Jul. 4th, 2011

eleneariel: (reading (jolly good))
1. All Clear, Connie Willis

Basically refer to whatever I said last month about Blackout, only more so because taken together, these two books are AMAZING. And I wondered some throughout about the pacing, but in the end it made sense - although my gosh, these two books need diagrams or cross references or something.

2. ...And Furthermore, Judi Dench

This is written just like she talks, so you can almost just imagine she's sitting in the room with you, chatting away. It's long on theatre stories and short on personal details, and will mean most to people who have some interest in and knowledge of the English theatre world. I enjoyed it, but it left me wanting more - more explanation of theatre things she takes for granted that the reader will know, and more information about what she was doing between shows.

3. Your Brain At Work, David Rock
   
Although the writing style and before-and-after dramatizations seemed a little hokey, this is full of really scientifically researched information that is helpful for understanding and improving brain function at work.

4. My Family and Other Animals, Gerald Durrell
   
I can't remember who recommended this (unless it was Nancy Pearl), but it 1) wasn't what I expected, and 2) was AWESOME. It was written by the youngest son in a Cheaper By the Dozen-type family who move to Greece on a whim and have adventures and collect animals and it's just really whimsical and fun.

5. At Home, Bill Bryson (audio book)
  
Bill Bryson has a genius for taking any subject, weaving a whole ton of rabbit trails into it, and making it all fascinating. In this one he uses the rooms in his old rectory in England to explore architecture, social customs, and a lot of random history.

6. The Wilder Life, Wendy McClure

Like many children, Wendy McClure grew up reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books. But unlike many of those children, her interest in the world of Laura never really went away, and as an adult she found herself revisiting the books with new interest. It started small: she ground her own wheat berries to make bread like they did in The Long Winter. She learned to churn butter. She started a Twitter account called @halfpintingalls. But before long she was visiting historical sites relating to the series, ranging from Pepin, Wisconson to Springfield, Missouri – at least seven in all.

With equal parts humor and introspection, The Wilder Life explores the uneasy relationship between the real Ingalls family history, the book series, and the television show … and why we still are enchanted by the Ingalls family after all of these years.

I grew up with these books and Laura was often my pretend playmate ... I've even been to her homestead/museum in Missouri. I HAVE SEEN PA'S FIDDLE, GUYS.

7. The Checklist Manifesto, Atul Gawande

Really REALLY liked this one. Gawande is a doctor who took the type of checklists used in aviation and figured out how to use a similar system in hospitals. He was able to prove that using simple checklists cut the rate of infection dramatically and made operations safer.

8. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, Catherynne M. Valente

Just absolutely fell in love with this one. It looks on first glance like Alice in Wonderland style silliness, but there's a lot of depth and beauty in those pages.

9. The King's Speech, Mark Logue and Peter Conradi (audio book)

Still haven't seen the movie, but at least I've read the book! The audio book is great because it starts of with a real recording of King George VI speaking.

10. Blood, Bones & Butter, Gabriella Hamilton

I'm not quite sure why this has gotten as much attention as it has - as foodie memoirs go, it's not bad, but there are many better. And when it strays away from food and into Gabriella's personal life, it just gets odd. She enters into a marriage of convenience with an Italian so he can get a green card and doesn't take the marriage seriously at all, but then the next chapter she is moaning about how much she loves him and he doesn't love her back? Not to mention that for the entire preceding portion of the book, she was a lesbian?

11. The Skin Map, Stephen R Lawhead

I'm starting to get disappointed with my man Lawhead. He was positively brilliant with the Song of Albion series and the Pendragon Cycle, and perfectly acceptable with Patrick: Son of Ireland and the Crusades series, but everything I've read after that has been mediocore at best. This book has an interesting premise (certain people can travel both geographically and through time using ley lines, the ancient lines of energy that Stonehenge and other standing circles were built around) but the characters are cardboard cutouts, no dimention whatsoever, questions are raised and never answered, and one particular character who finds herself transported back to medieval Europe without warning or explanation spends NO time angsting about the hows and whys and immediately fits and AND introduces the idea of the coffee shop to poor pre-coffee Europe. *headdesk*

12. The Time-Traveling Fashionista, Bianca Turetsky

Such a great idea (a vintage dress that transports the wearer back to its original time period - the Titanic, in this case), such poor execution. =\

13. Death Cloud, Andrew Lane (audio book)

Alternate title could be Sherlock Holmes: the beginning. Sherlock is 14 and though bright, not possessed of the extraordinary skills we know he'll have as an adult. By the end of the book, we starts to get an idea of how he acquired those skills. It's a perfectly acceptable book, but not brilliant.

14. Doctor Who and the Day of the Daleks, Terrance Dicks

Came upon a 10-volume set of Doctor Who books from the 70s, had to read at least one. They're ... not very good. But it's the Doctor!

15. Manning Up: how the rise of women is turning men into boys,  Kay S. Hymowitz

Along the same lines as Save the Males, but better. I think the title says it all.

July 2011

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