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Showing posts from September, 2011

Week 39: The Most of P. G. Wodehouse

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The Most of P. G. Wodehouse Yeah, it's been a Wodehouse kind of week. This is a giant collection of short stories and one novel. There's a bit of everything: stories of the Drones club, Mr. Mulliner, Jeeves, Ukridge, and a couple of other recurring characters. The novel is Quick Service , an English-country-house story. It was just what I needed during a busy week! I've been spending nearly all my time working on displays for Banned Books Week at work. I've done that instead of actually reading any real books. Happily my displays are now finished and I get to read a book again!

Week 39: Author! Author!

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Author! Author! by P. G. Wodehouse P. G. Wodehouse corresponded with his writer friend Bill for many years, and Bill collected them into a book, had Wodehouse add some extra notes, and published it as an amusing book of letters filled with writing advice. My favorite line of advice is "I think most novels would be better if shorter." It's quite interesting to see how Wodehouse moved around. I had not realized how much time he spent in New York and Hollywood; he did quite a lot of work for Broadway shows and movies and so on, as well as producing reams of short stories and novels. He couldn't write stories in anything but an English setting (for the most part), but he spent hardly any time in Britain once he really got going as a writer. Just about any solid Wodehouse fan would get a lot of fun out of this book, but I can only find it in the original 1961 edition, so you'd probably have to get it through ILL. It's a shame it hasn't ever been reprin

Week 38: The Golden Spiral

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The Golden Spiral and The Forgotten Locket , by Lisa Mangum The second book in the Hourglass Door trilogy delivered pretty well. Abby is a decent heroine with plenty of courage and problem-solving creativity, though her specialness is still unexplained. The writing is good, if sometimes overly descriptive (not a terrible thing for a YA novel, actually). I got right to work on the third book, so I suppose that says something. The Golden Spiral won 2010 Book of the Year for Young Adult Fiction in the independent publishing category; evidently the ALA liked it. The Forgotten Locket is the final book, and it too was pretty good. Things get so badly messed up that you really wonder how they're going to get straightened out again. Abby and Dante are shown as equal partners of a team, which is nice when you compare it to many typical YA romances. I would give these books to my daughter to read now, if she was at all interested in romantic stories yet. If you have a pre-te

Week 38: Who Killed Homer?

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Who Killed Homer? by Victor Davis Hansen and John Heath I wish I owned this book; it would go on my list of books that I like to re-read every few years ( Women's Work: the First 20,000 Years , The Discarded Image , and Going Solo are some of the others). Hansen and Heath lament the decline of Classics as a field of study, asserting that the whole field has become too elitist and self-focused, and everyone really ought to be working on giving the world reasons to read Homer & co. and ponder the lessons of the Greeks. Most of the interesting parts of the book focus on why we should all read Homer; the bits about how to reform Classics departments are skimmable if you're not really interested. They never fail to convince me that I should read more Sophocles, and now I'm kind of thinking of doing a Greek Classics challenge in the new year. Yay, another project no one will be interested in! That's the sort of thing I always come up with. But if you're

Week 37: The Secret History

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The Secret History , by Donna Tartt This novel sounded interesting--the story of a group of undergraduate classical scholars at an elite Eastern college, and how they came to kill one of their companions--but I was disappointed. It's an OK book, but not really my taste.

Take a Chance Bonus: On Her Majesty's Secret Service

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On Her Majesty's Secret Service , by Ian Fleming 10: Pick A Method: Pick a method for finding a book from the choices listed below (used in previous versions of the challenge). Random Bestseller. Go to Random.org and, using the True Random Number Generator, enter the number 1950 for the min. and 2010 for the max. and then hit generate. Then go to this site and find the year that Random.org generated for you and click on it. Then find the bestseller list for the week that would contain your birthday for that year. Choose one of the bestsellers from the list that comes up, read it and write about it. I wanted to do this option just for fun, and ended up with the NYT best seller list for November 3, 1963. There were several neat books on the list (plus a Peanuts collection), but my library didn't have most of them. Then there was this James Bond novel. I'm not a big fan of Bond movies, and I've never read any of the books, so I thought maybe I should, i

Victorian Literature: The Frozen Deep

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The Frozen Deep , by Wilkie Collins Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens originally produced The Frozen Deep together as a play, with each of them in the starring male roles. (Dickens was inspired by his role to create one of his most famous characters, but I'm not telling you who!) Collins then re-wrote his play as a novella. It's the story of a young orphaned lady who firmly believes she has the Second Sight, to the exasperation of her friends. She is worried about the imminent arrival of Richard, who left on a voyage with the mistaken assumption that they would marry upon his return. Meanwhile, she has fallen in love with Frank, who is about to go out on an Arctic expedition. When Richard appears on the scene and she reminds him that he never asked about her feelings or gave her a chance to say anything, he swears revenge on her unknown love--and embarks on the same Arctic expedition. Will he realize who Frank is, and if he does, will he exact the murderous revenge

Week 36: Essential Literary Terms

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Essential Literary Terms , by Sharon Hamilton Hamilton has written a truly useful book that I wish I'd had when I went off to college. This is a "Norton Guide" and includes exercises, so a high-school student (or anyone else) could work through it as a mini-course in literary terminology. The book is divided into sections such as "Narrative Forms," "Figurative Language," and so on, and contains short explanatory pieces on all the terms you could want to know about--along with literary excerpts to illustrate concepts. It's very readable, not too long or bloated with unnecessary verbiage, and quite clear and helpful. Anyone heading off to college and preparing to take any literature courses should take this along. It would be great for an older high-school student to use as a reference. And if you're out of school but want to know something about literary analysis, this is a good resource.

Week 36: Common or Garden Crime

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Common or Garden Crime , by Sheila Pim In neutral Ireland, World War II wasn't called "the war," it was called "The Emergency." And Sheila Pim's mystery-addicted father was having a hard time getting any new mysteries to read. So she wrote one for him, based around their common interests of gardening and murder mysteries. She went on to publish several more. I enjoyed this Irish take on a murder mystery, it was kind of fun. It was fair-to-middling as quality goes.