Welcome to June, everyone. I’ve been looking forward to this month for a long time. After having almost no time to read for most of May, June promises lots of quiet time with a book or two…
I just finished ‘Fluke’ by Christopher Moore last weekend, and I’ve got a couple of his other books on order with the library. (By the way, whoever invented this system whereby you can look up a book in the online catalogue, put a hold on it and have it delivered to your neighbourhood brance ought to be canonized, in my opinion.)
I have the recent Penguin translations of Marcus Aurelius’ “Meditations”, and Confucius’ “Analects” on the go, and I’ve been reading “The Man Who Lied to his Laptop” by Clifford Nass and Corina Yen, which is all about learning about human behaviour by studying how we interact with computers. Quite fascinating.
Khadaji was a long time Doper who always had kind and encouraging words for others. His passion for books and reading led him to start this ongoing monthly thread, and it is in fond remembrance that we’ve continued these threads under his name. Ave atque vale, Khadaji!
I am 2/3 of the way through Point Counter Point, by Aldous Huxley. Published in 1928 and set about that time. His longest novel, but still I should have been finished with it by mow. Reading time grows scarcer and scarcer, says the man surfing the Internet right now. It’s very good though. Playing off the different stories of a group of friends in and near London in the same manner as a musical composition. Read it and you’ll see what I mean. It’s interesting to read who all the characters are based on too, on the book’s Wikipedia page.
I’m reading Pied Piper by Nevil Shute. An elderly Englishman whose vacation in France is interrupted by Germany invading takes a group of children under his wing and becomes determined to get them safely out of the country. It’s a sweet story.
I’m also reading the works of Tamora Pierce with an online book club. We finished First Test yesterday, and we’re starting Page next week. These books were a huge part of my childhood, it’s great fun to revisit them with other people, some of whom also love and remember them and some who are discovering them for the first time.
Here, here! And even better are electronic library consortiums like Indiana Digital Media where you can not only search the catalog and put items on hold - but when they’re available, download them right to your computer/ e-reader!
I finally finished Daniel O’Malley’s The Rook (as read by Susan Duerden) and it was really, really good! O’Malley kept ramping the plot up from peak to peak, and Myfanwy kept meeting those challenges, tho not without cost. The touches of dry, British humour added nicely to the tone of the story, and I’m really looking forward to the next installment. I’m also thankful that The Rook didn’t end on a cliffhanger or leave too many threads hanging - just enough to intrigue me. I will be buying this book for my own, tho since it’s 486 pages, probably as the e-text version.
Also devoured Mary Roach’s latest - Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal - like her previous work, Stiff - I wouldn’t recommend reading while eating unless you have a strong constitution, as Roach covers the entire GI tract top to bottom. Along the way, she visits with scientists exploring why crunchy food is so appealing; researches an odd partnership between a man with a stomach fistula and a doctor researching digestion; and talks with the medical team (and the patient) involved in an intestinal flora transplant.
While Roach brings her same intensely curious, yet tongue-in-cheek approach to this book, I didn’t find myself quite as caught up this time around. I can’t quite put my finger on why; whether the material was at fault, or if her schtick is starting to wear thin… I’m leaning a bit toward the former.
I did buy the Kindle version of the book, as it was on sale (and I had a gift cert burning a hole in my virtual pocket) and I’m sure I’ll re-read it, tho perhaps not as often as Stiff or Packing for Mars. Recommended to those interested in food science, GI ailments and cures or just have a general interest in the human body and how it ticks.
I also breezed through Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World, a memoir co-authored by Grandin and Sy Montgomery. I didn’t realize until I started reading that it’s basically a YA book, with age-appropriate vocabulary, sentence structure and tone. However, that in no way takes away from the work; in fact, I can see it becoming a valuable resource for teachers and parents working with young people on the autistic spectrum.
While I was already familiar with the basics of her career from her other books, I enjoyed the look at her younger years, as well as the wealth of pictures and illustrations. This book also gives a very good overview of how her work has improved the lives of livestock without going into gory detail (tho it comes close in one short section). Recommended to anyone interested in a engaging biography that illustrates overcoming obstacles in a straightforward, non-cloying way.
Indeed … although I’m also in the midst of one of those times when I had a lot reserved that didn’t come forever … and now they all came at once. I must not be saying the right novenas. And I really try to strategically manage my reserve list, too – mixing up things like bestsellers with a very long line with older titles that don’t have much demand. But yet, the system is a fickle mistress.
I finished Serving Victoria, which is the diaries and letters collected from people who had appointments at Queen Victoria’s court. I enjoyed it, but it’s definitely for people who want a lot of details about mundane things.
In the flood of things that just arrived, I have:
Equilateral *by Ken Kalfus The Rook, as has been mentioned favorably in this thread several times. Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing by Po Bronson
A Corner of White*, a YA novel with a premise that I thought was cute - a girl meets a boy from a fantasy realm, and thinks he’s putting her on.
*Farthing *by Jo Walton, as I really enjoyed her Among Others.
HBO did a biopic on her a few years back. There were several excellent scenes attempting to show how her mind worked, her thought processes. I thought they did a good job, and Claire Danes was great as Ms. Grandin.
I’m still reading The Son by Philipp Meyer, the story of a Texas family from the 1830’s to the present. I think it’s quite good, but it’s very violent.
Over the past few days I raced through Joe Haldeman’s Camouflage, which I really enjoyed despite a somewhat abrupt (but happy) ending. Two virtually immortal shapeshifting aliens feel inexplicably drawn to the same ancient artifact recovered from deep in the Pacific - one of them is amoral and violent, but the other has a conscience and a growing affinity for humanity. Good stuff.
Still making my way through Ron Chernow’s Washington: A Life, which is well-done but taking some time.
Since I usually have at least two books going at once, I may next return to one of Alan Dean Foster’s Star Trek Logs (adaptations of ST animated series episodes) next. I loved those as a kid.
Have started reading The Bloodline Feud by Charles Stross which is the first omnibus of the Merchant Princes series - am quite looking so far - nothing mindplowingly original but it plots along nicely with enough twists and stories being set up. Once finished ith this series I’m starting The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu
This is one of those agonizing times, because Joyland is my Mother’s Day gift (ordered then, to arrive now) AND I got hit with the massive influx of reserved books from the library, some of which are new releases so I have limited time with them. How am I supposed to enjoy reading another book when Joyland is sitting around the house, ignored?