Lab Cat

4 Mar 2006

February’s Books

Filed under: Books — Cat @ 4:18 pm

Books Bought

Elizabeth Zimmerman The Opinionated Knitter

Iris Schreier Modular Knits

Larry Gonick Cartoon History of the Universe 1 Vol 1-7 & Cartoon History of the Universe 2 Vol 8-13

Hendrik Hertzberg Politics: Observations and Arguments, 1966-2004

Giles Folden (Editor) Guardian Year 2005

Jerome Armstrong and Markos Moulitsas Zúniga Crashing the Gate

Books Borrowed

Alan Alda Don’t get your dog stuffed

Terry Pratchett Truth

Feet of Clay

Joanne Harris Sleep, Pale Sister

George Pyle Raising Less corn and more hell

Denise Nichols Freshwater Road

Books Read

Larry Gonick Cartoon History of the Universe 1 Vol 1-7

Cartoon History of the Universe 2 Vol 8-13

Haruki Murakami Norwegian Wood

Alan Alda Don’t get your dog stuffed

Terry Pratchett Truth

Feet of Clay

Joanne Harris Sleep, Pale Sister

Elizabeth Zimmerman The Opinionated Knitter

Iris Schreier Modular Knits

Jerome Armstrong and Markos Moulitsas Zúniga Crashing the Gate (practically all of it)


I decided to add the category of “Books Borrowed” to my monthly list of books. This is because I use both the Newark Free Library and the University of Delaware’s Libraries extensively. I read too fast to be able to afford all the books I would want to read. Good libraries should be encouraged with as much use as possible. Also you would wonder where all the books came from that I had read as about half my books read were library books this month.

Once again there really isn’t any theme to the books that I read this month. Larry Gonick is a great artist and I really appreciate his books despite not being into comics. I like to think I grew out of them when I stopped reading the Beano. I’ve already read his Cartoon Guides to Chemistry, Statistics, and Genetics and learnt a lot both about the subject and how to teach it in a different way. These are all great books and the History of the Universe I & II are no exception. Funny and irreverent while explaining a lot of history at the same time. I will have to purchase III to find out what happens next. Alan Alda is funny in print as he is in film. This is a snapshot of his life and career. I bought it as I saw the interview with him on “The Daily Show” and obviously I enjoyed growing up with M*A*S*H. I indulged with two Terry Pratchett novels (both brilliant) and I read a weird book from Joanne Harris – very Victorian gothic with a twilight zone twist, creepy. Norwegian Wood, despite being written about an earlier time, clarified some of the cultural differences between my Japanese friend and I. I met her at Case Western Reserve, OH, when I was a post-doc in the mid-nineties. The position was my first in the US and I was in mild cultural shock with the move from Britain. On top of that my lab was multi-cultural with Americans, Japanese, Indians and was run by a Swiss guy. Finally, after reading Norwegian Wood, I can understand better her perspective.

Both The Guardian Year 2005 and Hendrik Hertzberg’s Politics are books that I will dip into every so often. I am a reader of both the Guardian Weekly and of the New Yorker and I particular enjoy Hertzberg’s articles in the “About Town” feature of the New Yorker. I have found his take/conclusions/perceptions on issues to be very informative and ideas that I can understand and appreciate. I will probably give Dad a copy of this book for his birthday (shhh don’t let him know).

I nearly forgot to review the two knitting books that I purchased as I didn’t consider them to be books at first. I probably had them filed in the knitting category of my mind, along with yarn and pattern ideas. After all, I don’t intend to do a monthly summary of the yarn I’ve bought. Not yet, any way. They are the best knitting books I have purchased in a while. Iris Schreier explains a new approach to modular knits, a style of knitting I already do. I particularly like her layout as she gives practice samples first before going into the patterns. Her patterns are rated easy, intermediate and advanced and typically listed in order in each section of the book. Even though I liked the last pattern in the book the most, I started with an easy triangular scarf which I knitted up over the weekend. This gave me a chance to practice her techniques.

Triangular scarf small

Pretty isn’t it.

One thing that I realized is that I am finally running out of purple yarn. I’ll have to correct that when I go to Maryland Sheep and Wool in May. For knitters, Elizabeth Zimmerman needs no introduction and is quite able to speak for herself. Despite that is, being dead for 4 years. The Opinionated Knitter is based on the Wool Gathering Newsletters she published between 1958 and 1968 and it will take me still further down the experimental path. I have never knitted her Baby Surprise Jacket and look forward to it being one of my charity knits in the next few months. I was first introduced to her books when I was living in Minnesota. My roommate (KS) was fiber artist (she still is but she isn’t my roommate anymore) and she had all four of EZ’s books and lent them me one time. Before knowing KS and reading EZ my knitting was good, but not spectacular. Finishing in particular was a challenge – I hated sewing up seams – and I would really only follow other people’s patterns, even if I used my own color schemes. The ideas from EZ with KS’s support pushed me forward and gave me more confidence to experiment with my knitting.

Crashing the Gate (I’ve still got about ten pages left) is a damning indictment of the current Democratic Party machine. I strongly recommend this book to any one who is even vaguely concerned as to why the Democrats are failing at the ballot box despite having one of the most incompetent governments in charge. It explains very clearly why the Dems aren’t getting the votes out and why the Republicans are. Despite this, now that I am nearly at the end, I feel more up beat that the Dems are being forced, mostly by Markos and Jerome and people of their ilk, to go in the right direction. To involve the grassroots and listen to the people. I feel more confident about America’s future having read Crashing the Gate, and it makes citizenship more appealing as there may be a base with which I can connect. Currently, I fear by becoming American, I would be asked by my English friends and family to justify a regime with which I don’t agree. Not that many of them have a leg to stand as they probably all voted Labour and thus, for Blair who is known as Bush’s poodle back home. Actually, it seems that the Democrats are currently behaving similarly to the British Labour Party in the early eighties. Which means that discipline needs to be imposed on the party, probably by the netroots and Dean. Mum thinks I shouldn’t even express these thoughts public; which is a damning indictment of her perception of the current US system. She probably doesn’t want our phone calls taped. Like Arlo Guthrie, I’m nowhere near the threat I had hoped to become.

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