Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Church rummage sale

A couple of interesting items for $1.50 total:
  • Fermat's enigma by Simon Singh
  • Walking the Bible: A Journey by Land Through the Five Books of Moses
    by Bruce S. Feiler

Hard to go wrong at $1.50. The collection at work doesn't have the Fermat book, so I'll just kick it in with various other recent donations. The Walking the Bible book seems like an interesting travel book which has gotten some good reviews. It's probably a good read for a long trip or something.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Cramer, Richard Ben, editor and Glenn Stout, series editor. The Best American Sports Writing 2004New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2004. 336pp.

This is an easy one to recommend for commuting or long trips. It's light and easy reading while still being very engaging and interesting. I've read a few other of the volumes in this series and have enjoyed them immensely. As an added bonus, you don't really have to be interested in sports per se to enjoy this book. Certainly, I'm not a basketball fan but there are several basketball stories in the book that I found very interesting. The key point in that they are good stories, not just sports stories. They do stretch the definition of sports a little further than I would: for example there is a story on the world taxidermy championship. Interesting, sure, but hard to define as a sport or even a game. Great stories on soccer player Mia Hamm, Tony Pena, Mickey Mantle's kids, competitive fishing and endurance swimming.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Book collections

These two (1, 2) posts from Bookslut are about universities that give book collection prizes to their undergraduate students. Who knew? This got me to thinking about some of my prize winning book colletions. These are sub-parts of my overall collection which I think are both big enough to be interesting and narrow enough to be useful.

  • History of Chess & Chess Art
  • Science Fiction criticism
  • The following individual authors (in no order):

    • Harlan Ellison
    • Norman Spinrad
    • Michael Bishop
    • Frederik Pohl
    • Robert E. Howard
    • H. P. Lovecraft
    • Fred Reinfeld & Irving Chernev

I have fairly interesting collections on some aspects of WWII, such as the Nuremberg Trials, but I've not collected in those areas really "on purpose", but more by accident so the selection is a bit haphazard.

Hand, Elizabeth. Black Light. London: Flamingo, 1999. 287 pp.

Dull dull dull. I quite enjoyed the last Hand book I read, Waking the Moon. It was creepy and engaging. This, set in same series involving the Benandati, has few of that novel's charms. To summarize, it's a kind of coming of age story where the main character, teen artiste Lit Moynlan, eventually comes to the realization that she's a goddess and everyone wants to take advantage of her powers. Or something. The setting is a broken down old theatre town where old actors go to become has-beens, including her parents. The story picks up a little in the last 100 or so pages, but by then I'd mostly lost interest.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Recently purchased

A round-up of the last few weeks of purchases:
  • The Bookman's Promise: A Cliff Janeway Novel by John Dunning
  • The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby
  • Best Food Writing 2004 edited by Holly Hughes

No fantastic literature this time around, but that's just the way it is sometimes. Booksman's Promise is the third installment of a mystery series set in the antiquarian book world. The first, Booked to Die, was great. Interesting as a mystery and as a window on the rare book world. The second, Bookman's Wake was a book that I really could never get into on the mystery level, so I never ended up finishing. After a fairly long break, the third came out in the last year or so and it was very well received. So, I'll give it a try in paperback. The fourth is our in HC: The Sign of the Book. Since Hornby's The Polysyllabic Spree is the inspiration for my recent "bought but not read yet" entries, I though I should actually read the darn thing. Basically, these are reprints of Hornby book review column from Believer magazine.

Finally, we come to an anthology of food writing. Hey, 'nuff said. Who doesn't like food.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Martin, George RR. The Hedge Knight. Devil's Due Publishing, 2003. n.p.

This graphic novel version of the story by Martin is adapted by Ben Avery with art by Mike S. Miller and Mike Crowell. The Hedge Knight takes place in the same universe as Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, but about 100 years before the action in those novels. In this world, hedge knights are the journeymen of the knight world, almost mercenaries, who pledge allegiance to various houses to make thier way through the world. The story begins with a squire, Dunk, burying his knight in the woods after he dies of an illness. Dunk, a nice guy but a bit dense, figures he can just become a knight now by taking over the dead guy's stuff. He decides to go to a jousting tournament nearby to make a name for himself and make some money to get properly outfitted. A rousing story ensues, as Dunk (now Ser Duncan the Tall, 'cause it sounds better) offends a deranged member of the royal family defending a woman's honour, has to assemble a team of knights to do battle with the prince and his party in a formal 7 man combat. There's certainly a lot of the darkness and brutality we've all come to expect from Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series, with perhaps a bit of a lighter touch. The art is competant, but not spectacular. It's a bit too cartoonish and superhero-y for my taste. Miller and Crowell could have done well to study the Conan work of the late, great John Buscema a little more closely to see how heroic fantasy needs to be done. Hey, guys, by coincidence, Dark Horse is reprinting it all!