Thursday, June 2, 2011

Summer Reading

Okay, THIS is going to be the year I actually complete the library's Adult Summer Reading program. I know I say that every year, but I think this time I've got a shot at it.

For one thing, this time I actually know when it starts and ends thanks to Facebook notification. It's taken me this many years to figure out that it runs at a slightly different time than the Kids Summer Reading program. But this time I was on top of things and signed up as soon as it opened. Unlike, say, the year that I didn't know about it until it was half over and then checked out Dune as my first book to put on my list (which ended up being blank for the year since the program was over before I even got through the first couple of chapters).

Also, I know that I'm going to count my progress by books instead of minutes read. You can choose to read 10 books or 50 hours. The timed reading seems easier, since most books I like take more than 5 hours to read (see Dune above), but timed reading involves things like keeping track of time, possibly even owning a watch.

So, we're about 10 days into the 12 week program, and this is what I've got so far:

1.Electric Barracuda by Tim Dorsey. I've been following the adventures of serial killer Serge Storm for years. Love it. Mayhem, gore, and random sex scenes ... come to think of it, that's how I described the Iliad. Except Tim Dorsey is funny. Also, much profanity, which is possibly different than the Iliad. Did the ancient Greeks use cuss words? How would we know?

I was thinking that this wasn't the type of thing you'd see done up in fanfic since Serge seems to be such a product of Dorsey's brain. Indeed, when I checked I didn't find any written up for this series. On the other hand, the Iliad has a handful of fanfics. What does this tell us? Also, why am I comparing everything I read these days to the Iliad?

2.Night of the Living Trekkies. Okay, I'm not a fan of zombie lit. As a matter of fact, I think the last time I had anything to do with zombie culture was in the 80s when I saw Dawn of the Dead. Also, I'm pretty much an amateur Trekkie. Really. I didn't even catch on to the chapter titles of this book until half way through (although that's partly because I tend to ignore chapter titles, not to mention those quotes at the beginning of chapters which thankfully this book didn't have). But this, THIS BOOK WAS A RIOT! Really.

Another admission -- my favorite line wasn't even about Trek or zombies -- it was when the red shirt commented on the zombies wandering around the hotel atrium, saying he thought maybe they were a flash mob. It was just so ... perfect.

And on our Iliad comparison chart, one of the Iliad fanfics involved zombies. But this book was better written.

3. How to Grow Microgreens by Fionna Hill. When I go to the library I typically cruise the new gardening books (also the new knitting/crocheting/sewing books, and look for any new Terry Pratchett novels). My first thought on seeing this was, "why in the world would anyone want a book on THAT? Wouldn't you just look up what you need to know online?" But the pages were that nice, heavy paper and the pictures were pretty, so I checked it out.

Then, here's the truly amazing thing -- I decided to actually try reading it. Usually I just check a book like this out, flip through it a couple of times, then return it. But since it was Summer Read I decided to actually see what the text was like.

Introduction: Much blah blah blah about microgreens being the hot new trend. Then, "Microgreens are termed that after they have produced at least two 'true' leaves after the cotyledons appear." The following lines toss about words and phrases such as embryo, seed leaves, dicotyledonous plants ... with no explanation. The author assumes we can look these words up if we don't know them. The author actually assumes we are adults with brain power. I was spellbound. Fionna Hill, you had me at "cotyledons". (By the way, there's a glossary in the back.)

So, moving forward, the writing was at times clunky, repetitive and disjoint. BUT, the author also had a totally charming tendency to explain that she did something a certain way because that worked for her and perhaps we readers should just give it a whirl and see what happens. Whoa -- sounds like me explaining knitting and crocheting! Also, this is pretty much my approach to gardening -- give it a whirl and see what happens.

And then I got to the descriptions of 25 microgreens she likes to grow. This is where the book truly shines. Loved this part! By now, of course, I was mentally cataloging the contents of our house and garage whilst reading (to see if I could start planting any of this) when I discovered that she grows flax seed and popping corn. Really? Because I have those things in the house! And I've no clue if the popcorn would be viable, but, hey, why not give it a whirl and see what happens. Which I plan to do later today.

And I've moved from wondering why anyone would own a book on this subject to wondering if I should go ahead an buy this particular book because it's so amazingly cool.

In summary, approximately 12.5% of the way through Summer Read on a time basis, and already 30% of the way through the needed books. Woot. And I've read new things I don't ordinarily read (zombies! fluffy-looking gardening book!). I've also read a free book on the Kindle that I haven't listed here, but I might not put it on the list unless I get desperate to add another title -- it was one of those self-published jobbies that needed an editor.


km said...

I never considered if my library has an adult reading program. I have banned myself from checking out adult books though. Our library doesn't charge for overdue children's books. Too often I'll have a sick kid and forget to renew on-line. Can you imagine the fee on 35 overdue books.

The microgreens book sounds like a good one to go with Apologia botony. I actually recognized the word cotyledons. And I think my kids would get a kick out of eating baby plants. They keep "tasting" the 1" lettuce leaves in the back yard.

Gail said...

KM, we have a 1 week grace period during which things are overdue but no fines are charged -- they still accrue, though, so if you don't get the stuff in for 8 days you suddenly have a large fine.

Plus I signed us all up for Library Elf which sends me a daily email about what we all have out and what's due when. It's great.