Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Christmas Books 2015

For three of the four years since I started this blog, I have made a short post about the books I received as gifts for Christmas. In addition to being fun, it also serves as a teaser for the reviews to be written in the upcoming year.

Here are the past editions:

Here are the ones I received this year:

  1. Have His Carcase by Dorothy Sayers

A gift from my wife. We discovered that we do not own this installment in the Lord Peter Wimsey series, and I have read the previous books already. I enjoyed Sayers starting with a few short works I read in high school, but did not discover Lord Peter until a Law School classmate lent me Murder Must Advertise during a conference. I expect this one will be enjoyable as well.

    2. The Essential Neruda (Mark Eisner, editor)

A gift from my brother-in-law, who has a knack for finding interesting books. I have previously read a Neruda collection, borrowed from the library. (Review here.) I wasn’t particularly impressed with the translator in that case, but enjoyed the poetry. (I wish I had learned Spanish…) In that light, this book is interesting because it features eight different translators (including Eisner), each of whom translate a number of poems. The original Spanish is included, so I can at least fumble through them phonetically. I am glad to have a Neruda collection of my own to add to my poetry shelves.

Another gift from my brother-in-law. This one looks intriguing as well, as it is an insider biography of Jack Kerouac written by Johnson, who was part of the Beat circle in the late 1950s, and had a short relationship with Kerouac. This means I will have to actually read some Kerouac, as I have been meaning to for a while.

    4. Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human by Harold Bloom

From my wife. A perusal of the cover indicates that this book analyzes the various plays in light of Bloom’s theory that the concept of the dynamic character, who is capable of growth and change, originated in the form we know it in Shakespeare’s plays. This large volume should be a good addition to my Shakespeare reference collection, alongside Asimov's Shakespeare, and Dover’s Shakespeare Lexicon.

5. Bad Astronomy by Philip Plait

I really enjoyed reading Plait’s other book, Death From the Skies!, (reviewed here) and have enjoyed his astronomy blog. I also highly recommend his YouTube series, Crash Course Astronomy. This book debunks a number of astronomy-related myths. Should be fun.

    6. The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams

I discovered the Hitchhikers’ Guide series in my teens, and have loved Adams ever since. I reviewed his fascinating non-fiction book on endangered species, Last Chance to See here. Fortunately, a number of friends and relations are also fans, or nobody would get my weird references to the End of the Universe, Infinite Improbability, or depressed robots. I will admit that a high point of my legal career was when I got a chuckle from a judge with a reference to a “Someone Else’s Problem Field.” I have not yet read any of the Dirk Gently books, so this one should be fun.

    7. Poems and Sketches by E. B. White

Whether you know White from Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, The Trumpet of the Swan, or for his classic work, Elements of Style with William Strunk Jr., his works are true classics in the best sense of the word. I read the stories over and over as a kid, and got my own copy of Strunk & White as soon as I got my own place. Still one of the best books on writing ever. I’ll admit I am not familiar at all with the poems, so I have no idea if he was any good. The essays have a solid reputation, in any case. I’m looking forward to reading this one as well. 

Check back later to see what I thought of these after reading them. 

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