Thursday, September 1, 2016

August List

Not that this list is particularly august.

But I have been working at the list of library books at home this month, and my piles have been dwindling (hurrah!). My queue, on the other hand, has been ebbing and flowing from the limit (100), so I've been trying to free up pockets, which is how I queue everything up anyway: a bunch of items on a particular topic or theme at once, then a break, before another topic captures my interest.
  1. Animal Wise by Virginia Morelli
    • I talked about this at the beginning of the month in my other post.
  2. Le Petit Prince (2015)
    • GO WATCH THIS IMMEDIATELY. If you've already watched it, watch it again. And maybe a third time. I need to get my hands on my own copy.
  3. The Son of a Certain Woman by Wayne Johnston
    • I didn't need to read #5 to understand the use of irony here - Johnston practically hits you over the head with it, and then some. Which is great, actually. You expect so much more to go on at the ending; I didn't realize it was the end until I flipped the page. It starts off rather monotonously (for me at least, I didn't get hooked till about halfway through or so), but then there's all this foreshadowing to what is never actually in the novel. I enjoyed it, but I wouldn't read it again.
  4. Capture: Unravelling the Mystery of Mental Suffering by David A. Kessler
    • Very largely anecdotal, which, after reading the books about animals and research on animals, specifically the view of anecdotes in research on animals, I couldn't really decide one way or another how I felt about it. That being said, I enjoyed the bit on David Foster Wallace especially, and the other little tidbits were also entertaining, though I wish there was more theory and it was more grounded in research specifically on the concept of capture as defined by the author. That being said, the notes section is incredibly extensive, and while I didn't make my way through them because I failed to look at the notes while I was reading (as perhaps a better reader might have done?), it all seemed a bit too much to catch up on all at the end for me. I flipped through them and saw they were very detailed and in depth, explaining concepts and theories brought up in the chapters, as well as what the author is referring to, say, when he refers to Jung.
  5. How to Read Literature Like a Professor (Revised) by Thomas C. Foster
    • "Time and time again, experience has shown that while I might be "just anyone", I'm definitely not "everyone". What I like, what I admire, what I dismiss, I can only find out by reading for myself" (Foster, 414) - yes!
    • I very much enjoyed this both in terms of content and in terms of style - lively, engaging, and very easy to read. Although it was made painfully clear to me how much more practice I need in critically analyzing what I read, despite how much I might think I do read. Which makes it all the more sad, really. That simply means I don't put enough thought into it at all. Perhaps some revisiting is in order, notably of Sartre's works, which I haven't read since high school, though they resonated quite incredibly with me at the time. I might even argue that Sartre was what began my collection.
  6. The Soul of the Marionette: A Short Inquiry into Human Freedom by John Gray
    • Roadside Picnic referenced, and it's on my list? Love when that happens! Also, now I need to actually read Nietzsche and not give up on it.
  7. Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan
    • It's always interesting to read about the historical figures behind religions, as well as the political conditions out of which religions (and their leaders) arise. I wonder what the implications of the incredible difference between now and then for Christianity are, for believers? In the sense that it might be a touch difficult to reconcile these differences - assuming one would even want to reconcile them and not simply choose one or the other or something in between - and also in the sense that we should be armed with the full knowledge that even religion is not impervious to social conditions. Are the teachings still the Truth, or is it simply interpretation (especially given the ambiguous phrasings of passages in the Bible, different interpretations of which have created many schisms)?
  8. The Club (2015)
  9. Thinking in Numbers: On Life, Love, Meaning, and Math by Daniel Tammet
  10. I Saw the Light (2015)
    • I really wanted to become besotted with the movie. Which is not to say I didn't enjoy it, because I did, but not to the extent to which I would have liked. Whether that's due to my expectations or not is up in the air.
  11. American Psycho (2000)
    • ... So was that all his imagination? I mean, the whole pscyhopath description at the back of the DVD case didn't seem to fit with the character, so I was pretty confused throughout anyway, but it could have just all been planned by the director (or author? I'm not sure how closely the movie adaptation follows the novel inspiration). I mean, to begin with, I'm not too sure how it would work, having an "alternate psychopathic ego" (from IMDb website), considering the lack of empathy he'd need to have for this alternate ego, and how that would mesh with his regular old ego. But again, that's just me riffing off of the description.
  12. A Beginner's Guide to Immortality: From Alchemy to Avatars by Marie Birmingham, illustrated by Josh Holinaty
    • This was on the "new books" list on the library website, and it looked kind of fun, so I ordered it in - what a delight! I'm sure it doesn't go quite as in depth as a book on the quest for immortality could have done, but given that it's aimed at children, I think the author & illustrator did a heck of a job! Speaking of which, I love the illustrations.
    • Interestingly enough, I read about Jeanne Calment, who lived to the ripe old age of 122, not too long ago! I wish there could have been space to put in some information about the leasing agreement she had for her property, because it's quite funny if you read it with a generous dash of ironic humour. Here's an article from the NYTimes, since I can't remember where I read about it originally.
  13. A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
    • I realized halfway through or so that the author had inserted herself into the novel (talk about being dense!), since some of those footnotes were less "this is me, the distanced author with authority and knowledge over the material in the novel, telling you what this means or is about" so much as "this is me, the author-cum-character, telling you I searched up what this was and didn't find out definitively what Nao was referring to". And now I can't help wondering whether or not the À la Recherche du Temps Perdu journal & watch & letters were actually found, and whether the epilogue is not an actual message out to a Yasutani Naoko out there who had written and packaged everything and thrown it into the ocean (or perhaps simply off the same beach on that island?).
    • I was tempted to purchase it before I read it, along with At the Existentialist Cafe (which I also held back on, below), but now I really do want a copy on my shelves!
And now, I usually don't just abandon books willy nilly after picking them up, but I aborted the effort for one title along the way, after getting almost to the end (I think I was over 3/4 of the way through):
  1. What Should We Be Worried About? edited by John Brockman
    • Not that any of these issues or possibilities aren't important, or that we shouldn't worry about any of it, but this simply didn't resonate with me in the least. One of the short essays, however, did. I forget what it was called, but it said something to this effect: what we should worry about is that Edge is asking some of the foremost thinkers to answer this question (i.e. what should we be worried about?) as opposed to employing their smarts to actually producing suggestions that can be implemented and rewarding a winner based on their solution to a world problem. 100% agreed.
Working on:
  1. Love and Math: The Heart of Hidden Reality by Edward Frenkel
  2. The Grapes of Math by Alex Bellos
  3. If This is a Woman: Inside Ravensbruck: Hitler's Concentration Camp for Women by Sarah Helm
  4. At the Existentialist Cafe: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails by Sarah Bakewell
    • I was very tempted to purchase this book while idling around at Indigo, but remembered we have a copy at the library. So far, it seems like it would be worth the purchase though.
Although speaking of books I've been thinking of purchasing, here are a couple more I've been holding back on. I'm probably going to see whether I can track down the two Natsume Soseki ones at a used bookstore somewhere, especially considering how much Light and Dark is (though I would totally shell that out for Natsume Soseki).
  1. The Art of Joy by Goliarda Sapienza
    • Haven't actually a clue what it's about really, but it was on sale for $5 (how is the hardcover on sale and the paperback version not though?) and although it's kind of a tome and I already have way too many books for my bookshelf to comfortably house, I've added it to my eternally unfulfilled shopping cart on the Chapters/Indigo website. Eternally unfulfilled only because there are books that have been sitting there for months. (Even more sitting in my wishlist for a further eternity.)
  2. Light and Dark by Natsume Soseki
    • Because Natsume Soseki.
  3. The Miner by Natsume Soseki
    • Ditto.
On the topic of books & shelves and my poor bookshelf that's probably over capacity, I'm seriously thinking about adding another Billy to my life. (At least, I think the one I already have is a Billy... you never really know with items that are so old...) I just need to measure & make sure it would fit, and decide whether or not to get rid of my desk - the unequivocal answer to which should be YES, considering it's really just storage space for me right now, and has been for many many years now. I don't believe I ever used it for homework, or much else, after elementary school, to be honest - after which I can probably both set up my floor loom in my room as well as purchase another bookcase. Wouldn't that be swell! Sandy (the loom) & two Billies.

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