Thursday, January 13, 2005

Winter Has Finally Arrived but it Feels like Spit Not A Blanket

Winter has arrivedish. It's funny, but I would actually prefer to have some snow right now to this spitty rain stuff. I usually like rain, but not in January. I've lived here for going on four years now and this is the first year that we haven't had multiple snow storms by January. We haven't had any snow yet this year. But on the upside our fridge is being replaced. I take back anything mean I've said about Best Buy, but I'll reserve any praise until after we receive a working fridge. We need one that doesn't make strange loud noises, fail to make ice, isn't dented along the doors, and doesn't leak water from the bottom.

I never realized how expensive and hard it was to find bookcases. Either people never sell the bookcases they have or no one buys bookcases because I can't find any in the used furniture stores around town. I'll just have to keep looking and hope to find some gems at spring garage sales because my book collection just keeps on growing. We actually have a room in our house devoted solely to books I love having them all in one place. For years they've been divided between storage, my parents' houses, my apartment and so on that's why I suddenly need to find more shelves for them all. At some point the plan is to organize them by subject and author. I simply look forward to the time when they wont have to be stacked against the wall. Not having enough book cases does really make us look quite bohemian though.

Our having too many books to begin with doesn't, however, keep me from accumulating more of them and visiting the library as well. Today I visited the library before going to the gym. I came home with a stack of wedding and business etiquette books (not exactly mind altering fare but necessary nonetheless). I also put myself on the waiting list for Lemony Snickett's A Series of Unfornate Events, V. 6-8. I've read the first few and had fun with them. They weren't nearly as interesting or intense as the Harry Potter series. Maybe that's because the characters don't really grow or age with every book. The plot is as predictable as the characters. I think the series is exactly what it set out to be: fun. I'd like to read Eragon about which I've heard good things too. Concerning children's books...

  • After reading a version of Aesop's Fables illustrated by Heidi Holder, I realized that I'm really beginning to love pencil and watercolor drawings. This book was beautifully illustrated. I found it in a used bookstore and it was well worth a few dollars. I loved the subtlety of the illustrations; they were soft and dreamlike. This book made me reminisce about the story the Wind and the Willows and the beautiful illustrations that often accompany that story. The illustrator's love of animals is evident from the renderings. I really enjoyed all of the illustrations, especially Country Mouse, City Mouse, Marriage of the Sun, and the Cock and the Jewel. I think that I also like the drawings because they feel familiar to me. Did I have this book or a similar one as a child? Or is there something about the tales or drawings that are familiar to the human conscience? That explanation sounds far too Jungian for my tastes.

On the writing, I would have liked an introduction about the history of the fables and why the particular ones in this book were chosen to be included instead of others, but other than that the book isn't lacking. The fables that most appealed to me were Country Mouse, City Mouse (For those of you that know my sweetie moved from the Big Apple to be with me, you'll understand why this story was especially touching) and Laden Ass. It's a pretty book. Standard ethics fables.

  • The Wit of Oscar Wilde was ok. It was a compilation of things he said or wrote. It was a decent book but only because it encouraged me to read some of his original writings themselves. Beyond that, it's simply a book full of witty but disjointed and sometimes contradictive statements about love, marriage, money, and so on. I have the feeling that Wilde was a not a very happy person. His Portrait of Dorian Gray didn't exactly paint the picture of a comfortable, well-adjusted author. Not a keeper. I've recorded the names of the pieces I want to read: An Ideal Husband etc.
  • I enjoyed Unnatural Fire by Fidelis Morgan but it wasn't nearly as good as it's sequel The Rival Queens. I read them in the wrong order because I found the first one after the second at a book sale. The situations in this one weren't nearly as memorable and the characters were not nearly as engaging. I'm glad I read the second one first or I might not have gotten to the second--better--one.

The characters were not realistically foolish. I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but the story was too much like the common comedy of manners. The characters were just too dense. Furthermore, with the exception of a character named Betty all the characters that die during the course of the story really don't illicit any emotional response from the reader. In other words, their deaths result in nothing more than a dull thud. The apparent villains are not attractive and are gravely flawed. The villain isn't a fallen hero at all. The place and voice of the story were lacking the same delicious quality that the second book has. It wasn't easy to laugh, nor were the descriptions of period London as well wrought. I'm only tempted to keep it because I'm rather fond of the author's second book.

  • Wow. Talk about a serious mindbender. If you think you're good at puzzles and riddles, then you need to read The Exeter Book of Riddles translated by Kevin Crossley-Holland. This took me a long time to read because I tried to figure out all the riddles. They were nearly impossible. It definitely made me miss my friends at St. John's. We could have made a dent in them more quickly with a group effort. It's at these times that I miss you most acutely.
  • I am not a fan of comics. Maybe that's because I didn't grow up reading them, or maybe I'm just too uptight, but my fiance says I should try to read a few just for kicks. I'm not so sure. After reading a highly praised "comic" book that felt kind of flat it's hard for me to jump on the comic book band wagon. It's really a children's book by a notorious comic book author. I know people raved about Neil Gaimon's Coraline (especially people who loved the Sandman series--which I do like), but I didn't like it. Coraline is little like Van Allsburg's books (like The Garden of Abdul Gasazi or The Mysteries of Harris Burdick) but it isn't as inspired.

The characters were dark as was the whole story wrapped within a story plot, but the ending was anticlimatic. At least the style and language of the story were clear. It felt like the story wanted to be a more complex adult novel or a children's book with more illustrations. It clumsily follows on the heals of C.S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia, but this remained too simple and too dark throughout. It wasn't magical. I might take a look at some of his other stuff, but I wont rush out to do it.

  • I HATE LAWYER jokes! I hate them not because they're antilawyer but because most of them aren't funny. My father LOVES to give me jokes about lawyers. I think he believes they help us bond because he tells them, and I am one (i.e., I am a lawyer, not a joke). The Best Lawyer Jokes Ever is probably the best one he's given me so far. I actually read every joke in it. I can tell it wasn't too bad because I can still remember some of the jokes well enough to retell them. My personal fav' is the one about the associate who chooses hell after interviews in heaven and hell. I'll keep the book for a little while so that whenever I begin to take my profession too seriously I'll be able to crack it open and come back down to earth. Plus, my ability to recount lawyer jokes will make my dad happy.
  • DO NOT read A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer unless you are A: Doing a study about severe instances of child abuse, B: Feeling really really sorry for yourself without a good reason, or C: aren't appreciating (by appreciating I mean that you're down right rude and ungrateful toward them) the fantastic parents God gave you. Calling the story in this book sad is like making the understatement of the millenium. I thought the story would be about triumph over poor circumstances--and it was for the last few pages--but it was so awful getting there. What Dave Pelzer endured was unimaginable. My first response was to think that he was lying because it pains me to believe that any person, let alone a child, could be put through what he lived through. Maybe I'm just a vengeful person, but because he was only removed from his home and his abusers were not tried in criminal court, I felt like he was not vindicated. That's probably part of why he wrote the book--to have his day in court so to speak. I wanted his parents, both of them, to be punished. I wanted his siblings to be removed from the home too (but they weren't). Plus, to distance myself from the horror of the story I want to know what pschological disorder caused his mother's behavior. Even though I want to know what happened to him once he escaped the brutal treatment by his family, I really don't think I can take the follow up book.
  • On to another brutal story...The Company: Portrait of a Murder was depressing. It was sort of a like a coed version of Lord of the Flies. It is based on a true story. It was an ok read, great for nautical vocabulary building. There's something simply inarticulable that made me disklike this novel. Maybe I felt that it was too heavyhanded in some places and too light in others? I can't think of one memorable sentence in the whole entire book, but I can think of scenes that haunt me. It's definitely a book I would hide from children (if I had any) until they were, oh I don't know?, married. It was, admittedly, well-written. If the author tackled a slightly less violent story, then I might take a look at his other novels. It's rather funny that I don't tend to like these sorts of well-written stories with intensely violent scenes in them since my professional focus tends to be domestic violence and sex crimes cases.
  • Hollywood Interrupted by Andrew Breitbart and Mark Ebner was ok. After finishing it, I was certainly frothing at the mouth about "Hollywood lefties," but I didn't find the book terribly memorable. It was a quick and easy read, but it didn't really tell me anything that I didn't already know or suspect. I suppose it did give me some specific imformation around which to form arguments and it did give me some good websites to visit for related information, like and so on. I have a number of the websites tabbed under favorites on my computer. I'll gladly return the book to my mother who loaned it to me. It wasn't really a book. It was more like a really long magazine article.

Well, now I'm off to work on crossstitch and read the Voucher Wars.


Kate said...

We've also put all our books in one room, which is just great, especially since it's the front room, so people can be suitably impressed as soon as they walk in. :) It makes me feel very smug to have a real library, and we've organized everything by subject and author so it's even better. Ah, books!

Voracious Reader said...

I assume this is Kate of St. John's College. Our library is on the bottom level in the back of the house. We have a white shag carpet on the floor. I can't wait to get bookcases so that I can contemplate whether something like Democracy in America should be under History or philosophy. I, too, escape through books now. I miss St. John's.

Orlando said...

Dropping in through some mad linkage. Don't be crazy, you. 'Portrait of a Murder' was excellent, just excellent. The best, beautiful to read.

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