Monday, September 13, 2010

I'm Booking It (August)

Despite being a busy summer, I was able to carve out a bit of time each week to indulge in some great reads.  I got a lot of reading done while traveling in the car, an entire series completed during our week at the beach and lately I've been stealing an hour or so in the evenings after the little guys have gone to bed and Jon is busy doing homework.  I feel like we've finally got our lives together from the move, things have slown down considerably now that summer is over, and Jude has started going to bed at the same time as Jack, so it's nice to have some legitimate time to settle down with a book during the week.

For starters, I read the Song of Acadia series written by Janette Oke and T. Davis Bunn.  I read the first book, and maybe the second, of this series many, many years ago, before the rest of the books were written.  It's been so long I've forgotten about them.  After reading A Mother's Hope earlier and getting frustrated that I'll have to wait months and months to read the next one, I remembered the last time this happened to me.  I also needed some good, "quick" reads to take to the beach.  Janette Oke is one of my favorite authors, I knew they were a safe pick, and to top it all off all 5 books were at the library, sitting together on the shelf, and within easy reach when I was in a hurry to escape the "quiet" library with a toddler exercising his "outside voice."  These are great books from proven authors and the perfect choice for fast beach reads.  I mean, it's Janette Oke, 'nuff said.

While I was re-organizing my bedstand I realized I had started, but never finished, Secrets of the Baby Whisperer for Toddlers.  I wish I had finished this months ago when I began it because it had some great information that I could have used back then, especially the section on adding a second baby to your family.  A lot of it was common sense, or at least it seemed so in hindsight.  But it did help open my eyes to a few "mistakes" I've been making.  For instance, Hogg suggests that you never "blame" things on the baby, such as saying, "Jack, we have to leave the park now because Mommy needs to feed Jude."  She claims this will build animosity between your kids.  I don't know if I'd take it that far, but I do try to be more careful about making Jude seem like the party pooper.  I'm a big fan of the Baby Whisperer for Babies, and while this book did have some helpful information, I think toddlerhood may be where Hogg and I part ways.  Even so, if she was alive and willing, I'd have her over in heartbeat to "analyze" my toddler.  Now THAT would be fun.

I also came across 101 Things You Didn't Know about Jane Austen in my bedstand.  My sister-in-law Kate gave this to me for Christmas, which is when I started reading it.  It must have been during one of my cleaning frenzies that I put it away (in a proper location no less) and then promptly forgot about it.  Out of sight, out of mind.  So I brought it back out, set it back on top of the bedstand where it belonged, and I've been reading bits and pieces of it ever since.  First off, this book is just plain cute.  It's small, square and divied up into 101 segments no more than a few pages long.  It makes the best nursing reading.  I think the title is a bit misleading though.  I was expecting more trivia or long-lost secrets.  Instead, it reads more like a biography, and is basically a collection of random information about my most favorite author.  I think one of my favorite parts of this book is the references page at the end, because it's provided me with an entire list of new reads to tackle over the next few months, starting with ...

Sandition by Jane Austen and "Another Lady."  This was the novel that Jane was working on when she died, thus it was never finished.  It wasn't until after I started reading the version I got from the library that I realized she had only written the first 11 chapters, which was maybe 1/4 of the book.  At first, I have to admit, I was a bit annoyed.  I thought it was pretty obvious where Jane left off and some unknown stranger picked up.  I never got over the fact that "Another Lady" referred to all the gentlemen using their first names.  I don't know about you, but it took me about 3 reads of Pride and Prejudice before I realized Darcy's first name was Fitzwilliam.  Besides that glaring difference, the entire time I'm reading the book I kept thinking, "I wonder if this is where she really meant to take this novel."  I guess we'll never know.  But while it isn't authentically "Jane", it was close.  And after I got over that fact I began to enjoy the book a bit more as just another good story.  I would recommend it to other Jane fans.  I think it contains some of her most interesting characters.  And since reading it I've learned there exists at least one other version.  So of course, I'll have to explore that as well.

Finally, I've crossed off another title on the list of "Books to Read" that I've been keeping since college.  Amusing Ourselves to Death was mentioned a lot during my Communication classes as an undergrad and graduate student.  I've read a few excerpts from it as well as a different book from the author, Neil Postman, but hadn't yet got my hands on the actual book.  I had completely forgotten about it until I saw it on a list of recommended books on a website I was exploring.  It must be a popular book because all copies at all area libraries were checked out and I had to put a hold on it a few weeks back.  It took me a bit of reading to really get in to it.  I've been out of school for two years now and haven't done much academic reading since then.  But it's all coming back to me now.  In fact, I'm really wishing I had just bought a copy for myself because I'm constantly having to refrain from underlining.  This was a great choice to beat my "it's-August-and-I-miss-being-a-student" blues.
Favorite quotes:
  "...telegraphy gave a form of legitimacy to the idea of context-free information; that is, to the idea that the value of information need not be tied to any function it might serve in social and political decision-making and action, but may attach merely to its novelty, interest, and curiosity.  The telegraph made information into a commodity, a "thing" that could be bought and sold irrespective of its uses or meaning" (p. 65). 
"In the information world created by telegraphy, this sense of potency was lost, precisely because the whole world became the context for news.  Everything became everyone's business.  For the first time, we were sent information which answered no question we had asked, and which, in any case, did not permit the right of reply"  (p. 69). 
"Where people once sought information to manage the real contexts of their lives, now they had to invent contexts in which otherwise useless information might be put to some apparent use" ergo we now have crossword puzzles, cocktail parties, quiz shows and "Trivial Pursuit" (p. 76).
I found myself constantly thinking of today, 25 years after Postman wrote this book, and how much Facebook, Twitter and other social media resemble telegraphy.
Of course, this book was really about television and how this medium has affected society.  It was interesting, but not exactly what I was expecting to read.  Rather than suggesting we bust up our TVs or begin regulating the quality of programming, Postman says that "Television ... serves us most usefully when presenting junk-entertainment; it serves us most ill when it co-opts serious modes of discourse--news, politics, science, education, commerce, religion--and turns them into entertainment packages" (p. 159).  Now, if you'll excuse me, "Top Chef" is on and I should probably go Tweet about how I've learned to cook bacon three ways.  Bacon foam.  Yum.

1 comment:

Carrie said...

1) Your comments about the Jane Austen book (and Darcy's last name) had me laughing out loud. So true!

2) Amusing Ourselves to Death was required reading for one of my college classes, but I ended up reading the entire book for fun (and it's on my re-read list this year for Booking It). My favorite section is found on pages 11 & 12 and discusses how TIME has changed how we look at life and Eternity.

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