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April 11th, 2007

11:26 pm
R.I.P. Kurt Vonnegut, a more inspiring, badass motherfucker than we are likely to be graced with again. I'll miss you!
Current Mood: so it goes

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April 3rd, 2007

04:51 pm - Anyone read this?
Then We Came to the End

Had a friend recommend it recently and thinking about picking it up

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March 12th, 2007

08:24 am - Reading like a fiend!
So while I've been home on the rest and recuperation circuit, I've been reading like a fiend. This week, I read Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill, who is Stephen King's son. What a fabulous book. I can't recommend it enough if you're a fan of King or scary stories in general. I did get to hear Joe read from his book at a book signing I attended, and he was pretty fantastic.

I also read Briga-DOOM!, which would likely be classified a "cozy" mystery. Good stuff. Light. Fun.

Next up was For Better or Hearse, also a "cozy". It was also fun. The series centers around a wedding planner.

Yesterday, I read Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult. It's being called "controversial" by the media because not only is it's premise a school shooting, but the shooter survives and the book centers much on his feelings and what led him to do what he did. He's not as revolting as you'd like a school shooter to be. No one wants to feel sympathetic towards someone who could do something like this. It's much easier to strip them of their humanity and call them monsters than anything else. I guess, as a parent, I can understand that view. But on the flip side, if we don't look deeper at the people who create this sort of chaos, can we ever hope to truly end it? I thought the book was good. Intelligent. Painful. Scary, at times. A surprising twist at the end, which I wasn't crazy about and yet it didn't ruin the story either. Overall, I'd recommend it, even if the main reason it found it's way into my hands was because someone called it controversial.

I've read tons more while I've been home, but that was last week.
Current Location: my room
Current Mood: depresseddepressed
Current Music: The Killers - Bones

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February 23rd, 2007

07:30 pm - Only Revolutions
Just started Only Revolutions and was wondering if anyone else had read it. I loved House of Leaves and while it was also a difficult read I thought well worth the effort.

This one I'm not sure I can make it through though. I'm only 56 pages in (i'm trying the reading in 8s recommendation) and it all just seems like gibberish. Anyone make it through and think it was worth it or should I just give up?

Reading the reviews on amazon I'm leaning towards give up.

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January 31st, 2007

04:07 pm - for vonnegut fans
What's the closest thing you've ever read to a Tralfamadorian novel?

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December 8th, 2006

04:15 pm
Hey kids!
I'm flying to Vietnam on Sunday, and it's a thirteen hour flight. By which I mean to say, give me suggestions for books to bring along.

(For reference, my favorite books are Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov and Jesus' Son by Denis Johnson.)

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August 25th, 2006

01:05 pm - Nonfiction roundup!
I think I'm lacking the emotional chops for fiction lately, since everything makes me cry, including uber-cheesy romance novels. This seems normal when caring for a young infant, but nevertheless, I need more balance. You guys have humored my reviews of nonfiction for a while anyhow.

First up is The Kitchen Detective. skate97, you must get this one. Disclaimer: I have not tested any of the recipes. But I don't really care if they all suck. It's about cooking the way that The Joy of Cooking is about cooking, except with simpler recipes and more talking. Very good. It's also current (2003) and local (he's a New Englander and the test kitchen is America's Test Kitchen in Brookline), and the recipes have been tested on sub-age-10 kids (his).

Pursuant to my recent math wonkery, I bought a book that I figured would be fairly congenial: The Secret Life of Numbers. The title also doesn't mention that the "50 easy essays" are also very short, like, bathroom-reading short. But that's okay. They do leave you wanting more. The author does a very good, but perhaps somewhat less than excellent, job of making the most interesting and exciting things about contemporary mathematics accessible and enjoyable for the lay reader. Some of it is a little more technical than I would expect for a book geared toward non-mathematicians. If I didn't remember at least some of what I learned in school, it would be difficult. It's also quite theoretical in the sense that it isn't focused on why a lot of things would be important. For instance, there is a chapter devoted to the Collatz conjecture. Explanation enclosedCollapse )So far, this has been tested up to 27 quadrillion, at the time of this book's publication, and it's still not even close to a proof. And that's really interesting and all, but as far as I can tell, it has no practical application whatsoever and is only being worked on because it's there. I don't normally object to this, and in fact am beginning to wonder why people look down on literature types such as myself for doing supposedly "useless" work. This is evidence that they have one hell of a nerve. At any rate, the book's greatest strength is that it illuminates theoretical math for those of us who just didn't get what was going on with Algebra II in high school and more or less gave up on the whole enterprise after fulfilling the requirements for college admission. No word on whether it'll help the hopefully smaller number of us who flunked statistics (twice) in college.

Last item: Liza Picard's Elizabeth's London. I have read other of her books and enjoyed them, and this is just the sort of thing I like anyhow: an exhaustive account of how real people really lived in a specific time and place. I'm a bit of a Tudor-Stuart buff anyhow, and I have Carolly Erickson's Bloody Mary on my table to read soon (I already read hers and several other biographies of Elizabeth I, and Jane Dunn's joint bio Elizabeth and Mary), but those tend to leave out the middle class and poor. As far as this book is concerned, the key word is exhaustive, and you may want to have maps available to follow her walking tour through the major parts of Elizabethan London. It's hard to follow just the text of that portion unless you know London well (imagine explaining Boston to someone who has never visited). I can't speak to its absolute accuracy, but so far, nothing I've read has really surprised me, and it's quite fascinating.

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August 17th, 2006

06:00 pm - PSA: Book Mooch review
etinterrapax mentioned Book Mooch ( http://bookmooch.com ) the other day. On a whim, I went and joined it. So far, I like it a lot. I have received one book and sent one book. Plus I have two more books on the way! (I have received a David Sedaris book, and am looking forward to getting Everything is Illuminated and Foucault's Pendulum , all books that I really wanted, but not badly enough to pay full price for.)

The concept of the website is fairly straightforward. You get .1 points for every book you list as willing to give away. Getting a book from somebody in your country is worth 1 point; giving a book is worth 1 point. The points are double if you mooch from or send to another country.

The search functionality is not great on the site - if you search for a specific book or author, it works great, but if you want to browse a large category like "fiction", it sometimes freezes. And there are way more books on the site than browsing seems to show - they claim more than 15,000.

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August 14th, 2006

09:39 pm - The Position by Meg Wolitzer
Half way through The Position, I found myself totally unentertained. Given the plot - a family coming-of-age story in which the parents write a sex book where they pose for all of the illustrations and the children are forced to deal with this at a very early age - the writing style felt very dense and the promise of "comedic timing" never materialized.  I didn't find anything about this book funny.

But, as I reached the end, I found that I was completely emotionally consumed by the children's characters and their struggles, yet I still wasn't very entertained if that makes any sense at all.  Some of them I absolutely hated and some of them I really felt sorry for, but all of the characters at least made me feel something, which is more than I can say for a lot of books.

I can't decide yet if I liked this book or not.  Maybe as I digest it I'll form a more solid opinion as usually happens to me.  I'd really be interested to hear others' opinions who have read this book.

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August 13th, 2006

01:40 pm
Hello all,

I'm brand new to this community, and thought that I'd start by asking for some recommendations. I've got a few weeks left for personal reading before I head back to grad school, and I really want to squeeze in a few more books. Any suggestions? Just so you have a better idea of (some) of what I like, I love essay collections, non-fiction, satire, and anything with a snarky sense of humor. I look forward to receiving your recommendations and chatting about books.


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