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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Alice and Quilt Books

I like this very much! Especially the section on The Background & History of Alice in Wonderland.

I love quilt books and own more than I should, but can't resist them. The library also provides me with ample opportunities for books on quilting. Quilted Memories is mine, and I've been enjoying it for about 10 days now. Lots of pictures. The other one is overdue at the library, but I love it and will probably renew it (in the vain hope that I'm going to try some of the blocks). I've been through it countless times; some good tips as well as great quilts.

Variety Pack

Thanks to Jill at My Individual Take, I'm adding a new librarian blog to my list of reads, The Annoyed Librarian. Librarians seem to be good at satire. I try to visit Miss Information on a regular basis.

I'm almost finished with Break, Blow, Burn, so I'm feeling pretty good about where I am on the stack of 8 that I resolved to work on exclusively (more or less) last week. I have not ordered any more books, nor have I checked out any more library books. The month is almost over, and I've finished Candide, The Physics of the Buffyverse, Weight in the last week. Admittedly, two were very short (Candide is at the top of the stack) and the other I'd read about half of before putting it aside for a while.

I've also begun Palace Walk, and I'm enjoying it so far. Will I stick to finishing the "current project stack" even after February is over and before getting anything new?

Well, I don't know because the books that I've recently received are not in that stack, and they look so tempting.

Since this is a variety pack, here is a link to THINGS TO DO AT HOME WHEN YOU ARE BORED. :) This guy's imagination makes me grin.

And a link to J. K. Rowling's official site.

The Physics of the Buffyverse

Ouellette, Jennifer. The Physics of the Buffyverse. The first half of the book was more accessible and covers other branches of science including biology and chemistry. Entertaining and educational, the book uses episodes from Joss Whedon's series Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel to explain scientific concepts and theories. I discussed the first half here. The second half was more difficult as I mentioned here.

This book was a review copy sent to me by Anna Suknov and much of the science was over my head; I enjoyed the first half and learned a little (admittedly my capacity for higher-level thinking is limited) in the second half. Thanks, Anna. I had to stretch, but was fully aware of how useful this book and its technique would be in teaching difficult concepts to students.

Interesting details:
  • there is no such thing as centrifugal force; what is actually at work is centripetal force
  • time dilation - very interesting chapter that discusses the theoretical possibility of time travel and other time anomalies
  • Fred's (that brilliant young physicist in the Angel series) theories about D-branes, p-dimensions, T-dualities and more when discussing string theory. Chapter 9, discusses the real science behind the terms
  • this quote:
"The wheel keeps turning. you can't stop it," Lorne tells a rueful Gene, pointing out that while he can hold a musical note indefinitely, "Eventually that's just noise. It's the change we're listening for, the note coming after, and the one after that. That's what makes it music."

There is an extensive bibliography--8 1/2 pages of scientific articles and books alone. Also a section on the episodes from Buffy and Angel that Ouellette used to illustrate the science she discusses.

Nonfiction. Science. 283 pages + resource material. 2006.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Family slideshow

BlueStalking Reader has written a post about her family's roots in Mississippi. Very Southern. My family also has Southern roots--they traveled through Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi on their journies that ended with some of the family in North Louisiana in the 1850's.

The boys in the wagon: my Uncle Buddy, my dad (Laddie), and Jackie Boy (the local bootlegger's son) about 1928-1929. Pretty barren landscape, but my grandmother's chickens are there in the background. My paternal grandfather Walter worked at a sawmill, sold insurance, and eventually owned a small lumber company/hardware store; my grandmother (Jennie Calhoun Corry McDowell) had attended the teacher's college in Natchitoches and taught school. Her father and grandfather were teachers and had founded schools in Arkansas and Louisiana in the 1800's.

One of my favorite stories is when Laddie and Jackie Boy decided to use the bottle capper to cap empty beer bottles. Jackie Boy's father was not pleased with the waste of beer bottles. My grandmother didn't approve of drinking, so Laddie caught it from Jackie Boy's father and then from his mother. Their reasoning was slightly different.

Another tasteful setting: my grandfather (on the left) with my Aunt Carmen, and his brother and his daughter around 1910. I don't see any chickens, maybe Miss Jennie was feeding them, but the fence around the chicken yard is there. (BSR - "get over there in front of the chicken wire, and I'll take your picture.")

The picture with the question mark is either my Dad's Aunt Ruby or his Aunt Ruth (I think).

Walter and Jennie had 6 children and little money, but all six went to college. The three girls all became teachers. Laddie, Buddy, and Mary (the music teacher) are the only surviving children.

Carmen was the oldest (born in 1909); Laddie was the youngest child (1924), born when Walter and Jennie were around 40; Walter was 67 when I was born. Since we lived in Texas and Wyoming and Arkansas as I was growing up, we didn't see them often, and when we visited, my brothers and I were always with the cousins. I wish I could have known them better, but my memories of them are slight. The chicken yard, feeding the chickens, and looking for eggs in the hen house (I was not a country child) are some of my most vivid memories.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Finished and working on...

I've finished The Physics of the Buffyverse---finally! I took a break to read some fiction, and then let the poor book lanquish. But in my "what next" mode, I decided finishing 2 books that I've started (and then neglected) would be a fine accomplishment. So last night I finished The Physics and now I'm working on Camile Paglia's Break, Blow Burn. Yes, Mary, I'm enjoying it very much.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Weight: The Myth of Atlas and Heracles

Winterson, Jeannette. Weight: The Myth of Atlas and Heracles. The book begins in a very heavy manner with the weight of the world--the physical world of sedimentary rock and fossilised remains, with layer after layer of strata that is twisted and folded to form this earth.

The slow and scientific build-up eventually leads to Poseidon and Earth, the parents of Atlas, and their courtship is told in a lovely metaphoric manner. (Words that echo throughout this re-telling: boundaries, nothing, infinite space, and "I want to tell the story again.")

Atlas joined the Titons in their war against the gods and lost. His punishment: the weight of the world.

Now that the background is established, enter Heracles, a rowdy, raucous, rapacious character. Heracles moves the somber and the serious to farce.

His first words: "Have a drink Atlas, you old globe. We've all got our burdens to bear. Your punishment is to hold up the universe. My punishment is to work for a wanker."

A trickster and a clown, Heracles (and his relationship with his step-mother Hera) is one of the highlights of Winterson's version of the myth. The contrast between Heracles and Atlas entertains, but makes you think.

I really don't know how to explain this re-telling because it circles back on itself. Again and again.

Winterson says, "What can I tell you about the choices we make?" and "I want to tell the story again." And she does. She does.

(I love the end)

Fiction. Myth. 151 pages. 2005.

More on "What Next?"

I've enjoyed reading the responses to how you make decisions about what to read next. Most of you are eclectic readers and enjoy a variety of topics and genres, so it isn't surprising that you enjoy switching back and forth, balancing fiction/non-fiction, serious/silly, classics/contemporary and so forth, but reading about the way you approach your next read is fun because each of you is such an individual reader.

Click here to read the comments on "what next?"

a brief summary

iliana, Cheya, Lotus - mood
Dorothy W. - contrast
Jill - time & brainpower
Dark Opheus - whim
Cheya - book cover, title, recommendations
Cheya & Lotus - challenge obligations


Candide. Voltaire. I read a biography of Voltaire last month and wanted to read Candide--a novel I've always intended to read, but have never gotten around to--while the biography was still fresh on my mind. It was a good move because having recently read the biography added a great deal to the reading this satire. Candide is a quick read and reminds me of a lengthy Saturday Night Live segment--silly, serious, and satiric.

Candide, a gentle young man in love with the beautiful Cunegonde, views the world with great optimism. Both young people have been tutored by the philosopher Dr. Pangloss who espouses the belief that "since everything is made for a purpose, everything is necessarily for the best purpose."

After the first innocent kiss by the young lovers, Candide is kicked out of the castle, forcibly inducted into the Bulgarian army, witness to obscene horrors of war, discovers that Cunegonde has been raped and murdered, watches the kind James the Anabaptist drown, sees Pangloss hanged and others burned alive (note - many of these dead return in fantastic circumstances)...and more. Each of Candide's adventures leads from one appalling circumstance to the next. Despite each new disaster, Candide continues his eternal optimism in Pangloss' theory that everything happens for the best.

Only at the very end, does Candide begin to question Pangloss' philosophy, but without bitterness; he also comes to a resolution of sorts --that each "exercise his own talents" and become useful. His final response to Pangloss: "Well said," replied Candide, "but we must cultivate our garden."

Voltaire's attack on the philosophy that war, disaster, and suffering are part of a "benevolent cosmic plan" is ridiculous, funny, outrageous. He contrasts Pangloss' optimism with Martin's pessimism and suggests that the truth lies somewhere in between. He questions man's callousness and cruelty, the tragic results of natural disasters, the importance of tradition, the hypocrisy of many who are supposedly serving God, the abuses of power, and much more.

Much topical satire is quickly outdated, but because Voltaire concentrates on events and consequences rather than on individuals, this satire is fresh and applicable today. (Voltaire does throw in a few allusions to specific persons, events, publications, and religious doctrines of his day, but they are almost negligible in the overall scheme of his satire.)

Fiction. Satire. 113 pages. 2003.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Great Mail

Today's mail brought wonderful gifts! The Habit of Being (a hefty tome 596 pages), one of the Amazon orders I've been waiting on) and Shadow Cities from Lotus Reads! Thanks, Lotus!

Now, I'm only waiting on two books that I ordered earlier this month. I'm resisting the library and further orders.

I've finished two more books: Candide and Weight: The Myth of Atlas and Heracles. Both are tiny little books. Both are weighty books with a good deal more influence than their small sizes would indicate.

I'd almost finished Candide and took it with me when I went to my father's to spend the night. He's on a new medication, and I'll stay again tonight to make sure there are no difficulties. The doctor said to give him the meds at 9:00 and stay with him for 3 nights, but I have someone else to stay tomorrow night.

Anyway, I finished Candide and almost finished Weight last night. Today, I rushed through the rest of Weight and will be reviewing both of them soon. Both are excellent

A Corpse in the Koryo

Church, James. A Corpse in the Koryo. Inspector O is relating events that led up to a murder in Pyongyang's main hotel, the Koryo. A fascinating look into North Korean communism and a country where little can be counted on, not even a cup of tea. Inspector O and his superior Pak are men committed to their jobs, but subject to the vagaries of Korean politics. What began as a supposedly routine surveillance assignment ends with Inspector O explaining the events to the foreign agent. The conversation between the two men is interspersed among Inspector O's story of where the assignment led.

Far more interesting than the murders is the glimpse into the closed society of North Korea. The small everyday details of life in North Korea are revealed without fanfare and made the country real for me...for the first time. The character of Inspector O is well developed, believable, and sympathetic.

James Church, a former intelligence officer, knows the country, its people, and its politics and spins an interesting tale in a fascinating setting.

I enjoyed this one very much.

Fiction. Mystery. 2006. 280 pages.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Mystery Lovers: The Edgar Awards

The Edgar Awards nominees (Mystery Writers of America) have been posted here. I really enjoyed Gentlemen & Players by Joanne Harris, but despised The Virgin of Small Plains. My reviews of these novels are both here under July 2006 Reading. Have not read any of the other nominees for Best Novel. I've read a couple of novels by Denise Mina, dark mysteries set in Edinburgh. The Janissary Tree has an interesting cover and concept.

Under the category of Best Critical/Biographical - both look interesting: Unless the Threat of Death is Behind Them: Hard-Boiled Fiction and Film Noir by John T. Irwin and The Science of Sherlock Holmes: From Baskerville Hall to the Valley of Fear by E.J. Wagner.

Link to the Edgar Awards is via Shelly's Book Shelf. Thanks, Shelly. By the way, she has links to other genre awards lists.

What next?

Sherbears' comment about how we decide what our next read will be made me think. I usually have a current project pile that is, on average, 7-20 books. The books in this stack contain books that I want to read in connection to other books (Candide after reading Voltaire's biography or The Weight in connection with myth in general and The Penelopiad in particular, Palace Walk from Lotus' suggestions and the much enjoyed Maximum City); assorted interests like poetry, history, myth; random novels pulled from the library shelves; and specific titles that I've pulled from reviews by other bloggers.

This "current project" stack sits next to my reading chair, and I pull from it first. But what do I pull next and why? That is the puzzler. Sometimes I know exactly what I want next, sometimes I start a few until I find one that really catches my mood...

How do you decide what to read next?

Monday, February 19, 2007


I'm getting to be like Danielle - I want to read everything. Blogging only increases the need to read. The constant exposure to books and topics that appeal is never ending in the blogging world, so in addition to all of my previous interests, I'm finding myself inundated with reminders of books and authors that I've been interested in but haven't gotten around to reading, new titles and interests that arise in my own reading, and ALL of the titles and topics that the rest of you are reading!

This has produced a curious greed and the feeling that I must stockpile these books so that I can get to them when needed. At this point, I know that settling down and refusing to purchase any more and refraining from library visits is a good thing. But might not something get away from me if I don't act fast, get that book, and add it to the TBR stack?

Whoa, Nellie! Get ahold of yourself! You are NOT going to run out of things to read. It just won't happen. Self-discipline is called for here.

A resolution to complete all of the books that are waiting is in order. Or at least a moratorium on purchases. Those lists will still be good in a month or so. Longer by then, of course, but the books will still be available.

Therefore, I will not order any new books until March-but will still receive those already ordered :)-and will not check out any new ones from the library. I will see what damage I can do to the stacks in 10 days without adding to them.

This stack contains a few still in progress and those that need to be read. This is my current project stack.

Here are the ones already ordered, but not yet received:

The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O'Connor
The Silent Tower by Barbara Hambly
Godmother Night by Rachel Pollack

If I can make myself concentrate on the 8 in the stack and the 3 to come, I'll forgive myself the greedy attitude I've developed and move on with whatever I choose. This won't be accomplished in 10 days, but should make a satisfying dent and will, perhaps, let me realize that I need to finish what I begin before adding willy-nilly to the stacks.

I just finished A Corpse in the Koryo (set in North Korea) by James Church and need to review it. And work on my quilt, and clean house, and work in the yard, and write letters, and pay bills, and balance statement, and ....

Sunday, February 18, 2007


McLarty, Ron. Traveler. I really enjoyed this book, but I'm not sure how to categorize it. There is a bit of a mystery and a bit of "you can't go home again," but you are free to reminisce about those days of childhood and adolescence. Jono Riley learns of the death of an old friend, the girl he fell in love with as a child. He returns to Providence, Rhode Island and spends a lot of time thinking about his days there, his parents, his friends and their adventures, his athletic ability. Although the beginning didn't thrill me, and I put it aside as I read a couple of other books, after returning to this novel and accompanying Jono on his return to Providence, I became deeply immersed in Jono's memories and his attempt to solve a mystery from 40 years ago. The character of Jono, a bit off-putting in the beginning, became both fascinating and dear.

Ron McLarty has both a sensitive and a wry touch in handling the characters who move from grade school through high school together. McLarty is an actor, author, and playwright himself, and has the opportunity to poke fun at himself through Jono.

Fiction. 280 pages. 2007.

Friday, February 16, 2007


Cool links: Here (be sure and scroll down), Concept Design and Illustration, and here, Three-Dimensional Street Art, or create your own art, watch it re-played, and put it in a gallery with famous works of art.

And how about these cool worlds for the science fiction/fantasy fans (Carl & Angela)-- or this?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden

Valente, Catherynne. The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden. If you believe in fairy tales, you must read this book. I've written about this wonderful book here and here. Valente's writing pulls you in through the cycle of tales that circle around and back again, introducing new characters and new tales that all have interconnections; every apparent loose thread is deftly interwoven with a new story. Myths, folklore, and fairy tales are re-created with a Beastiary both familiar and new. Volume 2 is not due out until October, and I know I will have to re-read this shortly before it does appear.

Here is a link to the title song from the CD For the Girl in the Garden:Songs and Readings in Celebration of The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden by S. J. Tucker.

I admit to pre-ordering Valente's sequel. And I will searching out her other works as well.

Fiction. Myth/Fairy Tale. 483 pages. 2006.

myth, influence, allusion, analogue

Found the link to this article The Ecstasy of Influence: a Plagiarism at The Endicott Studio for Mythic Arts. I had the old site bookmarked, but now there is a wonderful blog full of all things fairy tale, fantastic, and mythic. Since I had not visited in nearly a year, I've had so much to catch up on because the blog was begun in June and is full of great information and links to wonderful articles and illustrations. (Thanks to Jude for reconnecting me to Endicott Studios.)

Back to the article. Again, a bit of synchronicity because I've just finished The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden which reworks so many old myths and fairy tales into such an intriguing new creation. Analogues and allusions have enhanced literature from its beginnings, and I've long loved seeing the influence, conscious or unconscious, of ideas that are borrowed and re-created in works of literature: "...that art of quotation that Thomas Mann, himself a master of it, called “higher cribbing.”

The Ecstasy of Influence is a long article that moves into the areas of copyright, intellectual property, "UseMonopoly," "The Beauty of Second Use," "Source Hypocrisy (Disnial)." Fascinating examples are given for each area discussed, and the article documents these in a wry twist at the end.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Myth and Magic

I'm almost through with The Orphan's Tale: In the Night Garden by Catherynne Valente. What a wondrous book! I've been diving into it at every opportunity for the last few days, but now, today, when I have lots of time to devote to it, I'm slowing down. Finding other things to do, in order to avoid finishing.

I pulled from the new book shelves at the library with no prior information...just that I liked the title and the cover; the back cover mentioned myth and fairy tale--PERFECT. The right book at the right time, it fits right in with the direction of my book orders.

But to have it turn out to be such a beautiful and intricate experience is more than I could have expected. Two lonely children, an outcast orphan and a prince...

I'm at a loss to explain the intricacy of this book, as the girls spins her tales for the prince, and then the characters within the tales take over and tell their own tales, and the characters in that tale must offer their own explanations by way of another tale.... A cycle of tales related and informative, all manner of creatures fanstastic and monstrous, magic and cruelty, faith and inspiration, old tales with a new perspective, tales with strange twists and turns like a labyrinth where every new path can provide a different outcome.

As eager as I am to find how all of the tales will turn out, I do not want to finish the book.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Iliana posted e e cummings' poem i carry your heart for Valentine's Day. I love that poem and here is a companion poem by Sir Philip Sidney (16th c.)

My True Love Hath My Heart and I Have His

My true love hath my heart and I have his.
By just exchange one for the other given.
I hold his dear, and mine he cannot miss,
There never was a better bargain driven.
My true love hath my heart and I have his.
His heart in me keeps me and him in one,
My heart in him his thoughts and senses guides:
He loves my heart, for once it was his own,
I cherish his because in me it bides.
My true love hath my heart and I have his.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Written in Bones

Bahn, Paul, ed. Written in Bones: How Human Remains Unlock the Secrets of the Dead. So many interesting facts are related in this book that it is difficult to decide which ones to use as examples.

The tomb of Lady Dai is particularly important in Chinese archaeology. Her tomb contained curtains, silk fabrics and garments, eating and drinking vessels, cosmetics, figurines, 30 baskets of food stuffs, three baskets of herbal medicines, philosophical texts, and records of 52 diseases and 283 prescriptions concerning various branches of herbal medicine.

Bog bodies are so well preserved because "Waterlogged peat contains little oxygen and, as a result, few of the microorganisms that promote decay." In fact, the acidity of the bog and its chemistry actually act as preservatives. Sphagnan, produced by sphagnum moss, extracts calcium from the body and also has a tanning effect. The remarkably preserved corpses recovered from the ponds and bogs of Northern Europe appear to have been sacrifices.

The Incan mummies discovered in the peaks of the Andes were also sacrifices. In 1999, an archeaological team discovered some of the best-preserved examples of frozen mummies of Incan sacrificial victims. Two children, a boy and a girl, and an adolescent girl were discovered--each showing signs of narcotics having been ingested. All were dressed in fine clothing, and the adolescent girl wore a white feather headdress.

Other interesting discoveries include the Lapedo Child, a "morphological hybrid"; although the lack of collagen in the bones meant no information about bone chemistry or DNA, the remains are estimated to be from 24,000 years ago. The burials in an Augustinian Friary in Hull reveal differences in burial practices from 1316-1540, the effects of plague years, and the first evidence of venerial syphilis.

There are too many to list. I enjoyed this book. My only complaints: 1) since the articles are written by different authors, the information detail varies, and 2) the pages are the shiny "art book" kind that cause a glare. More information in this post.

Nonfiction. Archaeology. 185 pages. 2002.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Winter's Child

Maron, Margaret. Winter's Child. An unpretentious, enjoyable mystery set in North Carolina and Virginia. Deborah Knott, judge, has recently married Dwight Bryant, Sheriff's deputy. A phone call from Dwight's son by a previous marriage sends Dwight to Shayville to appear as his son's "Show and Tell." Dwight discovers that there is more than an appearance at school in Cal's request for his presence. Dwight's former wife, Calvin's mother, has disappeared. Then Cal disappears. Deborah joins her husband in solving the mystery. There is another mystery sideline in which a local bad boy is murdered, but it is minor and just distracts from the real story.

Mystery. 324 pages. c. 2006.

The Poe Shadow

Pearl, Matthew. The Poe Shadow. I'm not sure why I read the whole thing; it was a struggle to do so. Quentin Hobson Clark is determined to unravel the riddle of Poe's death, and in a manner that makes others question his sanity (& intelligence?), Clark ends up in Paris seeking the help of the man on whom Poe modeled his brilliant detective, C. Auguste Dupin. Long, slow, needlessly and boringly complicated. No characters particularly likable. Pearl's research may be admirable, but the novel is not interesting (hard to imagine given the subject).

Historical fiction. 367 pages. c. 2006.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

From Comments

Lotus Reads asked about Written in Bones. This book looks at archaeological sites all over the world and from various periods of time and specifically at human remains. From Neanderthal remains to those of Medieval times, from Peru to Egypt, scientists examine the skeletons, mummies, and bog bodies, and their respective burial sites. Each chapter takes a site and relates what has been discovered about the cause of death, sex, size, diet, nutrition, general health, and burial practices. Each example gives a surrounding narrative about the general time period and culture, and then specifics about the remains. Fascinating.

Jill asked about my latest Amazon order. So here are the titles: The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O'Connor, Candide by Voltaire, The Silent Tower by Barbara Hambly, The Shape-Changer's Daughter by Sharon Shinn, and Godmother Night by Rachel Pollack. The last 3 are for Carl's Fantasy/Fairy Tale Challenge in March. It is a mixed bag, eh? I thought I'd ordered The Boleyn Inheritance, but don't find it listed. Well, that will wait.

Fantasy or fantastic art by Robert Gonsalves. Check out the link...there are some wonderful worlds here.

Here's is where I am in the world of books--

Finished the quick mystery Winter Child by Margaret Maron and enjoyed it. Finished The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl and did not enjoy it (long, slow as in "The covers of this book are too far apart." Ambrose Bierce ). Will review them later.

Still Working On: The Physics of the Buffyverse and Written in Bones: How Human Remains Unlock the Secrets of the Dead, but took a fiction break.

Waiting in the Wings: Girl in a Box by Sujata Massey, Song of the Crow by Layne Maheu, and 4-5 others that I have in my possession (both from my stacks or the library's)

ON Their Way: I gave in and placed another order to Amazon.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Book Meme

Found this meme at Musings of a Bookish Kitty who discovered it at Booking Through Thursday.

What kind of care do you take of your books?

1. Are you careful with the spines? Or do you crack your books open to make them lay flat?

If it is my book, I often crack them open to make them lay flat.

2. Do you use bookmarks? Or do you dog-ear the corners? If you do use bookmarks, do you use those fashionable metal ones? Or paper?

I use bookmarks, scraps of paper, and the little card that comes in the front pocket of library books. Flags are nice for referring to specific pages or passages.

3. Do you write in your books? Ever? If you do, do you make small marks, or write in as much blank space as you can find? Pen or pencil? Highlighter? Your name on the front page?

I do write in some copies of my nonfiction books. My copy of Philip Lopate's The Art of the Personal Essay and a few other books that I frequently return to also have highlighting and annotations.

4. Do you toss your books on the floor? Into bookbags? Or do you treat them tenderly, with respect?

I'm not awestruck by books nor do I value them for any reason other than the content (with the exception of a few very old or valuable ones), but I treat them with reasonable care when setting them down or putting them in my bookbag.

5. Do you ever lay your book face-down, to save your place?

Only if in a hurry and there is nothing I can use to mark my page.

6. Um--water? Do you bathe with your books? Hold them with wet hands? Read out in the rain? Anything of that sort?


7. Are your books lined up on a bookshelf? Or crammed in any which way? Stacked on the floor?

Yes. Yes. Yes.

8. Do you make a distinction--as regards book care--between hardcovers and paperbacks?

Some paperbacks that I value receive greater care than do paperbacks in general.

9. And, to recap? Naturally, you love all of your books, but how, exactly? Are your books loved in the battered way of a well-loved teddy bear, or like a cherished photo album or item of clothing that's used, appreciated, but carefully cared for?

I own very few books that have any value outside of their content. I treat all of them with respect, but I'm not overly concerned about them. Art books and books that are quite old receive gentle treatment, but mostly my books are used quite casually. That doesn't mean carelessly...

10. Any additional comments?

Like Bookish Kitty, I am more careful with books that are loaned to me.

Quantum Confused

This picture of a new black hole was take by the Hubble telescope.
Credit: L. Ferrarese (Johns Hopkins University) and NASA

The Physics of the Buffyverse is beginning to slip right over my head. Not even Giles and Fred can explain black holes, worm holes, imaginary time, the "Einstein-Rosen bridge," or the uncertainty principle in language simple enough for me. I get a glimpse of what Oullette is driving at, but the effort expended is mucho more than I'm accustomed to. Reading s l o w i n g dowwwnnn. I've achieved Zeno's Paradox!!

So...I'm reading a nice little mystery.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

of tooth and claw

Dracula and vampire enthusiasts will enjoy this new version of the story! A graphic novel about the supernatural and...cats.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Southern Grotesque and Twisted Physics

Lisa's recent posts about Flannery O'Connor have renewed my interest. I think I'll add an O'Connor biography to my growing biography list. Here is another O'Connor quote I've had tucked away:

"Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them."
Pure Flannery!

Maggie's comment on the last post about O'Relatives was funny...until I started thinking about what some of my McRelatives might think of me!

I'm still reading the last of the nonfiction from January and enjoying both books.

Jennifer Oullette's The Physics of the Buffyverse is as much fun as I had hoped, and I'm about half way through. While physics has never been my strong point (that is an understatement of epic proportions), Oullette's combination of everyday language and Whedonist connections makes me pay more attention. She covers interesting aspects of science and the Buffyverse

Some of the topics she discusses include:

porphyria - symptoms of the inherited disease include sensitivity to light and "reddish" mouths. Severe cases may involve disfigurement and "the teeth and gums may become so taut the teeth protrude like fangs." I've read about this before, but interestingly, the show intended Vampirism to be a progressive disease.

invisibility gun - while this idea may not be feasible, Oullette relates "cloaking' schemes" that "rely on the camouflage principle" are an accomplished fact. Susumu Tachi, a real scientist, invented an "invisibility cloak" using computer generated images, and at the University of Pennsylvania, "researchers figured out how to use plasmon coatings as a cloaking device to render solid objects invisible--or nearly so--to an observer.''

centrifugal force - "in reality such a force doesn't exist," explains Oullette, but centripetal force is certainly useful.

Using episodes from Buffy and Angel, The Physics of the Buffyverse puts real science in an interesting format.

BTW - Cocktail Party Physics is the name of her blog.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Freaks and Gargoyles

My head still feels as if it is stuffed with cotten. My fingers aren't operating as efficiently on the keys, but it is a beautiful morning, and there is no headache!

Lisa over at Bluestalking Reader has a great link to a tour of Flannery O'Connor's home. O'Connor is a true Southern Gargoyle. My favorite O'Connor quote:

"When I'm asked why Southern writers particularly have a penchant for writing about freaks, I say it's because we are still able to recognize one."

Gargoyles and Grotesques of the World is the site of Walter S. Arnold, stonecarver. Here is some of his recent work.
A work in progress.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Haunted Bookshop

Morley, Christopher. The Haunted Bookshop. I understand why most bloggers prefer Parnassus on Wheels. Morley gets a bit didactic at times, and the mystery part seems forced. While I wish Mr. Morley had spent more time with Roger and Helen (whose "courtship" was detailed in Parnassus on Wheels) and with the delicious aspects of the shop and books therein, I did enjoy this sequel.

WWI weighs heavily on Mr. Morley's mind (The Haunted Bookshop was published in 1919), and he injects the subject at every opportunity and even has Roger dedicate an entire section to anti-war literature. He mentions Siegfried Sassoon as one of the war poets Titania must read, and I certainly agree with him there; Sassoon's war poetry is excellent. He puts forth Thomas Hardy's The Dynasts as "The book that should have prevented the war."

But I wasn't reading the book for anti-war sentiments or for the mystery, but for the relationship of Roger and Helen and books. Roger's genuine enthusiasm about the importance of books is a pleasure, and Titania's eager apprenticeship made me smile.

Fun tidbits:

Roger has added some finishing touches to Titania's room by selecting the books for the bookshelf, and says, "And maybe a copy of Ezra Pound's poems. I do hope she's not what Helen calls a bolshevixen" (65).

Roger was also proud of a clipping from Life:


I GIVE humble and hearty thanks for the safe return of this book which having endured the perils of my friend's bookcase, and the bookcases of my friend's friends, now returns to me in reasonably good condition.

I GIVE humble and hearty thanks that my friend did not see fit to give this book to his infant as a plaything, nor use it as an ash-tray for his burning cigar, nor as a teething-ring for his mastiff.

WHEN I lent this book I deemed it as lost: I was resigned to the bitterness of the long parting: I never thought to look upon its pages again.

BUT NOW that my book is come back to me,I rejoice and am exceeding glad! Bring hither the fatted morocco and let us rebind the voulme and set it on the shelf of honor: for this my book was lent, and is returned again.

PRESENTLY, therefore, I may return some of the books that I myself have borrowed.

Fiction. 253 pp. copyright 1919.

Friday, February 02, 2007


Unusual bird house by a man who makes interesting bookshelves and bookcases. It reminds me of Roger Mifflin's painting all the books on his dog's kennel--the titles all had to do with dogs and many were made up. (The Haunted Bookshop by Morley)

Here is a list of The Modern Library's 100 Best Novels list. Actually, two lists, the board's list and the reader's list.

I've been sidelined with sinus woes for the last two days. Have read a little, but have mostly slept and whined, and slept. Much better now. Time to go to bed.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

This and That

This site covers some interesting information on Edgar Allan Poe.

offers images, text, commentary, and explanatory notes for Dante's Divine Comedy.

Currently reading: The Physics of the Buffyverse (with a lurid cover) by Jennifer Oullete, The Haunted Bookshop by Christoper Morley, and Written in Bones: How Human Remains Unlock the Secrets of the Dead edited by Paul Bahn.

Which one will take precedence? The Haunted Bookshop, of course. It discusses many of the same things that Buzbee covers in his non-fiction The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop, but in a fictional and fun way.

Oh, and one section that I really liked in Buzzbee's book was the part of the Ur-book. The book that really incites your love of reading. "An important book, it seems, does not have to be one universally judged great or memorable," Buzzbee says. Ur-books are books of influence, formative books, and may not be literary. An Ur-book might be Nancy Drew, books about horses, a book by Kurt Vonnegut, or Gone with the Wind. For many of us, it was a children's or young adult book. For kids today, it may well be Harry Potter.

The Physics of the Buffyverse is a review copy. From the little I've read, I think I'm going to enjoy it--although physics is not generally an interest of mine. The previous two review books received were books I thought I'd enjoy by their titles, but turned out to be books that I couldn't force myself to finish and so did not review them.