Thursday, November 09, 2006

Top O' My Book Heap

I'm working hard on a bunch of stuff, some of it fun, but leaving little time for blogging. But I didn't want to leave my six regular readers hanging.

Books I've read lately:

"Fun Home," Alison Bechdel. Finally got around to it, and it's certainly a tour de force graphic novel by any standard. I'm not sure how I feel about it; I need to reflect on it a bit and may have a fuller review later. Let's say that although I'm tremendously impressed on many levels, my reaction was not the unequivocal rave it's gotten from everyone else.

"Moondust," Andrew Smith. I picked up this paperback at an airport bookstore and enjoyed it very much. Smith, who is about my age, interviewed the surviving nine Apollo astronauts who landed on the Moon (three are deceased) in an attempt to figure out what it all meant. The author injected himself into the story more than I thought necessary and I don't entirely agree with his conclusion, but as a fellow Apollo buff born at the beginning of the Space Age I found it fascinating.

"Boswell's London Journal," James Boswell. I find myself rereading Boswell's first-hand account of life in 18th century London every few years. To be honest, I don't read it straight through cover to cover, but enjoy dipping in and out for several pages at a time. It's cliche to say a work "brings history to life," but this is the only book I can remember that meets that standard.

"Brunelleschi's Dome," Ross King. Frankly kind of a slog to get through, but an ultimately rewarding look at the construction of Florence's Il Duomo cathedral at the height of the Renaissance. Begrudgingly recommended.

"On Writing," Stephen King. A lot of writers say this is one of the best books about being a writer they've ever read. I agree with them.

"The Elements of Style," Strunk and White. One of my daughters' good friends was the editor of their high school newspaper who hopes to pursue writing at university and in the service of various progressive causes she champions (ah, youth). I bought her a copy of this classic style guide because no writer should be without it. Then, realizing I didn't actually own a copy myself, I bought a second one for me and read it in one sitting. E.B. White is one of my favorite writers anyway, and this book--while too dry a reference work for the casual reader--is packed with gems of wisdom it's good to be reminded of from time to time... of which it is good to be reminded... that which of be reminded... never mind.


ronnie said...

Thank you! I am having trouble this year coming up with Christmas presents for mr. ronniecat, who insists he has everything he could possibly want. One of those books I had never heard of but it just went straight onto the list (I doubt I have to tell you which one.)


BrianFies said...

I believe I do! I think it's a good choice; glad to be of help. Now if you could tell me what to get for my wife....

the other Ronnie said...

I don't know if you count me among your six readers or not but I must warn you to beware of that errant pedantry up with which Winston Churchill would not put.

Incidentally, I watched the Quill awards on TV last week, hoping to catch a glimpse of you when they panned the balcony, except they didn't.

shrinking indigo said...

Seriously, Brian.

Everyone knows that a preposition is a word you should never end a sentence with.

Milinda said...

I'm sure that you have more than 6 readers & certainly more than I. Even Dad's checked out your blog.

Fun reads are by Jasper Fforde starting with the "Eyre Affair." The catch is that you have to be familiar with the books that he's writing about.

I've been reading some trashy novels lately but will be going back to real, ahem, books very soon. Trashy wears think pretty darn quickly.

Arnold Wagner said...

I just realized my copy of Elements of Style is missing. Probably a daughter, everyone else is afraid to get between me and my books.

One I used to make sure my daughters took with them to college was The Perrin Writer's Guide and Index to English, but I think it's long out of print now.

When the one daughter went to work for a small weekly she got the AP Style book.

Another favorite, probably long out of print, Writer's At Work, The Paris Review Interviws.

I think you left some zeros off the count of readers.

BrianFies said...

Other Ronnie, I never put pedantry up with. To. Up. I intended to catch the Quill Awards on TV and totally forgot about it. I could'a told you I never got on camera--first clue was there were no TV lights in the balcony--but I appreciate the effort.

Shrinking I., if I could think of a clever reply that ended in a preposition I would put it here. Fortunately, you're cleverer than I.

Milinda, thanks so much for saying hello once in a while. I've never heard of Jasper Fforde but will keep my eyes open. And from now on my name will be Brian Ffies.

Arnold, thanks to you too, my friend. I've got a few style guides on my shelf but don't know Perrin. As a one-time newspaper reporter I have a real fondness for the AP Stylebook, which I once had memorized front to back, but you have to be careful with that one. It'll lead you astray. These days it's less my Bible than just another arrow in the quiver....

Otis Frampton said...

"A lot of writers say this is one of the best books about being a writer they've ever read."

I'm one of them. Glad you liked the book. It's worth a read or three.


R said...

You should read "Chronicles" when you have a few free days. It's not bad and you learn a lot about The Black Prince and seiges and...stuff...It's kinda long though.