Thursday, June 23, 2011

Books neither Star nor STIR

I have read a few things this spring that are neither about stars nor part of project STIR. Here are a few thoughts (I might claim, as I did here, that I'll write more about those you want to know more about, but the first time that assertion led only to this one review, so I make no promises now).
The Day of the Triffids John Wyndam SalSis and I read this classic (1951) sci-fi novel (which includes horrible plants that take over the world and may or may not be from outer space) together as an antidote to Breath, Eyes, Memory. Triffids first came to my attention as the answer to a Trivial Pursuit question that the Mister and I mocked until we learned that the book is still very-well regarded. Triffids fits in well with "old" apocalyptic sci-fi, like War of the Worlds (discussed on Wuthering Expectations here and the rest of that week) as well a taking a very modern approach to as escalating biological arms race and the consequences for civilization.
Stumbling on Happiness Daniel Gilbert A psychologist presents the experimental research that supports the idea that humans are terrible and deciding what will make us happy in the future. A fun read despite that.
The Elements of Style Strunk and White Mister (harassing me for reading Elements of Style as bedtime pleasure): "I hear that has a gripping plot."
Me: "No, but it's really well written."
And it is!
The Poison Throne, The Crowded Shadows and The Rebel Prince by Celine Kiernan Prompted by raych's glowing reviews (9, 8.5 and 9 caterpillars), I bought the entire Moorehawk Trilogy for the Mister. The Mister was not a big fan (although he did read all 1200 pages in a short while). I liked them considerably more than he did, (although I agreed that Kiernan could have used a better editor), perhaps because adding a few magical elements to an alternative history of Europe doesn't bother me or perhaps because young strong heroines in fantasy novels impress me more than they do him.
Medium Raw Anthony Bourdain I'm actually a little embarrassed by my family fascination with food entertainment, but after the Mister read Medium Raw in a day, I read it, we discussed it, and I passed it on to my mother after I kept quoting Bourdain to her. What I should be embarrassed by is not that I like Anthony Bourdain, or that I watch Top Chef whenever I'm somewhere with cable (pretty much just the Mister's parents' house) or even that I know most of the people that Bourdain mocks, but that the Mister and I returned from vacation and followed Medium Raw up by watching Eric Rippert's PBS food series, Avec Eric, and then becoming consumed by America's Next Food Network Star on hulu. And I can't even mock Next Food Network Star because I've already figured out my "POV"* for my food network show.

"Charlotte Collins is knocked up!: Why I needed to read Pride and Prejudice for the tenth time" was going to be the title of a post I wrote in November, when I first noticed talk of Charlotte's "condition". I read Pride and Prejudice again a few weeks ago and did not have any great plot insights this time, but I still love it, eleven-or-so times later.
I've started (and liked, but somehow dropped) Sea of Poppies and Stolen Lives, but plan to return to both one of these times, after The Secret Eleanor and perhaps some trashy romance or children's lit.

*My point of view would be the plants behind the ingredients. I'm also working on my readings for my fall Economically Important Plants class and keep bringing up food plant tidbits ("modern bananas are all asexually propagated" "despite being an African plant; South America, SE Asia and Central America all grow far more coffee than Africa does") to my tolerant or curious husband. Anyway, if only I were a faster cook, had a less irritating voice on tape, and the camera took off 50 pounds; my show could have potential.

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