Alchemical Thoughts

Archive for April 2012

It’s time once again to put up another list of books I want to read and items about those books. This time we have things on letters and writing, advice for men, something in Spanish (yes, I can and do read in Spanish as well), and even a graphic novel. I’ve got to have some graphic novel now and then as it is a format/genre I greatly enjoy. So, here goes. As always, if anyone out there reads any of the books listed, feel free to drop me a comment, let me know what you liked or not about the book. Also, if you have suggestions for me of things to read, you are welcome to leave me a comment about them as well.

Items about books:

  • Once in a while curious items catch my eye. A part of me does miss the days of letter writing, and I do admire the folks who actually take some time and effort to make art with their letters. Via Viva Snail Mail! blog, here is a small mention of the book called Good Mail Day: a Primer for Making Eye-popping Postal Art. I don’t think I am quite capable of making some of the items the book depicts, but the book looks interesting nonetheless. I know if someone sent me a nice letter like that it would be a good mail day for me.
  • Another book related to writing, this one deals with diaries and journals around the theme of New York City. Via Notebook Stories, the book is New York Diaries, 1806 to 2009. According to the reviewer, the book, “for each day of the year, it gives an excerpt from the diary of a notable New York resident or visitor, including people such as Albert Camus, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Theodore Roosevelt, Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, Mark Twain, Joyce Carol Oates, and many others.” While, according the review, the book does not have pictures of the diaries, so on (a pity), it may still be interesting to take a look.
  • The fine fellows at The Art of Manliness announce that they have a new book out. Well, the book is new to me. The book they are announcing is The Art of Manliness Manvotionals: Timeless Wisdom and Advice on Living the 7 Manly Virtues. And apparently, this is their second book. For reference, here is the title of their first book: The Art of Manliness: Classic Skills and Manners for the Modern Man. Both books sound intriguing to me. The second one is an anthology-type book, which the fellows describe as “a collection of the best advice ever written down for men. From the philosophy of Aristotle to the success books of the late 19th and early 20th centuries to the speeches and essays of leaders like Theodore Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, the book contains the manly wisdom of the ages–a myriad of poems, quotes, and essays designed to inspire men to live life to the fullest and realize their complete potential as men.” Ok, that may be a bit lofty, but it still sounds good. I am all for getting a little more manly wisdom.
  • I am intrigued by Eduardo Galeano’s new book, Los hijos de los días (link to book publisher in Spanish. No WorldCat record as of this blog post). I read about it here at Papeles Perdidos (btw, I love this title, which translates loosely as lost papers. Article and content in Spanish) where the book is described as a kind of calendar book.
  • Rachel Maddow has a book out, Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power. Powells did an interview with Maddow, which can be read here. Likely Stories featured a book trailer with Maddow discussing the book. It is a bit more brief than the interview. Either way, the author does give good reasons to consider this book.
  • Via Contemporary Japanese Literature, a review of the novel Villain.
  • This novel set in Amsterdam, with some time in New York, during the Belle Époque caught my eye. I guess I am trying to expand my horizons a bit when it comes to reading. It was reviewed at Lambda Literary, and while the reviewer admits the book is not perfect, it has enough to make me consider it. The book in question is History of a Pleasure Seeker.
  • Lambda Literary also reviews a graphic novel. The mention of graphic novel right away catches my eye. The book is Zakkum: A Graphic Murder Mystery.
  • Via Guys Lit Wire, a review of a novel about vampire hunters. The novel is Department 19, described as “England’s most secret government organization–[that] was created to fight vampires, werewolves, and other monsters.” It’s a juvenile book that may be similar in appeal to the Alex Rider series, so we’ll see. I am not a big YA reader, but once in a while there will be a YA book that appeals to me.

Book lists and bibliographies:

  • A couple of books on cereals and bread. Via Food Politics blog. I already have the book on bread, which I will read soon I hope. The one on cereals I have to look up.
  • Via BookRiot, a “Book List: Community, Technology, and Loneliness.” This is a list of books that looks at why Americans seem to want to live on their own more.
  • Lambda Literary lists new LGBTQ books coming out in April 2012 here.

This small post was inspired by this thread over on FriendFeed, which refers to this article out of The Guardian on “My Top Five Books: Books That Make You Think.” I am sure that if I hear the question at a different time I might come up with five different titles. These are the five books I came up with when I saw the discussion. So, here is my small list with some small commentary:

  • Cien Años de Soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude).My four readers may know that is just my all-time favorite book. I do read in Spanish, and I make it a point to reread every few years or so. I usually just pick it up when it feels like it is time to go back to Macondo. This novel packs so much in it, and I always discover just a little something new or different with each new reading.
  • El Alquimista (The Alchemist). I have a small special place for Coehlo’s novel, likely his most well-known. This I read also in Spanish, which I feel is closer to the original than reading it in English. The first time I read this I was between jobs, and the novel did provide me with some comfort. I have revisit it soon. I also have a soft spot for Coehlo because he was one of my mother’s favorite writers. In fact, one of the last gifts I got before she passed was a copy of La Quinta Montaña (The Fifth Mountain), which I remember her later being happy to read and telling me she was enjoying the story of Elijah in the novel.
  • Time Enough for Love. I may have mentioned this before, but I have a love-hate relationship with Heinlein. Some of his books I like, and others I have despised (for instance Farnham’s Freehold). I’ve tended to like more of his short fiction. In Time Enough for Love, I like the expansive story and the picaresque wisdom and adventures of Lazarus Long. I particularly like the aphorism the books collects. It took me a long time to read for the first time, but I felt it was well worth it.
  • 1984. I had to teach Orwell’s novel when I was in high school to seniors. We are talking both fairly bright seniors (honors level) and some a bit more reluctant (to put it mildly). It made me think back then, and the book has stayed with me. Given all the things that are going on now, especially in the U.S., the book seems very relevant and even prophetic. This is a book that more people should be reading today because so many of its ideas are alive and well, or those ideas are coming to life.
  • I have a bit of a tie for the fifth book. One title is The Forever War by Joe Haldeman, which does make me think about the nature of war, especially the nature of wars that do not seem to end. This may well be another  book that people should be reading now, especially in the context of the never-ending American adventures in the Middle East and Asia.  The other title is Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles. There is social commentary here that will make folks think as well.

These are my five at the moment. What are your five books that make you think? Feel free to let me know in the comments, or if you write a response in your blog, feel free to leave the link in the comments. I am curious to see what others out there choose.


April 2012
« Mar   Jun »


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 382 other followers

%d bloggers like this: