Sunday, June 25, 2006

No pictures today because all my knitting looks pretty much the same.
  • I finished another band of black and another band of white, so Luna just looks longer
  • I finished one of the Regia socks and started the second but socks are pretty boring to look at
  • I didn't work on Serpentine
  • I didn't work on the Jade hat that is in time-out
  • Selbu to Sahara is ten rows longer, more about that...

I decided that if S->S is ever going to be finished, I have to set myself a schedule. I counted how many rows are left in the body, and then I decided if I'm going to wear it in October, I have to finish the body in 10 weeks. I have 150 rows on the body... therefore I have to knit 15 rows per week. I doubt this schedule will survive the day, because today is the last day of the week, and I have five rows to go.

However, I did finish a book!

Robyn's Book Reviews for June

In June, I read three books (and it's unlikely that I'll finish any more in the next five days):

"The Davinci Code" by Dan Brown

This book made me feel smart. I felt way ahead of the main character when he didn't realize that he could just hold a block of mysterious text up to the mirror and it would be English. When he was trying to figure out the bit about the Newtonian orb that had seeded flesh and rosy womb (or vice versa), I kept yelling "Apple" at him, and he kept thinking Venus. So anyway, I was flattering myself with my obvious genius, when I realized that everyone else who read it probably figured it out just as fast, and that's why the book is so popular -- false flattery. It was an okay read, nothing special. I was amazed by how many people had read this book at my karate club (I carried it around during karate summer camp weekend because it wasn't a demanding read, good for a plane ride or

"Like Water for Chocolate" by Laura Esquivel

I wanted to like this book more than I actually did. It was translated out of Spanish, and left me wondering if perhaps Spanish has less tenses than English. The book is a story about someone who is the family cook. Her whole day, her whole life is spent in the kitchen. Hence, in order to describe her singular focus, recipes are mixed into the story. But I always found the appearance of a recipe very jarring, and the only reason I could think of was that to my ear, the wrong verb tense was used. I liked the movie better.

"The Devil's Broker" by Frances Stonor Saunders

It's the biography of John Hawkwood, an English mercenary commander who worked in Italy from 1360-1392. Not a lot is known about the personal details of Hawkwood's life, so a lot of the descriptions of his actions are phrased in theoretical terms... "We think he...", "He may have... but more likely..." If the book had just been about him, it would have been very thin, indeed. However, each chapter described an aspect of Italian medieval life that is touched on in the theme of whatever Hawkwood was doing at the time. So early on there is a section about how to manage a mercenary company. There was a chapter about a wedding that both Hawkwood and Chaucer attended, where she described how the rich ate, and also how poisoning was really popular back then, which was followed by a chapter about a campaign that went really badly, where she described how the common people might have all been walking around in a haze, since they ate little and what grain they did eat might have been laced with a hallucinogenic fungus (not on purpose). So that's why they might have been so gullible to the church.

This book made me feel that some of what I had thought of as dreadful fantasy novels were not so bad after all. I realized that "The Chronicles of the Black Company" by Glenn Cook (which I thought was a trilogy but just discovered has five books, of which I've only read three, while researching this entry) were actually quite well researched. When I knew nothing about life in the medieval period, and so all fantasy novels seemed sort of hack (made-up). Also, I don't know that much about the history of the Catholic church, so I learned a lot.

I really liked this book. The author had a really good sense of humour, so it was quite amusing, in addition to being educational. The author's other book is about the CIA, so I guess she's accustomed to filling in informational gaps with guess-work. I just got Ed to start reading it.

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