Books: Dance of Death

I’m so sad to announce this is the only book I’ve read in the last few months. I got hooked on crossword puzzles, although they are slightly torturous to me. I drive myself crazy with my simultaneous hatred of them and compulsive need to do them. My dad is a crossword whiz, and my favorite memories of his father include sitting with him in his dark, cool den while he chain-smoked, worked the NY Times crossword, and fed the dog brie and snickers. I can remember sitting in my dad’s lap as a kid while he tried to teach me the concept of the clues. It frustrated me when I was five, and it frustrates me still.

Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child are probably my current favorite authors of popular fiction. My snobby creative writing professors in college always poo-pooed anything popular and not considered “Literature.” I still maintain a dislike of Stephen King, mainly for that reason, but also because we were forced to read him as an example of bad writing. I liked The Shining, but otherwise I am unimpressed. Anyhoozer, I just discovered a regional chain store here called Hastings, which is sort of like Borders, but they have a lot of used books and you can also rent movies there. So, I picked up this one as part of my continuing effort to complete their catalog. Evidently I’m reading them in all the wrong order, even though the list in order is printed in the front of every book. Some of them are trilogies, but they’re all written to function as stand-alone books as well for dummies like me who can’t get my shit together well enough to read them in order. The main character that most of their criminal mysteries center around is Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast, and the authors keep him shrouded in enough mystery as a character that I keep reading to find out more about him and his crazy family.

And, thanks to the modern miracle of social networking, I was able to recycle it immediately after reading to my friend John, who I grew up next door to as a kid.

Books: Cemetery Dance

What a disappointment. First book in YEARS I have started and not finished. That very act is typically against all that I stand for as a reader. But I got three-quarters of the way through and realized I didn’t care about what happened to the characters or what the plot resolution was going to be. Better luck next time, Preston & Child! Zero stars. And I usually love their books. Maybe I really am getting ADD in my old age…

Books: Chariots of the Gods

Just finished this book, which was right up my conspiracy-theory alley. Here’s a synopsis. I just love thinking about┬á all the mysteries of the universe that we still don’t have the answers to, and possibly never will. Fascinating. As a kid, I had a giant Time Life book called “Mysteries of the Unknown” (I think) that examined this same type of stuff, including theories on how similar cultures popped up all over the world (think pyramids in Mexico and Egypt) in a time when they had no knowledge of each other. I wish I still had it. Love that stuff!

Books: Cabinet of Curiosities

B+. Good, but still only my third favorite of their books so far. Worth reading. Entertaining. Not as predictable as I had feared. I enjoy the fact that the main character’s first name is Aloysius. I still want to know more about him, which will keep me reading the series. Good job, guys.

Books: Wheel of Darkness

I really love these authors, and the whole concept of writing a book with a co-author. I can see how it would not be for everyone. If, as they say, all artists are a little bit crazy, then two crazy people spending a lot of time together is probably not good. But think of how useful it could be to have a partner with a fresh idea that completely counteracts your writer’s block!

This is pretty much the only popular fiction I read — stuff by these guys. I would call the theme of their books, “archaeological murder mysteries.” I wanted to be an archaeologist when I was a kid. There is probably a connection there. ­čÖé I spent an entire summer trying to memorize Egyptian hieroglyphics after my 4th grade class visited the mummy of Ramesses II on exhibit in Charlotte. Recently I saw a documentary about a guy who was the first to crack the Mayan language (also glyphs) when he was a student at MIT. Too bad I have such trouble finishing anything.

Wheel of Darkness is the third book I’ve read by these authors, and it was my least favorite so far. The whole thing takes place on a cruise ship, and the plot involving a Tibetan painting that releases evil into its viewers’ souls was a little cheesy for me. I would recommend skipping this one if you’re going to tackle their bibliography. I read and loved Book of the Dead and The Codex, and I am currently about halfway through Cabinet of Curiosities, which is great so far. My mom also read Relic and Reliquary, which she loved. Now that spring is here, I’m going to be reading alfresco quite a lot — one of my true joys in life.

Favorite Passages: Love Heroin


I find this passage from Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert quite hilarious:

“Addiction is the hallmark of every infatuation-based loved story. It all begins when the object of your adoration bestows upon you a heady, hallucinogenic dose of something you never even dared to admit that you wanted — an emotional speedball, perhaps, of thunderous love and roiling excitement. Soon you start craving that intense attention, with the hungry obsession of any junkie. When the drug is withheld, you promptly turn sick, crazy, and depleted (not to mention resentful of the dealer who encouraged this addiction in the first place but who now refuses to pony up the good stuff anymore — despite the fact that you know he has it hidden somewhere, goddamn it, because he used to give it to you for free). Next stage finds you skinny and shaking in a corner, certain only that you would sell your soul or rob your neighbors just to have that thing one more time. Meanwhile, the object of your adoration has now become repulsed by you. He looks at you like you’re someone he’s never met before, much less someone he once loved with high passion. The irony is, you can hardly blame him. I mean, check yourself out. You’re a pathetic mess, unrecognizable even to your own eyes.

So that’s it. You have now reached infatuation’s final destination — the complete and merciless devaluation of self.”

Books: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle


Just finished over the weekend. Highly recommended! Normally I’m not all that impressed with Oprah’s taste in literature, but this was a good pick.

Read the NY Times review here.

Books: The Lost Symbol


You want a review? Here it is. This book is a total waste of time. I am not one of those people who bashes Dan Brown for his admittedly bad writing, because I generally like anything with a subversive plot. I loved the Da Vinci Code. This book read like someone else trying (and failing) to imitate Dan Brown. The story was uninteresting. He didn’t make me ponder any new concepts. The villain is RIDICULOUS. The whole thing is completely unrealistic and cheesy. For more on why I didn’t like it, read this review by Maureen Dowd at the New York Times. Sums it up completely.

Random Poetry

In Aesthetics

Men with caulk guns scrape at window frames
and the sweater drones on.
Fred sips his can of Dr. Pepper
and rewrites by hand the term paper
on his lap.
Nikki sucks a root beer bottle that looks exactly
like a beer.
The sweater drones on, bouncing
a few phrases through my head:
Everyone is looking at the sweater
but I am watching
(um, ah, um, ah)
the men on ladders who are laughing together.

December 1998

Thoughtful Thursday: Clan of the Cave Bear


My friend Cheryl says this is her favorite series of books and has been telling me I should read them for years. I started this one a few years ago and couldn’t get into it at the time. But recently we talked about it again, and I picked it back up. This time, I am really digging it! The series is called Earth’s Children, and it “investigates the possibilities and some likely interactions of Neanderthal and modern Cro-Magnon humans living near each other at the same time.” It’s a fictional story about a little human girl who loses her family in an earthquake and is found by a Neanderthal medicine woman and nursed back to health. She is eventually adopted by the Clan.

I can’t even imagine the amount of research that must have gone into these books, but it is really interesting to me to learn more about how┬ápeople at that time┬álived and interacted and survived using the land. Auel is skilled at interspersing the story with scientific details that help explain her characters without detracting your attention from the story. And it’s fascinating to learn about the differences between humans and Neanderthals through a story that imagines their interaction.

Upon having a┬ádrink with Jenny and Taper Nerd the other night, we discovered that Taper Nerd is also reading this right now! Strange that we’d both be reading the same book at the same time, especially because it was published almost 30 years ago. He’s farther along than I am so far, and he said he felt it was beginning to get a little predictable. These are thick books with small print, so I am going to need to be pretty blown away at the end of this first one if I’m going to read all six of them!

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