Monday, March 23, 2009

The Fun Begins

Just arrived today, Advance Reader's Copy of -

Fit at 50 and Beyond: A Balanced Exercise and Nutrition Program, by Michael Gloth, M.D.

The first thing I noticed about this book is that the cover pictures are of people over fifty, and they all look like "real" people, not Hollywood models. Next, I looked at the black and white photos of people doing the exercises. They are all over fifty too. My favorite model is a woman in her 80s.

Now this, I think I can do.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Don't Sleep, There are Snakes - a Review

I rarely read books that I don't finish, and rarely publish reviews that are negative. The publisher of this book wrote such a glowing description that I was doubly disappointed after reading it.

I found this book so irritating that I just skimmed that last half of it. I have a life-long interest in the subjects, Amazonia and linguistics and anthropology, however both the poor writing style and author's unaccountable choices of what to tell, what to leave out, overcame my interest in the subjects.

There is no doubt in my mind that Daniel Everett's knowledge of a peculiar indigenous people's language and culture is unique and that his life among them in the world's most prolific and diverse biosphere was immensely interesting. I found his style of telling it flat, his prose meager, and his time line jumbled without any overriding sense of purpose. In the end, my experience of the book was extremely frustrating. It takes an unusual alchemist to turn the gold of such experiences into the leaden account in "Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes".

The book holds value for students of anthropology and linguistics, and I appreciate what I learned of the Piraha people. I just wish Everett had written a different book.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sleepless, reading The Beggars Trilogy

I've been an insomniac my entire life. When I was a toddler, my mother would put me down for a nap, and once she fell asleep, I would get up and play. When I was older, I was found sleep-walking. Life is just too intensely interesting to spend much of it laying down with my eyes shut. When I was made to stay in bed, I brought a flashlight with me so that I could read under the covers. So I was immediately intrigued by the concept in Beggars in Spain, of a society of Sleepless - people genetically engineered to be productive and awake 24/7.

Fifteen years after the first publication, Nancy Kress' Beggars in Spain, Beggars and Choosers, and Beggars Ride is still a mind-boggling rich tapestry of futuristic society, with deep characterizations, a plot that twists shockingly right up to the ending, and a piercingly accurate portrayal of thought processes and social dynamics.

The science is believable and has not yet been outdated, (at least not so far as this non-scientist could tell at any rate). It doesn't get in the way of the plot, and does generate musings on social and medical ethics.

Like Heinlein, Cherryh, and Orson Scott Card, Nancy Kress uses the contrast between familiar human society and alien society as a vehicle for raising the question of what, exactly, makes us human and what we value in a person or a society.

Beggars in Spain won a Nebula and a Hugo award. I give the trilogy my own highest honor: I'm keeping it on my bookshelf, because I will read it again.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Giving and Receiving

Today I took a box of paperbacks to the library to donate to Friends of the Library. I have read some of them many times, and it was time to share my old friends with other people who would love them too.

When I got home, I found a message on my Library Thing account: I will be getting an Advance Review copy of Fit at 50 and Beyond: A Balanced Exercise and Nutrition Program, by F. Michael Gloth. This is one book that I will be "field testing" before I review it, recipes, exercises, and all. I hope it arrives soon- our new apartment has a swimming pool....