book reports
September 2013


Elif Shafak
I got this because I had just finished an Orhan Pamuk book and would have felt nerdy reading two books by him in a row and this was the only other book I had heard of by a Turkish author in the English section. It was okay. The first half had a lot of talking about food and clothes. But eventually one of the characters started talking to some djinn, and I learned a small amount about Armenian culture and the founding of modern Turkey, both of which I intend to find out more about. I probably won't read any more Elif Shafak books though unless someone tells me to.


Laura Bancroft
This is a kids book by L. Frank Baum, the guy who wrote THE WIZARD OF OZ, but he wrote it under the name Laura Bancroft. On his wikipedia page I learned that he had several male and female pseudonyms, and sometimes advocated womens suffrage, and sometimes advocated the genocide of Native Americans. "Why not annihilation?" A confusing person. Anyway, this book is about two kids who fall asleep in the woods and are turned into birds with human heads by a porcupine-witch-turtle. As a result they have some very specific problems: They're birds, but they weren't raised as birds so they don't know how to find food! How will they eat! An eagle will bring them a picnic basket. They're birds, but they have human heads! With neither hands nor beaks, how will they eat! It will be slightly difficult, but they will manage. Soon they meet a bluejay who shows them around the forest and they hear many tales of the joys and sorrows of being a bird. If you have a kindle you can download this book for free right here, but I've already told you all the good parts.


Alfred Bester
I've been trying to like scifi but I'm not very good at it. I hardly ever like action and I like strangeness to be left mostly unexplained. The only scifi book I'm sure I love is THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES, which I love very much. I liked a few scenes in here, and I liked these sentences towards the end that reminded me of Rilke: "It isn't necessary to have something to believe in. It's only necessary to believe that somewhere there's something worthy of belief."


G.K. Chesterton
When I was helping Wes go through his books I saw this one and asked him about it. He said he liked it and I borrowed it but didn't read it. Later I moved out of the bedroom I was living in and Wes moved into it and I left the book on a table in there and a few days later I got the book for free from Project Gutenberg. It's Chesterton's explanation of why he decided he was a Christian. I don't agree with everything he says in here and I mostly have a different kind of brain than him, but there were lots of paragraphs and sentences I liked. Here are a few:

There is one thing that Christ and all the Christian saints have said with a kind of savage monotony. They have said simply that to be rich is to be in peculiar danger of moral wreck. It is not demonstrably un-Christian to kill the rich as violators of definable justice. It is not demonstrably un-Christian to crown the rich as convenient rulers of society. It is not certainly un-Christian to rebel against the rich or to submit to the rich. But it is quite certainly un-Christian to trust the rich, to regard the rich as more morally safe than the poor.


I mean that a man may well be less convinced of a philosophy from four books, than from one book, one battle, one landscape, and one old friend. The very fact that the things are of different kinds increases the importance of the fact that they all point to one conclusion.


Just as I should seek in a desert for clean water, or toil at the North Pole to make a comfortable fire, so shall I search the land of void and vision until I find something fresh like water, and comforting like fire.