23 Following

The Moth Eaten Shelf

Butterfly in the sky, I can go twice as high! ...But you don't have to take my, or Lamar Burton's, word for it. Just take a look, it's in a book.

Currently reading

The Backstory of Wallpaper: Paper-Hangings 1650-1750
Robert M. Kelly
Progress: 5/183 pages
Death of a Gossip
M.C. Beaton
Korean for Beginners: Mastering Conversational Korean (CD-ROM Included)
Henry J. Amen IV, Kyubyong Park
Visualize This: The Flowing Data Guide to Design, Visualization, and Statistics
Nathan Yau
Discovering Statistics Using R
Zoe Field, Andy Field, Jeremy Miles
Pushkin House (American Literature (Dalkey Archive))
Andrei Bitov, Susan Brownsberger
Beginner's Korean
Jeyseon Lee
La Nouvelle Héloïse: Julie, or the New Eloise
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Judith H. McDowell
Edith Wharton
Hermione Lee
Linear Models with R (Chapman & Hall/CRC Texts in Statistical Science)
Julian James Faraway

Shakespearean Challenge

Four years ago I started a personal challenge to read all the Shakespeare plays that had not been forced upon me in school or had read on my own.  At the time, I believed that I could read the remaining 27 plays in 13 months, at ~two plays per month, as I was working in a remote area for 10 hour-days for eight days straight but still wanted to have some kind of a life.  Once again, I managed quite well for the first half of the year and then life creeped in, leaving the challenge fallow.


The main rules of the challenge were:

1. Read two plays per month so as to have a life.

2. Poems and sonnets to be read at leisure.

3. Read the play before seeing a production.

4. Histories to be read in chronological order.

5. The order of the plays depended on category with no two same categories next to one another in order for balance.  Example: history, tragedy, comedy, history, comedy, tragedy but NOT history, tragedy, tragedy, comedy, as that could get too depressing. (Given the severity of the histories, I set up the list such that there was a comedy and tragedy between them.)


Once all the plays were read then one could do the more competitive versions of "The Game of Shakespeare", which is much more fun if you actually know the less popular plays and actually like Shakespeare (http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/3606/the-game-of-shakespeare). ...But I digress.  So here is the list with dates of completion and italics for histories.


The Playbill

  1. King John (14 Jan 2010)
  2. Trolius and Cressida (24 Jan)
  3. Coriolanus (16 Feb)
  4. Richard II (22 Feb)
  5. Two Gentlemen of Verona (06 Mar)
  6. Two Noble Kinsmen (not found in my collection)
  7. Henry IV, Part I (19 Apr)
  8. Measure for Measure (17 May)
  9. Titus Andronicus (11 Jul)
  10. Henry IV, Part II (20 Jul)
  11. All's Well That Ends Well (29 Jul)
  12. Pericles (08 Feb 2011)
  13. Henry V (12 Apr 2011)
  14. As You Like It
  15. Tempest
  16. Henry VI, Part I
  17. Anthony and Cleopatra
  18. Love's Labor's Lost
  19. Henry VI, Part II
  20. Winter's Tale
  21. Henry VI, Part III
  22. Cymbeline
  23. Timon of Athens
  24. Richard III
  25. King Lear
  26. Merry Wives of Windsor
  27. Henry VIII


That makes 14 more plays to get through, so even if I am only able to get to roughly one play per month, I should complete the remainder of the plays by the end of the year.


Half-Year Challenge

Given those self imposed challenges that make it past the first six weeks of the new year, I have observed that past reading challenges seem to loose steam by mid-year/summer.  In order to defeat the lull, I figured I should set up a challenge to focus on those books I really need to dust off the shelf and still have some enthusiasm toward.  That way, when the mid-year slump comes around, I can start a new challenge, one perhaps a bit more inventive.


In no particular order:



1. The Haunted Bookshop, Christopher Morley

2. Oblomov, Ivan Goncharov

3. Pushkin's Children, Tatiyana Tolstaya

4. To Live, Yu Hua

5. Irish Sagas and Folk Tales, Eileen O'Faolain

6. Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the Family History, Elizabeth Shown Mills

7. Parnassus on Wheels, Christopher Morley

8. Chronicle of a Blood Merchant, Yu Hua

9. Finding Your Canadian Ancestors, Irvine & Obee

10. Linear Models with R, Faraway

11. The remaining Shakespeare plays I haven't read

12. Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management, Elizabeth Beeton

13. Teach Yourself Gaelic circa 1970, Roderick Mackinnon

14. How to take over the world, from the tiny cell you made for yourself with just your laptop and unique personality

15. Cartographies of Disease, Tom Koch

16. Pushkin's House, Andrei Bitrov

17. Frederick Wentworth, Captain

18. Scribblers, Sculptors, and Scribes, Richard LaFeur

19. The Pattern Making Primer

20. Ancestry's Guide to Research: Case Studies in American Genealogy

21. A Garden Herbal, Anthony Gardiner

22. The Fiery Cross, Diana Gabaldon

23.Yo, La Peor, Monica Lavin

24. The Genealogy Handbook, Elien Galford

25. The Auld Scots Dictionary


There, a nice 25 books to start the list with, subject to alterations (including additions) at lister's discretion.



Marriage - Susan Ferrier Ferrier has great characterizations that really hold up the novel, quite on par with Dickens. Unfortunately the plot is a bit predictable, though the influences she might had on Scott are not hard to see. There is also this defined sense of morality leading to a righteous path for the main character, making the novel more inclined to remain on the dusty shelf, forgotten by time, than to see much of a revival by modern readers. For a Scottish female writer of the early 19th Century, I was hoping for more recounts or presentations of life in the Highlands than seen here. I am curious to read at least one of the other two published works by Ferrier to see if they fair any better.

Fever: A Novel

Fever - Mary Beth Keane

Thank goodness I did not waste good money on this book by buying it!

Only 20 pages in and I am ready to abandon this book. I have read textbooks that are more interesting and written better. Here are two examples of the bad writing/editing (hardback edition):

1. page 9 "When babies were born everyone willed them to live, but there was no surprise when they died, eventually, almost all of them, including the two Mary had cared for herself, bringing them eight, nine, ten times a day to the teat of a neighbor's goat so they could suckle what Mary's sister couldn't offer, having died bringing them to life, and what Mary couldn't offer, being only fourteen at the time, and having no babies of her own."

(Let's make it better (or at least no worse)! "When babies were born everyone willed them to live but there was no surprise when they died. Even the two Mary had cared for herself after her sister's laborious death bringing the babes into the world, trekking them eight, nine, ten times a day to the teat of a neighbor's goat so they could suckle what Mary's sister could no longer offer. What more could a poor Irish girl of fourteen without children of her own due or a wet nurse nearby do?" ...And as my country cousins like to say, 'If they are old enough to bleed, they're old enough to breed!')

2. page 18 "Mary felt like her mind had dropped straight out of her head like a stone."

I don't have a fancy pants arts degree but even part-time voracious readers can spot bad story telling from a distance!

Black Flower

Black Flower - Young-Ha Kim, Charles La Shure Short Review: Interesting story on a little known piece of history. ...Makes me wonder if every major author has at least one work that is historical fiction.

Long Review
The backdrop of <<Black Flower>> is a departure from Kim's other translated work, shedding light on a relatively obscure piece of Korean and Central American history that brought a small group of Koreans unknowingly into Mexican slavery. The material is presented true to Kim's form, juggling a myriad of backgrounds and motivations that keep the plot moving without getting overly critical or sympathetic to any particular individual. The family historian in me wanted more information from and about the descendants Kim found ten years ago in 2003; wondering what stories got passed down and how much they knew of their (mixed?) cultural background.

The piece that irked me about this newly translated work is just that - the translation. Kim's previous works I have managed to get copies of (<<Your Republic Is Calling You>> and <<I Have the Right to Destroy Myself>>) were translated by Chi-Young Kim, whilst this work was done by Charles La Shure. There were parts, probably not more than five small lines, which of course I neglected to mark and cannot find now, that were translated with an English turn-of-phrase. I understand that there are many facets to consider when translating an author and that sometimes sacrifices need to be made. (see La Shure's interview here: http://publishingtheworld.com/2013/02/06/5-questions-with-charles-la-shure-translator-from-the-korean/ )
La Shure keeps true to Kim's form and style but these tiny little descriptions feel jarring to the story, reminding me I live in the present and not in this story.

The only other thing about the work that I wasn't in love with were the depictions of battle. This is mainly due to the fact wars and battles, whilst necessary, are simply not interesting to me, whether written or on the screen. Even the best scenes shot with the highest resolution and graphics bores me on the same level that guys feel about chick-flics.

How to Create the Perfect Wife: Britain's Most Ineligible Bachelor and his Enlightened Quest to Train the Ideal Mate

How to Create the Perfect Wife: Britain's Most Ineligible Bachelor and His Enlightened Quest to Train the Ideal Mate - Wendy Moore What a strange man Thomas Day was, as I am sure you have already read in other reviews. Having worked in a male-dominated field and having been on a variety of dates, Day's views are not so infuriating as to toss the book aside, unlike my Mom who could not get passed chapter 2.

The only thing that bugged me was the chapter 10 title "Virginia, Belinda and Mary" as you only briefly hear about a Mary in the first couple of pages whilst the fictional characters Virginia and Belinda are in the last 5 pages of the chapter (nearly 20 pages in)! ...Oh, and that there wasn't a bit more information about Day's second foundling after her marriage, even if to say that subsequent research into the historical records or genealogy yielded no results.

Fictional books listed as being influenced by Day's educational experiment:
Maria Edgeworth's [b:Belinda|773534|Belinda|Maria Edgeworth|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1178226280s/773534.jpg|2968487]
Anthony Trollope's [b:Orley Farm|242589|Orley Farm|Anthony Trollope|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1173057206s/242589.jpg|408013]
Henry James' [b:Watch and Ward|277547|Watch and Ward|Henry James|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1173366900s/277547.jpg|269173]

(Three more books I hope to get to within the next 10 years!)

Burning the Page: The eBook Revolution and the Future of Reading

Burning the Page: The eBook Revolution and the Future of Reading - Jason Merkoski A FirstReads Giveaway Review

Overall impression: Fair/Good
General impression: Where to start? ...The best part of the book is the insider look at the development/production of eReaders; this is perhaps due to the fact that I know very little about this technology. The remainder of the text felt a little trite, especially to an avid reader and one who used to work at Zimmerman library on the University of New Mexico campus. And I would have to agree with Paul Bartusiak's review, Burning the Page: The eBook Revolution and the Future of Reading needs more research and editing to be a main course meal for a biblioholic. (I cannot tell you how often I wished for the author to have used a thesaurus or to change the word order on some of the text.)

I feel like this book might get better reviews if it was handed to high school, or even junior high school, students. At least they might still care to have a Facebook or Twitter account in order to access the discussion pages listed at the end of the "Bookmark" sections. (Though how many of those students would understand the phone booth/call box reference?)

Ultimately I wanted there to be better reference material and more concrete metaphors. Sometimes it felt like the same ideas were getting rehashed every other chapter. Take the chapter "Digitizing Culture", the part on print page 206 where he talks about books starting to be left out with the trash because they cannot be sold and community events to swap books. This already happens! There are tons of people who are too lazy to take their recyclable stuff to a donation center and instead leave it out on the curb. And for those who are not aware, http://www.paperbackswap.com/index.php is a free site where you can exchange your unwanted books with others across the nation and get credit for books you do want. Just pay to ship the books; the books you get are free and do not even come from the same person who you gave your books to. (Did not mean for that to sound like an ad.)

And yet not a sliver of words was brought forth to examine the preservation of third world and developing cultures or how used books will impact them as shipments of "unsell-able" used clothing and treadle sewing machines have in Eastern Africa. (This is the anthropologist coming out.)

One side of me wants to rant about all the other sections that really bugged me, the other side does not want to fill up review space merely to vent. Guess that means I need to get blog!

The birth order factor: How your personality is influenced by your place in the family

The Birth Order Factor: How Your Personality is Influenced by Your Place in the Family - Lucille K. Forer First off, I did not read this book cover-to-cover but rather jumped around to the sections that seemed pertinent to myself and which I could relate back to my family. Some of the birth order factors make sense and has helped me to understand some family dynamics but as the book regularly points out, people's personalities (and hang-ups) are not just explained by birth order. There is the family environment of emotional, economic, etc support, as well as the spacing between children that play a role in personal development, of which no one can ever fit these factors/outlines exactly.

It's publication in 1976 makes for an interesting read about the social mores and norms of the time, especially as I am product of the next decade. The way Dr. Forer relates some of her therapy cases makes me wish that if I ever do need extensive therapy, I would like a therapist as clear-sighted and understanding as her. Not being a parent yet, I cannot comment on the effectiveness of the 'Parenthood' chapters but they do make me wonder about the development of those families I know with children.

Your Republic Is Calling You

Your Republic Is Calling You - Young-Ha Kim, Kim Chi-Young I found myself getting a bit lost with keeping track of the minor characters but this seems to be happening with all fiction what ever the time or place of origin. I am hoping that Kim's other work, I Have the Right to Destroy Myself, is better.

Korea: The Impossible Country

Korea: The Impossible Country - Daniel Tudor Nice insight to get to know a culture beyond their Kdrama/Kpop and technology; though it did help with some cultural actions(?) in the dramas and films.

First Grave on the Right

First Grave on the Right - Darynda Jones Good as a light summer read that has some adult themes so I would not place this in the young adult section (unless you have a good open family that can talk openly about these things). I should not have been too surprised the book ended the way it did, given the main character's purpose in life. Three stars because it was not as bad as the Stookie Stackhouse opening pages, which I just could not get past.

So, if you ever wanted to cross the TV series "Dead Like Me" and "Supernatural" then this is the read for you.

Rasskazy: New Fiction from a New Russia

Rasskazy: New Fiction from a New Russia - Jeff  Parker, Mikhail Iossel, Francine Prose, Mikhail  Iossel I was able to read all but one story and that one was like reading a literal translation of an original Latin text by someone who did not understand that there were no punctuations in ancient Rome and has decided not to do so with the translation.

The remaining stories are well worth the time.

The Blind Contessa's New Machine: A Novel

The Blind Contessa's New Machine - Carey Wallace Not bad albeit a little bit predictable. Since it has been more than a year since I read it, I recall wishing that the lead male protagonist, whose name escapes me, was more fleshed out and developed. Perhaps it is something for a follow-up work.

The Labyrinth of Solitude: The Other Mexico, Return to the Labyrinth of Solitude, Mexico and the United States, the Philanthropic Ogre

The Labyrinth of Solitude and Other Writings - Octavio Paz, Lysander Kemp, Yara Milos Most of the time I kept wondering what Mexicans today think about this work, as the text felt a little dated, especially Paz's brief mention of/about women (pages 66 & 197. There were small parts I liked, such as on pages: 184, 186, 208, 222, 228, 291 and 375, but I made the mistake of reading the last 200 pages (out of 400) in a day and a half. At a certain point, it felt like Paz was repeating himself rather than bringing up alot of new points with the "Other Writings." Worth reading all the same.

Dead Souls (Signet classics)

Dead Souls - Nikolai Gogol, Andrew R. MacAndrew This translation feels a little dated and more British than Russian in tone. The story could have been better as a short story like "The General's Daughter" or "The Queen of Spades" and yet it is still incomplete, since the follow-up novels were never completed to the author's satisfaction. I would not recommend starting with this novel as an introduction to Russian literature.

Ancient Burial Practices in the American Southwest: Archaeology, Physical Anthropology, and Native American Perspectives

Ancient Burial Practices in the American Southwest: Archaeology, Physical Anthropology, and Native American Perspectives - Douglas R. Mitchell Heavily weighted to AZ cultures and determining the complexity of social structures; not as broad as I originally hoped when I bought it.