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100 Book challenge - 2007-2008 - The Fucking Bluebird of Goddamn Happiness [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Zoethe

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100 Book challenge - 2007-2008 [Mar. 1st, 2008|09:51 pm]
Zoethe
[Current Mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

February books:

76 - Rocky River: A History - Carol Lestock's contribution to a series of books of local community history Mostly a picture book of our local community, but lots of interesting captions. And it's cool to see how it used to be.

77 - A Spot of Bother - Mark Hadon's sophomore effort, after The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, is very different than that story, which focused almost completely on one character, a young boy with Asperger's. This book spreads out the points of view, looking at the world through the eyes of a very British family. Mum is having a quiet affair, Brother is gay, Sister is about to remarry to a man of whom none of the family approves, and Da is losing his marbles. It's a delightful story, held together by a wedding that may or may not happen.

78 - The Professor and the Madman - Simon Winchester. This is one of those books that's been on the shelf forever, and I've been meaning to read. It is the tale of the making of the OED, the ultimate dictionary of the English language, a task that consumed the lives of those who undertook it, but in a gentile, English sort of way. The professor was a man who never actually got to study at Oxford, back in the day when determination and a prodigious taste for books and learning could actually substitute for a degree. The madman was an American surgeon incarcerated for life for a murder he committed directly as a result of being quite completely insane. The madman, ironically, has more formal education than the professor, and the OED becomes his only thread to the world of work and accomplishment. It took me far too long to get around to reading it.

79 - America Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century - Kevin Phillips spent his life as a Republican commentator, publishing his first book foreseeing the coming conservative backlash in 1969 (The Emerging Republican Majority). As a true conservative, Phillips is appalled by the Bush administration and the increasing religiosity of the Republican party. He compares and contrasts the rise of the U.S. to the rise and fall of three great nations in the past: Hapsburg Spain, the Dutch Republic, and the British Empire. He draws parallels from the arc of those dynasties to the current situation in the U.S.

If Phillips is right, the superpower status of this country is on the wane and China will rise to be the next power. There are reasons to think he might be on the money: just recently, stores in New York began accepting Euros for purchases, rather than requiring their exchange for the once-almighty dollar. There has been a good deal of quaking fear that OPEC will convert its pricing from the dollar to another currency. And Phillips points to a lot of "ol' time religion" in the end times of each dynasty.

For all that, the book is a dreadful bore. Phillips backs up his research with tons of statistics, to the point where I felt numbers-saturated and my attention drifting. If you can handle pages and pages of data that you are expected to absorb before you actually understand what the author is driving at, then it's an interesting read whether you agree with his theories or not. If you're like me, it's a bit of a slog. But it's nice to know that there are actual, genuine conservatives still out there.

80 - Equal Rites - Terry Pratchett's first Witches book in Discworld. An elderly wizard comes to a small town to bestow his staff upon the eighth son of an eighth son. Alas, the child turns out to be a daughter, but the wizard does not discover this until the power is passed. And no girl can be a wizard in Discworld. Girls are witches. Needless to say, mayhem ensues. I have been reading Pratchett in bits and pieces, and am now attaching him with more fervor as a good choice for reading while on the NordicTrack. (I used to avoid novels as going along too quickly and demanding page turns too often, but I have become more adept at both page turning and the ski machine, so the pace no longer bothers me.) Discworld is fun, but when you've read some of the later stuff first, there are places you notice where Pratchett is plagiarizing himself.

81 - The Orphan's Tales: In the Cities of Coin and Spice - How embarrassing that I had not finished catvalente's book before this - I mean, I had an advanced copy so that I could work on an art project for the launch! But I am terrible about reading on the computer, so when I finally got inspired I figured I'd wait for the physical copy to finish. Then I went to readings, and they were wonderful, but they got me confused: Wait. I know this part. Have I already read it? And being a good ADD person, I ignored the confused.

But I had to know how it ended. And so I figured out where in the tale I had really left off, and finished the book. And I did come upon parts I had heard read aloud, but now I heard them in my head as well as reading them on the page. And last night, I said goodbye to the girl in the garden. If you have not read these books by Catherynne Valente, you must. The imagery is beautiful beyond the imagination. As soon as I can get back my copy of the first book from my sister, I will reread them both.

And there you have it. 19 books to go, and only 55 days. I don't think I'm gonna make it to 100 by my birthday, but it will be close.
LinkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: merle_
2008-03-02 07:45 am (UTC)
(#79) If Phillips is right, the superpower status of this country is on the wane and China will rise to be the next power.

I agree with it being on the wane, but the EU might turn out even stronger than China. In my opinion, they seem like the next form of democracy, and have both moral stances and economic stability built into their requirements to be a member nation. Asian markets rise and fall much more precipitously, which (with day trading) could create a much larger rich/poor chasm, which does not match even reformed communism very well.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2008-03-02 12:59 pm (UTC)
Whether the EU has the solidarity to become the next superpower or not remains to be seen. In Phillips' model, power follows manufacturing: the creation of actual goods for trade. And that has definitely shifted to the Far East.
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[User Picture]From: suburbfabulous
2008-03-02 09:05 am (UTC)

An aside, maybe relevant (but most likely not!)

I'd been a lackadaisical fan for years, but Pratchett NAILED the Postal Service in GOING POSTAL.
Yes, he's British.
Sure, there are a zillion universal traits between my new profession and any number of other careers.
Still, he really encapsulates the general experience, even if he uses his typical atypical setting of Ankh-Morpork.
The moment when one of the lead characters realizes the enormity and import of just delivering the mail is something that DOES happen.
Later today, I'm going to buy more Pratchett...because he's one of the few safe authors out there. I can grab any book he's written, and it will gleam with wit, sing with nigh-perfect sarcastic prose, and generally make me feel better about knowing how to read.
Oh, and I think I'll do this next year...after I finish CRYPTONOMICON, which may be the longest novel ever.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2008-03-02 01:03 pm (UTC)

Re: An aside, maybe relevant (but most likely not!)

It's on the shelf for future reading, but alas in hard cover, which makes it impossible to read on the NordicTrack. The hard corners of the book stick out too far and I clip my forearms against them, leading to some nasty bruises.

I'm impressed that you are slogging all the way through the Cryptonomicon. I know many people who started it....
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2008-03-02 05:18 pm (UTC)

Re: An aside, maybe relevant (but most likely not!)

As a
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2008-03-02 05:52 pm (UTC)

Re: An aside, maybe relevant (but most likely not!)

As a reading junkie (but not a writing one, which is why I don't have an LJ account) I assure you that Cryptonomicon is not a slog. But then, it's very much the sort of thing I like (Charles Stross' Halting State has a very similar flavor).

I think a quote from the Acknowledgments page of "The System of The World" by the same author (3rd volume in the Baroque Cycle) will give you an idea of the style:

The Baroque Cycle would have been unthinkable - in the most literal sense of the word - had it not been for the efforts of scholars, scientists, explorers, poets, preachers, pamphleteers, raconteurs, artists, translators, and cartographers dating back to the era of Williams and Comeneius, and extending to the present day. A few of them are listed below. Some lived three hundred years ago, but some are still alive. I am a little hesitant to publish the names of the latter because it is so much easier than it used to be to look people up, and I am afraid it will lead to these people being pestered. Nearly all of the people who bother to read three thousand page novels and the acknowledgments pages [italics in original] wouldn't dream of disturbing the privacy of the acknowledged, but there are always a few exceptions. If you are one of those, please leave these people alone!

My wife would recommend:
  • The Last Cato, Matilde Asensi


  • I would recommend:
  • There's very little bad Terry Pratchett (Dark Side of the Sun and Strata are not bad, just... well... ordinary).

  • Mark Helprin - Freddy and Frederica (although it is hardcover and bulky) - lots of lovely lyrical prose and absurdities.

  • Any of the Sherlock Holmes/Mary Russell series by Laurie King - readily available in paperback, and definitely simpler to keep track of the plot and cast while exercising.

  • Robin Hobb - very engaging fantasy, although he tends to write trilogies - not sure if they count as one or three for your purposes.

  • Simon R Green - Nightside series (fantasy horror/detective). Avoid the Deathstalker series - so bad I had to check that it was the same author.

  • Jasper FForde might also be an option - good enough to be interesting but not exclusively absorbing.


  • (Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
    [User Picture]From: zoethe
    2008-03-03 01:30 am (UTC)

    Re: An aside, maybe relevant (but most likely not!)

    I've read the Jasper Fforde series - good fun and quick reads. Thanks for the recommendations - I will definitely put them to use!
    (Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
    [User Picture]From: cosmicbandit
    2008-03-04 03:32 am (UTC)

    Re: An aside, maybe relevant (but most likely not!)

    Jasper Fforde has two separate series. Or is it series'?
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    [User Picture]From: zoethe
    2008-03-04 04:12 pm (UTC)

    Re: An aside, maybe relevant (but most likely not!)

    No apostrophe, unless you are referring to something that the series possesses. I have not yet read the Jack Spraat books.
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    [User Picture]From: suburbfabulous
    2008-03-02 06:04 pm (UTC)

    Slogging is my business...and my business is slogging!

    If I made it through JONATHAN STRANGE & Mr NORRELL, I'll smoke this.
    It's so engaging, really; I don't mind the length, or even that I'm not entirely sure where I'm headed.
    I just know I won't be able to hum through a hundred books, though, with that on the table.
    (Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
    [User Picture]From: zoethe
    2008-03-03 01:31 am (UTC)

    Re: Slogging is my business...and my business is slogging!

    Yeah, 100 books requires rather smaller undertakings.
    (Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
    [User Picture]From: suburbfabulous
    2008-03-04 10:22 am (UTC)

    Re: Slogging is my business...and my business is slogging!

    Do the pamphlets about How To Talk To Your Teen About Drugs count?
    If so, I have this bagged.
    (Not that I actually need to talk to them about drugs, mind you.)
    (Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
    [User Picture]From: zoethe
    2008-03-04 04:14 pm (UTC)

    Re: Slogging is my business...and my business is slogging!

    Nope. Sorry.
    (Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
    [User Picture]From: suburbfabulous
    2008-03-05 11:48 pm (UTC)

    Re: Slogging is my business...and my business is slogging!

    GahDAMMIT!
    Hey, if you want my paperback copy of GOING POSTAL, I'll trade you.
    (Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
    [User Picture]From: zoethe
    2008-03-06 12:09 am (UTC)

    Re: Slogging is my business...and my business is slogging!

    What do you want to trade for?
    (Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
    [User Picture]From: suburbfabulous
    2008-03-06 12:17 am (UTC)

    Re: Slogging is my business...and my business is slogging!

    I thought you said you had the hardcover...?
    (Unless you meant CRYPTONOMICON, in which case I'll pass. We already have a coffee table.)
    (Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
    [User Picture]From: zoethe
    2008-03-06 12:18 am (UTC)

    Re: Slogging is my business...and my business is slogging!

    Ah. It's Ferrett's though, so I don't think I should be randomly giving away his things.
    (Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
    [User Picture]From: suburbfabulous
    2008-03-06 12:27 am (UTC)

    Re: Slogging is my business...and my business is slogging!

    Isn't Ohio a community property state? Just tell him you'll send me the second half, and I'm sure he'll come across.
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    [User Picture]From: zoethe
    2008-03-06 12:37 am (UTC)

    Re: Slogging is my business...and my business is slogging!

    Just because something is legal doesn't mean it's right.
    (Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
    [User Picture]From: suburbfabulous
    2008-03-06 01:01 am (UTC)

    Re: Slogging is my business...and my business is slogging!

    ...says the lawyer.
    >8)X
    (Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
    [User Picture]From: zoethe
    2008-03-06 03:18 am (UTC)

    Re: Slogging is my business...and my business is slogging!

    Ethical lawyer.

    Quick! Take a picture!!!
    (Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
    [User Picture]From: suburbfabulous
    2008-03-06 03:37 am (UTC)

    Re: Slogging is my business...and my business is slogging!

    I already have one. My ninjas took it.
    We postal types have none of your silly ethics. It would cause too much inconvenience.
    (Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
    [User Picture]From: cosmicbandit
    2008-03-04 03:29 am (UTC)
    79. I was just thinking today that China is going to be the next superpower and soon.

    81. Loved these books. Different from anything else I have ever read.
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