Books read in October

Yep. School (and schoolwork) are in full force right now. Only five books read this month.

Read

Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters
Seymour, an Introduction
J. D. Salinger
This is the October Library Book Group selection and a J.D. Salinger creation I have not read. Reading the first story I was delighted to remember how much I love J. D. Salinger. Something about his prose leaves me just on the edge of a delighted hoot. Seymour, an Introduction, I did not love. I felt it was in need of a firm editor, and I ended up skimming most of it. Before Salinger’s death, I would imagine, now and then, that when he died we would get to read all the things I assumed he had been writing for forty years. There was talk that he was continuing the story of the Glass family. I imagined that, posthumously, we reading public would see thick novels published, that were as much fun to read as the Catcher in the Rye. Reading Seymour, an Introduction, I think that perhaps if there are more novels, they probably will lean in the Seymour direction, rather than the Catcher one.

The New Frugality
Chris Farrell
In some ways a run-of-the-mill financial planning book. Its main difference is that the advice comes from the “consume less” angle rather than the “budget and hope for the best” angle. There was a very good chapter about home ownership and how to figure out what the author calls your P/R ratio, the “Price to Rent” ratio. This chapter might be good to read for people who are currently renting and frustrated with it.

There is also a lot of talk about living long and prospering, a subject that I believe we who read a lot of financial planning books will see more of in the next ten years. The author points out that we all will probably not have the retirement our grandparents have and will keep working and working, at least part time until at least our 70s. He points out that our “retirement jobs” can be half time work and contain the best parts of our “career” jobs without all the baggage. Farrell gives the good advice to start to volunteer with organizations you care about in your forties, so that when you retire they know you, your strengths and you can work together.

The Time Traveler’s Wife
Audrey Nifflenegger
Achilles heel alert! Anyone wanting to distract me from whatever task is at hand only need hand me a Nifflenegger novel I have not yet read. The woman’s story lines are addictive and I have trouble getting anything else done until I reach the final page. Having now read both her books, I can say that her strength seems to be writing complex novels–this one skips around in time–and building enough tension through the book so doing anything other than reading seems uninteresting. Her books are also very long so getting to the end, and back to life, takes a substantial investment of my life. This is not the worst thing in the world.

The Aeneid for Boys and Girls
retold by Alfred J. Church.
This was written in 1962 and so its prose was old enough that I had to pay much more attention than I wanted to. However, I probably paid much less attention then if I had been reading Virgil’s masterpiece. To tell the truth, I was looking for an Action Comics version of the tale, but this was as easy as the library got.

I read this as a comparison to Livina, which I read last month for the library book club. I found some striking differences between the two, namely that in LeGuin’s telling of the story the gods are not involved at all. This makes sense as the book was from the main character’s perspective and most of us don’t have sense of the string pulling various gods do on a daily basis. It would have been fun if LeGuin and I could sit down and discuss her choices as to what to include in the book, but I think I would want to wade through an official version first. Given LeGuin’s lamentation of the death of Latin and how we are as a culture seeing the actual death of the great “dead language”–statements I agree with and feel sad about–I can’t imagine the withering look I would get if it came out I couldn’t be bothered to read even a translation.

Interesting differences between books written “for boys and girls” in 1962 and today: there was a forward and an afterward. When was the last time you have seen that in a children’s book? The scattering of drawings almost never matched with the text on the page, something that I think has to do with printing layouts. Also, I’m pretty sure when the publisher says, “boys and girls” they were aiming the book at the 11-14 age group. Today the title would be The Aeneid for Tweens and Teens.

*Note. I just published my review on Goodreads and I’m the only one to review this book! So exciting!

The End of Overeating
David A. Kessler
Fabulous book! In the first section Kessler accurately describes my–and apparently many Americans– interactions with food, (“I want a cookie. No I shouldn’t. Well, it’s been awhile. But I would be better off without one. But it’s been a hard day. I’ll just have one. Well but one will be one too many. and on and on and on”) as well as traces the brain chemical response that leads us to overeating. In the second portion, he looks at how food manufacturers have capitalized on our tendency to want more to increase their profits. In the third section, he describes steps people can take to retrain our brain chemicals and habits to stop overeating.

Kessler sometimes has a tendency to bring up a point and wander off from it, but overall the book is worth reading.

Started and did not finish

I finished all I started this month.

2 thoughts on “Books read in October”

  1. I am kind of curious about The Time Traveler's wife, but I saw the movie first which just so violates how I like to roll with it all. I was not crazy about the movie, and yet, so many people have told me how good the book is I may just give it a whirl. I am currently waiting for the library to call me to tell me it is my turn to read the book The Help. Just wondering have you read that one yet?

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