Lori's Book Nook

Archive for the ‘Biography’ Category

More reading! I must admit, I’m enjoying this…it’s been awhile since I put reading on my priority list. It’s helped that I’ve been a bit sick the last few days, so I’ve done nothing but read!

#8 – Leslie Darbon‘s adaptation of Agatha Christie’s A Murder is Announced. A play! Yes, I’m sure I’ll read a few more in the coming weeks. I do enjoy plays, the theatre and the like – as evidenced by my other blog, Theatrical Thoughts (also a bit neglected unfortunately). This one we had around because my husband had been in it years ago…and to be honest, I didn’t know the story. Turns out, it’s a Miss Marple story, so there was an added bonus!

#9 – Ronald Millar’s Abelard and Heloise: A Play. This one I’ve had hanging around for a bit, waiting to read it. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been fascinated for awhile about the tragic story of Héloïse D’Argenteuil and Peter Abelard. The play dramatizes events of the story, with a strong philosophical/religious angle. Not bad, in that it humanizes the characters a bit more, and gives Heloise a very strong role.

#10 – Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret (now a movie!) A friend loaned me this absolutely delightful, cinematographic novel, and I can see (get it?) why it was snapped up as a film. I haven’t seen it yet, but I will soon. It’s truly a wonderful little novel, although at 500+ pages it seemed far more daunting than it was! Selznick, being an illustrator, has drawn a goodly part of the book, so it was really a matter of a couple of hours of looking and reading.

#11 – Roger Ebert‘s Life Itself: A Memoir. The first movie reviews I ever paid attention to were his and Siskel’s – how could I not pick up a copy of his memoirs? Some things stand out in a book full of interesting moments and pithy observations:

“The main thing wrong with a movie that is ten years old is that it isn’t thirty years old. After the hairstyles and the costumes stop being dated and start being history, we can tell if the movie itself is timeless.” (page 157)

“There is a test for an actor who, for a moment, is just standing there in a scene: Does he seem to be just standing there? Or does he, as John Wayne did, seem to be deciding when, why, and how to take the situation under his control?” (page 253)

(Regarding his inability to eat/drink/speak) “What’s sad about not eating is the experience, whether at a family reunion or at a midnight by yourself in a greasy spoon under the L tracks. The loss of dining, not the loss of food. Unless I’m alone, it doesn’t involve dinner if it doesn’t involved talking. The food and drink I can do without easily. The jokes, gossip, laughs, arguments, and memories I miss. I ran in crowds where anyone was likely to start reciting poetry on a moment’s notice. Me too. But not me anymore. So yes, it’s sad. Maybe that why writing has become so important to me. You don’t realize it, but we’re at dinner right now.” (page 383)

Overall, a highly enjoyable, meandering memoir. I didn’t realize that they’d made a documentary of this book, and his life. Now I have to look that up!

That’s 11 books in a month, at this rate, I should be able to finish 95+!

 

 

 

So I’m undertaking the #95books challenge for 2016, and I’m 3.5 books in. This is not keeping me on the 2 books/week schedule, but I’m sure I’ll find some shorter ones along the way. Or I’ll just become more accustomed to curling up and reading again…

#1 – Steven Pinker’s The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century. I admire Pinker – a linguist who can describe the most complex ideas in beautiful, simple terms. And who better than a linguist to get into the style guide genre? This was a Christmas gift to my husband, and I snapped it up for my first read of the year.

#2 – Gerald Clarke’s Capote: A BiographyThis book has been on my TBR pile for a couple of months. I like the writing by Truman Capote that I’ve read, so I was motivated to know more about his life. This is the classic biography that was the basis for the bio-pic a few years back (2005 actually), starring the fabulous (and sorely missed) Philip Seymour Hoffman. Clarke’s book is wonderfully readable, and shows great respect for a talented and troubled man.

#3 – Sylvia Wolf’s The Digital Eye: Photographic Art in the Electronic Age. I’m not calling this one a cheat, but some might. It’s a book of fascinating photography, with a long introductory essay. I spent the time to go to each mentioned plate to savour it, contemplate it…so it took me most of the day to read. Anyway, does reading mean it can be only words?! A Christmas gift to me, so readily at hand.

#4 – Gerald Clarke’s Too Brief a Treat: The Letters of Truman Capote. Turns out, I had this on my shelf, but had never read it. Now that I have the background of the full Biography, it’s time to read these. I’m half-way through. Likely to finish today.

4 books in 2 weeks…maybe I am on track!

Where do you pile your books? My hubby and I have piles on our bedside tables mostly, then some in the living room, the kitchen, the dining room…and they all live in the basement library/movie/party room (technically the ‘family room’).

The other day I was tidying the bedroom, and emptied the already-read and not-going-to-get-read-soon books off the two bedside tables:

Putting books away...

Then, I pulled books from the living room and kitchen to complete the tidy:

More books being put away..

This post for your voyeuristic enjoyment.

Tags: , ,

I’ve bleated on enough about the last package of books I received to review, so I won’t go into that again.

Without further ado, in no particular order (other than the order they are piled on my desk), here are some Canadian books published in 2008 that you should keep your eyes peeled for:

Anything by Shauna Singh Baldwin. I have in my pile two books of short stories — the re-published English Lessons and Other Stories (with Readers’ Guide), and a new collection called We are not in Pakistan. Both are wonders of cross-cultural exploration, lovely stories of very real people. I see from her website that she has also written two novels…worth checking out.

Under the Holy Lake: A memoir of Eastern Bhutan by Ken Haigh is a highly readable introduction to Bhutan, a country that the average person knows little about. Haigh spent a soul-searching 2 years teaching in Khaling, a small village in the far eastern reaches of an already inaccessible country. This book will leave you with a lasting impression of the country and its people.

Shirin and Salt Man by Nilofar Shidmehr is a book that takes you by surprise. [By the way, a note to all authors…ensure that you or your book has its own dedicated page somewhere — in the Internet age, you need to stand out and be linked to!] It’s a novella in poetic form, tying the legends of Iran to the modern day. I read it through the first time, fascinated by the poetry and the images; the second time, fascinated by the story; and the third time sent me to the Internet to research the legends of Shirin and the discovery of the Salt Man in the 80s.

I’ll leave you there, with more to come. Plus, I will point out a couple of books to avoid…there are days when I despair at the state of Canada’s publishing! (Do I despair or rejoice in the knowledge that anyone can get published?!?)

I realized this morning that the world had lost yet another artist — spoken word artist Sekou Sundiata. (The Chicago Tribune) [Weird, the editors of Wikipedia waste not time in updating their entries.]

I first heard his work in the Bill Moyers’ book The Language of Life: A Festival of Poets (Here’s a discussion group page.) That book has a companion audio format — I’m not sure which came first, the audio or the book. I, luckily, have both. 🙂

Listen to him on Salon Audio, or on the NPR Fresh Air podcast, a compilation of interviews held with him over the years.

Art lives on.

I found this link ages ago, put it in my blogworthy list, and there it has sat, to wait for a day, like today, when I should be outside, enjoying the sun.

[Living life to the fullest. Thinking new thoughts, maybe even writing some poetry, instead of rehashing other people’s ideas. It’s Easter Sunday…if nothing else, for this atheist, a day to signal the true beginning of Spring. So, a quick blog post, and then I’m outta here!]

Ginsberg’s Celestial Homework — Your site of the day…essentially a:

Specialized Reading List for “Literary History of the Beat Generation,”
a course taught by Allen Ginsberg at Naropa Institute during the summer of 1977.

This “celestial homework” is the reading list that Ginsberg handed out on the first day of his course as “suggestions for a quick check-out & taste of ancient scriveners whose works were reflected in Beat literary style as well as specific beat pages to dig into.”

This is a very great list…with some rather nepotistic choices — many of his contemporaries, like Neal Cassady‘s autobiography The First Third. (Cassady had died almost 10 years before, tragically young, so I’m not really surprised by Ginsberg’s choice.)

I think I’m going to grab some poetry and a beer, and sit on the grass to read aloud.

TTFN

“I was sitting in a taxi, wondering if I had overdressed for the evening, when I looked out the window and saw Mom rooting through a Dumpster.”

So begins The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, one of my Christmas books, well-chosen, I think, by my husband.

Opened it this morning, and before I’d finished my first cup of coffee in bed, I was 77 pages in. Stopped there so I could savour, not devour, it.

And blog on it.

I’ll update you all when I finish it.


Book Discussion Pages

Here on the Book Nook you can discuss: The Fifth Business by Robertson Davies, as well as the next two books in the Deptford Trilogy, The Manticore and World of Wonders, and if that's not enough for you, see what's up on the forums at BookTalk.org!