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December 31, 2008

Booklist '09

This time last year, you may remember I compiled a list that I didn't think was all together unreasonable. It had fifty books on it. I thought, Surely I can read that many books in a year. And, I wasn't wrong. I can at least digest that written material.

The problem with the list was, however, that I kept adding things to it. And, then I would bypass the original fifty in order to read things further down on the list. Sure, I got a lot done. But, many things, good things no doubt, languished at the top because I didn't feel like reading something in that genre or because it seemed too high-brow for my mood, etc.

That was a mistake.

So, this year I'm trying something different. What I've previously called (and will probably still call because of how the categories work on this blog) Booklist '08 is now the master list. Booklist '09 will be much shorter: fifteen books. Slightly more than a book a month. And, I won't be adding things to it. The things on Booklist '09 are required reading for me.

The bonus of this for you, dear reader? Well, you're guaranteed fifteen book reviews (and probably mini-reviews and discussions along the way.)

I will post the list tomorrow, so be prepared!

December 24, 2008

Ten Best

In No Particular Order (unless otherwise noted):

1. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby: "If you wanted to mess me up, you should have gotten to me sooner." This book was funny, touching, and well written. Gold Star, Nick Hornby.

2. Lighthousekeeping by Jeanette Winterson: People have been telling me for years to read Jeanette Winterson, and now I know why. How Winterson weaves this tale between the past and the present is incredibly beautiful.

3. Cunt: A Declaration of Independence by Inga Muscio. She goes a little hippy a few times, and I could have done without that, but it had some really good ideas on how to get in touch with yourself (pun intended), some wonderful references to solid resources and it was very thought provoking.

4. Sunshine by Robin McKinley: (this one is before Twilight in any order you can possibly imagine.) The main character kicks ass on her own, is a total fucking hero, And she doesn't fall in love with the undead creature, but rather becomes his rescuer/friend. Also, this book made me crave cinnamon rolls like you wouldn't believe.

5. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov: I still maintain that this book as the best opening page (I think its actually four paragraphs) ever written. Nabokov is a literary genius, even if after you're done reading all the pretty, pretty words you remember this that you're reading a story about a murdering Pedophile. (And this is why Nabokov is a genius. Only a genius could make you forget what Humbert Humbert is while you're in the story.)

6. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. This book was a little ridiculous, but it was fun. (Although, upon repeated readings, I would have liked more introduction to Alice so that James' revelation meant something.)

7. The Intentional Stance by Daniel Dennett. "...In fact I suspect that you wonder whether I realize how hard it is for you to be sure that you wonder whether I mean to be saying that you can recognize that I can believe you to want me to explain that most of us can keep track of only about five or six orders [of intention], under the best of circumstances. (1987:243)" This is a book about folk psychology. No, its a book about methodology. Wait, its a book about philosophy. Well, its a book in which Dennett explains his theory about the Intentional Stance. Philosophy rocks.

9. Eat Me by Linda Jaivin. Aussie erotinovel. Follows the lives and loves of four friends (before Sex and the City.). And, did I say Aussie? Enough said.

9. Survival at Auschwitz by Primo Levi. Levi's up front about the possible discrepancies between what he's saying and the historical record. But, even knowing that going into it (and, honestly, who can live through what he lived through and bother to remember dates and times.) its a harrowing tale and a testament to the strength of the human spirit. I think its good to remind yourself once a year or so of what people are capable of.

10. The Tale of Desperaux by Kate DiCamillo: Sure, its fiction. Sure, its about a mouse. But, I repeat: its good to remind yourself once a year or so of what people are capable of. This tale about bravery, luck, love, red thread, revenge, The power of music and literature, forgiveness and soup brought a tear to my eye. It deserves all the praise it can get.

December 06, 2008

Bird is the Word.

I have papers to write and no doubt my study break has done on long enough, but I wanted to share this tidbit about the kittens with my (four) loyal readers.

I bought one of those fake birds on a string on a stick that you can make zoom around the room. You know, a cat toy. I brought it in from the car and I introduced the kittens for it. You'd think I'd brought another animal into the house. They've been hunting it all day. They are, in fact, more interested in playing with it than they are in people food today. They're plum tuckered out and sleeping at the moment, but for awhile when I making the fake bird fly around they were chasing it with their little kitty fangs bared, ready to catch and put down the neon pink menace. Its been wonderful. They've even been stalking it when I wasn't making it fly around. (Which is even better. One of them will "catch" it and carry it around and get the other one's attention, who will start batting at the stick end.) Wonderful.

December 01, 2008

Last Entry Missed.

Sadly, I didn't post yesterday, thus missing the last day of NaBloPoMo '08. I didn't post because I was having an "adventure" with the airlines.

The plane was late leaving, apparently because of weather (which is to say that the plane arriving was late. If it isn't there, we can't get on it and leave.) Then, the in-flight crew was missing. We saw them arrive, but the gate agent was then nowhere to be found. Something like forty-five minutes later, she turned back up and announced that we would be boarding the plane. (Which was, at this point, over two hours late.) Once we got on the plane and pushed away from the gate we taxied for what felt like forever. Then, the pilot came on and told us that we were 22 in line and that it would probably be another hour before we took off.

Splendid. Thankfully, I was flying Jet Blue and I had my own little individual TV screen and was able to see the end of the Return of the King.

At one point during our waiting, the pilot came on and like an angry father said, "If people don't stop getting up, we'll be 60th in line instead of 30!" 30? Didn't you just say 22? And, please, when you have to go, you have to go. Its the truth of the matter.

Finally, we made it into the air. Where we hit some turbulence. It was a little scary. Also, I had told my friend Ed who was feeding the cats that I'd be home in the early evening and they'd be fine, I'd feed them when I got home at 6:30.

I got home after 10:30. Hooray. When we landed in Buffalo, we had to wait another 20 minutes for a gate to become free. I was so happy I didn't check any luggage and I could walk off the plane and right out of the airport. The kittens were very happy to see me. They'd knocked over everything, including the trash can in which the empty cat food packets, were looking for things to eat, the poor guys. They're good now, running around the house like the little hellions they are.