Friday, February 1, 2008

January's book list

Anderegg, David. Nerds: Who They Are and Why We Need More of Them. New York: Penguin, 2008. 263 pages
  • This wasn't as enjoyable or even as interesting as I would have hoped. There's too much hairsplitting of what a nerd is or isn't, blah blah blah. I know he's trying to make people stop and examine the stereotypes they fall back on and then teach their children, but whatever. The book seemed to be aimed at the non-nerd parents of non-nerd children, who are (to fall back on my own hasty generalization) probably the least-inclined group of people to read it. Or read. I'm sorry, I'll stop. No, I won't. As someone who's a little nerd-like (but doesn't seem to have any of the characteristics of any of those kids in the anecdotes, but has been called a book nerd repeatedly by friends and family), married to someone nerd-like, and friends with nerd-like people, I was bored. Glad I bought it out of a bin.
Gates, Stefan. Gastronaut: Adventures in Food for the Romantic, the Foolhardy, and the Brave. Orlando: Harcourt, 2006. 258 pages
  • Ever since I married that nice man who places far too much importance on food, I've been tempted to scream, "Just make the chili like my mom does!!!" about 2 or 3 times a month whenever it seems like Cody's getting a little too adventurous. Yes, I know that you're never supposed to bring up your parents' cooking, especially during the early years of marriage to the spouse who cooks, but if I don't like eggplant now and I've never liked it before, there's a spectacularly good chance that I'm not going to like it in the dish he's trying to make me eat. (Nothing he does will change the fact that eggplant has that nasty texture. And flavor.) But Cody's forays into ethnic cooking or grilling without a grill pale in comparison to Gates's gilded Cheetos, menus for a bacchanalian orgy, and various pickling projects. On the plus side, I know how to roast a whole hog now. Granted, my dad could have told me, but it's nice to have it all on paper. He's superhelpful about which shops you can go to, but they're all in England. He's British, by the way. He does give a lot of websites for the rare ingredients (like, oh... say, a calf's head) and makes suggestions on what music to play while you serve this stuff up to your guests. Fun, fun read.

Herbert, Frank. Dune. 1965. New York: Putnam, 1998. 517 pages
  • Awesome. Simply awesome. I can't wait to read the others. Herbert created his own universe here and it's great. My descriptive and summarizing abilities apparently fail me here. So, just go read it. You'll like it. You should also check out the miniseries the Sci-Fi channel did. It leaves out details, but it's still great. I wish I could rent it more often, but Cody apparently really hates it.

Shute, Neil. On the Beach. 1957. New York: Perennial, 1966. 234 pages
  • This was not a fun, fun read. Everyone dies. Basically, Australians wait for the radiation fallout of an accidental nuclear war to come their way while trying to maintain a semblance of normality. Watching I Am Legend (another movie where everyone dies) the night after I finished this was a mistake. I got it for 50¢ at the library sale and it nearly disintegrated before I finished. The subject matter was so depressing that it made the actual material of the book give up and fall apart. But it's one more entry I can cross off the list of Things That Apparently Everyone But Me Read in High School. Yay.

Wodicka, Ted. All Shall Be Well; and All Shall Be Well; and All Manner of Things Shall Be Well. New York: Pantheon Books, 2008. 264 pages
  • I want to say this was 'sweet' but that seems wrong and dismissive. Let's say it was touching. And interesting. This guy (I forgot his name) is a medieval re-enactor who deals with the death of his wife pretty badly and isn't a very attentive father and is one of those characters that you find yourself endeared to mostly because he's your narrator, but if you met someone like him in real life you'd hate him because he'd be so ridiculously annoying. But on paper, he's eccentric. He has adventures. He encounters other interesting things and people. He drinks mead a little too much the entire time. I think you should read it. Maybe just check it out at the library. Just flip through it for a second or read the first couple of pages. You'll like it. Unless you don't like history. Then you might lose patience. But don't. I enjoyed it. (I enjoy history. I'm a bit nerd-like.)

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