Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I have to think of a title, too? Eh, fuck it: Books.

If it's Tuesday and I'm tired, then it must be Book Report Tuesday.

Let's get to it:

I'm not sure who recommended this, but it is brilliant, so thank you very, very much. It's The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson and I love it for the following reasons:
  • I found out I am NOT a psychopath; 
  • it is immensely readable; 
  • it has enough crime/creepiness to keep you engaged without delving into so much CSI/cop talk that it's off-putting; 
  • the guy's writing style is excellent.  It reminds me that you can write about something difficult and somewhat unpleasant and possibly dry and academic and still be engaging.  That's my favorite type of writing.  I mean, say what you will about Terry Eagleton and his Marxist literary criticism, he's highly readable and fun.  And so is Ronson. Without the sanctimony.
One of my favorite lines is this:

"A lot of psychopaths become gatekeepers, " said Bob, "concierges, security guards, masters of their own domains." 


It's also good to note that I can read this book about psychopaths and craziness and not feel like I'm getting sucked down into depression and anxiety. I think this means I'm better. Yay!


I've been listening to Pride & Prejudice during my commute and it is as awesome as ever. And it reminded me that as much as I enjoyed the BBC version, the book is, as always, a gazillion times better. 

And that as much as I like to think of myself as the Lizzie Bennett of my life, I'm probably more Lydia.

Or, god forbid, Mrs. Bennett.


I'm also reading Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard, which I ostensibly got for the husband for Christmas.  We're actually both reading it a bit at a time. It's well-written, which most history books are not, which never ceases to surprise me because oh, my god, the things that have happened in the world! How can you not string together two sentences about the past that don't make me fall asleep? [I am here addressing every. single. historian. who ever put pen to paper. Because of course they write longhand. They are old-school.]

Anyway, the book is about James Garfield, one of those presidents I know almost nothing about except for the fact that . . . well, before I started reading this, I knew absolutely nothing about him.  But now? I know more, not only about him but also about the inventions and beliefs of his time.  Like Edison! And the World's Fair! And Lister, the guy who invented Listerine, and how all the doctors thought he was crazy to try and kill germs and dress wounds!  Pretty cool.

I am here reminded that once, in my undergrad days, I went to talk to a history prof during office hours about who knows what [maybe just to go gab, because I am a talker], and he asked what I thought of a book we were reading about Teddy Roosevelt.  And I said, "Oh, my god, that book is so dry, I have a hard time getting through it," because, cf., my resemblance to Lydia/Mrs. Bennett, and he, a kindly old man, said in a startled old man voice, "Oh, no. Really? Because a good friend of mine wrote it."

And then I died.


At bedtime, since I've run through all our Nancy Drew books, I've been re-reading Harry Potter. I'm on Order of the Phoenix now, which is a good one. Umbridge! The Weasley twins! Harry being a jackass teenager!

But, oh god, the sheer weight of this book. I am very, very seriously thinking of getting a Kindle [iPad?] because I think I crushed a rib last night holding this book up to read.  I mean, I'm sure I could probably read something more lightweight, like a paperback, but how will I know what happens if I don't keep reading?  I can't just rely on my memory!  And dropping a Kindle on the husband as I doze off wouldn't be as satisfying in that mean spirited/loving married way.

What are you reading?  What book do you use as a weapon?  Have you ever insulted anyone to almost their face?


  1. In reverse order of presentation:

    1) Reading Order of the Phoenix out loud currently (well. . . at bed time) to my nine year old. . . with voices!

    2) One of the few "history" books I ever found engaging was "Killer Angels", which was SO engaging I loved it. And it won the Pulitzer in 1975 for fiction. (He took some liberties describing what the generals were thinking or saying when there was no actual record).

    3) I would hate that book. Not enough sanctimony.

  2. The Garfield book may be the saddest thing I ever read. Never have I wished for a time machine so badly. Millard's other book River of Doubt is also an incredible story, written well. Jill Jonnes is another author you might like, and David McCullough's John Adams is a wonder!

  3. I'm super intrigued by Destiny of the Republic, which I hadn't heard of before now but have added to my list of books to read as soon as possible.

    I'm currently reading The Night Circus which I l-o-v-e love love love.

  4. I finished Divergent, which I kind of hated, and now I'm reading The Magicians by Lev Grossman and Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. I haven't read enough of either to recommend them or not. I will let you know as you sit at the edge of your seat wondering at my opinions.

  5. We got books 2-5 of the Fablehaven series for our youngest (his B-day was this last week). Thanks to my shameless addiction to the printed word, I'm reading them.

    Order of the Phoenix? We had a tradition that each time a new HP book came out, hubby would read a chapter each night to the boys. Great fun. After, the oldest son decided to take it to bed one night to read to himself. Dozed off and dropped it on his face...nearly broke his nose.

  6. The Garfield book +books about psychopaths...hmm. Interesting.

    I am currently reading a book that is too embarrassing to mention, but the book I WILL mention in public is In Cheap We Trust: The Story of a misunderstood American virtue.


  7. I've never insulted anyone almost directly to their face. That I know of, anyway. But I would really like to insult a certain bitch directly to her face for being cunteriffic. Pride and Prejudice=top 3 all time favorite books.

  8. The Psychopath Test sounds really good, I'll check that out.

    That being said, I used to be a receptionist at a doctor's office-- I wonder if I'm a little psycho? haha

  9. I got a Kobo last Xmas and I haven't looked back. An ereader is definitely the way to go. I'm reading Siddhartha by Herman Hesse right now.

  10. One of my friends was staying at a friend's house and was talking about how conceited and lame it is to name your kid after yourself, and then found out both the son and the daughter were named after the parents. GAH!!!!

    Fucking cunts at the doctor's reception desk - SO TRUE. Anyone who applies for that job should just be throat-punched right off the bat.

  11. I'm pretty sure I recommended The Psychopath Test, and if not to you, then to somebody, fairly recently... so let's go ahead and say it was me. Yay me!

    Those fucking cunt receptionists are such arseholes that last year I changed doctors after 24 YEARS because I HATED dealing with the reception staff so DESPERATELY. They made me CRY. Definite psychopaths. I miss my doc.

    Now I'm a bit sad.

    But onward and upward! I received a first edition paperback of 'The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966' by Richard Brautigan for xmas and I have yet to take it from the plastic... I have been anticipating it for so long that there's no way it can possibly meet my absurdly high expectations.

    I listen to so many podcasts I don't really much any more. Is that ok? Am I a pleb? Is my brain shrinking?

    Gawd, this is a long comment. Sorry. I'm such a psychopath.

    Sarah xxx

  12. I'll read the psychopath book immediately, although I'm pretty sure it will depress me because I'll recognize a whole gaggle (herd? flock?) of them in my life. xoxoxoxoxo

  13. Did Bob say masturbating makes you a psychopath? Sounds like Smilin' bob needs to toss one off, there....

  14. When I think about Pride and Prejudice - and then consider the writing of it, as a female, pen to paper for real; the themes, the characters, the brilliance...

    I'm gobsmacked.

    (Yes. I did.)

    I am finishing up "The Marriage Plot" right now by Jeffery Eugenides and (coincidentally) he references Austen often in the book. It's HUGELY character driven (amazing study in developing them, not such an entertaining plot) but Middlesex remains one of my favs so I forgive him.

    Next up for me: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I know. Jumping on the "now it's a movie" bandwagon. Can't help it. My book club picked it.

    I heard it's great. But at least there will be wine if it's not.

  15. thanks for the reco. anything about psychopaths makes me feel better about myself.

    i'm reading "Liar's Club" by Mary Karr. by far the best memoir i've read in a long time. she's a phenomenal writer. makes me almost want to never finish writing my memoir.

    that's how i use my book as a weapon... self sabotage. compare and despair...

  16. Thanks for the recs. I just finished the Hunger Games trilogy and was looking for something!

  17. LOVE The Psychopath Test!! Did you go through all your exes and file away which ones were clearly psychopaths? I did. Very cathartic.

    And obviously you and I are meant to be good friends because if there is a death in the family, some unknown secret or something someone or their relative/spouse/friend is proud of I will inevitably ask about their health, reveal all cover ups, and destroy any good feelings. Fun times.

  18. YOU ARE RIGHT!!!!

    They DO become gatekeepers, like authoritarian roles...bartenders, who control your liquor.

    Going to give all my exes this test, I love how Tonya thinks.

    It's easy to love people like that...I mean, like you and TOnya, not psychopaths.

    Well, maybe...(they're just so intense...)

  19. I refuse to answer your question about what I am currently reading, because after reading your list, it can mean that what I am reading reflects my dumbassedness.

    p.s. You have NO idea about how spot on you were about doctors' receptionists. One day, we will talk...

  20. Ooohhhh, you used the C word. I'm telling mom.

    The Psycho book is now on my list. Apparently, my husband is not which shows that this guy's research is deeply flawed.

  21. I love that you use the cunt word. It makes me feel moist in my man bits. I am recommending you to all seven of my readers.

  22. I love that you use the cunt word. It makes me feel moist in my man bits. I am recommending you to all seven of my readers.


Every time you comment, I get a lady boner.