Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Good Part of Spider Bites

Trying as always to find the bright side of things, I realized the GOOD part of being in bed for a week is I read a lot of books.

I started with "The Monk", by Matthew Lewis. It's a 200-year old gothic horror novel, although I don't know about the "horror" part. Considering the times in which it was written, it's pretty darned racy and I'll bet it got burned and banned a lot. It was interesting, but every now and then I got thrown off by the way they put words together back then (sentence structure, randomly capitalized Vowels, different spellings than used now), and I'd recommend it for a change of pace.

Next came a book that I picked up at Coffee East, the local coffee shop here in Easton. One of the cool things they have is tons of bookshelves with books for sale for $2 each, and I think it goes towards the library fund or something. Anyway, I picked up a couple of books (one, I had forgotten I'd already read, oh well, it was $2) and the other was called "Educating Waverly" by Laura Kalpakian. It's about a girl that is the result of an affair, and how she's off-loaded to this crunch-granola-esque school on Isadora Island in Washington state, to keep her from being an "embarrassment" to the father. There are a lot of reasons why I found the book interesting, but one of them was that this took place in 1939, so the historical aspect of the war and war refugee children came into it. The book reminded me a bit of something Elizabeth Berg or Ann Tyler might have written, and I'd recommend it heartily.

I also read "The Ghost Map" by Steven Johnson. This one was non-fiction, about the cholera outbreak of 1854 in working-class London. First, I have no idea how anyone lived through those sorts of living conditions. Just the descriptions of the massive sewage problem newly industrialized, over-populated areas faced was nauseating. Second, while the book was interesting, you have to have an interest in epidemeology and molecular biology to really get through the book. Since I studied a lot of it in college, it was fascinating to me, but it's not a "beach read" by any stretch of the imagination.

And now, while I eagerly await the seventh Harry Potter book, I'm reading "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand. I've had this book on my bookshelves for some years now, obtained when I joined one of many book clubs, but I've always avoided reading it for some reason. For one, the thing is huge -- hardback and over 1000 pages. For the other, I had no idea what it was about but had a vague idea it was going to go over my head. However, when I ran out of books to read and started poking around trying to find something to maybe re-read, I found it, and thought, ok, enough's enough, get it over with.

I'm about 1/3 of the way through, and I read the first chunk of it the first night. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed it, like the story line, and while I'm aware that this is one of those classics that gets dissected to death in schools everywhere, I'm trying not to do that too much, but read it for what it is -- a book with a good storyline and an important message to tell. I always hated when we'd read a book like "Heart of Darkness" in school and then tear it apart looking for symbolism in every single sentence. I just wanted to READ it, and I figured that if there was a message there, I'd GET it.

I should be through that one by the time Saturday and Harry Potter rolls around -- for a brief moment this morning, I thought THIS was the morning and checked my front door for the FedEx package, but then realized I had my weeks all wrong. Bummer.

So now that I've caught you up on books, I'll start a new post on ZACK!

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