Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday Night Book Porn: Pages from the Easton Press Catalog

Book porn: (n) Photographs and descriptions that exploit the nerd's natural lust for the physical beauty of reading material. Such material is deemed highly dangerous to one's sanity . People under the influence have been known to max out their library cards, spend their food money on paperbacks and exhaust their friends and loved ones with "wish lists"
If someone you love suffers from book porn addiction, understand that there is no cure.
Just give them what they want.
Books are luxurious. People in the past thought so, and people today know it without knowing they know it (I know, right?).

TV shows and movies show mansions with handsomely paneled, richly carpeted libraries filled with marvelous leather-bound books and even the most illiterate people associate such a scene with being disgustingly rich.

Houses in real estate magazines often tout built-in bookshelves as one of their best features but it pisses me off that most of those bookshelves will be crowded with knick-knacks and pictures because nobody in the house reads!

What happened to the good, old-fashioned display of wealth and learning? Where have all the book snobs gone? When did we forget that a crackling fireplace must be surrounded floor to ceiling with the golden lines of classic and important titles?

There is one company that understands me and I get their catalog every month: Easton Press.
Feast your eyes, people:

You can subscribe to certain series (The 100 Greatest Books Ever Written series, for example) and you get a book in the mail for $39.95 per month plus shipping and handling (prices for other series vary). So, you don't have to be that rich, but you do have to be richer than I currently am.

When I have behaved myself and met certain goals for the month, I like to buy one as a reward. So far, I own 3-yes, 3- Easton Press books: Moby Dick, The Three Musketeers and Great Expectations. Hopefully, I can get Gulliver's Travels this month. Or Madame Bovary. Or Dante's Inferno.

Once I have amassed a good collection- like this remarkable person here, I will take up pipe smoking and a faux British accent and spend my evenings swirling cognac in a crystal glass, my ridiculously hot trophy husband by my side.

It's so important to have goals in life.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Book List Meme from Lost in Books

This meme is hosted by Rebecca from Lost in Books.
This week's task is to name 3 books that intimidate you.
Oh boy. Only three?

1.
Men of Mathematics by E.T Bell

I have never been good at math. I could be a case-study for students whose abilities are crippled by well-meaning parents & teachers- we moved a lot (military family) and I missed some lessons and ended up confused. All I can remember is grown-ups saying "well, girls aren't usually good at math, anyway."

Since I like reading to improve myself, I occasionally tackle math books thinking it will help me. This one was on sale at Waldenbooks, I had a coupon and it's a nice hardcover. Turns out, I may have skipped too far ahead. Just maybe.
This is from a random page, in the chapter about Isaac Newton:

The binomial theorem generalizes the simple results like
(a+b)^2=a^2+2ab+b^2, (a+b)^3=a^2+3a^2b+3ab^2+b^3
If you read from the beginning, this is relatively easy. But if you take a break-say, go to the bathroom or sleep or eat-you come back and have to look up words all over again. Am I going senile? Or is this a mental block? I don't know, but maybe the For Dummies series can help.

2. Anything by Heidegger &/or Neitzsche

There is an SNL skit from the 90s featuring Chris Farley and Adam Sandler. In this skit Adam Sandler says "Kill me now, God!"
This is how I feel when I try to read modern philosophers.

Greek philosophers are cool. I get Socrates. I get Plato. I even get Aristotle. They tend to be translated in ways I can understand and their ideas seem more pervasive- I've run into them before.
Modern philosophy is often based on whatever came before it. You have to read Kierkegaard before you read Heidegger and you have to understand Hegel to know what Kierkegaard is going on about.

It's like a really hard game of telephone.

3.
War and Peace
Everyone who does this is probably going to have at least one Russian Novel on their list, I think. I do like Dostoevsky's books. But I've never even cracked
War and Peace open.
When I see it sitting on a shelf, or being lowered by crane into a library or hauled by oxen into a Barnes and Noble, I see my own mortality stretching before me.

Every 19th century novel has bits that seem dry and uninteresting, that you have to slog through (
Moby Dick, for example). That's okay. But if that happens during a book as long as War & Peace, I would find it nearly impossible to finish.Someday, if I am ever imprisoned or laid up with some long illness or confinement, I'll give it a try.
I promise.

I Heart Monster
Lost in Books
Reading Extravaganza
The Avid Reader's Musings

It Was Monday, Here's What I've Read in April

Finished:

Crampton Hodnet by Barbara Pym
Satisfied my cravings for a good British novel
Naked by David Sedaris
The David Sedaris book I was saving because I read all the others. Found it at Goodwill for a $1.50.
About A Boy
by Nick Hornby
Superfreakonomics
by Steven Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner
Finally came in at the library. Just as good as I expected. Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Made in America by Bill Bryson
Best American history book ever- it took me forever because I kept stopping to read bits of it aloud--"hey, wait, listen to this!" Small Gods by Terry Pratchett
I laughed while reading this.
Voodoo History: The Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History by David Aaronovitch
Some Tame Gazelle by Barbara Pym
Fruits Basket Volume 2
by Natsui Takaya
Losing My Religion
by William Lobdell
It's Not News, It's Fark by Drew Curtis
Mort
by Terry Pratchett
I love DEATH in the Discworld series and I finally found this at the library. I accidentally read it too fast.

Currently Reading:
The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy
In Pursuit of the Gene by James Schwartz
A Mind of It's Own: A Cultural History of the Penis
by David M. Friedman
You have no idea how much fun this book is. It's full of "hey, did you know..." type stuff. The sad thing is, you can't really repeat it at the dinner table without sounding like a pervert.
Fruits Basket V.3 by Natsuki Takaya