Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Read any good books lately?

I have. But first, The Great Paint Project. Our home was built in 1981 as part of the Farm Home program. It's a small, plain, comfortable house. We are the third family to own it, having moved in on New Year's Day, 1992. Our friends took friendship seriously, evidenced by the fact that not only did they help us move from Seattle to Port Orchard on New Year's Day, but a day when there was a big Huskies football game scheduled. The men planned well. The first item out of the van was the television, which was promptly plugged in.

I'm getting a little off-topic here.

Our home. It was brick red with mustard-yellow trim. The roof, too, was brick red. It took us 6 months to paint the house white, using brushes. Our new neighbors were enlisted, as were visiting friends and family members. We had vertical board siding, the boards spaced 1/2" apart. We painted the flat part of the the siding first, leaving the red 1/2" grooves for last. (At one point, our house looked like a Shakey's Pizza Parlor.) It took three thick coats of white to cover the red. And that was that. No more house painting for us. Until this summer.

We re-sided the house, then waffled for weeks on what color to paint it. (You'd think we were deciding the fate of nations.) We finally decided on a soft dark gray, with light gray and white for the trim. And, once again, used brushes to paint the house. There is a special bond that develops between husband and wife when they're painting a very large object during sweltering summer days. Add a cluster of yammering chihuahuas in the adjacent yard, and...well. We're glad it's done.

My most recent Good Book was The Hypochondriac's Guide to Horrible Diseases You Probably Already Have. (I've been drawn to peculiar nonfiction these last few years.) I enjoyed this book primarily because it made me laugh. Which is awful because the diseases are real, but the author presented the information in such a wry manner that I had to laugh. The illustrations added to the humor even though they were often disturbing. This book can inspire hypochondriac tendencies if you're not careful, because some of the diseases are triggered by simple everyday things, like aspirin, which can trigger a condition wherein your skin decides to take a hike.

I've thought a lot about Good Books vs Bad Books, revisiting a recent workshop by Nancy Pearl. One of the books on my Bad Book list is The Island of the Day Before, a highly-lauded novel by Umberto Eco. I came across it in the stacks one day and thought it might be an enjoyable book, given all those glowing reviews. Besides, the cover was really cool. I am easily beguiled by cover art.

I made it less than halfway through the book.

It was all very mysterious and the character's personal history was interwoven in interesting ways, but still. It reminded me of the film The Fountain - lots of atmosphere and not much else. If you like action in your fiction, this would not be the book for you. It certainly wasn't the book for me. But, perhaps I should give it another chance. As Nancy said, a terrible book can be a terrific book if one reads it at the right time. I could revisit some of my earliest Bad Book entries, like my 1973 foray into God Is An Englishman. Hm. Maybe not.

Overheard on Twitter: When she slow dances to Al Yankovic with you, you know you've found the right one.

Next time: Japanese personal-safety products. Stay tuned.

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