December Booklogging
By Dwip December 31, 2013, 9:42 pm Comments (0) RSS Feed for this post

So, a paradox of sorts. On the one hand, if Google Analytics is to be believed, absolutely nobody is reading these posts except me. Which is a drag but not altogether unexpected.

On the other hand, I am fantastically happy writing these posts, as they give me the opportunity to write something on all sorts of books and all sorts of topics. In particular, I’m very happy with the discussion of strategic bombing and air power in my September post, and feel it’s right up there with the best things I’ve done here.

And, on a historical note, I’m enjoying the ability to look back on the things I’ve read and the things I had to say about them. It’s made me wish that I’d started doing this a long time ago, and it’s not only kept me thinking about things, it’s gotten me back into programming for the first time in ages.


In fact, I think this was enough of a triumph, I’m laying the groundwork for expanding things for 2014 – I also watch a lot of stuff, and I’d absolutely like to talk about it like I talk about the books. I’ve still got to put together some code in my logger program to support it, but expect it to happen.

YTD stats:

January: 3 total; 3 fiction (1,712 pages)
February: 3 total; 3 non-fiction (1,098 pages)
March: 13 total; 10 graphic (2,432 pages); 2 fiction (1,462 pages); 1 non-fiction (290 pages)
April: 7 total; 2 graphic (1,200 pages); 2 fiction (1,776 pages); 3 non-fiction (1,244 pages)
May: 1 total; 1 fiction (1,040 pages)
June: 5 total; 5 fiction (2,480 pages)
July: 5 total; 5 fiction (1,934 pages)
August: 4 total; 1 fiction (608 pages); 3 non-fiction (776 pages)
September: 8 total; 2 graphic (1,408 pages); 1 fiction (320 pages); 5 non-fiction (1,416 pages)
October: 8 total; 8 fiction (3,088 pages)
November: 6 total; 5 fiction (2,993 pages); 1 non-fiction (70 pages)
December: 3 total; 2 fiction (846 pages); 1 non-fiction (304 pages)

Year to Date: 66 total; 14 graphic (5,040 pages); 35 fiction (18,259 pages); 17 non-fiction (5,198 pages)

Details for December after the jump.

12/23/2013 Richard Adams, Watership Down (1996 Avon mass market paperback, 494 pages – Personal collection, 2005)

Far back in the day, now, Sarah pretty much told me that if I was going to be a rabbit on the internet, I probably ought to look the part, and told me to read Watership Down. And so I did and now it’s 8 years later and I figured I ought to do so again because hell, I forgot half of it.

An epic tale, you might say, of a bunch of rabbits having Adventures in the wilderness. Very very exceedingly English rabbits, to be sure, to the point I’m somewhat surprised they weren’t all sitting around sipping tea while Hazel speechified about meeting them on the grass, meeting them in the warrens, and so on. The fact that there are what amount to communist rabbits and fascist rabbits and Our Rabbit Heroes wind up fighting the fascist rabbits and you can probably take the whole thing for an allegory of the 20th century except With Rabbits probably didn’t help.

Also not to be missed: Richard Adams teaches you the Lapine language just so you can understand the really filthy insult cleverly disguised in what amounts to being a kid’s book. Would’ve loved than when I was ten or twelve. Never mind the whole book.

Ready for something else now though.

12/24/2013 Charlie LeDuff, Detroit: An American Autopsy (2013 Penguin hardcover, 304 pages – Corvallis Public Library)

So, Charlie LeDuff, the face of Detroit for at least a few of us who don’t live there, reminds me a little of Bono – both of them only have a red guitar, three chords, and the truth. Mostly. And they also have a bit of a flair for showmanship.

So it probably shouldn’t surprise me that, title aside, this is a book that’s half about the apocalyptic state of Detroit, half about the apocalyptic state of being Charlie LeDuff coming back to Detroit. Both of these are ideas that work better than they perhaps should, since LeDuff is an engaging writer with an engaging, if depressing story to tell.

That said, you get the sense that maybe that three chords thing has a bit of, y’know, truth in it. Lots of corruption, lots of people murdered, lots of arson. Understandable given that LeDuff spent his time with cops and firefighters, but maybe there’s another side to things in amongst the despair?

I dunno. And I dunno if I can fix the fact that most of this blurb is about LeDuff and not Detroit. Because I can talk about LeDuff. What the hell do you say about somewhere like Detroit?

12/31/2013 James Clavell, King Rat (1978 Dell mass market paperback, 352 pages – Personal collection, c. 1990)

There was a war. Changi and Utram Road jails in Singapore do – or did – exist. Obviously the rest of this story is fiction, and no similarity to anyone living or dead exists or is intended.

One might be forgiven for not altogether believing this little front matter disclaimer, considering Clavell really was a prisoner at Changi during World War II and considering he was by all accounts not dissimilar from the hero Peter Marlowe.

It turns out that prison camp memoir is actually a genre of sorts – I’ve read a few – and that despite being a novel, King Rat is probably at the top of that particular heap. The king, if you will.

Most of the time in these little blurbs I like to essay a bit on the subject of the book. I find myself slightly at a loss, here. King Rat isn’t a particularly lengthy book – you can finish it in a day if you like – but the dog eat dog or rather the rat eat rat nature of prison camp life does not lend itself easily to summary or even altogether to complete understanding by those of us lucky enough to avoid the point of a Japanese bayonet.

Suffice it to say that it’s a hell of a book, one I’ve read well over a dozen times now, and each time I take something a little bit different from it. Really makes you think about the nature of people, I suppose.

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