November 29th, 2009

67. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat - Oliver Sacks

67. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat - Oliver Sacks - 256 pages (8/10)

I like how the cover matches my usericon, hah. Yay, Magritte.

I've been meaning to read this book for years. How could you not with a title like that? Dr. Oliver Sacks is a guest star on a podcast I regularly listen to, Radio Lab, and after hearing certain cases, I knew it was long past time I read his book. Sacks has been a neurologist for many years, and this book was his first. Published in 1985, it details the strange and amazing cases he's come across during his career. This book is amusing, fascinating, and touching.

One interesting case was a man who had alcohol amnesia. He was in his late fifties, but he thought he was 19 in 1945. Whenever he mentioned his brother, he mentioned that he was in accountancy school and was engaged to a nice girl, even though at the time of the book his brother had been an accountant for thirty years. Up until the age of 19 he could remember his life perfectly, but everything after that was a blur. Sacks would see the man one day and the next day the patient would introduce himself again. Each case detailed in this book is unique and varied.

The book is well-organized: "The book comprises 24 essays split into 4 sections which each deal with a particular aspect of brain function such as deficits and excesses in the first two sections (with particular emphasis on the right hemisphere of the brain) while the third and fourth describe phenomenological manifestations with reference to spontaneous reminiscences, altered perceptions, and extraordinary qualities of mind found in "retardates" (Sacks, 163)

I always took advantage what it was like to go through day-to-day life with no neurological disorders. I can't fathom what it must be like to not be able to trust your sight, or to not be sure where your body parts are, or to not remember ten minutes ago. Sack's main thesis of the book is that human identity is still preserved, no matter how debilitating a disorder an individual has. A person with severe amnesia can still recognize someone he or she loves. A person with severe mental disabilities can still love deeply and find passion in past times. Identity persists.

Booksforfood is my book reviewing journal. I like new friends :)
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  • cat63

Book 57 for 2009

City of Illusion by Ursula K. LeGuin

A grown man with no memory and strange oval-irised amber eyes wanders out of the Forest near Zove's House. The people take him in, name him Falk and teach him of the world - how the alien Shing conquered Earth centuries before and continue to suppress human society. Finally, he decides to set off for the Shing city of Es Toch to discover who he really is and what happened to him.

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Sookie comforts Eric

No. 52 for 2009

Title: The Fellowship of the Ring
Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
Rating: 5/5
Book: 52
Pages: 531 pgs
Total Pages 18,743
Next up: Tempted by P.C Cast & Kristin Cast

This was a great read! It was a slow read for me, mostly because they throw a lot of names and places at you but I enjoyed every minute of it. I will admit, I am very surprised I liked this book. I have tried this one before and gave up. I am glad that I stuck through it and I can't wait to continue on in the series.

xposted to 50bookchallenge, 15000pages and bookworm84

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Books 40 and 41

#40 - Ghosts/Aliens by Trey Hamburger (2008, 249 pages)

Trey Hamburger is just a normal guy from Leonard, Michigan, who finds himself embroiled in some weird stuff - unexplained gurgling sounds, a missing friend, a neighbor who may or may not be an alien, and a floating Hot Pocket, just to name a few. Trey, along with his friend Mike, team up to get to the bottom of things.

The story is...well, it's very unique. The narration itself is something I've not seen before, but I loved it for its difference. Trey's narration was blunt and crass and reminiscent of a person with a high level of ADD. When Mike adds his two cents, he does so using a picture of a car to set himself apart. And of course, spattered throughout the book are historical facts and suggestions for how to deal with ghosts and aliens.

As bizarre as the setup is and as sporadic as the narrative is, I could not put this book down. It's a lot of great fun and gives a unique perspective of the male psyche. I give this four out of five levitating sandwiches.

#41 - The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore (2004, 306 pages)

The townspeople of Pine Cove have experienced some unique situations, like being under attack by a giant lizard. But this Christmas, they will face their greatest horror - the destruction of Christmas.

The first step is the death of Santa Claus, followed by a visit from a bizarre angel who isn't all there, and finally by an attack from a group of Christmas zombie. That alone should make this an awesome book. What helps make this book even better, though, is the cast, most of whom have been featured in previous Moore books, including Lamb, Practical Demon Keeping, and The Island of the Sequined Love Nun. I really loved reading about Roberto, the talking and very fashionable bat.

This isn't Moore's greatest book - I honestly don't know if anything can top Lamb - but it is a great, heartwarming tale. It's a little slow at first, but once the story gets rolling, readers should find themselves loving it. That's why I give this four out of five Christmas braaaaaaains.

Total Books Read: 41 / 50 (82 percent)
Total Pages Read: 11,752 / 15,000 (78 percent)
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50 completed.

At one stage I thought I would not get to 50 books, but there is nothing like learning that my contract wouldn't be renewed to make me spend fewer weekends working. So my last couple of books are:

50: Ed McBain's Cop Hater (188 pages). Not really my type of book, but we had a copy and I thought I would see if it was as simplistic as when I first read McBain's stuff 30 years ago. It was.
49: Bill Bryson's The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid (375 pages). I found this at my wife's friend's aunt's house. Another excellent book from Bill Bryson, this time recounting his upbringing in Des Moines, Iowa.
48: Terry Pratchett's Making Money (349 pages). I borrowed this from the Port Chalmers library and enjoyed it. I particularly was struck by the similarity between the financial machine in the bank and the economic models of the circular flow of income. Perhaps a university could construct such a model, with water flowing in and out?
47: Yann Martell's The Life of Pi (428 pages). I loved this the first time I read it, and loved it again, though I was watching out for the story more expectantly, and picked up on something in relation to the floating island. I missed it the first time.
46: Terry Pratchett's Wintersmith (399 pages). Another excellent Pratchett.
45: Terry Pratchett's Thud (439 pages). Ever enjoyable.

So that makes 50 books, I have the month of December to go, and have nearly finished three books. And that makes 17,256 pages.
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Fifty Books

I didn't set out to do the 50 book challenge and am rather late to the party. I joined this com some weeks ago but never seemed to get around to posting my books - but here's my list so far this year with ratings and links to reviews on goodreads, where they exist (I'm a little behind on that, too).
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I'm currently reading Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessel, The Guernsey Literary (etc) and Madame Verona by Dimitri Verhulst - anyone read/reading those? Thoughts...?
  • krinek

51. Labyrinth by Kate Mosse

Title: Labyrinth
Author: Kate Mosse
Year: 2005
# of pages: 694
Date read: 10/13/2009
Rating: 3*/5 = good


"July 1209: in Carcassonne a seventeen-year-old girl is given a mysterious book by her father which he claims contains the secret of the true Grail. Although Alais cannot understand the strange words and symbols hidden within, she knows that her destiny lies in keeping the secret of the labyrinth safe. . .

July 2005: Alice Tanner discovers two skeletons in a forgotten cave in the French Pyrenees. Puzzled by the labyrinth symbol carved into the rock, she realises she's disturbed something that was meant to remain hidden. Somehow a link to a horrific past - her past - has been disturbed." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

This was a good fictional account of the 13th century Albigensian Crusade (also known as the Cathar Crusade) in which the French Catholics in the northern part of France attacked the Cathars, a Christian sect, in the Languedoc in the south. I liked how these events were portrayed in the lives of Alais, her sister Orianne, her husband Guilhelm, and her father, Bertrand.

The 21st century scenes were not as good as the 13th century ones. I wanted to know more about how various characters were counterparts to the 13th century ones and many characters had similar names which added to the confusion. Still, I liked how Alice discovers the truth about her ancestor, Alais.

Books 94-101

At this point, I'm just posting to see how many I can read in a year. :D

94. Uncommon Grounds – Sandra Balzo (Mystery)
Rating: 3/5
This is the start of a new cozy mystery series where the protagonist owns a coffee shop with two friends, one of which is murdered on their opening day. She spends the whole book whining about her ex husband, and how her life USED to be, solves the murder and possibly starts a romance with the cop who had been investigating the murder. It wasn’t a *bad* read, but it could have been better, and the use in the plot of computers really dated the whole thing – having a fully functional adult who has no idea how to use EMAIL, and uses dial up and complains about the sound of the modem was a bit jarring, to be honest.

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did you know you could fly?

(no subject)

Book #86 -- Ann & Jeff VenderMeer, eds, Fast Ships, Black Sails, 241 pages.

An incredible collection of short stories featuring pirates. The definitions of piracy are as diverse as the settings: past, present, future and in a galaxies far far away. The one thing they all share is a great sense of adventure and freedom. It's a brilliant collection!

Progress toward goals: 333/365 = 91.2%

Books: 86/100 = 86.0%

Pages: 21728/25000 = 86.9%

2009 Book List

cross-posted to 15000pages, 50bookchallenge, and gwynraven


I have a lot of catch-up to do!!

39 MACBETH William Shakespeare (England, 1603)

Of all the plays I read by Shakespeare, this one is the best, along with Hamlet and Richard III. It is painfully poetic and the characters are haunting.

Here's a famous quote:

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Do I need to say more?



40 JULIUS CAESAR William Shakespeare (England, 1599)

This is not one of Shakespeare's most powerful plays. I enjoyed the humor but it lacked the poetry I usually enjoy when I read one of his plays. The character of Brutus was clearly at the center of the play, but I still felt something was missing.