|At work, by the coffee machine and the water cooler, there are a couple of shelves with a library and I like to browse through it once in a while - sometimes good stuff pops up. This one time there was this book that promised to me some New Age 70s alien conspiracy thing, possibly backed up by science, at least that's what the author promised. Now. I don't give up on books easily and this was the only book I had on a long train ride, still I gave up on it after 30 pages. |
It's not that the author is completely delusional but he sees signs of aliens everywhere. "Oh, there is a spirally looking thing in that mural - it's a clear sign that aliens must have shared with our ancestors the structure of DNA and those ancestors were just not able to replicate the helicoidal shape too well." No. Just no. It's a clear sign that spirally things have been a common symbol for humans for thousands of years, that's all. And the guy will basically look at any mural or ancient scroll and see something alien-inspired in it and pretend that it's a "clear" sign and that there are no other explanations.
All those kinds of theories are fun but only to a certain point, then they get wacky and then they turn to complete crap. And this was beyond complete crap.
|Finished the first Percy Jackson book on that day, or maybe the day afterwards, and I must say I was expecting something much more grandiose given all the good things people kept on telling me about the book. There was just too much foreshadowing for my liking and the background information given about the children kept on being contradictory as to who is important, who has fewer chances of surviving, etc. Obviously those contradictions can come from the fact that, in a way, Percy learns everything from scratch so he might have gotten confused but the thing is, that book is supposed to be something he wrote after the fact so he wasn't writing it as it was happening. |
|So the other day I finished a book on a guy who forged a few Vermeers and there were a few good quotes about art in there - "Art, if it is not esteemed, does not survive." and also "(...) keenly aware that art is not art until it's sold. Until then it is merely a storage problem." Something to think about, I guess. Possibly over salad. No, actually the point of the photos was just that I needed something for the 365 Day Project and there are days when the most exciting thing in life is finding avocado to add to salad. |
|I finished off the day on the HEP FIVE Ferris Wheel, which is actually inside a shopping centre! Inside! That just seems crazy to me. I'm really not used to huge cities with huge shopping streets and huge shopping centres that require that kind of extra entertainment. Alas there was no hot date provided like at the other ferris wheel. |
Speaking of ferris wheels, I read The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America a while back and there is a part in the book about the construction of the first ferris wheel and it's quite fascinating. The rest of the book is a bit too crammed for my taste, as I said on GoodReads, it felt like the author told two and a half stories in a single book... instead of two and a half books. I've read some of his other books and it seems to be his style. I guess it also didn't help that I already knew about the macabre story of Dr. Holmes.
Okie dok. Hope that prepared everyone for a morose mood entry tagged "gali reads stuff"? Because I have to vent a bit about Icelandic mystery novels… I haven't read many of them, actually just three, but are there any people in Iceland who live in marital or single hood bliss? Or do they all have bitter fights with exes and/or moan about the trials and tribulations of single life all the time? Maybe it's just Yrsa Sigurðardóttir and Arnaldur Indriðason's styles. Who knows!
Maybe I should go pick up some French mystery novels, there is a good shelf of them at the Töölö library… maybe all mystery novels revolve around those types of characters.
(Also, the names! I would gladly lose an afternoon or two just reading an Icelandic phonebook. I'm well used to Finnish names by now, but the Icelandic ones! Wow!)
The other week I read a book by Nathaniel Philbrick, In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex about the crew of the Essex and how their misadventures inspired Moby Dick. First of all it reminded me that I never did finish reading Moby Dick nor did I ever watch more than ten minutes of any of the film adaptations of the book… and yet I devoured the story of the Essex and actually spent a few hours on the Open Library looking up just which libraries have the books written at the time and that were used as sources by Philbrick. Alas there is nothing in Helsinki and none of the books that really interest me were scanned by their home libraries. Sigh. And that is why I have already marked three other books about other sea voyages as "to-read".
|I randomly picked up Le mec de la tombe d'à côté at the library the other day and I didn't realise up until I got home that it was a book that was originally written in Swedish and apparently chick-lit. Turns out that Swedish chick-lit retains something of the usual morose prose that's common to a lot of Nordic novels. I'm almost certain the author meant for the ending to be understood as "life is full of possibilities and hooray for taking chances" but I read it as "go ahead, be selfish, who cares if you're cheating on your fiancée and will possibly bring a child into a fucked-up situation as long as you've somehow managed to find happiness for a few moments." But then again… I'm a cynic on so many aspects of life. And, if one does not take those last two pages into account, the book was rather good and not real chick-lit stuff. |
Anywho. At least one can drink tea while reading this kind of stuff.
I felt like a seasoned traveler when I didn't even attempt to take a photo of that lighthouse (lightpost? because technically it's far away at sea and no one lives there) that's in the middle of the sea nor did I get overly excited when I first saw the shore.
In other news but still related to lighthouses, right before leaving for Tallinn, I read through the last pages of The Prince of Mist and it's actually a story that's way less complicated than I thought it would be but still kind of really creepy. It had been a while since I last read a good, simple retelling of a classic story, there was nothing unnecessary written, clean and simple and still poetic. So there, now I have a new author whose books I'll have to read through... I might actually already have compiled a list of which to borrow first from the library, oops.
In other other news but still somewhat related to safety and warnings, if you don't usually listen to the TechStuff podcast, go listen to their episode on fire alarms because it's more about the history of fire alarm systems than anything else and it's an amazingly fascinating story (head to their rss feed and just search for "Fire in Bean Town", there is a link the mp3 there… or you know, subscribe to the feed and listen to all their stuff!)
I love the little inconsistencies in life. Like if one were to see this book without having ever heard of the author, one might think that The Shadow of the Wind was published years before this one. It's actually the opposite. This one was published in 1993 while The Shadow of the Wind came out in 2001… but I guess these things do not matter when it comes to marketing.
Still, this book, this Prince of Mist, it's a YA book that I can only read a little bit at a time and in very warm and sunny conditions. Because, yes, it is quite freaky and I get easily freaked out by tiny things (yep, still refuse to watch the X Files). Apparently I can read whole books that describe the work of forensic pathologists in great detail (yummmm… maggots, rotting flesh and stories of how back in the early days of the science people would just simmer the dead's bones on their home stoves because their departments did not have adequate lab space/conditions) but give me a book meant for young adults that contains spooky clown statues that move on their own and are probably cursed circus folk that drowned on a ship and a cat that's clearly somehow channeling their spirits? Yeah, just writing it all out gives me goosebumps. Seriously, I have issues.
Add to that the fact that I was reading it yesterday while sitting my back to a cemetery and across the grounds to what I think is a hospital or research institute or something that I'm convinced is abandoned (except that it's probably not, but in the years that I've been living here, I run by it at least once a week and I have seen total of maybe three dog walkers go there… hence my being convinced that it's abandoned and must be haunted).
The "you're" in that third line…
But that's not the book I wanted to talk about. I wanted to talk about some cycling books I read recently, Laurent Fignon's book, Tyler Hamilton's book, that Lost Cyclist book I'm reading right now. I was going to talk about them but, short of retyping the entries I wrote over on Tumblr or my GoodReads reviews, there isn't much I can say. If you need a rather depressing read, go read Fignon's book. While a bit less depressing but still a hard read, Hamilton's book shows some aspects of pro sports that actually translate well into other professional worlds - the whole profession does something that's morally wrong and you have to decide just how much your morals are worth.
|In the land of "why do I do this to myself?" we have this… |
But I have an excuse! The library system acquired 10 regular copies that are kept in different libraries and 3 copies they keep in the "no holds, no renewals" stacks at Library 10… and there are about 30 holds already on the 10 regular copies but there was still one copy left at Library 10 and when I saw that online, well, I couldn't not go there and get it!
Let me tell you a story, a story about how one can go from totally loving a book to disliking it in about 50 pages. Before last night I didn't really have an opinion on Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett, I was just reading it along because I generally like most Discworld books. Then last night I hit the part where Magrat, a character I generally don't care much about, finally finds a role model she can look up and prepares to take names and kick ass. This morning I finished the book and I am generally very upset with Pratchett because last night I believed that Magrat would finally be the strong female character I always look for in Discworld books, the one that kicks ass till the end and never lets others influence her… but like with Polly in Monstrous Regiment we were close but never quite got there.
In the end, Magrat might have stood up the Queen of Elves but it's still the other two witches who were portrayed as the big heroes! I wanted Magrat to finally stand up to those two but she never did. For me that would have been the ultimate thing for her, the rare times she did do something that went against the older witches was when they weren't present… and that's a start but she should have been able to stand up them head on. By the end of the book it's clear that she will never be a "proper" witch, and therefore she'll never be on the same level as the two older witches because it's been made known since the start of the series that witches are above pretty much all others on the Discworld. And that bit really upset me. I also disliked the whole bit about the queen Magrat took for a role model being a "fake" and her being portrayed as a bit of a joke (her armour being made of pans and a bathtub). Of course one could argue that it was rather feminist of that king who asked for the portrait to be painted and for the armour to be made - he wanted a female others could look up to, but the way Pratchett wrote it, I read it as it being a kind of joke on the king's part.
Once again I let a book get under my skin. I should know better by now, I really should, but why can't we get proper strong female characters in the Discworld books that aren't old annoying witches or dressed as dudes and talking about how it's the fake socks in their trousers that give them the extra courage to kick ass?