30 October 2002

Reads & Listens, October 2002


Blessings by Anna Quindlen
Sweet with no surprises, but still worth an afternoon's time.

Dreamscaping: 25 Easy Designs for Home & Garden by Ruth Rogers Clausen
Gorgeous coffee table book for the weekend gardener. Garden designs offer no actual dimensions. I could figure by reckoning out how much space each plant needs and multiplying, but that's more work than I want to do for an "easy design."

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
I had to keep reminding myself that this was a YA novel and, therefore, required additional suspension of disbelief. Otherwise, I kept getting annoyed with it. It's a good book, but the author's treatment of certain plot points seemed too simplistic.

Sorcery Rising: Book One of Fool's Gold by Jude Fisher
This reads like the third draft of what could be a very good book. That said, it's still worth borrowing your library's copy.

Foreigner: A Novel of First Contact by C.J. Cherryh
Cherryh's Downbelow Station was my first real introduction to scifi and I prefer her style to that of other (mostly male) scifi authors. Therefore, as anything I write about her works will be heavily biased, I'll try to say as little as possible. Foreigner is a nice blend of science fiction and spy thriller. It could be summarized as "it is both wrong-headed and dangerous to assign your own thoughts or emotions to others," but that would be too simplistic.

Biting the Dust: The Joys of Housework by Margaret Horsfield
A book on the social history of cleaning doesn't sound like it should be amusing, does it? But it is, and highly informative to boot. I now have great respect for Florence Nightengale and her ilk -- women who I had previously dismissed as products of Victorian propaganda and the myth of the Good Woman.

Biblioholism: The Literary Addiction by Tom Raabe
Very clever and humorous look at biblioholism (also bibliomania and bibliophilia). Truly funny in places, but also a little maddening as this it not in anyway a serious look at the love of books. Annoyingly, the author seems to equate biblioholism with ownership and never mentions libraries at all. Which means, of course, that I'm not an addict. Whew.

Little Red Riding Hood Uncloaked: Sex, Morality, and the Evolution of a Fairy Tale by Catherine Orenstein
This is an excellent book for those who want to know the real dirt behind the cutesy Disney-fied fairy tales we grew up with. The Brian Lehrer Show interviewed Orenstein on 23 August 2002. Listen to "My, Grandma, What Big Metaphors You Have!" here.

Playing the Jack by Mary Brown
Well-crafted historical romance with gobs of humor, unrequited love, and high adventure.