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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

What is that I am reading? 

I suppose, if I followed my own philosophy to write here about things that other sites do not write about, I'd tell the story about what happened today when I went to the library to drop off some books, an errand that commenced with my mother-in-law pulling my hair and forcing me to promise not to take any books out. But instead, I'm going to tell you what I have been reading lately, mainly because Gord recently did the same thing.

Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde.
This is a novel roughly in Pratchett/Douglas Adams territory, but with a decidedly literary bent. It's set in an alternate-history near-past (late 1980s) where bioengineering is really advanced, computers are not, and literature is so culturally important that forging original manuscripts is a common crime. And it gets silly from there. Fforde has written a series of "Friday Next" novels (that's the main character's name), and the collection of websites the author has created are worth checking out on their own. It was Erick's fault I started reading these books, as he loaned me The Eyre Affair earlier this year, and then I burned through the other three books as fast as I could borrow them from the library.

Eats Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss.
Sorta funny, sorta boring. I'm a bit of a spelling-and-grammar geek, so this is a subject that naturally should appeal to me. The authorial approach is for a sort of funnier Strunk and White, and I guess I can say this is the funniest grammar book I have ever read. And it is quite funny in parts. But I didn't finish it, which can't be a good sign.

Lance Armstrong's War by Daniel Coyle, and Every Second Counts by Lance Armstrong with Sally Jenkins.
I read these two back-to-back, and they were interesting companions. Armstrong's second autobiography mostly covers the time surrounding his 2003 Tour de France, the one he described in a post-race interview as "the pain in the ass." That was also the year that he broke up with his wife, though the book covers that detail only in an epilogue. Armstrong's book offers certain insights, but it is not nearly as much fun as Coyle's book.

Coyle covers 2004, and does so in glorious, hilarious detail. He has an eye for this writing, and digs into the strange elements of pro cycling (his "ass-check" anecdote is hilarious), including secretive Belgians, the relationship between Dr. Michele Ferrari and Armstrong, and a profile of Floyd Landis and his concerned-but-supportive Mennonite family. He also talks about Sheryl Crow, and lots of other fun, gossipy stories.

Somehow he manages to sneak in a close analysis of the 2004 Tour, too.

That's all I can remember for now. I'm reading Holding Juno: Canada's Heroic Defence of the D-Day Beaches: June 7-12, 1944 by Mark Zuehlke. The title says it all, and Zuehlke tells the story very well.

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