Boo to You October

The month had finally arrived for the half marathon, my first and only of 2017. Enough said about that.
Here are the books I have planned:

Fiction:

  • The Aristotle Detective by Margaret Anne Doody ~ in honor of Greece’s Ochi Day
  • All Hallows Eve by Charles Williams ~ in honor of what else? Halloween.

Nonfiction:

  • Whatever You Do, Don’t Run by Peter Allison ~ in honor of the first safari leader’s birth month (Major Sir William Wallace Cornwallis Harris born October 1848. How’s that for a name?) (AB / print)
  • Sense of the World: How a Blind Man Became History’s Greatest Traveler by Jason Roberts ~ in honor of James Holman’s birth month (AB)

Series Continuations:

  • The Amazing Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman ~ to continue the series started in September in honor of Grandparents Day.
  • Henry James: the Master by Leon Edel ~ to continue (and finish) the series started in April in honor of James’s birth month
  • We are Betrayed by Vardis Fisher ~ to continue the series started in August

Early Review for LibraryThing:

  • Riot Days by Maria Alyokhina ~ and we are back to nonfiction.

If there is time:

  • Breakfast on Pluto by Patrick McCabe (fiction)
  • The Discarded Duke by Nancy Butler (fiction)
  • In the Valley of Mist by Justine Hardy (nonfiction)
  • I Will Bear Witness (vol.1) by Victor Klemperer (nonfiction)

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

Ancient Athens on 5 Drachmas

Matyszak, Philip. Ancient Athens on 5 Drachmas a Day. Thames & Hudson

This is a very different guide book; definitely one like no other. For starters, don’t think you can use this in modern-day Greece. It’s a time machine of sorts. You explore ancient Athens as if you are a tourist from 2,500 years ago. In addition, it is full of humor. Where else can you learn how to say “Unhand my wife immediately, you drunken unpleasant fellow” in Greek? Matyszak calls this a “useful phrase” to know! But that’s how Matyszak’s entire “guide” is – full of humor and wit.

Goofy quotations, “If inspired toward romantic adventure, a traveller should note that Boeotian women are as famed for their beauty as Boeotian men are famed for their thick-headedness – but also that even when true, the general is not reliable guide to the particular” (p 13).

Reason read: So, there is this day in celebrated in January called “Female Domination Day.” What better time to read about Greece?

Author fact: Matyszak is a Greek historian which explains why he wrote Ancient Athens… and followed it up with Ancient Rome…

Book trivia: While Ancient Athens on 5 Drachmas a Day is really short it is packed full of really interesting facts and covers a wide array of information. I particularly liked the photographs of Greek art.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Just So Much Greek To Me” (p 120).


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).


Fire From Heaven

Renault, Mary. Fire From Heaven. New York: Pantheon Books, 1969.

The story of Alexander the Great opens with Alexander as a young child waking to find a snake in bed with him. He assumes it is his mother’s pet snake, Glaukos. From there we are, guided by Renault’s excellent storytelling, witness to Alexander’s rise to greatness with fiction interwoven with nonfiction. For example, Renault wasn’t there for Alexander’s first battle and there is little documentation of it. So, the battle and subsequent kill at the age of twelve is purely fictional but Renault makes it easy to picture it as fact even if it is a little incredulous. With no ornament or artifact to take from the body as a trophy, Alexander saws off the head of his enemy.
Renault skillfully shows Alexander growing up, becoming more and more of a leader. Played against each other are his parents, the ever jealous Olympia and King Philip. Alexander learns how to manipulate them equally. Hephaistion starts his relationship with Alexander as a schoolmate and, as both boys mature, becomes a devoted friend with a level of intimacy that borders on homosexuality. Renault does not shy away from such relationships as they were commonplace.

“Was every enemy of his a hero to his son?” (p 76).
“Fear lay dead at his feet” (p 228).

Reason read: Back to school, let’s get a little Greek!

Author fact: Mary Renault is known for her classic works of Greek mythology. I read The King Must Die in high school.

Book trivia: Fire From Heaven is the first book in a trilogy about the life and times of Alexander the Great. I am only reading the first two.

BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called “The Classical World” (p 59).


“Ithaca”

Cavafy, Constantine. The Complete Poems of Cavafy. “Ithaca.” Translated by Rae Dalven. New York: Harcourt Brace and World, Inc., 1961.

When I first saw the poem name “Ithaca” I thought I would be reading about Ithaca, New York. Silly me.

This was a poem I reread a few times. Not because it was taxing or troublesome, far from it. I just love the admonishment behind the words. It the advice given to someone traveling to Ithaca, Greece. The message is pretty simple and one we have heard before – it’s not the destination, but the journey. The unknown adviser is asking for the journey to be important. “But do not hurry the voyage at all” (p 36). Savor the way as you go.

Author Fact: Cavafy’s full name was Constantine Petrou Photiades Cavafy. How’s that for a nice Alexandrian name? Another interesting fact (according to Wikipedia) is that he was born and died on the same day, April 29th.

BookLust Twist: From Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Travelers’ Tales in Verse” (p 237).


Antigone

Sophocles. Antigone. Translated by Elizabeth Wycoff. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1954.

The Cliff/Spark version of Antigone is this: Two sisters want to bury their dead brother. One wants to bury him admirably and the other doesn’t want to break the law. The brother in question cannot be buried because he was executed for a crime and must be left to rot in the courtyard as an example for the community. Defiant sister must go against the king alone as everyone who is anybody refuses to help her. True to Greek tragedy nearly everyone, including the king’s wife ends up committing suicide. The end.

Of course there is much, much more to the story and, depending on which version you read, you get it. In my version of Antigone translated by Elizabeth Wyckoff the language is watered down and somewhat pedestrian. It’s not as lyrical as other translations. A small example: from a 1906 Oxford Clarendon Press version (translated by Robert Whitelaw): “Ismene: There’s trouble in thy looks, thy tidings tell” compared with the 1954 University of Chicago Press version (translated by Elizabeth Wycoff): “Ismene: What is it? Clearly some news has clouded you” (p 159). Ismene is basically saying the same thing in each line, but the Whitelaw version has more animation, more movement. In the end Antigone is a simple story about the man against The Man, no matter how you read it.

Note: I’m note sure how many other versions have this, but I appreciated the biography of Socrates in my version.

BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter called “The Alpha, Beta Gammas of Greece” (p 9).