It’s Christmas Eve so you probably don’t want to spend all your free time reading, so I’ve posted some eye candy for the booklover inside of you. I would hazard I guess that you probably know this site, but I just discovered it and had to share. I wish I had seen that bookshelf chair before, it would have been high up there on my Christmas list this year.
Monthly Archives: December 2011
Erik Larson truly is a master storyteller, I was completely captivated by Devil in the White City which I listened to on audiobook and if I had any complaint with it, it would be that Devil couldn’t last the entire 20 hour drive to Maine. With that in mind I finally picked up another one of his other books Thunderstruck.
Thunderstruck is an amazing book that intertwines what seems like two very distinct stories that tie together so perfectly with each one greatly enriching the other. I rarely encounter a nonfiction that truly sucks me and replaces the rest of the world. I only had to put the book down once to walk my dogs, other than that today has just been me and Thunderstruck.
One focus is Dr. Crippen and his wife. They bring us into the sultry world of phony medicine, real poisons and amateur dramatics. Over the years I have heard quite a few references to the Crippen case and never knew the particulars, I don’t want to spoil anything if you don’t know the case yourself. I will say that it involves the birth of forensic sciences and a veteran investigator from the Ripper investigations.
Larson also follows Guglielmo Marconi and his quest to bring about wireless communication. Marconi is a man with next to no formal education but does have strong ties to the Jameson whiskey empire, which is apparently all you need to outfox the leading scientists of the Victorian age.
Ultimately I’ve concluded that I can’t wait to get my hands on Larson’s newest book In the Garden of Beasts. Hopefully I won’t have to wait too long, I know there is a copy under the tree for my fiance and she is a quicker reader than I.
I also need to learn how to walk two dogs while continuing to read.
by Erik Larson
It is tragic to see all the libraries closing down this year, I understand with the times as they are and the library turn outs decreasing a few closures are necessary. We may not like to but every now and then they need to go.
What is heart breaking is when I well loved and actively used library has to bite the dust.
I just came across this great article. The Lincoln branch of the Detroit Library system is being closed down, despite a public outcry, not only is it well loved in the community it also serves as the only library for a local elementary school to use. The public were so outraged they tried to stage a sit in, it didn’t take long for police to arrive and load up all the protesters into a van to ship them off.
If protesting doesn’t pull it off, they also give us a painfully sweet letter from one of the local fifth grade students who have to rely on this library to do his school work and practice his reading
“Hey, My name is Benny and please don’t shut down our library. It’s the best library ever. I go to Mason Elementary and I have to do my science project at home. But I can’t, because I don’t have a computer. So I have to do my project somewhere else. And that’s at the Lincoln branch. Also I like to read books because my reading teacher said I had to pull my reading level up and I’m at a second grade reading level. And I’m in the fifth grade. Please don’t close the Lincoln branch. Sincerely, Benny”
I can only hope this library can be saved.
Sherlock Holmes is certainly making a strong revival these days, Stephen Moffat brought us a fun modernized series on the BBC, Guy Ritchie has been directing the new films and the Conan Doyle estate has just authorized a new mystery. One of my favorites though is The Sherlockian by Graham Moore.
This was the novel that pulled me into the world of Holmes, something that I will forever be in its debt for. When I first read Sherlock in fifth grade I thought the books were fun and the best required reading I had done in a long while, but once the reading assignments stopped so did my interest. That was until the advanced reading copy of The Sherlockian turned up at my little bookshop while I was working there. After I read it, I was pulled in, I read the classic tales and watched as many of the films as I could, and once The Sherlockian was published it became my go-to-gift for ever bibliophile that I knew.
The most intriguing thing about this novel is how it flows through time. We see a failed attempt to assassinate Arthur Conan Doyle which leads the famed author into his own investigation trying to uncover that conspiracy. The other perspective we see is set in the modern-day involving a murder at a convention of Holmes fanatics, and a highly elusive journal of Arthur Conan Doyle. The two tales are woven together splendidly.
One amazing thing I learned was that Arthur Conan Doyle actually become a sort of amateur detective following the fame of his stories.
I will admit that The Sherlockian isn’t high literature, but it is an incredibly fun read and any Holmes or mystery fan should definitely add it to their bookcase.
by Graham Moore
Great news! Today I was put back on the schedule at Indigo Books. This is a great little bookstore outside of Charleston, SC and right next to the coast. I will only be working there for a week or so before I have to return to classes but for the time being it is nice to be back at the perfect job.
This is amazing, and I can’t believe I missed it. Arthur Conan Doyle’s estate has authorized a new novel. I haven’t gotten my hands on it, but I can’t wait to. This is just a sign that I have been out of the book business for too long if this one could have gotten by me. It is titled The House of Silk written by Anthony Horowitz. This may be the new number one on my Christmas list, or more accurately the number one thing I make sure to get my fiance for Christmas. I can’t leave it up to chance that we won’t have it in the house.
I guess we have the new movie to thank for this, and certainly NPR for letting me know.
A study in Sherlock also looks promising. If you know anything about these books let me know.
I think the next book I will have to review is The Sherlockian by Graham Moore.
The last book I reviewed was Winston’s War, a delightful novel of political corruption prior to WWII, once I finished the book I couldn’t wait to get my teeth into a historical account of the war. This lead me to Operation Mincement.
This book tells the story of a brilliant plan devised by British Intelligence to fool the Nazi war machine. I can safely tell you that the plan centers around a dead vagrant in commandeered military uniform carrying fake military plans and a few fraudulent love notes. This body is set in the ocean where the tides will bring the corpse to occupied enemy shores, and point the Nazis in the wrong direction.
The plan may seem a little far-fetched and perhaps it is, after all Operation Mincement was originally the brain child of one Ian Fleming an officer in Navy Intelligence but whose fame comes from authoring the James Bond Novels. I would say more, but I wouldn’t want to spoil how such a genius plot can come together and then miraculously stay together.
This is a fabulous tale the true and outrageous implementation of proper spycraft, and how a deadman easily makes the best of double agents.
Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory by Ben Macintyre
published by Broadway
I’m joining the ranks of people who just can’t say enough about the newest Elder Scrolls game Skyrim. It continues the most amazing aspect of those games, or at least most amazing to me. This is the in game library of books.
The Elder Scroll games gives the player full control of exploring the world. Just about anything you can think to do, your character in the game can do it. This includes reading. There is something like 490 different titles in the game, each one with at least a few pages of text for the player to read. Only a few of those have any in-game effect, most of them are just there to provide that extra level of immersion into the world. It just boggles my mind that the game designers would put that much love and attention into their game.
I would love to see DLC or some player created mods for the game featuring book related quests, maybe something along the lines of a radical faction of book burners, getting rid of what they deem “immoral” reads” or something like that.
The books have such a great deal of variety in their subject matter. Comedies, dramas, histories etc. It just makes me picture a group of battle crazed vikings and dragon-slayers gathering every Wednesday at 6pm for Book Club with a cup of tea and a no holds barred conversation about the newest Imperial Times Bestseller.
I also wonder how many people read the books, I’ve read a few of them. My favorite has to be “The Lusty Argonian Maid” It amounts to an excerpt of a play-script featuring some very bawdy innuendo between a man and his bipedal lizard lady maid. It just cracks me up to read it. That book is an easter egg to the third game in the series Morrowind. In Morrowind there is a small side quest to get an actor a job so he stops bothering a shop keeper. If you care to do more than scaring off the actor, you can get him a role in the premiere showing of that play.
So does anyone have any favorite Skyrim books? Ones that make you smile, and really feel like you discovered something special when you took the time to read a book within a game.
I really can’t give enough Kudos to the game designers, more games should definitely work on fleshing their worlds out. While every book is readable in Skyrim, we’re still getting games where most doors are actually still walls.
(I don’t own these images, they belong to Bethesda Softworks and come from Skyrim)
I have a lot to thank the BBC for it has led me to a lot of fine television. A few months ago it introduced me to my new favorite show The House Of Cards, a political satire/thriller featuring the most cutthroat of politicians the fictional Francis Urquhart. The show was a based off of a set of novels by Michael Dobbs. Michael was at one point an adviser for Margret Thatcher and after a particularly harsh day he sat down to write and blow off steam which all centered around a message from his main character’s initials F.U. Unfortunately I have not been able to get my hands on The House of Cards novels. I did research the author further and found another book of his Winston’s War.
This book is filled to the brim with conspiracy, treachery, cigars and brandy. You are really brought into the trials of Churchill as he stormed his way through the system and was thrown into political exile for his steadfast belief that Britain had to go to war with Hitler. By no means is this a light read, it is as thick as the man himself and equally as fascinating. If you enjoy politics, conspiracy, the witticisms of Churchill or studying history, you need to read this book.
Michael Dobbs also starts this book with a very lovely disclaimer.
“This is unashamedly a novel, not a work of history. Yet if it inspires its readers to dig more deeply into the events and personalities of that extraordinary time, and to decide for themselves not only what happened but why things happened, then both the truth and Mr. Churchill will have been well served.”
After finishing this book I then went on to read a few WWII nonfiction books, which by Mr. Dobbs standards means the book serves the truth and Mr. Churchill very well indeed.
Winston’s War: A Novel of Conspiracy
by Michael Dobbs
published by HarperCollins Publishers
April 23rd is World Book Night, and they are looking for volunteers.
World Book Night is a non-profit organization trying to bring book giving to the next level. Last year they gave away something like a million free books across the UK, and they want to do it again. This is a great group and project that wants to spread reading to the masses as it were. If you’re a person who has been deeply touched by a book and wants to spread that joy to others please check out their website and fill out their volunteer application. Or of course you could just go rogue and go into society yourself in a madcap quest to fill the world with literature.
Their website is