Showing posts from April, 2011

A History of Reading

I'm almost finished with all the Alberto Manguel my library has. A History of Reading covers some territory that The Library at Night and A Reader on Reading cover but it is always fascinating. Manguel traces how reading developed and changed in function and importance. Starting with Asyrian cunieform, probably detailing the trading of animals, moving through Egyptians and Greeks (Socrates disliked books!), then Rome and the Middle Ages, reading, how it happens, the forms of books, how it is taught and valued (or not) is a fascinating subject. Manguel structures his chapters as topics rather than strictly chronologically which makes the book flow incredibly well.

I had several favorite chapters; I really enjoyed learning about how silent reading may have developed; it never crossed my mind that reading to oneself is not the natural way to read. The chapter on metaphors of reading (like devouring books) was great. It made me want to read the poetry of Walt Whitman, which I have…


About 2 months ago, i was scrolling through my facebook feed on a break at work when i saw that Tor had a post offering the yet to be released novel Harbor (or maybe Harbour, i have seen it spelled both ways in various places) by John Ajvide Lindqvist. I shot off an email, not expecting to get a copy but i managed to snag one!

I couldn't get to it immediately but I finished this book last night and really liked it. I also read it very quickly, tearing through the last 300 pages yesterday. The novel starts with Anders' daughter, Maja, disappearing into thin air on the frozen sea surrounding the island of Domaro. Then, about 3 years later, Anders returns to the island, an alcoholic and in despair. He becomes more aware of the supernatural forces on the island with help from Anna-Greta, his grandmother, and Simon, an elderly stage magician who may hold some true magic in his hands. Simon and Anna-Greta have their own stories and sorrows too; i think their flashbacks are re…

Weekly Geeks 2011-14

A meme! Favorite authors A-Z. I've had to double up, the more i thought the harder it was to weigh two for that same letter. I mean, Haruki Murakami and Alan Moore are both fabulous but so completely different they cannot be compared. I also have a couple blanks which i reserve the right to fill in if i come up with a proper author.

A- Issac Asimov, Jane Austen
B- Anne Bishop, Ray Bradbury
C- Jaqueline Carey, Wilkie Collins
D- Richard Dawkins, Arthur Conan Doyle
E- Edgar Allan Poe
F- Anne Fadiman, Frank Miller
G- Neil Gaiman, George R.R. Martin
H- Lian Hearn, Nick Hornby
I- Kazuo Ishiguro
J-Jared Diamond, J.K. Rowling
K- Steven King
L- John Ajvide Lindqvist, Gaston LeRoux
M- Alan Moore, Haruki Murakami
N- Neal Stephenson, Naomi Novik
O- Patrick O'Brian, George Orwell
P- Phillip Pullman
R- Meg Rosoff, Mary Roach
S- Carl Sagan, Dr. Seuss
T- Toni Morrison, J.R.R. Tolkien
U- Ursula K. LeGuin
V- Sarah Vowell
W- H.G. Wells, Jo Walton
Z- Markus Zusak

Now i want to go to the library and look in the Q,…

Unfamiliar Fishes

I normally enjoy Sarah Vowell very much. There's this mixture of warmth and snark and love of learning and geeky New Yorkerness that I really like. Saying that, i didn't enjoy her latest, Unfamiliar Fishes, as much as previous books. Essentially about the role New England Christians played in the colonization of Hawaii, it is just so sad that i didn't want to keep reading. Vowell still pulls out all the cool weird bits of knowledge and history but i got so angry with the New Englanders and their religion it was a hard book for me to read. Religion ruins so much. I am giving it a 4 mainly because people tick me off i guess. Start with Assassination Vacation or Take the Cannoli if you haven't read her before.

The Gunslinger Born

Whew! This is the last book i finished on the readathon. The Gunslinger Born relates much of what we read of the Dark Tower books, i can't remember which one. Maybe Wizard and Glass? so nothing was new but the story is compelling and the art just lovely. definitely worth it if you liked the Dark Tower series. Now i want to reread those too! a 6.


I have always liked the play Othello. I can't help it; Iago is my favorite villain. Sure, Othello is taken down by his own jealousy but if Iago hadn't started it Othello and Desdemona would have been just fine. And we don't ever get a real reason as to why Iago hates Othello so much. He's like the guy Michael Caine mentions in The Dark Knight "some men just like to watch the world burn". The cast was great, especially Iago and Othello. The only complaint i have is about the music between the scenes. sometimes it was fine, others it was too jarring. overall, a 6 and this counts for the Shakespeare Challenge!

Twilight's Dawn

I actually finished this book before the readathon. It came in last Wednesday from my library list. I hadn't intended to read it but i tear through Anne Bishop's novels. Twilight's Dawn is actually 4 stories. The first two take place shortly after Tangled Webs, my least favorite of the novels so far, and reference back to that one. Both those were pretty decent. but the last story...i can't decide. Parts i feel aren't exactly out of character but there was such a change in the timeline that i don't think i liked it. a 5 from me.

Double 7

I'm going to talk about a couple of very different books i finished on Saturday that I loved.

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell is trippy and strange. It is a series of nested stories which reference both forward to the next and back to the previous one. It is hard to explain but i really recommend picking it up.

The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel is non-fiction. Manguel is just so fabulous a writer. every essay is just lovely.You gotta read "The Library as Space" if you are a bit of book buyer. again, highly recommended.

Wrap up of the Readathon

So, for the readathon i read 634 pages and 1 graphic novel. I read the last 226 pages of Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, the entirety of The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel, 83 pages of Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell, which i didn't finish. The graphic novel i read was The Gunslinger Born. Reviews are forthcoming!

Another Update

I'm in salty snack mode. Crackers and cheese and tuna salad, mmm. will probably switch over to sweets in another hour or so! I've been reading Alberto Manguel's The Library at Night after getting through maybe 80 pages of Unfamiliar Fishes. I think i want to stick with the non-fiction a bit longer.

Pages read: 562
Books Finished: just Cloud Atlas

Part 3

I finally have an entry to this contest! The problem falls with verbs, you know. I have dozens of books i could have used for the noun bits. Not many descriptive clauses in my library either.

I feel clever! In case you can't see the little words it reads "The whiskey rebels feed the children of men on a day like this".

Update 2

so, i finished Cloud Atlas. phenomenal. in retrospect, reminds me a touch of Memento. Now going to pick up Unfamiliar Fishes for a bit. I also downloaded the album Fruit by The Asteriods Galaxy Tour. They sing the song in the recent Heineken commercial, where the guy in the white tux jacket greets all the various people at a banquet in appropriate ways. They also had a song in a ipod or iphone commercial last year i think. the two songs sound so different i didn't realize it was the same band until i listened to the clips. also listened to a playlist of Radiohead's In Rainbows alternated with OK Computer which is great.

Pages: a pathetic 226.
Finished: Cloud Atlas

well, i've been reading

just doing a bunch of other random things in between a few pages. I got up about 10 but didn't start trying to read until about 11. I am feeling a touch scattered and now i've a bit of a headache. :P maybe i will make some coffee. I am working on Cloud Atlas which, now that i am 2/3 of the way through, i am finally "getting". ah well. after that, not sure what i'll go to next.

Total pages: not saying until i reach something respectable!

The Reverse of the Medal

I had gotten into a bit of a flow with the Aubrey-Maturin books by Patrick O'Brian. They go on a mission, there are battles, Steven has some spy shenanagins he does, Jack looses some money, Jack gains some money, they go home, repeat. That is in no way a criticism.

But O'Brian was ballsy enough that inReverse of the Medal, the eleventh novel, he threw out his immemorial customs and did some very different things with his characters. Plotlines that have been building up over several books come to fruition with major changes for our heroes. This book has made the series truly great. Very highly recommended, a 7!

BTT for 4/7/11

Yay! an excuse for more pictures!
So … the books that you own (however many there may be) … do you display them proudly right there in plain sight for all the world to see? (At least the world that comes into your living room.) Or do you keep them tucked away in your office or bedroom or library or closet or someplace less “public?”
Other than the books we are actively reading the books are all in the bedrooms. Except the cookbooks go in the kitchen. here are the books in the library/guest room.
See the little doors in the middle? there are books behind them. and you can't see all the graphic novels on the bottom left shelf.

and here are all the ones in the bedroom we are sleeping in.

and there are two smallish boxes that are still not unpacked. We don't keep the books in those places because we don't want people to see them or to keep them private, those places are just where the bookcases fit! As you can see, we have a lot of books. :)

WooHoo Readathon!

So Dewey's Readathon is this Saturday. Here is a stack of possibles!

I am reading Cloud Atlas at B's suggestion and am about halfway through. If i don't finish it before the weekend that is a top priority. Last time I found short stories to be lots of fun so that's why i've included the Gaiman and it will count for the Once Upon a Time challenge. I got a free, super early copy of Harbour by John Ajvide Lindqvist and I want to get that started. And i love graphic novels for readathons so there are two on the stack. Sarah Vowell is great and Unfamiliar Fishes is her latest.

Not pictured are my other books from the library: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness, The Magician's Book by Laura Miller and The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel. Any of those may be started at any time. I am also about 80 pages into Three Seconds by Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom, another ERC. Whew!

Best guess? I'll finish Cloud Atlas, the graphic novels, start Harb…

Two Books on Reading

I finished two books about books this week, A Reader on Reading by Alberto Manguel and The Lost Art of Reading :Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time by David L. Ulin. They are quite different; the Ulin book is one 150 (little) page essay while the Manguel is many essays on several sorts of topics.

A quote from Ulin:
Reading, after all, is an act of resistance in a landscape of distraction, a matter of engagement in a society that seems to want nothing more than for us to disengage.

and a quote from Manguel:
The ideal library is both secluded and public, intimate and open to social intercourse, meant for meditation and for dialogue, parsimonious and generous, erudite and questioning, full of the despair of plenty and the hope of what has not yet been read.

Both very recommended. I am waiting on The Library at Night.