Monday, December 6, 2010

Reading Notes

I've been sampling some titles from my TBR shelf, no commitments, no expectations, just open it up to page one and start reading. If the story 'takes' then great, I'll keep reading. But if it doesn't, then I'll put it down and move on through my shelf to the next book. Sometimes, when I'm not quite ready to make a commitment, I'll have a pile of three or four promising possibilities on the go. This last week I had such a pile.

I started with Diane Ackerman's An Alchemy of Mind which is totally interesting but reads more like a 250 page National Geographic article. It's so packed with scientific facts and studies and anecdotes about the brain that I couldn't digest it all without a little something in between to *cleanse the palette*. So I ventured into travelogue territory with a travel writer I've often enjoyed, Pico Iyer, and his Video Nights in Kathmandu. Ehn, too dated. And he's not as engaging as I remember him. After about 25 pages I finally had to retire him back to the shelf, same with Falling Off the Map. Normally I love a travelogue, and normally I like anything Pico Iyer writes but I just wasn't in the mood. So then I tried some fiction. I picked up a copy of The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor, a 70s era 'novel in seven stories' about a neighborhood community of African American women. Her writing is lovely and the stories moving, but it all felt a little too 70s cliche for me. Thirty-plus years is too recent to be 'historic' and too distant to be 'current'.

Anywhoo, I'm back down to one book, Alchemy of Mind, which I'm trying to finish up without my head exploding.

'Even at the cellular level we're a mosaic. A self is a powerful sleight of mind arising from 100 billion neurons communing at 100 trillion synaptic bridges.' pg 121

'World is all sensation, more that we can register in a lifetime, let alone a moment. Rather than drown in a sea of incoming information, the body uses assorted sieves. The hypothalamus filters sensory news from the body to the brain. The caudate nucleus, lying beneath the cerebral cortex, is thought to filter extraneous impulses and thoughts - some think it may malfunction in people with obsessive-compulsive disorder, allowing in thoughts and impulses usually filtered out.' pg 169

See what I mean? Fascinating. Boggling.


Coffee and a Book Chick said...

Good luck on your reading! I do so hate it when I can't quite find a good one to settle down with and enjoy -- really feels more like a chore, and books should never be that way!

Your remark on the '70s era novel is quite insightful, and one I find so very, very true for me as well when reading books written during that time: "Thirty-plus years is too recent to be 'historic' and too distant to be 'current'." Well said!

food for thought said...

i think page 169 sounds like me and i need to read more about ocd!

Alyce said...

It does sounds fascinating and mind boggling. I'd have to have a large cup of coffee by my side for that one. :)

Trish said...

coffee and book chick - I wasn't really sure what it was that was bothering me about that particular book until I realized that I have a fairly large gap in my TBR shelf of books covering 1960s to about 1990. I read a lot of books during that time, but certainly not ALL the books lol, so it's kind of like a been-there-done-that mental block, or something. Weird, huh?

food for thought - ocd is one of those conditions that really exposes the quirks of the brain. And the brain seems to be FULL of quirks.

alyce - yes, coffee would be a better accompaniment for this book than, say, wine lol.

Kerry said...

Sometimes when I'm stuck and don't know what to read next, this can be the best way to find a new title to pick up. Hope you enjoy your choice!

Trish said...

It's fun sampling books, isn't it? I think I may have finally found one to stick with now.

Anonymous said...

Ooohhh just ordered Alchemy of mind...LOVE that stuff...Nomad

readerbuzz said...

I'm just zipping around the blogosphere, reminding bloggers...If you have read any wonderful literary books
published in 2010, I urge you to nominate your favorites
for The Independent Literary Awards. The awards
include categories of Literary Fiction and Literary Non-Fiction.

I'm especially interested in having some great nominees for nonfiction!

Trish said...

nomad - heh, yeah I thought you'd like this one. It's so very fascinating.

readerbuzz - thanks for letting me know. I just went over there and weighed in with my 2010 non-fiction pick: At Home by Bill Bryson. What a fun and interesting book!