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Book a Week 2017 - BW4: The shape of culture: past, present, and future


Robin M
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I love Pratchett.  

Assuming the Female Adventure square can be fiction, consider The Wee Free Men, the first in his series about Tiffany Aching (who also lives in Discworld).  

If you feel guilty about the lightness, read his non-Discworld book, Nation.  I thought it was a beautiful novel.  

 

I have The Wee Free Men on Kindle! I have a terrible habit of collecting free and $1.99 reads so I have a huge list of unread books. I'll try that one next then. Thank you!

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I love Pratchett.  

Assuming the Female Adventure square can be fiction, consider The Wee Free Men, the first in his series about Tiffany Aching (who also lives in Discworld).  

If you feel guilty about the lightness, read his non-Discworld book, Nation.  I thought it was a beautiful novel.  

 

Terry Pratchett isn't light! That's social commentary! âœŠ

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I finished a couple of things this week: Ultraviolet, which is a good YA novel for older teens, I'm handing it off to dd after finishing it last night. It's about a girl with synesthesia, which my dd has in a very mild form (number-color synesthesia) so I know she'll be fascinated. It's also all about a girl trying to figure out who she is. I enjoyed it.

 

That book looks really interesting!  One of my dds also has a type of number synesthesia, but it doesn't involve colors but her seeing some kind of shapes or spirals or something.  I guess it's hard to explain!  I had only heard about color synesthesia before that, but she came across some info somewhere and asked me if I thought about numbers that way, and showed me the Wiki on it.  She had thought everybody thought about numbers like that (she's my mathiest kid, too...)

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Terry Pratchett isn't light! That's social commentary! âœŠ

 

Well, I think Terry Pratchett is literature and gives Shakespeare a run for his money, but she did use the phrase "brain candy" so I thought I'd sell a more literature-like selection ;-)

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52 Books Blog - The Shape of Culture:  Does where or when  you were  born really matter or is it who you are born to that shapes you?  How much does the culture of family, your community, your town play into your thoughts, ideas and speech?

 

I am from southern Maryland.  For most of my life I lived in southern Maryland or northern Virginia.  3 1/2 years ago we moved to San Antonio.  The biggest culture shock I've experienced is actually on-line.  I honestly did not understand racism or even that it still exists.  The part of southern MD where I grew up was 50-50 white black then and is now majority minority.  Here in SA most people are Hispanic, so again, majority minority.  The day my best friend told me about how there was one single black person in her entire high school (in Utah) was just so shocking to me.  Being on-line and also through books I have learned so much.  I still struggle to understand how multiple races can possibly have trouble co-existing and that there are places where that is still an issue.  I grew up with several kids from interracial marriages.  I'm 38.  From what I understand, interracial marriages in the 70s were not common in many places.  To me, it's just normal.  I've come to realize the culture I was raised in is not common, or at least wasn't in the 80s and 90s.

 

We are reading Johnny Tremain next, which I need to start soon. 

 

I love that book.  I read it the first time at 12 and have reread it several times.

 

I finished a couple of things this week: Ultraviolet, which is a good YA novel for older teens, I'm handing it off to dd after finishing it last night. It's about a girl with synesthesia, which my dd has in a very mild form (number-color synesthesia) so I know she'll be fascinated. It's also all about a girl trying to figure out who she is. I enjoyed it.

 

My daughter is a synesthete.  All sounds and letters have colors.  Numbers have colors and personalities/stories.  I had her draw what she sees in her head when she hears some songs a couple years ago: https://thefamilywho.wordpress.com/2015/07/09/musical-synesthesia/

 

I am working on The Yiddish Policemen's Union.  I. Don't. Get. It.  I feel like when I read Making Money on my husband's recommendation.  Maybe books like that are just not my thing.  Jamie's on an airplane right now and spending his time listening to it.  Maybe he'll be able to explain it to me.  I'm 20% in.  I'm making myself read 10% and then I let myself read something I like.  So I'll finish some books this week.  Hopefully one of them will be that one.  I only have 5 more days on the loan time.

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That book looks really interesting!  One of my dds also has a type of number synesthesia, but it doesn't involve colors but her seeing some kind of shapes or spirals or something.  I guess it's hard to explain!  I had only heard about color synesthesia before that, but she came across some info somewhere and asked me if I thought about numbers that way, and showed me the Wiki on it.  She had thought everybody thought about numbers like that (she's my mathiest kid, too...)

 

My brother has emotion-taste synethsesia.

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The thing that struck me about Southern California when we first moved here was how transient it felt. Almost nobody I met was actually from the area -- everyone had relocated here and would probably be moving on at some point. Part of it was the area of town we lived in, part of it is that San Diego is a big Navy town with families coming and going. The housing booms and busts have meant that people are always looking to move to a newer, bigger house. And buildings, both residential and commercial, are constantly being remodeled, or rebuilt or redeveloped. It took forever for me to have a sense of place here -- to feel like it was home. Interestingly now that I do have a sense of place here and feel like it is home, lots of people I know are retiring and leaving, either due to the high cost of living or simply to be close to grandchildren. 

 

I've watched several East Coast people fail to adapt to Southern California. After spending a couple of years complaining and criticizing everything, they give up and head back home to someplace East. True, we don't know how to drive in the rain -- but we are so very laid back, what's not to love? At least south of Orange County your waiter or barrista isn't an aspiring actor!! OMG -- it is quite something how true that stereotype can be! 

 

Onto this week's reading.

 

I finished Terry Pratchett's Thief of Time, and just loved it. The forgotten 5th horseman of the apocalypse, Chaos, makes an appearance when time come to a full stop. :lol:

 

I also finished my other book about time, Ruth Ozeki's A Tale for the Time Being. A definite mixed bag of a book. I loved so much about it, except it also annoyed the hell out of me! She seemed to want to cram everything into this book, as if it would somehow make the book Important with a capital "I". I thought the diary of the girl in Japan was terrific. Her voice was spot-on. I loved the Buddhist nun- great grandmother. I loved the characters of the couple in British Columbia who found and read the diary. What I found to be too much was packing in everything else from 9/11 tp Quantum Mechanics (I especially found that an awkward add on and a tad pretentious) to the extra violent school bullying. It brought to mind a quote of Lao Tze who said that governing a country was like cooking a small fish -- meaning you need a gentle touch. I kept thinking that advice should be given to an author writing a complex book. Don't over do it! 

 

By Gaslight got set aside for a few days. Interesting what strong reactions that book elicits! Put me in the column of loving the atmosphere and details -- to me it is like good world building found in better sci fi or fantasy. I'm also enjoying Snow Angels by James Thompson, the mystery set in Finland which Stacia mentioned last week. It is a perfect, quick mystery in between all these more hefty tomes.

Edited by JennW in SoCal
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I finished a novel by Susan Wigg's (Family Tree) and a mystery by Claire McNab. Both were fun reads. I'm still working on Martin & Malcolm & America: Dream or Nightmare? by James Cone and am about to start one of several novels I have sitting here. I've got to work through my library books and overdrive books before I take on anything else....

 

Heather - congratulations on your black belt!

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... Speaking of trying to squeeze things in before they're due, I loved this blog post about Library Chicken and thought you ladies would probably relate as well!...

 

What a fun post!  Thanks for sharing it.

**

 

I've recently finished The Emperor's Edge  as well as the prequel short story Shadows Over Innocence  both by Lindsay Buroker.  The Emperor's Edge series (now about nine books long) is a favorite of my adult daughter, so I thought I'd give it a try.  I enjoyed these two works.  There is some violence but I think these would be fine for teen readers, too.   Both are currently free to Kindle readers.  Here's the blurb for The Emperor's Edge ~

 

"Imperial law enforcer Amaranthe Lokdon is good at her job: she can deter thieves and pacify thugs, if not with a blade, then by toppling an eight-foot pile of coffee canisters onto their heads. But when ravaged bodies show up on the waterfront, an arson covers up human sacrifices, and a powerful business coalition plots to kill the emperor, she feels a tad overwhelmed.

 

Worse, Sicarius, the empire's most notorious assassin, is in town. He's tied in with the chaos somehow, but Amaranthe would be a fool to cross his path. Unfortunately, her superiors order her to hunt him down. Either they have an unprecedented belief in her skills... or someone wants her dead."

**

 

I also read and enjoyed The Weight Of It All  by N.R. Walker; this is likely a book I'll re-read.  (Adult content)

 

"After being dumped by his long-term boyfriend for being overweight, Henry Beckett decides to make some drastic changes. In a vain attempt at getting his boyfriend back, Henry does the most absurdly frightening thing he can think of. He joins a gym. Reed Henske is a personal trainer who isn’t sure he’ll ever be ready to date again. He’s sick of guys who are only interested in the perfect body image, never seeing him for who he really is. As Reed tortures Henry with things like diet and exercise, Henry enamours Reed with recipes and laughter. As the friendship lines start to blur, Henry is convinced there’s no way Thor-like Reed could ever be interested in a guy like him. Reed just has to convince Henry that life isn’t about reaching your ideal bodyweight. It’s about finding your perfect counterweight."

**

 

And I read The Protectorit  by Kelly Tharp which I was finding a pleasant read until it annoyingly ended with a cliffhanger.

 

"Heroin, the bane of Earth, now wreaks havoc amongst the stars. Dr. Kathleen Mary O’Donnell must survive light years from the planet she needs to save. But first she must escape from the most powerful man in the galaxy, the Lord General Tammaru Ki, the Protectorit, the one who kidnapped her off Earth. But how, when he can hear her every thought? War is coming to the galaxy and Dr. O'Donnell may be the key to the Protectorit's survival, and quite possibly the galaxy’s."

 

Regards,

Kareni

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That book sounds icky!

 

But I want to know what kind of synesthesia the chick in the story has.

 

The blurb on goodreads does make it sound kind of icky, but it's really not. I don't want to give away spoilers, but it's not about a murderous 16 year old.  There are plot twists. Not all entirely believable, but entertaining nonetheless.  :)

 

That book looks really interesting!  One of my dds also has a type of number synesthesia, but it doesn't involve colors but her seeing some kind of shapes or spirals or something.  I guess it's hard to explain!  I had only heard about color synesthesia before that, but she came across some info somewhere and asked me if I thought about numbers that way, and showed me the Wiki on it.  She had thought everybody thought about numbers like that (she's my mathiest kid, too...)

 

 

 

 

 

My daughter is a synesthete.  All sounds and letters have colors.  Numbers have colors and personalities/stories.  I had her draw what she sees in her head when she hears some songs a couple years ago: https://thefamilywho.wordpress.com/2015/07/09/musical-synesthesia/

 

 

 

So interesting that both of your dds have synesthesia. My degrees are in psychology and cognitive science, and I've always found differences in perception so fascinating. I had a linguistics professor who told me that he never thought in images. Never. Not a single one.  He does not have pictures in his brain, or movies running. He doesn't relive memories visually or picture the future. His internal perceptions are completely non-visual. I'm still not sure I understand exactly how that works, but it was mind-boggling to realize that much of what I'd taken for granted - that other people perceive the world the way I do - is not the case. I love it when a book can make that seem real, and normal. I think it opens all of our eyes.

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I am from southern Maryland. For most of my life I lived in southern Maryland or northern Virginia. 3 1/2 years ago we moved to San Antonio. The biggest culture shock I've experienced is actually on-line. I honestly did not understand racism or even that it still exists. The part of southern MD where I grew up was 50-50 white black then and is now majority minority. Here in SA most people are Hispanic, so again, majority minority. The day my best friend told me about how there was one single black person in her entire high school (in Utah) was just so shocking to me. Being on-line and also through books I have learned so much. I still struggle to understand how multiple races can possibly have trouble co-existing and that there are places where that is still an issue. I grew up with several kids from interracial marriages. I'm 38. From what I understand, interracial marriages in the 70s were not common in many places. To me, it's just normal. I've come to realize the culture I was raised in is not common, or at least wasn't in the 80s and 90s.

 

 

This was the biggest problem I had coming back from Puerto Rico. The military in the 70's was very integrated. We knew many people of other nationalities. The DOD schools in PR were not just for the military but also Puerto Ricans who worked for the government. They were very racially diverse, so were my friends. I actually was not aware of race issues until I attended a non DOD public school in Jacksonville Florida our first years back. The U.S. felt like an uncomfortable place to live. People seemed a lot more grumpy to me. You couldn't just pick free mangos, guavas, and bananas either. Not to mention, the flat topography of Florida made me cry. I told my father it was ugly, lol. (Sorry Kathy)

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My goodness, this thread is on page 2 already! I have no hope of keeping up. I did skim quickly, and while I really like all posts, all I have time for is a quick like for those that hit home or echo something in my own life right now. Like reading in math class! I read before class begins, at breaks, and when he gives us a long time to solve a problem I can do quickly. But I always put the book away when the teacher starts talking and so far I haven't been yelled at like the "kids" texting or doing their homework on their laptops!

 

I got one finished this week--Oliver Sacks' The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. I enjoyed it but will easily pass this along to the library book sale. The best parts were learning about his experiences with some epilepsy patients and some weird music cases. It was very difficult to "hear" him refer to the intellectually disabled as simple, simpletons, retards, and idiots. I suppose these terms were acceptable and even clinical at some point (book was written in 1984), but it bothered me. He also likes to judge which lives are worth living, which people have a "soul" (this for particular types of brain damage, not for intellectually disabled). And while toward the end of the book he does find what can make these people special, I never feel that he finds their lives as worthwhile as the non-affected. I'm now reading Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. This is a long letter from a terminally ill minister at age 76 to his 7 year old son to read when he grows up, I believe so that he can know his father. Beautifully written.

 

Stop tempting me with anything else! I'm determined to try to get this and one more from my own shelves finished and donated to the library book sale by the end of the month. Then I'll return to my more usual habit of picking up whatever sounds interesting.

 

Culture-wise: born and raised in CA (central valley, then college and early adulthood in Bay Area), then moved to Oregon in 1993. I remember once while reading Angle of Repose and reflecting on my family history, I felt very much a westerner. I come from multiple lines of immigrants seeking a better life and finding themselves for the most part in the west--Scandinavian loggers, English loggers too, short-term Mormon immigrants, Bohemian farmers, etc. The west is open and free and not so hemmed in by convention (though I myself am pretty conventional).

 

Allright, I'll skim when I can but I probably won't be here much this week. Have a good one!

 

ETA: Got my own birthplace wrong. I was born in FL while my dad was in the air force, but moved to CA at a very young age--no memories of any other place.

Edited by Ali in OR
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Football and bowling, stealing the other school’s mascot, cruising through Sonic and playing video games at the arcade.  Pigging out on Krystal’s mini burgers and Church’s fried chicken. All sounds a little like American Graffiti.  Carefree high school days.

 

 

 

 

I like this week's challenge!  Your description of the south is really sweet, but the paragraph above made me smile.  I grew up in Modesto, CA, the home of American Graffiti!  Ha!  It was a little more gangs, and a little less All-American when I was growing up.  Though it was a happy childhood of playing outside all hours and working on our family farm and riding our bikes across big busy streets to swimming lessons.

 

With my own family, we move frequently with the military, and I love to read both fiction and nonfiction about our new homes.  

 

This week I read "Britt-Marie Was Here" it was sweet and sad and made me think about my invisible life as a stay at home mom whose children are growing up... I am feeling antsy about what comes next and how to bridge the change without shorting the kids who are still home. (any suggestions?)

 

I'm also reading "Happier at Home"  (It looks like I have a theme going here.)

Edited by wendy not in HI
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So interesting that both of your dds have synesthesia. My degrees are in psychology and cognitive science, and I've always found differences in perception so fascinating. I had a linguistics professor who told me that he never thought in images. Never. Not a single one. He does not have pictures in his brain, or movies running. He doesn't relive memories visually or picture the future. His internal perceptions are completely non-visual. I'm still not sure I understand exactly how that works, but it was mind-boggling to realize that much of what I'd taken for granted - that other people perceive the world the way I do - is not the case. I love it when a book can make that seem real, and normal. I think it opens all of our eyes.

You might find The Age of Em interesting. The author Hanson ignores some important psychological characteristics of human nature, in my view, but you'd know far better than me. Scalzi's Ghost Brigades and Crouch's Dark Matter touch on the outcomes of creating human copies and to what extent each copy is its own entity. Hanson assumes copies would willingly coordinate with each other, including embracing death (something I doubt) but the premise drives much of his speculation.

Edited by ErinE
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In other news (no pun intended) I finished News of the World today. I loved it! It made me want to read a bit more about children who were captured by Native American tribes, and the trouble they had adjusting when they were returned to their biological families. I also want to read another book of hers, The Color of Lightning. There's an historical character, Britt Johnson, who makes a brief appearance in News of the World. The Color of Lightning tells his story as historical fiction.

 

Still plugging away at:

 

Doctor Thorne - I should finish it this week.

Alexander Hamilton - I've been listening to the musical soundtrack and was inspired to pick it back up again.

Norwegian Wood - I should finish this one this week too.

Infidel - audio book. I like listening to an author read his or her own book, but her accent is fairly thick and I have to really pay attention. I didn't have this problem with Trevor Noah's book but maybe that's because I'm used to hearing him on The Daily Show.

 

Once I finish at least one of the above books I plan to start my book club's current book - The Marriage of Opposites.

Tribe by Sebastian Junger partly addresses the issue as to why kidnapped children preferred staying with their captors . At the back of the book, Jiles recommended A book for further reading. The title escapes me at the moment. Captured, maybe? Edited by prairiegirl
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So interesting that both of your dds have synesthesia. My degrees are in psychology and cognitive science, and I've always found differences in perception so fascinating. I had a linguistics professor who told me that he never thought in images. Never. Not a single one.  He does not have pictures in his brain, or movies running. He doesn't relive memories visually or picture the future. His internal perceptions are completely non-visual. I'm still not sure I understand exactly how that works, but it was mind-boggling to realize that much of what I'd taken for granted - that other people perceive the world the way I do - is not the case. I love it when a book can make that seem real, and normal. I think it opens all of our eyes.

 

I also find differences in perception fascinating.  Our own perceptions and processing of the world seems so obvious and normal and 'the way things are', but if you ask others about their experience, It's amazing how differently we're all processing the same information. I think we don't talk about it with others often, because it's just too bizarre that things could be so varied.

 

I was talking the other day to the same dd, who said she was having a hard time visualizing her Optics problems in Physics with all the angles and reflections.  Then she said that's why she also hated Geometry.  I asked her why, since I found Geometry really easy and obvious because it was just logic, and she's super-good at logic (computer science major, loves symbolic logic).  But she said no, it also involved visualizing the shapes, and she has a hard time with that.  I do have very good visual/spatial skills, so I guess that's the difference??

 

But then she does visualize numbers themselves in some weird shape-like way.  She tried to draw me a picture once too.  I was like, whaaat is that??

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Last week I read Breakfast With Buddha by Roland Merullo. I liked it. 

 

I'm still trying to settle into a new book. I have several that I am in the middle of but can't seem to want to pick up any of them to finish. Not sure what my problem is. 

 

I enjoy hearing where everyone is from. I was an Air Force brat but we only moved a few times in my life - Texas to Virginia to Hawaii to Colorado. I married then moved to Arizona, Colorado, Washington, and back to Arizona. I guess I consider myself a Westerner. :) 

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In other news (no pun intended) I finished News of the World today. I loved it! It made me want to read a bit more about children who were captured by Native American tribes, and the trouble they had adjusting when they were returned to their biological families. I also want to read another book of hers, The Color of Lightning. There's an historical character, Britt Johnson, who makes a brief appearance in News of the World. The Color of Lightning tells his story as historical fiction.

 

Still plugging away at:

 

Doctor Thorne - I should finish it this week.

Alexander Hamilton - I've been listening to the musical soundtrack and was inspired to pick it back up again.

Norwegian Wood - I should finish this one this week too.

Infidel - audio book. I like listening to an author read his or her own book, but her accent is fairly thick and I have to really pay attention. I didn't have this problem with Trevor Noah's book but maybe that's because I'm used to hearing him on The Daily Show. 

 

Once I finish at least one of the above books I plan to start my book club's current book - The Marriage of Opposites.

I loved News of the World.  It was my favorite of the books I read that were printed in 2016.  The lack of quotation marks nearly caused my brain to explode for the first chapter or two, but then it was fine.  I recently read the author's Enemy Women and have The Color of Lightning on my bedside table.  After finishing News I read the book referenced in the author's notes, The Captured by Scott Zesch and it was horrifying and fascinating. 

 

Cindy

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I loved News of the World.  It was my favorite of the books I read that were printed in 2016.  The lack of quotation marks nearly caused my brain to explode for the first chapter or two, but then it was fine.  I recently read the author's Enemy Women and have The Color of Lightning on my bedside table.  After finishing News I read the book referenced in the author's notes, The Captured by Scott Zesch and it was horrifying and fascinating. 

 

 

News of the World sounds really interesting.  Do you think it could count for the Western bingo square?? 

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Do others with synesthesia see the colours in their brains or their eyes?

 

The question made perfect sense to dd, and she says with her brain. It's not something she see out there in the world, outside of herself, attached to objects or floating in the air. But she sees very specific, distinct and vibrant colors associated with all numbers and some letters - vowels have more distinct colors than others. Smells associate with a mixture of color and textures/sensations - for example, the smell of earwax is peachy-orange and stretchy, like taffy. Ants smell purply-brown and wrinkly like a prune.

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News of the World sounds really interesting.  Do you think it could count for the Western bingo square?? 

I would think so.  It takes place entirely in Texas in 1869-70.  Very reminiscent of True Grit which is probably the only other western book I have read.  It really does have it all.  I laughed and cried all the way through.  It is a short book, and a quick read. 

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The question made perfect sense to dd, and she says with her brain. It's not something she see out there in the world, outside of herself, attached to objects or floating in the air. But she sees very specific, distinct and vibrant colors associated with all numbers and some letters - vowels have more distinct colors than others. Smells associate with a mixture of color and textures/sensations - for example, the smell of earwax is peachy-orange and stretchy, like taffy. Ants smell purply-brown and wrinkly like a prune.

 

Interesting. Sometimes I see it in my brain and sometimes in my eyes.

 

The smelling synesthesia is interesting! I haven't heard any anecdotes about smell! My brother says emotions taste metallic. It's like empath stuff mixed with synesthesia. Smell with texture is cool. I only have texture with sight.

 

Brains are weird!

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I was just reading an article about synesthesia in Wall Street journal which went over the different types. Started asking my son if he saw colors when reading or if the words moved around while reading, if he tasted colors, etc. He said no, but hubby suddenly piped up from the living room because he'd never heard of synesthesia and found the topic fascinating. He revealed he sees music in colors and objects. Which is why he likes to sit in his dark office and play music. HEather, just like your daughter, so would be interesting to see if he could draw what he sees.

 

Until I read upside down brilliance about visual spatial acuity, I never realized that other people don't see books as movies in their mind. Which also explained why when a book was poorly written, I couldn't get into it, because I couldn't envision what was happening.

Edited by Robin M
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This week I started Lab Girl and The Wise Man's Fear. I'm keeping your warnings about The Wise Man's Fear in mind, but am enjoying it so far - still less than 200 pages in though.

 

I'm glad we didn't scare you off completely! I'll be interested to hear what you think when you're done. I've found it can be a different experience when you read books in a series together instead of waiting for a sequel to come out.

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I finished Norwegian Wood and while I didn't like this as much as Kafka on the Shore, I did enjoy this more than some of his other books. It is also shorter than some others, which I think has something to do with it. I would sometimes get bored of tedious details in 1Q84 and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and I didn't have that problem with this one.

 

I then read a quick dusty book, Saint George and the Dragonwhich I had picked up at the library book sale thinking that I will probably never read The Faerie Queene, and this much is better than nothing. There were a couple of points in the story that made me laugh and I was glad to see King Arthur make an appearance. This adaptation is in verse and the book has simple, all red illustrations.

 

I also finished listening to Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In by Bernie Sanders. Part of the book is narrated by Mark Ruffalo. He pronounced "Asia" with three syllables and "virulent" with a long I.Other things too, but those were the most shocking pronunciations, for me.

 

Books I started:

 

One Thousand and One Nights by Hanan Al-Shaykh - This is a "reimagining" of nineteen of the stories from The Arabian Nights. "Reimagining" is the word used on the back cover, but I have no idea how these compare to other tellings. There are some odd phrasings, missing words and weird commas that are a little distracting here and there, but overall it is light and fun - also bawdy. I enjoy the interconnectedness of the stories and the multiple frames.

 

Believing Is Seeing: Creating the Culture of Art by Mary Anne Staniszewski - This is another dusty book I purchased from the library book sale (a couple years ago). It was on a table of children's books, but didn't look like a children's book, so I thought it was probably about teaching art appreciation to children or something like that. Nope! Just on the wrong table. Looking at Amazon reviews, it appears that this book is commonly used as a textbook (though I imagine not the only textbook for a course). It is heavily illustrated and feels like I'm sitting in on a lecture with a power point presentation for the first few weeks of a course in art appreciation or art history. The author argues that, as far as we know, art as we think of it has only existed since the eighteenth century.

 

The Obesity Code by Jason Fung - Thanks to Negin and anyone else that brought this book to the BaW threads! I am listening to this while I run. It's light and easy to listen to. I have listened to about three hours of it. I suppose I am always skeptical of diet books, but about three hours in, the information about experiments showing insulin as a cause of weight gain is interesting, so I'm a little less skeptical now and almost wishing I had somewhere to drive so I could listen to more. I lost seventy pounds last year and am hopeful for anything that will help me keep it off. 

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I was just reading an article about synesthesia in Wall Street journal which went over the different types. Started asking my son if he saw colors when reading or if the words moved around while reading, if he tasted colors, etc. He said no, but hubby suddenly piped up from the living room because he'd never heard of synesthesia and found the topic fascinating. He revealed he sees music in colors and objects. Which is why he likes to sit in his dark office and play music. HEather, just like your daughter, so would be interesting to see if he could draw what he sees.

 

Dd has number-form synesthesia (different from number-color).  I asked her some more about it tonight.  She said she doesn't think of them as shapes, but they each have a place relative to each other.  She said they loop around, I think till 20 and then turn left?! and then the go all sorts of other places.  She said 1000 is 'near 200'  What does that even mean??  She has places for them up into the thousands, and even larger single numbers have places.  She said she can also look at them from different angles... and also that it made complete and perfect sense for her to think of them this way.And get this... apparently years have their own separate placements, and months too.  But she said ages were just like regular numbers...

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I had a linguistics professor who told me that he never thought in images. Never. Not a single one.  He does not have pictures in his brain, or movies running. He doesn't relive memories visually or picture the future. His internal perceptions are completely non-visual. I'm still not sure I understand exactly how that works, but it was mind-boggling to realize that much of what I'd taken for granted - that other people perceive the world the way I do - is not the case. I love it when a book can make that seem real, and normal. I think it opens all of our eyes.

 

That's like me!  I see everything in words.  Black and white printed words.  I have been able to "see" parts of books by only two authors (Shannon Hale and I can't remember the other one).  Even then it's only very brief bits of picture or video.  It's rather exciting when it happens because it's so rare for me.  When I was pregnant with Cameron, we took Bradley classes and visualizations were a big part of it and I couldn't do it.  My brain just doesn't work that way.

 

Do others with synesthesia see the colours in their brains or their eyes?

 

Ani said brain with absolutely no hesitation or thinking about it.

 

The question made perfect sense to dd, and she says with her brain. It's not something she see out there in the world, outside of herself, attached to objects or floating in the air. But she sees very specific, distinct and vibrant colors associated with all numbers and some letters - vowels have more distinct colors than others. Smells associate with a mixture of color and textures/sensations - for example, the smell of earwax is peachy-orange and stretchy, like taffy. Ants smell purply-brown and wrinkly like a prune.

 

Have you ever watched Girl Meets World?  There's one episode where Farkle says, "I taste blue!"  Ani got so excited when she heard him say that.

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Dd has number-form synesthesia (different from number-color).  I asked her some more about it tonight.  She said she doesn't think of them as shapes, but they each have a place relative to each other.  She said they loop around, I think till 20 and then turn left?! and then the go all sorts of other places.  She said 1000 is 'near 200'  What does that even mean??  She has places for them up into the thousands, and even larger single numbers have places.  She said she can also look at them from different angles... and also that it made complete and perfect sense for her to think of them this way.And get this... apparently years have their own separate placements, and months too.  But she said ages were just like regular numbers...

 

I was just reading up on this. It's like a 3 dimensional time line, I think, except with no effort at being orderly!

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I would think so.  It takes place entirely in Texas in 1869-70.  Very reminiscent of True Grit which is probably the only other western book I have read.  It really does have it all.  I laughed and cried all the way through.  It is a short book, and a quick read. 

 

Oh good, and it's just over 200 pages, so it will count for bingo! :)

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Dd has number-form synesthesia (different from number-color).  I asked her some more about it tonight.  She said she doesn't think of them as shapes, but they each have a place relative to each other.  She said they loop around, I think till 20 and then turn left?! and then the go all sorts of other places.  She said 1000 is 'near 200'  What does that even mean??  She has places for them up into the thousands, and even larger single numbers have places.  She said she can also look at them from different angles... and also that it made complete and perfect sense for her to think of them this way.And get this... apparently years have their own separate placements, and months too.  But she said ages were just like regular numbers...

 

Fascinating!

 

Ani's number personalities have made math weird for her.  She said she could go on for years about them, but here are some examples.  4 and 14 are like Draco and Lucius Malfoy personality-wise.  2 is pink and 5 is green.  5 and 6 are dating, but 7 and 8 are jealous because they both have a crush on 5 so they got together to make 15 so they could partially have 5.  3 and 1 are together and 2 is 1's sister.  Nothing above 100 has a personality.

 

When people speak, their voices look like sound waves in her brain.  Deep voices usually have red undertones.  Most voices have multiple colors mixed together.  So like my voice is yellow and purple.  Markiplier (youtuber) is red and orange (he's got a very deep voice).  Her best friend's is yellow and purple like mine.

 

Music looks like fireworks of different colors.  Wind instruments are yellowish shades.  Percussion instruments are usually purple or black shades or red.

 

March is super friendly.  January is really lazy, but really nice.  December is a mean-hearted month.

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Not synesthesia but how about trypophobia? Anyone suffer from that? I couldn't explain my fascination/disgust/shudder reactions to barnacles. Then I came across a name for it when someone posted a picture of lots of roasted garlic. Blech, blech, blech...not the taste but the look if the tops are cut off and all you see are...barnacle-like shapes. Strange but true. I had to avert my eyes when I googled trypophobia for a link to share with you all. The pictures of all those lotus roots, sponges and so forth....aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh  :willy_nilly:  :willy_nilly:  :willy_nilly:  :willy_nilly:  :willy_nilly:  :willy_nilly:

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I've missed a couple of weeks, mostly due to illness. During that time I finished Colson's The Underground Railroad and made progress on Hawaii, and Euphoria.

 

For culture this week, I'll keep reading Hawaii.

 

The Underground Railroad was a very gripping book, although I did find the writing a bit abrupt at various times. I know Rose stopped reading it, and Jane made it through. I find the current discussion interesting because I form almost no images in my mind. I mostly deal in concepts and language. It was of course a very disturbing read but because I had no images in my mind, or movies of the scenes, I was able to go through it mostly like any other book until the last 25 pages or so. That I ended up reading in the bathroom so my kids wouldn't see me crying so hard. The fundamental unfairness of the situation was rage-inducing, and the way the non-human world affected the main protagonist (Cora) in cruel ways when humans were already being so terrible, was heartbreaking. It would be a fine book to turn a believer in God into an atheist. 

 

I also own The American Slave Coast and feel it would be a good idea to go from the fiction I just finished to a non-fiction work, but I'm not sure about starting a foray into a difficult 750-page book right now. Maybe if I decided to take this year and work through it here and there instead of straight through.

 

On the topic of synesthesia, I don't think I have it, but I do think of numbers as structures, particularly spirals. They all have their place, although I don't see it. It's more of a conceptual experience, and doing math involves those structures, at least until math becomes too complex or abstract in my mind to do maintain the illusion(?) or idea.

 

 

Edited by idnib
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This week I finished Memoirs of a Geisha.  I can't believe I had this book on my shelves for three years and not read it until now.

I haven't started another light read, as I'm waiting for my Amazon order to arrive. We hardly ever (never) use the library, because I always end up with late fees. To be honest, I think I'm saving money this way. :mellow:

 

I love Neil Gaiman's Top 10. I have Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell waiting on my tbr, it's so long that I haven't dared opening it yet, but I love his description of the book:

 

Like Jane Austen's huge lost fantasy novel about the return of magic to England.

 

 

Books read so far:

- The Game of Thrones *****

- Fanstastic Beast and Where to Find Them ***

- In Search of England ***

- Memoirs of a Geisha *****

 

Books I'm currently reading:

- Sense and Sensibility - Austen (a group read, and we're taking half a year)

- Romantic Poets (collection of poems by Byron, Keats and more)

- Mere Christianity - Lewis

- The Brothers Karamazov - Dostoevsky (group read, will take the whole year)

- Shakespeare's Sonnets

- Fierce Wars and Faithful Loves - Spenser

- The Story of the Ancient World - SWB (read Ch 9&10)

- The Sea Around Us - Carson

- Heartfelt Discipline - Clarkson

- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck - Manson

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Note to Stacia: The section in By Gaslight on the Civil War balloon, the Intrepid, is indeed based on history. Photo of the Intrepid here:

 

http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/civil-war-ballooning/ballooning-during-the-seven.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/

 

Idnib: Glad to see you back. The Underground Railroad was a heart wrencher.

 

Heather: Congrats! Very impressive accomplishment.

 

Wishing everyone a great Monday.

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If a book is well written, I see and hear it happening, feel the emotions, taste the tastes, as in real life, like I am the main character. This affects what kind of novels I choose to read. If I read a book and it's like watching a movie, that's a different feel, more detached but still visual. I think to myself that the author herself must have seen it unfolding like a movie in her head when she wrote it. Somehow that style feels a little more immature to me, but sometimes more fun.

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This week I finished Frank Norris' 1901 classic of Zola-style socially conscious, naturalist fiction The Octopus, loosely based on the Mussel Slough incident, a shoot-out between squatters and railroad-backed buyers in California's San Joaquin Valley. Passion, violence, corruption, political machinations, and a high-speed steam engine chase: so something for everyone in this chunkster muckraking novel. Why wander past the 20th century when it's all here? ;)

 

It was a commissioner's official railway map of the State of California, completed to March 30th of that year. Upon it the different railways of the State were accurately plotted in various colours, blue, green, yellow. However, the blue, the yellow, and the green were but brief traceries, very short, isolated, unimportant. At a little distance these could hardly be seen. The whole map was gridironed by a vast, complicated network of red lines marked P. and S. W. R. R. These centralised at San Francisco and thence ramified and spread north, east, and south, to every quarter of the State. From Coles, in the topmost corner of the map, to Yuma in the lowest, from Reno on one side to San Francisco on the other, ran the plexus of red, a veritable system of blood circulation, complicated, dividing, and reuniting, branching, splitting, extending, throwing out feelers, off-shoots, tap roots, feeders-- diminutive little blood suckers that shot out from the main jugular and went twisting up into some remote county, laying hold upon some forgotten village or town, involving it in one of a myriad branching coils, one of a hundred tentacles, drawing it, as it were, toward that centre from which all this system sprang.

 

The map was white, and it seemed as if all the colour which should have gone to vivify the various counties, towns, and cities marked upon it had been absorbed by that huge, sprawling organism, with its ruddy arteries converging to a central point. It was as though the State had been sucked white and colourless, and against this pallid background the red arteries of the monster stood out, swollen with life-blood, reaching out to infinity, gorged to bursting; an excrescence, a gigantic parasite fattening upon the life-blood of an entire commonwealth.

That makes two completed books for 2017! Go me! On to volume 3 of Hakluyt's Voyages. And after that I think I will cheat a little bit for my "L"-title book and count Selected Poems of D. H. Lawrence. Because in my mind it's "my Lawrence poems book."

 

1. Voyages, Richard Hakluyt [vols. 1, 2]

2. The Interior Castle, St Teresa of Avila

3. The Octopus, Frank Norris

 

P.S. Mumto2 - You've outread me with Eight Cousins, as other than a forced and resented reading of Little Women at a young age, I've read no Alcott. Wee Girl opines that better luck is to be had with "E" authors, by which she means Enid Blyton.

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From last week:

You know how they say Texans *really* love Texas? It's a real thing. There's a saying "I wasn't born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could." That's me. I'm not Texan. I'm from Maryland. But I LOVE Texas. I seriously, big, puffy heart, love Texas. And specifically San Antonio. I really, really, really love San Antonio. I am so proud of the Alamo it's ridiculous. It probably helps I'm related to Jim Bowie so it's extra special. Anyway, so why am I saying this? I'm slowly plodding my way through Texas by Michener. It's enormous. And yesterday I reached the point where it started talking about San Antonio de Valero. The Alamo. And I get all proud of my city and state. Texans are weird.

Heather, I think we have our tale of culture, nailed down, haven't we? I've lived here in Slacker City since 1975, though born a fifth-generation New Mexican, and trucking off to the Bay Area for grad school. Dh's and my grand encounter with a non-Southwestern U.S. culture (he also grew up here) was his first job - two years in upstate New York, for our sins - and that was quite enough of that, thank you. Snowy winters are much, much less picturesque than they sound.

 

Anyway, I haven't read the Michener, but I hope to get to McMurtry some time. Meanwhile, J. Frank Dobie is my cultural go-to. Have you read any Dobie?

Edited by Violet Crown
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Snowy winters are much, much less picturesque than they sound.

 

Anyway, I haven't read the Michener, but I hope to get to McMurtry some time. Meanwhile, J. Frank Dobie is my cultural go-to. Have you read any Dobie?

 

It was a particularly snowy winter in MD combined with my husband's constant work trips to Texas that made me go, "I am so out of here!"  I haven't read any Dobie, no.  I have to look into his books.

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 I lost seventy pounds last year and am hopeful for anything that will help me keep it off. 

 

What a sneaky way to hide your major accomplishment by putting it at the end of a long post. You should be very proud and post it in BIG LETTERS AT THE VERY TOP!  

 

 

 

 

 

I grew up a military brat. Born in Germany, stayed there for the first 8 years, then all over the states. Went back to Germany after high school fully intending on living there the rest of my life. Ended up back in the states, and I still mourn that I am here. I have lived in the same place for 18 years (maybe 19) and I don't like it. I do not like the people, the landscape, the culture here, and well I basically just want to be in Europe thank you very much. That is where I feel at home. Ah, well.

 

 

Loved the concert last night. Why have I never gone before?  

Edited by Mom-ninja.
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Synesthesia - I first heard of it on an NPR interview with a musician a few years ago. Both ds and see days and months in color. Some of our colors for a particular month or day are the same, but not all.

 

 

Tribe by Sebastian Junger partly addresses the issue as to why kidnapped children preferred staying with their captors . At the back of the book, Jiles recommended A book for further reading. The title escapes me at the moment. Captured, maybe?

 

I hadn't heard of Tribe but will look into it. The Captured is the one she lists at the back of the book.

 

I loved News of the World.  It was my favorite of the books I read that were printed in 2016.  The lack of quotation marks nearly caused my brain to explode for the first chapter or two, but then it was fine.  I recently read the author's Enemy Women and have The Color of Lightning on my bedside table.  After finishing News I read the book referenced in the author's notes, The Captured by Scott Zesch and it was horrifying and fascinating. 

 

Cindy

 

Both my local library and the one I subscribe to have The Color of Lightning available for Kindle. I added it to my wish list at both sites, but have so many other books I want to get to first. 

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I've missed a couple of weeks, mostly due to illness. During that time I finished Colson's The Underground Railroad and made progress on Hawaii, and Euphoria.

 

For culture this week, I'll keep reading Hawaii.

 

The Underground Railroad was a very gripping book, although I did find the writing a bit abrupt at various times. I know Rose stopped reading it, and Jane made it through. I find the current discussion interesting because I form almost no images in my mind. I mostly deal in concepts and language. It was of course a very disturbing read but because I had no images in my mind, or movies of the scenes, I was able to go through it mostly like any other book until the last 25 pages or so. That I ended up reading in the bathroom so my kids wouldn't see me crying so hard. The fundamental unfairness of the situation was rage-inducing, and the way the non-human world affected the main protagonist (Cora) in cruel ways when humans were already being so terrible, was heartbreaking. It would be a fine book to turn a believer in God into an atheist. 

 

I also own The American Slave Coast and feel it would be a good idea to go from the fiction I just finished to a non-fiction work, but I'm not sure about starting a foray into a difficult 750-page book right now. Maybe if I decided to take this year and work through it here and there instead of straight through.

 

On the topic of synesthesia, I don't think I have it, but I do think of numbers as structures, particularly spirals. They all have their place, although I don't see it. It's more of a conceptual experience, and doing math involves those structures, at least until math becomes too complex or abstract in my mind to do maintain the illusion(?) or idea.

 

See, that's so interesting to me.  I form visual images copiously, and like Onceuponatime, I will see, hear, smell and feel what I'm reading about (if the writing is good) and that's what made The Underground Railroad impossible for me. It's not the brutality per se, it's how it was turned into a gripping story, experienced by a character that *felt* real to me. So I couldn't stand it, because I was feeling what she felt. No detachment possible.

 

I'm listening to The American Slave Coast - like you, I wanted to read it as a followup/background to a lot of the other things I'm reading, but was daunted by the length.  30+ hours of listening felt a bit more doable.  The problem is, the reader is really bad.  Her voice is fine, but she is obviously reading, with pauses at the ends of lines instead of at appropriate places, and she mispronounces so many words. I've been trying to overlook it but it's starting to get on my nerves. I may have to get the physical book after all.

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