Showing posts from July, 2010

Week 31: Composition in the Classical Tradition and Lilith

Composition in the Classical Tradition , by Frank J. D'Angelo This is really a high-school level textbook on writing, but it's quite different from what you would find in most schools. D'Angelo follows the classical system called the progymnasmata , which is a systematic graded series of exercises in rhetoric, meant to develop one skill at a time. Those of us used to the modern way of teaching writing find the classical system to be rather strange; who knew that rhetorical techniques could be mapped out on a graph and strictly classified? But that is exactly what the progymnasmata do. I think that aspect of it would really appeal to more analytic types who find it difficult to wade through the frustratingly indefinite discipline of writing, so if your child is that sort, I recommend giving this system a try. The exercises start with the simple fable, and work their way up to arguing cases of law. At all times, the exact use of each type of rhetoric is explained. This book

Week 30: An Alcatraz book and a Goudge title

Alcatraz vs. The Knights of Crystallia , by Brandon Sanderson I like Sanderson's writing, and this is his series for children, starring Alcatraz Smedly. The first book is Alcatraz vs. The Evil Librarians--it turns out that evil librarians run our world, denying us all truthful information. So obviously I like the premise. This series is also where Sanderson lets himself be as silly as he wants to be, which is very silly indeed. It can get a little grating at times, but mostly it's quite funny. This third installment in the Alcatraz series is, I think, equal to the first two. For the first time, you see something of the other free countries of the world which are not under Librarian control and there's some good action. Sanderson is one of the best and most original fantasy writers out there, so I recommend his books ( here's a list !). He is always taking common tropes and playing with them--for example the most evil librarian of them all is called She Who Cannot Be Nam

Week 29: Nothing to Envy and Duplicate Death

Nothing to Envy , by Barbara Demick Demick profiles six people who lived under the North Korean regime in this description of ordinary life in the most closed society on earth. It covers a good bit of history before getting detailed during the famines of the 1990's. It's a good book worth reading, but not exactly cheerful--if you're looking for information about North Korea it's a good overview. Duplicate Death , by Georgette Heyer I always enjoy He yer's historical fiction, and have been wanting to read some of her detective novels, so I was happy to run across this. It's very much in the mold of the Christie/Marsh/Sayers tradition. Heyer puts in lots of her trademark slangy dialogue and the story is reasonably well-written, but the plot has an unfortunate minor sideline about homosexuality that modern readers won't care for. So perhaps a different title would be a better choice if you're looking to read a Georgette Heyer mystery, but if you like this s

Week 28: The Bird in the Tree and Road to Serfdom

The Bird in the Tree, by Elizabeth Goudge I discovered Elizabeth Goudge last year, and this is the 4th or 5th book of hers I have read. I really enjoy them, and if you like somewhat old-fashioned (30's-50's) books set in England which evince a deep faith, you will probably enjoy them as well. Many of her books are out of print, but they are worth hunting down, and she also wrote several well-regarded children's books that I wish I could find. This book turned out to be the first in a family-saga type of trilogy (which I do not usually go for), and I had already read the second one without realizing there were others. In order, they are: The Bird in the Tree, Pilgrim's Inn , and The Heart of the Family . The drama revolves around three generations of the Eliot family; the grandmother, Lucilla, establishes a home in the country that she intends as a haven of peace for all of her descendants. The Road to Serfdom , by F. A. Hayek This one took me quite a while; it's th

Week 27: In Search of London and a children's book

In Search of London , by H. V. Morton I am so glad my mom found this book for me. H. V. Morton is the latest addition to my list of all-time favorite writers, and I must find more of what he wrote. Morton was a popular writer and broadcaster who won fame as a young man when he scooped the discovery of King Tut's tomb in 1922. He did quite a bit of travel writing, and I plan to read the rest of it. In In Search of London , Morton simply wanders around the great sights of London narrating history and fascinating little tidbits of information. He ranges from the City to the West End to Hampton Court. He visits the Romans, the Cavaliers, and everyone else. There are stories about Nelson, scholars, pensioners, Madame Tussaud (who had a much more interesting life than most of the people she modelled), and Anne Boleyn. The book dates from 1951; Elizabeth is a princess and London is recovering from the war, with burned-out shells of buildings still standing and rationing yet in force. If y