31 October 2007

Halloween

Happy Halloween!!


Hope this is a sufficiently in-the-spirit type story:


When i was a kid my brothers and i had records. Records are like cd's in that they are round and hold music or audio but they are much bigger, dark in color and use a needle to play the music or audio off of it. One of the ones we had and loved was a recording of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Boris Karloff. it was wonderful. Not the stupid Disney creation but the real story. The B-side was Rip Van Winkle and I think we may have listened to that only a few times. We loved Sleepy Hollow though. Karloff, of course, had a great spooky deep voice and the sound effects of wind, the clopping of the horse hooves and the creaky bridge were terrifying. He made Ichabod Crane's final ride through that covered bridge an intense, harrowing experience.

I wonder how much this record shaped my development and taste for scary.


30 October 2007

So What's Left?

I did a post a few weeks ago about what i had set for myself to read by the end of the year. Now seemed like a good time to update that. so here it is:

  • 3 Books left for Armchair Traveler Challenge
  • 1 each month for Fantasy group
  • 1 each month for Sci-fi group
  • 1 each month for Classics group
  • 2 on hold at library
  • 5 from library i am wanting to read
  • 2 i've started and wanting to finish up
so that makes 18 left if i get all the library ones. i am also almost done with 2 of my Armchair Challenge ones so really it is about 16. i should definitely finish that challenge by the end of the month. YAY!

29 October 2007

Do Android's Dream...

The first Philip K Dick novel I've finished. I saw A Scanner Darkly last summer and really liked the movie and bought the book this past spring, probably about the time we were planning our move. I seriously read all but maybe the last 20 pages and packed it, so now it is in a box somewhere all but finished.

I have never seen Blade Runner straight through but it is one of those that i've basically seen, in a 20 mins here, 15 mins there and the story synopsis is every where kind of way. I liked it and do intend to search out more by the author.

Since it is a pretty well known story, i don't want to go over that bit again, i want to compare it to another robot novel i just read, The Caves of Steel by Asimov. I think Caves is a much more philisophically optimistic novel as a whole while Dream is more optimisitic about our technological progress but very pessimistic about humanity. R Daneel, the main robot character in Caves, comes off as a pretty good guy. He seems to feel a kinship with humans and does want to understand them and help them. Is this due to the 3 Rules in Asimov's universe? Rachel Rosen, the main robot we see in Dream, is from a far technically superior level (the police have to do bone marrow analysis on robots in this universe to verify that a dead body is a robot) but mentally seems very deficient, especially compared to R Daneel. The robots in this world are incapable of understanding empathy and don't care about humans, other robots, or life in general. My personal definition of empathy, vaguely Buddhist as it is, is the understanding that other things feel, and hurt, in the same way that i do. I would think that some level of this could be programmed into a robot, especially as it is mentioned they feel pain.

I was thinking of doing a rating system of some sort. haven't confirmed what i am wanting to do with that yet so i'll just say this was definitely worth the read.


21 October 2007

So I Went on A Trip...



the literal kind. The friends i am staying with went to Asheville and i went along too. Camping along the French Broad River was pretty but freezing. Visited a brewery and i was in the position of knowing the most about beer in the group. Downtown was lovely and busy! Found a GREAT chocolate store that i can order from online! Try the "blossom" or "ancient pleasure" ones under the Ecstasy Truffle label. yummy.

Took some pictures from our campsite.

so a question that always comes up in reading groups: what books would you plan on taking on a trip? some people seem to have a set answer, like there is a certain group of books they take that they know they like. some people seem to take just whatever they are reading in paperback at the time. I know i am a little different. It depends on the trip really for me. If i am going home to Louisiana that means i have a 10 hour drive each way. even if BF came with me i still drove the whole way usually. so if i brought a book at all it would be something small and not too engrossing as i would just be reading a little here and there when my family was busy or i got up too early. now if we were flying somewhere the best thing for me to do is get the most engrossing thick paper back i could find. i am not the best flyer yet so a brand new Stephen King, Mercedes Lackey, or George RR Martin would be perfect. Alternatively, a really good popular science does wonders for me too, like Carl Sagan or Jared Diamond.

This weekend's trip i took 2 new copies of Skeptic Magazine (i had my last 2 delayed in reaching me because i moved) as well as Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K Dick. I knew i was going to be riding much of the time on the drive to and from Asheville (i ended up driving only the last 170 miles back to Nashville) but that i wouldn't be reading much when we got there. I made it through both issues of Skeptic and about 4 chapters of my book so that is not too bad.

currently: resting after this trip.

18 October 2007

Memoirs of a Geisha

I completed Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. Another super-fast read for me (2 days).I haven't seen the movie so only knew vaguely what the book was about. I enjoyed this one too. Very very nice change from The Road. Wonderfully rich detail. Very good sense of place. It seemed to end rather abruptly but that is my only complaint. It is a good book when i don't want it to end!

currently: concerned about tornadoes.

17 October 2007

I Finished The Road

Finally, i finished The Road by Cormac McCarthy. i am actually relieved as i was expecting something really really terrible to happen at the end but it didn't. It is depressing, sad, slow and lacking in quotation marks and "said"s so parts can be really difficult to follow who is saying what. I would have really liked to have a little piece at the beginning to say what had happened in the world. It is the story of a man and his son traveling in a post-apocalypse world. they walk, search for food, walk, run out of food, find bad people, find more food, walk, etc. nothing really much happens for pages and pages at a stretch.

I don't know why this one has been so big. I mean it is short and fast to read but not exactly good. i mean, i checked it out once before and couldn't get into it at all and this time it has taken me 3 weeks to read. Compare that to Caves of Steel that i read in a day!

This does finish out my RIP challenge tho!! i had originally said i was going to read an HP Lovecraft for my 4th book but had decided to try The Road again as it is certainly frightening. i will admit that i did have a bad dream involving the setting last week.

currently: watching Around the Horn

16 October 2007

One more for Armchair Traveler Challenge

I finished Arrow of God by Chinua Achebe. It is a very different novel than the ones i have been reading recently. Completely outside of my experience. It is the story of Ezeulu, a Nigerian man in the 1920's who is the voice of his tribe's God. The novel is very culturally rich, in a way that i haven't read since college. This one reminded me of some of the ethnographies i read during my cultural anthropology classes. The customs, foods, stories and words really set up a sense of time and place. The story is a little slow but by the end everything gets tied up in a way that you see nothing could have been any different for the previous 200 pages. The book discusses English colonization of Nigeria and the spread of Christianity and how these things affect Ezeulu and his family.

I am really glad i read this one. If it hadn't been on my 1001 Books list i would never have picked it up.

14 October 2007

Thinking about the Past

Reading Memories

20 Years Ago: (age 11) when i was 11 i was in 6th grade. middle school sucked ass, so i was probably deep into fantasy. i'd say i read Tolkien around this time, as well as the first 3 books in Piers Anthony's Apprentice Adept series. Like Stephen King at this point too.

15 Years Ago: (age 16) i can definitely say i tore through Anne Rice at this point, as well as reread a bunch of King. I did enjoy the classics and Shakespeare i read in high school at the time too.

10 Years Ago: (age 21) i was working on getting through college at this point so probably reading whatever i had to. Lots of anthropology.

5 Years Ago: (age 26) i was about this age when my mom gave me the first four Harry Potter books. so then i loved Harry.

3 Years ago: (age 28) I really got into political non-fiction around this point, as well as jumping into memoir and biography in general. Philosophy and buddhism. Jared Diamond.

Last Year: (age 30) I believe i found George R.R. Martin about a year ago. more non-fiction too.

This Month: (age 31) see this month's posts lol.

12 October 2007

Politics

Just in time for him to win the Nobel Prize i finished up Al Gore's The Assault on Reason. I like it, although i wouldn't say i hadn't heard some of it before. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert so a great job of pointing out tv and specifically broadcast journalism are a huge part of the problem with our country. Gore's book covers two things essentially: George Bush sucks (and the various reasons why) and the citizenry is disconnected from politics due to being out of the conversation of government. He discusses how we were pushed aways and ways to reconnect the people to the government. And how much Bush sucks. a lot. so that was really nice to read. (truly, i enjoyed it. i am crazy liberal. i thought it was great)

I am still trying to get through The Road by Cormac Mccarthy. i am a little over halfway. it is such a fast read but i am not getting into it at all. so now i think instead of just trying to read it i'll read 10 or so pages at a time. If i can do that twice a day i'll finish in a week, just in time to take it back to the library.

Currently: watching Lost season 2 DVD.

I am in LOVE

with a bookstore of all things! lol.

So a few Sundays ago i had a really bad day. I was really really upset with the BF (ex? what do you call the person you are separated from when both parties are trying to work things out?) when i got off work. crying, sniffly, not even attempting to keep it together upset. I didn't want to go see him, nor did i want to go to the house i am staying at where my friend lives as i didn't want to have to explain. So i drove down to Cool Springs and just wandered. There are so many little shopping strips down there it is too hard to keep track of what is in everything. So i pulled in one to go to Dick's Sporting Goods and saw a huge sign for Book Gallery HALF PRICE BOOKS. "hmm," i thought, "i read. and half price is better than full." so i go in to check it out.

This store stunned me! they had a HUGE classics section and though i haven't heard of some of the publishers (wordsworth?) any classics i can get unabridged i will take. So that day i just purchased Madame Bovary and Wuthering Heights just as possible reads for next year and spent maybe $6.50. So today i went back and said i would spend only 20 before taxes. well, for 20.50 i got Emma, The Moonstone, Anna Karenina, Cryptonomicon and Our Mutual Friend. It may not be the best place to pick up a specific book (their sci-fi/fantasy section is big on Tolkein and hardbacks but not a lot else) but for just wandering or beefing up your collection it is incredible. Also, brand new hardbacks are probably cheaper through amazon. But i don't want hardbacks. I want stuff i can throw on paperback swap if i don't like it. And a brand new trade paperback of Anna Karenina that doesn't have Oprah's name on it is certainly worth 3.99. To top it all off, I also found out they have a big store in the Bellevue Mall. while that mall isn't as creepy as 100 Oaks, i think i have just been in once or twice so i am not surprised i missed it.

On a semi-aside, one thing my Yahoo book groups talk about are their giant To Be Read stacks. Truly though, until this last year i hadn't ever had one. i pretty much bought books as i read them. while i might pick up one i knew i wanted to read a few weeks before i got around to it, rarely did i have more than one or two purchased and waiting to be read. Now library stacks i have always had but if i get where i am just renewing one and never get around to it i always just take it back. The last several months though have seen me sign up for amazon prime (so i can buy a book whenever i want and not pay shipping), go to the flea market, find paperbackswap.com, and now this new store. now i do really have about 14 books in a "too read" pile. eek! I do intend to sign up for the Russian Reading challenge as well as the TBR 2008 challenge so that should cover a good bit of my pile. At least i don't feel like i have the smallest Librarything list.

09 October 2007

In A Glass Darkly--With Spoilers!

First off, i want to congratulate myself on 100th post. while 53 were before i turned this into a mainly reading blog even some of those were about books. It is kind of a big deal to me to stick with this for not quite two years. With 2 1/2 months left in the year i should blast past my 2006 total number of posts.

Finished In A Glass Darkly by Sheridan Le Fanu. It is actually a short story collection, threaded together as the collected cases of a doctor, sort of a Van Helsing type. Basically liked the stories, although not all 5 are supernatural they are all quite eerie.

SPOILER SPACE



and some more...


The first stories, titled Green Tea, The Familiar and Mr Justice Harbottle, all involve people seeing things that may or may not exist. In Green Tea, at least, there is the suggestion that the drink of the title lead to the torments of the visions. The second doesn't seem to suggest at all what the cause is, while the third makes you suspect the evil judge really is held accountable by the men he hung unjustly in the course of his years on the bench. Of those three, I'd say Green Tea was the best, perhaps just because of being the first, perhaps because the monkey the main character describes seeing sounds very frightening.

The last two stories were my favorites. The Room in the Dragon Volant is a straight up mystery. In fact, it is so straight out of Tales from the Crypt that they may have ripped it off for the comic. An Englishman traveling in France after the defeat of Napoleon becomes wrapped up in the schemes of a gang and barely escapes with his life. Moves right along though.

The last story is Carmilla. Yeah, that Carmilla, the lesbian vampire story. I loved it! i have read a LOT of vampire things but managed to miss this one. Definitely great descriptions, wonderfully atmospheric. Stoker seems to have pulled the Lucy and Mina characters both from this tale. In this case the survivor is Laura and she is writing the story 10 years after the men vanquish the vampire. One thing about the vampire is that she has to use as her name all the letters in it again. so what would my vampire name be? maybe Elimena? Laineme? Imenale? My name need more consonants.

i have put The Vampyre by Dr. Polidori on my list for sometime next year. Maybe next years RIP!

06 October 2007

The World Without Us

Read a wonderful, interesting non-fiction called The World Without Us by Alan Weisman. It is about what would happen to the Earth if everyone just disappeared. Not died in some disease epidemic, or meteor collision, or slowly over time due to environment changes, but if we were just gone. It was really incredible. It is a true call-to-arms for the environment because the chapters about how long and in what ways our trash and plastic will be around were horrendous. The most interesting ones i think were the chapters on what would happen to the petrochemical plants in south Texas and to the nuclear plants throughout the world. To sum those up: very bad things. But he also discusses more hopeful things, like the ways the land, animals and flora would all recover from our presence and the places where it is even occurring now, like in New England.

currently: getting ready for Florida-LSU.

BTT on Saturday

Another Booking through Thursday post!

Do you have “issues” with too much profanity or overly explicit (ahem) “romantic” scenes in books? Or do you take them in stride? Have issues like these ever caused you to close a book? Or do you go looking for more exactly like them? (grin)


I would say i have no issues at ALL with naughty bits or swear words. Profanity doesn't bother me a bit so i would neither put down a book nor pick up a book because of it. It isn't a factor at all. i cuss a lot myself, mainly i think because i work on the phone as a customer's bitch and i am so proscribed on what i can say that as soon as i get off the phone the switch is flipped and i am free to express myself!! Sex is kind of a different thing. I would say i don't go looking for it because when i am in the kind of mood to read it i end up rereading something i know is good (Anne Rice's Cry to Heaven springs to mind) or i indulge in some Harry Potter fan fiction. Happy, sweet, emotional fan fiction. I don't read romance novels, mainly because the few that i have picked up over the years tend to not be the best written stuff. The few that i have enjoyed have been historical type ones involving pirates, castles, nobility, etc and i guess i like those because they become a total immersion fantasy. That being said, Henry Miller's Tropic books are near the top of my classics to read list because i have heard they are pretty graphic. I mean, who doesn't want to read about what your grandparents thought about sex back in the day.

Currently: watching Auburn torch Vandy. COME ON GUYS!

04 October 2007

So Banned Books?

ok, it's Banned Books Week! Let's go out and burn some books! WOO HOO!


Oh wait, is that NOT what happens on Banned Books Week?

Looking over the ALA website i saw a link for the most challenged authors from 1900-2004. Wondering who could be the most challenged, i clicked on it. Stephen King? J.K Rowling? Anne Rice? Darwin?

Nope. The most challenged author was Alvin Schwartz. Who the hell is that?

Let me assure you he is awesome. He wrote the SCARY STORIES series!!!! Dozens of creepy tales, urban legends, and ghost stories written at grade school level for children to spook themselves out with. I loved them when i was a kid. I can't believe those books are the most challenged out there in the US. These aren't any worse than plain old Grimm's Fairy Tales. I am so lucky my parents let me read whatever i wanted.

03 October 2007

Robots!

Finished The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov. Or to be more accurate today i read The Caves of Steel, as i hadn't started it until this morning. and NO i didn't skip work again. I don't want to be written up. It is short, only about 275 small paperback pages with good size print. Solid mystery, very well written. I would have liked a little bit more after the detective solved the crime and presented his solution but I really enjoyed the novel.

The really weird part is, as i was going over amazon to pull the link for this post, i realized i haven't read anything by Asimov before. At least not any fiction. This is weird and kinda disturbs me. You see, way back in the 70's and early 80's, way back before cable, tivo, dvd players, home computers or video games more sophisticated than the Atari 2600, my parents were really big readers. Still are, for the most part. That is one of the gifts i am most grateful for from them: that reading is valuable, intelligence is important, and knowledge is wonderful. Anyway, my father is a huge sci-fi fan. We had stacks of sci-fi hardbacks and paperbacks. I tore through plenty of them between ages 9-14. Robots, space, aliens, colonies i really loved it. But somehow i don't think i read any Asimov. Did i just skip those? Did my dad not like his writing? Not sure, but now i've got more stuff to read.