Sunday, April 13, 2008

Much News

I always feel that so much time elapses between posts that I can hardly decide what to write each time. I wont discuss work, as I have done nothing but for a month. In terms of books, our library was recently finished, and I am still busy cataloging all the books. It's not easy, but it is a lot of fun.

On a related note, one of my dearest friends has mentioned being a devoted Book mooch member and I have finally joined as well. It's almost cult-like. I find myself checking to see when my friends last longed onto the site. Creepy? Perhaps. It really is a lot of fun though. There will be a hyperlink or a cloud on the left-hand-side of this blog to get to the site. If you love books, don't always want to keep what you've read, you have access to the Internet and the post office, then this is perfect for you.

Regarding recent reads, my mother-in-law gave us two huge bags of books to read and dispense with however we should chose. Yippee! I wont give a list of the acquisitions here because the books are already tucked away in the library. Most seemed highly readable, some are keepers, and others will make a graceful exit to the Book mooch pile when we've finished with them. Either way, it was really very nice of her to think of us.

On an earlier visit she had brought a pile and in it was Daniel Tammet's Born on a Blue Day. It's an autobiography by a man who has two unusual genetic syndromes: (1) autism and (2) synesthesia. He has a highly functional form of autism called Asperger's with which I am somewhat familiar because one of my friends has the same syndrome. Asperger's manifests itself in a variety of ways, but most people who have it are highly intelligent and lack the ability to develop social skills from the same set of stimulus as others. In short, they tend to be smart and awkward. Synesthesia can mean the ability to see words as colored, numbers have personalities or shapes etc.

Hence, born on a blue day does not mean a rainy day, but that Tammet experiences Wednesdays, the day on which he was born, as blue. It was entertaining and uplifting, but I still get the sense that I don't entirely know him. It's not clear whether that's as a consequence of his syndromes keeping him from adequately expressing himself, that it's my failure as a reader, or, that, in his late twenties, he simply isn't old enough to know himself. He is clearly highly creative and mathematical in the way that he experiences and interprets things. In some ways, he is able to describe the difficulties of his life as concepts and experiences, but not as feelings. I found myself filling in the gaps in emotion with my own. He verges on poetic at times--mostly, as he describes his experiences of synesthesia--and has wrought an inspiring tale. Being entirely unfamiliar with autobiographies, I can draw no comparison. If you like reading about the human mind, I would recommend it.

On an entirely different note. I was entirely ready to call Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl a delicious piece of smut, and, then I realized that that simply wasn't giving it it's just due. It was an exceptionally quick read for being slightly over 700 hundred pages. If you enjoy light historical fiction, I would highly recommend it, having no idea how it compares to the movie, which I've not seen.

It was fun if not entirely historically accurate. I wont go into the deviations from accepted history, as that would ruin aspects of the story. I realized that anyone writing about Henry VIII's wives would find it difficult not to read a little bit like a romance novel at times. Gregory really didn't slip too often into lurid details, and she really gave a good feel for the comings and goings to and from the Tudor Court. In terms of historical drama, I prefer Gulland's ability to craft characters with greater depth and sense of purpose to Gregory's entertaining but weaker narrator and a 21st century perspective that creeps around all four of the book's corner, but I will gladly read another Gregory book.

3 comments:

Kate said...

My sister has the personification form of synesthesia, and I have the spatial-sequence form--we just recently found out about it. I assumed everyone thought of numbers and weeks/months/years as inhabiting specific locations in space--weird, huh?

Carly said...

Wow, you're back! I have been interested in Born on a Blue Day, so seeing your review was nice. And you're stalking me on BookMooch?? :)

You should check out Ellen's blog here: http://ellenspieodyssey.blogspot.com/

Voracious Reader said...

Kate: How did you find out?

Carly: I am not a stalker. You just happen to be everywhere I go. :)