Monday, April 25, 2011

April Book Buys!

This month, I've been very good with my money; and so, there's been no purchases in the book department.  However, I have been reading a fair bit.  'Legacy' by David Suzuki is one that has gotten me totally pulled in about how our environment has been damaged by us; and yet it would take longer for us to fix it than it has for us to kill it.
'Baudolino' by Umberto Eco is one very thick book I tried to get into; and failed.  I got around fifty pages in and found it was slow, it dragged and it wasn't very interesting at all.  However, when I looked at other reviews of it online, I found that I wasn't the only person who put it down, thankfully.  Also, it's my first unfinished book for 2011.
So, to replace it, I've picked up 'You Are Here' by Christopher Potter.  A very unique and funny guide to The Big Bang.  I'm not that far through it, and I love it.  Being a person who doesn't understand a thing about maths, I'm enjoying how it's all being explained to me.  I'm looking forward to more of what's in store in this book as I'm only around fifty or so pages into it; and still want more from it.
So, if you haven't bought any books this month, what have you got your nose into?  Until my next post, happy reading!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Baudolino by Umberto Eco

It is April 1204 and Constantinople is being sack and burned by the Knights of the Fourth Crusade.  Amid the carnage and confusion, one Baudolino saves a Byzantine historian and high court official from certain death and proceeds to tell his own fantastical story.

I have found a few of this author's books in my travels and just this year thought to sit down and read them.  This is the first one I thought to open up and read; and fortunately, I do love a challenge with my reading.  But I found this book so dreadfully boring that - even though I only got 50 pages in - I found myself dreading opening its pages each day.  It didn't hold my attention (and I'm one to read classic novels) and I'm not sure if I'll be reading anymore of his books soon.

Umberto Eco was born in the city of Alessandria in the Italian region of Piedmont,  right in the middle of the Genova, Milan, Turin triangle.  Before he was drafted to fight in 3 wars, his father, Giulio Eco, was an accountant.  Young Umberto and his mother, Giovanna, moved to a small village in the Piedmontese mountainside during the Second World War.
Eco received a Salesian education, and he has made references to the order and its founder in his works and interviews.
His family name is supposedly an acronym of ex caelis oblatus (Latin: a gift from the heavens), which was given to his grandfather (a foundling) by a city official.
His father came from a family of thirteen children, and was very keen fo Umberto to read Law, but instead he entered the University of Turin in order to take up medieval philosophy and literature. Umberto's thesis was on the topic of Thomas Aquinas and this earned him a BA in philosophy in 1954. In that period, Eco abandoned the Roman Catholic Church after a crisis of faith.
Following this, Eco worked as a cultural editor for RAI, Radiotelevisione Italiana, the state broadcasting station, he also became a lecturer at the University of Turin (1956–64).
A group of avant-garde artists—painters, musicians, writers—whom he had befriended at RAI (Gruppo 63) became an important and influential component in Eco's future writing career. This was especially true after the publication of his first book in 1956, Il problema estetico di San Tommaso, which was an extension of his doctoral thesis. This also marked the beginning of his lecturing career at his alma mater.
In September 1962, he married Renate Ramge, a German art teacher with whom he has a son and a daughter. He divides his time between an apartment in Milan and a vacation house near Rimini. He has a 30,000 volume library in the former and a 20,000 volume library in the latter.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Autumn Reading

It's Autumn in Brisbane and it's great time to sit outside in the afternoon - or morning - sunshine and get into some serious reading!  And I've gotten my nose into some really great books lately... all of them big and thick too!
I began 'Baudolino' by Umberto Eco.  This was one I already owned in paperback, but I searched for a hardcover; as I love being able to rest something like that on my lap and just lean on it and read as the sun warms me.  And I love the book; even though it's been losing me in some parts, it's beautifully written and has some gorgeous language in it.
Then, I picked up 'Passage to India' by E.M Forrester.  This one is also in hard cover; but it's also illustrated and has a separate piece of paper about the author and his biography in the back.  It was a book I picked up at Redland Bay one day while I was there with my Mum at a second-hand store.  The first chapter talks about how India looked in the 1930's and after that, it gets into the story; how beautiful, don't you think?
The next book I'm plowing through (well, I was up until around 1am last night reading through the prologue and the first few pages of Part One) is 'The Troy Game' by Sara Douglas.  It's a part one of two ... and boy!  Is it thick!  But it's got all the Greek Gods in it you can think of; and even Atlantis stars in it too briefly before it takes a dive under the waves of the ocean in the prologue.  But once I struggled through that, I was pretty much good. 
Before that book, though, I read a small book of short stories on animals and what they do for us.  At first I thought it was just about dogs and cats - as it has a dog on the cover - but it has all kinds of animals in it; right down to a pig!  So, this was a very good collection of stories about how any kind of animal can be a loving pet to people from all walks of life. 
So, what are you all reading this Autumn - or Spring in whichever part of the world you're from.  It's a great time of the year to be reading something great!  It's not too hot and not too cool to be outside and enjoying the weather right now.  

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Dog Who Healed A Family edited by Jo Coudert

For anyone who's owned a pet - or has thought about getting one - these are a collection of stories that will touch your heart.  There's the story of Bubba the Javelina that was found on the roadside and brought up as a family pet; until a new next door neighbour thought it was a Wild Boar and called the authorities and had it caught and released into the wild (and the poor thing without a clue on how to look after itself on the outside).  Then, there's Casey, the African Gray Parrot of Pat Myers who was firstly bought as a companion due to Pat becoming ill; then it turned out that - as time went on - she and the bird had a great report with each other.  This was until Pat went on holidays overseas for a while and on her return, Casey wouldn't talk to her; or would he?  

These stories are wonderful and heartfelt.  I can relate to a few bird ones - as I own a budgie - and so I think that anyone who owns an animal of any type would love to read these stories.  There's a few tear-jerkers; so keep the tissues nearby just in case.  Otherwise, this book is worthwhile reading when you have the time on a lazy weekend.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Logan Central Library! What a Place!

Today was my first visit to the Logan Central Library; and what a place it is!  One the first entry, you see a huge column of books surrounding the lift!  It's a work of art don't you think?

Then, inside, there's columns of books surrounding the front counter which is also made up of books too... just have a look at the photos I've taken of it all!

I just love what they do with books in new libraries.  It's so cool!  I've seen this in bookstores and libraries overseas, but I never thought this would be done here; so very cool!

Annette Syms Comes To Logan Central Library

Today, I was taken out to the new Logan Central Library to see an author talk about their life and times and how they came to writing their books.  Annette Syms was the great woman who showed up and talked to almost a hundred people about her battle with her weight.  She had tried all the diets there was; and hated herself for a very long time.  Annette told us that rock bottom was when she went swimming one day with her family and one of her friends took a candid photo of her - telling her to smile and she grimaced.  A few days later, her friend sent her photos and she saw what she looked like and cried over that one photo; and a plan was made; that plan was to get off her yo-yo dieting and start eating the food she has kept herself away from all this time.  However, she had to eat it in a way that it made her lose weight.  So, she looked at what was in her favourite food and began working out how to make it easily, with less fattening ingredients and quickly too.  She didn't want to be slaving over a hot stove in a kitchen for hours on end.  And before long, she had lost 35kg in 19 months.  So, she kept going and lost all the weight; and has kept it off for 19 years now... and she looks fantastic!
Annette with 'Old Annette' talking to a packed room at Logan Central Library
Annette demonstrating one of her meals from Book 6: a Chicken Tika.
I bought the first three books when they hit the stands on the first printing hoping I could figure out how to have a healthy lifestyle before my bad choices in eating caught up with me (yeah, in the past I didn't always make a good choice with food).  And when I found I could eat good food that still had the taste in it, I figured I could do it to a lot of my recipes I knew.   The best thing was that she met with her fans and signed everyone's books.  When she saw I had the first printings, she loved it; as they were the ones that made her famous.  She signed all three of them and we chatted for a moment; which she did with all her fans.   
Annette autographed all three of my recipe books; Mum borrowed one of them.
So, if you've got time, visit her site and find out how good her books are.  She had so much information to give us and she wanted to talk about self-publishing, but only had two hours to spare and couldn't.  She also cooked up a Chicken Tika dish; which I was told was delicious.  

Friday, April 1, 2011

Blockade Billy by Stephen King

It's baseball season and the search is on for a catcher that can't let down the team.  However, this isn't your ordinary story.  This is an interview of Blockade Billy; a baseball player whose record has been scratched from history.  He was young, perfectly built, had the best catching average; and could pull down a player faster than anyone they'd seen... but...these players were getting hurt somehow, and nobody knew how.  They couldn't suspect Billy; could they?  He was from a farm out west, had the innocent blonde hair and blue eyes of a country boy... and the strength and stamina of the very player they were looking for.  Yet, the coach felt there was something wrong; something he just couldn't put his finger on... not until it was too late.
This is a book I found at the Angus & Robertson 75% off Closing Down Sale; well, okay, Mum found it and showed me.  It's a brand new book from Stephen King; and it's some of his best novella writing I've come across in a long time!  I've never watched a baseball game, but this first story (of two) had me hanging on every word until the very bloody end.  The next story, 'Morality' is just as dreadful; and it's about the human conscience and guilt and how far you'd go for money.  What is moral and what isn't.  Both these stories are most definitely something every Stephen King reader must get their noses into.