Sunday, January 20, 2013

so, mainly fiction.

Sheep in a Ship and Sheep Blast Off, by Nancy Shaw and illustrated by Margot Apple. We have as part of our home picture book library Sheep in a Jeep.  It's a bed-time favorite, appearing at least a few times a month.  Without even deliberately looking for them, these jumped out at me from the shelf when the boy and I were in the children's section last week.
The rhythm of the writing reminds me of what DinoTrain was trying for.  Only these are much better. And apparently there are more! 

Slant of Light: A Novel of Utopian Dreams and Civil War, by Steve Wiegenstein.  Oh Steve, you have restored (a small portion of) my faith in self-publishing... or self-publishers, I'm not sure which.  An interesting story line I've not seen before.  There could easily have been too many secondary characters but the author managed to keep it to a reasonable number and without forcing-- or abandoning-- any of them to the life of mere caricatures.  Some of the inter-personal story line reminded me of another historical fiction title I read... and now I can't find.  I've spent an unfortunate amount of time trying to find or remember this title; it's something I had to weed from my previous library based on circ/condition, I read it before Courting Emma Howe, and (yes, it's terrible) I'm pretty sure it was yellow.  Anyway, although some of the plot elements seemed for a while like they were going in the same direction, Slant of Light went it's own way.  Hurrah.  Adding to my library.

Nerd Gone Wild, by Vicki Lewis Thompson.  I've had this one my list a while, so when I felt myself coming down with a cold on Thursday, I grabbed it.  Therefore I already and conveniently had it on my nightstand when I came home early from work Friday to wallow in my misery among the tissues.  Our only copy is large print, so it was nice and easy to read with my glasses off, an unexpected bonus.  One note on formatting: the book was a little too thick, I thought, to be a trade paperback.  About 530 pages, I don't think the binding works well to hold on to, nor will it hold out very well over time.
I'd previously read one of the author's other books in this theme and it was enjoyable.  This one, I thought, wasn't as good.  First, the male main character is supposed to be disguised as a nerd, but aside from purposefully displaying poor fashion choices, the innate ability to master details, and a tendency to mention aliens, there is no depth to this front.  Nerds are so numerous and multifaceted (see Geektastic); I think the author took the easy way out by playing off a few lame stereotypes. This was a let-down for me.
As I was thinking earlier today about what I would write in reaction to this book, I found myself ruminating over "geek" and "nerd."  "Nerd" is being owned by alot of people now; I know I've been saying it for a while.  It doesn't have the connotations it used to; or, if it does, it now has  some good ones, too.  "Geek" doesn't seem to be having quite the same resurgence.  Don't let's go into the "Geek the Library" thing.  And, and I could be wrong about this, they've been used to refer to different types of groups. In trying to list the different types of geek/nerd groups I've been a part of, it seems that "nerd" is a book-ish thing (history nerd, math nerd, speech nerd) and "geek" is an arts thing (music geek, band geek).  But that could just be some kind of coincidence,or the result of not enough data.  Not that this is really relevant; I was just thinking.

Flow: The Cultural History of Menstruation, by Elissa Stein and Susan Kim.  (612)  This actually covered quite a few subjects besides the titular topic.  The book isn't very thick, though, so there's definitely room for something more comprehensive.  The best part was by far the historical ads (well I say historical but some were from the 80s and 90s) throughout (which took up quite a bit of the space). 

Homo Mysterious: Evolutionary Puzzles of Human Nature, by David P. Barash.  This book was not what I was expecting, from the title or the summaries I'd read.  It may be interesting, but I think the author is doing a poor job of acknowledging arguments that make his look bad.  The reason I closed it, however, is that the author was talking on at some length about females being the more ostentatious dressers, etc. etc.  He doesn't acknowledge that this has not always been the set-up throughout human history.  That would mess up his argument.  Poor science and poor writing.
Also, fyi, the author is very anti-religious-people. He's not only against organized religion, but fairly offensive toward followers. I shouldn't expect too much, I suppose, from anyone who feels the need to put their PhD status on the cover.
Only made it o page 95.

1 comment:

Ms. Yingling said...

Ah, the Shaw Sheep books. Got a lot of use in my house, but were even more fun for the adults. We made up ALL kinds of inappropriate yet alliterative titles for the sheep's further adventures!