Jan's Blog Flower



Now reading . . .

"Other Colors"
by Orhan Pamuk

by Nathaniel Philbrick

by Malcolm Gladwell

"Body Wars"
by Margo Maine, Ph.D.

February 27, 2010


While going through boxes of books recently, I ran across an old book that probably belonged to Kay. It was entitled ShrinkLits. We have always had lots of books in the house. From the time she was born, Mark and I read to her. She always had books and so did we. One of our favorite places was the public library. We were regular visitors and took armloads of books home every week. Reading was a normal part of our lives. Mark was a technical reader and was, therefore, a slower reader. I was a fast reader and read voraciously. Kay takes after me. One time Kay went home for the afternoon with a girl in her Sunday School class. Of course, in the evening after the visit, I asked her if she had a good time. She said that she had but then added, “I don’t think that I can be her good friend. She doesn’t have any books and doesn’t even have a library card!”

Christmas and birthdays always seemed to bring books. I asked her recently if her husband, Gary, ever wanted anything but books for birthdays or Christmas. One Christmas, when she was young, she gave me a complete set of the “Little House on the Prairie” books. She said, “I knew you would like them - I do”. And I did. I thought it was a wonderful gift and I loved the insight she had. She had me read, “The Perfect Storm” when she was taking a literature course in college. For years, we have exchanged books and recommendations.

When Kay was thirteen we went to Europe and regularly went to bookstores. We read our way through Europe and laughed over books like “1066 and All That.” The subtitle tells it all - A Memorable History of England, comprising all the parts you can remember, including 103 Good Things, 5 Bad Kings and 2 Genuine Dates. It is a tongue-in-cheek reworking of the history of England. We read books like “Horse Nonsense.” The synopsis of that book is: “From breeding to buying and hunting to punting, here is the indispensable guide to the Noble Animal, reminding us that one man's Meet is another man's poison and that the horse is the only animal you can hammer nails into.” When Kay was in college she seemed to fill her schedule with literature courses even though her major was business. She never seems to be without a book.

The subtitle of ShrinkLits explains the premise of the book: Seventy of the world’s towering classics cut down to size. These books include Lysistrata, Great Gatsby, Don Quixote, Alice in Wonderland, Lolita, Moll Flanders, King Lear, Catcher in the Rye, Moby Dick, Antigone, Gulliver’s Travels, and Dante’s Inferno. This book is not CliffsNotes, it is an amusing summary of these books, mostly amusing to those who have read the original.

The back cover explains the book. It says:

Reductio ad absurdum!
70 Epic tales and heroic myths
Dense theories & windy texts
Oral traditions & really long novels -
All reduced to 34 minutes reading.

Learn Mills Principles of Political
in couplets,
Darwin’s Origin of Species as a chant.
Read Jane Eyre in 30 lines Beowulf in 26,
The Canterbury Tales in 21.
Discover Melville’s Moby Dick in
8 lines of verse, fully footnoted.
Catch up on Kinsey’s Sexual Behavior
In the Human Male
in a record
3-stanza report.

Plus many more that are less -
70 ShrinkLits in all.
Full-color illustrations throughout.

What fun!

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