Mary's Library

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Reading List Details

The Nature, the History, and the Uses of an Astonishing Substance

By Mariana Gosnell
New York : Knopf, 2005
June, from my on-line Trollope Group is reading this and as she and I seem to have an affinity for the same sorts of books, I decided to give it a try. I started reading this last night as I watched the snowflakes fall. Seemed apt. It looks good – I especially like the photos. Now June has told me about two other books entitled ICE, and one of them is an Ed McBain mystery. Who could resist?

By Anthony Trollope
My book data base says I read this in September of 1991 and listened to it on Books on Tape in May of 1984. Unfortunately, my data base has a few holes. I first read the book as a sophomore at Bridgewater in a course on the Victorian novel. It was, along with THE WARDEN, what introduced me to Trollope. I’ve re-read it numerous times since that exciting long ago week when I had my nose in it during every spare moment and stayed up all night to finish it.

I bought the DVD of the TV series based on those two books just before moving from Virginia to Spokane in August of last year, but didn’t have a chance to watch it before the TV and its peripherals were disassembled. And now? I can’t find it. I can put my hands on some 100 videos and DVDs, but not the one I want most. (Downside of having the moving company do your packing for you.)

By Shirley Letwin
This is a fine book which offers lots of insight into what Trollope was doing when he created such characters as Plantagenet Palliser, his ultimate gentleman, and Phineas Finn, about whom there is much controversy as to his gentlemanly qualities. First of course one must define gentleman, which takes about half the book . . .

On the Secret Trail of Trash

By Elizabeth Royte
A favorable review in the NY Times led me to request this book from the Spokane Library. I was, as with so many books, just going to take a look at it and send it back. Two weeks later I’m still looking. The author decides she is going to inventory her trash (don’t ask) and follow it to the land fill that will be its permanent home. But first she wants to take a look at that most famous land fill of all, Fresh Kills, on Staten Island. Not easily done, she discovers.

She moves on to discuss composting (“Do I need worms?”) and the recycling of paper, metal, hazardous compounds, and plastic (Satan’s resin.) And then we come to the fun part – the NY City sewer system. Which is where I stopped reading last night. Unfortunately, as the Spokane Library reminded me in an email this morning, the book is due back in two days, and can’t be renewed.

So I looked ahead, specifically at the part about the 2002 exhibit, Cloaca, at Manhattan’s New Museum of Contemporary Art. This work of art was a thirty-three-foot-long machine whose mouth was fed twice daily with “nutritious meals donated by fancy restaurants, restaurants apparently unafraid of being associated with shit. Twenty-seven hours later, Cloaca’s back end excreted fecal matter onto a conveyer belt.” The artist, Wim Delvoye, was disgruntled because the museum had encased Cloaca in an airtight plexiglass box. “It’s a pity,” said he, “because the smell in fact is part of the piece.”

GARBAGE LAND is interesting, but not as interesting as William Rathje’s RUBBISH! The Archeology of Garbage, published in 1992. Rathje, an archeologist and anthropologist (and not incidentally, a garbologist), describes the University of Arizona Garbage Project, a series of archaeological digs in dumps across the US. This book, which came out in trade paper in 2001 and still ships within 24 hours, says, gets five stars there, it’s that good.

From School Library Journal: The authors “give a historical overview of what the human species has been doing with its refuse since hunter-gatherer times: dumping, burning, recycling, or reducing the amount of potentially discardable stuff. Subsequent sections explain how we unconsciously tell the truth about our lifestyles by what we throw away. Interesting information abounds. The last chapter urges readers to observe a "Ten Commandments" of consumption and disposal, which is based not on what "we think we know" but on what data from studies like this one reveal.” - Carolyn E. Gecan, Thomas Jefferson Sci-Tech, Fairfax County, VA Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Publishers Weekly: “Garbologists have determined that people waste three times more beef when the meat is in short supply than when it is plentiful; that many women use birth-control pills incorrectly; and that lower-income families consistently buy small-size, brand-name products rather than cheaper generic ones.” The authors are “Erudite and witty cultural tour guides . . .” Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

By Kim Wilson
My pal Boots gave me this for Christmas. Jane, we are told, was in charge of her family’s tea and accoutrements and made tea for the family in the morning. In those days one locked up the tea and sugar, which were costly commodities. The book is full of info about my favorite beverage and quotations by and about Jane Austen, and it’s tastefully illustrated. What a treat! Best enjoyed while sipping Stash’s double bergamot Earl Grey. I’m reading it at a rate of about a page a day. I don’t want it ever to end.

The Early Years

By Tim Hilton
And now we come to my “serious reading.” In my unending quest for understanding of the Arts and Crafts Movement and everything thereto appertaining, I bought in trade paper Hilton’s one-volume JOHN RUSKIN, containing The Early Years (1985) and The Later Years (2000.) This book is a oner, as the cruciverbalists say. It’s almost as deep as it is wide (7 ½ x 5 x 3 inches) and is just shy of 950 pages. I’m reading it at approximately the rate I’m reading TEA WITH JANE AUSTEN, but for very different reasons. It’s thick in more ways than one.

I’ve chosen to list the first part as if it were a separate book. Weight Watchers says you should set short intermediate goals instead of going for the whole thing at once. So I’ve bitten off the first 279 pages. And I’m chewing as fast as I can.


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