Archive for the 'Books' Category

Dewey G Biv

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

I’ve been toying with the idea of organizing my books by color. Actually, that’s not quite accurate. We’ve organized our books by section (fiction, non-fiction, poetry, etc.) but within each section I’ve been playing with color.

First off, it’s pretty. I’ve long held that my favorite color is “all of them.”

Second, I think there’s actually some function here. I’m terrible at remembering authors, but I darn sure remember the dusty yellow cover of Watership Down and the lovely teal of In the Time of the Butterflies.

Interestingly, this organization would work terribly in an actual library where book colors are completely unreliable. It only works with personal collections of books that you’ve held and read and spent time with.

Of course, if this organization doesn’t work out, we can always organize the books “autobiographically.”

Name That Tune

Friday, October 5th, 2012

I’m halfway through the third book in the Song of Ice and Fire (better known as Game of Thrones) saga. It’s not the first epic series I’ve gotten sucked into, and I’m sure it won’t be the last, but it’s helped me hone in on something I can’t stand in literature — a feature that many of my favorite books seem to share: songs in novels.

A Storm of Swords is silly with songs, and every time I get to one it’s the same problem. How do I read this? Do I make up a tune? Do I read it like poetry? Do I just skip the stupid thing, because, really, who cares? Drives me crazy! I dabble in songwriting, but I can’t just come up with a melody on the fly.

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Ahoy, Pagey

Monday, August 25th, 2008

My friend Eddie is responsible for drawing me into several ridiculously long book-seriesesses from Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, to Stephen King’s Dark Tower, and lately, Patrick O’Brien’s Aubrey-Maturin books.  I’ve been reading the 20-book series non-stop for the last year or so and it’s become an obsession.  The series follows two officers in the 19th century British Navy, and even though there aren’t many pirates in them I’ve taken to calling them “the pirate books.”

Every time I start a new one, I say to myself, “Okay, after this, I’m going to take a break and read something else,” but then the book ends with a ridiculous cliffhanger and I need to go get the next one.  I’m an addict.  I only have a couple of books left and then I don’t know what I’m going to do… freak out, I suppose.  Stupid pirate books.

Merkle’s Curse – Now Available

Friday, May 30th, 2008

Last year at this time I was not very excited about the Cubs. They found ways to lose games I never even knew existed. And even though they made the playoffs, I never found them very likable.

Today the Cubs came back from a 1-9 deficit to win 10-9. Who are these guys? It’s as if there’s some higher power at work here. How else do you explain Ronny Cedeno batting .300 or Ryan Dempster’s 2.56 ERA?

Is it the new field? The unseasonably cold weather? Bob Brenly’s mustache?

Well, my dad wrote a book called Merkle’s Curse with another possible explanation involving Dracula, the sale of Manhattan, the invention of the paper clip and, I don’t know, gypsies. There are gypsies too. He’s busy making the rounds at local bookstores, sports shows and rotary clubs explaining his complex (and fictional) theories on a curse that dates back to the Holy Roman Empire.

The book’s available on his website and at a few Chicago book stores including The Book Cellar in Lincoln Square.

100 Years of Crappitude

Thursday, April 3rd, 2008

I’m listening to the Cubs’ second game on the radio right now. A balk was just called on Ted Lilly. I can’t see what happened, but the crowd is booing ferociously and in the background I hear someone yelling “Shennanigans! Shennanigans!”

So begins the Cubs’ 100th attempt at a world championship.

I mentioned before that my brothers, my dad, and I were all at the Bartman game — talk about shennanigans — but I haven’t mentioned that it inspired my dad to write a book.  Well, he did, and it’s coming out in a couple weeks.  Merkle’s Curse explains the real reason the Cubs haven’t won a championship in 100 years.  It has nothing to do with goats.  It does have something to do with Emperor Constantine, Dracula, Babe Ruth, and Simon Bar Kochba.  It’s a weird book.

More to come when the book is released.  In the meantime, Go Cubs!

What You Want, Baby I Got

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

And while we’re on the subject, The New York Times sucks. As many of you probably know, they published a review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows a couple days early, much to J.K. Rowling’s dismay. The Times offers two defenses of their actions: 1. They didn’t ruin the story and 2. They obtained the book legally*. Both of these excuses can be disputed, and both miss the point. Journalists are welcome to offer glorious praise or scathing criticism, but they should always respect the artist. In this case, the artists very simple wishes were arrogantly trod upon and dismissed.

A DJ on Q101 got in a similar tiff with Jack White when she played The White Stripes’ new album on the air before it was released. Jack White called her personally and yelled at her. She was, apparently, shocked, and couldn’t imagine that she did anything wrong. I understand breaking the rules to get a scoop and make a buck or score some publicity. What blows my mind is that these folks are surprised when the artist is upset by it.

Anton Ego, the aptly named food critic in the movie Ratatouille offers this comment on criticism in his final review (which happens to follow one of the most brilliant scenes in the history of motion pictures): “In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.”

* I also question how legally they obtained the book. They say it was bought two days early at a chain store in Manhattan. It seems unlikely that this particular bookstore wasn’t bound by the same contract as every other bookstore in the country, and it seems just as unlikely that The New York Times didn’t know the book was being sold illegally.

Don’t Worry, I Won’t Give Away The Ending (But Bruce Willis is a Ghost!)

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

Divebar‘s show in Berwyn ended around 11:30… perfect timing to stop by the Harry Potter release party on the way back to the city. We eschewed the World Wizarding Watch festivities in Oak Park and headed to a familiar Borders, or as they had dubbed it, “Harry Potter Headquarters.” We also decided that it’s awkward to use the word “eschewed,” even when appropriate.

I’ve got to hand it to Borders. The long snaking lines moved quickly and efficiently. The staff seemed genuinely friendly and excited despite being asked the same questions over and over and over and over again by hundreds of geeked out nutjobs. They kept us entertained while we waited by playing games (Snape Bingo) and dolling out Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavor Beans. One security guard dressed as professor Quirrell stayed surprisingly in character the whole night, nervously shifting his eyes around the room.

In the past I’ve always pre-ordered the books online and had them delivered. Now I wish I hadn’t. I like being in crowds of happy, excited people. I ran into some old friends, made some new friends, and about an hour and a half later, walked out with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Just look how happy everyone is (at this point we’re nearly to the reigsters!):


I finished the book the next day. My review (until more people have read it): it’s good.