxos AudioBooks
Progress: 667/3165 minutes
A Matter of Oaths
Helen S. Wright
Progress: 101/277 pages
Report on the Selected Problems of the Technical Departments of the University of Illinois Library
Raynard C. Swank
Progress: 20/42 pages
Medical School for Everyone: Grand Rounds Cases
Professor Roy Benaroch, The Great Courses, The Great Courses
Progress: 34/725 minutes


Libyrinth - Pearl North Anytime I hear about a book that has librarians in it, or one where books are very prominent in some way, I can't help but want to read it. Unfortunately, this one was a bit of a slog for me - the only reason I finished it well before my ILL due date was because I wasn't allowing myself to start reading Moribito until I finished this.I really like all the book quotes sprinkled throughout the text. The author seemed to have quotes available for all kinds of situations, and, joy of joys, the selection of books quoted from was extremely varied. These quotes didn't just come from classics (as in, the books your high school English teacher made you read because the stuff you really wanted to read was considered crap) - there's stuff from books I've read and enjoyed (Anne McCaffrey's Dragonflight, Yann Martel's Life of Pi, E.B. White's Charlotte's Web, etc.), stuff from books I've never read but now think I should hunt down (P.G. Wodehouse's Right Ho, Jeeves, Douglas Adams's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, etc.), and random non-fiction. Even better, the author doesn't force you to figure out where all these quotes come from (although this may be more for legal reasons than anything else). If you want, you can puzzle out all the quotes as you read, but there are several pages at the end of the book that list all the quotes and their citations. Sadly, there are no page numbers for where they can be found in North's book, only chapter numbers, and none of the citations include page numbers. It's still better than nothing, though.Unfortunately, there just wasn't enough stuff I liked in addition to the quotes. Most of the characters didn't interest me, or I actively disliked them. The Eradicants were the main ones I hated - while I could understand and appreciate their feelings that knowledge was meant to be shared, their belief that books, knowledge that could not automatically be shared by all, should be burned turned me off. Since I find it hard to believe that every one of the Eradicants throughout their whole history would be so blind as to not realize that at least some of the books they were burning held knowledge that they didn't have, it ends up looking like what they actually believe is that if everyone can't have certain knowledge then no one should be able to have it. At least the Libyrarians were only guilty of not making their knowledge more widely available, either by setting up literacy programs available to anyone interested (although it seemed like something like that was available, maybe...) or by doing public readings of their books.There were snippets of romance, but North didn't do enough with them for my tastes. Haly and a young Singer end up together - not a huge surprise. I was wondering what North would do with the revelation, relatively early in the book, that Clauda is a lesbian, and the answer was, "nothing." Clauda blushes over a few nude or semi-clothed ladies in Ilysies (the people at the Libyrinth apparently have more hangups about nudity than the people in Ilysies), and I kind of wondered whether a few bits with Clauda and Selene and Selene talking about Clauda were going to morph into an end-of-the-book relationship between the two of them. Nope. I guess the whole thing was just a throwaway detail. As far as I can tell, none of the other characters in the book even find out about Clauda's secret. Maybe North or her publishers were hoping that parents would find out about "the lesbian character" and make a big fuss, thereby boosting the book's sales?One thing I think is kind of interesting, since e-books are on my mind, is that the future North writes about in this book can't exist without print books and can't include e-books. Eggs power the machines of the Ancients - even if the people in this book could find an e-book reader that was still working and load some e-books into it, I don't know that they'd necessarily want to waste their few remaining eggs on it. Heck, they have problems keeping the Libyrinth powered up, and it wasn't until the very end of the book that they got enough power to be able to activate a feature of the Libyrinth that would allow Libyrarians to actually find specific books. Print books can believably be around in Haly's world, because we have actual examples of books that have survived for hundreds of years and can survive for longer. E-books in Haly's world would stretch the boundaries of believability a bit too far. Although...is it really possible that so many 21st century books would survive to be housed in the Libyrinth? Apparently even acid-free paper is only supposed to last two or three hundred years. That's still longer than I imagine an e-book would last, but maybe not long enough for the world of Libyrinth to be possible.By the way, in case you haven't read a post of mine that's mentioned it, I'm definitely a print book kind of person. I have a feeling North might be, too.Anyway, with my TBR pile threatening to take over my apartment, I'm starting to think I need to quit requesting books via ILL that I only think I might like. I didn't hate this book and don't feel like I wasted a few hours of my life reading it, but finishing the book doesn't clear up a little more of my bookshelf and apartment space the same way reading one of the books I own would. If I had liked this book more, that wouldn't be as much of an issue. However, I didn't really like the book's pacing, and North couldn't seem to decide whether she wanted this book to be science fiction or fantasy, which is something that has annoyed me with other things (Sharon Shinn's Samaria books and Scrapped Princess, to name a few examples). I don't mind soft science fiction - in fact, I tend to prefer it to hard science fiction - but I like books to be clear about what it is they are. Haly's ability to hear books automatically put this book in the realm of fantasy for me, and the confusing bit near the end about Haly being not quite human, an attempt, I'm guessing, to make Haly's abilities less fantasy and more science fiction, was too little, too late.(Original review, with read-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)