Archive for the ‘On reading’ Category

2009-2010 summary

November 2, 2010 Leave a comment

My year in books ends today.

You can view my year-end summary and thoughts here.

Categories: On reading


November 8, 2009 Leave a comment

My year in books ended last week.

In the past year, I read sixty-four books.

That’s 1.2 books a week or one about every five and a half days. I only read one book in October.

I read 24,830 pages for an average book length of 388 pages. I read 13 books between 250-299, 11 between 300-350, and 9 between 200-249. I also busted out seven books of more than five hundred pages.

About half the books I read were books I own, about half were from libraries. I didn’t read most of the books on my to-read list. I didn’t expect to, but I liked digital books, including audiobooks.

My books most often fell under gender and women’s studies, teaching or history. I fell in love with those cultural history of a [noun] books. I can really recommend eleven of the books I read.

I read fifty-four books by white authors and fourteen by authors of color.

Next year, I want to read more books by authors of color, include more of my own summaries of the books I’ve read, and include a few quotations from those books.

54. “Blindness,” José Saramago

August 20, 2009 Leave a comment

Really interesting, but very problematic– frequently sexist and blindness exists only as a metaphor for the worst side of human nature. People who experience this white blindness quickly become animals, shitting their beds, hording food, lashing out violently. In fact, the author has them referring to one another as animals: when one character asks the other his name, he responds “what use would names be to us, no dog recognizes another dog” by name (52). So throughout the story, people are referred to by a descriptor. Predictably, the married women are referred to as [whoever’s] wife, and not as autonomous beings. Even the doctor’s wife, whom I will refer to as the woman who could see, is nothing more than her husband’s job.

Liat Ben-Moshe breaks down the problematic theme of blindness in “Disability Studies Quarterly.” I also came across a blog that asks What Sorts of People Should There Be? that comments on a few of the advertising techniques employed by the movie promoters.

Stylistically, Saramago does not use punctuation marks to set off dialog, nor does he use carriage returns. Paragraphs are often quite long. This makes the book difficult to put down, because there are very few natural pauses. I don’t mean difficult in a bad way, nor in an entirely positive way. It took some getting used to each time I returned to it, but once I figured it out, it kept me reading. It also augments the confusion of not yet having learnt how to navigate blind in a seeing world, as the speech sees to overlap and sometimes it is hard to sort out who is saying what.

I did find the book engrossing– while reading I experienced the odd blurring between life and reading and kept forgetting that neither my friend nor I were blind. In my defense, for a lot of the time that I was reading, he was sleeping half-sitting up in the same room, there but not seeing. Also in my defense, I am ridiculous and apparently don’t understand the difference between having your eyes shut and being physically unable to see.

Page count: 352
Page total: 22,864

A lifelong mystery put in context

August 18, 2009 Leave a comment

Sometimes I don’t really understand why I have always felt like an outcast in my family, where everyone loves me very much and, when it comes to it, will do whatever they can to help me out.

And then I find books like “The ACLU Versus America” on my dad’s bookshelf.

And then I sigh and get it.

Thanks, books!

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“And another thing…”

March 7, 2009 Leave a comment

Re-reading “Slaughter-House Five” right now. This quote has been cracking me up for the past few days:

I had the Bell Telephone Company find [my old war buddy] for me.They are wonderful that way. I have this disease late at night sometimes, involving alcohol and the telephone. I get drunk, and I drive my wife away with breath like mustard gas and roses. And then, speaking gravely and elegantly into the telephone, I ask the telephone operators to connect me with this friend or that one, from whom I have not heard in years. (4)

I just love the idea of Kurt Vonnegut drunk dialing people from World War II.

Reading detective

January 9, 2009 Leave a comment

One of the things that I like best about obsessively reading a given author is seeing the patterns in her or his work. For example, John Irving clearly knew someone who SPOKE IN CAPITALS; someone with a red car; knew a formidable, large, angry girl who grew into a terrifying, disinterested, and beaten woman. He is interested in amputation and disfigurement, strong women, medicine, and New England. I feel like a little detective finding the OWEN MEANYs and Pooh Percys.

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