"The word is the making of the world." - Wallace Stevens

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Mind Voyages

How can I be my mother's child and NOT sign up for this challenge? I've been looking for an excuse to reread The Mote in God's Eye. And Babel-17. And Ender's Game. And Dune. And Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? a.k.a. Blade Runner. And heck, maybe I'll even try something new. Plus, some of these can double up w/ my speculative fiction challenge. Yay!

How the Irish Saved Civilization - Thomas Cahill

I read this for a class in college, but decided I wanted to reread it for the medieval and Ireland book challenges. It's been about ten years since the first read through, and I honestly couldn't remember what I thought of it, but it didn't take me long into rereading this book to remember what I think about Cahill's writing. I think the Irish monasteries certainly did their part to pass on knowledge and save certain texts from extinction. And also definitely provided a level of civilization and order that was scarce at the time. But the Irish certainly weren't alone in this task, and Cahill would have you give them most of the credit. (All of the credit, if you judge a book by its title.) I don't know, I just don't think he's a very objective historian, more like a sports fan rooting for his team. Or maybe I just don't understand his sense of historical humor? He certainly has Irish pride! He makes a great argument for his case by leaving out/failing to mention certain information and that makes me feel like he's manipulating the facts. I don't think this was meant to be a scholarly book per se, but I do think a better title for this book would be, "How Some of the Irish Saved Their Part of Civilization". Let me put it this way: if what you're looking to learn about is Irish Christianity's contribution to Western Europe in the early Middle Ages, then this is a well written and informative read.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Great Short Stories by American Women

This anthology, edited by Candace Ward, is of stories published between 1861 and 1930. I was already familiar with some of the authors, but there were names I hadn't come across before. I was familiar with authors Sarah Orne Jewett, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Kate Chopin, Edith Wharton, Louisa May Alcott, Zora Neale Hurston, and Willa Cather. But the names Rebecca Harding Davis, Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, Alice Dunbar-Nelson, Susan Glaspell, Djuna Barnes, and Nella Larsen were new to me. The story subjects vary. If you like early American lit, then you will like this collection. A nice, light read!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Self righteousness results in impulse shopping

So this afternoon, after my fourth failed attempt to reach the downtown library (don't ask!), I logged onto Amazon in a fit of self righteous rage and purchased THIS babeh.

*Eeeeeeee!* I've wanted to read this for a while, the subject really interests me. I should exercise will power when it gets here because there are about half a dozen other books piled on my desk right now, and they were here first. But I'm pretty sure that's not gonna happen.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

84 Charing Cross Road - Helene Hanff

This is the first time I've ever read Ms. Hanff's writing. I would love to have met her, what a character. You can tell from this novel she was brave, funny, energetic, and had a dry sense of humor. She seems like she was a little temperamental, but it makes her a fiesty writer. I loved learning why the Thames is pronounced "Temmes." It was also nice to learn that Helene was someone who needed solitude; she didn't like writing where she could be disturbed. (I know I need time to myself to space out and daydream when I write in my journal. Or blog for that matter...) Time goes by pretty quickly in the first half of the story, which is made up of letters between Helene, Frank Doel, and the other people she corresponds with for years at Marks and Co, a rare and secondhand book shop in London. Call me a romantic, but reading letter correspondance really gives you a chance to get to know the writers and I love it. The second half of the book is entitled "The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street" and describes her adventures in England, when she finally gets to visit in the summer of 1971. Very charming story and lovable main character.