Tuesday, November 06, 2007


If you like historical drama or even French history, I would recommend Sandra Gulland's The Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine B. Series. It's deftly crafted and certainly made me want to reinvestigate my knowledge concerning the French Revolution and Napoleon's rule. Although Gertrude Himmelfarb's book on philosophy did concern the French Enlightenment, and, therefore, the Revolution, it's emphasis was not on battles, but the history of thought etc. I think I might to follow-up and read a couple of the books Gulland provides in her acknwoledgements section.
Months ago when I finished the Harry Potter series, I thought about writing about it, but I think I'll wait even longer. Not that many are reading this, but I would hate to spoil someone's read. Let's just say that I would continue to argue that there is more to the series than initially mees the eye. It is about good and evil. It does have a religious point-of-view. It is overwhelmingly about love and free will. It provides for a jolly good week of reading too.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Recent Reads

I've been extremely busy with traveling and such and that has actually afforded me substantial time to read but not to post. So here's an update on the latest reads:

Good Omens by Neil Gaimon and Terry Pratchett--what a good little book. It has definitely inspired me to read more of each author's books. FUNNY! Definitely British humor though.

The Truth About Muhammad: Founder of the World's Most Intolerant Religion was informative, a little scary, and parts were boring. The author attempted to be scholarly and to keep it historical, as opposed to editorial in focus. I'm not as familiar with pieces about Islam (other than the Koran) and so I don't have much of a basis for comparison with other works, but it probably compares well with other works of the same type.

Orange Trees of Versailles by Annie Pietri was strange. I thought it was a children's book and it's listed as such, but I don't know that it was. At best it would fit in the Brother's Grimm sort of category of children's stories. It was a quick read, but I am not convinced that I enjoyed it. Nice cover illustration though.

The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success was wonderful. It's nice to read a fact-based history of economics and religion that isn't written by someone with a secularist agenda. I so enjoyed it that I bought another book by the same author and am looking for more. It's dense in terms of subject matter, but it makes for a very entertaining and quick read.

The Birth of Satan: Tracing the Devil's Biblical Roots was boring. I had a "so-what" response upon finishing it. Plus, I found it very difficult to finish the book. I kept reading and finishing other books before finishing this one. It was thick with information, but I didn't find it at all engaging. I actually felt the book was a little cowardly, safe.

The Roads to Modernity: The British, French, and American Enlightenments was perfect. I read Gertrude Himmelfarb's The Demoralization of Society: From Victorian Virtues to Modern Values a few years ago, and thought it was extremely thought provoking and well-written. I think the same of The Roads; however, I would recommend becoming familiar with the basics of western philosophy before reading this one. If you're unfamiliar with Kant, Hume, Smith etc...(the list goes on and on), then it would be really difficult to follow or identify with what this author writes.

The Legend of Bagger Vance by Steven Pressfield was ok, not wonderful. I felt like the fantasy/philosophy story was well excuted, but I felt like the religious/philosophical stuff was jumbled. It was a little like: let's put some ancient Greek ideas of religion, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity (and golf) in a pot and see what we cook up. I did like some of the sentiments like God is always with you etc., but I can't quite say I enjoyed it. I also think other books have tried the same sort of thing but have done better. I may retract this later. Maybe I should let the book sit and steep a little.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Green Valley Book Fair

Bill and I went on a spontaneous day trip with friends on Sunday. We went to the Green Valley Book Fair. Bill had never gone before and I haven't gone in years. It was worth the hour-long treck to Mount Crawford. The drive was beautiful and conversation was great. We were able to catch up with old friends and make a new one (I hope). We had a few exciting moments when we had to pull over because an unexpected rain storm made it impossible to see the road. All in all it was a fun day with friends that ended with dinner at Mono Loco and drinks at a local bar.

I couldn't resist temptation, so our acquisitions were as follows:

  • Johnathan Swift, A Tale of a Tube and Other Works(Oxford University Press, 1984). I think that many of the stories in this volume were published before Gulliver's Travels, but I'm not sure.

  • Elizabeth Kostova, The Historian (Little, Brown and Company, 2005). Challenging royal authority is rarely good for one's health, but it sure can be fun.

  • Owen Gingerich, The Book Nobody Read (Penguin Books, 2004). Revolutionary.

  • Nancy Geary, Being Mrs. Alcott (Warner Books, 2005). I was feeling a bit stodgy?

  • Marisha Pessl, Calamity Physics (Penguin Group, 2006). Now this one is actually one that a friend passed on to me after having finished it. So, after having finished it, I'm sure I'll feel morally compelled to do the same.

  • Hannah Arendt, Hannah Arendt and Education: Renewing Our Common World (Westview Press, 2001). I wish I were that smart.

  • Pope John Paul II, The Way to Christ (Harper Collins, 1984). He seemed like a wonderful person.

  • Louisa Thomas Redgrave, The Vineyard (Penguin Books, 2003). Having recently entertained thoughts of starting a business, I thought a reality check was probably in order. Plus, how could one read a book about a vineyard and not drink wine while doing so?

  • Mark Helprin, A Dove of the East (Harcourt Brace and Company, 1975). He's a great writer, and I've now gotten word that I must absolutely read his Freddy and Fredericka, his thinly veiled satire of Diana and the Prince.

  • Mark Helprin, The Pacific and Other Stories (Penguin Books, 2004). One always have to have a few short story books available for those moments when you can't really set aside enough time to read a whole book.

  • John Dunning, The Sign of the Book (Scribner, 2005). I do like a good mystery. Keep your fingers crossed.

I've been in a reading as opposed to a writing mode recently, but I've made a promise to myself to set the necessary time aside to write some reviews.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


I'm a moron.

At some point, Blogger and Google merged (don't ask me what that means exactly), and, as a consequence, I've had difficulty logging into my own account.

On top of that we've been really busy since our wedding. Because I didn't see any of my friends commenting on my blog, I thought posting could wait--nobody's reading it anyway.


I finally got into my account only to be reminded, that last year after having received one too many "Please feel free to purchase our condoms and anal lube at lolawannadoya6969.com," that I had selected to moderate comments before they posted to the blog. As a direct consequence of having forgotten that, I had over 70 comments waiting to be published. Oops.

It shant happen again.

Anyhoo, in four days, I'll be sworn in as an assistant commonwealth's attorney for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Yipee! I am very happy about this new job, and the opportunities that come with it.

If anyone had wondered during my hiatus: "Does she have time to read?" The answer is "yes," but I haven't had nearly enough time to read all the things want to (but that's not new). With my new job I believe I'll have more time to read--since I wont be working seven days a week. I've run out and gotten a new bunch of books in preparation (not that I needed more of them).

So, without further ado, this weeks acquisitions:

  • Matthew Stewart, The Courtier and the Heretic:Leibniz, Spinoza, and the Fate of God in the Modern World(W.W. Norton & Company, 2006). Hello, my name is Kat, and I'm a Johnny.

  • Danny Danziger and John Gillingham, 1215: The Year of the Magna Carta (Simon & Schuster, 2003). Challenging royal authority is rarely good for one's health, but it sure can be fun.

  • The Thomas Jefferson Reader (Konecky&Konecky). How could a UVA graduate not have at least one Jefferson book?

  • James T. Fisher, Communion of Immigrants: A History of Catholics in America(Oxford University Press, 2002). I don't know. It looked interesting.

  • Paul Doherty, Alexander the Great: The Death of God, (Constable and Robinson, LTD., 2004). I'll be imaging the cast of 300 while I read this one.

  • Chr├ętien de Troyes, Arthurian Romances (Everyman Classic, 1993). I wonder what the differences are between French chivalry and English chivalry? Any takers? I remember your essay on the Knight's tale Peculiar.

  • Annie Pietri, Orange Trees of Versailles (Delacorte Press, 2004). What an intriguing cover.

  • Philip Zweig, Icons (2004). Bill and I love artbooks. No shocker given his aspirations. But we simply can't afford those big huge art books that cost more than our student loan payments, so this one was a great find. Byzantine art, even when shrunken down to 4" by 8", is breathtaking.

  • Elizabeth Cook, Achilles (St. Martin's Press, 2001). It's suprisingly tiny.

  • Aline S. Taylor, Isabel of Burguny (Madison Books, 2001). I'm not one who much goes for books that fall into the "women's studies" category, but this one did look good; it also pops up under european history, so I'm willing to take a chance.

  • Jean Zimmerman, The Women of the House (Harcourt Books, 2006). I hate it when there are errors on the book jacket, they never bode well for its interior. We'll see.

  • C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe on tape as read by Michael York. Yes, yes, cheesy I know, but you just want one of your own.

  • Benton Rain Patterson, Harold and William (Cooper Sqaure Press, 2001). History!

  • Caryl Johnston, Consecrated Venom (Floris Books, 2001). I just finished Neil Gaimon and Terry Pratchett's Good Omen's--funny, by the way. Caryl's book, same theme, different genre.

  • Harold Bloom, Where Shall Wisdom Be Found? (Riverhead Books, 2004). Bloom's an odd duck.

  • Clare Francis, A Dark Devotion (Macmillan, 1997). I'm on the look out for a new mystery series. Is this the one?

  • Philip Larkin, A Girl in Winter (The Overlook Press, 1985).

Congrat's to the recently engaged Richmond couple and to the-ready-to-burst-with-child Charlottesvillian attorney. No, I do not mean me.