Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I forbid you to turn the pages.

I suddenly remembered that I have a book blog.

I also have a very large (and warm) paperweight that prevents me from getting any work done.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A delightful discovery

I realized that the local public library system has quite a collection of Chinese language literature. I've been meaning to read more in Chinese, but my old books just aren't catching my interest.

I googled contemporary Chinese fiction recommendations, and Serve the People by Yan Lianke was the first thing to catch my eye. "Serve the People" was one of Mao Zedong's favorite slogans, so I expected it to be political satire. I'm in the mood for some political satire. Amazingly enough, the library has it! It should be in my hands within a week.

After requesting the book, I read the wiki article (linked above), which has a synopsis of the novel. It should be interesting, though lacking in subtly (if you read the wikipedia description especially in regards to the depiction of Mao Zedong, you'll see what I mean). I haven't had good luck with choosing Chinese novels in the last few years, so I'm quite skeptical about this one, but I'm determined to read it from cover to cover nonetheless.

Other recent library acquisitions include Deep Wizardry by Diane Duane and "M" is for Magic by Neil Gaiman. Still working through the Saki collection... and I'm currently reading a Nero Wolfe mystery, The Final Deduction.

Funny how I usually blog more when I'm procrastinating the night before big exams. I'm quite pleased that despite being extraordinarily busy these past weeks, I've still managed to find time to read.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Reading Choices

Lotus and Book, originally uploaded by littlemiao.

I'm having such trouble deciding what books to take along on my little spring break adventure. A hard-covered book might be too much of an effort to hold while I'm vacationing. A short book would be easier to hold, but not last as long. If I bring more than one book, I might not finish a single one and then I would have wasted valuable packing space. Ah, tough choices.

In other news, my camera case will most certainly not arrive in time. Perhaps I will have to wrap my precious camera in a fleecy pillowcase. It's only just shipping today or tomorrow.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

little study nook

little study nook, originally uploaded by littlemiao.

I miss little study nooks like this one. I miss being in a place where the library was open on Sundays during breaks.

Oooof, must get back to work.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Colorful poetry

Some of Saki's satirical poems are kind of funny. Like this one, composed by the recurring character Clovis - a color painting of "the dawn coming up over the Brahma-putra river":

"The amber dawn-drenched East with sun-shafts kissed,
Stained sanguine apricot and amethyst,
O'er the washed emerald of the mango groves
Hangs in a mist of opalescent mauves,
While painted parrot-flights impinge the haze
With scarlet, chalcedon and chrysoprase."

I did not know the hue of chrysoprase until I looked it up on wikipedia, though I had a vague suspicion that it was greenish.

And that is all I have to say. Though if I get my act together, there is one story I want to comment more extensively on... perhaps this weekend.

* "The Recessional" in The Complete Saki, p. 202

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Thought for the day

"[W]hen once you have taken the Impossible into your calculations its possibilities become practically limitless."

Saki did not mean this in an inspirational, motivating sort of way.

* p. 189 The Complete Saki (Penguin)

The book is due back at the library soon. I am reading at such a languid pace, it may take me all year to finish. Only 700 pages to go.

Why am I not outside enjoying the beautiful weather and the late sunset? Because I am inside finding 1,001 ways to avoid studying for tomorrow's exam. My final final of the term. I just want to get it over with, but since I can't take it this instant, I am obligated to fill the intervening time with studying.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Glareful Prince Tantra punishes the unworthy

Glareful Tantra, originally uploaded by littlemiao.

Because it was ever so much more important to finish reading Sandman Vol. 4 than to study for one of the four exams I have coming up in the next three days.

My Miao Brothers are ever so disappointed in me.

(Actually, I expect that with the exception of the stern Prof Tash, they don't really care how much or little I study because it won't bring me home any sooner. Alas.)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A book meme

A delicate balance

"Tell me a story... One just true enough to be interesting and not true enough to be tiresome."

--- Saki

From The Complete Saki, "The Story of St. Vespaluus (p.166).

I'm working my way slowly through Saki's short stories. I'm not entirely convinced that the book (Penguin edition) is complete, having seen references elsewhere to writings of Saki's that don't show up in the book. Or maybe they do.

A volume such as this, in my opinion, needs an introduction. The lack of an introduction leaves me feeling unanchored.

There is something fascinating and disturbing about these stories. Maybe it has to do with the variety of ways women can be killed by wild beasts.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Brighten your Monday with unicorns and rainbows!

Ping, cornified, originally uploaded by littlemiao.

King Ping gazes benevolently at the world through a wreath of rainbows and unicorns.

Click here to cornify your Monday too!

Friday, April 3, 2009

It was waiting for me all along

I finally have a copy of The Laugh-Out-Loud Cats Sell Out. It was sitting in the rental office for two weeks because I was under the impression that UPS couldn't deliver it, owing to the fact that I received an email from amazon.com to that effect. It took me two weeks to call UPS and ask what's up, only to find out that the book was waiting here for me all along. If only I hadn't been too scatterbrained to check the UPS tracking number online. Sometimes I wonder if I have any brains left to scatter.

I still need to ask for a signed bookplate, if there are any left.

The book is beautiful, to say nothing of the comics themselves, which are genius.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Goal for this evening

Mani's reading time, originally uploaded by littlemiao.

I'm going to finish reading The Wee Free Men tonight.

Mani is going to nap.

Fictive shelves

I find it intriguing that the Sandman comics are shelved under adult non-fiction at the local library.

The fourth volume is waiting for me. I'll pick it up tomorrow. yay!
The sandman : season of mists

Monday, March 23, 2009

My thoughts exactly

I just finished listening to the audio book version of Jodi Picoult's Change of Heart. This New York Times review by Janet Maslin echoes my criticisms so well, I won't bother to add anything. Change of Heart was my sixth Picoult book, and I found it to be her least impressive effort so far. And here I must make a confession. None of her books have truly engaged me, yet I keep coming back for more. I can't explain why. It could be a function of Audible's selection (her books tend to be long, so I get more minutes per credit), or maybe they're my version of escapist television (since I have no TV). All I know is that I have three more Picoult novels waiting in my iTunes for the next time I need literary accompaniment to my apartment-cleaning endeavors.

I linked to the NYT review to avoid being critical myself, and since I seem to be veering in that direction, I'll stop now.

Dream come true

Ever daydreamed unicorns and rainbows into existence right before your eyes? Well, now it doesn't have to just be a daydream. Scroll down to the end of the right-hand column and click on the "cornify" button. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Prof Tash declares that the Miao Library is off-limits to cornification. But even his stern glower can't keep them from his book blog.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Louisa May & Mr. Thoreau's Flute by Julie Dunlap and Marybeth Lorbiecki, illustrated by Mary Azarian

Louisa May & Mr. Thoreau's fluteLouisa May & Mr. Thoreau's Flute by Julie Dunlap and Marybeth Lorbiecki, illustrated by Mary Azarian

Papa Miao rescued this charming book from a school library discard pile and gave it to me. It recreates how the young Louisa May Alcott discovered "her own inner music" and wrote her first poem. The free-spirited "Louy" longs to spend her time on Mr. Thoreau's nature walks exploring the Concord woods, not cooped inside with household chores. Mr. Thoreau's flute melodies enthrall her and she struggles to express her own music. The vibrant woodcuts by Mary Azarian add historical detail to the text and mirror Louy's bold spirit.

The friendship between LMA and Thoreau was real, but authors had to furnish the details. Thus, Thoreau may or may not have said of a cobweb: "That's a lace handkerchief dropped by a fairy." Perhaps Madeline Bassett was an admirer of Thoreau?

In honor of springtime, which is finally showing itself in these parts, here's LMA's first poem, "To the First Robin":

Welcome, welcome, little stranger,
Fear no harm, and fear no danger;
We are glad to see you here,
For you sing "Sweet Spring is near."

Now the white snow melts away;
Now the flowers blossom gay:
Come dear bird and build your nest,
For we love our robin best.

Book + Sun + Nap = Happy Kitty

Lotus and his book, originally uploaded by littlemiao.

Another photo from when Lotus was reading THE LONG PATROL last month.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Four Things for Thursday

Tashi, originally uploaded by littlemiao.

1. Tashi is beautiful.

2. It works best when I write my book reflections soon after reading, rather than waiting a few years.

3. Blogger does not like it when I copy and paste text from Microsoft Word. It refuses to let me modify the font.

4. Tashi abhors procrastination. If you intend to catnap, then catnap! If you need to wash your dishes, just get them done! And if the first five items on your to-do list are STUDY, then what are you waiting for?

Alt Ed by Catherine Atkins

Alt edAlt Ed by Catherine Atkins

(Read today!)

An unlikely group of teens are thrown together by their “alternative education” class – a last chance for students facing expulsion. The six students – the preppy overachiever, the popular jock, the mean redneck, the school slut, the fat girl, and the gay kid – become mirrors for each others’ insecurities and strengths. The bullied confront their bullies, the victims realize their power, and everyone comes out with a fuller understanding of themselves. I don’t mean to sound skeptical or dismissive. I can’t fault the book for its neatness (okay, maybe I can), and certainly it’s nice to end with a positive message. Contrived, yes, but perhaps it is a commentary on the contrived nature of high school itself… and beyond that, all of human society. The characters are well-formed, not just cardboard cutouts of their high school type. The protagonist, a lonely overweight girl who is dealing with the death of her mother as well as daily bullying at school, is a refreshing narrator because she isn’t bogged down in self-pity. And she has a kitty. Overall, a nice read, with convincing characters and occasionally thought-provoking dialogue.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Our Little Librarian

Tashi, originally uploaded by littlemiao.

Professor Tashi S. Miao keeps a mental catalog of all the thousands of books in the Miao library, and he always knows just where to find each volume.

Here he can be seen at his library post, guarding the Egyptology collection.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Still Reading The Long Patrol

Lotus Paws Up, originally uploaded by littlemiao.

All those catnaps are getting in the way of finishing the book. Lotus fell asleep dreaming of deeper 'n ever pie.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Reading goals for 2009

We're already two months into 2009, but I don't suppose it's ever too late to make reading goals, just like it's never too early or too late to procrastinate studying, which is exactly what I'm doing now (procrastinating, not studying).
  1. Borrow more from the library, buy less (I'm already doing well on this one)
  2. Read 60+ books this year (including short children's books and picture books, so it's not really such an impressive number. Last year, I managed approx. 50 books even though I hardly read for 3 months).
  3. Read more non-fiction than last year (last year I only read 3 or 4 non-fiction books, not counting parts of books for academic research. This year, I'm aiming for 10-12 - there are just so many things I want to read that I never get around to).
  4. Read more poetry
  5. Finish books I began last year and/or have been meaning to read for a while (most of these I began but got distracted in the middle):
  • The Placebo Effect, ed. Anne Harrington
  • Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco
  • Zhuangzi
  • King Arthur by Norma L. Goodrich
  • The House of Thirty Cats
  • The final Harry Potter book
  • Finish the Dark Is Rising series (2 to go, I think)
  • Dickens' Christmas Carol
  • Genealogies of Religion by Talal Asad
  • The Open - Agamben
  • How to write
  • The Question of Hu

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Storytime for Lotus

Storytime for Lotus, originally uploaded by littlemiao.

The Long Patrol by Brian Jacques. Begun while on a brief visit home... Now I'm back up to five books on the go at once.

It has been a long time since I've read a Redwall book. I've read (and re-read) most of the earlier ones, but this will be my first time reading The Long Patrol. It's already gotten off to a fun start, with the requisite menus of delicious food. I forgot how well those woodland critters eat.

Lotus was enjoying a sunbath with the book this morning and he wouldn't let me take it away from him.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Kemi enjoying a good book

Kemi, Dec. 2008, originally uploaded by littlemiao.

My 2009 Audio Books

1. The Hippopotamus Pool (Amelia Peabody) by Elizabeth Peters
2. Straight into Darkness by Faye Kellerman

3. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

4. Malice Prepense (Barbara Holloway) by Kate Wilhelm
5. Milk and Honey (Peter Decker) by Faye Kellerman
6. Day of Atonement (Peter Decker) by Faye Kellerman
7. Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult

Audio books - 2008

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Needs Focus

Lotus, originally uploaded by littlemiao.

Five books on the go at once is too much for me. Maybe one fiction and one non-fiction at once would be sustainable. Otherwise, it is a symptom of my pathological inability to focus.

At least, of the five books I am currently reading, three are short-story type things: The Complete Saki, Young Men in Spats, and the Sandman Vol. 1.

It began with How the Other Half Lives, a very unpleasant book for more reason than one. I started avoiding the book, and in the process began four others. Now not only can't I focus on reading, I can't focus on my studies or even on cleaning my apartment.

Lotus Batcat tells me that a catnap is a sure cure for inability to focus.

I'm pretty sure I can finish my current Nero Wolfe mystery today, which will give me a sense of accomplishment even if I can't get anything else done. =P

Now I've got to get ready in 9 minutes or else be late for an appointment.

Books read in 2009

last updated 26 June 2009


1. The Master Plan: Himmler's Scholars and the Holocaust by Heather Pringle
2. Code of the Woosters by P. G. Wodehouse
3. So You Want To Be a Wizard by Diane Duane
4. Too Many Clients (Nero Wolfe) by Rex Stout

5. Weedflower by Cynthia Kadohata
6. I am Rosemarie by Marietta D. Moskin (re-read)
7. Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick
8. The Red Box (Nero Wolfe) by Rex Stout
9. The Sandman, Vol. 1: Preludes & Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Sam Keith, Mike Dringenberg, and Malcolm Jones III
10. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler

11. Young Men in Spats by P. G. Wodehouse
12. The Long Patrol (Redwall) by Brian Jacques
13. The Sandman, Vol. 2: The Doll's House by Neil Gaiman et al
14. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
15. Alt Ed by Catherine Atkins
16. The Sandman, Vol. 3: Dream Country by Neil Gaiman et al
17. Louisa May & Mr. Thoreau's Flute by Julie Dunlap and Marybeth Lorbiecki, illustrated by Mary Azarian
18. The Order of the Poison Oak by Brent Hartinger
19. Jane on Her Own by Ursula K. Le Guin
20. Dodger and Me by Jordan Sonnenblick
21. Geography Club by Brent Hartinger
22. Acupuncture Patterns & Practice by Li Xuemei and Zhao Jingyi

23. The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
24. The Laugh-Out-Loud Cats Sell Out by Adam Koford
25. House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday
26. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (re-read)
27. Upon the Head of the Goat by Aranka Siegal
28. The Sandman, Vol. 4: Season of Mists by Neil Gaiman et al
29. Ghost Cats by Susan Shreve
30. The Sandman, Vol. 5: A Game of You by Neil Gaiman et al
31. Something New by P. G. Wodehouse (re-read)
32. Dakota Dream by James Bennett

33. Treason by the Book by Jonathan D. Spence
34. The Sandman, Vol. 6: Fables & Reflections by Neil Gaiman et al
35. Wonderful Alexander and the Catwings by Ursula K. LeGuin
36. Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett
37. The Sandman, Vol. 7: Brief Lives by Neil Gaiman et al
38. The Roller Birds of Rampur by Indi Rana
39. Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett

40. The Cats in Krasinski Square by Karen Hesse
41. I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Joanne Greenberg
42. Blitzcat by Robert Westall
43. The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
44. Finn's Going by Tom Kelly

Saturday, February 21, 2009

new aquisitions

So far I've been remarkably faithful to my New Year's resolution: buy fewer books and patronize the local libraries more. I've only bought two books so far this year, and they are both for my health and well-being, and both come highly recommended. Together, I hope they'll help me start running again:

Healing Back Pain by John E. Sarno


Chi Running by Danny Dreyer
Healing back pain : the mind-body connectionChiRunning : a revolutionary approach to effortless, injury-free running

Friday, February 20, 2009

book meme!

From Quagmire Bibliophile:

One book you’re currently reading: The Red Box (Nero Wolfe) by Rex Stout

One book that changed your life: The Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse

One book you’d want on a deserted island: The Lord of the Rings (it counts as one book!)

One book you’ve read more than once: Anne of Green Gables

One book you’ve never been able to finish: I make a point of finishing any book I start... eventually. But I have so many books "in progress", "eventually" is a long time away.

One book that made you laugh: Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse

One book that made you cry: Godblog by Laurie Channer

One book you keep rereading: Lord of the Rings

One book you’ve been meaning to read: to pick at random, Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire

One book you believe everyone should read: I don't know if there is such a book. It would have to be widely translated.

Grab the nearest book. Open it to page 56. Find the fifth sentence…

Wolfe reached out and rang for beer.
lol. What are the chances? From The Red Box by Rex Sout