Monday, December 26, 2011

Bibliophile: The "C" Word. No, Not Christmas.

Yeah, I forgot the last Friday Quotations. The holidays got in the way. Lootwise, I came away with two Huraki Murakami books. And a videogame where you attack zombies with chainsaws! What a life. Anyway, while the Bibliophile's official day is Sunday, it is on a less strict schedule than its quotation sibling, so it's now time for another edition of book searching.

(For those coming in late: Bibliophile is me going through the list of all the books added to my university's library in the past week, and commenting briefly on anything that looks good.)

Derrida for architects / Richard Coyne. London ; New York, NY : Routledge, 2011.
I've had a fondness for Coyne, ever since I took a class on spatial theory and we read a chapter from his book Technoromanticism. More recently, I read his Tuning of Space, of which I remember very, very little, but took copious notes. The book is part of a series: "______ for Architects," where you insert the name of some big theorist in the blank. Past thinkers include Irigaray, Heidegger, Deleuze and Guattari, Bhabha, Bourdieu, and Benjamin. All very good theorists, but it seems a little too rote a concept for me to get very excited about, to be honest.

Book forged in hell : Spinoza's scandalous treatise and the birth of the secular age / Steven Nadler.
I like that title. I don't really know anything at all about Spinoza, but the title's nice.

Memory chalet / Tony Judt. New York : Penguin Press, 2010.
When the memory palace sounds too gauche, but you still want to aspire to mental high society. Joking aside, the book is a set of essays Judt wrote, organizing his life while he was dying of Lou Gehrig's disease. He used the method of the memory palace (whereby you organize your memory by populating a mental palace with objects that represent the respective memories), and dictated the book as he resided in a Swiss chalet, hence the title. I don't know what the actual essays are, but the composition itself is something I can respect.

Horse that leaps through clouds : a tale of espionage, the Silk Road and the rise of modern China / Eric Enno Tamm. 1st U.S. ed.
Tamm explores modern China by contrasting its current state with the account written by the Scandinavian Mannerheim a hundred years ago. I have an amateur interest in Chinese history; it's this vast swathe of human experience that barely makes a blip on the Western grand narrative of the past. This is a little more recent, and a little geared towards the ethnographic/travelogue genre, but I'd love to read it if I had a good chunk of time.

Room for all of us : surprising stories of loss and transformation / Adrienne Clarkson.
Mentioned because it's authored by a Canadian icon. I can still hear the Air Face satire: "I'm Adrienne Clarkson, and you're not." It's a collection of stories concerning the immigrant experience in Canada, a subject significant to Clarkson, given her own background.

Disconnected / Andrew Leigh.
Well, I guess it gets points for brevity, though it's not very descriptive on what the book's about. It's a "society has lost its way" kind of book, arguing that contemporary life, specifically contemporary Australian life, has lost its sense of community, and it needs to be fixed. I'm always a little skeptical of books with this premise; yes, things could be better, but at a certain point, a base response of "this is all messed up" just makes the mess a little worse. But at least this guy's got a proposed solution.

Cunt : a declaration of independence / Inga Muscio ; [foreword by Betty Dodson]. Expanded and updated 2nd ed. [Seattle] : Seal Press ; [Berkeley, Calif.] : Distributed by Publishers Group West, c2002.
There's the direct approach. Muscio has written, as you might have guessed, a feminist book. Specifically, it investigates the connotations of the word "cunt" and tries to reclaim it as a word of empowerment. I have to confess, one of the reviews said that the book did more than pay "lip service" to the subject, and I giggled, because I'm a 12 year old boy.

Theory of Zipf's law and beyond [electronic resource] / Alexander Saichev, Yannick Malevergne, Didier Sornette. Heidelberg ; New York : Springer, c2010.
Zipf's law: I would stop, but I love the sound of my own voice. Oh sorry, that's Artie Ziff. Zipf's Law says that many types of data studied in the physical and social sciences can be approximated with a Zipfian distribution, one of a family of related discrete power law probability distributions. That's much more exciting.

Steal : a cultural history of shoplifting / Rachel Shteir. New York : Penguin Press, 2011.
Shteir writes a history of... of shoplifting, like the title says. I know people who are convinced that shoplifting is phase that the modern teenager goes through; it's never been something I've particularly seen the appeal of (I'm more of a cookie-jar raider--I keep my petty thefts in the family), but I can relate to the small thrill of the petty larceny.

Radical prototypes : Allan Kaprow and the invention of happenings / Judith F. Rodenbeck. Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, c2011.
Kaprow was a performance artist (something of an understatement) in the 1960s, and he pioneered the happenings--public participatory art things, basically. Think of them as the flash mobs of the hippy era, only not really that at all. Rodenbeck wants to look at the happenings not as the happy-go-lucky community meetings, but as dark, sometimes twisted critiques of society.

Batman [videorecording] / Warner Bros. presents a Guber-Peters Company production ; a Tim Burton film ; produced by Jon Peters & Peter Guber ; directed by Tim Burton.
My university library has a copy of first Batman movie. Are you jealous? You're jealous.

Paying for it : a comic-strip memoir about being a john / Chester Brown. 1st hardcover ed. Montréal : Drawn & Quarterly, 2011.
Chester Brown's autobiographical account on his experience with the receiving end of prostitution. It's pretty good, although also rather bleak.

Slaughterhouse-five, or, The children's crusade : a duty-dance with death / Kurt Vonnegut. Dial Press trade pbk. ed. New York : Dial Press, 2009, c1969.
This is just a great book. As far as war satires go, it's right up there with Catch 22 for me.

Moonwalk with your eyes [electronic resource] : a pocket field guide / Tammy Plotner. Follow-up: "Thriller dance with your elbow: a reference book."

Reactions : the private life of atoms / by Peter Atkins. Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2011.
I don't really have a lot of useful commentary to offer regarding the science stuff, beyond "clever" jokes regarding the titles. But honestly, I like this one. It's appealing. Atkins starts with the basic building block-type chemicals and reactions--water, electrolysis, catalysis, and so forth--and explains how they combine for more complicated processes. It's very much "pop science," but that's basically the only kind I can really appreciate anyway.

Dingo / by Brad Purcell. Collingwood, Vic. : CSIRO Pub., c2010.
I wanted to post a Dingo picture.

Bioethics matters : a guide for concerned Catholics / Moira McQueen. London ; New York : Burns & Oates, 2009.
Containing such hot button bioethics topics such as euthanasia, prenatal genetics, and so forth. I've got some problems with some of the traditional Catholic stances on a few of these issues, but it could be worth it to keep up on some of the current arguments.

Relatively short list this time around. I won't complain about that.

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