Friday, October 30, 2009


I try not to fetishize books. I work in a library, right? Surrounded by books. And by the third time you've helped shift the entire nonfiction collection, books have come to look and feel a lot like bricks. Heavy. Oblong. Kind of filthy.

When I was in library school, I had already worked in several libraries. And when I heard some of my MLS classmates pipe up with, "I want to be a librarian because I love books!" I would look at my feet and make a sympathetic little face. I already knew that the books are only part of the job. Most of the job is (oh my god you sweet little bookworm you are in for an extremely unpleasant shock on your first day of work) people. Brr.

On the other hand, it's not like I became a librarian because I am indifferent to books. Books, after all, are neither demanding nor rude. They don't usually smell. If a book is not interesting, you can close it and put it down. You try that with an uninteresting person, and now it's you being rude.

So, it's a significant daily pleasure for me to scan the New Books cart that we keep in the office at work. I get to browse, flip through, and in some cases, I admit, caress the big fabulous fancy things that I could never afford to buy. Art books. Big gorgeous bird books. Images of eternity.

I've been blurbing the most interesting of these on Facebook, and recently added them all to Goodreads, under the category "your neighborhood librarian's fetish books". You can see the entire list here.

I'm not saying, "GO! Marvel at my taste!" I'm actually saying "The holidays are coming! These are good gift ideas!" I already recommended that my friend Josh buy Renaissance Secrets: Recipes and Formulas for his wife, so that she can make anti-poison potions and glass. I myself am likely to snare New York City Museum of Complaint for my husband, who misses NYC like he would miss a limb. The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death is an orgy of pleasure for aficionados of crime, mysteries, and/or dollhouses.

There's a wide range of nonfiction on this list, from classics like In the Wake of the Plague: The Black Death and the World It Made by my late favorite professor Norm Cantor (old man, I hope your afterlife finds you on a balcony outside Tel Aviv, watching the sea and eating oranges) to seriously trashy skeeve like High Glitz: The Extravagant World of Child Pageants or The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll. I cannot look away from either of those books, even though I know they're wrong.

And in case you question my deployment of the word "fetish" (and hi, Japanese porn sites! You're already leaving unwelcome comments courtesy a previous post's use of the phrase "hairless teen," so I might as well give you more of what you're looking for!) (Thanks are due to Token Boy, for identifying the offending term. Kind of more quickly than his new bride might be comfortable with), there really is plenty of porn on this list. Travel porn. Design porn. Food porn. Porn porn (Lotsa naked models in that one. Just because they're shot all arty doesn't mean they're not sexy).

Books. Sexy. Fetishy. Kind of expensive. "Hairless teen". "Orgy of pleasure"! I should really go back to writing about the garden, shouldn't I? I am just asking for perverts and trolls. Hi, trolls! Enjoy my parentheses! Read good books!

books I crave

High Glitz: The Extravagant World of Child Pageants

Ace of Cakes: The Book

Ansel Adams in Color

Extreme Beauty in Vogue

Renaissance Secrets: Recipes and Formulas

Charley Harper: An Illustrated Life

Camera: A History of Photography from Daguerreotype to Digital

Photography Unplugged

New York City Museum of Complaint

Bed in a Tree

Move Over, Rover: What to Name Your New Pup When the Ordinary Just Won't Do

If Your Kid Eats This Book, Everything Will Still Be Okay: How  to Know if Your Child's Injury or Illness Is Really an Emergency

Contemporary Glass Sculptures and Panels: Selections from the Corning Museum of Glass

The Language of Things: Understanding the World of Desirable Objects

Wayne White: Maybe Now I'll Get the Respect I So Richly Deserve

Hair Wars

State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America

All the Wrong People Have Self-Esteem: An Inappropriate Book for Young Ladies*

Charles Harper's Birds and Words

The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll: The Search for Dare Wright

The World Without Us

Rats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City's Most Unwanted Inhabitants

They Call Me Naughty Lola: Personal Ads from the London Review of Books

Road Fever

Rats, Lice, and History: Being a Study in Biography, Which, After Twelve Preliminary Chapters Indispensable for the Preparation of the Lay Reader, Deals With the Life History of Typhus Fever

Tornado Alley: Monster Storms of the Great Plains

The Visual Display of Quantitative Information

Envisioning Information

Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative

Prairie Town

River Town

Desert Town

Mountain Town

An Egg Is Quiet

A Seed Is Sleepy

Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash

Chasing the Monsoon

Go Fug Yourself: The Fug Awards

In the Wake of the Plague: The Black Death and the World It Made

Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900-1900

A Gap in Nature: Discovering the World's Extinct Animals

Astonishing Animals: Extraordinary Creatures and the Fantastic Worlds They Inhabit

The Soul of a New Machine

Honey Mud Maggots and Other Medical Marvel


Commodify Your Dissent: Salvos from the Baffler

Assassination Vacation

Dictators' Homes: Lifestyles of the World's Most Colourful Despots

Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen

Don't Tell the Grown-Ups: The Subversive Power of Children's Literature

Over and Over: A Catalog of Hand Drawn Patterns

The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries

I Thought My Father Was God CD: And Other True Tales from NPR's National Story Project

The Red Hourglass

African Reflections: Art from Northeastern Zaire

From the Land of the Totem Poles: The Northwest Coast Indian Art Collection at the American Museum of National History

Drawing Shadows to Stone                                                   C: The Photography of the Jesup North Pacific Expedition 1897-1902

Giotto to Durer: Early Renaissance Painting in the National Gallery


Low Life: Lures and Snares of Old New York

Mr. Wilson's Cabinet Of Wonder: Pronged Ants, Horned Humans, Mice on Toast, and Other Marvels of Jurassic Technology

Magical Mushrooms, Mischievous Molds

Windows on Nature: The Great Habitat Dioramas of the American Museum of Natural History

Baikal: Sacred Sea of Siberia

Big Dead Place: Inside the Strange and Menacing World of Antarctica

I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets: The Comics of Fletcher Hanks

The Big Rumpus: A Mother's Tale from the Trenches

These Things Ain't Gonna Smoke Themselves: A Love/Hate/Love/Hate/Love Letter to a Very Bad Habit

One Lifetime is Not Enough-21.00

The Agile Rabbit Book of Historical and Curious Maps

I Hate Myself and Want to Die: The 52 Most Depressing Songs You've Ever Heard

The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death

Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator

Material World: A Global Family Portrait

What the World Eats


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