2017 Books To Read Challenge (personal)

This reading challenge–the “Books To Read Challenge (personal)”–is my own attempt to whittle down the to-be-read pile and I have it done it for a couple of years now. In fact, some of these books have been on those previous lists.  They reside on my 2017poss shelf in Goodreads.

There are a total of 85 books which includes some 8 on pause. Of these I challenge myself to complete 2 from each of the 16 categories and a total of 35.

Maybe by upping this number quite a bit—aimed for 12 of 44 in 2016—I will do better at getting through some of these. Then again, I know that’s a laugh because other books will continue to show up and there are already more than 1150 others on the Goodreads to-be-read shelf.

Beer and Brewing

  • Amber, Gold & Black – Cornell
  • The Complete Beer Course: Boot Camp …: From Novice to Expert in Twelve Tasting Classes – Joshua Bernstein
  • Water: A Comprehensive Guide for Brewers (Brewing Elements) – John J. Palmer and Kaminski
  • New Brewing Lager – Noonan
  • The Brewer’s Companion – Mosher
  • The Homebrewer’s Companion – Papazian
  • Pubs and progressives : reinventing the public house in England, 1896-1960 – Gutzke

Central Oregon

  • Hiking Oregon’s History – William L. Sullivan    
  • The Deschutes River Railroad War – Speroff
  • Oregon’s Dry Side – St. John

Erotica

  • The Sexy Librarian’s Big Book of Erotica – Caraway, ed.
  • The Jade Door – Chaiko
  • Burlesque and the Art of the Teese / Fetish and the Art of the Teese – Dita Von Teese, Bronwyn Garrity

History

  • Bettie Page: The Life of a Pin-Up Legend – Karen Essex
  • The Social Life of Coffee: The Emergence of the British Coffeehouse – Brian Cowan
  • Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage – Stephanie Coontz
  • Hip Hop Family Tree – Piskor
  • Hoptopia – Kopp

Librariana

  • Cataloging the World: Paul Otlet and the Birth of the Information Age – Alex Wright
  • Everyday Information: The Evolution of Information Seeking in America – Aspray & Hayes, eds.
  • Language and Representation  in Information Retrieval – Blair
  • What is Documentation? – Briet [translation]

Language [Language and related]

  • Is That a Fish in Your Ear?: Translation and the Meaning of Everything – David Bellos
  • Integrationist Notes and Papers 2014 – Roy Harris
  • Basic Color Terms – Berlin & Kay
  • The Unfolding of Language – Deutscher

Literature [(lit, poetry, essays, short stories) and literary theory]

  • The Literary Mind: The Origins of Thought and Language – Mark Turner
  • Imagination in Place: Essays – Wendell Berry
  • If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler – Italo Calvino [translation]
  • Seven Gothic Tales – Isak Dinesen
  • Collected Fictions – Borges [translation]
  • Scenes of Clerical Life – Eliot [which ed.?]
  • Bouvard and Pecuchet – Flaubert [translation] [which ed.?]
  • The Little Town Where Time Stood Still – Hrabal [translation] [which ed.?]
  • The Things We Don’t Do – Neumann [translation, short stories] [2015 Open Letter ed.]

Philosophy [loosely defined]

  • Culture in Mind: Cognition, Culture, and the Problem of Meaning – Bradd Shore
  • The Sovereignty of Good – Iris Murdoch
  • You Must Change Your Life: Poetry, Philosophy, and the Birth of Sense – John T. Lysacker
  • Self and Soul: A Defense of Ideals – Mark Edmundson
  • Conjectures & Confrontations – Fox
  • Philosophy on Tap – Lawrence

Post 2016 Election

  • Islam: A Short History – Armstrong
  • Farnsworth’s Classical English Rhetoric – Farnsworth
  • Shaming the Devil – Jacobs
  • Wickedness – Midgley
  • Dead Feminists – O’Leary
  • Purity and Danger – Douglas

Renewal

  • The Wayward Mind: An Intimate History of the Unconscious – Guy Claxton
  • Feeding Your Demons: Ancient Wisdom for Resolving Inner Conflict – Tsultrim Allione
  • Soul: An Anthology – Cousineau
  • Chi Walking – Dreyer
  • Healing Trauma – Levine

Sex & Gender

  • Straight: The Surprisingly Short History Of Heterosexuality – Hanne Blank
  • Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation – Elissa Stein
  • Desire: Where Sex Meets Addiction – Cheever
  • A Mind of Its Own: A Cultural History of the Penis – Friedman

Tech & Software

  • Mindstorms: Children, Computers, And Powerful Ideas – Seymour Papert
  • Just My Type: A Book About Fonts – Garfield
  • Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation – Pollan
  • Abuse of Language—Abuse of Power – Josef Pieper, Lothar Krauth [translation]

Wander

  • The Practice of Everyday Life – de Certeau [translation, philosophy]
  • Selected Stories – Walser [translation, short stories]
  • The Walker’s Guide to Outdoor Clues and Signs – Gooley
  • The Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness – Solnit, or one of her others
  • Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder – Taleb

Assorted/Too Lazy to Classify

  • How to Worry Less about Money – John Armstrong
  • Myths, Dream and Mysteries – Eliade
  • Taste – Stuckey [science]
  • Home Comforts – Mendelson

Re-reads

  • Eros the Bittersweet – Carson [renewal]
  • Reverence – Woodruff [renewal]
  • On the Cusp of a Dangerous Year – Roripaugh [poems]
  • What Do We Know – Oliver [poems]
  • Ambitious Brew – Ogle [beer]
  • Wisdom, Information and Wonder – Midgley [philosophy]
  • Middlemarch – Eliot [lit]
  • Winter Hours – Oliver [poems]

On Pause

  • Second-Hand Knowledge: An Inquiry into Cognitive Authority – Patrick Wilson [Philosophy]
  • Nocturne: A Journey in Search of Moonlight – James Atlee [Assorted]
  • Thinking Body, Dancing Mind: Taosports for Extraordinary Performance in Athletics, Business, and Life – Chungliang Al Huang & Jerry Lynch [Assorted]
  • Take Control of Automating Your Mac – Joe Kissell [Tech & Software]
  • The Good Rain: Across Time & Terrain in the Pacific Northwest – Timothy Egan [DPL ebook]
  • The Body in the Mind: The Bodily Basis of Meaning, Imagination, and Reason – Mark Johnson [Philosophy, Renewal]
  • Full Catastrophe Living – Kabat-Zinn
  • The Breathing Book – Farhi

Clearly some of these books could go in other of these categories. There are also other categories I am tracking not in this list but all of those are covered by something here.

To recap, of a total of 85 books (which includes some 8 on pause) I challenge myself to complete 2 from each of the 16 categories and a total of 35.

Modan – Jamilti & Other Stories

Jamilti & Other Stories by Rutu Modan

Date read: 06-07 February 2016
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016gnc 2016transl

Cover image of Rutu Modan's Jamilti & Other Stories

Hardback, 174 pages
Published 2008 First hardcover edition by drawn & quarterly
Source: Deschutes Public Library [Graphic Novel MODAN RUTU]

This is my fourth Modan book this year. I also read The Property, exit wounds, and the children’s book Maya Makes a Mess. In general I quite liked them. The children’s one not as much but the others all got 4 or 5 stars out of 5.

This is a collection of seven short graphic stories:

  • Jamilti 2
  • Energy Blockage 1
  • Bygone 2
  • The Panty Killer 1
  • Homecoming 2
  • The King of Lillies 1
  • Your Number One Fan

Translation credit: 1 Noah Stollman, 2 Jesse Mishori

Most of these are a slight bit twisted, to say the least, but they provide some interesting commentary on assorted aspects of modern Western culture, and on Israeli culture in particular.

Jamilti describes a day in the life of a couple trying to plan their wedding. Based on the course of the day I’d say things aren’t looking up for the prospective groom. Very powerful.

Energy Blockage has to do with our search for solutions to well-being, charlatans, and the damage families do to themselves for some sort of closure.

Bygone is about mothers and daughters, or sisters, and the secrets families keep.

The Panty Killer is about the differences between an adult’s and a child’s version of memories and how they impact us in the longterm.

Homecoming. Well. I’ll let you read it and decide. There are some things I would like to say about this and some aspects of several of the stories but the topic is beyond fraught. Whether justified or not, there is a lot of Israeli aggression in this book, as one might expect.

The King of Lillies reflects on plastic surgery and the ideal of beauty, especially as embodied in an unrequited love.

Your Number One Fan visits the topic of fandom and the relations between Israeli Jews and the Diaspora.

All in all, I really enjoyed this and highly recommend it, particularly if you are interested in translations and/our perspectives from other cultures.

This is the 14th book in my 2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge Sign-Ups

This is the 7th book in my Books in Translation Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader

Abouet & Oubrerie – Aya

Aya by Marguerite Abouet & Clément Oubrerie (illus.); Helge Dascher (translation)

Date read: 29 January 2016
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016gnc 2016transl

Cover image of Aya by Abouet & Oubrerie

Hardback, 96+ pages
Published 2008 (2nd hardcover ed.) by Drawn & Quarterly
Source: OSU-Cascades at Central Oregon Community College Barber Library [CASCADES PN 6790 .C854 A92 2007]

A slice of a coming of age story set during the late 1970s in the Ivory Coast, which was undergoing profound economic growth. That growth faltered and now economists term this as “growth without development” (from Preface by Chase, iv).

Despite that, this is a fairly timeless story primarily focusing on a couple young women/teenage girls. Making out, male harassment, unwanted pregnancy, thwarted desires, etc.

Recommended for anyone wanting stories from outside their own backyard, so to speak.

This is the 10th book in my 2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge Sign-Ups

This is the 6th book in my Books in Translation Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader

Tezuka – Ode to Kirihito

Ode to Kirihito by Osamu Tezuka; Camellia Nieh, transl.

Date read: 26-27 January 2016
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016gnc 2016transl

Alternate cover image of Tezuka's Ode to Kirihito

Paperback, 822 pages
Published 2006 by Vertical (originally serialized in Japanese as Kirihito Sanka in Biggu Komikkui, Shogakkan, 1970-71)
Source: OSU-Cascades at Central Oregon Community College Barber Library [CASCADES PN 6790 .J33 K5713 2006]

Rape, murder, conspiracy, intentional infection, pride. No doubt, there are probably several other “deadly sins” in this work. I quite enjoyed this. Do not be put off by its size; it took me maybe three hours to read it.

People in a remote village in Japan are turning into dog people and then dying. A promising young doctor is dispatched to determine the vector of Monmow disease. From that remote village we travel the world with a small cast of characters all connected in various ways. The disease is found in a remote mining operation in Africa. What is the cause? Can it be cured or at least halted?

The author, Osama Tezuka (1928-1989), is “the godfather of Japanese manga comics. He originally intended to become a doctor and earned his degree before turning to what was still then considered a frivolous medium” (back inside flap). So he is imminently qualified to write a medical thriller.

This book is not in manga form and I assume the original was since we get this disclaimer on the title page verso: “The artwork of the original has been produced as a mirror-image in order to conform with the English language.”

Highly enjoyed it. Not for children: sex, naked bodies, more than one rape scene. I need to look into more work by Tezuka, including “his eight-volume epic Buddha, winner of the Eisner and Harvey Awards” (back inside flap).

This is the 8th book in my 2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge Sign-Ups

This is the 5th book in my Books in Translation Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader

Modan – Exit Wounds

Exit wounds by Rutu Modan; translation by Noah Stollman

Date read: 22 January 2016
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016gnc 2016transl

Cover image of Modan's Exit Wounds

Hardback, 172 pages
Published 2007 by Drawn & Quarterly
Source: Deschutes Public Library

I enjoyed this. I don’t feel like I can say a lot about it without giving away the story, though.

This has been on my to be read list for a while now but I recently read Modan’s The Property so I went ahead and moved this one to the top of the heap.

This is what I said about The Property and I think it equally applies, although the walls and directions are different in this earlier work:

“I quite enjoyed this quick read; I read it in [just] under an hour.    Walls are put up only to be dismantled from another direction. Affections of all kinds, and how quickly we can gain and lose them, are beautifully illuminated. Old animosities are reinforced and challenged. It is a properly complicated look at our world and some of its complications.

The art work is lovely and effective at conveying subtle and rapidly changing moods.”

The ellipsis covers the few story detail I gave which are different, of course. For this one let me quote from the publisher’s blurb on the back cover:

“In modern-day Tel Aviv, a young man, Koby Franco, receives an urgent call from a female solider named Numi. Learning that his estranged father may have been a victim of a suicide bombing in Hadera, Koby reluctantly joins Numi in searching for clues. As Koby tries to unravel the mystery of his missing father, he fide himself not only piecing together the last few months of his father’s life, but his entire identity” [back cover, Exit Wounds].

Accurate as such. I think “entire identity” is a bit of a stretch but you will learn plenty.

Recommended if you like reading graphic novels that help illuminate what it is to be human. I think I enjoyed The Property just a bit more.

Talented author, indeed. Checking library catalog(s) for other works…

This is the 6th book in my 2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge Sign-Ups

This is the 4th book in my Books in Translation Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader

Aesop, Five Centuries of Illustrated Fables

Aesop, Five Centuries of Illustrated Fables John J. McKendry, selector

Date read: 18 January 2016
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016transl, 2016gnc

Cover image of Aesop, Five Centuries of Illustrated Fables

Hardback (Museum issue), 96 pages
Published 1964 by The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Source: COCC Barber Library

Gorgeous in so many ways! Boy did I luck out listening to the universe on Friday.

Four stars as many of the morals are as or more cryptic than the fables themselves.

There is a five plus-page introduction by McKendry, the Assistant Curator of Prints, that does a wonderful job of situating Aesop’s Fables as possibly the finest work to show “the history of the printed illustrated book,” along with providing an overview of the evolution of the illustrations made for it and the various translations, along with revolutions in printing and image-making technologies that accompanied it.

In this lovely edition the images paired with the fable are fairly contemporaneous. For instance, the first eight are translations by William Caxton in 1484 with illustrations from four different sources, with the biggest difference being all of thirteen years. There are a couple at the end translated by Marianne Moore in 1954 with the illustrations from between one and nine years difference.

The introduction mentions that:

“Although the fables had been illustrated from early times, the invention of the printing press produced a virtual onslaught of the illustrations and made them a major par of our pictorial history. Before the end of the fifteenth century, there were over twenty different illustrated editions of them. The earliest editions are those of Mondavi, Ulm, and Verona, all published between 1476 and 1479, which are among the best books of the fifteenth century” 97-8).

Holy cow! That is insane and seriously supports the selectors contention regarding their importance to the history of the printed illustrated book.

There are forty fables included, with translations ranging from William Caxton (1484) to Marianne Moore (1954) and including ones from every century in between.

If you read this book PLEASE read the introduction. It provides so much context and makes watching the evolution of printing/image-making technology as it advanced and is represented by the included illustrations far more understandable and interesting.

The copy COCC holds has a bookplate which states: “Donated by Dr. Orde Pinckney to Central Oregon Community College Library.”  

Highly recommended but more for its description and depiction of illustrated book history than for the fables, many of which are in hard-to-understand English, irrespective of when translated.

There seems to be copies in some shape that are affordable. May look into acquiring one.

This is the 3rd book in my Books in Translation Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader

On why Aesop’s Fables

I wanted to make myself a quick note so I could remember in the future why I chose to re-read Aesop’s fables in the upcoming immediate future.

Friday morning (Jan. 15, 2016) I wrote this in my journal:

“11:12 AM Just had my third Aesop’s reference this morning! The beer place, Brontë, and now my crossword.”

I figured the universe was trying to send me a message of some kind so on Friday afternoon while at work I grabbed myself a copy of Aesop, Five Centuries of Illustrated Fables, selected by John J. McKendry and published by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1964.

My first reference came via Facebook to the article “Napa’s Mad Fritz brewery stakes out new terroir” in the San Francisco Chronicle. Mad Fritz’s beers are named after specific fables from Aesop, such as The Larks in the Corn, or The Viper and File. All in all, the brewery and beers sound fantastic and I might have to put a little effort into getting my hands on some. The labels are also beautifully illustrated and “The moral takeaway is noted on the back label.”

My second reference came while reading further in Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. On page 95 of the Oxford World’s Classics edition we read,

“If life promised no enjoyment within my vocation, at least it offered no allurements out of it; and, henceforth, I would put my shoulder to the wheel* and toil away, like any poor drudge of a cart-horse that was fairly broken in to its labour, and plod through life, not wholly useless if not agreeable, and uncomplaining if not contented with my lot.”

In the Explanatory Notes on p. 424 we learn that “put my shoulder to the wheel” is a “proverbial expression, from Aesop’s fable of Hercules and the waggoner. ODEP, 729.” [ODEP is the Oxford Dictionary of English Proverbs, 3rd edn. (1971).

The third reference came as I waiting on my sandwich bread to toast for lunch. I was working on the 2 September 2015 Los Angeles Times crossword when 65 across popped up with “Greek storyteller” as the hint and who, of course, should be the answer? Our friend Aesop.

I’m not one much for “signs” but something was prodding me here.

I went with it. I hope that I can find what it is the universe may have been pointing at.

I have since seen several other Aesop references but that is the way these things go, isn’t it?

Modan – The Property

The Property by Rutu Modan; Jessica Cohen, translator (from Hebrew)

Date read: 10 January 2016
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016gnc 2016transl

Cover image of Modan's The Property.

Hardback, 222 pages
Published 2013 by Drawn & Quarterly
Source: Deschutes Public Library

I quite enjoyed this quick read; I read it in under an hour. After her son dies, an elderly woman takes her granddaughter to Warsaw under the pretense of getting back some family property lost in the second world war. But is there any property and who owns it now? Might there be other reasons she isn’t telling anyone? Walls are put up only to be dismantled from another direction. Affections of all kinds, and how quickly we can gain and lose them, are beautifully illuminated. Old animosities are reinforced and challenged. It is a properly complicated look at our world and some of its complications.

The art work is lovely and effective at conveying subtle and rapidly changing moods.

Recommended.

This is the 1st book in my 2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge Sign-Ups

 

This is the 2nd book in my Books in Translation Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader

Bennett, ed – Japanese Love Poems

Japanese Love Poems by Jean Bennett, ed., Scott Cumming, illus.

Date read: 1-8 January 2016
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016current 2016transl

Photo of cover of Japanese Love Poems

Hardback, x, 104 pages
Published 1976 by Doubleday & Company
Source: Humane Society Thrift Store, Bend, OR, $1.00

Contents:

  • Preface
  • Night; and a doorway left ajar . . .  7
  • A memory of nothingness . . . 
  • I think of you always . . .  4
  • That which fades away . . . 1 
  • The maze of love . . .  2
  • Together . . . 
  • Index of first lines

I enjoyed this book and the 1.5 page preface was worth the $1.00 price of admission by itself. It talked about how:

“Ancient Japanese poetry was the poetry of the court, which enjoyed two distinct kinds of love: marital and illicit. Because most marriages were arranged in childhood, marital love was often a deep affection and regard which grew after marriage, forming an unbreakable bound. Many of the poems in this volume express devotion in marriage (which is cherished and idealized), the sorrow of parting from a spouse, or the joy of reunion. On the other hand, love affairs were common (most ladies of letters were courtesans), and a great deal of Japanese poetry refers to this kind of love. Clandestine meetings, the sacrifice and suffering that must be endured for one night of illicit love, the pain of separation in the early hours of the morning, the agony of unrequited love for all common themes, allowing for the expression of great passion which by its very nature is short-lived” (ix).

It goes on to discuss the influence of both Shintoism and Buddhism on Japanese love poetry. I would like to read a more intermediate or expanded beginner introduction to these topics.

The collection covers eight named periods from the Archaic Period (before A.D. 700) to the Tokyo Period (1868 to present [~1975]).

I am not convinced the sections work well as divisions but they do seem at least semi-coherent within themselves. There is just no description of why/what whether as division or to what is included. Also, both marital and illicit love poems are in each section with no clear distinctions made. It is generally easy to tell but some are not.

I marked fourteen poems as especial favorites. The numbers behind the section titles above represent the number of poems I marked from each section.

I did quite enjoy many more but—as expressive of fully acceptable human emotions as much of the illicit love poetry is—those are not the emotions of my relationship. I can, though, relate to them.

Most poems are quite short, only two to three are a page or longer; two pages being the longest.

There are a handful of illustrations throughout the book at the section headings and on the cover by Cumming. There are also four small sections of color plates of (I am assuming) famous Japanese prints.

== From Night; and a doorway left ajar . . . ==

The memories of long love
Gather like drifting snow,
Poignant as the mandarin ducks,
Who float side by side in sleep.

Lady Murasaki Shikibu (10th century)
Heian Period (4)

== ==

Rain and Snow

For ever on Mikane’s crest,
     That soars so far away,
The rain it rains in ceaseless sheets,
     The snow it snows all day.

And ceaseless as the rain and snow
     That fall from heaven above,
So ceaselessly, since first we met,
     I love my darling love.

Anonymous
Archaic Period (7)

== ==

Though it rains,
I won’t get wet:
I’ll use your love
     For an umbrella.

Japanese folk song (15)

== From I think of you always . . . ==

I wish I were close
To you as the wet skirt of
A salt girl to her body.
I think of you always.

Yamabe no Akahito (8th century)
Nara Period (38)
Messaged to Sara on 4 January

== From That which fades away . . .  ==

     From long ago
I had heard that to meet in love
     Could only mean to part,
And yet I gave myself to you
Unconscious of the coming dawn.

Fujiwara Teika (1162-1241)
Kamakura Period (59)

== From Together . . . ==

Flowers

Today it seems to me that all my friends
     Have won distinction more than I in life,
However, I have flowers bought
     And love my wife.

Ishikawa Takuboku (1885-1912)
Tokyo Period (92)

Recommended as an entry-level book of Japanese love poetry.

This is the 1st book in my Books in Translation Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader