Summer is taking the calendar seriously this year – an overstay of dry weather for the greater Seattle area. (The dictionary tells me “overstay” is not a noun. I protest.) Meanwhile, I am hoping for rain this week and looking for fall color anywhere it dares show its face.
Not long ago we made a trip down to Oregon and on the way back stopped in Portland. You cannot visit Portland without going to Powell’s City of Books. Like last year, I came well prepared, with wishlist and books to sell (
sorry Jane Austen).
It was a weekday; there were plenty of people, but not so many as on a weekend. We were in and out of there within an hour.
What I love about Powell’s:
1) It’s a REAL bookstore. Rooms and rooms of books up to the ceilings. You could potentially get lost. They still have those noisy little stools on wheels, and you actually need them (for tall bookshelves made out of wood). Powell’s is the real deal.
2) You will tend to find multiple editions and copies of books. You can contrast/compare prices to your frugal heart’s content. Prices for used books are very reasonable, even compared to thrift stores’.
This may all sound like marketing, but honestly, Powell’s is one of my favorite stores. 🙂
Polar exploration is a continuing phase of mine, hence In the Land of White Death by Valerian Albanov. This was a little-known, Russian expedition to the Arctic, which took place before Shackleton’s second journey to Antarctica (1914). The Heart of the Antarctic is about Shackleton’s first expedition south (as a leader), on the Nimrod. I really enjoyed South and am interested in learning how the Nimrod fared and influenced the Endurance trip. Together, these polar books cost $8.
I “splurged” on these two. There was a cheaper version of Gatsby, but you can’t beat the original cover art (and even so, it was less than list price). Still need to read it… Then there’s Memories of the Future, with its own pretty awesome title and cover. It has been described as, essentially, Soviet-era Kafka. I may end up hating it, but it sounds very intriguing. According to Wiki, the author Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky shared Kafka’s trait of remaining largely unpublished in his own lifetime. Wiki also claims “major influences on his style were Robert Louis Stevenson, G. K. Chesterton, Edgar Allan Poe, Nikolai Gogol, E. T. A. Hoffmann, and H. G. Wells.” So far so excellent.
By now I should have finished BK, except that I really, really can’t stand Dmitri.
While in Oregon, I read a bit of Melville. If you haven’t read “Bartleby, the Scrivener,” you really must. I still don’t know what to think of it. Wiki (again) makes references to Kafka, and I would agree, except that it is an inverted Kafkaesque tale, where the mystery is in the character and not his surroundings (or is it…?).
Currently I’m perusing a brief history of numbers and math, called Numbers and Infinity. Stylistically, it’s as dry as it sounds, and some of the information is dated. However, the topic itself is interesting, especially where there is overlap with history and philosophy.
Speaking of overlap, I’m thinking about posting film reviews on this blog. I don’t want to go very far off topic, but usually I watch classic movies and movies related to literature/history. Most recently:
- Kafka (1991)
- The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
- Shackleton (2002)
- The Woman in Black (1989)
The Kafka one is especially due for a review. Shackleton is also worth talking about, and the other two, both thrillers, might make a good compare/contrast review. Which one sounds interesting to you?
In “real life” news – I graduated from uni last month and anticipate starting work soon. It should give me more time to read and blog (no more homework on evenings/weekends!). My 2014 challenges remain sadly neglected; at this point I will be happy to finish BK by the end of the year. That’s the plan, anyways.