January ’13 was…

When I look back on January 2013 I have a sense of relief. All things considered this month was better than the last. In the grand scheme of things January treated me kind. No major meltdowns. No minor catastrophes to speak of. I started training for Just ‘Cause in the quiet way. Four to five miles a day and I didn’t stress about the numbers. If I didn’t make five or even four I didn’t have a hissy fit or beat myself or moi up. I cut me & myself some slack; gave us a break. I know that as the months wear on this won’t always be the case, but for now it was nice to go easy on me, myself & moi. The running was a different matter. Just as relaxed a schedule but not so easy going on. The run is a little over six weeks away and I’ve done next to nil in order to train. New Guinea has been awesome in that I’m working on speed intervals on level five. Let me repeat that. Level five. Nothing to write home about. I used to operate at level nine. Enough said. On with the books! I am pretty proud of the list.

  • Lives of the Painters, Architects and Sculptors by Giorgio Vasari ~ in honor of National Art Month way back in October. This finally completes the series!
  • Ancient Athens on 5 Drachmas a Day by Philip Matyszak ~ in honor of Female Domination Day in Greece.
  • Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray ~ in honor of January being the first month I read something from the first chapter of a Lust book. I admit I didn’t finish this one.
  • Of Human Bondage by William Somerset Maugham ~ in honor of Maugham’s birth month. I also didn’t finish this one.
  • Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet by Eleanor Cameron ~ Happy new year. Read something to make me happy.
  • Idle Days in Patagonia by W. H. Hudson ~ in honor of January being the best time to visit Patagonia.
  • The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll ~ in honor of Lewis birth and death month.
  • Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson ~ in honor of the month all Creatures Great and Small aired.
  • Tatiana by Dorothy Jones ~ in honor of January being the month Alaska became a state.

On audio I listened to:

  • Final Solution by Michael Chabon ~ in honor of January being Adopt a Rescued Bird month.
  • No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith ~ in honor of Female Mystery Month
  • City of Thieves by David Benioff ~ last minute add-on. This was addicting!

For the Early Review program with LibraryThing:

  • Gold Coast Madam by Rose Laws (started in Dec)
  • Her by Christa Parravani

For Fun:

  • Leave Your Sleep the poetry book for children by Natalie Merchant

Lives of the Painters…vol 4

Vasari, Giorgio. The Lives of the Painters, Sculptors and Architects, Vol 4. Translated by A.B. Hinds. London: J.M. Dent & Sons, Ltd, 1927.

Reason read: Way back in October I started the series in honor of National Art Month. I am finally finished!

One of the coolest features of all four volumes is that if you want to see some of the art describes the  location of where it can be seen is mentioned in the footnotes (or, at least where it was at the time of publication). For example David Ghirlanai’s art can be seen in the Musee de Cluny in Paris. One of the more frustrating features of all four volumes is that Vasari gets sidetracked very easily. He should be talking about one artist but ends up focusing on another. I can’t count how many times he said, “But back to —.” Deja vu. I said this in Vol. 3’s review as well. Vasari inserts himself more in volume 4 than in previous volumes like when talking about his friend Francesco (De’ Salviati or Francesco Rossi) but especially at the end, when he includes his own biography. The final chapter is devoted to himself so that Vasari can speak of his own life and artistic accomplishments. I will admit 100% I ran out of steam before I got to Vasari’s chapter about himself.

Favorite parts & quotes, since he said it so often, “But after this somewhat lengthy digression, which however I do not think out of place, I return to Rustico” (p 37). My favorite artist had to have been Rustico. He was generous and fond of animals, “He so tamed a porcupine that it remained under the table like a dog, and sometimes pricked people’s legs…” (p 32).

Author fact: What I constantly had to keep in mind was that Vasari was writing about his contemporaries. He worked with some of the artists he writes about although he refers to himself in the third person which is a little odd.

Book trivia: In every volume of Lives of the Painters there is an illustration of one of the artists. In volume four it is Michelagnolo’s.

BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter called “Ciao, Italia” (p 46). Can I just say this was a huge pain in the butt. For one thing, Pearl mentions Vasari’s Lives of the Painters… but fails to mention it is four volumes (essentially four books).

Postscript ~ something funny is going on with LibraryThing. My review for Vol. 3 is on the Vol. 4 page and yet it’s like to the review belongs to someone else. At first glance I haven’t written a review and I haven’t until you see it’s the review for Vol. 3. Weird. I’m not sure how to fix that.


Jan ’13 is…

Holy crap I am late with the list. “I’m late, I’m late” said the White Rabbit! Okay, okay! I just finished The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland so sue me.
January 2013 is another year of hope and of promise. Kisa and I are going to see Trey Anastasio at the Palace in a few weeks. I officially started training for the 5th Just ‘Cause Walk and, and. And! I am training to run a 10k in March. Yay me. But, here are the books…before I get too carried away.

  • Rabbit Hill (speaking of rabbits) by Robert Lawson in honor of when All Creatures Great & Small first aired. Get it? Creatures = rabbits. This is a kids book so I’m hoping to fly through it.
  • The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith in honor of January being Female Mystery month. I’m listening to this on cd. It’s the first one in the series so expect to see Alexander McCall Smith on my book list for the next 4 or 5 months.
  • Lives of the Painters, Sculptors Vol 4 by Giorgio Vasari ~ this (finally, finally) ends the series started in October in honor of Art Appreciation month
  • Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackery ~ in honor of the first month of the year I’m reading something from the first chapter of More Book Lust.
  • Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet by Eleanor Cameron ~ in honor of the a Happy New Year. Another kids book to lighten the mood.
  • Ancient Athens on 5 Drachmas a Day by Philip Matyszak ~ Okay, get this – Female Domination Day in Greece happens in January, hence reading something Greek.
  • Tatiana by Dorothy M. Jones ~ in honor of Alaska becoming a state in January. Mo one locally has this book in their library so I had to ILL it. It might have to come from Alaska. How fitting.
  • Final Solution by Michael Chabon ~ in honor of January being Adopt a Rescued Bird month. This is another book I will listen to in the car or while working out.

For the LibraryThing Early Review program I am just finishing up Gold Coast Madam by Rose Laws. I also received notification of a January Early Review book but as always I won’t mention it by title until it’s in my hot little hands (or in this case, cold little hands since it’s 6 degrees outside).


Lives of the Painters, Vol 3

Vasari, Giorgio. Lives of the Painters, Sculptors, and Architects. Vol. 3 Translated by A.B. Hinds. London: J.M. Dent & Sons, Ltd., 1927.

A glance through the table of contents led me to believe Vasari was on a mission to cram as many painters, sculptors and architects as he could into this third volume. Many of the chapters contain more than one artist and a few chapters contain the words “and others.” It’s almost as if volume three was supposed to be the last one and he didn’t want to miss anyone. Like previous volumes
Vasari continues the habit of getting sidetracked talking about other artists. He brings himself back to the main artist with “to return to (fill in artist here).” He definitely has a formula for writing about the artists and this formula can be dull at times but every once in awhile Vasari will include a tidbit of the artist’s personal life that gives depth to the biography. I especially liked reading about Da Vinci’s newphew Piero (or Pierino).

Quotes I liked, “But he [Francisco Mazzuoli] wasted time in seeking for what could never be found, and neglected his art to the detriment of his life and reputation” (p 6). As an aside, it was Mazzuoli who stood painting while Rome was being sacked. The Germans were so taken by his art that they let him continue to paint while they pillaged around him. Another quote I liked, “When no longer able to work, and worn out by old age, he rendered his soul to God in 1546” (p 66). One more and this is just a phrase, Michelannolo’s chapel “a stew of nudes” (p 90). Don’t you just love it?

Reason read: Continuing the Lives of the Painters series started in October to honor National Art month.

Author fact: I’ve run out of things to say.

Book trivia: Volume III contains the portrait of Giorgio Vasari which was nice to see (although he reminds me of my father-in-law).

BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter called “Ciao, Italia” (p 46).


December 12 is…

December is a mixed bag. Kisa and I aren’t traveling anywhere (I think we did enough of that over the summer). We’ll get the tree today. I’ll spend the weekend humming Christmas tunes and decorating the crap out of the house. Not much else is planned except a lot of books, books, books. For starters I am reading a lot of continuations:

  • Brush with Death by Elizabeth Duncan ~ a final book in the continuation of the series I started last month.
  • The Good Thief’s Guide to Vegas by Chris Ewan ~ this finishing the Good Thief series I started in October.
  • Lives of the Painters… by Giorgio Vasari ~ this is the third (and penultimate) book in the series started in October
  • Strong Poison by Dorothy Sayers ~ this continues the series started with The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club

Confession: a bunch of these books aren’t “series” per se. But, because they continue a story (same characters, continuation of plot) I wanted to read them in order, especially Chris Ewan.

For the honor of all things December:

  • The Wholeness of a Broken Heart by Katie Singer ~ in honor of Hanukkah
  • Women of the Raj by Margaret Macmillan ~ in honor of December being a really good time to visit India
  • The Tattered Cloak by Nina Berberova ~ in honor of the coldest day in Russia (12/31/76)
  • Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegman ~ in honor of Iowa becoming a state in December

For the Early Review Program for LibraryThing I’m back to nonfiction: Drinking with Men by Rosie Schaap (I remembered her last name by thinking Schnapps). This looks really interesting because it isn’t someone’s sob story memoir about being an trapped and pathetic alcoholic.

And, lastly audio – I am planning to drive to work to the tune of Ross Macdonald’s The Galton Case.

So, there is it. Ten books. Ambitious of me, I know. The way I look at it I have ten days of vacation coming up with barely anything to do. I want to spend a great deal of time reading if nothing else.


Lives of the Painters Vol 2

Vasari, Giorgio. The Lives of the Painters, Sculptors and Architects, Vol 2. Translated by A.B. Hinds. London: J. M. Dent & Sons, Ltd, 1927.

I have to be honest. I was not looking forward to volume two of Vasari’s work. For starters, there were a lot of mistakes in volume one and for another it was a little on the boring side. Okaaaay. It was a lot on the boring side! But I am determined to stick it out and get through all four volumes, even if it kills me. Disclaimer, like with volume one I am skipping any biography that contains an error in volume two.

There is not introduction to the second volume. We just jump right into the biographies, starting with Fra Filippo Lippi, Painter of Florence (?1406 – 1469). Vasari doesn’t waste any time getting to the juicy parts of a painter’s life, “He remained so for two days, but overcome by his amorous and bestial desires, he cut up his sheet with a pair of scissors, and, letting himself down out the window, devoted many days to his pleasures” (p 3). Ooh la la. But, don’t get too excited. There aren’t that many personal facts for the rest of the biographies. Vasari, for the most part, sticks to who painted or sculpted what. One good thing about volume two is that it includes Botticello and Da Vinci, two artists I was looking forward to reading about.

Favorite quote. This is a little lengthy but tell me, does it not inspire you to go look at some art? This is from Antonio Pollajuolo:  “He always copied Nature as closely as possible, and has here represented an archer drawing the bowstring to his breast and bending down to charge it, putting all the force of his body into the action, for we may see the swelling of his veins and muscles and the manner in which he is holding his breath” (p 81).

Book Trivia: There were not as many errors in this volume!

Reason read: A continuation of the series started in honor of Art Month (September).

BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter called “Ciao, Italia” (p 46).


November ’12 is…

November is Thanksgiving. My mom’s birthday. A wedding somewhere out there. The days are getting shorter and the nights are getting colder. Soon it will be time to crank up the woodstove. November is also a football game (Go Pats!) and maybe some music. It promises to be a good month for books, too. I have a couple of really short ones to buzz through:

  • Lives of the Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, Vol 2. by Giorgio Vasari ~ continuing the series started in October in honor of art month. As with Vol.1 I won’t read any bio that has a mistake in it.
  • I’m excited about this volume because Da Vinci is in it.

  • The Good Thief’s Guide to Paris by Chris Ewan ~ a continuation of the series started in October to honor the Amsterdam marathon. This should be a really quick read.
  • Camus: a Romance by Elizabeth Hawes ~ in honor of Albert Camus’s birth month
  • Edward Lear in Albania: journals of a landscape painter by Edward Lear ~ in honor of November being a good time to visit Albania.
  • I guess so.

  • Before the Knife: Memories of an African Childhood by Carolyn Slaughter ~in honor of November being a good time to take a safari in Africa. Truth be told, this won’t inspire me to travel anywhere near the dark continent.
  • I can tell already.

For audio – I’m plan to listen to Martin Gilbert’s biography of Winston Churchill, Winston Churchill, a Life and Dorothy Sayer’s The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club.

For the Early Review program on LibraryThing I will finish Clay by Melissa Harrison. I have to admit I’m not wild about the story. I love the way Harrison describes the landscape around her but not a fan of her character development.

What else about November? Can I say I will be thrilled, thrilled to not have to listen to Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren bash each other over the head anymore? As a woman I have never felt more “targeted” than in this particular election. That would go for Obama and Romney as well. Grrrr.