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A recent trip to Toronto to see family and friends – and celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary – also netted me a treasure trove of books, thanks to the proximity of a new/used BMV bookstore to our hotel. And, of course, Susan’s patience while I browsed the shelves. Several times.
I managed to find a dozen books (well, to be fair I found many more I wanted, but restrained myself to buying only a dozen). These included:
Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil, by Tom Mueller (hardcover, Norton & Co., 2012). I actually started reading the paperback version of this book only last week and was immediately swept away by it. A rich story about politics, food, economics, travel, business, law, agriculture and culture, it deserves a post all on its own. I bought the second copy so I could share it with friends. This book has already changed the way I see not only olive oil, but the food industry in general – and it added a whole new dimension to my understanding of the economics of the Roman Empire. Of course, it helped to have my eyes (and taste buds) opened to authentic olive oil by the folks at the Collingwood Olive Oil Co.
Blandings, by P.G. Wodehouse (Arrow Books/Random House, 2012). Six of Wodehouse’s Blandings tales that were made into the recent BBC series. I discovered numerous other Wodehouse titles in paperback at the store, none of which I have read, and was torn: which to buy? All? Some? One? I settled on the one volume (in part because I plan to get the BBC series on DVD) but will return for more. Several more. I already have most of his Jeeves & Wooster writing, but not much of the rest (and yes, I have the BBC Jeeves & Wooster series on DVD, too).
The Dhammapada, translated by Gil Fronsdal (Shambala Library, 2008). A relatively new translation of the teachings of the Buddha, one that will be a companion to the other new translation I recently bought. I have several versions of this work and this might be the best and most accessible, but I must compare verses to see which offers me the strongest resonance. The Dhammapada is an essential book in my library; one of those irreplaceable books of wisdom. I had originally considered this title when I got the Wallis translation but decided on Wallis after reading some online reviews (you can read my comments about it here). I think I’ll post some verse comparisons in a future post.
Brand: It Ain’t the Logo, by Ted Matthews (Instinct Brand Equity Coaches, 2012). Looks like a good approach to the whole business of brand, identity, marketing and the culture of identity. Part of my ongoing interest in marketing, PR, branding and promotion that I described in my last book for Municipal World. I didn’t have this title when I wrote it, but will have to give it a more fulsome review soon. I plan to share this with out new ecdev director one I’ve finished it.
Driving With Plato: The Meaning of Life’s Milestones, by Robert Rowland Smith (Free Press, 2011). The companion to Smith’s earlier work, Breakfast with Socrates. It’s about how to view major events in your life through philosophy. It intrigued me enough from my brief perusal to order the first book from Amazon, too. I suppose I’m at that age when philosophy has more meaning than it had when I was younger and of late I’ve been reading much more of it than in the past, particularly the classical authors. Still, I like these modern, comprehensive overviews because they bring in a wider range of ideas to ponder.
Assholes: A Theory, by Aaron James (Anchor Books, 2012). Just the title alone intrigued me, and I chuckled aloud when I showed it to Susan. I thought it would prove a satire, but it’s really serious stuff (okay with some lighter moments), replete with philosophy, psychology and sociology. We’ve all had personal experience with this type of person, so I thought I’d like to read how others saw them and coped with them. I remember the line from Robin Williams’ comedy album (1980s) when he was doing impromptu Shakespearean stand-up and the audience was heckling him: “Assholes do vex me!” he cried. It’s a book I think I can share with some of my council colleagues who have had those experiences with the same people who vex me.
Bullspotting: Finding Facts in the Age of Misinformation, by Loren Collins (Prometheus Books, 2012). This and another title I picked up at the same time – Believing Bullshit: How Not to Get Sucked into an Intellectual Black Hole, by Stephen Law (Prometheus Books, 2011) – are about using critical thinking, science, reason and logic to combat the tsunami of misinformation, conspiracy theories, political lies, ad hominem attacks and uninformed codswallop that festers online. Again, I think they would make interesting topics of discussion among my council colleagues who well know about the local claptrap online.
I suspect the last three titles are going to form the basis of an upcoming blog post…
When I am Playing With my Cat, How do I Know That She is Not Playing With Me: Montaigne and Being in Touch With Life, by Saul Frampton (Vintage Books, 2011). Another interpretation-biography-analysis of Montaigne’s Essays and their relevance to living today. I have wanted to read this ever since I started reading Bakewell’s book on Montaigne (How to Live). Of late I have been reading a lot about Montaigne as well as two translations of his Essays. I find him fascinating and relevant, and very accessible. I did see the hardbound Penguin edition of The Essays at Indigo in the Eaton Centre (the Screech translation) but at $105, it was more than I could justify spending. Still, I salivated over it…
The Emperor’s Handbook: A new translation of the Meditations by C. Scot Hicks and David Hicks (Scribner, 2002). Can one ever have too many versions of Marcus Aurelius’ famous Meditations? Each reading unearths new insights. I look forward to comparing this translation to another recent one I got this summer. The Meditations is, like the Dhammapada, one of those books you’d want on a desert island if you ever got stranded with only a dozen books to keep you company for a few years. Will this one prove the best translation yet? From the little I’ve read this past weekend, I have been impressed by the modernization.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick (Ballantine Books, 1996). I haven’t read this scifi novel for a few decades, and Susan has never read it, so I added it to the pile. Originally published in 1968, it was the inspiration for the movie, Blade Runner, one of my favourite scifi films of all time. I’ve read other of Dick’s works in the past, too. I always like a good scifi novel. It’s the same year I read John Brunner’s novel, Shockwave Rider.
We also got Cuba Libre, a thriller by Elmore Leonard, and Range of Ghosts, by Elizabeth Bear, a fantasy novel. Light reading to soften the heavy-going stuff above. There were others that tempted me, but I resisted their siren call. Barely, true, but I walked out of the store without them. Okay, I was dragged out by Susan…. put down the Dostoyevsky and no one will get hurt…
And not to be entirely geeky, we did get three DVDs on the trip: the 40th anniversary Blu-Ray of Young Frankenstein (one of my favourite films; I think I know every line in it), Nixon starring Anthony Hopkins (a brilliant portrayal and a great political fim; this is the director’s cut with an additional 28 minutes) and a four-film TCM set with Them!, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, World Without End and Satellite in the Sky, all scifi B-films from the 1950s (an era and genre I really love). Maybe that last set is a trifle geeky…
Plus, I found seven different hot sauces to bring back (four of which I have already tried and like) including an extra-hot peri-peri, and a small box of Ten Wu tea and a larger one of An Xi tea (both bags, not loose leaf).
And we did celebrate our 30th with dinners – and explorations a lot of walking, window shopping, picture-taking, sight-seeing, good food and some good wine. A nice way to start the next 30 years we plan to spend together.
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