Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Sunday Salon: Random Reading

Another rainy Sunday. Well, not actually rainy – just sort of cold and damp. Where's this famous Spring I keep hearing so much about? Had some dental work done this past week, and my dear little dentist regaled me with his plans for visiting his summer place at the beach in North Carolina and his time-share condo in Aruba. And here I am in drizzly, dreary Virginia with nary a vacation or a beach in sight. Just gray skies and sore gums.

The nerve of some people!

But it is good weather for reading. And I've been doing a little today – just can't seem to stay with any one book for very long. I've read bits of Peter Ackroyd's Chatteron and Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising. I'm nearly finished with both of them, but it's taking me longer than it really should to get through them – neither is a particularly long read. But I keep getting sidetracked by other books. I read Hazel Holt's Mrs. Malory and The Delay of Execution this week – another great cozy mystery in one of my favorite series.

Also started the first Harry Potter book (HP and the Sorcerer's Stone). The first half went very quickly and I enjoyed it. But now that I've journeyed with Harry from Platform Nine and Three-Quarters, all the way to Hogwarts, things are starting to bog down. I'm beginning to think maybe I wasn't cut out for an education in wizardry.

And, in addition, today I've been reading a few chapters in A Splendor of Letters: The Permanence of Books in an Impermanent World, by Nicholas Basbanes – a really entertaining look at "book people, places, and culture." This is from Chapter 10: "Music of the Spheres":

When people gather today to talk seriously about "books of the future," the discussion inevitably is driven by what some see as the ubiquitous triumph of modern technology and the certain obsolescence of print. The book as we know it, in other words, if not dead, is certainly moribund. Curiously enough, this kind of debate is not especially new, and has been argued in one form or another for decades, often with great passion and conviction on both sides of the issue. . . . Johannes Gutenberg's introduction of movable metal type had three immediate effects on Western civilization, Elizabeth L. Eisenstein has demonstrated in The Printing Press as an Agent of Change. . .: standardization of content, widespread dissemination of intellectual dialogue, and most important of all, fixity of the product. But a few observers hardened in the old traditions felt that printing would have an adverse impact on refined civilization, and some of them put up spirited arguments against its growing dominance.

Ah, I wonder what they'd have to say about the Kindle!


  1. How dare your dentist leave you feeling bad about the weather. wasn't what he was doing to your teeth insult enough without that? :) Do stick with the Harry Potter. One of the joys of the series for me was watching Rowling become a better and better writer as she went on. By the time you hit book 3 she knows what she's doing.

  2. I'm a big fan of both Harry Potter and The Dark is Rising, although I think that The Dark is Rising doesn't get the respect it deserves. There was a recent film adaptation of the second book in the sequence (The Dark Is Rising) that was released as The Seeker. I refuse to watch it on principle; based on the trailer, the book seems to have been bastardized beyond recognition. I hope you continue with the rest of the books in the sequence. I'm curious to hear/read your thoughts on them. =)


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