Self Wright

Category: Books Page 1 of 3

Book store browsing

Saw these in the Amazon Books store we stumbled into for half an hour today.

The Dawn of everything” is the most interesting of this bunch, it seems like a legit re-imagining of pre-history given recent evidence.

On a Soundtrack coincidence and some books

I happens to be listening to the Braveheart soundtrack recently, a few days ago, and I can say I haven’t heard it anywhere else, in the last two decades.

Today while we were in Lahaina, near the outlets, I wanted into this book shop (friends of the Maui library), and guess what was playing in the background? Yep, the Braveheart soundtrack.

Needless to say, I ended up spending a fair bit of time there, and found some funny, very interesting books too.

There are really two kinds of browsing experiences (broadly speaking): one where things are very well-presented, and you visually scan your surroundings and decide what to look into, and the other where there is very little organization or presentation, and you need to dig deep to see what even exists.

This was the second kind of place — which means it’s tedious — but with the tradeoff that you end up finding some truly weird, remarkable, quirky books.

Now this is on a trip where I can’t carry back too much so I only bought two of these, but this was a very rewarding browsing experience (set to good music too).

Farmer’s Almanac

I don’t know why I do it, exactly, but I started this five years ago and it’s just “something I do” now.

I buy the Farmer’s Almanac for the year.

It has zero practical necessity for me.

I get some kind of kick from it, a “how would you know these things with no internet or tv” vibe from it.

Each month gets the “various times” page above, and also a really quirky bit featuring old astronomical symbols.

So yeah, not at all useful, but still fun.

Templar

Finished reading the one I’d mentioned earlier and it … was … spectacular.

The way I randomly stumbled on this and picked it up and found it wildly exceeding my expectations is hard to replicate.

Our protagonists (who may or may not make it)

Some comedy, some romance, some bromance, some action, some tragedy.

Unlike other “related” books that go into “the treasure” or other conspiracy bits, this one focusses on the “random rank-and-file” people, and creates a story that is thrilling.

It is worthy of a grand movie — and not one of the current Marvel/DC-Comics/Disney superhero movies — but one of those epic/historical ones, such as Braveheart or Gladiator.

Amazon link

Note 1: there is at least one awesome easter egg that I won’t mention here.

Note 2: also, I didn’t realize that Jordan Mechner was also the one behind “The Making of Prince of Persia“, which I got from Stripe Press, and also liked.

Graphic Novel spree continues

More graphic novels

I’ve decided to only check out graphic novels (for various reasons).

I enjoyed the last one I’d read (“The ring of the Nibelung”), and moved on to something random yet promising (essentially, browsed the stacks, picked one of three that I liked).

“The lunatic is all idée fixe, and whatever he comes across confirms his lunacy. You can tell him by the liberties he takes with common sense, by his flashes of inspiration, and by the fact that sooner or later he brings up the Templars.”

Umberto Eco, Foucault’s Pendulum

Elephant and Piggie

We’ve had this series for a while now.

It’s the one set of stories that works for children before they can read, when they can read only a few words, and for adults too!

Individual stores are collected in these “Biggie” editions

Highly recommend 🙂

On Mark Fisher

This person’s review of Ghosts of my life basically spoke my mind (and why, as someone who spent a few years being over-impressed with him, I should make him a bit more ordinary)

The book feels like an intellectualisation of an emotional, or psychological, state

At one point, Fisher acknowledges that an exaggerated sense of certainty is a common factor in the conversation and writings of depressives, a statement that he goes on to prove, to display, over and over again, without ever offering any kind of personal critique.

Some of Fisher’s ideas are compelling and are important, but the book keeps coming back to its central idea: that “now” is shit, the past was better and the future no longer exists.

The other problem I have with Fisher’s essays here is that he writes about things he likes as if they are inarguably great, which is suuuuch a Gen Xey thing to do.

And why this matters:

Maybe, as a fellow depressive, its pessimistic tone and conclusions just feel a little unhelpful. Life can be good, I tell myself: it has been, and one day – hopefully soon – it will be again. Fisher didn’t feel like that, and this opinion is coded as knowledge, and there is nothing in the world that pisses me off more than people expressing opinion as if it’s fact.

(for some context, here is an interview with the author)

The Ring (completed)

I had mentioned earlier about the graphic novel I was reading.

I finished reading it in a week (would’ve read it in less than a day, but these days I have to “chunk everything up”).

The story towards the end was a bit “huh? cmon!” for me, but the overall effect was powerful.

Two-page spread for the scene where Siegfried breaks Wotan’s spear.

The appendix mentions how the panels were sometimes segmented to correspond to motifs in the operatic score, which I thought was a neat concept, a sort of synesthetic effect.

This comic series won the Eisner award twenty years ago, but P. Craig Russell has other similar works, and I know I need to read more of them!

The Ring

I hadn’t been to the library “proper” for over two years.

It had been closed for over a year.

It opened earlier a few months ago, and we have been going once every six weeks or so, since then.

I go with my daughter and end up spending all our time in the kids’ section.

I finally ventured in the regular area, just before checking out and leaving, giving myself a few minutes to look and return.

The graphic novel section was one of the three or four possible places within a two-minute radius, and I headed there.

By one of those strange acts of serendipity, I was led to a single book there, “The Ring of Nibelung”.

Wait, I thought, that one?

I should mention I was only vaguely aware of this before picking it up. I knew of the opera, but no specifics.

My closest exposure, as I expect it to be for others too, was to have come across The ride of the Valkyries by way of Apocalypse Now.

I’ve read the first odd-dozen pages now, and … this is amazing.

More than the story itself, I see echoes, in terms of names, and scenes and themes, which remind me of that other epic saga, The Lord of the Rings.

I have no way of judging how closely this hews to the original, but such a chasm of time separates each of these works!

  • I am reading this today, in the year 2021.
  • The graphic novel was first published as a comic series about two decades ago, in 2000.

It’s good stuff 🙂

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