Category Archives: Short Thoughts

Brief thoughts on books & reading.

End of the semester

My last semester of law school is currently in full swing; there are a little more than two weeks left of class, then exams, then graduation. Then the bar exam. My reading is suffering a little and this blog has definitely become less frequently updated; I just don’t have the desire to think critically about anything right now.

Just for fun, though, here is a list of titles from the stack of books that currently do not fit on any of the bookshelves in my apartment. Most of them I have read; some of them I have not.

  • The Poems of Dylan Thomas, Dylan Thomas
  • The Poems of Catullus: A Bilingual Edition, Catullus, translated by Peter Green
  • Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
  • The Dreams in the Witch House, H. P. Lovecraft
  • Les Miserables, Victor Hugo, translated by Julie Rose
  • Poems of the New Century, Weingarten + Higgerson, eds.
  • Elective Affinities, Goethe
  • The Endeavour Journal of Sir Joseph Banks, Sir Joseph Banks
  • Paradise Lost, John Milton
  • Tales of E. T. A. Hoffmann, E. T. A. Hoffmann, translated by Leonard Kent and Elizabeth Knight
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke
  • The Three Musketeers, Alexandre Dumas, translated by Richard Pevear
  • The Later Middle Ages, 1271 – 1485, George Holmes
  • Chaucer’s London, D. W. Robertson, Jr.
  • Life in a Medieval Castle, Frances and Joseph Gies
  • The Medieval Underworld, Andrew McCall
  • From Hell, Alan Moore
  • The Hobbit, J. R. R. Tolkien, the lovely green, red, and gold illustrated edition

They are all teetering precariously atop my little white shelf and are topped off with a pink knit hat that I never wear.

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Borders

Very sad that the Borders in Center City is closing up. Out of the two big chains, I always much preferred Borders (though I was a Barnes & Noble employee… or perhaps because I was a Barnes & Noble employee!) because I felt that their selection was a little better, especially in regards to literature, history, and poetry (my main concerns).

Unfortunately, their landlord raised the rent of the Center City store too high, and so that store is closing as well as the one in King of Prussia.

I felt a little weird picking through closing sale books (everything must go!), especially with the knowledge that the employees cheerfully greeting me would soon be out of work. It felt very vulture-like, as though I was going over the store’s bones. Still, 10 books for around $100 was a pretty great deal, especially considering what I managed to find.

This was a great incentive to finally buy a copy of Stacia Kane’s Downside series (though try as I might I could not find the second book!) instead of repeatedly taking them out of the library. I also think I might already own Sigurd & Gudrun in hardcover, but I couldn’t remember for sure.

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What I’ve Been Reading

Lately school has tipped into the “overwhelming” stage of the year, especially with the bar exam coming up (not really coming up–I have until the beginning of June to start worrying about the real studying) but I’m in the process of finishing up my application and one class I have is a constant, nagging reminder about how much I’m going to have to re-learn and how hard it’s going to be.

As a consequence, I haven’t really wanted to read much by way of “serious” literature.

I read Heat Wave, the first Castle tie-in, ostensibly written by Richard Castle himself–it’s a “cute” conceit, that the novelist main character of the TV series has actually published his Jameson Rook/Nikki Heat books in the real world. The writing was about what I expected, it seems kind of run of the mill “popular mystery/thriller” style, with a number of ridiculous cliches sprinkled liberally throughout. It was kind of fun as a fan of the show to try and pick out moments inspired by tidbits from the episode, but that couldn’t really make up for the predictable plot (twist, another twist, big twist at the end) and the fact that if you are at all a fan of mystery or crime novels (I am) you will be able to pick out the murderer as soon as that character appears for the first time. I started the second book, Naked Heat, but lost interest a few pages in and just put it down, never to pick up again.

Also read recently, the Medicus series (murder mysteries where the main character is an army doctor set in Roman Britain? yes please) and enjoyed them. They are by R. S. Downie but I don’t have much to say about those, other than that they are entertaining murder mysteries, and not bad as historical novels, from what I can tell (and I’m very picky about historical novels–these strike a good balance between modern affectations and humor, and period atmosphere).

ALSO reading, an annotated addition of Pride & Prejudice. P&P is my “chicken soup” reading, what I tend to pick up when I’m feeling down, and this has been fun. Some of the annotations are a little condescending (yes, I KNOW the dialogue is ironic, you don’t need to explain to me WHY) but some of the historical information and extra detail they provide is the kind of thing I like to know. So I alternate between interest and frustration.

At some point, I will go back to reading serious literature and things I haven’t read 50,000 times already.

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Mean girls

So I watched Sky TV’s adaptation of Mark Billingham’s book Sleepyhead but I didn’t like it enough to keep watching, I just wanted to know who the killer was and if I was right in my suspicions (I was). But oh my gosh the book was even worse than the movie, I don’t want to go into too much detail because that’s just mean… I couldn’t even get through the first few pages, it was just so ridiculous, and disappointing! I guess the market saturation of serial killer thrillers means that some crap gets through.

I’m getting back on the reviewing Serious Literature horse once I get around to finishing Emma Donoghue’s Slammerkin which is seriously awesome so far (I’m very envious of her ability to switch styles and voices seemingly at will–the fact that she had books like both Room and Slammerkin in her makes me so jealous!) It’s just hard to find the time as the semester goes on. This is my second-to-last semester of law school, so I’ve been trying to get my head around all the deadlines I have for bar exam application and juggle my coursework (I’m writing a short paper for Evidence, and one for my Crime & Community class that only has to be 15 pages, but I already have 46 pages in 10 pt Times New Roman of notes…) and my social life.

It’s so sad, but in weeks like this, I really do miss just being able to relax and curl up in a chair with a cup of tea and a book that isn’t law related without feeling guilty about it.

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Short Thoughts

I’m still plowing through Stieg Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy; in between editing my paper, I finished The Girl Who Played With Fire last night. I’m probably not going to write a full review of it, or of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (next up), mostly because my thoughts were mostly in line with the previous book. A little dull at times, a little overinsistent on banal details at others, and with a strange reliance on titillating violence. I’m not sure whether I like his books or not… but they certainly keep me reading, if only to find out what happens.

Otherwise, I’m reading The Mabinogion, expect something up about that hopefully sometime this weekend. I’m juggling all of these books in between finishing my paper, my internship, and studying for the one class I’m taking this semester that has a final.

One thing I’m excited about is that I’m in the library queue for Peter V. Brett’s The Desert Spear. I, like half of the internet probably, was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed The Painted Man, so I’m looking forward to reading this despite mixed reviews. Hopefully I get it sometime this week!

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