Month: April 2009

by Betty Friedan

This is a tough book for me to write about. I read it a long time ago, when plowing through piles of books on pregnancy, childbirth and similar topics. Not sure how this one got on my list as I don\’t consider myself a feminist. I thought I would find it uninteresting or difficult, but on the contrary it\’s an easy read, and very engaging. On the other hand, I didn\’t end up feeling indignant or frustrated like I felt the author intended me to. She thoroughly describes how housewives in the 50\’s felt bored, frustrated and oppressed, and urges them to make something more of their lives and stand up for their own interests. She makes it sound like a woman needs a job to feel fulfilled, and points out all the inequalities in how men and women are treated. I don\’t know, I just couldn\’t get riled up by it, because I\’m pretty happy to be a stay-home mom with a garden to tend, and books to read in the few spare moments I have. I never get bored or feel like my life is missing something essential. So I couldn\’t really connect with her views, although some of the points she brought up got me thinking. Others I kind of dismissed because they seemed rather forced. The sad thing is even though I know The Feminine Mystique is an important book, well-researched and chock full of thought-provoking info, I can hardly remember one specific thing from it… Hm. I got the impression that this book is to the feminist movement what Silent Spring was to environmentalism.

Rating: 3/5 …….. 587 pages, 1997

More opinions at:
arch thinking
Book Addiction
Life Under the Quill
the Square Doughnut

The first two on this list came from my reading of The Other End of the Leash. The rest are from Quicksilver. Even though I have made slow progress with this book (only 127 pages so far), it still supplies me with many many new words each week!

Sinusodial– \”The dogs would waver back and forth, moving in a sinusodial S curve, trying to follow the molecules of scent as they moved through the air…\”
Definition: curving (isn\’t the phrase redundant, then?)

Paedomorphic– \”This tendency to continue exuberant play into adulthood is one of the factors that leads most scientists to consider dogs and humans as paedomorphic…\”
Definition: retaining juvenile characteristics into adulthood

Coelestial– \”The tail of Ursa Major was like the hand of a coelestical clock, and Daniel had been studying how to read it.\”
Definition: another spelling for celestial

Spadroon– \”The black-clad fellow drew out a sword of his own, something dull and clanging, a heavier spadroon, and the scarlet boy came at him like a boiling cloud, with lightning movements darting out of the center.\”
Definition: a broadsword used both to cut and thrust

Sizar– \”Daniel finally recognized him as Roger Comstock, the sizar.\”
Definition: a student at Cambridge who having passed certain examinations, was exempt from paying for food and tuition and had lodgings at very low cost

Ween– \”I ween you are of the same mind, Mr. Waterhouse, but sailing on a ship across the North Atlantic is not for cowards, and so you are here.\”
Definition: to think or suppose

Lascar– \”The lascars spring up and busy themselves drawing up his equipage on ropes.\”
Definition: an East Indian seaman

Gnomon– \”Newton was constructing a sundial on a south-facing wall, using as gnomon, a slender rod with a ball on the end.\”
Definition: stationary arm on a sundial whose shadow indicates the time

Shawm– \”Stourbridge Fair was already audible: barking of dogs, wild strains from bagpipes and shawms whipping over their heads like twists of bright ribbon unwinding in the breeze.
Definition: a double-reed instrument that preceeded the oboe

Numismatic– \”If you would allow me to approach within ten feet of these coins, it would help me to appreciate their numismatic excellence….\”
Definition: having to do with coins or currency

Saturnine– \”In a country inn, on the way to St. Ives, he encountered a saturnine, beetle-browed chap name of Oliver Cromwell who had recently lost his faith, and seen his life ruined…\”
Definition: of a melancholy or solemn disposition, from being born under the sign of Saturn

Pedantry– \”…. out of a stubborn belief that pedantry and repetitiveness could through some alchemy be forged into wit.\”
Definition: giving excessive attention to academic learning or formal rules

Caitiff– \”Have you ever felt a certain annoyance, when one of your semi-educated Londoners speaks of \’a vile rascal\’ or \’a miserable caitiff\’ or \’crafty knave,\’ \’idle truant,\’ or \’flattering parasite\’?\”
Definition: a despicable person, a cowardly wretch

Homiletical– \”Daniel exhausted the Terms of Abuse in a few short hours, then moved on to Virtues (intellectual, moral, and homiletical), Colors, Sounds, Tastes and Smells, Professions (viz, carpentry, sewing, alchemy) Operations, and so on.\”
Definition: relating to or having the nature of a homily: an inspirational saying or moralizing lecture

Phew! This book is giving me words every other pages, it feels like. Visit Bermudaonion\’s Weblog to see what new words other readers discovered this week.

by James Herbert

I always enjoy stories written from an animal\’s point of view. Fluke starts out with the birth of a puppy, and follows him through the ups and downs of life as a stray in the city. But this isn\’t any ordinary dog- there\’s something different about him. He is more aware, intelligent, understanding of human habits- and has fleeting memories of a different life. Eventually the dog meets a few other animals who also have this higher awareness, starts to puzzle out what\’s going on, and sets off on a journey to find some answers. At first I thought this book was rather like an old favorite from my childhood, Scruffy by Jack Stoneley, until the dog\’s human memories came up. Then it made me think of Diana Wynne Jones\’ Dogsbody– so I was expecting something a bit supernatural- but it actually ended up having a religious theme: reincarnation. Most of the book flows at a well-measured pace, describing the dog\’s life, but at the end things start to happen more quickly, with a murder mystery to be solved and a little twist in the ending. A very fun and interesting light read, great for on the beach (when you have to keep half an eye on the kid near the water)!

Rating: 3/5                      191 pages, 1977

Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs
by Patricia McConnell

This book has been on my TBR so long (years) I can\’t even remember where I first heard about it. I never could find it anywhere (always missing or checked out at the library), until a few weeks ago I discovered a copy at a library sale. Ecstatic. And the read was wonderful. The Other End of the Leash is about the human-dog relationship, especially in regards to communication and training. McConnell, an applied animal behaviorist who helps people with problem dogs (mostly cases of aggression) explains how even though we can be very close to our dogs, many things inherent to the nature of canines and primates (ourselves) can cross the wires and cause continual misunderstandings. The message you are trying to send your dog may be the opposite of what he thinks it is (for example, dogs may not perceive hugs as gestures of affection, but dominating or even threatening). She shows how understanding the natural way dogs perceive and interpret our behavior, and changing it so that the message comes across clearly, can greatly facilitate harmonious living with canine pets. A fascinating book, one I\’m hanging onto for reference when I ever (the child is begging) get a dog of my own.

I read this book for the Non-Fiction Five Challenge

Rating: 4/5                    246 pages, 2002

from the beach. It was lovely. Sun, sand, surf, amusement rides, what more can you have perfect on a vacation? I even went garage-sale-ing with my mother-in-law (she loves bargains) and picked up this cute bookbag and a handful of cookbooks. Then out on the seashore I stopped at a local used bookshop (even though I\’d brought four books with me!) and bought three new ones.

These are all new to me. Kind of unusual for me; I rarely buy books I haven\’t read and loved yet. I\’ve always wanted to read Gorillas in the Mist, and Nymeth\’s review sparked my interest in it again. And Pigeons I\’ve wanted to read since I saw it in a bookstore some while ago. I gave in this time. Fluke was exactly that- picked up on a whim, but it turned out to be fairly entertaining.

I read two books entire, half of Shakespeare Wrote for Money, started The Ra Expeditions, and never opened Quicksilver, even though lugged the heavy thing around. Quickie posts on the books finished coming up!

by Sharon Lovejoy

Unlike the other gardening books I\’ve read, Trowel and Error is not full of instructions on how to design or cultivate a garden. Rather, it is crammed full of handy little tips on how to make gardening easier and more economical, like using common pantry items to whip up bug repellents and plant tonics or recycling household items into useful garden implements. There\’s even suggestions on how to decorate your garden with found items and worn-out garden tools. Some of the ideas were familiar to me- milk-jug cloches, flowers to attract beneficial insects. Others were entirely new -and exciting- like using infusions of willow to propagate plant cuttings, basil tea spray to fight cucumber beetles (which destroyed my cucumber and melon plants last year), aluminum foil to bounce light onto sun-loving tomatoes and peppers. That\’s only a few; the book contains \”over 700 shortcuts, tips and remedies for the gardener.\” I\’m ready now to roll up my sleeves and start concocting stuff in the kitchen to apply in the garden, hopefully with good results.

Rating: 3/5 …….. 206 pages, 2003

My in-laws are visiting for a week and half, so posts here are going to be sporadic- vacation time (we\’re going to the beach!). So I\’ll be missing out on all the Read-A-Thon hoopla. But maybe I\’ll make some inroads into Quicksilver.

The day before I got yet another blog award- from Books Please! The Lovely Blog Award. This one is to be passed on to fifteen other blogs recently discovered. Here\’s some new bookish places I\’ve found online lately (that being a relative term):

Book Maven\’s Blog
Literary Wombat
Nonfiction Lover
Book Bites
Bibliophile by the Sea
Books and Other Stuff
A Novel Menagerie
A Patchwork of Books
Advance Booking
Bermudaonion\’s Weblog
The Curious Reader
The Inside Cover
Piling on the Books
The Narrative Casuality

There. Now maybe you\’ve something new to read while I\’m absent. Have fun with the Read a Thon, everybody!

Again, my new words come from two books. The first few are from Compost This Book! Then we get into Quicksilver, a heavy tome rich with descriptive unknowns. This is just the beginning of what I\’m going to be looking up in the next week or so (it\’s a 900-page book)!

From Compost This Book!:

Geriatric– \”There\’d be a whole ecosystem in miniature lurking in that geriatric vegetable.\”
Definition: relating to the aging process

Sybaritic-\”When Marty\’s heap is really cooking, the sybaritic creature is nearly always stretched out on top, luxuriating in the warmth.\”
Definition: devoted to or marked by pleasure and luxury

Chelating– \”Like the sugar coating on a pill, the chelating humus makes the minerals palatable….\”
Definition: to combine (a metal ion) with a chemical compound to form a ring

From Quicksilver:

Doppelganger– \”Now he knows why: his doppelganger is a lad, moving about like a drop of quicksilver that cannot be trapped under the thumb.\”
Definition: a ghostly double of a living person that haunts its living counterpart

Erudition– \”We have, as I said, found the place where your erudition gives way to ignorance.\”
Definition: profound scholarly knowledge

Mephitic– \”They break out into the mephitic bog on its western flank.\”
Definition: poisonous or foul-smelling

Azimuth– \”The schoolmaster adjusted his azimuth as the target moved, like a telescope tracking a comet, but none of his blows seemed to have actually been felt by the fair boy yet…\” (this usage does not make sense to me, with the def.s I could find)
Definition: the arc of the sky between the zenith and the horizon or the horizontal angle of a bearing measured clockwise from the north (in surveying)

Ontogeny– \”\”There was a dollhouse and a clan of rag dolls in diverse phases of ontogeny.\”
Definition: the origin and development of an individual organism from embryo to adult

Empiricist– \”Oh, he will be a great empiricist.\”
Definition: one who disregards scientific theory and relies solely on practical experience

Visit Wondrous Words Wednesdays at Bermudaonion\’s Weblog.

I was totally surprised this morning to find that Books on the Brain gave me the very cool “You Don’t Say?” award featuring a panda! Here’s what Sheri, who created the award, says about it:

We give and get awards for having a great blog and being a good friend. What I want to award is to those people whose comments have meant THE WORLD to me. It takes time to visit a blog and leave a comment. I wanted to take this opportunity to say “thank you” to each and every one of you who has left a comment for me on A Novel Menagerie. Also, I wanted to recognize some special bloggers whose comments have made such an impact on me. The “You Don’t Say?” Award is awarded to these special bloggers in hopes that they will pass the award along to 5-10 of their best commentors!

Thank you, Lisa, for this! I always try to leave meaningful remarks, and love it when others comment on my blog. The little bookish conversations we have are what makes blogging so much fun, and so rewarding. I’m passing this award on to:

Bybee of Naked Without Books!
Anonymous Child of Biblibio
Wendy of Caribousmom
Leslie of Books n’ Border Collies
Trish of Trish’s Reading Nook
and Black Sheep Books
and Bermudaonion’s Weblog

The Art of Composting for your Yard, your Community, and the Planet
by Tom Christopher and Marty Asher

If you want to turn all your grass clippings, autumn leaves, hedge trimmings, vegetable scraps, paper, cardboard, dryer lint, etc into garden food- or compost- then this book is an invaluable resource! I found it a lot more interesting and amusing than expected. Marty and Tom, the authors, share their differing views and methods of composting, as well as a plethora of other composting \”recipes\” they\’ve tested out. There\’s instructions on how to build your own compost bin (from simple to complex), and an overview of ones you can buy. There\’s information on exactly what compost is, how it works and what to put in it. There\’s even a history of composting, and all kinds of info about how different communities have used (or ought to) composting to help manage waste, improve the environment, reduce costs, etc. (including attempts that didn\’t work, and why). I smiled to see that my home town, Seattle, had one of the best composting programs out there! Did you know that some archeologists attribute early man\’s discovery of fire to compost (beds of leaves and other litter that spontaneously burst into flame!)? That George Washington methodically tested different formulas of compost? That the interior of a compost heap can get hot enough to warm a greenhouse, or cook a chicken dinner (not actually recommended). At the end of Compost This Book! the authors instruct you on how to actually break down their handy resource volume and add it to the heap. I wouldn\’t go so far as to destroy a book I find useful, but I did have one already in the recycling bin that I felt shamed to toss out- a book I received from Paperback Swap that had old gum sticking the pages together. So I committed a sacrilege (at least it felt that way to me, Tom and Marty would probably applaud) and shredded that book (minus the bindings and covers) into the top of my compost bucket. Wow. I just fed my vegetables a book (well, got it diced. They won\’t actually eat it for months).

Rating: 4/5                        248 pages, 1994


All books reviewed on this site are owned by me, or borrowed from the public library. Exceptions are a very occasional review copy sent to me by a publisher or author, as noted. Receiving a book does not influence my opinion or evaluation of it


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