Archive for the ‘Library: Northborough Public Library’ Category

55. “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time,” Mark Haddon

August 20, 2009 Leave a comment

Very cool book. Written from the perspective of a fifteen-year-old boy with Asperger’s who is investigating the murder of his neighbor’s dog, this book does an excellent job of showing some of the thought processes and patterns common to people with Asperger’s. Near the end of the book, he describes one of his favorite dreams. In it, nearly everyone in the world dies of a virus. It’s not like a flu, but more like a computer virus. It is spread by looking at people’s faces when they are making an emotion and understanding what their faces are saying. You can catch it through the TV, so it spreads very quickly. Sometimes in his dream, people just don’t want to move at all when they get the virus, other times they jump into the sea. He likes the second version better, because then there are no bodies.

There are just a few people left over who are special like Christopher, but you hardly ever see them, because they are all quiet and shy. And so Christopher can go places without worrying about crowds or that people will touch him or try to ask him questions. And he breaks into people’s houses by smashing their windows with bricks (because they don’t care any more) and gets to be a detective. In his dream, he goes to sleep and then he wakes up happy.

It made me sad on two levels: that his perfect world is one without people, and that our world is so emphatically contrary to what is best and happiest for him. I was reading this during the distopian “Blindness” and they had me thinking about who gets to decide what the perfect world looks like– who decides what any world looks like.

A good book, often darkly funny, and a nice way of really understanding the way Asperger’s ticks.

Page count: 226
Page total: 22,864


51. “The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasure of the Obituary,” Marilyn Johnson

August 10, 2009 Leave a comment

This book made me want to a) collect obituaries b) become an obituarist. Its cover is terribly clever and excited the eighteenth century buff in me.

Page count: 223
Page total: 21,937

47. “Stiff,” Mary Roach

July 9, 2009 Leave a comment

An interesting and quick read. Roach’s books are almost hypertextual. I like her use of footnotes and her insatiable Googling. It’s a pretty quick read and worth a go.

By the way, one frightening fact that I learned from this book is that, until 1965, necrophilia was not a crime in any US state.

Page count: 294
Page total: 20,882

45. “Bonk,” Mary Roach

July 5, 2009 1 comment

I found the first couple chapters sort of dry and self-conscious, like Roach was uncomfortable. By the time she started getting involved in the experiments she documents, she was decidedly less so.

This was interesting, and I learned some cool stuff (see below), but I wish a few things:
-That she had better citations. There are a lot of facts flying around and I would like to be able to quote them without fear
-That, instead of the “quirky” pictures that start each chapter she had pictures illustrating some of the stuff she was talking about. Some of it was hard to follow. The picture of the rat wearing polyester trousers was priceless, though– possibly because it actually had to do with an experiment she addressed
-That this book were called “Boink,” not “Bonk.” “Boink” is the term I have always heard for “have sex with.” Is it a regional thing?

I’m going to be Twittering (I can barely bring myself to use Twitter, let alone the verb “tweet.” I have only just started saying “Google” for “run a search”) some of the weird things I learned for vaginapagina. You can check the Twitter here: Since you read my blog, you don’t have to go over there, and you get some bonus facts that I deemed too hetero-/PIV-/baby-making-/penis-oriented for the VP deluge.

My favorite anecdote is that a Michigan woman holds a patent on “Decorative Penile Wraps” to “heighten sexual arousal prior to intercourse.” Designs include a ghost, Grim Reaper, and snowman.

Pigs and humans are the only heterosexual couplings that include breast manipulation as part of sexual contact.

Fallopian tubes dialate on only the side that has produced an egg, directing semen toward the egg, rather than the opposite ovary.

Semen contains a mild spermicide, believed to be intended to guard against another man’s semen making it to the egg.

One research study supports the idea that the flare of the glans of a penis is intended to scrape out any one else’s semen that might be in a person’s vag.

The fire department of San Fran has a code to refer to incidences of a cock ring getting stuck (“C-Ring”). They also have a modified saw to cut them free and undergo training on proper technique.

The collegen fibers in a penis are as stiff, by weight, as steel! I have no idea what that means, but it sounds impressive.

Only one tenth of the clitoris is visible to the naked eye.

Both females and males have an average of 3-5 erections a night (yes, clitorises can get erect.)

It takes one to two pounds of force to push an average-sized penis, finger, or dildo into a lubricated vagina. This is about the same amount of force as it takes to open a screen door.

In a study of cis women in long-distance relationships, the amount of testosterone in their system jumped when they were having sex, compared to when they had no sexual contact. Testosterone is closely linked to sex drive in all sexes.

People with spinal cord injuries may form non-genital “hypersensitive areas,” which can be stimulated to trigger orgasm. These are usually located above the break in the spine.

Heterosexual women who cheat on their partners are most likely to do so when ovulating.

Page count: 306
Page total: 20,408

44. “Devil Bones,” Kathy Reichs

June 29, 2009 Leave a comment

Why, this isn’t like the TV show at all!

Page count: 304
Page total: 20,102

43. “Drinking Coffee Elsewhere,” ZZ Packer

June 25, 2009 Leave a comment

Lyrical, heart-breaking, touching, tough.

Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.

Would you just go buy it already?

Page count: 238
Page total: 19,798

41. “The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2003” 3, edited by Zadie Smith

June 20, 2009 Leave a comment

Zadie Smith edits this one. It showed me the difference an editor makes in anthologies like this. In her introduction, she talks about coming to the US for the first time and being surprised by the US brand of journalism. She reflects that, as a writer, she can always tell when writers are being literary and it makes her “want to scream”. Therefore, she really appreciates anything that is or purports to be true (xxvii-xxviii).

I can see this thread throughout the stories she selected. They all have a sort of journalistic feel to them. It’s hard to pin down, but most of them seem to be the writer narrating (lots of first person). She also selected a number of pieces by people of color and people writing about adolescents, both of which I like, because I think they are often underrepresented in anthologies. Even Dave Eggers’ intro to this edition says that they don’t know for whom they are compiling these books– they thought teenagers with the first one, but it turned out that that’s not really true.

Page count: 363
Page total: 19,225

(I’m listing this one out of order. I finished it on the eighth.)