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You can't rob Peter, Paul and Mary to pay yourself.
So, what did you read last month? I read...
Tolkien and C.S. Lewis: The Gift of Friendship by Colin Duriez -
A somewhat interesting study of how each writer supported and influenced the other during their prolific careers. The writing is a little dry, but there are some interesting tidbits. One of the most interesting is how Tolkien helped Lewis convert to Christianity (from atheism). Lewis, of course, went on to become a popular Christian apologist. Tolkien, ironically, didn't approve of Lewis' apologist writings.
I read lots of really boring articles on theory of Composition, Pedogogy, and Literature.
For fun, I've read a book of short stories called This is Not Chick Lit, Phoenix: Endsong, and Mystique vol.2.
I haven't had time for a whole lot this month.
BTW, Sinister Dexter, Tolkien and Lewis are two really interesting people with a friendship that would be interesting to study. I read a letter once about Lewis's view on Tolkien's first draft of the Hobbit. It's amazing to think these two men were in a writing group together.
Hmm... Let me see...
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
The First World War (Small detailed book. Quick and fast read.)
The first and second book in the Edge Chronicles
Aviator, Biography of Howard Hughs
Biography of T.E. Lawerance
No one takes the time to read anymore.
The Postman by David Brin. I've never seen the movie. I know it was panned, but I like Kevin Coster movies. I saw the book at a used bookstore. I took the trade in plunge.
The Hour of the Donkey by Anthony Price. A pre-prequel to his David Audley spy books. Set in early WWII. It offers an explanation of how the Dunkirk Miracle happened.
Battlefield Britian by Father and Son Snow. Companion to the BBC series WHICH I MUST SEE!!
Still working on:
Medieval Lives by Terry Jones. Describing how the lives of 8 classes of people change over the period from approximately 1067 to 15something-something.
Why the North Won the Civil War ed. by Donald, 1960 edition. Covering a series of lectures from a conference in 1958, this volume talks about diplomacy, economics, religion, morale and tactics during the war. The European diplomacy rings horribly close to events today!
A Soldier No More by Anthony Price. A prequel to the David Audley spy books.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
This wasn't bad. I like how this was tighter than the last couple—they were starting to bloat. I also like how she's willing to kill off major characters...and not just for the shock factor. Here's a great quote from Rowling: "A price has to be paid. We are dealing with pure evil here. They don't target extras do they? They go for the main characters."
When Gravity Fails by George Alec Effinger
This is a cyberpunk, noir, mystery set in an Arab ghetto called the Budayeen. For much of this book, I wasn't sure how I felt about it. There are some cool ideas...but the main character is a heavy drug user. And by the end of the book it becomes just exhausting reading about this character being on some drug or another throughout his adventures. But in the end, I rather liked it. I'll probably give the short series at least one more book. Hopefully Marid will enter rehab.
On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers
This one just came out in a reprint edition, and I statched it up and dove right in. Every time I read one of Powers' books, I'm reminded why he's one of my 3 favorite living authors. His stories are crazy, disjointed, and peopled with interesting characters. His books are often about ghosts, superstitions, and gonzo magic that, when he wraps things up perfectly in the end, are inexplicably logical! This one wasn't as good as Last Call, The Anubis Gates, or The Drawing of the Dark, but it was still a fine book. If you've never read Powers' stuff, go. Now.
Robert - Thanks for picking up the slack for my lack of posting the reading list this time around - I've been incredibly busy lately. As for my reading, I have nearly finished "An Army at Dawn" by Rick Atkinson. A great readable history of the North African campaign. I never knew the depth of incompetence exhibited by the Allied forced in this campaign until I read this account. Luckily, the Allies learned from this and did a more credible job once they hit the beaches in Normandy (although still far from perfect).
Time for me to get back to some fiction, methinks.
Might I suggest Tim Powers...?
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It was a light month for me. I started and finished The Ruins by Scott Smith, and was disappointed. I also started Three Days to Never by Tim Powers, A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick, and A Simple Plan by Scott Smith, but abandoned all of them. The first was too obtuse for my mood at the time, the second i tried to read too soon after seeing the movie, and the last was just as dark, dismal, and disappointing as The Ruins.
I did read a couple of the Strangers in Paradise pocket books by Terry Moore. They're very good. They start out as a weird romantic/slapstick comic, but quickly veer into some very serious issues and stories. I have two more to read to finish the ones I have.
Eric "Shippy McShipperson" Mowrer
A Canticle for Liebowitz
The Stars My Destination
Both were pretty good. I enjoyed getting a more or less objective view into the Catholic faith in Canticle. They never resolved the Jewish character's role in the whole thing, though. I felt like there was no ending.
Isle of Wight
Gifts by Ursula K Le Guin
Voices by Ursula K Le Guin
The first two Books of the Western Shore, Le Guin's new (young adult) fantasy series. Gifts was merely average Le Guin, but Voices was excellent - I read it twice during the month.
Shadowmarch by Tad Williams
My second reading of Tad Williams' latest (I borrowed it shortly after release from the library). This time I was really struck by how much this felt like ‘Tad Williams does a Song of Fire and Ice’.
End of the World Blues by Jon Courtney Grimwood
This uses JCGs usual shtick – a contemporary neo-noir mystery-thriller intermingled with a story set in a wholly different time and place. I preferred this to the similar Stamping Butterflies.
Coot Club by Arthur Ransome
A children’s classic.
The Wind Singer by William Nicholson
Picked this up for £1 in a charity shop. It wasn’t as good as I remembered - after the interesting set-up the story seems to lose direction at the end. Hopefully Slaves of the Mastery and Firesong will live up to my memories when get round to reading them again.
The Call of Cthuhlu and Other Weird Tales by H.P. Lovecraft
I read about half of this compilation including The Call of Cthuhlu, The Shadow over Innsmouth, The Color out of Space, The Whisperer in the Dark. My favourite was The Color out of Space.
GET A SILK BAG FROM THE GRAVEYARD DUCK TO LIVE LONGER.
Decently busy month for me, but a lot of the stuff I was reading was specifically academic.
The Battle for Christmas by Nissenbaum.
Interesting look at how Christmas, as we experience it, has always been tied to commercialism. Secondary points of interest about how and why Santa Claus was popularized. No real religious focus, but the points that Nissenbaum covers are solid enough.
The Alcoholic Republic by Rorabaugh.
Fun glance back to the antebellum era in the United States, and the drinking habits that were present then, and how they evolved as the century progressed. Not academically rigorous, and many of the points that Rorabaugh makes are based largely on conjecture, but it was a fast read and relatively fun.
American Manhood by Rotundo.
A historical look at the way people view gender, and how the perception of manliness has changed from 1800 to the early 1900's. Rotundo identifies 3 basic eras of manhood: communal, self-made, and passionate and how each of the categories evolved into the next. The real short gist: in the early 1800's being "manly" entailed meeting one's commitments at a social level. Identify at this point is largely based on usefulness to community moreso than individuality. Self-made swings in the other direction, and one's own achievements rather than one's family and "usefulness" starts to dominate hierarchy. Passionate manhood is the present step, wher ethings like ambition and combativeness, which were considered vice in the first era, are now accepted as possibly virtuous characteristics, and certainly aren't viewed as necessarily negative as a state of being. This era also defines manhood largely in antithesis to being a woman. Not a bad book, I enjoyed reading it enough though the subject isn't one that I find particularly compelling.
The American Amusement Park by Samuelson.
Coffee table style book about the evolution of amusement parks in America. Quite short, with many pictures, but a pretty fun overview, and the information is interesting for park buffs like myself.
The American Amusement Park Industry by Adams.
A very academic, economic oriented look at the evolution of coaster parks in America starting at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 and coming up to present day. Again, of interest only to people who are interested in how the park industry grew to the point where it is, but very useful if you have an interest in that area.
Kennywood: Roller Coaster Capital of the World by Jacques
A history of Kennywood Park in Pittsburgh, PA, one of the oldest operating amusement parks in the country, and one of my favourites. This book traces KW from its founding as a trolley park in 1898 up to the building of the Laser Loop roller coaster in the 80's. This book is a great historical document and has a lot of interesting information about the park.
Idora: the Last Ride of Summer by Shale.
Like the Kennywood book, this is a detailed look at one amusement park, this one being Idora Park, which used to exist in Youngstown, Ohio. I never visited the park myself, because it closed down when I was 4 years old, but the park has a great reputation, and it fits into the academic research I'm doing on trolley parks.
Failed States by Noam Chomsky.
No real need to cover this in depth. Noam Chomsky is an American Anarcho-Syndicalist and one of the leading voices of criticism for the American government (regardless of which party is in power), and has been since the publishing of the Pentagon Papers during the Nixon era. I'm also a leftist, so I enjoy reading his books and analysis.
Burning Chrome by William Gibson.
I don't read a lot of sci-fi, but I've been hitting Gibson up a bit lately because I discovered that he was the true basis of cyberpunk, and the base upon which the Shadowrun RPG world was built. Burning Chrome is simply a series of short stories, and I quite enjoyed it. I have to say though, I'm starting to agree with Gibson's critique of Shadowrun, it adds hardly anything necessarily to his Cyberpunk base and makes it overly cliche because of the fantasy elements. I plan to get more stuff by him soon.
The Other Side of the River by Kotlowtitz.
A document of a death/murder in Benton Harbor/Saint Joseph Michigan that revealed a long and sordid racial divide to a Chicago reporter. The twin cities are only about an hour from my home in the west side of the state, and they are somewhat infamous for being an odd pair: one rich and white, and the other poor and black. This book documents the discovery of a young black male's body in the St. Joseph river, and the way that it divided the community along its traditional racial lines with Benton Harbor people vehemently believing that it was a case of murder, and the Saint Joseph folks largely lining up on the side of accident. There is no clear solution to the case, and the book simply doesn't need that to be compelling because the divide between the community is the real focus. A fairly quick read, and a suggestion for anyone who is interested in social dynamics, particularly when race is involved.
...and I think that's it.
- Last edited Tue Oct 3, 2006 9:06 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Tue Oct 3, 2006 9:04 pm
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Don't Know Much About The Universe by Kenneth C. Davis
I hadn't read the former since the 7th grade, and was surprised by how much I loved it this time -- it's now on my Most Favorite Books list. The language is wonderful and it's very nuanced. Worth returning to as an adult, if you have time.
The latter was fascinating! Its subtitle is "everything you always wanted to know about outer space but never learned" or something like that. It begins with the history & philosophy of science and astronomy, then tells you a little about the objects in our solar system, and finally talks about the modern era with the Apollo program, Hubble, Sputnik, Challenger, etc. It doesn't go very deep on any one subject, but it's a wide overview that's very readable and enjoyable.
For example, an interesting tidbit I learned in this book: Venus is the only planet where a day is longer than a year, for it takes longer for the planet to rotate once than it does for it to revolve around the sun once.
Last night I started another in the Don't Know Much About series -- this one is about Geography. There are other DKMA books on History, the Civil War, Mythology, and the Bible.