Sunday, August 28, 2011

42/365 A Graveyard for Lunatics by Ray Bradbury

Ah.  Um.  Well, I just googled this book and learned that it's the second book in a series.  Which makes it make a lot more sense.  I did feel rather that I was missing pieces here and there.
This book took me ages.  But it was well worth it.  Bewildering and sometimes spooky, but good.  I love reading about people who are really good at something - in this case, film editing, writing, and making clay dinosaurs.  I wish I talked the way the characters do.  When I try to do so - or, even worse, when I try to talk like Lord Peter Wimsey - I sound like a supercilious freak.

I want to say more but my eyeballs are falling out.  I just finished a re-do drawing for art class because I decided that the first one didn't turn out.   From now on I think I will try to stick with the first one.

CONCLUSION:  I'm interested in reading the others in the series, so that has to be a good sign.

P.S.  I do not care for that cover.  Just needed to make that clear.

oh dear

I really, really suck.  School and stressful work is my excuse for being the worst 365 project person on earth, but it isn't a very good one.  SQUIRREL NUTKIN TO THE RESUCE, PLEASE!

Monday, August 22, 2011

43/365 Colossians

Again, what can I say?  It was wonderful and convicting and I didn't get it all - but I hope, someday...

I actually listened to Max Mclean reading the book on Bible Gateway, while I finished some drawings for school.  It was great.
  It took me a loooong time to get used to Max Mclean's voice, but now I like him more than any other Bible reader I've come across.  (When I was a snotty 14 year old I used to make snarky comparisons between him and Dory speaking whale in Finding Nemo.)

CONCLUSION: Bible Gateway is an awfully nice, handy thing.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

41/365 The Flying Hockey Stick by Jolly Roger Bradfield.

May I say,

I LOVE JOLLY ROGER BRADFIELD.  My mum loved his books when she was little, and I did too.  Heck, we still love them.  The colors! The stories!  They're wonderful.  This one especially.  What kid has never dreamed of flying?

CONCLUSION:  I need to be brave with color if I become an illustrator.  Books like this are just a feast for the eyes.

Friday, August 19, 2011

40/365 - "American Cities" by Jean-Paul Sartre

I have to admit, I was almost a bit afraid to read from this book.   I wasn't afraid that a few essays would suddenly turn me into a raging existentialist, but I did worry that it would be too hard for me.  I'm part of that annoying cluster of people who hear the word "philosophy" and unconsciously remember bad textbooks we had to trawl through, and therefore refuse to read Plato and Locke because we believe they're going to make our molars fall out from boredom.
So, as I've said, I went in with fear and trembling.  But I chose well (I always think of swallows...) - "American Cities" was a travel essay, and rather a sweet one at that.  Yes, he said some things are ugly and depressing, but I agree so it didn't hurt my feelings.   There were a lot of bits where I went, "Oh yeah", even though it was written in the 40's.  Like when he pointe out that in America we do not have monuments that becomes famous, we have things that become famous because they haven't been knocked down.  He talks a lot about how cities feel almost weightless, and all have a temporary feeling.  I suppose when you come from France - where, from what I understand, a family will own and live in a house for generations - our attitude towards our homes must seem odd.
Even though he doesn't have much praise for the the look of American cities (I don't blame him a bit), good old Sartre says some awfully nice things about the spirits they have.  And, for all the less than complimentary things I think about American cities in general, I agree with him.
And then one finally comes to like their common element, that temporary look.  Our beautiful closed cities, full as eggs, are a bit stifling.  Our slanting, winding streets run head on against walls and houses; once you are inside the city, you can no longer see beyond it.  In America, these long, straight unobstructed streets carry one's glance, like canals, outside the city.  You always see mountains or fields or the sea at the end of them, no matter where you may be. 
Frail and temporary, formless and unfinished, they are haunted by the presence of the immense geographical space surrounding them.  And precisely because their boulevards are highways, they always seem to be stopping places on the roads.  They are not oppressive, they do not close you in; nothing in them is definite, nothing is arrested...
But these slight cities... reveal the other side of the United States: their freedom.  Here everyone is free - not to criticize or to reform their customs - but to flee them, to leave for the desert or another city.  The cities are open, open to the whorls, and to the future.  This is what gives them their adventurous look and, even in their ugliness and disorder, a touching beauty. 
Aw, gee.

CONCLUSION: I will read more Sartre if he's as nice and understandable as all this.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

39/365 The Paper Princess by Elisa Kleven

Gee, I haven't read this in years.  Yes, it is a picture book.  It is also wonderful.  One of the best kids' books I think we've got around the house.  And gorgeous! The illustrations are collage-things, and downright fantastic.

It's a simple kind of story - but not a bit boring.  The princess has to deal with a lot of trauma - separation from her little girl, getting crumpled up, a horrible hairstyle - but she faces it all bravely.  Maybe it's because I'm just in a "chill, man" kind of mood, but it seemed a very peaceful sort of story.
I remember loving - loving - this book when I was little, and I think that's definitely a big point in its favor.  It was, you know, written for kids.  So I guess it's just as well.

CONCLUSION: I'll read it to my kids, if I ever have any.

If I end up as an illustrator (which, what with after getting through today's drawing class without wanting to weep, seems less impossible than usual), I will have to come up with some sort of, "Oh I ALWAYS knew this is what I wanted to do" story to scare the guts out of wishy washy people like me with - and I think I'll use The Paper Princess for my story.  Because - ahem! - when I was five I drew this:

Which, really, isn't so shabby.  I will not use "The Mouse and The Giant" (c. third grade) for my intimidation story.  My friend Bradi and I made it one afternoon, and even through I was the illustrator (we came up with the story and she wrote it - her cursive was better), I unfortunately wrestled away the privilege of writing the title on the cover, and it came out "The Mouse and the Ginte." So... we'll stick with the paper princess.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

38/365 A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

It would be hard to overstate how much I love this man's writing.   To give you and idea of the quantity of love we're talking about here, I suppose saying that this:

Was basically the high point of my life.
He is, without doubt, my favorite non-fiction writer.  He most certainly lives with C.S. Lewis, Agatha Christie, P.G. Wodehouse and Dorothy Sayers in my top people of all time worship list.

He really can make anything interesting.  I have almost zero interest in science, yet I just finished a 400-odd page book about it.  Besides the whole "he can make any sentence into an oh my gosh I'm going to pee my pants it's so funny situation", he throws the shallow reader like me good bones every once in a while, and gives side notes about peoples' private lives and characters.  School books would ever mention that so-and-so did fieldwork naked on hot days, or that even Marie Curie's cookbooks are pulsing with radioactivity and have to be handled with care - yet those are the things that make it fun for a person like me.  Bill Bryson ruins you for textbooks.

Whether or not any of it sticks in my head, I come away from his books feeling more intelligent, which is a rare and extremely pleasing feeling.

On a side note, I have one of these thingys:

And it saved my sanity during the drive my the family made from California to Arkansas.  On the other side, it says, "Written and read by the author."  Which makes me chortle and shake my head.

CONCLUSION: I love Bill Bryson.  But I already knew that.

P.S.  I also think that cover rocks.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

37/365 Just Being Audrey by Margaret Cardillo

Okay!  Ha! I've wanted to gush about this book for a long time, and now I'm finally going to do so! Yes!

I'll just cut to the point here.  THIS BOOK IS PERFECT.  I am a minor Audrey Hepburn nut.  I've read every biography about her in the San Diego County library system.  I've seen all but three of her movies (Monte Carlo Baby - she had, like, a teensy role - Always and Robin and Marion), and I could just scream I admire her so much.  Heck, for a while I had a whole blog devoted to her.
And this book made me shriek when I looked through it for the first time.  I almost danced.  Julia Denos did the illustrations, and every detail is SPOT ON.

The expressions in the lineup above.  As a girl, her dutch haircut and wide smile.  The clothes she wore through the years.  Heck!  Even the sort of bump at the end of her jaw that you could see when she was older!  I mean!? (I wonder if I'm being fanciful about this, but if you watch youtube videos of her en pointe and compare it with the feet in the book, they look identical. Not a lot of arch, if you know what I mean. It seems like almost too much, that.  I have a hard time believing that anyone but a rabid fan like me would give so much attention to the details.  This is why it is a marvelous book.)  She got every detail right.  Famous even makes an appearance.

I'm SO glad I was introduced to Julia Denos through this book - she's super cool.  I want to be like her when I grow up - even if I don't become an illustrator!  And if I do become an illustrator, I hope my studio is half as chic as hers is.  She put pictures of it on her marvelous blog, and it makes me want to weep.  Oh! Sudden fear: over the summer, did my desire for such a gorgeous workspace unconsciously plant the seed that became me declaring myself as an art major?  Heavens.

Also - this is just going to be a Julia Denos worship fest post, isn't it? - she is doing illustrations for the Hilary McKay Casson books!  GAAAA! Which are, like, some of the best books ever, no exceptions!  Hilary McKay is a genius and I will someday read one of her books for this project thingy, and then I will get to do some more squealing.  Yay. I can't even begin to babble about how EXCITED I am over the new packaging Denos is doing.  You should see her "Crime Pays" sketch.  This woman does her details right.  I'm probably just a fanatic about it, but nothing annoyed me more as a kid - what I am I saying? Annoys me more than illustrations that don't match the story.  Rant on the forthcoming.

SO.  Buy this book.  It is beautiful.

CONCLUSION:  I hope I get to be an illustrator.  I know that, if I did, my style would have to be different from Julia Denos' - as much as I love it - because I know I'd always be trying to ape her and failing.  I'll have to do my own thing.  Just like Audrey.

Monday, August 15, 2011

36/365 The Cricket in Times Square

Gee, what a good book.  There were several bits I wanted to quote from - so lovely and wonderful - but I couldn't choose.  So there.

I decided to re-read this one because I honestly couldn't remember much about it.  I'd love to gush, but I'll just say that it's an all-around fantastic book.  Funny and sweet.


was, I think, my favorite picture.

CONCLUSION:  You can keep all your deep, depressing grown-up books.  I love children's lit.  Also, I need to work on drawing animals if I intend to be an illustrator.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

35/365 The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes

"... Maddie sat up in bed and pressed her forehead tight in her hands and really thought.  This was the hardest thinking she had ever done.  After a long, long time she reached an important conclusion.  She was never going to stand by and say nothing again."

For years - years - whenever my Mum would mention this book, I always said, "Aw, that's too sad for me." But today I decided to give it a second chance.  And now I repent.

It is sad.  But it's terribly good.  It's actually about something - and it can be reasonably hoped that young readers will come away better than they were before.

Also, it's pretty.  If I could, I'd get a print of the picture showing all the dresses tacked on the classroom walls.

I've never read much Eleanor Estes because I didn't care for Ginger Pye, but I'm feeling rather more favorably disposed towards her now.

CONCLUSION: My mom is always right.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

34/365 Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell


Okay.  Deep breaths.  I'll start at the beginning.  I have to warn you though - spoilers are probably going to ensue.  I can't help it.

I love North and South.  As I believe I've mentioned before, I like it so much that I was almost afraid of reading any of Elizabeth Gaskell's other books and not enjoying them as much.  Silly, but there it is.  Anyways, I started watching the mini-series of Wives and Daughters a few days ago and couldn't stop.  I had to stay up till two to finish it.  I had to know what happened.  And afterwards I decided to read the book, expecting to enjoy it very much indeed.

(I liked the mini-series very much, by the way.  Everybody was well cast.  Rosamund Pike is sort of a genius, I think.  It's weird seeing so many people from the Jane Austen family - all the movies, I mean - all in other movies together.  Also, very weird hearing Mr. Preston speak - I've heard him before in an Agatha Christie radio mystery in which he was the murderer.  It biased me against him from the start.)

I just finished it maybe three minutes ago.  And, up to the last chapter, I did enjoy it very much indeed.  But that LAST CHAPTER!

I'll be honest with you, blog.  I feel cheated when an Agatha Christie novel doesn't have a wedding at the end.  There are some books that I like to have sad endings - but when I go in for cheap entertainment, I am completely shameless in my desire for happy, CLEAR endings.  Sorry to shout at you in all caps, but I did so want a nice little "happy ever after" scene at the end - not stupid Mrs. Gibson!

I wonder what I would have thought of it if I hadn't seen an alternate ending beforehand.  Hm.

Nope, I gave it a moment's thought and I know I would still have been disappointed.  Yes, I like my fun reading cheap.  But after 500 pages!  Just throw me some kind of bone!

I promise, I did like it.  But I have to vent a bit.

Okay, I think Mrs. Gibson is without exception the most horrifying stepmother I've ever read.  She absolutely makes my skin crawl.  At least with the downright wicked stepmothers you can hate them and look forward to the inevitable day when the fairy-tale laws of retribution catch up with them and they are blinded or sent to do laundry for the rest of their lives.  Mrs. Gibson scares me a million times more than any wicked stepmothers - I believe that she could really exist.  She is completely believable.  I mean, you see similar bits of behavior all the time.  I'll hand it to Elizabeth Gaskell, she could write realistic people.  I don't know who I loathe more, Mrs. Gibson or Mary Musgrove.

CONCLUSION:  It was excellent, but I am rather frustrated.  In an hour I'll be fine and probably up for Cranford, but right now I could shriek.  I am doing so in my mind.

TWO DAYS LATER:  Okay, I really did like this book.  I guess it did sort of, like, make an impression on me.  I guess it, like, makes me want to be a more straightforward person.  And have better posture.  So, like, yeah.

Friday, August 12, 2011

33/365 Song of Myself by Walt Whitman

I loafe and invite my soul, 
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.

I know it is just one poem, but I've got this lovely pocket edition.  And it's long, too.

This is one of those poems that makes my stomach hurt at certain parts.  How is it so perfect?  My taste doesn't naturally turn to this sort of poetry, but I do love Walt Whitman.
I don't want to say much about it, because I'll just get silly.   I read on Wikipedia that the first edition was pocket-sized because. "That would tend to induce people to take me along with them and read me in the open air: I am nearly always successful with the reader in the open air." Which sort of cracks me up.  It's Wikipedia, so who knows if it's true, but it makes me very happy about my little pocket edition.
I have Leaves of Grass, but I've yet to read it all.  I tend to buy used books in huge spurts, around twenty at a time, and then it takes me an age to read them all.  I'm still going through the stuff I bought at a closing sale last year - three buying spurts ago.  
Anyways, I love Uncle Walt.  We share a birthday, incidentally.  It makes me very proud, though I can't think of any logical reason why.  

CONCLUSION: Must look in to Leaves of Grass.  Will think about always keeping the little Song of Myself in my purse.  I might have to give it a read while sitting out in our lovely yard one afternoon.  

Have you reckon'd a thousand acres much? have you reckon'd the
earth much?
Have you practis'd so long to learn to read?
Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of poems?

Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of
all poems,
You shall possess the good of the earth and sun, (there are millions
of suns left,)
You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look
through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in
You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me,
You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self.

the week in reading: 6-12 August

I suck.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

32/365 Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman

I'll be honest: I went into this book thinking something along the lines of, "this is going to be pretentious and weird and I am not going to like it."  And I'll continue to be honest: I didn't love it.  But I certainly didn't dislike it either.  Reading a book like this to yourself is obviously not going to have the same feel that actually reading it aloud with another person - as it's supposed to be read - would give it.  But even reading it in my head, alone (I felt it necessary to specify that I am alone in my head), I could get a sense of how it would feel when read aloud.  Some of the poems would probably sound very cool.

But even as it was, I liked a lot of this slim paperback.  The "book lice" one in particular.
I wonder if I have kids if we will read this.  I hope I raise them reading poetry, so that they would be comfortable enough to try it aloud.  Even though poetry is supposed to be read aloud, it takes guts to actually do so around other people.  You feel you're not doing it right, or messing with the sense.  I tend to go too fast.  I'd like to have some poetry read out to me really well.  I know I'm missing a part of poetry by not reading it aloud to myself, but blah blah.

I have to say, the whole reading together thing in this book is probably trickier than it seems.  I can imagine my family trying and getting tangled up and laughing and having to stop all the time.  It would still be fun - but I don't think that was how it was intended to be performed.

CONCLUSION:  Expected it to be awful and was pleasantly surprised.  Don't know why, though - it did win a Newberry Medal.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

31/365 The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin by Beatrix Potter

Well! I've finally come to the end of the big stack of Beatrix Potter lifesavers from the library.  Now I can't slack off anymore.

I didn't like this story as much as some of her others, but I still liked it a darn lot more than most kids books floating about today.  Her sense of humor!  I'm going to buy these books if I ever have children.  Might make nice gifts as well, if I had children to give gifts to.   I'm sure my sister will get married some day.   I can't wait to buy gifts for them.  Especially loud ones made of revolting plastic. Maw ha ha.  

I've been labeling posts where my reading was, ahem, on the petite side, "Squirrel Nutkin to the rescue" because my dear mum gaily declares that every time she sees me frantically scrabbling for something to read at ten at night.  It's become a joke between us.

Anyways, I really am going to have to get back down to business and read more lengthy books that are, how shall I say it?  More suitable for a person of my age?  Actually intended for adults?  After tomorrow I'll have a good bit of the weekend - assuming nothing terrible happens to me - to get into a routine.  Next week will be insane, but I'm going to really try and get a fat lot of reading done.  I feel better about myself when I do.

CONCLUSION: I really must see that movie about Beatrix Potter, even if it is sad.  I ought to read something more about her too.  And all her little books are free on Project Gutenberg, so I can read them without any danger of late fines.  Even though they're great, it's really galling, paying fines for such diminutive books.  Even if it is only 30 cents.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

30/365 Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl

I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I know I haven't been good and read anything long for an age.  I can't say how distracting it is, living in a nice new house (well, at least new to me) on a lake.  There was nothing to do but read in that depressing apartment.
 I will try to do better.  It's been a long week.

But! All that said, this book is FANTASTIC.  Roald Dahl is so wonderful I want to scream.  The cover reads, "The premier storyteller of our time brings his own brand of wicked humor to six favorite fairy tales." And it's spot on.  Snow White pinching the magic mirror to give to the dwarves (ex-jockeys) and using it to make bets on horse races and become millionaires.  I mean!  Or take the opening of Cinderella, for example:

I guess you think you know this story.
You don't. The real one's much more gory.
The phoney one, the one you know,
Was cooked up years and years ago,
And made to sound all soft and sappy
Just to keep the children happy.

And Goldilocks and the Three Bears:

This famous little wicked tale
Should never have been put on sale.
It is a mystery to me
Why loving parents cannot see
That this is actually a book
About a brazen little crook.

Or the end of Red Riding Hood:

The smart girl smiles. One eyelid flickers.
She whips a pistol from her knickers.
She aims it at the creature's head
and bang bang bang, she shoots him dead.
A few weeks later, in the wood,
I came across Miss Riding Hood.
But what a change! No cloak of red,
No silly hood upon her head.
She said, 'Hello, and do please note
'My lovely furry WOLFSKIN COAT.'

CONCLUSION: Roald Dahl rules the world.  Though, I already knew this.

Monday, August 8, 2011

29/365 Ephesians

I was going to put, "Ephesians, by God" as the title, but somehow it looked a little bit wrong.  Flippant or something.  You know.    

I could say a lot about this one.  I liked it.  But I'm tired.  I guess the world can do without my brilliant prose and witticisms tonight.  I'll leave you with a quote.

This bit makes me sad:
"I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love..."  
Because I know I don't do it.

There are lots of bits that make me want to cry I'm so happy and grateful and incredulous, but I really wish I'd remembered all that stuff up there today. 


Only one life, 'twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last

P.S.  I really like that Bible up there.  It's the first big sort of Bible I've ever owned - the sort where nearly half of each page is taken up with notes.  It's ridiculous, but I never really realized how great having those notes is.  Worth every penny.  

Sunday, August 7, 2011

28/365 North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

Drama! Mist! Look of love! 
So I love this book.
I've read it before, but that first read-through was more like gulping or flying or something, I so wanted to find out what all happened.  I went in this time wanting to read more slowly and thoughtfully, but the third read is going to have to be the charm - I raced through it again. 

I know Gaskell was a victorian lady, and Jane Austen lived rather before that, but I can't help comparing their books.  Dynamic female leads!  I must say, though, that there is rather more action in North and South than, say, in Emma.  In Emma there's a gypsy attack, almost a snow storm and a great deal of angst.  In North and South six people die (one suicide, four illnesses, and a manslaughter), there's a riot in which people are injured, and main characters faint on a regular basis.  It's a veritable bloodbath in comparison.

It's really interesting to me that social historians like her books. I mean, like from a professional standpoint. Who can speak of nebulous social historians' personal reading tastes?  Not I, good sir.  But the social stuff in the story sort of is the tension of the whole thing.   I like that.  I know social tension is, to varying degrees, a deal in every story - but it's a bigger deal in this one.  And I have a vague idea that social stuff was a bigger deal in the Victorian era than it is now.  I mean, like, I think somebody told me it was or something.  Like, yeah.

I actually didn't read this book all the way through - I had bits of it read to me.  Librivox, baby.  There  are some seriously good amateur readers.  And when others were too, ah, awful to listen to, I just read the chapter to myself. And when I did I didn't actually read a paper book.  Project Gutenberg, baby.  Nook, baby.  What a modern girl I am.

I'm contemplating the purchase of an audiobook version read by the FANTASTIC Juliet Stevenson, but I haven't been able to nerve myself up to paying 28 dollars for it.  Juliet Stevenson, incidentally, played Mrs. Elton in the Gwyneth Paltrow Emma.   She and Harriet Walters are, like, two of my favorite British actresses.  I adore them.  I just adore everything tonight.  My sister and I saw Captain America tonight, and it was adorable.  I think I could adore just about anything right now.

Okay, this is so off topic, but Captain America featured Richard Armitage as a tooth-crunching Nazi.  Weird, because coming so fresh from North and South, I couldn't believe he was bad.  I mean, he did a great job, but he was still Mr. Thornton in my head.  Also, glad as I am for him, I am having a hard time picturing him as a dwarf.  I could have seen John Rhys-Davies I could have seen - he's sort of big and jolly and barrel-like.  Richard Armitage seems way too tall.  I just associate him with tallness.  But I'm still glad and think he's going to do a marvelous job.  I also think the guy playing Bilbo is going to be perfect.  Hitchhiker's Guide convinced me - a guy who can say "I need a cup of tea" with that much conviction isn't going to have any problems.

Wow.  Tangents galore tonight.

While we are wandering about, I would like to make it known that, though there are differences, I like the film adaptation of North and South very much.  The differences work.  It's one of the few cases where I enjoy it more because they're different - you get more.

Okay, last tangent:  Don't you think, imaginary reader, that it would be way more fun to be a British actor?  I don't mean because you'd automatically have the option of audiobooks on the side, thanks to your marvelous accent, but because all the British actors have potlucks together in their backyards.  They all know each other.   They have all worked in either a Harry Potter or Jane Austen movie.  Their kids have playdates.  It's like a big happy family.  I know it's true.  There seems to be a pool of actors in England that just do movies together all the time.  A works with B, B works with C, C works with A, and wham-o they're over at each other's houses playing scrabble and watching football.  (And I mean FOOTball.)

CONCLUSION:  I need to go to bed.  And read more Elizabeth Gaskell.  I haven't read of her other stuff because - get this - I'm afraid I won't like it as much as North and South.   I know, right?  Weirdo.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

27/365 The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis

Gee whiz, I love C.S. Lewis.  Poor "Gaius and Titius".  Sort of awful to be remembered that way.

I've read this before - but, as with all C.S. Lewis, it never gets old. Every time I re-read his books something finally, really clicks or some sodden, dusty corner of my brain gets a little flash of light and a burst of pep.  He explains things so well.  Even I can understand most of what he's talking about.  Not all or it, but a good piece.  Which is more than I can say of most books.  I feel the terribleness of my own writing rawther keenly when I come out of his books.  I wish I could have heard it in its original lecture form!

I can't really say much about the content of this book, because I will end up sounding like a complete moron.   It's good.   I like how you see the same subject showing up in his other books.  When you read about an idea in three different books, all presenting it through different styles or metaphors or whatever, it has a way of broadening your understanding of the idea.  At least, it does for me.

CONCLUSION:  I ought to read Miracles and The Problem of Pain and The Pilgrim's Regress.  They're the only Lewis books I haven't read, and it's been stupid of me.

Friday, August 5, 2011

26/365 The Story of Miss Moppet by Beatrix Potter

I was in... Vancouver.

CONCLUSION: I WILL buckle down tomorrow.  I PROMISE. No more Squirrel Nutkin to the rescue.  At least not for a while.

the week in reading: 30 July - 5 August

Well.  Um.  So!  Not the best week yet on record.  But also not the worst.

Beatrix Potter and her lovely five minute picture books came to the rescue, ah, frequently.  I did not feel proud of that.  But at least I'm reading.  And they truly are great.   This upcoming week, I'd like to step it up again.  I have to get back into good habits before school starts. Yipes!

I'm having a hard time getting my reading done because this new house is so distracting.  Well, this new yard actually.  I spend a lot of time swimming.  But I don't feel too guilty because fall will be here all too soon and my legs are shockingly white.  My mother actually laughed the other day when I emerged from the house in my board shorts.  It's weird looking down and realizing that those astonishingly white limbs are actually attached to my body.  I can hardly believe it.

I will try to focus this week.  I'll try to read something good and long and preferably written for grown-ups.  I can feel my books eyeing me reproachfully.

Au revoir, my dear blog.  I'm going to go... uh... swim in the lake now.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

25/365 And the Pursuit of Happiness by Maira Kalman

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I LOVE MAIRA KALMAN.
I love her.  Her pictures make my day better, and make me dress better. She makes me want to get out and do something.  Visit a museum, take lessons, travel, enjoy the neighborhood.  I LOVE her books.  
Her curiosity is... I don't know... delightful!  I think she's so great because she doesn't present herself as some lofty intellectual who is just too well-read and well-educated for you - she writes like a human being.  A smart human being, but still definitely human.  She can still be inspired by things.  Admire people.   She seems humble, I guess.
I hate reading books - popular books of literary criticism in particular - where the author won't come out and tell you that they like something.  I like gushing!  I like hearing that people like the authors I like! Like, a lot!  (Mom, that's why I thought The Magician's Book was so great.  Now you know.)  Blah blah, books about books are supposed to be dry and precise - but literature seems such an imprecise art to me!  I will never agree that this or that novel is the best on earth - never.  Because, at root, the person asserting that Moby Dick is the best ever is still at least a teensy bit biased because they liked it.  Now, if  I said that Moby Dick is the best novel ever you could believe it because I hated Moby Dick.

SO!  I'm sorry I'm so dithery and distracted.  I'm about to go for a swim and I just got home from work and I got a new dress this afternoon (I'm wearing it over my jeans right now) and the Kooks are playing in the background, so focus is a little on the short side this fine day.

CONCLUSION:  I need to check out Spinoza and De Tocqueville.  Spinoza because this is the second book of hers I've read that mentions him, and De Tocqueville because I read about him again today in the intro to The Crucible, and two times is too much of a coincidence.   I LOVE MAIRA I LOVE MAIRA.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

24/365 The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher by Beatrix Potter

Yes, Beatrix Potter comes to the rescue at 10:00 again.  I'm working extra hours and unpacking boxes and, um, swimming in the lake - and this evening we watched Napoleon Dynamite and School of Rock with a girl who's leaving for college next week - so... yeah.  I've got a list of excuses as long as your arm.

I will honestly say that I'm beginning to adore Beatrix Potter.  What a sense of humor!  If I ever have kids, I'm going to buy them these books.  They're delightful.  I particularly enjoyed Sir Isaac Newton's waistcoat.

I would also like to note that I read like ten chapters of the book of Genesis today, and offer the note as proof that I didn't spend the entire day melting my brain.  I feel a tiny bit bad because Many Waters prompted me to do so - ordinarily I spend my time in the New Testament, but hey!  If it gets me reading...

CONCLUSION: Still have to buckle down and get reading more... rigorous material.  Though I am enjoying Beatrix Potter very much.

I'm going to go buy the School of Rock soundtrack now.  My priorities are not exactly in an ideal order, but I'm enjoying myself.  So.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

23/365 Candida by George Bernard Shaw

Okay, I'm getting in the groove again.

I liked this.  He's such a great writer.  So many plays sound ridiculously fake to me.  The lines, I mean. Lots of the ones I read in Intro to Lit just made me wild.  This story was dramatic and everything, but I believed the lines.

I think I got a bit of it too.  Which probably means precisely the opposite, but oh well.

CONCLUSION: I think I would like to read Man and Superman and the other two plays. I like George Bernard Shaw.  If only because I read this on the wall of a book store once:

George Bernard Shaw telegrammed Winston Churchill just prior to the opening of Major Barbara: "Have reserved two tickets for first night. Come and bring a friend if you have one."
Churchill wired back, "Impossible to come to first night. Will come to second night, if you have one."

ON A SIDE NOTE: I got the lovely B&N edition you see above at the much-talked of (at least on here) library sale.

That is where he now lives.  I love my room.  No piled-up books.  No floor stacks.  They all have homes.  I sit on my bed and bask in the glory of it.  

Monday, August 1, 2011

22/365 The Sly Old Cat by Beatrix Potter

Yes, Squirrel Nutkin to the rescue again. Another lovely short Beatrix Potter.  At least I'm trying again.  These days have been exhausting.  I MUST get back on track.  I think I have 3 catch-up books to read.

CONCLUSION: Moving is exhausting.  Must get to bed earlier.  As much as I love these books, I must read something longer than Beatrix Potter this week.

P.S. I got all my books put away.  It looks wonderful.