Book Notes


I keep meaning to write something intelligent about China Mielville but haven’t done so yet. I’ve been otherwise preoccupied with vacationing with the nephews and, since marriage seems to be such a hot topic these days on the blog this seems a bit appropriate, catering a bunch of weddings.

Whilst on vacation, I did a bit of bookshopping. This is something I always do — buy books when I’m travelling. It’s kind of like taking a picture for me. Whenever I read the book, I look in the front to see where I bought the book and it brings back the memories of that trip. I’m a nerd. So, on vacation I bought: A two volume turn of the century Dictionary, leather bound and very fetching. A two volume collection of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s complete works that was printed in his honor just after he died. And some more recent stuff: A book by Neal Stephenson’s The System of the World; If not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho, by Anne Carson; Little Infamies, by Panos Karnezis; Kushiel’s Avatar, by Jaqueline Carey; The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni : 1968-1998, by Nikki Giovanni. And it seems like a couple of other books, but I can’t remember just now.

Since my family all goes to sleep at 9:00, that left about 4 hours for me to read each night, so I started reading three of the books on my ever increasing book list, all three of which I mentioned in a post a few weeks ago as my summer reading list. Salvador Plasenczia’s The People of Paper is, thus far, wonderful. The story itself actually isn’t that compelling, but he is an incredible writer. It seems effortless. He’s probably the guy in high school that we all hated because he’d sit down ten minutes before English and turn out whatever paper was due and make an “A” on it. Harry Potter. It’s a good read, as the others have been. Everyone I’ve talked to say how furious they are with the ending of the book, but so far it hasn’t been a let down. Lord Byron’s Novel, by John Crowley. The man is a genius, Crowley that is. This isn’t something you want to read if there are any distractions around, like, say, a beautiful waitress, but it is beautifully written and I think is one of those novels that will stick with me for years.

Books I’ve finished recently. Plan B: Further Thoughts of Faith, by Anne Lamott. Anne speaks to me. This isn’t a book for those who have things figured out. This is a book on faith for those of us who struggle with it. For those who don’t seem to fit into the church for whatever reason. For those of us who don’t always have the most pleasant thoughts about God and his plan for us, or lack thereof. So if you’re with me, I think this book will make you think a lot, as well as give a bit of hope. (Warning: she does use language that I feel it is safe to say isn’t found in many other “inspirational” books, and she does some Bush bashing in the book, so if you think you’d be offended by either, you might want to browse through it before spending your money on it.) Pardon the Inspiration, by Al Sturgeon (Editor-in-Chief here at DH). I consumed the book in a couple of settings. It isn’t what I expected, to be honest, and I plan to do a review of it sometime soon. I’ll tell you why it wasn’t what I expected in my review, but a sneak peak is that it is kind of like the Lamott book, minus the occasional profanity, in that it doesn’t seem to be directed towards those who already believe in God. Or if it is, I think it can help those of us who stuggle with faith. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, by David Sedaris. Just by this book already. He’s a great essayist. He is intelligent in a very funny way. Or maybe he’s funny in a very intelligent way. Whatever. Just buy it.


3 Responses to “Book Notes”

  1. DeJon Redd Says:

    Sturgeon’s Pardon The Inspiration is the greatest book since Lewis’ Mere Christianity!

  2. Al Sturgeon Says:

    “…kind of like the Lamott book.” Wow. From a writing teacher, too. I can die now. (Even though I more than realize that the comment speaks to audience, not writing ability.)

    Anne Lamott speaks to me, too, which simply confirms that I’m one odd bird of a preacher. I loved “Traveling Mercies” and “Bird by Bird,” but I haven’t purchased “Plan B” yet. I’ve wanted to, but I haven’t yet. But I will.

    Thanks for the kind words Mikey, and to DeJon, too, for a cover-worthy blurb.

  3. tyra Says:

    hey. missed you. carey’s stuff rocks. it’s so… rich. you can totally disappear into it, for days and days and days, and when you come out everything’s in the world around you is both re-perspectived (not, that’s not a work) and still gilded from the transition over.

    & crowley’s a genius, although i’ve never heard of what you’re talking about. read little, big, if you can find it. the world will yawn and gape.

    oh, & nikki giovanni is a friend of ours, if that works out well for ya. no kidding. 🙂

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