Nov 26

Read any good books lately?

Category: Books

So I’m reading a few books. I’ve been thinking for a long time that I should make a list, to keep a diary of books read. I’ll update it from time to time and you can all ignore it, it’s just for me. One thing about my house, is that it’s packed with books. There are books stacked on the bedside table, shelves groaning under apocalyptic quantities of books, books under shelves, on the floor, in boxes in the attic, even in the car. I want them all. Most of them are hard to give up, even after reading. I use the library heavily, but its not enough. I listen to audio books in cars and airplanes. I’d inject them if it were possible.

What I’m reading now:

  1. Twilight in the Forbidden City, Reginald Fleming Johnston. See Spielberg’s “The last emperor” and then try not to read this book.
  2. From Emperor to Citizen, Aisin Gioro Pu Yi. See my note for #1.
  3. Mistress of the Vatican, Eleanor Herman. “The true story of Olimpia Maidalchini: the secret female pope.
  4. Birthplace of the Winds, Jon Bowermaster. An account of a kayak expedition in the Aleutians.
  5. The Dream of the Red Chamber, Author: it’s complicated – many. Classic Chinese literature of the early Ching period. A long and hallucinatory collection of loosely connected stories that caries the flavor of the period, and of the moneyed class that enjoyed it. Not deep enough into this one yet to understand its significance.
  6. Scuba diving explained, Lawrence Martin, M.D. A practical little book that provides answers to some important recreational scuba questions, such as “should diabetics dive?” It does a good job of supplementing the basic instruction you get when you become a diver, and start asking questions not addressed in basic open water class.
  7. Birds of field and shore, John Eastman & Amelia Hansen. Better than your average identification guide, it delves into the natural history, lifestyle, breeding habits, ecology, science and lore surrounding each animal. Wonderful illustrations.
  8. The Chicken Book, Page Smth & Charles Daniel. A serious academic overview of “the chicken’s role in literture and history, the cruel attractions of cockfighting, the medicinal uses of eggs and chicken parts, the details of the egg-laying process, the basics of the backyar coop, recipes, and much more.” Indeed!
  9. Sacred Sea: a journey to lake Baikal, Peter Thomson. A man and his brother travel to lake Baikal. They do a little investigative journalism that reveals more than the average travelogue.
  10. The Ecco anthology of contemporary american short fiction, selected by Joyce Carol Oates. I fell a little mislead by this one; although the stories are sublime, they have this… dark vein running through them. Now I understand that all good literature holds the possibility of being disturbing, but this verges upon horror territory. Not for the faint of heart. I am the better for having read it though.
  11. Pigeons, Andrew Blechman. Eveything you wanted to know about pigeons, with contemporary investigative reporting on the pigeon “scene.”
  12. Feast, Roy Strong. A history of grand eating. Want to know when the fork was invented? Why do we have the dining manners we use? Why is there a dessert, and why is it eaten last? Why will you get in trouble if you eat it first? Read and understand.
  13. Enter the past tense, Roland Haas. Confessional autobiography CIA asassin.
  14. Self-made man, Norah Vincent. A female investigative reporter lives as a man for 18 months and reports her experiences.
  15. The Joys of Engrish, Steven Caires. A compendium of hilariously mis-spelled english which causes double entendres.
  16. Return of the Osprey, David Gessner. Gessner is the Jane Goodall of Ospreys.
  17. The Almond, Nedjma. “An erotic international sensation.” Gives some insight into the love lives of women within repressive Islamic societies.
  18. Adventures of the Mind, Saturday Evening Post. An out of print book featuring essays by literati such as Loren Eisely, Jacques Barzun, Paul Tillich, J Robert Oppenheimer, Arthur Schlesinger, Fred Hoyle, Aaron Copland, Bertand Russell…. you know, people like that. Read and understand.
  19. Animal Minds, Donald Griffin. “Beyond cognition to consciousness.”
  20. In defense of sin, John Portman. Well, why not?
  21. Phantom Islands of the Atlantic, Donald Johnson. “Legends of seven lands that never were.”
  22. Democracy in America, Alexis de Toqueville. Probably the best book about our country ever written, and it stands even after close to 200 years.

Those are just the “upstairs books.”  I’ve got some kitchen books – car books – and of course, bathroom books (Overheard in New York).

I really am reading these, all at once.  I’ll spend a few days reading one, get distracted, leaf through another, or decide to read one in the morning, one at dinner, and another before bed.  Still others are reserved for airport waiting rooms.  Some are heavy reference tomes, not meant to be  read cover to cover, but held against time of need.  The pile of books is churned slowly, composted a bit at a time, and occasionally I’ll see one, idly read a page, and get sucked up and read voraciously through the night until complete, like a man with a stray tie getting sucked into a newspaper press.

1 comment

1 Comment so far

  1. Judy June 23rd, 2010 1:36 PM

    Gee, sounds like you are describing ME. Books everywhere, car, house, tables, etc. Can’t stand it to be caught waiting somewhere without a book. Nice to hear of another bibliophile. Can’t get rid of them either, not many, anyway.

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