Across the river, Manhattan shimmered in the moonlight — miles of white buildings sparkling like a forest of fireflies.... Manhattan, a cage of white ribs and a mass of glowing crystal, seemed nearly alive. The beauty in it lifted them far above their enemies and their troubles in the world, as if they were looking at life from the vantage point of the dead. Suddenly overcome with affection for the people they loved, they saw before them the city of sunshine and shadow, now covered in moonlight, and they loved it so much that they wanted to hold it in their arms. (520)It goes on, but you get the idea. Really, the author had me from "...the whole world has poured its heart into the city by the Palisades, and made it far better than it ever had any right to be." That's the third sentence of the Prologue. This book, it does not pull any punches. I am loving it. And life is pretty okay, too.
( These are the top 106 books most often marked as 'unread' by LibraryThing's users (as of whatever day this meme got started because I sure didn't double-check LibraryThing today). Bold indicates what I've read, italics what I started but couldn't finish, and strike through what I couldn't stand. )
In other news, Iggy Pop just jumped up on a wheeled chair such that it slid about a yard into the wall. He was most perplexed, and very cute. Yay my cat!
I haven't seen any lightning, but even if I do, it will not keep me away from the next-to-last session of Urban Farm. (Yay Urban Farm! Best class ever! I am going to miss it so much that I am looking into volunteering at one of Eugene's community gardens after the end of the term, just to get my "really big garden that I share with a bunch of people and we all hang out and work on it together" fix, because it is that awesome, even if I totally got a sunburn doing just that last Saturday.) And now I must finish proofreading my review of Michael Pollan's Second Nature, which I will be turning in today --- it turned out really well and I'm super-proud, especially of the way I used the phrase "really gets on my tits" in a way that was almost entirely appropriate except for how it's sort of an academic paper and all. Tee-hee! I'll put the full book report on TracyFood sometime soon, perhaps in sections because I rambled on and on and on for almost seven pages (only one of which was devoted to my deep aversion to the masculine generic --- Inclusive language forever, baby!)
Hot damn, it's pouring out. I'd better go let Iggy Pop in from the rain, and then look at bus schedules.
I'm reading The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter by Peter Singer and Jim Mason, and it might be my favorite piece of "when in doubt, don't eat the animal product" propaganda to date (besides cookbooks, anyway). But I just got to the chapter on eating out, and I'm a little worried, because of this passage:( Oh please don't be endorsing whiny bitchitude. All y'all: Be kind to waitstaff, especially when they put up with your shit. This has been a public service announcement. )
That ranted, I am hoping very much that Singer and Mason will conclude that if you really want to eat out ethically, you should either patronize only restaurants that proudly advertise the origin of their ingredients, or forget it and eat only what you cook at home from ingredients whose sources you know and love (and good luck with that; this book, The Omnivore's Dilemma, and of course Marion Nestle's fantastic What To Eat are good places to start). I'm keeping my fingers crossed, because the book has been very smart and in touch with reality so far, and I'm more than halfway through. And now I will return to my reading.
Update, 11:18 PM --- Nope, but then again the chapter turned out to be a more general thing about the food industry and three businesses in particular. I thought they went a little too easy on Whole Foods, too, but oh well. Maybe they'll give the "either choose your restaurant with care or stay home" advice in the conclusion of the book.
In case there was any doubt in your mind as to whether I'm a giant dork, the fact that I'm spending my day off organizing our bookshelves ought to help with that indecision problem of yours. The object of the game is to eventually dedicate a shelf to books I haven't finished reading yet, so it'll stare at me when I'm on the couch wasting time online or whatever. (ideath gave me the idea; I'm curious to see how it works out, and I do like that turn of phrase since I've definitely got my work cut out for me with this project.) In the meantime, I've put our two copies of Gödel, Escher, Bach up side by side (Peter found a copy at a used bookstore in Saranac Lake, which of course prompted nedthealpaca to rediscover and return the copy we'd lent him years ago) and it's making me wonder what happened to my other Hofstadter book, Le Ton Beau de Marot. I mean, I'm pretty sure I lent it out to someone at some point, but that's all I've got. So LiveJournal, have you seen my book? It's for the "books I should finish reading at some point" shelf, which may or may not be a good cause...
"I think," Tehanu said in her soft, strange voice, "that when I die, I can breathe back the breath that made me live. I can give back to the world all that I didn't do. All that I might have been and couldn't be. All the choices I didn't make. All the things I lost and spent and wasted. I can give them back to the world. To the lives that haven't been lived yet. That will be my gift back to the world that gave me the life I did live, the love I loved, the breath I breathed."
Ursula K. LeGuin, The Other Wind. New York: Harcourt, Inc. 2001
...I maybe learned from Pippi Longstocking:
"That is why we are here," said the teacher, "to be good and kind to other people."
Pippi stood on her head on the horse's back and waved her legs in the air. "Heigh-ho," said she, "then why are the other people here?"
---Astrid Lindgren, Pippi Goes on Board, "Pippi Goes to the School Picnic", p. 56
Do I really need to say more?
Meme: page 123, 5th sentence, next 3 sentences.
- Grab the nearest book.
- Open the book to page 123.
- Find the fifth sentence.
- Post the text of the next 3 sentences on your blog along with these instructions.
- Don’t you dare dig for that “cool” or “intellectual” book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest.
And I got:
Her most serious loss was the bedroom that had permitted hours of secret flagellation, nightly vigils, intense prayer and meditation. Now she had to share her brothers' bedroom and, until she came to her senses, do the family's domestic chores.
Catherine accepted this calmly and served her family as if it were Christ's, pretending her parents were Mary and Joseph, the clamorous horde of her male siblings the holy apostles.
Major bonus points to anybody who doesn't live with me who successfully guesses where I got that. Teehee!
I'm rereading Cordelia's Honor for the nth time, because it's like nummy delicious crack, and I've decided it needs to be a feature film, at least in my happy imaginations. So far I've decided it stars Nicole Kidman and George Clooney, although that's mostly because I'd probably watch either of them brushing their teeth and really want to see them share the big screen. The really hard questions for me (besides the obvious problem of casting Miles, which I'm luckily able to avoid by my choice of book) are: who plays Sergeant Bothari? Simon Ilyan is another tricksy one, and that means Alys Vorpatril will have to be carefully chosen as well.... yeah. Anyways, I figured some of the folks who read this journal might have fun opinions (kuddliphish, I'm looking at you in particular) so let the games begin!
From a random FreeCycler's .sig file:
You think your pains and heartbreaks are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who have ever been alive.
Yay for insightful ideas from unexpected sources!
McDonald, Ian. Out on Blue Six. New York: Bantam Books, 1989.
From my paper journal:
Weird. Parts were very good, others not so much. I thought I was following it, had a plot twist all picked out and everything ( spoilers... ) but no! Instead much more deus ex machina, only not in a quick-fix way, instead I'm supposed to have known about the machine gods all along and it felt like they didn't set that up well enough or maybe I missed the first mention of those rules? Dunno.
Finished reading it on 17 January 2005, started reading it some time in November 2004 maybe? It was a gift from ouro (thanks!)
My attempts to keep track of my reading continue unabated, oh yes. Also yesterday I started and finished Cruddy by Lynda Barry, which was AMAZING. Yay for books and reading!
So um, who's read The Dispossessed and wants to geek out about it lit nerd style? Extra bonus points if you find a copy of Samuel R. Delany's Jewel-Hinged Jaw and read his essay about The Dispossessed first. Right now I'm at the stage where I'm taking notes on the novel and getting myself psyched up to read the essay before it tells me I'm all wrong and a grotesquely ugly freak, so you've got time to get your reading on and catch up with me, especially if you've already read The Dispossessed, which I hadn't until earlier this month because I'm defective or something.
Somehow I managed to miss the following IMs last night:
qousqous: ok so i have a question for you
qousqous: say rehnquist dies this weekend, and there is a lawsuit over the election, and it goes to the supreme court
qousqous:what happens if the court splits 4-4?
qousqous:because i for one have no clue.
I have no answer, except, "Then your Election Night party becomes even more of a slumber party than it already was," and "Dammit! This is why the Supreme Court shouldn't be allowed to get involved in deciding elections in the first place!"
In happier news, I got up because of a phone call from a piano mover and tuner who sounded way more competent and friendly than anyone I called yesterday, so I think he's my guy. Soon I will go to Rachel's house to check out the piano in question, and then we will go to tea. Yay tea! Also while I'm downtown, I will get Dan Bern tickets for Thursday night.... hey, I wonder what happened to the library books I was going to return? Mysteries abound.
Yay for nifty-sounding new books! And it comes out in the U.S. on September 8, just in time to keep me happy when I start frothing at the mouth for The Dark Tower, which is scheduled to appear on September 21, ironically enough the same day as The System of the World in case you didn't have enough inches (or pounds) of reading material already. And if I get really obsessive, I can go see the author, Susanna Clarke, at Powell's on September 28. She sounds like a badass, in a quiet writer geek kind of way. Besides the official Jonathan Strange website, there's a good article about her and the book in the New York Times Magazine (you'll have to sign in to the Times site to read it, though). Also the first chapter of Strange is available there, but I haven't read it yet. Still, yay books!
A chance to win $1000 in books from Powells? I accept! And I'm posting it here for all of you to see and take advantage of this most excellent opportunity (although I haven't yet figured out if writers get to keep rights to entries to the contest, which better be a condition of submission or I won't play). I'm posting it despite the fact that there's some pretty fabulous writers who read this journal and I don't like the thought of competing against you... because I love you all that much. I'm pretty sure that's not (just) the wine I had at dinner talking, but if this entry disappears suddenly in the next few hours it's because a shower and coffee brought me to my senses. Although if it were that easy for me to get sensible... oh, never mind. Just go look at the contest info already. And try not to make too many lists of books you'd buy as soon as you won (I'm going to go try adding up my Amazon wishlist, just out of curiosity and greed.)
I always read Alice Walker too quickly. This time it's Anything We Love Can Be Saved (and big thanks again to somechicksings for the recommendation) and now that I've articulated this revelation it's got me wondering what else I've read too quickly and need to reread. The Left Hand of Darkness leaps to mind as a book I felt like I was missing the point of even as I read it (but did that make me go back and reread it? no.) I should write Ms. Walker fan mail based solely on just this one teeny tiny thing I've learned about myself from reading her work, but of course her awesomeness is such that it'll render me inarticulate if I ever do try to put pen to paper addressed to her. Um. I like this book I'm reading, yes I do.
So I finished Dhalgren today, and now I'm taking notes on all the pages I bookmarked and dogeared (I know, bad me) so I can finally return it to the library more than a month overdue (and that's double-bad me for abusing a library book, yes). And then I ran across this little gem, which seemed entirely appropriate for inflicting on my LiveJournal:
What other days from my life have gone? After a week, I can't remember five. After a year, how many days in it will you never think of again? (732)
Delany, Samuel R. Dhalgren. New York: Vintage Books. (A Division of Random House, Inc.) 1974.