Archive for June, 2009

24
Jun
09

Book Roundup

I’ve read a lot of books lately and I have not been particularly diligent about reporting on them. It’s a shame. But better late than never.


Der eisige Schlaf (“Buried in Ice) is about the Franklin expedition. John Franklin and his people disappeared while trying to chart the Northwest Passage in the Arctic. The book is good and interesting, a little slow at times and quite gruesome at others, as they describe cannibalism, the exhumation of dead, frozen bodies and such. Interesting: When the Eskimos (/Inuit) first mentioned to explorers, that they saw some of these explorers eating or carrying human flesh, people back in England were outraged and claimed they made it up out of malice, saying their good people would never do such a thing. Which just goes to show you, denial is not just a river in Egypt.

Next I read Vuk, which is a book by a Hungarian author about a little fox. It has lovely descriptions of nature but doesn’t get too cheesy and is far from romanticized Disney tales. I’d recommend it, but since I have it in English from a Hungarian who bought it in her lovely country, I doubt you’d get your hands on it even if you wanted to.

I found Boardfree for maybe 5,- EUR at a local bookstore in a box by the door. I’m glad I picked it up. It’s the story of a guy who decided, on a whim, after only riding a skateboard for a few weeks, that he could try to skate from one end of Australia to the other, in the name of charity. While the book is not entirely captivating at all times, it is still fascinating and I certainly admire the man for all he achieved, escaping the daily grind (so to speak) and turning his life upside down. He writes about nice people he meets on the way, about the effects the constant exhaustion had on him, about his mood swings, about the dynamics in his support team, about the trouble with shoe sponsors and what he’d do differently next time. An inspirational book, certainly, and if you’re curious, there’s also a website, boardfree.co.uk, which is currently being refurbished. I love the picture of his shoe, though. It’s time.

I’d read pretty much anything Kurt Vonnegut had anything to do with, but Cat’s Cradle is definitely not my favorite book of his. I thought the plot idea was ingenious, but the characters were unlikeable and odd and somehow the way the story was written didn’t really appeal to me. I know this is a vague description, but suffice it to say that this just wasn’t for me. I much prefer Timequake, A Man Without A Country, Slaughterhouse Five or even Deadeye Dick.

About a Boy by Nick Hornby has been made into a movie I’ve never seen, starring Hugh Grant, and for some reason I was never particularly drawn to get the book, even though I loved Hornby’s High Fidelity and A Long Way Down. I also read How to be Good, which was alright, but I involuntarily traded it for a Bukowski book I’ve yet to fight my way through. Bukowski is twisted. Anyway, a friend of mine was selling About A Boy used and so I bought it and it was a quick and good read, although not really exceptional. It’s about a young boy with a messed up mom, and it’s about a middle-aged rich guy without direction in life. They become friends and everyone changes for the better. I see why this has been made a movie, actually.

I had read Barack Obama’s second book before, which I wrote about before, and so I was especially excited about the first one, since I now knew his policies and wanted to know more about him as a person. And he doesn’t disappoint. He writes about his childhood, his absent father, him trying to find his identity. He’s very honest, he talks about taking drugs (and none of that “I did not inhale” drivel either), about growing up with his grandparents, about visiting his relatives in Africa. It’s all in there. He’s a very talented writer and the way he writes is sometimes almost poetic, which is probably a good thing all in all, but sometimes felt a bit too cheesy or too much filled with pathos to me. Anyway, I still recommend the book, and I think it’s ridiculous that so many rumors are spread about him (by Fox News?) when really all his life and what he is about is discussed at great length in this book. The information is there, you just need to read it.

As a filler between to other books, I finally decided to read a Babylon 5 book that I must’ve bought about 15 years ago (which makes me sound old, doesn’t it? I’m not that old…). It’s really shallow entertainment and it wasn’t really very well-written by author S. M. Stirling (or not well-translated). I have another 15 year old Babylon 5 book, but I believe I’ll get rid of it and not bother reading it. I’m glad to find that I don’t have the same taste I had 15 years ago.

So, if you actually read this, I owe it to you to listen to what YOU have been reading lately. Comment! Please.

22
Jun
09

Mr. Bean. Haha.

This is simply hilarious:

08
Jun
09

Weird Names

I am entirely fascinated by the Irish name Siobhan, ever since I started watching Mistresses, where one of the women has that name. So fascinated in fact, that I tell everyone about it and its peculiar pronunciation:  “She-vawn“. I always thought you pronounced it “she-oh-ban”. Like She-o-ban Fah-hee of Shakespears Sister. (I’m resisting the temptation to add an apostrophe.) Turns out it’s actually She-vawn Fay-Hee.

Now as I was telling my Welsh co-worker about this amazing discovery, he told me that’s usually the case with Irish names. They are written very differently from how they are pronounced. (Or vice versa.) His example?

Niamh. (A girl’s name.)
It’s pronounced Neev. And no, I am not making it up.

It’s like saying “My name is Carol, it’s pronounced J-O-A-N-N-E.”
Lovely. :)