Monday, 25 April 2011


Just about to leave for Powell's.  I've been working out so I can carry my books.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

#23 Zombie Spaceship Wasteland

What can I say?  This was a funny book on the life and observations of Patton Oswalt.  I'm not sure what I expected from this book, which seemed to be a series of disjointed biography with stuff that was funny insetrted.  The biography read like a series of short stories, and the funny stuff served its purpose well.  I liked it.  I was surprised at how well Oswalt wrote, and that he could make me laugh with high frequency and without it feeling like he was forcing it or trying too hard.  I liked the book, and probably because I have similarities to the protagonist in that he played Dungeons nad Dragons, read comics, had terrible jobs and knew wierd characters in his daily life.  The sense of a shared experience goes a lonf way in sympathising with a character.  I keep talking about this book as though it was a novel, which it felt like despite its biographical pretext.  Much better than I expected.  The first book I read from my great Borders Boon.

Friday, 15 April 2011

A Borders Boon

So I took a leisurely stroll this morning hoping to do some shopping (its been 14 months since I've been to America).  I stopped at Jamba Juice, got myself an orange dream, and had difficulty finishing the beverage.  I proceeded to Ross and bout a towel and some comfortable shoes.  I restrained from buying more.  I am not an avid shopper, but after not shopping for the better part of 27 months, the urge is stronger.  Next I went to the local Borders hoping to buy a Terry Pratchett, when I discovered the Borders was closing down, which is always a sad site.  It is my second favorite bookstore, Powell's being my favorite.  Having gotten over the initial reaction of sadness, I read the signs which claimed that all inventory was 70% off.  Half an hour later I was stooping over so as not to drop my prodigious load.  I was balancing books on one another, placing the firmer ones lower and the smaller ones at non-Euclidian positions.  I purchased 18 brand-new paperbacks for the low low price of $74.52.  My receipt says I saved $158.57.  That sounds about right.  I'll probably read most of the books this summer.  I just wished I would have gotten here a week earlier when the inventory was greater.  The selection was pretty slim, unless you wanted Glen Beck's new book, there were a lot of those.  Even at 70% off, a Californian won't buy that abortion of a book.


Did my own little reading marathon on the long plane ride from England.  I started and finished The Adventure of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, 225 pages.  I enjoyed that book, mostly because some of the little adventures were humorous and some of the satire was pretty spot on.  This book resonated a little for me, as I grew up in the south (Arkansas) and went into caves and was constantly into mischief of some sort.  If I had to pick a literary character I was most like as a kid it would be Sawyer, but this is an imperfect association.  Anyways, I plan on finding more Twain books to read this this long summer ahead.  I'm looking for The Gilded Age next.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

April - Part I

I had intended to write each book in its own post, but a hectic week in London and a trip to Italy has ruined that plan for at least the first half of April.  So instead of one I post five.  17-21.

#17 - I have finally read the engaging "The History of the English People 1000-1154" by Henry of Huntingdon.  150 pages.  If the name doesn't scream READ ME!! I don't know what does.  I am being a bit sarcastic, especially for one the better medieval history/chronicle books.  How can you not turn the page when Henry I dies from eating eels, even though he knows they are bad for him.  Apparently he loved that food despite his inability to digest it.  Another king, Edmund, went to privy to relieve himself and an assassin was hiding inside the toilet and as the king relieved himself he proceeded to stab the king in the privates and bowels.  This was a disgusting book, but also includes some funny anecdotes.

#18 - Stuart Little, 131 pages.   A nice little children's novel that doesn't really have an ending, which is satisfying.  I liked how the book didn't feel it had to conclude itself neatly.

#19 - I have finally read Winnie-the-Pooh (161 pages) by A.A. Milne in preparation for the new animated feature.  Looking forward to the film, especially as it looks a bit creative from what I've seen of the trailer.  A nice little book full of loosely interconnected stories.

#20 - "Wuthering Heights" by Emily Bronte. 337 pages.  I have heard so many things about this book as being quite possibly one of the best novels ever written.  It has been hyped more than Shakespeare and now I have read it.  It was a great book, a very good book in its own right, but despite all that it has that recommends it I struggle to see it as in the top ten best novels.  I could have done without all of the recommendations.  I loved this book, but not as much as it was recommended to me.  Does his sound awkward?
Also, it might only be me, but every time the old manservant Joseph speaks I smile.  I found that character infinitely humorous, and I wonder if Emily also thought that way about him.  Anyways the first 30-40 pages of the novel I was laughing pretty hard.  It might be that Cold Comfort Farm was still fairly fresh in my mind and that comic novel colored my initial reaction.  Of course the laughing stopped when Lockwood had his ghost dream.

#21 - "Across the River and into the Trees" by Ernest Hemingway.  220 pages.  This was the most mediocre book of a considered great writer that I have read.  I didn't really like this one, but I dutifully finished it.  The most interesting thing about the book was what was written on the cover:

"The most important author since Shakespeare" - The New York Times Book Review.

Now that quote is a conversation starter!  Let me count the writers...

Tuesday, 5 April 2011


This is the third month of my blog and as I publish this post I realize why waiting till the end of the month to go over my books is ridiculous.  I sit here with 8 books, most of which I would like to discuss in depth.  I think for the remainder of the year I will post as I read books.  This will make posting easier for me and less daunting than trying to go over eight books at the same time, or even more when my work at Yellowstone starts in about 4 weeks.

So here I go:

1. How to Read a Church by Richard Taylor.  237 pages.  This is a very simple book which does exactly what its title says.  One of the biggest finds in here is that Doric columns represent males in a church and Ionic represent females.  I think Corinthian represent the Virgin Mary.  SO when you walk around an old European church and find Doric columns, that church, or chapel, may be consecrated for a male Saint.  THere were other nice bits of information in there as well.

2. The Unvanquished by William Faulkner.  254 pages.  One of my favorite writers, this is a nice collection of stories concerning a family during and after the Civil War.  Faulkner could write about flies eating shit and his language alone would make it a worthwhile endeavor.

3. Mort by Terry Pratchett.  243 pages.  Another fun Discworld enterprise, nothing more.

4.  The Age of Capital by Eric Hobsbawm.  308 pages.  One of the more diffiuclt history books to read.  I wish I could say that I understood over half of what I read here, but I'm not sure ;).  There is a lot here to recommend, but the audience is rather limited to those more educated in history than anything else.

5. The Siege of Thebes by John Lydgate.  150 pages.  A good reason why I read this book, the author was born a mere 20 minute drive from my parents house in Newmarket, and he was also a monk in one of my favorite towns in England, Bury St. Edmunds.  Lydgate considered himself the second coming of Chaucer and fell rather short, but to watch it is kind of funny.  His story telling goes from exciting to digressions so boring you want to skip over whole sections of the poem.  His use of language is redundant and repetitive. His material is Ancient Greece, and yet he imposes his current beliefs onto the past in rather awkward ways.  For example, a prophet of old is swallowed by the ground and falls to Lucifer for worshipping false gods 800 years before Christ.  I just found the 100 lines of digression extremely funny.  I guess you had to be there.  I would read something else by him.

6.  Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons.  233 pages.  Funny, humorous, and silly at times.  This was probably the best book I read this month.  It was a nice comic novel with such great quotations as, "who let the bull out" followed by "it was me"; and "there have always been Starkadders at Cold Comfort Farm".

7. The Walking Dead volume 6 by Robert Kirkland.  A good graphic novel.

8.  Bridge to Terabithia by katherine Paterson.  163 pages.  A kids novel dealing with death and growing up.  Kind of sad, but I think I should have read something else.  It is a Newberry winner, but it is not one of those children's books that adults also enjoy, like the Hobbit, The Wind in the Willows, or A Clockwork Orange.

So now I have read just 16 books in 3 months.  I am already behind 9 books if I want to read 100 this year.