Bookpile: October 2010

Larklight – I’m heavy on the kids books this month. Means of escape. And this one is pretty darned escapist. Imagine that Newton didn’t just figure out gravity, but also faster than light travel. What we end up with is a Victorian world in which England’s empire stretches not just across oceans, but across planets. It’s an interesting mix of proper manners and complete sexism and crazy etiquette with space travel and alien races and universal domination. And it works somehow. Thoroughly enjoyable, utterly ridiculous. And there’s a second book out too!

Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie – The title to this one just called to me. How can it not be a good book with a title like that? And … it was good. Very good actually. But we had a sick kid involved and I was reading it right at the time my mom died and it was sometimes hard to digest. But, the main character isn’t the sick kid and it was cool to be inside the head of a junior higher and see the world in their very simple, often self-absorbed way. And watch him evolve over the course of the school year due to a multitude of challenging circumstances. Worth a read and good for opening some interesting discussions with your teen.

Betrayed – On loan from a friend who might just want me to read more “clean” books. Ha! Written by a missionary kid, although the story isn’t really religious. Another of those “I believe in God but haven’t really kept up lately” kind of things. Can very much relate. But the crux of this story has to do more with the political situation in Guatemala and the mess the U.S.’s relationships have become down there. A girl is killed as a result of her snooping and her sister is out to figure out why. Enjoyable and not overly preachy about the politics or the religion.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret – This is one of those books I’ve been meaning to read for forever. It’s huge, but the majority of the book is pictures, not words. Think of it as a semi-graphic novel, almost. It’s the story of Hugo, who has been somewhat abandoned in the Paris train station, where he takes care of the clocks. He can fix almost anything and that knack with mechanical gadgets launches him on a most interesting of adventures. It takes a bit to stop and enjoy the art and the story it’s telling and not rush ahead to the next set of text. An interesting experiment in story-telling to say the least.

Stop Stealing Sheep – One of the type books Seth recommends, so it’s been on my list. But I found it unreadable for a couple of reasons. One is the same thing that makes Tom Peters’ book Imagine! so hard – way too much going on on every single page. You don’t know where to look, much less what to read, and it’s hard to take it all in. The second was that what little I did read didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know. Possibly a good book for a typographical novice but not one for me. Give me clean and skimmable. (Is that a sign of a lazy reader or a focused one?)

Guide to Machine Quilting – Yep, I read quilting books. Many of the ones out there are pattern books (and I “read” one of those as well this month), but this is kind of the bible of machine quilting. Excellent tips on everything from the kind of thread to needles to body positioning. I took notes because I’m at the stage where I want to improve what I’m doing and I’m almost ready to commit to the work that will take. Having to change a needle, gasp! Got it from the public library but considering adding it to my personal library.

SilverFin – It’s Bond, James Bond back when he was a kid. He’s just entering Eton and dealing with change from all sides. But the biggest change comes as he encounters his first life-or-death challenge while helping a friend investigate the disappearance of his cousin. This is the first book of the young Bond series and is very much about James’ transformation from a fairly ordinary kid into a first firing version of the steel he will become. Now, let me say, I don’t like the Bond books at all. Love the movies though. And enjoyed this book very much for what it was, an action adventure for young teens.

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