01 September 2006

Off the Bookshelf

With having my husband home for a week, I really haven't read a whole lot. I would like to read about a book a week, because I have a lot of books on my to-read list. And like any bibliophile, I keep adding more.

One thing I'm going to try for September is to really limit my television time to about 1 hour a day. The only exceptions will be when PBS has 2 hour shows or a good movie on the weekend. (Hey, I deserve a break once in a while.) Actually, I haven't been watching too much more than an hour per day as it is. I don't like most reality shows. I don't watch most sports, with college basketball tournement being an exception. And I don't have cable/satellite tv so I'm limited to 5 snowy channels. I'm actually threatening not to get a digital converter if and when the US does go 100% digital tv.

Anyway, with only 1 hour of tv, that should give me 1-2 hours a night to read. So, I may get my pile of books down to only a dozen or so!

Here's what I've finished lately:

  • The Hours, by Michael Cunningham -- I'm not sure what I think of this novel. The basic outline is there are 3 women, Virginia Wolf, a 1950s housewife, and a contemporary lesbian. The book follows each woman in alternating chapters and then ties all three women together in the final chapter. While the characters were well-rounded, the plot rather surprising at times, and the writing clear and often poetic, the book left me feeling less than pleased that I had read it. (I have a lot of interesting books to read, so I don't want to waste my time on less than oustanding books.) Why it won a Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award I don't know. I don't think my less-than-positive reaction to the book had to do with the depression/suicide theme which runs thru the book -- it was more that the book was too contrived. Linking the three women together was a stretch. I probably won't ever reread this book and I definitely won't see the movie based on this book.
  • Boomer, by Charles Taylor -- One blurb on the cover said something about better than Tom Clancy. And I have to agree, especially when compared to Clancy's Op-Center and Net Force novels. The basic story is a rogue submarine captain seizes a nuclear submarine with the intention of destroying U.S. subs and how the U.S. Navy tries to stop him. The writing was clear with enough detail to make it authentic, but not too much to become boring. The characters were interesting and multidimensional. And the plot had some extremely interesting twists and turns. While not a "great" novel, it was entertaining and very much worth my time to read.
  • Regarding the Pain of Others, by Susan Sontag -- This collection of essays was outstanding. Basically, Sontag discusses how television and photography have influenced how we view the inhumanities of war. The chapters were short and basically independent of each other, which was good -- this is not a book which one reads in one sitting. My favorite part of this book is that she made me think about a lot of things related to the media and the U.S.'s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. (And time an author can make me think, I love it!) On the down-side, her writing can be fairly complex in terms of syntax and rheotic. For example, she will hang a number of dependent clauses on one sentence, and then make reference to something she said three pages earlier. The writing is clear if one takes the time to read carefully, but as I was reading this while reading the above easy-to-read novels and in 'speed reading' mode, Sontag's writing occasionally confused me. I definitely will reread this book again as I think I can get more out of it each time I read it.

Presently, I'm reading these two books:

  • Snow, by Orhan Pamuk-- Yet another novel I found at the library book sale. (Hey, I can get a lot of books in a bag on their "Buck-A-Bag" sale!) This was a New York Times Best Book of the Year and a novel based in and from Turkey, an area that I wouldn't mind learning more about.
  • The Voyage of H.M.S Beagle: The Journal of Charles Darwin, by Charles Darwin -- Yep, another library find! Some years ago, I read Darwin's Origin of Species, and was left wondering what he saw on the voyage. So, when I saw this for sale (I didn't even know it was ever published), I knew I had to read it.

Both of these books are very interesting, at least as far as I am right now. Unfortunately, both are rather long, so it'll be a while before I get done with either. And in the meantime, I really need to get those bookshelves built so I can buy a number of books on my wish list!

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