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Library Bookmark Reviews

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Guest

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I miss going into the library to peruse the new Non-fiction shelves, but have been requesting books on inter-library loan curbside pick-up. Without the advantage of plucking it off the shelf and having a sneak peek inside I’ve been relying on NTY or WaPo book reviews.

Some have been wonderful, some have been so-so, and a few have been nearly unreadable.

Eric Dolin’s A Furious Sky; the Five-Hundred-Year history of America’s Hurricanes was decent, although as a Susquehanna regular I wish there had been some mention of 1972’s Hurricane Agnes devastation and destruction in the Rogues’ Gallery chapter

Alan Mikhail’s God’s Shadow; Sultan Selim, His Ottoman Empire and the Making of the Modern World was a worthy read, provided you are interested in history, conquest and the resulting world.

One of eagerly awaited I-Was-There recent political tomes was 500 pages of un-read-able. No flow, no syntax, and page-long poorly written paragraphs in which nothing new happened or was revealed.

But I digress. The books have occasionally included an appreciated library provided bookmark, with a book recommendation/review (most recently Lisa See’s The Island of Sea Women) and a list of library Zoom programs, printed on stiff cardstock.

I do not know how this will be received, by the library or by the next borrower, but I’m trying out a new tradition; inserting a 2” x 8” bookmark in the flyleaf, with a personal opinion review, printed on heavy cardstock and laminated, tucked into the plastic cover.

For that G-awful-written I-was-there political tome I tucked in the following custom bookmark:

This is a Borrower’s Bookmark Review
(feel free to return with your own review)

Title of book, date and author
(which I will here omit,
think reference to Broadway’s Hamilton)

Synopsis
500 exceedingly dull pages
in which nothing new happens.
Apparently drawn from the copious
after-every-single meeting
or personal interaction CYA notes,
presented un-edited,
by an Author who has
no sense of writing
style, syntax or rhythm.

I repeatedly tied to read this book,
or speed read, or skip pages ahead,
but it is, at best,
borderline unreadable.

Desperately needed a ruthless editor.

+++


That custom bookmark is already printed and in tucked in the book for return to the library.

I will have to ask my three library in-laws their professional opinions. But I’ll probably keep doing it no matter their response.

I relish occasionally finding reader’s notes, or occasionally their missing to-do lists, tucked inside books, or more often penned grammatical corrections in the margins, which I will not deface/do, but still kind of appreciate.

What say you to a last reader’s review bookmark in a library book?
 
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I buy quite a few used books and always enjoy finding old bookmarks. Most are nothing special but once an airline ticket stub, a couple old business cards, and a to-do list or two. Last week found what appears to be a homemade (sewn) bookmark. I thought the bookmark was much better than the book (Last of the Mohicans).

I think you have a good idea but would advise against leaving reviews, especially ones that could bias a person against a book. Personally I like going into a book not really even knowing what it's about or having read/heard any reviews (either internet or personal acquaintances).

Edit to ad that one of my favorite used book finds are the receipts from when the books were purchased. The most interesting have been a couple uncommon (but not rare) books on northern travels that people picked up in some pretty distant locations in northern Canada, presumably while on a trip. One box full of such books came from a fellow canoe tripper and one of them included such a receipt from somewhere above the arctic circle if I remember correctly.

Alan
 
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I don't really pay attention to reviews either. The book is either going to seem interesting to me or not. My rule is give it 50 pages. If I don't like it, move on. Kinda off topic but right now I'm nose deep in A season For Wilderness by Michael Furtman. No plot, it's really just an expanded journal about his and his wife's time as summer volunteer BWCA rangers. Very interesting if your into canoeing (which everone here is) or the BWCA. The only place I could find a copy was to buy it used off Amazon. Kinda cool though because it has a handwritten note from someone to their dad as the book was a gift.
 
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Personally I find that review pretty funny, Mike!

But then again, I never planned on reading that book. If I borrowed that book (or any book) from the library and a previous borrower's review fell out, I think I'd be annoyed.

Maybe that says more about me than you, but for me, and at its best, reading a book should be a personal experience. I don't want to prejudge it or worse yet have it prejudged for me. To have some unknown person try to insert themselves between me and that reading experience without my consent would not be welcome. In addition to potentially giving away something substantive about the book, even just saying something positive or negative is going to change the way I experience the book versus reading it and experiencing it on my own. And I doubt I'd be disciplined enough not to read a bookmark that fell out of a book.

I'd react to it the same way I do when I leave my car at the Metro parking lot and come back to find someone has stuffed a leaflet under my windshield wiper (something that happened 5-6 times per year pre-COVID when I was commuting). Whether it's an ad for some business or a religious pamphlet, I am always annoyed that someone has imposed on me and my time. Because I can't remove it with my eyes closed, I'm usually forced to see/read at least part of their message and I'm then stuck with the dilemma of how to dispose of it. It the nearest trash can close enough that I should do it now, or should I throw it on the passenger side floor and toss it in the recycle bin when I get home?

In this case, I need to decide whether to chuck the review or carry it around for a few days while I read the book and then slip it back in the book for the next unsuspecting reader. I expect I'd just chuck it.
 
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Guest

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I appreciate the input from our reader folk. In retrospect I’d probably be annoyed at a negative review bookmark before I even started reading the book.

I’ll skip the review bookmarks, and instead leave a bookmark with, at most, a non-review comment.

For example, A Furious Sky covered most of the well known hurricanes, from Galveston to the Great Storm of 1938 to Camille, Florence and etc. The chapter on how Hurricane Hunter aircraft came into existence and evolved was previously unknown to me. Spoiler Alert: the origin story began with a USAF colonel betting a visiting Brit in 1943 that he could fly an AT-6 into a hurricane and return to base.

He did, and won the bet, a free drink at the bar.

But as a lower-Susquehanna/Chesapeake Bay denizen the absence of any mention of Hurricane Agnes was surprising. Agnes deluged the Susquehanna River and other Chesapeake Bay drainages for days on end, wiping out entire communities and doing a then-record 2 billion in property damage.

Worse, and longer lasting, it washed enough silt and fertilizer downstream to change the chemistry of the Bay and smother Bay grasses for years to follow, devastating the oyster and crab population, leading to a multi-State effort to control run-off from Bay tributaries.

A brief bookmark note about Agnes might be worth tucking inside.
 
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