Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Night Book Porn: Rainbow Peep Show

Book porn: (n) Photographs and descriptions that exploit the nerd's natural lust for the physical beauty of reading material. Such material is deemed highly dangerous to one's sanity . People under the influence have been known to max out their library cards, spend their food money on paperbacks and exhaust their friends and loved ones with "wish lists" .

If someone you love suffers from book porn addiction, understand that there is no cure.

Just give them what they want.
Isn't Stumbleupon awesome?

No other website has done as much to feed my book porn addiction except perhaps the ones I actually buy books from. The first time I saw this set of clothbound classics from Penguin on this website, I nearly choked on my tofu. (Don't stumble and eat. The life you save could be your own)

Someone on Amazon has posted a list of all them. They will be available for sale at Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie, although they were previously only sold in the UK.
Although they were previously only available in the UK.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Book Fetishing: LOL Books

I laugh a lot.
I laugh at corny, childish jokes, the kind found on popsicle sticks. I laugh at dirty jokes. I laugh at racial jokes. I laugh at sexual jokes. I especially laugh
at things that are supposed to be sacred & serious- religion and politics.

I don't
mean to but when I know that I'm not supposed to laugh, it makes it ten times funnier.

And laughing makes some hurtful things better.

All this laughing, I think, makes me a connoisseur. I have discovered, in my studies of humor, that, a
s with all art, the beauty of a good comedy comes from contrast. Great comedy juxtaposes what should be with the absurdity of what is.

The absurdity, for example of a fully functioning, grown-a$$ man, peeing in his p
ants for the sake of convenience:

David Sedaris
' humor is often called "dark" but I can't imagine why. I also don't understand why reviewers and critics label his family "dysfunctional". In his essays about his mother, father, sisters (including the actress Amy Sedaris) and brother, you can tell he loves these people. His family is just eccentric. But then, all of our families are eccentric.

And Sedaris isn't all laughs either. His essays make a joke out of selfishness, conceit, self-importance, homophobia, xenophobia, every kind of phobia- and ultimately, he leaves you not laughing but thinking about human nature. And this is another facet of Sedaris that people miss.

He's not a stand-up comic. He's an essayist. There's more to it than yuks.

Note: if you are going to listen to Sedaris on audiobook, try to find a live version, because you have to hear him with an audience.

Another author who makes me laugh out loud is Carl Hiaasen. Just reading the blurb on the dust jacket gives me a little tickle.Every single one of his characters stands on their own, with their own humor. He weaves their stories together, one plot with another and everything wraps up in the end.

I just finished Lucky You, which involves a cast of characters living in Grange , Florida, known for it's miracles- a weeping statue of the virgin Mary, a man with stigmata and an oil splotch on the highway shaped like the face of Jesus Christ. From page 243 (hardcover, 1997):

Shiner's mother overslept. The road machines woke her Hurriedly she squeezed into the bridal gown, snatched her parasol and sailed out the door. By the time she reached the intersection of Sebring Street and the highway, it was too late. The Depratment of Transportation was ready to pave the Road-Stain Jesus.

Shiner's mother shrieked and hopped about like a costumed circus monkey. She spat in the face of the crew foreman and use her parasol to stab ineffectively at the driver of the steamroller. Ultimately she flung herself facedown upon the holy splotch and refused to budge for the machines.

"Pave me, too, you godless bastards!" she cried "Let me be one with my Savior!"
The crew foreman wiped off his cheek and signaled for his men to halt work. He telephoned the sheriff's office and said: "There's a crazy witch in a wedding dress out here humping the road. What do I do?"

Two deputies arrived, followed later by a television truck.
Shiner's mother was kissing the pavement, on the place she imagined to be Jesus' forehead. "Don't you worry, Son of God," she kept saying. "I'm right here. I'm not going nowheres!"

Her devotion to the stain was remarkable, considering its downwind proximity to a flattened opposum.

Of course, we can't talk about funny literature without including some British humor. And the master of the genre across the pond is P.G Wodehouse- author of the Jeeves series. Jeeves is a resourceful butler who serves the intellectually challenged Bertram Wooster. Wooster has a talent for finding trouble and Jeeves has the genius to get him out of it.

The situations are hilarious, the kind of silly gags that make you giggle out loud in public, among strangers , causing family members to worry about you. Wodehouse's works are classic, in fact, you can read Right Ho, Jeeves right here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Flowers For Algernon

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes (1966) is the story of a mentally handicapped man who submits to a scientific experiment. The experiment turns him into a genius. The story began its life as an award-winning short story. It was later made into the film Charly.

This book lets us see through our eyes and Charlie Gordon's simultaneously. We can see when people are laughing at him but Charlie, in his childlike way, doesn't get the joke. He doesn't understand that he is a punchline and the reader feels protective and also helpless. And also angry.

His innocence pulls your heartstrings, but not as much as Charlie's desire to improve himself.

This desire leads to the experiment. As he gets more intelligent, he re-visits unpleasant memories about his childhood. His disillusions and new-found sexual desires confuse him.

It is the sex part that causes problems. From Wikipedia:

In January 1970, the school board of Cranbrook, British Columbia, as well as Calgary, Alberta, banned the Flowers for Algernon novel from the local grade-nine curriculum and the school library, after a parent complained that it was "filthy and immoral". The president of the BC Teachers' Federation criticized the action. Flowers for Algernon was part of the BC Department of Education list of approved books for grade nine and was recommended by the BC Secondary Association of Teachers of English. A month later, the board reconsidered and returned the book to the library; they did not, however, lift its ban from the curriculum.

Challenges to the novel have also been successful in Texas and Pennsylvania.
This novel is about an innocent man losing his innocence, about the difference between intellectual intelligence and emotional intelligence. Between being a genius and being a grown-up. It's a fascinating, touching, unusual and provocative book.

And all they saw were the "dirty bits".

Monday, February 22, 2010

What Are You Reading?

It has been a long time, since I posted- two months in fact. I have been busy and lazy...again...also I was kidnapped and then some other made-up stuff happened...

Anyway, I decided that tackling some memes would get me back "in the swing of things"- and help make regular posting easier. This one comes from Sheila of One Person's Journey Through a World of Books

Last week, I finished these books:

The Age of American Unreason by Susan JacobyThis book is about anti-intellectualism in modern America. It examines the history of American "middle-brow" culture and some of the causes of today's illiterate, folksy glorifying of know-nothings as geniuses. It was, at times, a little elitist and unfair to the Internet (there's some brainfood in the blogosphere, somewhere) but overall I liked it.

How To Read Literature Like A Professor by Thomas C. FosterThis is my new favorite genre- books about books. This was funny, enlightening and I think it will improve my chances of getting through Ulysses and seeing the beauty that others see in it.

On Liberty by John Stuart Mill
This took some time because I read it slowly. I can usually be found at the corner of History and Philosophy, anyway.

Basket Case by Carl Hiaasen
Carl Hiaasen is my new favorite author (I get one every month or so). His stories are hilarious, he has a twisted, unique and wonderful mind and I can't get enough of his books. This one wasn't my favorite so far but it was good.

This Week, I plan to read:

Sayonara by James Michener
Lucky You by Carl Hiaasen
The Faiths of the Founding Fathers by David L. Holmes
Timbuktu: The Sahara's Fabled City of Gold by Marq de Villiers and Sheila Hirtle


Don't Know Much About the Civil War by Kenneth C Davis

Wish me Luck!

Also, received in the Mailbox Last Week: The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (from Betterworld Books)