I think LibraryThing is the best thing that ever happened to me

I've been listening to my friends and colleagues extoll on the virtues of LibraryThing for some time now. I always agreed and then never found the time to check it out. Well, I was definitely missing out. So much fun!

It's not just for cataloguing your own private library, there is so much else to do. And, all of the groups and discussion boards are about books, glorious books.

Who knows why I waited so long to sign up, being the extreme book nerd that I am, but I'm sure glad I did.

Long live LibraryThing!


Gods Behaving Badly - Marie Phillips

I came across this wonderful book by chance. I work in the science library at UWO, so only a handful of novels come through our library on any given day. I try to make a habit of perusing these as they come in and out, just in case anything interesting pops up. By now everyone I work with is aware of my huge propensity for reading; it's not something I can even try to keep under wraps.

So I'm sitting at my desk, carrying out a mind numbing task, when a coworker comes and drops this book on my desk. She thought I would like it, A) because I read so much anyway, and B) because it said something about Greek Gods. As everyone is also aware, I love mythology and have my degree in Classics. This one act of book kindness made my day! I couldn't get a better gift. It's nice to know people are looking out for you, and for a reader, this is the best it gets.

Not only was this a surprise and random read for me, it was fantastic! As a classics major, I was skeptical at first. I'm very picky because I have too much background knowledge in this area to be able to enjoy something that is only loosely correct. Turns out I had nothing to worry about. The characters of the Gods and Goddesses were excellently portrayed and all mythological details were there. Phillips didn't just get the details right, she created a light and lively story, while very cleverly creating the Gods of Greek mythology, in all their glory and immorality, in a story set in 21st Century London.

This book is quirky and fun with a wonderful ending. I think anyone interested in classical mythology would get a real kick out of Gods Behaving Badly. I wouldn't miss this one!


Do I want to write a novel? Lord Henry says it best!

I've been contemplating writing a novel for a long time. I don't think I have the patience to see it through and I would only want to write one if it was going to be the next great Canadian novel.

In The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, Lord Henry is asked the same question. His answer sums up my feelings on the matter exactly.

"I am too fond of reading books to care to write them, Mr. Erksine. I should like to write a novel certainly, a novel that would be as lovely as a Persian carpet and as unreal." p.31

So true! I hardly have time to read all the books on my ever lengthening list let alone the time to write one!

An Important Life Lesson - Guest Post

So, a good friend of mine experienced a funny little incident the other day. I thought it was too hilarious not to share.

Here it is, in my friend's own words.

Now ladies...we know we all do it...but getting caught is a different story.

I've been dating someone for the past couple of weeks, very much an important time in any relationship, especially when dating in the city. Figuring out what rules to follow, what lines to trust and what actions mean business. In trying to see through the jungle of a man's mind and intentions, we often turn to our girls friends to help us decipher the details.

Yesterday (being Sunday) I went for a stroll with one of my girl friends, down to our local bar to have bevies on the patio. On our way there she asked me how things were going with me and the new man – and – being the great friend that she is, I poured out all the juicy details. Yes, I had texted him on Friday and he had (my words) dropped everything to come and meet me (which was good)...and then we continued on discussing his failure to call the night before (as he said was going to), but how that was OK and well, you know, I have my own life and I’m have a busy social calendar and he can’t expect me to just wait around – but he did text today, so that’s OK...and well, I’m sure you can get a picture of the kind of throw-down conversation that we were having.

We enjoyed our time on the patio, during which my cell phone died (always seems to come as a surprise!). We went home and I plugged it in, only to see that I had missed a call from my boy. Anxious to hear what he had to say, I listened to the message straight away. As it turns out, just as I was beginning my conversation with my girl friend all about the boy, I had accidentally CALLED him and left an VERY LONG message in his voicemail (basically a spy recording of our conversation) and he heard EVERYTHING. ‘All of it. ALL OF IT’ was how he put it. Every last detail of the ‘girl-scheming’. He called it the most informative and valuable message he had every received.


After barely listening to his message, I ran to my girls for support. How could this have happened??? What else does he know?? How could I have let him this far into ‘girl-world’?? Have I broken some sort-of barrier?!?! Could this mean the end?? Now that he knows exactly how I feel??

Well, as it turns out, my new guy DOES have a sense of humour and all is forgiven. He has promised to not pour over the message for every juicy detail – but come-on! You know if I have that kind of info, I wouldn’t let it go to waste.

I guess, well, I’m just saying as a warning...next time you dish with your girls...be sure that your cell phone is off.



Philip K Dick on Religion

Warning: possible spoilers ahead.

I just finished The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch and Dick surprized me each time I turned the page.

When I first posted on this novel I had a totally different idea of where the story was headed, but Dick threw me for a loop: more than once. The plot twists are so frequent, it's impossible to unravel the story until the very last page.

This is science fiction at it's best. Earth with a bleak and very hot future, planetary colonies on mars and the moon, psychedelic drugs and aliens; and, finally, what science fiction novel would be complete without a commentary on religion? As the novel nears the closing chapter Dick poses several questions in relation to the existance of God, as well as questioning, in a philosophical and theological manner, the belief that God created humans in His own image.

Dick deals with this brilliantly. Through the course of the novel, it is slowly revealed that Palmer Eldritch is, in fact, an alien being seeking to control the human race by introducing the drug Chew-Z to colonists and inhabitors of Terra (Earth) alike. Chew-Z transports the characters to a fantasy world while the body falls into a drug induced coma. It is here that Palmer Eldritch, or the alien being, eventually influences all people's hallucinations while taking Chew-Z. Not only that, but as his presense becomes stronger, he begins to make appearances in everyday life, blurring the lines between actual reality and the percieved reality of Chew-Z.

This is the part that blew me away. Because of Eldritch's overt and unstoppable presence at the end of the book, Barney Mayerson - the protagonist - begins to believe that the alien being behind Palmer Eldritch is, in fact, God. And so, at the end of the novel, Dick answers his own question as to the truth of our creation. If we are made in the image of God, and God is Palmer Eldritch, then it follows that humans would look like Palmer Eldritch in appearance. Dick does just this. In the closing pages, the characters must get used to the shock of seeing themselves in the image of Eldritch, with his mechanical eyes and arm and huge metal teeth.

Including a religious commentary these days is risky, especially if not done well. Dick incorporaties these questions expertly, integrating the religious theme flawlessly with the rest of the science fiction elements.

Such an interesting read!


Charles Darwin - Complete Life's Work

This is why I love the internets! Charles Darwin's complete papers, his life's work, research notes, private papers and experiments, have now been digitized by Cambridge University. Check it out here. Very cool!


Have a good one!


The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch - Philip K Dick

So, I couldn't do it. I put Pillars down and started reading a tried and true author: Philip K Dick.

I like Dick for several reasons; first, because his stories are like nothing else out there, totally bizarre and off the wall; second, I enjoy his semi-satirical writing style; and lastly, I love how the worlds he created so long ago (Three Stigmata was first published in 1965) are like predictions for today's world. The technology he envisions, like 'homeopapes,' is reminiscent of the online newspapers of contemporary times. He has even created an instant messaging system called " 'stant messages." Hello text messaging! In fact, Dick has even discovered the answer to global warming.

In the future of the Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, Dick creates a world where, by just after sunrise, the earth's surface is already to hot to support human life. This is what I find so wonderful and disturbing about Dick's writing, this novel is an uncanny look into our own possibly bleak future. Dick's answer to this very realistic problem: either live underground and avoid the great outdoors at all costs; or, fast-forward the evolutionary process, why not! This is genius. The characters with enough wealth can purchase E therapy, speeding up the evolution of humans. Not only does the brain get bigger, but the body develops a thick hairy shell which protects one from the unforgiving sun. I think this is the perfect solution. So many people are already willing to ignore global warming, so why not grow a skin barrier, a permanent layer of ultra powerful sunscreen if you will, to combat this pesky problem. This evolutionary therapy will coincide flawlessly with the already established and popular practice of plastic surgery; however, this treatment will only be available to the rich and famous so us poor suckers will have to stay indoors.

But guess what? Dick has a solution for that too! If it's too hot to go out and you can't evolve with the best of them, just take some drugs and everything will be A-Okay!

I love it. There is an answer for everyone. Governments won't have worry about reducing greenhouse gases, celebrities will have a new fad treatment to go on about and can continue driving their gas guzzling hummers around, and no one else will care because they will be so whacked out on drugs. Awesome.


The Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follet...To keep reading or to not keep reading, that is the question

So, I have recently learned a valuable reading lesson. I have a great respect for books, authors, editors and publishers - well, most of them - and, in the past, I have agonizingly worked my way through books that did not interest me, I couldn't relate to or were written with poor, - okay, let's just say it - awful grammar and style.

Why, you ask? Why submit myself to this torture? Well, there have been times when I just couldn't take it anymore and I closed the book and put it down; however, while browsing my shelves for another better book to read, I am suddenly overcome with a feeling of overwhelming guilt. I actually feel like I'm letting the author down. What if the book gets really good and has a terrific ending? What if there is more substance to the characters than previously revealed? What if, what if, what if?

I have tried to remedy this little quirk of mine and I have, for the most part, been successful. Until now. Ken Follet's The Pillars of Creation has reawakened my past guilt.

Usually a strong advocate of boycotting Walmart, I one day found myself with a long wait on my hands and no bookstore in sight. But, of course, there are a gazillion Walmarts littering this country, so I set my prejudices aside and went to check out their book selection. I should have trusted my gut. After perusing their books for all of sixty seconds (it usually takes me hours before I can drag myself away from a bookstore), I realized that my choices were slim: romance novels, self-help or The Pillars of Creation. The choice was obvious for me; I went with the historical fiction, usually a safe bet.

So here is my dilemma. The book totals 970 odd pages, approximately 300 of which I have read. The book started off well with exciting and page turning scenarios. I'm not familiar enough with the history of the time to notice any glaring inconsistencies and the writing and details seem to fit the time period. Then, at about page 200 the story started to drag. I've invested another 100 pages and now must decide to read on, or not, as the case may be. It seemed to have potential at the beginning and I'm kind of curious to see where the story goes in the next 600 pages; but, am I wasting my time? I could be spending the time it would take to read the rest reading a really really good book. There are so many I would like to read and the list seems endless; but, what if I miss out on the best book ever because I'm intent on finishing Pillars of the Earth just for the sake of assuaging my ridiculous guilt?

A dilemma indeed. What to do? I think I'll give it another hundred pages. LOL.


Hello World...There's a Book that I'm Reading...

I'll be writing about books, etc... Tune in next time. Batgirl might do a cameo.