Wednesday, July 01, 2009

2009 in books (pt1)

As usual I've been both cranky and ill.
Someone (irritating) at work today said,
"...but i've seen you be cheerful and friendly before"
and before I could remember the cover story I replied
"It was a LIE."

So, it's out in the open. On the other hand, once one has cultivated even a minor reputation for eccentricity, nothing after that needs to make too much sense to be shrugged off as "just another thing." So you can tell the radical truth and it becomes outrageous entertainment.
"What do you think of so-and-so?"
"I love him and obsess over him in the long nights of my solitude."
Cue uproarious laughter.

It couldn't be any better if I actually wore a Jester's outfit.
But I digress.

For anyone who hasn't noticed it is pretty much the middle of the year. I considered some kind of sincere post, but I'm not up to it. The only goal-related thing I would say is that I am happy with my reading list so far this year, which has held up rather well despite being flooded this month by a series of works by Stephenie Meyer. The tally stands at 28 books in total and of these, 13 are non-fiction! Nearly exactly half!! WOOT! (gently mimes punching air so as not to dislodge reading glasses.

Of these, what books can I recommend to you my tasteful and clever audience?

A good question.

From January, Six Easy Pieces by Richard P. Feynman. Very thoughtfully re-published by Penguin in their charming $10 range (thank you Penguin and good idea going back to classic jacket designs!). Get into some Physics - it is already in you!!

February yielded some good quality reading in the form of The Consolations of Philosophy by Alain de Botton (another Penguin $10 winner). A novel about Tesla called The Invention of Everything Else by Samantha Hunt and a collection of Essays gifted to me by Mez called How to be Alone by Jonathan Franzen. I felt pretty clever by association after those highlights.

March needed a new flavour, so I read the new SF by Richard Morgan - The Black Man and I really liked it but I recommend it to SF readers with some qualifications (depending on your taste). The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman was lovely and had a little unsaid, which I like. The real standout this month was finishing The Invisibles by Grant Morrison which was a loaner from MsJaye and one of those books that infects and gives one a fever. I got through the fever, and now I can't wait to find out what I'm inoculated against or prepared for. Turns out I love anarchistic-chaos-magic. I want to do it again! (BTW for snobs - be warned - that one's a comic.)

April was quiet, I read some non-fic that was a bit dull and I re-read a favourite novel and then read a French SF novel called Babylon Babies (by Mauice Dantec, but I don't remember the translator. It wasn't Nicole Kidman so don't sweat it). I'd read some mixed reviews and of course the film (Babylon AD)was hopeless but actually i thought that the book was good. Not quite as fully anarchist chaos magical as The Invisibles, but possibly a good enough chaser. Lots of good themes and a clever central character and plenty of wild tech. I would like to read more SF from NESB (non english speaking background) as the flavours and textures are less predictable (all of which was pretty much removed for the film. Poor Vin Diesel. I bet he loved the original script.)

So May was not a big reading month, I was pretty sick, but I did finish Kimono: Fashioning Culture by Liza Dalby which I got on a whim and then was able to read nearly half of during a day of travel. It was fascinating, and I feel slightly more informed now when I watch Japanese cinema, or see modern women wearing Kimono. Actually, I'll fess up and say that I went out of my way to re-watch Memoirs of a Geisha just so I could look at all the kimono.

June, ah June. June has been the month of escapist reading. Binging on one-night-reads is something we all do sometimes, but that doesn't make me proud. In the middle of that I finished What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Darwin Knew: From fox-hunting to Whist - the facts of Daily life in 19th-Century England by Daniel Pool which I had been very eagerly awaiting. I was anticipating a detailed and exhaustive book, but actually this book ought to be subtitled "In Which Things that are Almost Obvious from The Context of the Novel are explained in length oftentimes using Quotations from Self-same Novels. Perhaps you ought to read more proper history books?"
Ah well. More than half of this puny book is pointless. I'm trying to think of a redeeming feature .... um .... it has some nice etchings.

I love to keep lists of books, I wish I'd given-in to the urge a long time ago instead of feeling furtive and dirty for wanting to do so. In a lot of ways it is a more interesting way of tracking the tides and flavours of my life than the dates of trips or the odd event. Movies and Knitting have both taken up a lot of time that I would otherwise have spent reading. But that's ok - ther'e more to come in the great Western Genre exploration, and Riley very nearly has his own bespoke cardigan.


MsJaye said...

"It was a LIE."

Bless your cotton socks. If only I had your verve and presence of mind when it comes to fucking with people. :)

(As regards your comments on the many and varied positive qualites of "Terminator: Salvation", all I really want to know is why we can't have a few films involving sexy cyborg women getting variously tortured? I don't ask for much. Or bronzed, naked to the waist, partially decayed, and glaring impressively across the vista they'll soon blight with their evil? Oh. Right. Rather begs the question, really.)

I recommend you read "The Etched City" by K. J. Bishop.

J9 said...

Dear Ms Jaye.
More floggings required all 'round really.
BTW, i just wrote a fan letter to Dmitry!! If he writes back i'll lt you know.
Peak-oil fan letters. It has come to this!!
Ta for the book info, also Laurence Miles has written more and all avail thru Amazon.