Friday, July 31, 2009

Teh Funny: a BTT on Friday

Recent Funny July 30, 2009
Filed under: Wordpress — --Deb @ 1:48 am

What’s the funniest book you’ve read recently?

This one's pretty easy. It would absolutely have to be Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman.

One of my fellow string players in orchestra loaned me this one (which reminds me, I've got to give it back to her, and get my book back as well). It had me convinced that someone out there is doing Klosterman a great disservice. An agent? A PR guy? I'm not sure. But not only did they give his novel a horrible, horrible dust jacket summary, they gave this great book an exceedingly stupid title. Not only do those three things sound dumb together, but the book only touches on the first and last, and doesn't deal with drugs at all. Oh yeah, and the back of this book is equally as dumb.

So what does the book do? Well, it sort of defies description. To say that it's a "pop-culture critique" makes it sound shallow and serious all at the same time, but I guess that about covers it. The book is a series of essays about a variety of elements of pop culture. I didn't agree with all of it, nor can I even relate to all of it (Klosterman is about 7 or 8 years older than me, and also a sports fan). But it was pretty much always funny. My favorite chapter was about The Real World, where he described a concurrent roommate situation:

In our lives...there was no Tony Randall. We would sit in the living room, drink a case of Busch beer, and throw the empty cans into the kitchen for no reason, whatosever, beyond the fact that it was the most overtly irresponsible way for two people to live. We would consciously choose to put out cigarettes on the carpet when ashtrays were readily available; we would write phone messages on the wall and vomit out the window. And this was a basement apartment.

I also enjoyed Klosterman's travels with a Guns n Roses cover band, and his accounting of how he managed to become the only person in his hometown ever fired from the post of Pee Wee Soccer Coach. It's a clever book about modern culture, and it's funny too. I like Chuck Klosterman.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Quick Picks: Today's BTT

Been slacking on the BTT's lately, but today I have a deep need to continue to avoid pricing items for the garage sale. So, here goes:

Preferences July 23, 2009
Filed under: Wordpress — --Deb @ 1:41 am

Which do you prefer? (Quick answers–we’ll do more detail at some later date)

Reading something frivolous? Or something serious?
Paperbacks? Or hardcovers?
Fiction? Or Nonfiction?
Poetry? Or Prose?
Biographies? Or Autobiographies?
History? Or Historical Fiction?
Series? Or Stand-alones?
Classics? Or best-sellers?
Lurid, fruity prose? Or straight-forward, basic prose?
Plots? Or Stream-of-Consciousness?
Long books? Or Short?
Illustrated? Or Non-illustrated?
Borrowed? Or Owned?
New? Or Used?

Reading something frivolous? Or something serious? Frivolous, but not too silly and shallow.

Paperbacks? Or hardcovers? As long as it's a nice edition, no real preference.

Fiction? Or Nonfiction? Fiction, generally.

Poetry? Or Prose? Prose. Can't remember the last time I read poetry outside of Artvoice and The New Yorker.

Biographies? Or Autobiographies? Autobiographies. I like hearing the story in the person's own words.

History? Or Historical Fiction? A bad one of either is a nightmare. A well-done one of either is a dream come true. Why is history so easy to fuck up? It's interesting, for crying out loud. And yet, many still manage to make murder, revolution, war, illness and mysticism absolutely boring (I was thinking of the story of Tsar Nicolas here).

Series? Or Stand-alones? Generally, stand-alones. It's hard to sustain interest throughout a series and know when to stop. Harry Potter is one of several notable exceptions.

Classics? Or best-sellers? Both!

Lurid, fruity prose? Or straight-forward, basic prose? A happy medium is good here, too.

Plots? Or Stream-of-Consciousness? Plots. I can't follow ramblings.

Long books? Or Short? A good book will always go by too fast. I've finished fascinating 700-page books in a matter of days, and I've given up the struggle with 120-page books after a couple of weeks.

Illustrated? Or Non-illustrated? More fiction writers should have their work illustrated. By virtue of what I read, I don't get many books with pictures in them. I felt the chapter art added a great deal to the Harry Potter books, and it left me wondering, why doesn't everyone do that?

Borrowed? Or Owned? Borrowed, generally.

New? Or Used? It matters not.

Damn, too fast. Oh well, that stuff isn't going to price itself...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Nice Summer Read

image from State Library of Victoria, Australia
I have some pretty specific ideas on what makes a good "summer read." The book should be light, both in weight and in content (I once read the hardcover edition of Russell Banks' excellent novel Cloudsplitter on the beach. My arms were sore the next day). It should be the kind of thing that's easy to put down and leave at almost any point. It shouldn't be shallow, but should make you feel happy.

James Herriott's series of books on his life as a country vet in Yorkshire fit the bill beautifully. The books are a series of anecdotes about his more memorable cases and incidents in his life, so they're very easy to stop and start with. They're short, and out in paperback so they're portable. But the most notable thing about them is the deep vein of happiness that runs through them.

image from
There are seven books in the core series. They roughly chronicle his life from a young vet, newly qualified and beginning the hopeless task of finding employment during the Great Depression (an era when the economy and the shift away from farming led to frequent ads in his professional journals that read "Experienced Vet, will work for keep."), settling in to life in Yorkshire, getting married, serving in World War II and having a child. But there's no particular need to read them in order. I just discovered the other day that I hadn't read the first one, somehow.

I took a break from the gloom and doom (thus far) of my library haul to enjoy it. It reminded me of all the things that were good about those books. Herriott's love for his profession and his surroundings seep into every word he writes. This being an animal practice, of course, many of the stories are very sad. Mallock, the "knackerman" who euthanizes large animals and renders their carcasses for a variety of uses, features prominently in the series. But a lot of them are amusing, too, such as his long relationship with his "nephew," Pekingese Tricki Woo, who sends him postcards and Christmas gifts, or their "cat about town" who made a point of attending all rummage sales, Grange meetings, and church socials in the town. Since Herriott had to make house calls at all hours of the day and night, there's ample opportunity for slapstick as well, such as the time he went out to see a cow in his pajamas and Wellingtons, then wandered exhausted and unfortunately penniless into a local diner and tried to get breakfast.

My all-time favorite story was about the small farmer who had an epidemic sweeping through his stock. It looked like he was going to lose everything to this hopeless, untreatable illness when Herriott asked for permission to experiment with a new drug sample he'd just received that was supposed to work miracles. Overnight, the calves all returned from death's door, and antibiotics had come to Yorkshire.

The books I have belonged originally to my grandfather, and were among the last he read. I do hope they're still in print, because they're very enjoyable and pleasant for any animal lover to read.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Life After Genius: Another Cheerful Work

I finished Life After Genius by M. Ann Jacoby a couple of days ago. It was the other seven-day book I checked out. It was not as depressing as Bufalo Lockjaw, but not what you'd call a pick-me-up, either.

The book is the tale of young Theodore Mead Fegley, a genius from a small Illinois town. He has recently fled from college on the eve of his presentation of his work on the Riemann Hypothesis to the mathematical elite and also of his graduation at the young age of 19. His parents, whose expectations for him are sky-high, are not overly pleased to see him, especially since he won't tell them why he's there or what happened. His uncle is downright furious to see him.

Bit by bit, we learn why as we travel back through Mead's life: a life defined by his mother's sky-high expectations and strict regimentations, consisting mostly of hard study and cruelty from his classmates. He is the son of the local undertaker, with a dorky first name, the youngest in every class, and strictly discouraged from maintaining any sort of social life. One can only imagine (and understand why he immediately adopted his middle name as his first when he left for college). Mead takes us through it all. The destruction of his science project at age 12 by some older kids, his mother's almost violent reaction to the only C he'd ever earn, the envy he felt towards his same-age, much-cooler cousin Percy, and of course the events that led up to his sudden departure from college.

It's hard to craft a decent novel based on a "secret", but M. Ann Jacoby has done it. Throughout the beginning of the novel, all the reader cares about is why Mead has committed this act of supreme self-sabotage. Especially once you get to know his mother better, whose picture is next to the word "domineering" in the dictionary. But then, you start to get interested in Mead. How so many people had invested so much in him. How ripe for exploitation he was. How the most advanced mathematics came easily to him, but basic social skills were elusive.

The rest of his family is pretty interesting, too. It comes out that his uncle hates him because he holds him responsible for Percy's recent death. His aunt's seeming neutrality turns out to have disturbing roots -- she's not coping with the loss of her son well at all, and not very much in touch with reality, so not really able to form an opinion. During the few days over which the book takes place, Mead takes his place in the family, and comes to see what a part of it he was all along, despite feeling isolated his entire life.

If you've almost forgotten about the driving events of the story by now, you're not alone. Towards the end of the novel, it wasn't that I'd lost interest in them, but that another story had started to emerge that was equally compelling. By the time Jacoby wraps up the original story of manipulation and betrayal, you realize you pretty much knew all the facts. Well done, indeed. Still, I'm taking a break from my library pile to spend some time with some more cheerful fare in the form of the James Herriott books.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Economic Depression, Assisted Suicide and Despair: A Fun Summer Read

The paradox of Buffalo winters is that they actually drive people outside, despite frostbite-inducing temperatures. If you're a suburban homeowner (or sometimes even an urban one), you have NO FUCKING CHOICE but to drag yourself out there and snowblow or shovel your driveway. If you're a city-dweller, you may be outside just because that's where you generally are anyway: walking home from the bus or the Metro, running errands too close together to keep moving your car, what-have-you. The faces of these people are utterly locked down, betraying no other emotion than determination to survive until they can get inside. That's where Greg Ames gets the title of his novel, Buffalo Lockjaw.

If you're from Buffalo, about half of your friends have moved away. Maybe you yourself have moved away. At any rate, Thanksgiving is the one time of year when you can generally count on seeing everybody. Christmas is always laden with family obligations, including the cooking and shopping. Despite the best attempts of marketing gurus everywhere, Easter never really caught on as a secular holiday, too. Memorial Day, Labor Day, the 4th of July are all big going-away holidays. And New Year's Eve is generally only celebrated in bars. But Thanksgiving is the holiday of reunions, and on this particular one, protagonist James Fitzroy confronts his life.

James lives in New York and has a stable but much-maligned job writing greeting cards. He's 28 and single. He's home in Buffalo visiting his mother, who is committed to a nursing home as a victim of early-onset Alzheimer's and unable to do the simplest tasks for herself at the young age of 56; his father, who's selling the family home to move into an apartment alone; and his older sister, who lives in Portland, OR, and has always outshone him.

But, this being Thanksgiving, he also visits the people and places of his youth. He drives around town listening to his "Buffalo ethnography" that he worked on in his early 20s. He stops by the improbable outdoor barbecue at his friend Brickteeth's (also present: his friend Mattress Lips). He gets threatened by some wannabe thugs he grew up with ("You stay away from Corrinne! She doesn't want to see you!") and the entire time, is steeling his nerve to do what he believes to be the right thing and put his mother out of her misery.

If you like books with a strong sense of place, you might enjoy this one. Ames stacks local references sky-high so that they nearly topple. I wonder if that would bother other people, if they want to scream "WE GET IT!!" after watching James ease his car out of the Wilson Farms lot on Elmwood and Allen down to Jim's Steak-Out. The story would not have been weaker for losing a few of those references, although I admit it thrilled me when I realized that one part of the action happened only feet from my house. The great Buffalo flavor comes from the excerpts of Jim's ethnography project. One man told him about all of his rituals surrounding the Buffalo Bills games in the early 90s -- his lucky shirt and underwear, the precise moment at which he'd eat a hot dog with mustard, the number of high-fives after every touchdown and field goal that all contributed materially to the success of the team. The guy sounded like the father of everyone I grew up with. Many "subjects" also noted the influence of the psychiatric hospital on the street life in the city.

But there's also the main plot to content with, a plotline that's almost violent in its sadness. My own grandmother died of dementia, and it's a horrible thing to watch. James is haunted by the fact that early on in the progress of his mother's disease, she mentioned the notion of suicide to him and he talked her out of it. His mother was an expert nurse who had written one of the definitive nursing textbooks, and was an outspoken advocate of a patient's right to die. So James knows her stance. He knows, in his heart, what's right. It's just a matter of doing it.

There's also the matter of James' own future. His boozy, shattered romantic past returns bit by bit throughout the course of the novel, as does his issues surrounding his family and his place within it. Refreshingly, James does not seem to have many issues surrounding his greeting-card job. It's everyone else in the book that finds it a ridiculous way to make a living, but James seems to be essentially satisfied with it.

This was definitely an excellent book that really made an impact on me, and probably will for a while to come. If you're looking for a cheerful summer read, this is most emphatically not the book for you, however. But it's very well-done and certainly destined to be at least a local classic.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Yesterday's Library Haul

Usually, when I go to Central, I see something interesting and bizarre that's worth sharing on the blog. Yesterday, it was just the usual mix of people, though: moms with young children; people who are homeless or close to it; poor people taking advantage of the free internet to either look for jobs or pick up women on Myspace; recent immigrants teaching themselves English in the children's section; teenagers hanging out in one of the few adult-sanctioned hangouts (what parent could possibly turn down a request to be dropped off at the library?); older women getting their book club books, etc. And me, hauling out all I can carry as usual:

Vince and Joy, by Lisa Jewell, whose books are always light in a good way.
Sid Vicious: No One is Innocent, by Alan Parker. People in my area have been reading Slash's book like mofos. It's been checked out constantly. I read Nancy Spungen's biography years ago and figured I'd give Sid a try, too.
Steinway and Sons, by Richard K. Lieberman. It was in the music section, too.
Three Junes, by Julia Glass. keeps telling me I should.
Life after Genius, Ann M. Jacoby. An interesting-looking 7-day book about a child prodigy-turned-dropout.
Buffalo Lockjaw, by Greg Ames. Profiled a few weeks ago in our local alternative paper, written by a native. I always enjoy books set in the area. Another 7-day book, which means I need to get reading!
The Smallest People Alive, by Keith Banner. Bunch of short stories.
Popular Culture and High Culture: an analysis, by Herbert Gans. Goes under my "Most Likely Not to Be Read," but I think about that sort of stuff a lot, so I figured I'd check it out.

There we have it. I have until the 31st to read or renew!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Breaking News: I have a job!!!!

OK, it's not a fabulous one. It's part time, phone sales, at night. But still, I'm ecstatic. So, let the shout-outs commence, in no particular order:

To my landlord: I was scared to death to tell you that both my boyfriend and I had lost our jobs. You responded by saying that it was tough for everyone right now and to pay when we could. You know, my credit card people, the utility provider and the bank who financed my car could give a shit about me. So it was nice having one less thing to worry about. Also, for the washer last week, which put an end to about six months worth of stupid washer drama.

To my friends at the Amherst Museum and in ECHF: You hear horror stories about people losing their jobs and all of their professional acquaintances, too. They decide that it's professional suicide to be associated with you. They side with your ex-employer over you, or they just look at you and see their own worst fears and avoid you. You guys did the opposite. You pushed me to get more involved. You kept me informed about job leads. You encouraged me to write for our newsletter, get involved with the annual meeting, and head up the White Glove Brigade. You gave me something meaningful to do. Sometimes, I really had to scrape up the $15 for dinner at the meeting, but it was always, always worth it. You guys are awesome and deserve everything you had and more. I can never thank any of you enough.

To the Girl Scouts of Western New York: Chairing this committee has been harrowing at times, but it, too, got me out of the house and gave me something meaningful to do. When I went to the IMLS conference, I felt a heckuva lot more confident approaching people than I would have if I'd had to tell them I was completely out of the field. I'm looking forward to continuing to try to make an impact.

To all of my WoW friends on Trollbane-US, especially those in the guild Dragoneers and formerly of the guild LastRites: I'll never know much about most of your real lives. I don't even know most of your real first names, but know you by names like Zyggynz, Illuminae, and Medesse. You guys probably don't know, either, that I've been looking for a job for what feels like forever and getting very discouraged at times. It was a comfort to always know that the game, and my friends in the game, were there for me. Sometimes, it was virtually the only form of entertainment I could afford. And sometimes, getting that holiday event achievement or rounding out my tier gear was the only thing I managed to accomplish all week. It always feels good to "hang out" with you guys in the game.

To David Clem, Niki Thomas, Tess Frazier and Kathy Leacock: You guys offered to help me get jobs in your companies/organizations. The fact that all of them wound up not working out, getting put on hold, etc. doesn't diminish the fact that all year, you were the only ones that gave me concrete leads. I'll always appreciate it, and I'll always look for a way to pay you back.

To my aunt: You randomly called me this winter and asked me out to lunch at a time when I felt like the entire world wanted nothing to do with me. It was a great lunch, and really cheered me up. Now that I have a source of income, I'm going to take you to lunch!!!

To the rest of my extended family: Seeing you guys last month for the first time in years really energized me. You know, when you're unemployed, most people hound the shit out of you. Everyone not in your situation seems to have all the answers. You guys weren't like that at all. You let me know that you loved me and wished me the best without any of the implied put-downs. And in the weeks after that wedding, I applied to like twenty jobs, including the one I just got, and you were at least part of the reason.

To my parents: Where to start. For all of the emotional support, all of the financial support, all of the encouragement. For paying for me to come visit you in Florida this winter and not mentioning a word about looking for a job the entire time. For getting me out of the house, for always cheering me up, I can never thank you enough.

To my boyfriend: You were so understanding and encouraging this whole time, even when you were feeling frustrated and discouraged with your own situation. It's been a rocky year. Looking forward to it being better -- together.

Finally, to you, the readers of this blog: Thanks for coming! I hope you've enjoyed reading what I have to say and hanging out in my own little corner of the internet. I know that every day, I have my own "blog rounds". So, if I'm part of yours, thank you for the time you spend with me, on however regular a basis you drop in. It kept me going, too.


"Treating someone like a leper" has become a common metaphor for social isolation. In Alan Brennert's historical novel Molo'kai, readers have a chance to explore the real-life roots of that phrase.

In the late 1800s, leprosy (known today as Hansen's Disease and treatable with a simple course of antibiotics) tore through the populace of Hawaii. Hawaii's geographic isolation makes it unique but fragile. Leprosy was spreading like wildfire, and the government's best solution was isolation. Leprosy victims were arrested like criminals, taken to a medical facility where their disease stood trial, and if convicted, were sent to remote Molo'kai to live out the rest of their lives among others who had leprosy.

This is the fate of young Rachel Kalama, the central character in the novel. Rachel is diagnosed with leprosy at the young age of seven. Her family tried to hide the evidence of her disease, even making her wear shoes to school (which earned her the nickname, "Little Miss Shoe"). But to no avail, as she is taken anyway, first to a glorified infirmiry, and then to the community of Kalaupapa.

When Rachel arrives in Kalaupapa, it has entered into its maturity. In its earliest days, it was poorly planned and disorganized, with leprosy sufferers themselves forced to provide their own food and shelter to the best of their abilities. But now, Father Damien has come and gone, and Kalaupapa has real houses, a hospital, a store, and two children's homes (one for boys, one for girls). Despite the presence of her uncle on the island, Rachel is settled into the girls' home, run by nuns.

What would you do in these circumstances? Probably what anyone would do: rail against them at first. Mourn the loss of your family and home. Make repeated attempts at escape. But ultimately, you'd settle in. You may not ever fully accept your circumstances, but you'd construct a life nonetheless. This is, of course, what Rachel proceeds to do over the course of the novel, which follows her entire life. Along the way, we meet the people of her life: Sister Catherine, the troubled nun; Haleola, Rachel's uncle's girlfriend and an herbalist and believer in native religion; Rachel's father Henry, the only member of her family to keep in touch; Rachel's husband Kenji, who was studying economics when he fell ill; and many more.

The novel does an excellent job of showing the effects of the leprosy policy on ordinary people. It does a less thorough job of making you feel them quite the way that Snow Falling on Cedars did. The novel lays all of Rachel's life bare for the reader, from her earliest years until her death. But somehow, it doesn't quite take us inside. After spending 350 pages with her, she's still hard to characterize. She likes to surf. She dreams of seeing the world. She cares a great deal about the people around her. That's any bright, empathetic Hawaaian, though. Some of the secondary characters, like Sister Catherine and Rachel's friend Leilani, are slightly more vivid. But Rachel just seems like a glass through which to view Molo'kai and the leprosy policy in general.

It's not a bad book, all in all. Brennert has clearly done his research and is able to make the place and time come alive, if not exactly the central character. I understand there's another book on Hawaii by the same author, which I may or may not check out based on this one. I'd say that for me, this is another one which falls into the "just OK" category.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Summer Reading at Its Finest!!!!

Back in the saddle with today's BTT:

Celebrities? July 2, 2009
Filed under: Wordpress — --Deb @ 1:06 am

Suggested by Callista83:

Do you read celebrity memoirs? Which ones have you read or do you want to read? Which nonexistent celebrity memoirs would you like to see?

Do I?! I love celebrity memoirs, especially the raunchy ones. The finest one I've ever read, along those lines, is Motley Crue's The Dirt. The boys had a wonderful ghostwriter with the sensitivity not to change lines like "She looked so fucking hot that I wanted to run up to her, tackle her and tear her clothes off" to "She looked amazing in that dress." The book was published in 2002, and each band member gets to tell the tale from his own perspective, with chapters from their various managers and producers occasionally sprinkled in.

Each time someone famous for being wild publishes a memoir, I try to read it. I realized a few weeks ago the reason why I like The Dirt better than all of them. It's because they boys of Motley Crue are, by and large, unrepentant. Oh, sure, they regret many of the things they did while drunk and high. But they don't regret their involvement with drugs in the first place. The message of many other celebrity memoirs is: "I got involved with drugs and/or alcohol at a difficult time in my life, as a means of coping. It cost me a lot. I got sober and never want to go down that road again." The Crue's message? "We got involved with drugs and alcohol because they were a fucking blast. We did lots of stupid shit while high and drunk, and we regret it. We regret the toll it took on those around us. Still, if they ever invent something that's as fun as all of those drugs and won't have the side effects of wrecking everyone's lives, sign us up." So, the tone of the book is different.

A couple of other good celebrity memoirs in a different vein are the books written by Joan Crawford's daughter and also by Bette Davis' daughter. Neither woman ever became famous in her own right, but the tales are still moving. Mommie Dearest was, of course, made into the movie that contains that famous line about the wire hangers. It's in the book, too, but it's more sad than funny. Crawford essentially adopted her children as a PR move and had little interest in them outside of the annual Christmas special. She was mean and abusive and eventually sent them all away when she'd totally lost interest.

Davis was a difficult mother to have, too, but for different reasons. According to her daughter, she was more of an emotional drain than anything. Their relationship was volatile, and contained periods of both closeness and estrangement. I read it shortly after I read Mommie Dearest and was fascinated by the passages where the two tales intersected. Joan Crawford's not the only one, though. Several well-known Hollywood figures meander through the tale. The book also contains an absolutely priceless line: during an argument with her mother over men, Davis yelled, "I love these people who've been married once and think they know it all! What would you know about men? I've had FIVE HUSBANDS!"

Lana Turner's memoir is another good one. I'd actaully nearly forgotten about it, but I discussed it in this post and gave it high marks as an interesting tale of Golden-Era Hollywood. Lillian Gish's autobiography is also an interesting tale of an emerging industry. Gish was the star of the first-ever feature-length film, the much-dissected Birth of a Nation, and talks about the controversy that surrounded it even at release, not just due to the racism in the film, but due to its many innovations in the medium, such as the close-up ("Where are the guy's feet?") and its sheer length ("No one will sit for that long"). She traces its evolution from nickelodeons to theaters, and from a medium no one wanted to be involved with to the medium that became every actor's ultimate goal. And she was there for it all.

As for ones that have not yet been written? I can't think of any that I truly wonder about. I always thought it was a shame that Jacqueline Kennedy died without leaving an account of her life. And with Michael Jackson's recent death, I do feel that we've been left without a way to ever know the entire story, although it is possible that he left us something after all, or that someone else will come forward.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

June in Review

I can't believe it's come and gone already, but it was an exceptionally busy month for me, with lots of beautiful weather -- which showed on my blog. I finished four books this month (working on Molo'kai still):

Sabin Willet, The Deal
Sandra Dallas, Prayers for sale
Chuck Klosterman, Downtown Owl
Paul Auster, I thought my Father was God

I liked all four of them a lot. I Thought My Father Was God was probably my favorite. The Deal was my least favorite, just because it doesn't have a way of staying with you as much as some of the others. It was shallower.

In the past week, I kind of ran out of steam on my blog. In my defense, it was a pretty busy week, but I usually at least take the time for BTT, and I didn't this past Thursday. In fact, I only did two out of the four this month. I went to the library once and still have about half of the books from my haul to go. But, you know, there are a lot of things to do in the summer that you can't do any other time of year, so I guess it makes sense.