Thursday, April 15, 2010

Early Spring Books

What I've been reading lately:

Carpe Demon
California Demon
Demons Are Forever
Deja Demon
Demon Ex Machina

all by Julie Kenner. I had picked up Demon Ex Machina from the new book shelf at the library, mostly because I thought the title was catchy. It quickly became apparent that there was too much back story to enter the series at that point, so I started with book 1 of the series. Fun, escapist reading, but it got a little redundant reading all 5 books in a row in the space of 2 weeks. Book 4, Deja Demon, was my least favorite of the series, and also the only one I read on the Kindle. I wonder if there's a connection there, since I seem more apt to say a book's writing seems choppy and disjoint if I read it on the Kindle.

Brain Rules by John Medina. Well written, but you know most of this stuff already anyway -- get some exercise, get some sleep, repeat things to remember them etc. etc. My biggest take-away was the discussion of an experiment in which the scent of roses was released while the subjects were doing a task; the scent was also released while they slept that night. The next day the subjects who had performed and then slept in an area with the same smell had better recall than subjects that did not. Hmmm -- I wonder how that applies to homeschooling, since kids sleep in a house that smells the same as their classroom ....

The Hole We're In by Gabrielle Zevin. I wouldn't mind being in a discussion group about this book now -- it's the sort of book you want to talk about afterwards. If I were in a group I'd mention that 1) I thought the end sort of fizzled; 2) Afterwards I had the dreadful feeling that I was supposed to write a paper about the symbolism of Carolyn What's-her-face's lack of nipples, since the book seemed chock-full of imagery specifically designed to give lit majors something to write about; and 3) most of the times when the idea of "holes" was inserted in the plot I was reminded of a lampoon I read of the Left Behind series entitle Right Behind, in which the characters would dramatically pause every time they used the phrase "Right Behind" (including references to someone's right butt cheek) so you could be REALLY REALLY sure to catch that it was SIGNIFICANT ... and then I'd want to giggle at the "hole" reference, because that cast it in a rather silly light ... and I'm still not sure if the author meant it all to be quite so overwrought and silly as it came across to me. Was it self-parody? No clue. This is why I wasn't a lit major.

Change Your Brain, Change Your Body by Daniel Amen. Give a child a hammer and he'll decide everything he sees is a nail; give a doctor a brain imaging machine, and he'll think everything he sees happening in your body is related to the pictures he sees on the screen of the machine. And then he'll write a book (okay, lots and lots of books, mountains of books) on the subject. I liked one of his earlier books, and picked this up to see if he had anything new to say. In a word, no. A waste of time. I won't bother listing the ways in which this book annoyed me, because I'd like to forget that I read it.


Bridgett said...

I would be almost certain it applies to homeschooling. Smell and memory are so closely linked. I walked into my neighbor's garage the other day and suddenly remembered a scene from my childhood (a good one) that happened in my grandparents' garage. I had totally forgotten it until I smelled that odor again--and this garage was the first place that smelled the same in 15+ years.

Julie Kenner said...

Hey Gail--I had to pop over and say hi since I'm a homeschool mom, too (as well as a massive Kindle user). I'm so glad you enjoyed the books, which are most definitely of the escapist variety.