March 15th, 2011

reading/writing, books

Recent reading

I haven't written a post keeping track of books in ages! I think I haven't organized my book-related records since 1/18/11! So here's what I've been reading since then (in pretty much random order):

Emma Donoghue, Room (on audio): I *adored* this book, which takes a very interesting tack in looking at how context affects how people see and interpret the world. I definitely want to read more of this author's stuff.

Jim Butcher, White Night (read aloud with Shannon): Shannon and I are both quite fond of the Harry Dresden series, so we had fun with this one. Jim Butcher's books don't require a lot of intellectual cogitation or emotional investment, but they're light and enjoyable.

Ellen Rogers, Kasey to the Rescue: A college kid is paralyzed in an accident, and his family has trouble dealing with the aftermath. Eventually, he gets a helper monkey (Kasey), who both helps and makes things harder. Since the book is (ostensibly) written by the kid's mother, it's a bit overly dramatic at times, but I still enjoyed it a lot. I like stories about helpful animals.

Ruth Nichols, A Walk Out of the World: I checked this fantasy novel out of the Anaheim Public Library several times in elementary school, and I recently decided that I wanted to track it down again and see what I would think of it 30 years later. I was surprised to find that I still really enjoyed it, though that enjoyment was probably influenced by the little sizzles of faint recognition I had when encountering certain illustrations, dialogue snippets, and plot events.

Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles (on audio): I've read these short stories on paper before, but I was curious to listen to them on audio, because my very first introduction to Ray Bradbury was when a substitute teacher read aloud to us from this book when I was in 6th grade. I was immediately ensnared, and have been a Bradbury fan ever since. I found that this book worked really well as an audiobook, except for one thing: the Martians' names aren't really pronounceable by English-speaking Earth-folk.

Stieg Larsson, The Girl Who Played with Fire: I'd read this book before, but I was excited to read it again while knowing all the answers to all the mysteries, and indeed I found it just as interesting the second time through. Of the three books in the trilogy, this is my favorite.

Stieg Larsson, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest: I decided I *had* to reread this book, because I had reread the previous novel in the series (The Girl Who Played with Fire), and the story is left utterly unresolved at the end of that book. But I found that Hornet's Nest wasn't very interesting as a reread, so I ended up skipping to the exciting stuff at the end, which was still, admittedly, pretty exciting.

Jonathan Franzen, Freedom: I read this literary novel for my book group, and I've had conflicting feelings about it. I think the writing is quite good, but I found most of the characters annoying. In particular, I thought Franzen's female characters were almost all pathetic, whiny, dependent, manipulative, selfish, passive, mean, or some combination of all of these. There was only one (kinda important) female character in the books whose life did not revolve around men. But, then, most of the male characters' lives revolved around women, too, now that I think about it. At first, I really liked the book; then, maybe 2/3 of the way through, I actively hated it; and now, having read the whole thing, I'm uncertain. Perhaps discussing it in the book group will help me organize my thoughts.

Stephanie Perkins, Anna and the French Kiss: Ahhh ... young adult romance in Paris! What could be better? But seriously, this book is pure fluff, but very enjoyable to read. Of course, it helps that I'm a big fan of Paris, but most of the story takes place within the American boarding school the kids attend.

Jasper Fforde, The Big Over Easy (on audio): I luuuurve Jasper Fforde! If I wasn't already married, I'd marry him! If I wasn't certain I don't want children, I'd have his little literarily humorous babies! I'm a big fan of the Thursday Next series, but I've read all those novels, so when I needed a Fforde Fix, I turned to his Nursery Crimes series, and I enjoyed it a lot. I think I still like the Thursday Next books better, but this was entertaining in much the same way.

Roger Zelazny, Nine Princes in Amber (read aloud with Shannon): I guess everyone has read this book except me, so Shannon and I decided to read it aloud together. (He's read it before. Possibly multiple times.) I particularly enjoyed the early parts of the book, in which fantasy and reality rub up against each other, but the pure fantasy stuff later is good, too.

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rain, Totoro

All you ever think about is socks

Rain rain rain rain rain ... all day long. Blah. Cobweb and Munchkin have spent most of the day on the heated pad on the couch, while I have been reading and watching tv and listening to raindrops outside.

I got my neato-keen new mismatched socks (one of my Christmas presents bought with gift money from relatives) in the mail today. You can check them out if you like:
puzzle socks
abstract geometric socks
gradual stripe socks
peace/love socks
star/stripe/dot socks (these ones were free, due to a promotion)

Mismatched socks make me think of the character Spencer Reid on "Criminal Minds," because he never wears matching socks (though this has never actually been *commented upon* on the show). In fact, if what I've read is true, the character was given this personality trait because the actor (the fabulous Matthew Gray Gubler) never wears matching socks:

Matthew Gray Gubler Matthew Gray Gubler
Notice the mismatched socks: stripes with polka dots.

Gubler said in an interview with

My grandmother told me at a very early age that it was good luck to not wear matching socks, which I've come interpret to as bad luck to wear matching socks because the one time I wore matching socks in ten years was when I was acting in this movie called The Life Aquatic. We were doing a moment where Bill Murray is leading us in exercises and somehow I managed to sprain my ankle on camera. It actually wound up being in the movie. I attribute that entirely to me wearing matching socks.

I've always found that trait charming in both the actor and the character, and I've been loving the socks I've been buying online, because I can get ones that complement each other without actually matching. I'm a bit more rigid than Matthew Gray Gubler (I blame a childhood in Orange County), so I'm not so big on the dramatically non-matching deal. But the kinda matching, kinda not matching thing makes me very happy. I don't like wearing socks -- I prefer to go barefoot or wear flip-flops -- so if I've gotta do it to avoid the cold, I want to make the socks a pleasure to look at while I walk around the house.

Speaking of flip-flops, today I painted my toenails for the first time in months, as the time change has inspired in me a hope of going barefoot in the foreseeable future. So my toenails are now a sort of light metallic blue. Like aluminum or something.

Shannon and I have begun rewatching Quantum Leap from Netflix (we both watched much of the show when it was first on the air, back in the 80's and 90's), and it's aged surprisingly well. (I tried to watch some MacGyver a couple years ago, and it was just terrible. Painfully bad. I couldn't even watch one entire episode.) We were inspired to watch it because of Scott Bakula's role in the "Chuck" episodes we watched recently. I've always been something of a Scott Bakula fan, so I'm looking forward to more QL.