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The Golden Slipper and Other Problems for Violet Strange
Anna Katharine Green
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
Anne Lamott
Skippy Dies
Paul Murray
Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History
Florence Williams
A Short History of Nearly Everything
Bill Bryson
The Blind Assassin
Margaret Atwood
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Stephen Chbosky
How To Teach English
Jeremy Harmer
Last Chance to See - Douglas Adams, Mark Carwardine http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9T1vfsHYiKY
At Home - Bill Bryson Was at the airport bookshop with my sister, looking for something to bring along to our Sri Lanka + Maldives trip. I recommended this to her (feeling slightly guilty because I myself hadn't finished reading the science/history version of this), but she flipped through it and pronounced it boring, so I ended up buying it for myself.

Started reading in Colombo during the 3 hour wait for the other member of our traveling party. Pleased to find it was, as advertised, a page turner, except for the parts about architecture (yawn). Otherwise, I was constantly reading out snippets to the great annoyance of my sister ("Oooh, cool. Did you know that...?") until she told me she was reading her own book thank you very much, and that she was politely going to ignore me whenever I did that. Well! Consider yourself deprived of all the fascinating info you *could* have learned.

Bryson had my attention at Roman phallic knickknack, and was able to sustain it throughout the book, such that while my companions were out snorkeling in the clear turquoise waters of the paradise that is Fihalhohi Island, I stretched out on a beach chair and immersed myself in this book instead (okay so I took a quick swim later on). Dipped into the book now and then for the rest of the trip, and finished reading on the plane back home. I now know more about London's sewers than I would ever need to know. (Coincidentally, I bought this along with Terry Pratchett's Dodger", so when Bazalgette made a cameo I was all "!!")

Bryson presents the plans of the old rectory he now lives in, then goes through the rooms one by one as a neat way to structure the narrative (like "House of Memory"). Even so, I kept on forgetting who Reverend (I have to look it up) Marsham was, and had to take a few seconds to remember who he was whenever Bryson started referring to him again. Still, good way of organizing what could have otherwise been a messy variety of topics.

Now off to tackle A Short History of Nearly Everything.
Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life - Bryan Lee O'Malley This is more of a comment for the movie than the book, but: wow, it was really faithful. Dialogue, set. Even the cut scenes. Great casting.
Secrets of a Summer Night - Lisa Kleypas I enjoyed this book more for the friendship that formed amongst the four girls, than the romance developing between the main characters.

Some of the descriptions are a little distracting. (Her hands like butterflies suspended mid-flight, his chest hair like fleece/coarse velvet, a whimsical smile... C'mon. SRSLY?) But I just skimmed over or ignored those bits. I also skipped over most of the descriptions of kissy and sexy time. Which just shows that, take all the bits that make this a romance novel (the love story and soft pr0n), and you still have yourself a memorable cast of characters. Good job.

Off to read the rest of the books in the series.
The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists - Gideon Defoe Short and silly. An enjoyable read.
You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You're Deluding Yourself - David McRaney Solid collection of cognitive (et al) psych cases. I'd give this four stars if only the tone weren't so dreary. I understand this used to be a blog, and it would work in that medium. Good slant actually, the pessimism. In book form though, being put down at the end of every chapter made this feel depressing.

Am I committing an attribution error (or proving myself stupid by one of the many examples here) by basing my rating on an emotional response, rather than how comprehensive it is? Probably. Am I entitled to my own rating system here on GoodReads? Yep. So there you have it.

God. It's like being around Sheldon Cooper. He can be brilliant, and right, and have valid points, but he's not exactly being very likable about it.
The Hundred and One Dalmatians - Dodie Smith Fun read, even though it occasionally smacks of sexism.
Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen Quick read. Finished in a day. I liked the juxtaposition of narratives (Old Jacob and Young Jacob). How convenient though, for the bad guy to be eliminated and the lovers to be united in one stroke (deus ex pachyderm). How convenient, for the hard-hearted ring leader to be disposed of as well. How convenient, to have a neat label for the odd behavior of August. How convenient, that he took up veterinary science in college, and just so happened to stow away on a passing train of a circus that needed a vet!

Still, in a world full of gritty and depressing novels, let them have a happy ending. Enjoy it, and don't think about it too much, because then the veneer peels away and you realize there are many things about this that are absurd.

Escapist. No wonder this is a popular book club choice.
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert - John M. Gottman, Nan Silver Admittedly, I flipped through most of this, because we're still doing okay. It just seems like common sense to me (catch up with what's going on with each other, be affectionate, don't be critical, learn to compromise), but I think of the toxic relationships I know, and I can see how what I think of as "silly exercises" can really help. Especially the last few chapters of the book, which give examples of frequent points of contention between couples, and show the difference between problems that are solvable, and those that are permanent, and focus on the former, to save yourself a lot of grief.

I am making a mental note though to express more of an interest in my SO's life. So that's my homework.
Color: A Natural History of the Palette - Victoria Finlay Some passages are infectious with her fascination for the colors (pigments) and the histories. However, there was a lot of fanciful "What if"-ing, when the facts were not available. Also, the huge chunks of history could have been broken down into something easier to digest. The section on lapiz lazuli in Afghanistan was such a terribly dry read.


Almost half a year later, finally finished reading this. Often found myself glossing over paragraphs, and had to take breaks to get my concentration back. Now and then my efforts would be rewarded with a dinner conversation-worthy fact. "Did you know that some sacred Jewish vestments are dyed with a pigment from un-kosher sources?" "Did you know that Victorian wallpaper had arsenic?" It's like sifting through so much river silt, to find the occasional shiny nugget. A little patience is required.

All in all, it certainly makes one pause before being able to answer the question, "So what's your favorite color?" I think out of all the histories presented here, my favorite would be the Red chapter, then section on gamboge, but probably because of its exposure on Radiolab.
Show Me How: 500 Things You Should Know - Instructions for Life from the Everyday to the Exotic - 'Lauren Smith',  'Derek Fagerstrom' Great graphics but there is not enough detail included for it to be genuinely instructive. More for fun and eye candy. Good to have around though as an interesting coffee table book or to show kids to inspire them to learn a few useful skills, but would tell them to look up a how-to video online for further reference.
Her Royal Spyness - Rhys Bowen This was my introduction to "cozy mysteries", and I quite enjoyed it. Even if I had only "The King's Speech" (imagining Twistwam's pronunciation as that of Colin Firth) and "The Unicorn and the Wasp" (Doctor Who episode) on which to base my mental pictures of the era. You know, where a lot of things are "super" and "spiffing", and young ladies are fondly called "old girl".

The cover of the book shows a blonde woman though, when the heroine is described as red-haired. Tsk, tsk.
Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Carnival Crime - Donald J. Sobol I loved these books as a kid. Now that I think about it though, this isn't so much about a clever Sherlockian piecing together of clues, as it is about being able to spot inconsistencies in stories. Save for the one about the Spanish map and the museum janitor, Encyclopedia Brown solved cases because the perpetrator was a terrible liar, and usually talked too much. People who lie with too much detail eventually let something slip, or use an inaccurate detail, and that gives them away.

So remember kids: If you have to make up a story, stick to the facts, and lie by omission.
The Secret Garden - Tasha Tudor, Frances Hodgson Burnett The illustrations in this 100th anniversary edition are lovely.

I don't know why I didn't read this as a child. It's a feel-good book, and I liked it, even if they was a slight hint of moralizing in the end.
The Complete Persepolis - Marjane Satrapi Very well done.
The Ghost in Love - Jonathan Carroll Needs a huge and sturdy pair of suspenders for your disbelief. At first it was like "Okay, interesting, let's see where this goes..." Then it became "What. What is happening I don't even know anymore gsdfljkvhleuvlwgvlg." Then you just give up trying to make sense of things and watch what happens next. This doesn't have a tidy ending, if you're the type who like that.

I loved the parts that read like his blog posts. Specific but universal human feelings/thoughts that give you pause. But the end of this story was just so messy. The role of Stanley isn't clear. I like the Danielle sub-story, and the idea of escaping into the happiest moment of your past.

Reminds me of Matt Ruff's Set This House In Order combined with Pratchett and Gaiman's Good Omens.