Sunday, October 14, 2018

King St. Capers' 7th anniversary

Seven years. Never been better!*

*but still really terrible.

Spring Chickens

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Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Reading list 2017

I'm far behind on posting this - but I like having a record of these lists to reference, so I'm going to make sure to get it done!

Still, so, so many books left over from my college days to dig through. I'll get to them all one day! Luckily, as an English major, the books aren't boring textbooks (ok, some are) and they've been worth it.

Here's what I managed to get through in 2017.

For more references, here are the lists from 20102011 , 2012 201320142015 and 2016.

Books I read

Breakfast of Champions, by Kurt Vonnegut.

This was a re-read, but it's a very enjoyable book. I'd love to get back to Slaughterhouse 5, as well. I think I nicked my sister's copy of this .... but it could be my brothers,too? Really terrific read. 

Lemony Snicket, the Unauthorized Biography, by Daniel Handler

This is a companion piece to the Lemony Snicket books, and it's done in an interesting narrative style, though I'm not sure it was done successfully. Think a series of different chapters, and then an editor scratches the stuff out and puts in other details... you have to connect the dots to make meaning out of most of it. Not really a lot of answers. My opinion, if you only read the first three Lemony Snicket books, you probably will receive the greatest amount of pleasure from reading them. I'll testify that certainly don't feel that much pleasure after reading 13 of them.

Fractured English, by Richard Lederer
This is a clever book. Think "Stupid Headlines" from the old Late Night television days. Readers submit Lederer absurd phrases and expressions, mistakes and slips of the tongue, and he compiles them into an enjoyable read. Far from "must-read" and not even close to "George-Carlin-esque" but ... fun. 

Siblings Without Rivalry, by Adele Farber and Elaine Mazlish
I read this so I could be a better parent. I don't remember specifically what this book was about though, lol. Perhaps I've internalized all its advice and am living proof that it works!

How to be a Canadian, by Will Ferguson and Ian Ferguson
I read this while researching Canada for the 150th celebration edition of CAPS last June 2017. There is certainly a lot to learn, and it was delightful to read it in a very Canadian-tongue-in-cheek style. A humourous view of our country, with some details you'd be surprised to learn, too.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams 
Four big books, that were delightful to read. I read them to Sullivan at bedtime for a few weeks, and he was really interested  in them, too (which is impressive for a 5-year old). Delightful books, worthy of their reputation. 

The Simpsons, a Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family, by Ray Richmond
Shelley found a copy of this for me at a garage sale somewhere, and brought it home. It has detailed synopses and quotes and bios of every episode for the first 10 seasons. Lots of good memories revisited while going through the pages.
The Book of Extraordinary Facts, by Publications International, Ltd.
This was a Christmas present from my mom, a couple years ago. Just facts about things. I never learned (and then forgot) so many facts! A great bathroom reader. A page or two ever visit :)
Dragon Teeth, by Michael Crichton 
I was shocked, excited, confused and then very wary about this book. I found a copy at the library (contrary to all my other Michael Crichton which I bought in hardcover whenever I could). I read it over a couple days, really hunkered down and went through it. It's far less about the Cope and Marsh feud which I was led to believe, but an enjoyable story nonetheless. Its depiction of dinosaurs was (however briefly, and let's be clear, there's about a single paragraph in a dream sequence) was heavily flawed, as if whoever the ghost writer was that completed this novel from Crichton's notes, doesn't know a singular thing about dinosaurs. That was unfortunate.
The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
I don't really remember seeing the movie, perhaps it was just bits and pieces when it was on TV once? But the book was REALLY awesome. The thoughtful depiction of time and place and time travel is extraordinary. I really recommend this one. Just incredible.
Ford’s Automotive History, by James C. Mays
[no pic]
This is another book I slammed through while researching the Canada 150 anniversary. It wasn't just about cars, there were plenty of bits of Canadiana carefully inserted throughout the reader. A pleasure to read.

The Art of Dramatic Writing, by Lajos Egri
This, of course, is more of a textbook on writing. I found it in a used book store here in town and snagged it a while ago. It really focuses on developing drama between characters, developing characters and developing conflict between characters naturally. And there is a lot of  excerpts from classic plays that carefully illustrate the author's lessons.
Freakonomics, Revised and Expanded Edition, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
My brother recommended this a LONG time ago, and I finally got to reading it. The second edition has a few blog posts in the back from their website. When this first came out, it was reported on like this guy was making unbelievable insights into human behaviour, showing people a side of themselves they've never seen before. It was definitely not quite that astounding. Perhaps interesting at points, but far from illuminating. Don't be fooled into thinking this will help give you a new perspective on the world.
The Alphabet of Manliness, by Maddox
I re-read this for the first time in a while, and ... I think it's time to retire this book. I recall an interview that Jimmy Kimmel gave on the subject of The Man Show, which intimated that he and Adam Corolla were making an overtly stupid "man" show to sarcastically show men how stupid they are for shallowly liking "manliness." I feel like this book was published in a very similar vein - and while I've laughed at it in the past... it's lost whatever charm it once held for me. Frankly, I think the author has matured from then as well. 
Tartuffe, by Molière
My mom and sister went to see this place, I want to say in Niagara? Maybe it was Stratford? Nonetheless, they were talking about their tickets, and I was thrilled to go back and read it out of one of my drama textbooks. What a wonderful play this was - it was interesting to hear that the vocabulary and language was "updated" for its contemporary performance - because the play has a rhyming scheme. So, I'd be interested to hear what they changed and how they did it. 

The Buddha and His Dhamma, by Bhikkhu Bodhi 
After reading The Alphabet of Manliness, I felt like my soul needed a little healing. I'm not kidding! I got this book (it's more of a pamphlet) at a Buddhist temple I met some folks at for a story I was doing. This offered an interesting history of the story of Buddha and the history of the faith. 
Word Origins and their Romantic Stories, by Wilfrid Funk
I have no idea where I got my copy of this book, but as a closet etymologist (and I'm only closeted as an etymologist because I can't out-rightly speak about it nearly as often as I'd like) , this book spoke to me on a hundred different levels. Reading through this book is like being Neo in The Matrix, and you start to see the source code, all the 1s and 0s in binary, and he can literally fly, walk through walls,  turn agents of the Matrix inside out... yeah. This books is like that. Etymology is like that. So many fascinating details. 
Secret Path, by Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire 
Another pick-up from the library. I spotted it and on the heels of Gord Downie's passing, knew it was something I was interested in looking into. It's a series of poems by Downie, and then a "silent" graphic novel by Lemire. It's really powerful, very intriguing and certainly tells a story, a backstory and a lesson all in one. Really, this is quite the piece of art!

Kids Section 

I can't go into too many details about kids books, but here's the list of the books Sullivan and I read in 2017, as well:
Kids books
  • The Carnivorous Carnival, by Lemony Snicket
  • The Slippery Slope, by Lemony Snicket
  • The Grim Grotto, by Lemony Snicket
  • The Penultimate Peril, by Lemony Snicket
  • The End, by Lemony Snicket
  • The Magician’s Nephew, by C. S. Lewis
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C. S. Lewis
  • The Horse and His Boy, by C. S. Lewis
  • Prince Caspian, by C. S. Lewis
  • Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by C. S. Lewis
  • The Silver Chair, by C. S. Lewis
  • The Final Battle, by C. S. Lewis

Again, skip Lemony Snicket (or at least quit while you're ahead at book three or four - don't subject yourself to the entire run.)

The Chronicles of Narnia books are really well done! There's a reason they've been so popular. Lewis famously became a devout Christian after being an atheist for most his life, through writing these novels. The Christian mythology and Creation mythology in these books (and to be clear, it's subtle, it's brief and it's only referenced, never explained) is very intriguing. You literally see "sparks" when you're reading it, drawing mental connections as the subtle references jump out at you. Which is all the more impressive, because they're literally done so subtly. 

Alright, thanks for reading! Any recommendations, I'm happy to take 'em!