Thursday, October 7, 2010

Monday reading update

If you've been paying any attention to my book list, clearly I have not been reading. Okay, well that's not true at all. I've been reading a lot. I just haven't been finishing anything. So I thought I'd start a Monday reading update, that may or may not be published on Monday, y'know, depending on whether or not I get to it. Like this week. How did it become Thursday already?

Captain America thinks my reading list is a bit out of control. I think, go big or go home. Can you even use that expression in regards to reading? Whatever.

So here's what's been going on in my book world:

I've been preoccupied with reading Fortune magazine. Magazines are hard to keep up with. They really are. So that's that.

I started The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett a while ago. I generally like Ken Follett, but Pillars is told from a variety of perspectives, and while I like some of them, others I'm finding tedious. So I've put that book on hold for a when I have more time to digest it...or when the sun goes out...whichever comes first.

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin has also sort of been put on hold, but not because it's tedious. My library has this thing where you can check out electronic books, but only to certain devices, like your computer or the Nook. Maybe it's not the Nook, but at any rate, you can't check them out to your Kindle. Or, I can't figure out how to get it from my computer to my Kindle. And it's not like you get a copy; you have to return it. So at any rate, I tried this process, but I didn't actually finish the book before it was due, so I had to check it back in, and then I put a "real" copy on hold, but apparently everyone and their mother wants to read this book, so it's been on hold for a while. I think I'm something like 29th out of 99, so we'll see when I get it.

So, I suppose you might want to know something about the book. It's not bad. Like any self-help book, you really should take the pieces you need, or that work for you and skip the rest. Which is actually what Gretchen Rubin tells you, so kudos to her for that. Some of the stuff in it is just reassuring. She has this "secret of adulthood" that states, what is fun for you may not be fun for others and vice versa. That makes me feel so much better about how much I hate volunteering. Studies show that people who volunteer are happier...presumably than people who don't volunteer, but maybe it's happier than people who are dead, or are lepers, or haven't been exiled. I don't know, but I do know that volunteering does not make me happy. Except last Friday. My company gives everyone a paid day off a year to volunteer. If I got paid to volunteer instead of go to work, I'd like it. Really. I helped create a water conservation garden. I don't even garden at home. But, if I could get paid revenue accounting wages to garden, I'd be all over it.

I'm actually really enjoying Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. It's sort of a love story, sort of the story of the adventure of one man's life. It's poignant and believable, although very different from my life. I highly recommend reading it. I would be done with it already, but I borrowed my copy from a friend, and I have six books out from the library.

A word about the San Diego City Library system: they only let you renew books once. I think that's a crappy system. I'd like to be able to renew my books at least twice. The county library system allows you to do it three times.

Anyway, so I have two books out from the library that I've already renewed once. And I've realized I'm not going to finish either before they're due back next week. Rather than discussing the silly system with the librarian who already warned me once that they don't like to do a second renewal because they're supposed to have the books on the shelves a day before checking them out again. (Whatever!) I have enough other things going on in my life over which to get worked up than this, I'm going to take the passive-aggressive stance and return them, then put them back on hold, so someone can check them in, look at their little system, see that someone wants to check them out, and put them back on hold. Because that's an excellent use of time for an already underfunded library program.

I think a viable solution would be to have the patron bring in the books for the second renewal. That way the library knows that the books aren't lost or anything. Clearly, this is yet another system that I'm not in charge of.

Kurt Vonnegut is a weirdo. He makes me feel much better about my own strangeness. All the King's Men is actually pretty good. It just happens to be over 200 pages longer than goodreads seems to think it is.

I've actually been reading The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan, and by the time I actually get around to posting this post, I'll probably be done with it. It is Young Adult, but I think that YA is probably the most difficult genre to write. Kids that age are smart enough to have more than one layer to a story, and like characters they can relate to, but it seems hard to me to write from the perspective of a teenager, or a tween, since I haven't been one in over a decade. Whenever I think about writing teenagers, I always want to write the kind I wish I was back then, you know, cool, self confident, good skin, smart in that less-academic-more-real-world sort of way. And then, while kids have increasing exposure to adult situations, I'm not a member of the camp that believes that because they can, they should. So it seems hard to keep it PG without being too Velveeta.

Needless to say, this is not the best YA book I've ever read, but it's fast paced, fairly amusing, deals with ancient Greek, which I love, because I'm still super-cool like that. And it's keeping me entertained without entirely engaging my brain as I battle the mother of all head colds. I rarely get sick (Captain America can't remember the last time I was this sick, which means it was over 5 1/2 years ago or he has a very bad memory), but when I do get sick, I get really sick and turn into a snotty pile of patheticness, and you're all very welcome for that visual.

Worldchanging: A User's Guide for the 21st Century by Alex Steffen is really that. It's a user's guide, apparently based on his website or something. I don't know. I haven't really checked it out. My sister got it for me because of my environmental bent. Except I'm a really terrible environmentalist. I wish I liked doing earth friendly things more. I wish I liked growing my own food, or showering every other day. I don't mind things like public transportation, but unfortunately where I live, it doesn't take me where I want to go in any sort of framework that resembles convenience. Maybe I'll revisit all of this in the new year, but in the mean time, I'm taking a break from my attempts to be green. Which is not the same as saying we in my household have stopped recycling or have started warming up our cars, or try to be blatantly anti-green. And I must say I've made huge progress in the steps towards vegetarianism, but that's more due to Captain America's new work schedule and the fact that I'm not going to bother cooking for one than any actual dietary change going on.

Captain America bought me The Science of Harry Potter: How Magic Really Works by Roger Highfield. I haven't read this book in so long that I don't remember what I thought about it. When I read Harry Potter and Philosophy, the big thing I took out of it was that they made a couple of mistakes, like Bernie Botts Every Flavor Beans, instead of Bertie Botts. I don't recall anything like that in Science. What happened was, this was sitting on my desk at work, but then I became all distracted by the magazines I've been trying to keep up with and the library books that I just sort of overlooked this one. And it's kind of an easy one to overlook because each chapter stands alone, so it's not like I'm forgetting major plot points. Needless to say, I do intend to finish it, and it is currently housing my fabulous fair-trade Egyptian bookmark, so I'm still considering it a book I'm actively reading.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard by JK Rowling I haven't actually started, but I have big plans for this. BIG PLANS. You see, I have the luxury edition, or the collectors edition, or whatever, and it comes with all of these amazing prints that I intend to frame and hang in my purple room. And did you hear, she might just write another Harry Potter book or three! At least that's what she told Oprah. I'm not going to hold my breath, but my soul is doing a little dance of joy (my body is not, due to said mother of all head colds).

I really like Ken Follett, as I've said before, so I'm really hoping that I find The Man from St. Petersburg to be more engaging than The Pillars of the Earth. Alas, I haven't started this yet either, but I'm really looking forward to it.

Okay, just a note on how much I love books: sometimes I look forward to starting a book more than I actually enjoy reading it. I'm like a kid on Christmas morning. Before you open the presents, the possibilities are endless. After you open the presents, you've got a lot of great gifts, but the anticipation was half the fun.

Speaking of anticipation, I cannot wait to start The Hunting of the Snark: an Agony in Eight Fits by Lewis Carroll. I dream of the day when I am clever enough to think up a subtitle, or even a phrase as descriptive as "an agony in eight fits." And Lewis Carroll is also a little crazy, which is always great fun, and Agony has pictures! Could I be a happier bibliophile?

And finally, I have The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer. This has been on my reading list for so long that I can't remember why I put it on there. Yup, I'm smart like that, and the dayquil only makes it better.

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