The end of the month approaches, which means that it’s time again for another episode of The Erudite Ogre’s Public Biblioholic Binge, now with bonus, kinda-gross book cleaning tip. Let’s get right to it!

The big ones first. I am a big fan of John Singer Sargent’s painting, and spent a lot of time in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum) staring at his work for art classes and as a break from my undergraduate grind. Fortiunately, as a UMass student I got into both for free, and I mightily abused that privilege. So I was ecstatic when someone gifted me with this Sargent volume, so that I could once again memorize brush strokes and get art-drunk on his work. The reproductions are excellent and while only part of his œuvre is included in the book there is still plenty to drink in.

Toi Ora:Ancestral Maori Treasures is also beautiful. It is full of images and information about an aesthetic that is powerfully evocative and elemental in its effects. The book itself is not widely available and that is a shame, because it is well-done and full of fantastic artwork. The book on King Philip’s War is also full of history and images, but chronicles a very dark moment in early American history. The Dr. Seuss book, which also features the work of other artists (and is sort of a companion to Geisel’s solo volume of cartoons from World War II), gives us a strange perspective on those times, one that is funny and harsh at the same time.

This is a fine miscellany of non-fiction. The Pinker I may not hang on to, but I am very curious to read how he supports his argument. I’ve read part of the dreaming book for a short story I’m working on, and the history of women I’ve read a few selections from earlier, and I look forward to delving deeper into it soon. Gorgon is about the creatures the preceded the dinosaurs, which I have on hand to answer my daughter’s inevitable question about what came before the creatures she is currently obsessed with. The other two volumes are for my growing shelf of books on empires.

More non-fiction and poetry. The Foucault is a first English edition that is replacing my poor ragged trade paper edition. The Eisler is one of those odd classics that I have always wanted to read. The book on hermits just sounds like a perfect read for, well, a hermitous sort like myself. I’ve read bits of both of the poetry volumes and as always I am delighted by the way humans can put words to such use.

I’ve read the Turner book and one on Benjamin and I’m happy to add them to my library. Both outline fascinating perspectives on their subjects. The Gass is going to the top of my TBR stack. I’ve already peeked in the book on the Gothic and it looks very promising.

The Guillory book on literary canon formation is for a chapter in the book I’m working on. The three jacketless books were left behind and I rescued them. the title on the gray one is Poems in Praise of Practically Nothing, and I really picked it up solely because of that. Some evening at bedtime I’ll look through it and see if it worth keeping. And I found two more volumes to add to my Norton Critical collection, both books that I admire.

Mythology and folklore now. I have read The Conference of Birds and stories from Pissing in the Snow and I recommend both. The Folktales of Iraq was rejected by my boss for some pencils marks so I scooped it up; I am terribly unread in Middle Eastern folklore. And the Beowulf is the tenth translation I have procured. I am curious how it stacks up to my favorite, which is Seamus Heaney’s.

Now onto the fiction. I’m collecting the Howard volumes although, to be honest, they keep getting pushed farther down my TBR pile. The Blade of Conan is a collection of appreciations that should be interesting to read. The Blade Runner book looks like a YA version of the film with lots of stills. Rather an odd thing! The issue of Fantasy I grabbed because it has an essay of Sturgeon’s that I haven’t read in it. I thought I had a copy of Hunting Sketches but after a mention of it on Facebook I checked my shelves and it was nowhere to be found. It’s a great collection and very educational for writers.

The Power of Babel is not fiction, but is instead a study of logophilia. I had never head of it but it sounds intriguing. The Tavares was recommended in a post on the Clarke Awards and now I can’t recall the source. The Highsmith is a small collection of pithy stories and I’ve read a few and while not her best work is still good stuff. I read about the Celine in Eric Basso’s Decompositions and curiosity compelled me to grab it when it came across my desk at work.

The Bender volumes I picked up based on Carrie Cuinn’s review of The Girl in the Flammable Skirt. Bender sounds like an author I would enjoy. The Beat collection by women is not my usual thing but I am curious, especially since I am not much of a Beat lover. The Troupe and Noctuary are for review, and in fact reviewing Bennett is my next writing task. It’s good, but it did not blow me away. I am eager to dig into the Ligotti. The Wolfe is one of the few of his books I do not own, so I was thrilled when it came into the store.

This is The Cool Stuff. The Sturgeon is a Limited Edition put out by the Minnesota Science Fiction Society for Minicon 15. Patterns of Culture looks to be a first edition of an anthropologist who was in some ways a pioneer in the discipline. The book of Irish poetry is a bilingual collection and is full of great poems. The two Moorcock paperbacks are firsts and I think the the Elric is the first full-length appearance of the character in print. Proxima is a Danish SF magazine that printed one of my Bellowing Ogre columns in translation. It’s delightful to see it in another language, even if I can’t read it.

So that’s 68 books for this month. Oy. I would say that I am going to cut down but next weekend is the start of the Friend of the Library booksale here in Ithaca, one of the largest library booksales in the country, and I will be in line at 4:30AM to get in early. So, I expect I will have another large pile of book porn for next month.


And now, I quick lesson in book-cleaning. I actually have 69 books this month. Someone gave me a copy of this book, but I was going to not take it because of the high amount of smoke discoloration on the spine:

The flash obscures some of it, but you can clearly see the yellowing above the editor’s name and on top of the spine. I tried some distilled all-purpose cleaner but it did no good. So, my boss suggested that I try human saliva, which he said was great at removing such stains. However, you can’t just spit on a napkin. Oh no. . . .

Direct contact is needed so that the saliva has time to start dissolving the stain. This turned out to be difficult because the spine on this book is curved. It took four tries to get the spit to stay there long enough to take a picture. However, once you start wiping (a paper towel is good) the discoloration starts coming right off. I cleaned the spine below the title in this manner and it worked very well. It did, however, take a goodly amount of spitting. I then took a cleaning wipe and spent a good two minutes rubbing the top to little avail. A quick spit on it, a little rub with the paper towel, and it came out well. This is the result:

I did take a picture of the interim results but it came out horribly,(the screen on my camera is dead; clearly time for a new camera!). This shows the spine with much less discoloration on it; in fact, there is very little left. The very top of the jacket is a bit ragged because of my fruitless labors with the cleaning wipe. On the left you can see the paper towel I used with the saliva and then the cleaning wipe below it. Note how white the wipe is; it just could not get through the smoke damage. But the saliva did a great job.

So, the next time you see a book with this problem, buy it knowing that you can easily clean it up. Just spit carefully!