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Gilead & The Turn of The Page

October 11th, 2009

I finished last night’s book in that single sitting, something I attribute to the setting. I don’t think I need to go into too much detail about reading A Movable Feast and how much pleasure it gave me. I sat in the front room and for five hours lived in Paris and experienced what Hemingway was experiencing. Not to mention F. Scott Fitzgerald. I may be in Paris, for real, a week from today. We’ll see.

Part of the fun was that I was reading an actual book, with pages and a cover and everything. I wasn’t reading the Kindle. There is a stark difference, maybe not too stark as I didn’t fully recognize it before (although I’ve spoken of “the feeling” before), but when you are reading a bound book you always have a sense of physical depth. You know without even looking how far you are into the book. You know how much you have left to read, and you know in rough approximation what should be happening so that the book ends nice and tidy. Of course, this was a memoir so the ending wasn’t one of resolution. But that is something, one of many things, that you miss when you read from the Kindle.

I love the turning of the page, the imperceptible thinning of the book you hold on the right side and growth of the book on the left. You turn the page and the thickness in your hands doesn’t seem to change, though you know it has. The weight of the book shifts a hundredth of an ounce at a time until you’ve moved the entire book without a thought of it.

I woke up this morning with nothing but my Kindle and nothing to read. When I don’t have something to read I get anxious, and I had no desire to read from my Kindle. So I went down to my library and tried to see something that I may have overlooked and had put aside for a different time. Not all books are meant for all times.

I came across a book that I’ve had for a few years but have never opened. It even had a book plate in it with my name in what appears to be my sister’s handwriting. I don’t recall when I received the book, Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. It was awarded the Pulitzer in 2004 so I received it around that time and in hardcover. It’s a first edition but I don’t know if that means anything since I imagine after the award several thousand more were sent to press.

I’m well into the book now, reading it in bits and pieces throughout today as I go about being a Dad, and I’ve meant to email my sister to thank her for the book (as upon further thought I only have one sister that gives books such as this).

While I feel I can write reasonably well I’m not a prolific emailer. In fact, I loathe email, the informal nature and the instant regret I feel when sending something that wasn’t properly thought out. And of course you can’t be too formal in an email, it throws the conversational nature of the medium off-kilter. So without being able to be formal, and a distaste for correspondence that is loose-tongued, I’m stuck, and emails seem to fly around with me tagging along as a CC participant and while I rarely jump in, I do enjoy reading them. So Sis, thanks for the book, and for your ability to write great emails that everyone enjoys.

Now begins Gilead, book #43.


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Richard Russo For Book #41

September 23rd, 2009

The only other book I’ve read of his is Empire Falls, which was obviously really good and earned him the Pulitzer in 2002. I downloaded a sample of That Old Cape Magic on the Kindle which is a really great feature. Previewing books before you buy them? Incredible. Oh wait, the library has been doing that for centuries.

I’ve been thinking about 2010 already. I’ve actually been thinking about next year for a couple months now, wondering if I’ll continue or not, wondering about another 52 and if that’s a good idea, that sort of thing. I have some thoughts but I’m still refining them. I’m thinking of taking a more thematic approach to reading. Only Pulitzers, or only Nobel winning authors, things of that sort. I don’t know exactly what I’ll do, if anything, but it’s on my mind. It’s not like TV is going to have a big turnaround next year and get more attention from me.

Book #39, NurtureShock is officially a drag. I’ll continue it, but I’m going to double-up until it’s completed so it may take me a few weeks. As long as I’m reading something else while I trudge through it, I’ll be ok to finish up on time.


Book Updates

Fishing Begets Steinbeck, Book #40

September 22nd, 2009

I was fishing this weekend. I don’t fish. The last time I fished was 22 years ago, and it was the only time. Not surprisingly, I didn’t catch a thing, except for the Steinbeck bug.

So I’m in this pontoon boat and I’ve been fishing for a few hours. And by “fishing” I mean seeing how far I can cast my line and doing that over and over again without regard to the act of fishing as I’d lost my bait about 20 minutes earlier and didn’t really care because it didn’t effect my distance… So I’d been doing that for a while and I started thinking about Monterey and Steinbeck and thinking about reading. At the lake the leaves were changing and it was barely raining and it felt like Fall for the first time this year and Fall in Utah reminds me of every season in Northern California, so there you have the Fishing-Steinbeck connection in rough outline.

I’m only about 50 pages through NurtureShock and at that particular time it wasn’t appealing to put my pole down and dive into a book about caring for children. I was in the outdoors! So I started reading Steinbeck because he writes so well about the California outdoors, and has that Monterey flavor at times, so thus began book #40, Of Mice and Men. A rare doubling-up of books as I’m still on book #39, NurtureShock.

Week #40 ends on October 3.


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E.L. Doctorow’s Homer & Langley

September 13th, 2009

I’m through with The Fountainhead. Finally. This behemoth took me far too long. And I didn’t particularly like it at all. Probably the least enjoyable read so far this year. I will speak no more of it. On to E.L. Doctorow now, and Homer & Langley. Almost halfway through now, so far, so decent.


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Bookstore No More

September 11th, 2009

I went to Barnes & Noble today to pick up a new book. This is a rarity and today it became clear why that is so. I have Amazon Prime, so I don’t pay for shipping from Amazon, I have a Kindle also. So when I started browsing books at B&N I found it very hard to rationalize spending $24.99 for a new (or old) hardcover book. How are these stores still in business? I can buy 2 books for my Kindle for roughly $5.00 cheaper than 1 hardcover book at B&N or Borders (in some cases). You are basically a sucker if you are buying books from brick & mortar stores these days.

I used to enjoy the retail bookstore experience. But with the onset of “Web 2.0″ it is becoming a much more enjoyable shopping experience at Amazon.com, or through the Kindle store on my Kindle or even my iPhone. There simply isn’t a reason for me go to a bookstore an longer. And that isn’t a sad thing.

I’m still finishing The Fountainhead, probably a couple days away. I finished book #37 before book #36, which makes things wonky, but I’m on track. Today I purchased two books which are a fourth the size of The Fountainhead so I should start and finish those in the next week. The two new books are Homer and Langley, by E.L. Doctorow and NurtureShock, by Po Bronson, both look great.


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You’re Still Reading Fountainhead?

September 6th, 2009

Yes. Yes I am. A MUCH longer book than I had anticipated. Also to complicate matters I started book #37 last week despite not being finished with book #36. So I’m a little behind, but not enough for it to worry me. I should be done with both books by the end of next week.

Hopefully.


Book Updates

Ayn Rand – The Fountainhead – Book #36

August 19th, 2009

On to something a little more challenging, Ayn Rand‘s The Fountainhead. John Steinbeck was excellent of course, nothing much to say there except whenever I read him, I want to head to Monterey. The Pearl was not typical of the Steinbeck I’ve read. I’m glad I reread these two last books, I had forgotten about them.

I know nothing of Ayn Rand, nor of Objectivism. I suppose that’s why it’s next.


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