Monday, December 28, 2009

It's Over!

Danger to Self: On the Front Line with an ER Psychiatrist, by Paul R. Linde. This was an interesting book. You get some good information about psychiatric standards and procedures, and about different disorders and illnesses. Hopefully I'll never have to use it, but it was interesting and now I know it in the event I do need it. I didn't much like most of the writing, the nitty-gritty of the usages, but overall the story was presented in such a way that it didn't make me over-analyze myself, which is a plus. The nitty-gritties were pretty annoying though: the author picked weird tenses to write in (present tense for the stories he was telling, with past for research or things that happened before the story he was telling, even though obviously some of the stories came before others; they jumped around a bit in time), and he had only one way of introducing quotes from the research([famous researcher] has this to say about [topic] in [book]:[quote]). They made it not as pleasant to read.  

The Sorcerer's Apprentice, by Mary Jane Begin. I came to this in a round-about way. Last night, my husband was watching trailers on IMDB and found on for a new movie by the same title. Watching over his shoulder, I thought it must be based on a book. I poked around a little this morning, though, and the movie's website doesn't mention any based-on-the-book-by, nor is anything like that listed at the end of the trailer. I looked at the catalog descriptions of the few books we have that all share this title, and this was the only one without a description in the OPAC record, so I went down and plucked it from the shelf. Long story short, this tells the story we all already know from that Mickey Mouse cartoon, but retells it poorly. The illustrations are over the top; colorful but not very amazing. The wizard looks like a not-yet-found-his-calling Kris Kringle, all smiley and wearing clothes trimmed in white fur, and girl's rosy cheeks and nose are so shiny she looks ill (or just super unwashed). Many of her expressions are imperfectly executed: her mouth says smiley but her eyes are doing something weird and sad. Also, we are given the impression that magic is very hard, but in actuality it seems to be entirely composed of made-up little poems you don't even have to learn in advance. The killer for me, though, is that, towards the end, the girl asks a question. The sorcerer evades with a you'll-understand-when-you-are-older line, and we are told that, when she was older, she did in fact understand. But we aren't told what it was that she ultimately understood. Gah! How can we learn anything from that?  

The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment, by A.J. Jacobs. I finished the main part of this weeks ago, but I never got around to finishing the notes in the back. Well, I've now finished all the notes I care to read, so I'm done. I was disappointed in that 1) at least a couple of these little experiments were previously published as lonely articles, which I happen to have read, and 2) a few of these were obviously just made up to round out the book and weren't really worth the effort he put into writing them, or even the time it took me to read them.  

The Colour of Magic, by Terry Pratchett. I know I read this one, because I read them all, but my ability to recall information from the first few books is slightly lacking. I'm sad to say that, upon further reflection, this book doesn't make alot of sense by itself. It makes alot more sense now, reading for the second time, as I now have a grasp for how the world works and who the characters are and such, but reading for the first time... not really his best work. And errors! OK, not a lot, but a few missing words, a "now" instead of a "not," nothing I can't work around, but still!  

Art For Baby: High-contrast Images by Eleven Contemporary Artists to Explore with Your Child, by... um.... well, the artists included are Josef Albers, Patrick Caulfield, Damien Hirst, Gary Hume, Kazimir Malevich, Paul Morrison, Takashi Muakami, Julian Opie, Bridget Riley, and David Shrigley. There are some pull-out pieces in a pocket in the back that you can paste on your nursery wall, and they have artist bio information (written, apparently, by Sam Thorne), but I didn't read those. I'm glad I mentioned this to my coworker before I got to putting this up, as our conversation changed my opinion somewhat. I stand by my original conviction, which is, you cannot "explore" these with your infant. There isn't anything for you to talk about; it's not like looking at those other very simple board books where you can talk about how this beach ball is a different color set from our beach ball, and remember that time we went to the beach, etc. These are black and white images, some not even of specific things, and I'm not sure how much discussion could be generated. I'm also disinclined to classify them as "art." My coworker, who has several children, calls these sorts of books Baby Tolstoys. His daughter would stare at black and white images, especially stripes, apparently (there are not alot of stripes in this one). I don't know why people keep making black and white things for babies, and I don't think this book would be very interesting. No one give me an infant until I can complete some research. I would think a book of pictures of actual things, like one monochrome fruit per page, would be more practical. If I don't see you before the new year, which I likely won't, then have a safe drive, drink responsibly, and enjoy a good snog at midnight. I get another 3.5 days off, so I'll likely slob around again, meandering through a few more books I've got stacked up at home. Cosmos and Sci-Fi sound like a good New Year's Eve combo to me!

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