samedi 22 octobre 2011


I thought I'd sign up for this "24-hour readathon" that was created by a bunch of book bloggers. I picked out a bunch of books, put them in a stack next to my bed, and snuggled in.

Technically, the 24-hour periods started at 8 a.m. this Saturday morning, but I started reading last night. (Why wait? And I love reading before bed.)

The first book I picked up was The Dubliners, by James Joyce. A friend recommended the very last short story in the book, "The Dead,"so I read that. I just couldn't get into it. It left me... well, indifferent, I suppose. Not moved, as it should have. The story is about a dinner party in Ireland, told from the point of view of Gabriel. There is dancing (with live music in the form of a piano--the guests take turns playing and singing) and drinking (for the men only) and a formal dinner with turkey. The hostesses of the party are two old sisters and their niece. The ending I suppose was the most interesting part of the story, but for a long time I was wondering where the story was going, and what I could possibly get out of it except a glimpse into what Irish dinner parties were back in the 19th century. 

Anyway, I didn't have any interest in reading more of Joyce's short stories, so I turned to Maus I, which I just received in the mail and was really excited to start reading. It's a graphic novel about a Polish man's experience in Auschwitz. What's interesting about it is that the Jews are all drawn as mice, and the Nazis are cats. I had been hearing about this book for a while, but when I found out the cat and mouse thing, I was really intrigued and ordered it (a used copy for under $10 with shipping) right away. I also ordered Maus II, but it hasn't arrived yet.

I really enjoyed it. I don't read a lot of graphic novels but I like them a lot. The "main character" of the story is the author's father, but there are parts where the author has drawn himself in, describing the scenes where his father told him about the story (Don't jump ahead to 1943, Pa, we're in 1941 now! Finish that story first!). At first, the language threw me off (bad grammar, but it's because the "speaker" isn't a native speaker of English), but you get used to it quickly enough and I found it actually added authenticity to the story.

It was really late by the time I finished Maus, but I wasn't feeling sleepy so I picked up a really small book from my stack: A Very Short Introduction to Linguistics. Many years ago, I bought a series of books from Oxford's "A Very Short Introduction" series, mostly because I liked the concept, but also because the book covers were really attractive. Hey, I'm being honest here. I've browsed through all of them, but had never read this one on Linguistics. It tries to explain why or how linguists study language. Having done a minor in Linguistics, I should already know this. But as I was reading, I was thinking of ways to explain difficult concepts in linguistics and finding it really hard! It reminded me of the workshop I attended yesterday, in which we discussed plain language. Some people think using plain language means "dumbing down", but there was a study that showed that people who could explain difficult concepts using plain language were perceived as MORE intelligent than those who used fancy, million-dollar words and academic language.

I didn't make it too far into A VSI to Linguistics before falling asleep, but I'll try to finish it today.

Ok, back to reading! I'll probably be taking a break sometime today either to go motorcycle riding or to jump out of a plane... or both. But in the meantime... back to books.

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