Archive for Posts Tagged with "books"

make it The Mermaid Chair. This was the first book that our Online Book Discussion Group read, and I only finished it because I didn’t want to be the kid in English class that didn’t read the book. I did that enough in high school (sorry, mom).

While I’ll spare you the gory details and plot spoilers, my biggest problem was the main character. How the reader was supposed to sympathize with this person, I’ll never know. She was the most vapid and egomaniacal character I’ve ever had the displeasure of reading about.

So if you can at all manage it, do not read this book. I’m already off to the races with Sarah Vowell’s Assassination Vacation, and after about 20 pages of her anti-Bush, “I don’t believe in God”-laden diatribe, I’m enjoying it FAR MORE than I did The Mermaid Chair. That should tell you something.

No posts for two and half weeks? That’s not the way to keep readers coming back for more! I’ve been somewhat uninspired for the past couple of weeks, although there is plenty to talk about.

The Book Club seems to be taking on a life of it’s own, and we might actually start reading a real, live book here soon. The most recent poll actually has – get ready for it – books to choose from! So go vote if you’re in the club. And if you’re not in the club, feel free to pop on over and join.

In other news, I’m going to be out and about this weekend camera shopping. Any suggestions from people who love (or hate) their digital camera? I’m not buying an SLR (yet), so we’re just talking normal point-and-click right now. Or maybe just a little more advanced.

Also, today is my Mom’s birthday. Happy birthday, Mom!

For those of you who were interested in taking part in an online book discussion, the forum has been set up. It’s pretty sparse right now, but I expect that it will expand once there is actually some conversation going on. The first and foremost item I should draw your attention to is the poll in the “Next Book” forum. That poll requests feedback from everybody as to what type of book we should read. Feel free to post suggestions in that thread in addition to voting in the poll, as I was limited to 6 options in the poll. Once we have a genre decided on, I’ll post a list of suggestions from that genre (possibly with some help from our friendly neighborhood librarian) and we’ll choose a book from that list.

I make no guarantees as to the stability or availability of the forum, as I have very little experience hosting/running something like this. I don’t anticipate any problems, but you never know! Anyway, visit the Online Book Discussion (sounds so official, doesn’t it?) to sign up.

I’ve been trying to add to my list of books to read. More specifically, I’ve been trying to add books outside my normal reading genres (Fantasy/Sci-Fi and historical non-fiction). So I’ve put a number of books that friends have recommended on my list of books to read (thanks for the tip on the tool, Anna!). Some of these have come from recommendations from friends (specifically Lou Ann and Kevin), bits I’ve heard on NPR, and of course some of the classics I “read” (i.e., skimmed) in high school.

Kate just finished reading My Sister’s Keeper, which had been recommended by Lou Ann. I haven’t read it yet, but it seems to me from the subject matter (read Lou Ann’s post about the book for more info) that it is ripe for discussion. Likewise, I have found myself interested in what people think of Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal.

So I wanted to gauge interest in an online book-discussion group. It would initially take place here on my blog (probably just in the form of comments). It could be a monthly thing, or an every-two-months thing, or a chapter-a-week thing, or whatever we want it to be. Who would be interested? What kind of format would you like to see it take? If you’re interested, respond here and help me come up with ideas!

I just finished reading Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal, by Christopher Moore. Lou Ann mentioned this book as her current reading for a book club she’s in, and I was intrigued. Lamb is an irreverent look at Christ’s life from his pal Biff. Devout Christians, and more specifically, devout Catholics will have plenty of problems with the book. But I thought that it was an interesting and entertaining tale of what some of the more mundane aspects of Christ’s life could have been like. What kind of conversations would he have? How would he relate to other people in everyday situations?

The most interesting part of Lamb was the way in which Moore balanced Christ’s humanity and divinity. The humanity of Christ was very much in the forefront of his interactions in the book, but when push came to shove, his divinity always had the final word. I should point out that this is not a novel intended for children. Moore seems to be preoccupied with sex throughout the book, and it is very much a focal point of Biff’s throughout the narrative.

The biggest problem that I had with the book is that I felt like the death and resurrection were diminished by Moore’s handling of them. Moore went out of his way to state clearly that Jesus was the son of God, and yet the sacrifice of the cross was diminished (I thought) by Biff’s participation in the events as they unfold. I found the final scenes to be anticlimactic and ultimately unfulfilling. That being said, I definitely would recommend this book as an interesting read. If nothing else, it should spark some good discussions in various book clubs!

One thing I love about Netflix (and the Internet in general), is that it is a wonderful supplement to my limited capacity to remember movies I want to see. If I see a movie that I’m interested in, I can simply add it to the bottom of my queue, and then delete it later if I change my mind. I want to find the same sort of thing for books. I’m not really interested in a Netflix-esque service for books, as I can just pick up most of what I want at my local library (it doesn’t have the feature I’m looking for on their Web site – I checked).

Has anybody out there (possibly the librarian?) stumbled across this sort of thing?

Noah's ArkHigh and long,
Thick and strong,
Wide and stark,
Was the Ark.

Another one of my favorite books is Noah’s Ark, by Peter Spier. Unlike Henry the Explorer, this book is not out of print. In fact, I highly recommend picking it up, whether or not you’re still a kid.

The byline of the story appropriately does not say “by Peter Spier”, but rather “illustrated by Peter Spier”. Noah’s ark is all about the illustrations. In fact, the majority of the book contains no words whatsoever. It’s part of the book’s charm. I remember my parents making up the story as they went along. Even better, they let me help. Not that we really needed to do so. The illustrations are so detailed and rich that they tell a story by themselves.

What are some of your favorite childhood books?

Henry the ExplorerKate and I spent Christmas in New York with her family, and gathered with my family to exchange gifts and celebrate yesterday. Kate and my family did some great shopping this year, and came up with two items that I really wanted, both of which are children’s books. So really, they were like two-for-one presents, as Simon benefits too!

Henry the Explorer, by Mark Taylor is out of print, so is not easy to come by. However, through the wonder of the Internet, and more specifically, my mother was able to find a used (but in terrific shape!) copy of this childhood favorite of mine. The story centers around Henry and his dog (Laird Angus McAngus), and a day of exploring.

This children’s book provided beautiful illustrations and a simple, effective story. I can’t wait until Simon is old enough to read this book. Maybe someday he’ll strap a sack to Casey’s back, fill it with flags, and go adventuring himself!