Monday, May 24, 2010

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? #2

For the second of two times, I'm really late getting this posted. It's been one of those days that epitomize the saying that when man plans the gods laugh. In fact the whole week was like that.

If you are here just for the What Are You Reading meme and don't want the play by play of my day, scroll down to the second set of:

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Today was the day we returned home from the camper in my BILs yard. Exactly one week and two hours from the time I left. Ed and I took a leap of faith even though the contractor remodeling the bathroom here was still working though confident he'd have the water back on by 4. We piled into the car--Ed, Merlin and me--at 2:30, arriving home at 3. I spent the next two hours putting our room back in order. And that was before I asked Ed to bring in the bags.

So the away trip across the valley that was expected to be 2.5 days turned into 7. And the water did not come on at 4. Or 5. Or 6.... Not until after 9pm!! Well they did try several times earlier but there was gravel in the trailer park pipes that kept getting into the house plumbing and clogging it, Then the toilet they'd ordered didn't quite fit so they had to return to Home Depot and exchange it. I say 'they' because after 5 my BIL and his son joined the contractor after they got off work. They had worked on jobs with him before.

So they all quit work just after ten. The water was on. We have a flushing toilet And cold running water in the kitchen and bathroom. But they couldn't get the new gas waterheater lit so my MIL is going to call the gas company tomorrow morning. The contractor still has a bit of detailing to do. Painting and putting the handles on the cabinets and cleaning up his mess inside and out in the yard. He won't be back until Wednesday though as he has to work a twelve hour day elsewhere tomorrow. I don't suppose the washer and dryer will be hooked back up before then either. They are still sitting out in the yard with tarps over them.

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OK. My reading plans for this past week as stated in last Monday's post mostly went the way of the rest of my plans for the week when the return home kept getting pushed ahead. Most of the books I mentioned I didn't have with me. But even the novel I was planning to read next (The Girl with the Glass Feet) got set aside for a different one when I picked up the novel Ed had just finished and left sitting on our shared 'desk' in the camper. I picked it up idly just to see if I was interested enough to make a bib slip for it so I could send for it again because I knew it was due this week and not going to renew as someone had requested it. Next thing I knew I was 40 pages into Boneshaker by Cherie Priest. And I can vouch for the blurb from Scott Westerfield on the front cover: "A steampunk-zombie-airship adventure of rollicking pace and sweeping proportions, full of wonderfully gnarly details. This book is made of irresistible."

It is set in Seattle Washington in the late 1800s on an alternate history timeline in which the Civil War has been going on for over twenty years. The old city of Seattle has been sealed up inside a 200 foot wall because a mysterious gas was released from underground by a mining machine called the boneshaker over sixteen years earlier. This gas kills but the dead walk the land in packs like dogs..the zombie part. In this alternate history helium airships have become the primary means of transport for travel and shipping between the east and west coasts for the north as the railroads are controlled by the Confederate States.

If it was just about the steam age technology and the zombies I wouldn't have been hooked. What hooked me was the story of the relationship of the mother and son--Briar and Zeke. They live on the Outskirts of the old city as outcasts because Briar was the wife of the inventor of the boneshaker and the daughter of the lawman who broke the law when he facilitated the escape of those in the jails during the evacuation of the city.

Zeke is fifteen and never knew his father or grandfather but he has reason to believe that both were unfairly maligned and he wants to prove it but the proof lies inside the walls of the city. So he goes in through the old sewers that empty into the sound. Briar goes after him by hopping a ride on an airship.

Enough said. I'm 130 pages in now and need to finish by Thursday.

So. Besides starting Boneshaker this week, I did finish Payback by Margaret Atwood but only by keeping it until this morning a week past due and so did not get to do a review for it.

And because I had six movies and documentaries plus the 3rd season of Dr Who coming due in this past week, I spent more time watching DVD than reading. So my hopes for the coming week contain all those from last week:

Big fat paycheck -- targeted to finish.

The value of nothing : how to reshape market society and redefine democracy / Raj Patel

Fast food nation : the dark side of the all-American meal / Eric Schlosser Ed and I watched the movie based on this a couple months ago and right after that I sent for the book.

Prophet's daughter : my life with Elizabeth Clare Prophet inside the Church Universal and Triumphant / Erin Prophet. This is part of my research on cults and out of mainstream religions for my FOS storyworld.

Thinking in Pictures: My Life with Autism by Temple Grandin. -- also targeted to finish as it is short and has a queue.

Food, inc. : Mendel to Monsanto--the promises and perils of the biotech harvest / Peter Pringle. Sent for after the academy awards after seeing the trailer for documentary based on it during the presentation of the nominees. We are also in queue for the DVD.

Plus two more due on June 3rd as are most of the above:

Three Cups of Tea : One Man's Mission to Promote Peace -- One School At a Time / Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.
Publisher, Date: New York : Penguin Books, 2007, c2006.
Description: 349 p., [16] p. of plates : ill., maps ; 22 cm.

[This isn't the first time having Three Cups checked out but I may have to start it over as it has been over six months since I had it.]

The family : the secret fundamentalism at the heart of American power / Jeff Sharlet.
Edition: 1st Harper Perennial ed.
Publisher, Date: New York, NY : Harper Perennial, 2009, c2008.
Description: vi, 454 p. ; 21 cm.
Summary: "They insist they are just a group of friends, yet they funnel milions of dollars through tax-free corporations. They claim to disdain politics, but congressmen of both parties describe them as the most influential religious organization in Washington. They say they are not Christians, but simply beilievers. Behind the scenes at every National Prayer Breakfast since 1953 has been the Family, an elite network dedicated to a religion of power for the powerful. Their goal is 'Jesus plus nothing.' Their method is backroom diplomacy." -- Cover, p.4.
Subject: Fundamentalism -- Political aspects -- United States.
Christianity and politics -- United States.
Religious right -- United States.
Christian conservatism -- United States.
Church and state -- United States.
Christianity and international affairs.

[This is the only of the NF besides Thinking in Pictures and Big Fat Paycheck which I'm targeting to finish by June 3rd as I had it checked out of the Longview library in January during my six week stay with my Mom and was over two thirds finished when I had to leave town. It took me this long to get my turn with one of the two copies in our system here.]

As for the rest of the NF in that list all but Three Cups of Tea happen to be first time check-outs so I will be doing what I call a thorough pre-read of each of them a la Adler's How to Read a Book with a spin or two of my own. This involves reading the table of context, glancing through the index if it exists, reading any intros and or prologues; developing a sense of the author's premise and purpose; ascertaining what I hope to get out of it and only then starting at the beginning of the first chapter and advancing my bookmark.

With NF I tend to read like I'm preparing a term paper. I also tend to take it slow, setting the book aside after a chapter or two (approximately 20-50 pages) moving onto a different NF or reading fiction for a day or three before returning to advance my bookmark again. Unless it is under 200 pages or I have urgent need of the info, I seldom finish a NF the first time I have it checked out (or if I own it within the first six months) because I have discovered that the longer I live with a book the more I retain from it and the longer it sticks.

And to tell you the truth, I'd rather write a term paper than a book review. I fell in love with the process in sixth grade. Well, at least the research--the collecting of resources and taking notes. Not so much the development of an original thesis and then defending it. But once I had that part figured out, I loved the writing of it.

As for fiction this coming week, after Boneshaker, I need to pick up Loorie Moore's A Gate at the Stairs because it has a queue while the other two novels due the same day do not. Thus The Girl with Glass Feet by Ali Shaw and Dark places by Gillian Flynn may have to wait until I can send for them again.

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