Monday, August 31, 2009

Crows Over the Wheatfield--#52 finished

This is a very good book about an Art Historian who on the way home from work strikes & kills a teenager on a skate board that darts out in front of her. The author goes between her current life and the life of Van Gogh who she is researching for a book particularly the last few months of his life before he commits suicide. Claire the art historian, is also separated from her husband Richard, but because of this accident he has to return to her life. While everything is going on, their relationship is in the background redeveloping to where there is a renewal for them.

While it is a shorter book, only 278 pages, it is also complex in that several things are being touched on. I also really enjoyed that it is a realistic type book, no where did it get the sense of something just sort of being thrown out there, well maybe some of her Van Gogh research stuff but as far as characters go, very realistic. I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed this book, I had been meaning to read it because it was on a couple of WL, but didn't know much about the book. Adam Braver is an author that I will have to try to remember and check out some of his other books as well.

I have posted it for WL on PBS and now just waiting for it to be accepted. I already have 2 other books to mail out this week so figured might as well add a 3rd.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Johnny Cash--#51 finished

This is Johnny Cash's autobiography. I saw his movie, Walk the Line and both myself & Debbie really liked it. We have been listening to a CD of his for several years now also. I have also caught some old TV footage of his Folsom Prison Blues and other concerts. I really enjoyed reading this book also, lots of insights into his life. While the movie was very good and entertaining, a movie will never come close to providing all the information a book does. Johnny Cash certainly lived an interesting life and while this book doesn't attempt to answer everything about his life, it gives the reader an idea of his remarkable life.

Things the movie didn't get into that I really liked was the different houses he owns. Also the whole timeline of how things happened seems like the movie took a few liberties there. The connections to the many people in country music and music in general also. Of course the movie basically ended in the late 1960s so some of this just couldn't be covered.

Like I said I really enjoyed this book. I have posted it on PBS. Right now there are a couple of other copies on the system but it seems like this book has been moving some so it might be getting mailed in a few months or could be longer but I expect it to move at some point.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wrong on Race--#50 finished

Bruce Bartlett a former advisor to Reagan and the first George Bush wrote Wrong on Race to show the racist history of the Democratic Party. It is a very interesting read and introduces quite a few political characters that I had not heard of previously. I thought the book was very effective at showing the Democratic Party's history of slave owners to KKK to Jim Crow laws to plan old white supremacists through time. The book though was weak on explaining why blacks now favor the Democratic Party, when was the real break and why.

I remember one sentence to the effect of Goldwater was against the Civil Rights Act for political reasons, but really it seems that from that point onward the Republican Party had little support from black voters. Was Goldwater's position and LBJ's Great Society together enough to make Republicans also rans in attempting to get black voters. Bartlett also mentioned though that the Republicans took black voters for granted to some degree and didn't push for legislation that they favored. This contradicts his earlier credit he gave Ike for his Civil Rights bills and for several attempts at anti-lynching bills that were filibustered under FDR and earlier presidents.

So overall a good and interesting read especially with the very racist characters that played a pretty large part in our country's politics. Not so great about explaining todays issues and concerns and the whys of black voters. Also the elephant in the room is there is no mention of Barak Obama, not that there really would have been with the book being published in Jan of '08, Obama was at time being written just a candidate who was lagging behind Hillary Clinton. It is unfortunate though because I think the election of Obama changes or would certainly influence the conclusions Bartlett has at the end of the book. I guess I should look to see what else he has written lately to see if anything of this most recent election has been addressed elsewhere.

This is a WL book on PBS by only 3 people but it has been steady at 3 for quite some time. I wanted to get it read so it could get mailed while it was still on some WL. I guess I should also mention that this is my 50th book read so far this year. As I have mentioned earlier it really is shocking to me that I have finished so many books already. Again credit goes in large part to reading several(2, 3 or even 4) books at one time, instead of as in past plodding along with only 1 book at a time. I really don't know what that end number will be for this year, but I will just keep at it.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

2 Things Today

Just a couple of things today.

First, I did get a run in today of 4 miles. First mile around 11:55, then 12:44 & 12:44 and finally a 12:12. So actually pretty happy with those times considering my running has only been spotty. Was only thinking about doing 2 or 3 miles but extended myself to 4 so all is good.

Second, a library near me had a book sale going on today. I ended up bringing home around 22 books for $11. Even though I know they want to sell these and make room for others, it still feels almost like stealing some of these. Not all 22 are on WL but about 1/2 are and several more only have one or two copies on the system so I should be able to move the majority at some point.

Child 44--#49 finished

A very good & interesting book. It is about a serial killer in the old USSR in the years after WWII under Stalin. How the killer acted without anyone knowing since local officials solved the cases ASAP so they would not been looked at too closely even if the wrong person was convicted. Also some good insights on just the insanity of the time for the people there, it really was a scary time and place to be.

The main character Leo went through several obstacles and setbacks in his life & investigation of these murders but also received some revelations that let the reader believe he will lead a better life. The turn at the end was it was actually Leo's brother that was committing the murders as a way to bring his brother back to him. The brothers were separated during a time when everyone was starving, Leo was kidnapped for food but ended up replacing the child the other family was trying to save. Leo was raised by this new family and became a star of the USSR in WWII and afterwards in the Secret Police.

Andrei, the brother left behind, was clumsy and could hardly see. His mother blamed him for his brother leaving them, Pavel(Leo's real name) was his mothers favorite. Eventually Andrei somehow survived the winter and received glasses so he wasn't the clumsy kid of youth. He obviously had several issues and turned to killing kids and butchering them as a way to lure his brother in. Not sure that I really believe this, but since Andrei was in a very real sense insane, I guess I can see how he might have believed this.

Like I said a good book and very interesting stuff going along with the main story line as well. It is a WL book on PBS so I should be mailing it off in the next few days as well.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Birthday, yesterday

Yesterday was my birthday, 40. It is kind of funny because I still think it is not that big of a deal but it does make you reflect a little. I think I am in the ballpark at least of 1/2 done, in other words 80 is probably pretty close to my ending age if I even get that far. So half of my life is lived. Also my thoughts were on how I don't really feel older, I still stay up too late, but get to work and function the next day. I still eat too much of stuff I shouldn't but have cut down on the fatty fast foods a lot also. I guess I don't know, I don't see where this birthday is really any different than the last few that I have had but I guess they are adding up.

We went out to eat last night to a decent little restaurant that advertised kids eat free on Tues & Wed. I kind of figured this encourages families and would also discourage those that don't want to be around families. It was a busy night at the restaurant so it took quite a while to get our orders in and wait for the food. The kids of course were okay at the beginning but got worse over time.

Once the food got there the worst happened, Angie touched something hot that Debbie had and Angie screamed for 30-45 seconds. Not too good inside a small restaurant. Thomas was making noise throughout the night, we are kind of used to his background noise but come to think of it later, the other diners probably were not. Oh well, it was a good attempt and the food was good. It will be sometime before that is attempted again and probably not at that restaurant, will need to find something a little more open maybe, who knows but more thought will have to go into it.

3.5 miles

Well I got a run in tonight. It was while Rose had VB practice. I found a park & did a few laps with quite a few other people. It was around the parking lot/drive in the park, there wasn't a path just for runners/walkers/bikers, oh well like I said there were quite a few others there also. It was an okay run, something like 13:05 first mile, 12:48 2nd mile, 11:50 3rd mile and around 12:30 for the last 1/2 mile. Nothing great but since I hadn't done anything since Saturday I will take it.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Running Update

Just a quick note on my running. Since I was sick, I took some extra time off from running. I did finally get a run in last Thursday. I went to my normal park, Woodson Park and it was full, both fields in use and the tennis courts all being used--probably by a high school team. So I drove to another nearby park, Fogerty Park in U-City and ran there. I thought I would only do 2 miles with mostly walking, but I actually did 3.25 miles at all under 12 minute pace. I was really surprised about this. There are a couple of slight hills, more than Woodson Park so that is also to the good.

On Saturday, I went to Creve Coeur Park and did the shorter route of 4 miles. I went around 1:30 in the afternoon when it was very hot. The first 2 miles were good, the 2nd two miles were much slower with a water break on one of them. Still glad that I got the 4 miles in though.

Not sure when this week I will get a run in. Wednesday is my 40th birthday, no real plans but probably something going on so no run expected. Tuesday Rose has VB practice and there is a meeting at school. Thursday is probably VB practice again so who really knows yet.

PopCo--#48 finished

This is a really good and interesting read. I really liked the way the author, Scarlett Thomas bounced back and forth between Alice's(the main character) current life and her life growing up. There was mystery or at least not normal happenings running with both story lines. I especially enjoyed her growing up time and the pressures and attempts to fit in that she really struggled with, it really added much depth to the character. The end got a little preachy with a kind of anti-capitalist rant but not enough to keep the book from being enjoyable overall.

I have another Scarlett Thomas book in my stacks of books, The End of Mr Y. I will be looking at getting this book read much sooner since finishing PopCo, Scarlett Thomas will be a writer I will try to follow.

The book is on WL at PBS but is a little rough in condition, I think it is still fine to post, but hopefully it won't go to someone too picky. I am still reading Child 44 and Wrong on Race and will probably add a 3rd book tonight as well.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Dirty Jokes and Beer--#47 finished

This is Drew Carey's book, not too bad. Some funny parts and some kind of shocking parts--being molested at age 9 being the biggest. Also he finished the book off with 4 of his own short stories, 2 or 3 of them became episodes of his shows or at least parts of them. For a quick read, not too bad. It kind of makes me wonder though why I can't find his show in syndication now though, I really did like his show. I know the last year or two weren't good in that ABC was almost trying to kill it off so I don't know if that has something to do with why it can't be found now. Of course it is also 8-10 years old so maybe it is just timeliness too.

I am still working on PopCo, I am somewhere past 200 pages so still have a ways to go, 500 pages in total. I am not sure what my next book is going to be, I had 3 picked out a few days ago so will probably look them over and try to decide tonight. This Drew Carey book is one that I got from PBS & I have already posted it but there are something like 60 others already ahead of it in line so I doubt it is going anywhere soon.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

What Next--#46 finished

This book written by Walter Mosley was supposed to be a kind of conversation starter about how to achieve peace in this world from a black perspective. I found the book to be way to simplistic and frankly naive in it ideas and thoughts. He comes out blaming US corporate interests as the real power behind the US government and the cause for most of the problems in the world. He wants a brand of democracy removed from capitalism, don't know what this is, but sounds like socialism of some sort. Rarely mentioned are dictators and oppressive leaders of these foreign nations.

I was actually expecting a Bush bash book, but this book is not that. I can tell from the tone of the book that he is not a fan of Bush, but Bush is rarely mentioned. As I was finishing it, I checked Amazon for reviews and most reviews were positive and I am not sure why. This book has huge gaps reality and scanty understanding of the world. I am actually surprised the book was even published in the first place. Oh well, I guess I see things differently.

There was already one copy in PBS, but my copy is now out there as well. It might move eventually or I might get tired of looking at it & send it off somewhere else. Right now reading PopCo, was also reading Late Night Talking but have gotten 25 pages in and cannot stand to read anymore. Late Night Talking is also now on my PBS bookshelf.


Wednesday morning I woke up sick, as in throwing up sick. The throwing up part ended a few hours later and now it is recovery stuff. It is just taking too long. I am stiff & sore and don't really feel like eating anything. I missed work Wed & only went in for 3 hours today. Tomorrow I was supposed to leave work a little early & drive to NE to pick up Rose who has spent the week on the farm. I hope a good nights sleep and all will be better or at least good enough to get me through this weekend.