NOTICE: (Updated March 5, 2010)

Beginning December 19, 2009, Books 'N Border Collies will be posting but only intermittently while I pursue personal goals. I plan to share some reading I'm doing, but there will be no reviews. I will, however, be sharing my exploration of vegetarian cooking and the cookbooks and websites I use to educate myself. I hope you enjoy it!


Monday, August 31, 2009

Book Giveaway: CLEOPATRA'S DAUGHTER by Michelle Moran


No regulars here in the book blogosphere need any introduction to the wonderful Michelle Moran, therefore I'm going to skip all the appetizers and get right down to the main course:

One lucky winner here at Books 'N Border Collies will have delivered to her (or him!) an Autographed Copy of Michelle's upcoming novel, Cleopatra's Daughter. But that's not all! The winner will also receive an Autographed Hard Cover Copy of her previous book, The Heretic Queen that I've been keeping stashed away for a moment just like this!

Leave a comment on this post along with an email address if I can't easily find one in your profile, and you could be the lucky winner of both of these fabulous books! Everyone is eligible. Entries will be accepted until Sept. 9, 6:00 pm Central Time. The winner will be announced the morning of Sept. 10.

And keep your eyes peeled here at Books 'N Border Collies for another fantastic giveaway next week for those of you who were hoping to get your hands on the cool new Jeanne Kalogridis book. The publisher sent me a little surprise . . .

Friday, August 28, 2009


by Jon Clinch

"Jon Clinch takes us on a journey into the history and heart of one of American Literature's most brutal and mysterious figures: Huckleberry Finn's father.

The tale begins with a lifeless body drifting down the Mississippi. The circumstances of the murder, and the secret of the victim's identity, shape Finn's story as they will shape his life and his death. Along the way we meet a cast of unforgettable characters: Finn's terrifying father, known only as the Judge; his sickly, sycophantic brother, Will; blind Bliss, a secretive moonshiner; the strong and quick-witted Mary, a stolen slave who becomes Finn's mistress; and of course young Huck himself
." (From the back of the Random House Trade Paperback edition.)

Finn is a remarkable book. Harsh and realistic in a manner that its inspiration only hinted at, it does not have the whimsical charm of Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn but is a perfect companion and foil.

Finn beautifully integrates characters and scenes from Huck Finn, sometimes perfectly, sometimes changed due to adopting the stance that Huck, being a child, was an unreliable narrator of his own story. Either way, Clinch's telling of Huck's father's story is riveting and haunting and has me itching to reread Huck Finn armed with this new knowledge. The scene of Huck and Jim discovering and exploring the house floating down the river will never feel the same again.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


by J.M. Coetzee

"J.M Coetzee has crafted an unusual and deeply affecting tale told through in ingenious series of formal addresses. Vividly imagined and masterfully wrought, Elizabeth Costello is, on the surface, the story of a woman's life as mother, sister, lover and writer. Yet it is also a profound and haunting meditation on the nature of storytelling that only a writer of Coetzee's caliber could accomplish." (From the back cover of the Penguin Books edition.)

A highly philosophical, character-driven story. There is little of what most readers would think of as plot, but what I took away from this book was a sense of examining our personal belief systems and their alteration over the course of our lives. Not only beliefs regarding God and religion, but those regarding what is good and what is evil, the rights of the living -- both human and animal -- and of our part in influencing the beliefs and, consequently, actions of others. For what is life in general but a series of acts we carry out according to our beliefs?

One thing that would have been helpful for me would have been to have read Franz Kafka's short story, "A Report to an Academy", because Elizabeth refers to it extensively during her address in one section of the book. I read the short story after the fact, and it all would have made much more of an impact if I had read it first.

After both this book and Waiting for the Barbarians, I have turned the last page feeling as if I could glean so much more with a second or even third reading. Much like Graham Greene, Coetzee's writing is simple only until you peel back the first layer. He is a writer I will be returning to again soon.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

How Many Short Stories Does It Take To Make A Book?

When it comes to my reading, I am a numbers junkie. I understand that what can be "counted" is highly subjective and that the "number" of books I read is really meaningful only to me. Still, I am a numbers junkie. I've accepted that about myself and I'm learning to deal with it.

What I'm discovering is that because of this weird obsession with numbers, I don't read very many short stories because I prefer to pick them out individually from various books and authors rather than read a book of short stories all the way through. My plan originally was to count the number of pages and have a certain number of pages count as a book in my final totals for the year. However, for some inexplicable reason I am finding that to be too inconvenient. And if I read short stories online I don't know how many pages there are. Consequently, even though I'm buying short story anthologies like mad, I'm once again procrastinating on reading all these little gems because I can't figure out a way to easily count them. Ridiculous but honest.

I'm considering setting a goal next year of 200 books, which is peanuts for some of you wildly prolific readers out there (of whom I am in jaw-dropping awe), but for me it's a major stretch and I don't want to neglect short stories again in pursuit of that goal. So -- How many individual short stories should I read before considering them equal to reading a "book"? I don't want to make it too easy, but I don't want to make it too demanding either. Here's where you come in. Take this poll and give me your thoughts. I understand it's silliness on my part, but I can't possibly be alone in this dilemma. And knowing that makes me feel normal. Well -- you know what I mean. . . :-)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


by Graham Greene

"Alden Pyle is sent to Vietnam to promote democracy with a unit known as Third Force. In Vietnam, Alden meets foreign journalist, Thomas Fowler. As naive and idealistic as Pyle is, Fowler, realistic and cynical, is very aware of the changing winds blowing in Vietnam." (From the CD container.)

I've only read three Graham Greene novels, but I find him to be a very compelling author. In this book and The Heart of the Matter, I was taken in by what appears on the surface to be a simple story but then unfolds to reveal hidden intricacies, like origami in reverse.

The Quiet American is not action-packed. It is subtle and graceful in its questions of right and wrong and its demand to know if the end sometimes can justify the means. It never offers an answer, but the one you give yourself may surprise you.

Monday, August 24, 2009

About This Blog

UPDATE: March 5, 2010 This blog is going through some changes, but until I decide exactly what they are, the following description is of what this blog was, rather than what it is now or what it will be in the future. Thanks for understanding!

With all of us anticipating Book Blogger Appreciation Week and the excitement over all the wonderful award nominations everyone has been receiving, I have found myself thinking more and more about Books 'N Border Collies and how it is perceived by my readers. As much as many of us like to say we blog for ourselves, I believe most of us can't help but be swept up into the sense of community and friendship that develops when you take a chance and display your thoughts for anyone, anywhere to read.

I have been book blogging for a little more than a year and a half now, and the little ideas regarding sharing thoughts about books that I had when I started Books 'N Border Collies have blossomed into grandiose plans that range from intending to book blog for the rest of my life to writing a book about the experience. This corner of my life has become so much more than I ever expected it to be! Reading has always been an enormous part of my life, but I've never had friends that shared as deep a passion for books. Finding folks like all of you has been such fun!! Now, as I contemplate where I want to take this blog in the future, this would be a good time for me to share with my readers what I am hoping to achieve here in the coming months and, hopefully, years.

I don't think of my posts as "reviews". When I started, I kind of did. But as I read other bloggers who write true reviews or masterful in-depth analyses of what they read, I discovered I didn't have the patience to do what others do so well already. What I think I'm good at is reading a fairly wide variety of books and identifying the kind of reader who might enjoy them. Whether or not I personally liked a book is somewhat immaterial. I'll tell my readers if I liked it or not and why, but I'm more interested in finding people who would like it. I'll be focusing on providing short to mid-length posts on every book I read, aiming mostly for quick-hit recommendations for readers rather than literary analysis.

While I won't be writing any analysis here, I do like to study it myself, and I plan to continue to share my Lifelong Learning Project and the tools I'm using to pursue my personal education, such as courses from The Teaching Company.

And, of course, there will be the occasional chats about the doings of Max and Skye, because what is Books 'N Border Collies without the Border Collies? :-)

With BBAW coming up, I'm going to be discovering many new blogs and I'm hoping many new bloggers/readers will be discovering me. I love to interact with my readers, so I encourage anyone and everyone to leave thoughts, suggestions, questions or just a hello any old time you feel like it. I'm looking forward to getting to know you all better!

Related Posts:

About Ratings, or the Lack Thereof

Sunday, August 23, 2009


by Elizabeth Gaskell

"In the village of Cranford, decorum is maintained at all times. Despite their poverty, the ladies are never vulgar about money (or their lack of it), and always follow the rules of propriety. This discretion and gentility does not keep away tragedy -- and when the worst happens, the Amazons of Cranford show the true strength of their honest affections." (From the CD container.)

That description makes the book sound much more somber than it really is. One could almost call this Victorian Chick Lit. I didn't think this would be my style of book at all, but it is on the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list and was available at the library. I checked it out. I adored it! I love these women! I want to live in Cranford! And once again I have been reminded why I enjoy playing with the 1001 Books list.

Cranford is more a series of episodes focusing on the various inhabitants of the town than a plot-driven story, and the love of the narrator, Mary Smith, for her former home and its residents is clear right from the start. It's not fawning or smothering, but realistic and powerful in its quaint honesty. She understands the eccentricities of the town but can watch and tell in a less "involved" manner, and her anecdotes highlight the friendship, jealously, resourcefulness and fierce emotion among women that it takes another woman to truly understand.

If you're looking for an extremely accessible classic to pass a lazy afternoon, I couldn't recommend a better book than Cranford.

PS Heather at Age 30+ . . . A Lifetime of Books is hosting a read-along for Cranford in September. If you'd like to join her, click here.

Other reviews:

A Striped Armchair

Saturday, August 22, 2009


by Louise Murphy

"In the last months of the Nazi occupation of Poland, two children are left by their father and stepmother to find safety in a dense forest. Because their real names will reveal their Jewishness, they are renamed 'Hansel' and 'Gretel'. They wander in the woods until they are taken in by Magda, an eccentric and stubborn old woman called 'witch' by the nearby villagers. Magda is determined to save them, even as a German officer arrives in the village with his own plans for the children." (From the back of the Penguin Books edition.)

Reading the original Grimm Brothers' fairy tale before I began The True Story of Hansel and Gretel: A Novel of War and Survival made portions of the book more predictable but no less evocative and added a rich layer of meaning to many of the scenes. Like so many books about WWII and the Holocaust, this one is difficult but necessary. What I found most memorable was that not all of the Nazi's were stereotyped. There were those who questioned their orders, and those brave souls are the ones who lifted this particular WWII/Holocaust story to a higher plane.

Only the ending marred my opinion at all. It felt cartoonish in comparison to the rest of the novel, but that wouldn't stop me from naming this book as one of the best I've read this year.

Other Reviews:

Bookworm's Dinner

Friday, August 21, 2009


by Chuck Palahniuk

"Number one best selling author Chuck Palahniuk presents Pygmy, a comedic and satirical take on American xenophobia. As part of a massive terrorist plot, a handful of young adults head to the Midwestern United States disguised as foreign exchange students. Palahniuk focuses on one of the young terrorists, Pygmy, who chronicles his time in the American Midwest as he and others plan a horrific, spiteful act." (From the CD container.)

The broken English in which the entire book is written actually made it funnier than it would have been otherwise and added a layer of emotion to the serious parts that may have ended up lacking impact. Telling the experiences of Operative Me in straight-up, easily coherent language would have sounded just plain stupid for the most part. Kudos to Palahniuk for realizing that and finding new ways to introduce juvenile comedy and general crudity into our reading. At the same time, the bizarre presentation effectively exposes the good, the bad, the humor and the hypocrisy in some of Western culture's most closely held customs, beliefs and institutions and in human eccentricities. The reader must, however, wade through a lot of Palahniuk's patented disturbing weirdness to get to the heart of the matter.

If you've never read a Chuck Palahniuk novel, I wouldn't start here. I'm thinking there are not going to be many readers who aren't already big fans of his literary shock jock ways who are going to go the distance with this offering. The ones that do will be rewarded with the sort of oddly touching ending we've come to expect and that usual post-Palahniuk uneasy feeling of suspecting you shouldn't have liked it as much as you did if you don't want to be hauled off to the psychologist for some sorely-needed analysis.

The curious can read a PDF of the first chapter of Pygmy on Amazon. Additional Books 'N Border Collies posts about Palahniuk books can be found here.

Other bloggers' thoughts on Pygmy:
Back To Books

Thursday, August 20, 2009


by Nick Hornby

I think it was during one of the 24-Hour Read-A-Thons that I first heard about Nick Hornby's essay books. Thank goodness for the RAT! This book was a blast!

The Polysyllabic Spree is the "book about books" I'm a tiny bit jealous I didn't write. It now serves as my current inspiration. What I really loved about it was that it was less about the books themselves than about the reading life, what it's like to be a dedicated reader. I know many people who read this generated wonderful lists of books they wanted to read, but I was more intrigued by the stories about the act of reading -- the ups and downs and weird obsessive behaviour we reading addicts tend to engage in.

Contemplating The Polysyllabic Spree and its sequels has got me thinking: Maybe my "book about books" should be about the experiences of being a book blogger. Maybe that should be my angle! I may be on to something here. Thanks, Nick! :-)

Other review:

Letters From A Hill Farm
Savvy Verse & Wit

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

OMG!! Thank you!!!

When I wrote my meme in anticipation of this year's Book Blogger Appreciation Week, I said that my highlight of last year's BBAW was being nominated for Best History/Historical Fiction Blog. That was awesome!

But this year I've been nominated for five awards!! I'm so excited I can hardly sit in my chair and type this!! I've been nominated for:

Best History/Historical Blog
Best Literary Fiction Blog
Most Concise
Most Eclectic Taste
Best Commentor

How cool is that?? I want to thank everyone who took the time to nominate not only me but all the other great bloggers out there who spend their free time sharing their lives and their love of books with all of us. Whether I win any of these great awards or not, I want you all to know the nominations mean the world to me because they come from you, my blogging peers who make my reading even more fun that it would be all by myself. Thank you!! And good luck to all the nominees for the 2009 Book Blogger Appreciation Week Awards!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


by Paul Auster

"Six months after losing his wife and two young sons in an airplane crash, Vermont professor David Zimmer spends his waking hours mired in a blur of alcoholic grief and self-pity. Then, watching television one night, he stumbles upon a clip from a lost film by silent comedian Hector Mann. Zimmer's interest is piqued, and he soon finds himself embarking on a journey around the world to research a book on this mysterious figure, who vanished from sight in 1929 and has been presumed dead for sixty years.

When the book is published the following year, a letter turns up in Zimmer's mailbox bearing a return address from a small town in New Mexico inviting him to meet Hector. Torn between doubt and belief, Zimmer hesitates, until one night a strange woman appears on his doorstep and makes the decision for him, changing his life forever
." (From the back of the Picador edition.)

People may say what they will about the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list, but if it weren't for that list I may never have discovered Paul Auster and that would have been a shame. No matter his topic or how odd his presentation, he engages me so deeply that I inevitably get to the end and either yearn for more, or, as in the case of Timbuktu, I'm so emotionally wrung out that I couldn't take anymore even if it was offered.

By the end of The Book of Illusions, I was all set to find some DVDs of Hector Mann's films until I remembered he's not real. I wanted to experience for myself the magic of the works described so vividly in the book and to suddenly realize that wasn't possible was almost like a slap in the face. The book deeply explores the many people we are inside, the person we choose to present to the world at different times and who those personae belong to, so the need to come to terms with the fiction of all the creations in their entirety was an odd sensation. I could have sworn I knew them for real! Which, I believe, was part of the point. Who, including ourselves, do we know for real? And do we need to really know someone for that particular relationship to be meaningful to us or to be a force that shapes our lives?

I said when I read Auster's Travels In The Scriptorium that it made me want to go back and read his older work because many previous characters found their way into that novel. The Book of Illusions has only further encouraged me because I believe I recognize a couple of characters and the title of Travels In The Scriptorium is mentioned specifically. I still feel like Auster is playing games with me. And I like it!

Other reviews:

Books Please

Monday, August 17, 2009

New Purchases

The Paris Review Interviews, I
The Paris Review Interviews, II
The Paris Review Interviews, III

I've been watching my Teaching Company DVDs for The Art of Reading, and the instructor highly recommended these books of author interviews originally printed in The Paris Review. I couldn't resist when I saw the lists of authors included: Graham Greene, William Faulkner, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, Kurt Vonnegut, Martin Amis . . . the list goes on! There is also a fourth volume due out this October. I bought all three of the first volumes, and lucky me! Volume II has a copyright date of 2007, so guess what I get to read to finish off my Countdown Challenge! Excellent!

I also bought Nick Hornby's Housekeeping vs. the Dirt and Shakespeare Wrote for Money, because I read The Polysyllabic Spree over the weekend and LOVED it! I'll be posting more of my thoughts on that this week.

Just a reminder -- There are a couple more weeks to get a discount on that beautiful reader's companion A Life Well Read. Again, I have no connection to the product other than I reviewed it and think it's great! I have no monetary stake in your potential purchase. If you haven't heard about A Life Well Read, you can see my post here.

Have a great week, everyone!

Sunday, August 16, 2009


by Philippa Gregory

"The White Queen tells the story of a woman of extraordinary beauty and ambition who, catching the eye of the newly crowned boy king, marries him in secret and ascends to royalty. While Elizabeth rises to the demands of her exalted position and fights for the success of her family, her two sons become central figures in a mystery that has confounded historians for centuries: the missing princes in the Tower of London whose fate is still unknown." (From the cover flap.)

I run hot and cold with Philippa Gregory's novels. I didn't care for The Virgin's Lover, I liked The Other Boleyn Girl, I LOVED The Boleyn Inheritance, I thought The Other Queen was pretty good. Generally speaking, I've always found her books to be decent entertainment even if I'm not as ga-ga over them as many others. Ms. Gregory certainly doesn't need my blessings in order to sell millions of books. :-)

Flap over the The White Queen has long preceded its arrival, so I won't be debating its historical accuracy here. I'm not one who requires flawless history in her fiction, especially if the author explains his or her point of view in an author's note. My personal view is that, hey, it's fiction! Feel free to be creative. If I want to know the real story, I'll dig up some non-fiction and give myself a history lesson.

I will, however, throw my hat into ring regarding the debate over the use of magic in the story. I am in the camp that found the magical elements distracting for the most part. I couldn't help but think things like, "If Elizabeth Woodville and her mother had powers strong enough to conjure up storms that thwarted a rebel army, why didn't they win the war?" That may be petty of me, but there it is. **Potential minor spoiler ahead!** That being said, I forgave some of it when she brought the curses around to a point that called into question Henry Tudor's possible involvement in the disappearance of the princes from the tower. I thought the way that particular curse raised doubts and made me look at other potential suspects was pretty clever, and had the women not already been solidly developed as possessing the ability to cast the curse to begin with, it wouldn't have been as effective. **Potential spoiler over.**

In what could be the coolest use of Twitter I have ever heard about, part of the promotion for The White Queen will be Elizabeth Woodville Tweeting! How great is that! Almost makes me want to start a Twitter account. :-) If you'd like to learn more about that or any other aspect of The White Queen, stop over at Philippa Gregory's Official Website. She always has great information on her books and research, both previous and upcoming.

Other reviews of The White Queen:

Booking Mama
A Girl Walks Into A Bookstore
Kittling: Books
The Literate Housewife
Medieval Bookworm
Peeking Between The Pages
Tanzanite's Shelf & Stuff

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Winner of The Devil's Queen is . . .

The Random Number Generator says it's #12:

Dar from Peeking Between The Pages!!

And it couldn't be going to a nicer person! (Don't let Buddy read the scary parts, Dar!) If you've never seen Dar's blog, drop by there soon, tell her congratulations and check out all her great reviews and giveaways!

Wow! So many new faces stopped here at Books 'N Border Collies for a shot at The Devil's Queen, and I'd like to thank each and every one of you who entered, new visitors and my regular readers! I hope to see many of you often in the coming months, because there are more great giveaways coming up. Stay tuned!

Friday, August 14, 2009


by Sarah Dunant

"In 1570 Ferrara, Italy, a family slams their daughter, sixteen-year-old Serafina, into the Santa Caterina convent after they discover her embraced with an illicit lover. As counter-reformation forces push for change outside Santa Caterina's walls, inside the angry and passionate Serafina threatens the traditionalist foundation of the convent and its sisters." (From the CD container)

After how much I ended up loving In the Company of the Courtesan, I was very anxious to get my hands on Sarah Dunant's newest offering, Sacred Hearts. Unfortunately, it didn't live up to my expectations.

The premise was promising and Dunant's writing was as mesmerizing as I remember, but the story never grabbed hold of me. Learning about the lives of nuns and church/convent politics in 16th century Italy was most interesting, but there was something about the plot that felt simplistic beneath the grandeur of all the history. Once I got a couple of chapters into the book, I think I was hoping for the intensity of the movie Stigmata, and I'm disappointed that it never even came close. I realize that was a completely unrealistic expectation, but it's the one I had. I didn't dislike Sacred Hearts. It just wasn't as captivating as I had hoped it would be.

Other opinions:

Books and Movies
The Burton Review
A Girl Walks Into A Bookstore
Read Like Me

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


by Jeffery Deaver

"In California's Monterey Peninsula, a killer leaves roadside crosses along highways to mark future victims. Agent Kathryn Dance, a body language expert at the California Bureau of Investigation, investigates the case, discovering that not only is the killer using blogs and social networking sites to select his victims, but that he also is a troubled teenager bent on revenge. As Dance works toward catching her suspect, she finds her efforts hampered by politicians and the bloggers themselves." (From the CD container.)

I have no children, so I'll ask those of you that do: Do teenagers truly sound as moronic when they talk as many authors make them sound? It's as if they want to make certain the reader is aware that the character that is speaking is not an adult, so they go into overdrive on what they believe is current teenage slang. Or maybe they really do talk that way. In which case I can only pray I never sounded that stupid at that age. Thinking back, I probably did. :-)

Anyway, that has not got a lot to do with Roadside Crosses as a whole. I am a huge Jeffery Deaver fan, and if that's how he wants to make teens talk, fine. Just get on with the story. And he does.

I liked Roadside Crosses a lot. The wild twists that Deaver is known for are not as jaw-dropping in this book as they have been in previous works, but it's still pretty darn good. We get to know much more about the person of Kathryn Dance and her family and friends while she's investigating the crimes. She is becoming a very strong character that I think will quickly become popular with mystery fans. Her stories aren't as technology-detailed as Deaver's Lincoln Rhyme novels and will appeal to readers who prefer more of the human element in their mysteries.

Roadside Crosses is the third book in which Kathryn Dance appears and the second in which she is the lead character. It is not necessary to be familiar with the previous books to enjoy this one, but if you want to start at the beginning, here is the order of her appearances up to now. I have not posted about the earlier books, so all the links go to Amazon in case you'd like to check out the reviews there.

The Cold Moon: A Lincoln Rhyme Novel
The Sleeping Doll
Roadside Crosses

Monday, August 10, 2009


by Charles Dickens

"In Bleak House Dickens presents a critical picture of England in 1853. He condemns the insidious power of a hideous legal system which creeps like London fog into the lives of every character in the book. Dickens ingeniously links characters from all backgrounds from Esther Summerson, an orphan given support by the kindly Mr. Jarndyce, owner of Bleak House, to Lady Dedlock who lives with a secret she can't reveal. Tulkinghorn, the ruthless lawyer, Krook the shopkeeper and Jo, the pathetic crossing-sweeper, are all finely drawn characters that enrich this story of the unravelling of Lady Dedlock's secret by Inspector Bucket, whose appearance in this novel can give it a claim to be the first English detective novel." (From the CD container.)

While in the end I liked Bleak House quite a bit, it is my least favorite of the four Charles Dickens books I've read. The tone is much more A Tale of Two Cities, than, say, Nicholas Nickleby, but that wasn't a problem. A Tale of Two Cities is, after all, my favorite Dickens book so far. My issue was that it took a long time for Bleak House to come together for me. I was having trouble keeping track of characters and what anyone had to do with anything or anybody. Once I started to grasp it all, though, I ended up being just as enthralled with this work as I was with the rest.

I am one of those readers who would rave endlessly about the amazing characters in Dickens' writing. They come to life in a manner that most authors can only wish for. They stay with me when the story is over, and that isn't normal for me. My mind tends to move on to the next book quickly. And being a Dickens newbie, his artful phrasing of words is still a delight for me. I'm very pleased to have many of his books yet to explore.

I have a Teaching Company lecture on this book waiting for me when I get back to my Classic Novels course, so I will be revisiting Bleak House in the future with a more analytical eye. For now, I just wanted to let you know if you can get past the scary size of the thing and push beyond the confusion of so many seemingly unrelated characters and events in the beginning, it is worth it in the end.

Other Charles Dickens related posts on Books 'N Border Collies:

A Christmas Carol
Nicholas Nickleby
A Tale of Two Cities

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Today's Purchases

We stopped at our local Barnes & Noble with some friends who live outside of the cities, and while I managed an hour-long browse at a different B&N yesterday without bringing anything home, today I didn't make it out without a couple I had never seen before:

Don't Know Much About Literature: What You Need to Know but Never Learned About Great Books and Authors is rather small and doesn't look like it contains much great information, but it's got some fun trivia questions on each page and I can't help but pick up books about books.

I spent many of my younger years as a waitress, so when I read this on the back of the book, "According to The Waiter, 80 percent of customers are nice people just looking for something to eat. The remaining 20 percent, however, are socially maladjusted psychopaths", I knew I had to have Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip--Confessions of a Cynical Waiter. That one line told me he knows of what he speaks. I can't wait to get to this one!! It looks like he has a blog, too: WaiterRant. I'm off to check it out right now . . .

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


by Charles P. Pierce

We hold these truths to be self-evident.

The First Great Premise: Any theory is valid if it sells books, soaks up ratings, or otherwise moves units.
(p. 35)

The Second Great Premise: Anything can be true if someone says it loudly enough. (p. 41)

The Third Great Premise: Fact is that which enough people believe. Truth is determined by how fervently they believe it. (p. 43)

At a time when the "birthers" are in the news daily and Michele Bachmann represents a congressional district in my home state, I found Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free to be an extremely interesting book. It takes on the battles of "Gut v. Intellect" and "Personality v. Expertise". He talks about the above noted Great Premises as they pertain to television and the internet, Intelligent Design v. Darwinism, sensationalist media, talk radio, reality TV, global warming, Terry Schiavo, 9/11, the Iraq War, the War on Terror, the 2008 presidential election, and more. Conservatives will hate this book. Liberals will most likely love it, but they don't completely escape Charles Pierce's scathing commentary either. His irritation is not completely politically driven and therefore merrily crosses party lines here and there. It's not that Pierce believes that America has dumbed itself down, but that it is "selling off what ought never to be rendered a product, . . . and believing itself to have made a good bargain with itself." (p. 276)

I read it, and I loved it. Go ahead and skewer me as an elitist you must. I can handle it. :-)

See more LOL Dogs here.