Sunday, October 18, 2009

This month in books:

Finally, I'm feeling a little bit better.  I've got four pieces of French toast in my belly, so I think I can make it through an actual post.  I've been reading a lot lately and I haven't done a book post in a while.  Not that I've exactly been reading Beowulf or Paradise Lost.  It's been lighter fare, and all over the map but worth sharing.

September/ October books:

The Courage to Start, John Bingham
No Need For Speed, John Bingham
Marathoning for Mortals, John Bingham

I believe I might have mentioned these in a running post.  They're by John "the Penguin" Bingham, loaned to me by E's Aunt Mar who was my main support at my first half marathon.  I read them in the week leading up to the race.  These are great books and I can't recommend them highly enough.  I get questions a lot about how to start running from zero, which is what I did.  I MEAN ZERO.  These books are a great set of answers for you if you've always been curious about how to safely begin on a journey to getting healthy and doing something that's not only good for your body but your brain.  Great information, and as someone who had been running for a while by the time I read them, I still felt like I learned a lot.  They're also pretty easy reads and they're in plain English which is nice.  The info is great but it's not overwhelmind.   These are some great resources.

Remember that one time (a minute ago) that I said my reading lately has been a little strange?  Yeah.  This:  I read a book about dead bodies.  It wasn't even fiction.  ::waits for astonished gasps::  I know.  Heather the wimp read a book about corpses.  Guess what?  It confirmed the obvious.  I am still a wimp.  But this book was really interesting.  It came recommended by a friend (who happens to have been my Language Arts teacher in junior high, but who's keeping track?) and I have to say I liked it, but it scared the holy poop out of me.  I never skip past parts of books, but I had a really--I mean toe-curling, hand wringing, nervous sweating--hard time getting through the section on how they analyze the bodies in a plane crash to tell how the plane ripped apart.  I know some of you are reading this and you're like why did you even read that and I have to say, Mary Roach's narration of the whole thing is just so good but I have to say I have way more respect for the aforementioned friend who recommended the book because I know she could get through the whole thing  and didn't have to cry or sweat.  Like, not once. 

I also read another of Mary Roach's books this summer but I didn't want to post about just that book because, well, it's called Bonk and it's, well, about bonking and I was sure I'd look like Merv the perv if I was all hey, this was a great sex book but it was.  Not like you'd think, either.  Roach is a science writer, a curious mind, and she brings together all the history and research on whatever subject she's highlighting--be it dead bodies, or whatever--with wit and curiosity and amusement.  Both books were crazy interesting and amazing in tone and voice.  If you're a geek who likes science, history, and a good book, these are for you.

I just couldn't stomach all that decomposition.  It's hard out here for a wimp.

From the dead to the D-List.  Why not?  This is the kind of thing I would have been ashamed to admit, say, at work a few years ago, but I love Kathy Griffin.  She's so inappropriate.  And so... funny.  Not a fan?  That's okay.  I know she's not for everybody.  But she's for me.  I love that she knows how to work the media machine and she can create controversy so easily.  I love that she works that so well.  I've been a fan of the D-List since season 1 and I've been watching her comedy specials since back in the days of the Gaykin.  There's just something so irreverent and appealing about her humor.

So I bought her book at Costco.  I bought another book for E (I'll get to that in a minute) and I wanted something that was pure entertainment.  It was.  Not laugh-out-loud funny or written like it was the next Crime and Punishment, but somewhere nicely in between that was interesting and occaisionally funny and didn't make me use my brain too much.  I read this last weekend at the cabin and it was a nice escape.

Don't judge me.

The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown

I read this in one sitting.  I was up until 3 AM finishing it this morning.  I'm a little sleep deprived.  Darn you, Dan Brown and your one-page chapters.  This one was fun and I enjoyed it a lot.  It's fluff too, but it's fluff with little kernels of cool knowledge, the kind of book that makes you want to Google a lot of stuff and go visit some National treasures.  I bought this for E, knowing I'd read it too, but I can't say I was all that jazzed and waiting in line at Borders at midnight over it.  I like Dan Brown's books, but I'm not setting my internal clock by their release dates or anything.

This one was nice though--in a way it seems like Brown is paying homage to the "secrets" of American treasures in a way that will surely generate the same interest and tourism that his earlier books did for the Louvre and the Vatican.  There are so many critics of his work, but I think you can't argue with the fact that they're just fun books--there's a sense of excitement and discovery and mystery to them and they make you want to know more about things you take for granted.  E and I were talking about the book this morning and I was telling him how I think that Brown's not in it to tell the most literary story, anyway.  He just wants to pique your interest in things that you should then go and learn about on your own.  Deists.  Freemasons.  George Washington.  Eidos.  The circumpunct.  Ra.  Alchemy.  Plus, it's always fun to read a book where I realize I already know some obscure bit of knowledge (Futhark, much?) and it makes me feel smart.  Was it formulaic?  Yeah, of course.  Did I like it?  Heck yeah.

1 comment:

  1. What bothers me about Dan Brown is his insistence on creating a Harry-Potter-esque canon...sure, the stories are great, and they're deep and imaginative and fun to read, but can Dan Brown write? Can JKR write? No. These are not good writers.