February 5th, 2010

amy poehler

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10. Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer - So I read this book with low expectations because I read the previous two thinking they were awful. The first one was good...but that's it, in my opinion, it's all downhill from there. But I got this book as a gift and it's been sitting on my shelf for ages so I was like why not, might as well get it over with. And yup, wasn't good, though I will give it this, it was more interesting and "what's gonna happen next?" than the previous two because this book was just all over the place. But the outcome was so disappointing, all this HUGEEE build-up for what? Nothing. Eh, what can you do?
  • noachoc

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I started reading Clear and Present Danger in the middle of a discussion with the boyfriend about where marriage might lie in our near future. Although the boyfriend can rattle off a thirty minute rant on anything political or philosophical, he lapses into long periods of contemplative silence when queried about our relationship and, about a half an hour after I asserted that it was high time we wed, I got bored of watching him stare at the ceiling and went and got a book. Clear and Present Danger by Tom Clancy is about a (fictional) war on drugs, wherein the US takes actual action, secretly deploying covert troops to disrupt cocaine production at its source and dispatching planes to shoot down cartel shipments. I found it to be too long, too detailed, too "Let's see what happens to all of the minor fly-by-night characters". It was, I found, rather like lasagna, good at first, but growing more and more tedious every time I returned to it.

After that, as part of a deal with my father, I read All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy. Dad loves McCarthy but had refused to read The Road because it "looked grim". I'd read The Road and loved it, so I promised to read the other McCarthy's if he read that one. The thing about Mr. McCarthy is that he's got something against quotation marks. You can generally figure out who's talking from context, but you really need (or I do, anyway) a long period of quiet undisturbed reading time, because otherwise you might start listening to a conversation next to you and, before you know it, you've missed something important in the book. It's prettily written, the story of two boys with nothing better to do who take their horses and ride to Mexico to find work, but it wasn't really my sort of thing. I liked it pretty well in the end, but not enough to read the second book in the same volume.

Then, and this is something I hope you never have to read, I read something that, while not strictly a book, was 150 pages long. In Good Faith: Navigating the New Federal RESPA Rules, put out by the American Bar Association is really more of a gigantic memo. The attorney I work for, who knows I keep track of the books I read but is a bit foggy as to why, plopped it on my desk and said "Well, you should at least be able to count this as a book" and I agreed. It details the new good faith estimate form for mortgages and the new HUD-1 form for real estate closings and, in general, is very irritating.

And then, because Elizabeth Gilbert had recommended it in Committed, I read Marriage, a History: From Obedience to Intimacy or How Love Conquered Marriage by Stephanie Coontz. The discussions with the boyfriend have made me curious about marriage, so I've been reading up on it. This book, though not as personally useful as Ms. Gilbert's, was heavily informative without being too dense. It focused mostly on Western marriage, which was ok with me since that's the sort that affects me, starting with theories about pre-historic marriage, then moving through Greece, Rome, Europe and into America. My favorite bit was when Ms. Coontz mentions that husbands nowadays tend to claim that they do more housework than they actually do. She points out that, while most women would accuse these men of being insincere in their claims, it shows an important and positive cultural shift because husbands in the 1950's tended to claim LESS housework than they actually did, not wishing to admit to doing any "women's work". She said that this actually shows positive growth, since, while men still, in general, don't do as much around the house as women, they at least feel like they ought to be doing more than they are.

Foucault Thoughtful
  • boixboi

Newbie, 1, 2, 3

Getting a late start, but I plan to finish within the 2010 calendar year.

1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo -- Stieg Larsson

Framed as a kind of mystery novel, this book is so much more than that; to me, one of the most captivating things about this story was the way it focused on journalists, and more specifically, gutless financial journalists. Although the book is set in Sweden, this is also a problem in the US, and was probably a contribution to the global financial catastrophe of the last couple years (notably the book was written before any of that began to really take shape). One of the themes I was less enamored with in this book was, supposedly, violence towards women. Each section of the book is prefaced with a statistic on violence committed against women in Sweden. Theoretically this could be a fascinating theme, but Larsson presents it as a series of extremely gruesome sexual assaults which were off-putting and didn't seem to actually say much about the subject besides that rape is bad. This may account for why I didn't care much for Lisbeth Salander, although I loved just about every other character in the book, particularly Blomkvist and Armansky. Despite my misgivings about some parts, I'd give it an 8 out of 10 overall.

2. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland -- Lewis Carroll

I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that everybody knows what this book is about, more or less. It's hard for me to believe, but I have never actually read this before. It is a wonderful book, and as far as I can tell is an endless assault on adults, formal schooling, and all the ways in which we oppress children. There is a lot more going on than that, certainly, but this was the general impression that stayed in my head. The serpent bit is definitely my favorite scene. 9/10.

3. Out of the Dust -- Karen Hesse

Another book intended mainly for children/young adults (in case you're wondering, I'm taking a course on children's literature). This was...not so great. Written kind of like a prose poem, it doesn't really use that form to do anything, except perhaps skate around actually having to write out all the details. Despite a supposedly uplifting ending, I found the whole thing depressing and a little on the preachy side. 4/10.
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  • slickmc

Books 13, 14 / 100

13. Heracles Mad - Euripides
           After Heracles finished with his labors, he goes down to Hades for some reason, and some dude, Lycus, takes over and decides to cement his kingship by killing Heracles' children, wife, and father.   Heracles eventually shows up to save the day, and then Madness comes along to mess things up again.

14. On the Road - Jack Kerouac
           A classic.  I hated it.  Is it a sign of the current culture in America that I kept thinking, "These people would be better off with a little medication?" 
  • maribou

Stain of the Wise Catlady

The Catlady, by Dick King-Smith
Cute kid's story set in Edwardian England. Quick read, charming illos.

Three Wise Cats, by Harold Konstantelos and Terri Jenkins-Brady
Meh. I would've liked this better if I read it in my pre-Christmas Christmassy mood... but it was alright. I would have LOVED it when I was nine.

Stain of the Berry, by Anthony Bidulka
Hm. The author took the series to a weird place and I can't decide if I love it or am put off by it. I guess I'll have to see how the next one feels. I would still recommend the series though, just don't read this one out of order.
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