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DOUBLE PARKED BOOKS

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”
Jorge Luis Borges

Currently reading

The Heretic's Daughter
Kathleen Kent
Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter
Simone de Beauvoir, James Kirkup

Frightening and compelling, it may keep you up until 2:30 a.m.

Reblogged from DOUBLE PARKED BOOKS:
The Leopard: A Harry Hole Novel (8) - Jo Nesbø, Don Bartlett

I'm addicted to the Harry Hole books. This one is like a roller coaster. You think you know who the villain is (along with Harry) but the situation changes so the you have to start guessing all over again.

It is compelling like a bag of Nestle Kisses - you want read just one chapter every night but you end up reading more & more until you realize it's 2:30 am & you need to get up at 7. Someone braver than I may interrupt by telling me what time it is. Not a good Idea. Uncharacteristically grouchy, I give that person a look that means tread lightly or you might not see 7 o'clock!

I am impressed with Jo Nesbo's way of introducing unbelievable places & situations without making them seem contrived. Yeah, they are fantastic, but he makes me believe they could exist.

The "apple" device gave me chills. I didn't look it up because I'm afraid it that someone has created such a weapon. I don't want to live in a world where it exists. I found myself cringing because I could almost feel the terror and the pain the victims experienced as it did its job.

Throughout the book there were scenes which I almost wanted to skip (I didn't) but I kept reading because I didn't want to miss anything. It's that compelling.

Nausea – a feeling of alienation and superiority only a young person can love

Nausea - Jean-Paul Sartre

Yes, he was the  winner of the 1964 Nobel Prize  in Literature (which he declined - how cool is that!) but what really impressed me  was that Sartre was Simone de Beauvoir’s partner. As a Feminist (like her), I revered her! Forget the Feminine Mystique,  The Second Sex spoke to me like no other book – and led me to explore Sartre. So began a summer of  sweet depression,  alienation and existentialism.

The book tells the story of  Antoine Roquentin, a French writer who is experiencing a crisis of identity and questioning his very existence. It’s the perfect scenario for dramatizing Sartre’s philosophy – Existentialism. Read the book or look it up at  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Existentialism to find out the meaning. I’m too lazy to do all the work for you.

I have to admit that I read this book in the summer between finishing high school and starting college – a time when I felt sure everything I’d been taught was  irrelevant. When I read Nausea, I thought and acted like I had discovered the holy grail! I told all my friends (all 3 of them) they HAD to read it. I fell in love with this book with the intensity only a young person in their late teens can. (Evidently not all young people  feel this way. My best friend still blames me ruining her summer by insisting that she read it.)

It isn’t necessarily that the book revealed all the secrets of the universe to me, but it did start a whole summer of revelations. In the process of having to explain why I thought this book was so great I starting Thinking (capital “t” not a mistype) rationally and realizing that a sound argument is not merely a matter of volume, wit and “touches!”  I read more Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir along with other modern philosophers. I also began establishing my philosophy.

Philosophy itself was a new concept to me. Not because I didn’t know about it, but because I had a vague idea that philosophy had pretty much began and ended with the Greeks. OK, maybe I would even add St. Augustine – but by then I was already “outgrowing” the Catholic Church. I was primed for new ideas.

Am I an existentialist or a Marxist now?  The only way I can answer that is that once one has completed 10 or so years beyond 19, experience teaches you that life is too complicated to be able to define yourself by one or two words that are loaded with dynamite. All that I feel sure about is that I still consider myself a feminist and I still have enough optimism to call myself a liberal.

I do recommend this book – if for nothing else to challenge your ideas. If for you, as for me, it turns becomes the middle of a wheel with many spokes, you are in for a lot of research. I give it 4 stars (out of  5)  being for being challenging and thought-provoking.

Source: http://dimeporque.com/2012/04/15/42
Frida - Hayden Herrera Meh,,,
One Hundred Years of Vicissitude - Andrez Bergen The kind of quirky book that I enjoy. Will be reading more from this author.
The Second Sex - Simone de Beauvoir, Sheila Malovany-Chevallier, Constance Borde I am actually rereading it - this new version contains many parts of the book which were originally omitted because it might be too shocking for past readers.
Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls - David Sedaris Sedaris is back!! Hilarious
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running - Haruki Murakami, Philip Gabriel I guess this is as close as we'll get to a memoir. More Accessible than his novels. A little disappointed.
Great Feuds in Science: Ten of the Liveliest Disputes Ever - Hal Hellman I had a hard time getting through it. I expected it to be much lighter than it turned out to be. Really, feuds should be more exciting than this.
You Are What You Speak: Grammar Grouches, Language Laws, and the Politics of Identity - Robert Lane Greene “A truly enlightened attitude to language should simply be to let six thousand or more flowers bloom. Subcultures should be allowed to thrive, not just because it is wrong to squash them, because they enrich the wider culture. Just as Black English has left its mark on standard English Culture, South Africans take pride in the marks of Afrikaans and African languages on their vocabulary and syntax.
New Zealand's rugby team chants in Maori, dancing a traditional dance, before matches. French kids flirt with rebellion by using verlan, a slang that reverses words' sounds or syllables (so femmes becomes meuf). Argentines glory in lunfardo, an argot developed from the underworld a centyry ago that makes Argentine Spanish unique still today. The nonstandard greeting "Where y'at?" for "How are you?" is so common among certain whites in New Orleans that they bear their difference with pride, calling themselves Yats. And that's how it should be.”
― Robert Lane Greene, You Are What You Speak: Grammar Grouches, Language Laws, and the Politics of Identity

Readable, funny & informative, this book is not for those who want ammunition to scold the less erudite among us. It welcomes word and syntax changes which refresh the language and help to improve communication.

For those of us who worry about the state of the English language, a reminder that language is not static - it lives and changes as population, technology, and culture changes. Those who fear the influx of non-English speakers will kill the "king's English" should find comfort in the fact that English has been able to accommodate and embrace these "intrusions" by enlarging its vocabulary and improving the nuance of the language.

Besides being entertained I left the book with a more generous attitude toward other's language foibles and words that describe questionable phenomenon. Even though it seems that the language is diminished when we accept words like "twerking," it is actually being augmented - there is no existing word that would otherwise describe this "booty" movement.

A hideous woman with a wide-reaching “philosophy”

Ayn Rand and the World She Made - Anne C. Heller

“Why do they always teach us that it's easy and evil to do what we want and that we need discipline to restrain ourselves? It's the hardest thing in the world--to do what we want. And it takes the greatest kind of courage. I mean, what we really want.”
― Ayn Rand

There are people I dislike at a visceral level but after reading a biography or memoir I at least understand them. I may even discover redeeming qualities in them. Not so with Ayn Rand - she was a hideously heartless human being.

A Russian immigrant, she came to the United States as the best hope her family had for immigrating after she succeeded in making a comfortable life for herself. Her father's favorite, she was intelligent and well educated. Every member of her family sacrificed their own aspirations in order for her to complete her education and to immigrate. She did not repay their sacrifices. Instead she rationalized that, as a superior person, she deserved what she received. Furthermore, she rejected anyone who did anything against their own interest as inferior. Not one member of her family immigrated to the U.S. after her.

Throughout her life this scenario repeated itself. She accepted help from American relatives, took advantage of friend's offers, and used her meek husband to achieve her goals. Ultimately, she used, abused and abandoned admirers and followers without even blinking an eye. Hers was an ego so large that there was no room for a conscience. Self aggrandisement and a hatred for communism colored her world view.

Incomprehensibly, she did have charisma. Her followers adored her and hung on her every word. A great many influential conservative men - Alan Greenspan and William F. Buckley among them - were not only "acolytes" but went on to give her "philosophy" credence. I say "philosophy" because she never actually wrote any academic works delineating her beliefs.

She is best known for her early screenplays and fiction - Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, for example. She also self-published non-fiction and essays and gave speeches in favor of conservative candidates. It is from these that her admirers have cobbled her philosophy of Objectivism - objective self interest. It is now variously misinterpreted by the Tea Party, many conservative Republicans and Libertarians. Interestingly, she would have rejected all of her current admirers. In fact. in more than one occasion she talked and wrote that she despised Libertarians and rejected anyone who believed in religion as inferior.

While the content of the book was interesting, the writing itself was gossipy, tedious and repetitive. Good editing would have cut the size of this book by a third. Three stars.


Frightening and compelling, it may keep you up until 2:30 a.m.

The Leopard: A Harry Hole Novel (8) - Jo Nesbø, Don Bartlett

I'm addicted to the Harry Hole books. This one is like a roller coaster. You think you know who the villain is (along with Harry) but the situation changes so the you have to start guessing all over again.

It is compelling like a bag of Nestle Kisses - you want read just one chapter every night but you end up reading more & more until you realize it's 2:30 am & you need to get up at 7. Someone braver than I may interrupt by telling me what time it is. Not a good Idea. Uncharacteristically grouchy, I give that person a look that means tread lightly or you might not see 7 o'clock!

I am impressed with Jo Nesbo's way of introducing unbelievable places & situations without making them seem contrived. Yeah, they are fantastic, but he makes me believe they could exist.

The "apple" device gave me chills. I didn't look it up because I'm afraid it that someone has created such a weapon. I don't want to live in a world where it exists. I found myself cringing because I could almost feel the terror and the pain the victims experienced as it did its job.

Throughout the book there were scenes which I almost wanted to skip (I didn't) but I kept reading because I didn't want to miss anything. It's that compelling.

Death in the City of Light: The Serial Killer of Nazi-Occupied Paris - David King Won this book.
Tasteful Nudes and Other Misguided Attempts at Personal Growth and Validation - Dave  Hill Hmm... how to describe Dave Hill. When I've seen him on TV, he seems sweet, naive, wide-eyed and quite harmless in his pastel jackets - that is until he lets out a zinger that comes from left field

This book is exactly like that. You get autobiographical essays that start out innocently enough but then take you on a wild ride that ends in a sudden snort or a spray of coffee on your cat or unfortunate friend. People will ask you to explain but it's a little too complicated and I'm afraid something will be lost in the telling - you just have to read the book.

This isn't a stand up routine - no litany of familiar jokes and self-deprecating jabs. It's genuine and fearless in its revelations. It's a series of essays that flow naturally as an autobiography. It's smart and silly; mundane and eccentric; funny and sad; sweet and caustic. In short, it will make you laugh and cry - but mostly laugh.

My favorite chapters? I Loved "I Kind of Remember You in the Chelsea Hotel" - so funny and familiar. As a provincial mid-westerner I can identify with the awe, disappointment, and joy that my first visit to the BIG city inspired. My other favorite is the sweet "Bunny." Dare I say that in this chapter Dave is figuratively nude - tastefully nude.

No worries, Dave - I totally think that this book will get you laid. There are a lot of women who can't resist erudite, goofy, sweet, funny men who love their mom (not in a Norman Bates way, though). I know because a guy with all of those qualities moved in next door & I couldn't believe my luck so I married him.

Full disclosure here (no pun): I did not win this book. In spite of that I am giving it a most favorable review. A pox on those of you who won a copy.
Far from the Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy, Shannon Russell, Rosemarie Morgan I liked it - begrudgingly. I doubt that I would have finished it if it were not our book club selection. It was over-dramatic even for the standards of the day. It’s definitely over-dramatic for my taste.

The first half of the story was interesting; the second half was predictable and hackneyed. I was excited to see a feisty girl who should have become a strong woman. Unfortunately the heroine disintegrated into a silly and helpless creature. What perplexes me are the articles I’ve read which describe her as an early "feminist." Far from being ahead of its time, the story follows the usual trajectory of strong women as written by certain men - the mythical (or fantasy) strong woman whose real desire is to be tamed by a "special" man.

The language is beautiful when describing nature and buildings. The dialogue is less strong. Perhaps I am being unfair in judging it by modern standards, but it just doesn't ring true. The melodrama is just a bit too much for me – not-intended-to-be-funny dialogue made me laugh out loud. Perhaps it hasn't stood the test of time? Why can’t Hardy, who can describe a church with such an abundance of words and beautiful phrases (proof of great observational powers), apply that eye to a woman so that she is a recognizable three-dimensional human? The buildings and trees have heft and depth; the women are caricatures.

It reminds me too much of Taming of the Shrew - my least favorite Shakespeare play. Please, can't a woman be consistent in character throughout a play or book? Can't a man love a strong woman without her having to submit? Evidently, Thomas Hardy doesn’t think so.

I give it 3 stars for beautiful, descriptive language. Two stars are deducted for its annoying, predictable story line, two-dimensional women, and flat, unreal dialogue.
You're Not Doing It Right: Tales of Marriage, Sex, Death, and Other Humiliations - Michael Ian Black I've seen this guy - sardonic, sarcastic, irreverent, witty, and down-right funny. I expected to laugh - and I did. What I didn't expect were the insightful, sensitive, almost-made-you-cry moments. Who would have guessed that he is marshmallow-filled?

I loved this book for it's sweet, forthright, and humorous account of life. In particular, I enjoyed reading about his travails as a father. What a candid view of fatherhood! He does not spare himself or his wife in the telling of the miserable parts of child-rearing. Yes, you get that he loves his wife (though sometimes I wonder why) and kids, but he doesn't romanticize the every-day drudgery of life as husband and father. Would-be parents and/or engaged couples should be given this book so that they know what to expect. If they go ahead and take the plunge, at least they will forgive themselves the not-so-idealized moments that will inevitably occur.

I loved this book for it's unexpected sweetness, its humor, and it's candid view of one man's experience as father, husband, son, and friend. Four stars for being well-written and insightful.
Pale Fire - Vladimir Nabokov I was dreading reading this book (our Book Club selection for May, 2012) - it looked so complicated, so intimating. Is it possible that I'm not smart enough to "get" this book? The entry in Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pale_Fire) certainly added to my anxiety. I kept picking it up, reading a bit, thinking about my grocery list, and putting it down within a page or two.

Skipping Book Club was not an option. I had to conquer my anxiety and begin to read this 999-line poem in four cantos. A week from the Book Club meeting I buckled down and grabbed all the tools at hand. First, I downloaded an audible file. Next, I gathered some articles from the internet. I took no chances and fully charged my Kindle Fire. Finally, I poured a strong cup of coffee.

What a surprise! Listening while reading did the trick. I was enjoying the book! It was a combination of wit, sarcasm, & outright tomfoolery - portions of the poem weren't too bad either. Once I got into the rhythm the convoluted stories started to make sense. I laughed out loud. I'm was glad I HAD to read it. If I hadn't, I might have missed out on a clever, funny book. For that I give it 4-stars.

Still, I am thinking that reading a book (even a classic) shouldn't be this hard. I get the feeling that there is so much more I missed; that there must be some hidden messages or meanings that I'm too dumb to understand. It would take more research & probably a re-reading to get more from Pale Fire. Sorry, I'm too exhausted. I have too many books in my to-read shelf.