Saturday, January 01, 2005


Calvin and our as yet unnamed pet. Posted by Hello

Books of 2005: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

Editors note: The writer of this piece was a swallow away from finishing his second glass of wine when he started this piece. Let this serve as a warning for any unrelated tangents, grammatical errors and general ramblings.

A couple of weeks ago I was thinking about putting together a what-I-read-this-year list after reading one on another blog somewhere (I am not sure which and it is a common type list, no link but check out the list on the right.) I looked at my bookshelves and fired up the laptop and tried a few times put couldn't remember them all. I searched the blog but found that for every three books I read that only one would make a blurb here. This year I want to be able to tell you just how many books I read and when I was reading them. The posts that will assist me with this will be titled Books of 2005. The goal is at least fifty books a year, or one a week give or take. I'm not worried about hitting the number but I am nervous about keeping a solid written record. Explicit and specific documentation has never been one of my strengths.

The first entry in this years list was a Christmas gift from The Wife. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. At close to eight hundred pages I have lofty goals for my reading at a time when my reading is a bit slow. Busy nights and noisy lunchbreaks have my reading at all time lows right now. It has worked out to my benefit here though. Susanna Clarke's first novel is captivating and charming. According to the dust jacket blurbs a Washington Post review read -- "Many books are to be read, some are to be studied, and a few are meant to be lived in for weeks. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is of this last kind...Magnificent and original." I couldn't agree more. My short time in Clarke's 1807 London has been engaging and fun.

Let's get something straight right here and now; Wizards are fucking cool. Always have been. The first short stories that I would write in the 4th grade always involved Wizards. If a character was stuck somewhere or I didn't know how to get from one place to another throw in a wizard and he could fix everything. Merlin, Gandalf!? I challenge you to find bigger badasses in young adult literature. And so it comes as no surprise to me that I am enjoying Jonathan... as much as I am. Only 100 pages in I am already scared that this little journey will end too soon. I am savoring every scene. I recommend to fans of both literary and fantasy.

My number one Book of 2005! If my year goes as well as the choice of this book has I am in for a great one.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

A return from the holiday break.

I have spent the past four nights importing my CD collection into the laptop and onto the ipod that Santa brought me for Christmas. I am nowhere near finished but it has been fun to reacquaint myself withsome old forgotten favorites (I'm looking at you Tesla.) I think that the ipod is about the coolest thing I've ever owned.

The holiday was fun. The Wife and I spent Christmas in New Jersey with her family. Christmas day was spent relaxing in the In-laws house opening gifts for hours and being entertained by my nieces. Among the gifts from the In-laws -- a great winter coat from LLBean, guitar strings, a manly toolbox, a drill, and the extended DVD of Return of the King. A buffet dinner rounded out the day before most of the family headed home.

Wifey and I drove through the coastal storm hitting New England which turned our three hour drive home into a five and a half hour drive home. The important thing is we got to see some really cool car wrecks on the way. Always very comforting on the long drives. Wifey was a trooper and hung in there like a champ.

The tremendous gifts from The Wife included a kick-ass New England Patriots hooded sweatshirt and a copy of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell which so far is fantastic. I knew that Jonathan... Came in both black and white dustjackets but this one is red. I haven't seen anything on the internet about a red jacket. It has a few illustrations throughout it but I'm not sure if the black and white editions do also. More on that book in posts to come.

We had another Christmas on Monday night when we went to my parents house for dinner. A nice quiet dinner for four, after dessert we uncomfortably opened gift after gift while my parents watched. Said gifts included the aforementioned ipod as well as a few books, DVD's, and gift cards. My mother loves spoiling her kids at Christmas time. Always has.

But wait! If you thought that was enough holiday fun there's more! Last night The Wife and I again were at mom and dad's for a Christmas dinner with my brother and sister, my sister's boyfriend, my grandparents and an aunt so that we could all exchange more gifts. My sister got me a very nice Doug Mirabelli autograph. My brother got us a mug tree that we have wanted for years. He was a bit surprised at just how excited we were to receive it.

tomorrow will bring the end of the holidays, thank God. Its time to get back into a routine and maybe alter the old routine. I have some resolutions and I plan on laying them out here. I hear that if you write them down they cease being just an idea and become plans. Making them public helps people hold you accountable for keeping them up. One of those resolutions is to read more. I want to read at least 50 books in 2005. In keeping with that same topic I want to document and record what I am reading and when. Expect more posts on my reading.

That's it. We had a great Christmas. We are lucky. I don't think that any of us need any more reminders of just how lucky we are. Please keep the people of Asia in your thoughts and prayers. The effects of this disaster will be felt there for generations to come. Please do whatever you can to help.

Google set up this page to help people find ways to help. You'll be able to find it all there.