The Sunday Salon: Would Lisa and Mary please read and return their library book?

A few weeks ago, I posted the list of bestsellers from the week I was born.  I was quite intrigued by one of the books, A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell.  One of my LibraryThing friends called it her “favorite series bar none except for maybe The Raj Quartet.”  I was sold, and pleased to see my library had it, just sitting on the shelves waiting for me.

About two weeks later, I decided it would be fun to read the book during February, my birthday month.  I logged on to the library website, and couldn’t believe what I saw: two other people had requested the book ahead of meWhat the … ? This book is composed of three novellas; it’s the first of a four-volume set (twelve novellas altogether).  It’s more than 700 pages long.  The first three novellas were written in the 1950s.  This is not the latest trendy bestselling novel or self-help book.  This is a somewhat obscure, albeit critically acclaimed, former bestseller (read more about it on Wikipedia).  I just can’t believe that 3 of the more than 240,000 Chester County Library System patrons all requested this book at the same time !

I also can’t help being a bit curious.  Do the other two library patrons live anywhere near me?  What prompted their interest in the book?  Are they, like me, celebrating their 49th birthday this month?  Did they create their own list of birthday week bestsellers?  My imagination is working overtime thinking about it.  Let’s just pretend they were born around the same time as me.  They might even have one of 1962’s most popular baby names.  So just for fun, I’ve used the 1962 baby name list to name the two people in line ahead of me.  I’ve decided they’re both women.  Lisa is first; she’s reading the book now and needs to return it by February 25.  I wonder if she will finish it sooner?  Go, Lisa, go !!!  Mary is waiting!  Once the book arrives at Mary’s local library branch, she’ll have 5 days to pick it up and 3 weeks to read it.

Sigh.  I guess it will be a while before I can read A Dance to the Music of Time.

It’s a good thing I’m really enjoying my current book, The Hills at Home, by Nancy Clark.  This was a gift from my Virago Secret Santa, and it’s a delightful comedy of manners.  An extended New England family descends upon their old family home, a bit of a ramshackle place, occupied by the 70-ish Lily Hill.  Lily’s thrice-widowed brother Harvey arrives for a visit, followed by her niece Ginger and grand-niece Betsy, and then her nephew Alden and his wife and four children.  Eventually the house guests settle in for an extended stay, and Lily’s hospitality turns to tolerance and quiet suffering.   Details unfold through very descriptive prose, with much tongue in cheek.  It’s the sort of book that keeps calling me away from all the things I should be doing this weekend.

That’s all for me this weekend.  What are you reading?

Stay tuned for more Reading Adventures with Lisa and Mary! 🙂


Read more from The Sunday Salon here.


16 thoughts on “The Sunday Salon: Would Lisa and Mary please read and return their library book?

  1. Hi Laura,

    I’m still plugging away and reading my John Muir book. I’ve not read anything this big (over 700 pages) and have to admit, it’s intimidating and quite the undertaking. I enjoy the book, but it’s so detailed that it’s hard to get fully absorbed in it and feel like I’m making progress. It’s more like a research book.

    Deep Peace


    • Jeff, I generally find it more difficult to read long nonfiction than fiction. I have a history book about 2/3 completed that I dip into every … oh … 6 months or so.

    • Deb, I often use Paperbackswap in these situations, but the book already has 28 people wishing for it :/ I could break down and buy it used, but I’m OK to wait. It’s not like I don’t have anything to read!

  2. Sometimes I just despair when I look at the reservation list. At the moment there are nine in front of me for a particularly popular non-fiction book of which the library has just one copy. Mark out some time for that round about next Christmas then. It isn’t always easy to see where people’s interest in an older title comes from though. Perhaps they are secret admirers of your blog and as soon as they had read it leapt into action and reserved your recommendations forthwith? Anyway I hope they get it back soon. At least it isn’t (yet) one of those awful cases where there is only one copy and the last person to have it was supposed to have returned it six months previously. Now that really does get my goat!

    • Annie, while I doubt “Lisa and Mary” are secret admirers, you can bet I’ve been thinking about the “six degrees of separation” that could exist here. The birthday bestsellers lists were actively discussed on LibraryThing so I do wonder if I “know” them from those forums. And you raise a good point about the potential for “awful cases,” which I too find so annoying. I hope Lisa and Mary are both fine, upstanding, honorable library patrons who return books promptly !

  3. I love your puckish take on the library waiting list, Laura. You’ve made me want to read the Hill book. So much for my resolve not to buy any new books for half a year, reading only from the TBR shelves. I hope Lisa and Mary have their acts together so you get your kick at the can soon!

    • Thanks Tui, as I just replied to Annie, I do hope they are the “good” sort of library patrons who respect those who are waiting and return their books promptly!

  4. Hi Laura!

    So, the bestseller list from the week of your birthday is a great idea. I’m going to have to go check mine out!

    Hopefully Lisa and Mary will get around to reading and returning the book sooner than later. Thank you for bringing this book to my attention. It sounds interesting. I’ll have to check to see if my library has it in.

    Happy reading!

  5. I’ve added The Hills at Home to my to-read list. I love comedies of manners. I love your speculations on who reserved the book ahead of you. I live in a rather small community, and so often when a book at the library is out, it’s my friend (with very similar tastes) who has it and she just passes it along, and vice versa.

    • Robyn, that’s funny how you and your friend “compete” for library books. Our library system has 18 branches spread out over 760 square miles (Chester County, PA) so these two readers could be right in my backyard, or more than an hour’s drive away. I just love speculating about it, as you can see!

  6. How does your library stand as far as The Raj Quartet is concerned? Have you looked into that? Because that’s some fine reading too.

    • Linda, I read The Raj Quartet way back when, after watching the series on PBS. It was the comparison to it that piqued my interest in A Dance to the Music of Time.

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