Books Finished February 2012

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow - Washington Irving
I have long heard about this short story and it was good to read the original - a story about Ichabod Crane, the school master who is educated but poor and ekes out a living by boarding with various families.  He seeks the hand of young Katrina and things he has won her, but leaves town through fear of the Headless Horseman (probably Brom Bones - his competitor in love - dressed up).  The writing is of its era - 1820 - but quite enjoyable.  There was a lot of detail which I liked.

2BR02B - Kurt Vonnegut
This short story was set in the future where someone has to volunteer to die before a newborn can live.  It is an idyllic place in that population is set at 40 million in the US - so much better than overpopulation.  But of course difficult decisions have to be made...

All Things Austria - Andrew Kasberger
A short guide to Austria by a US citizen of Austrian extraction.

Cold Turkey (Events Unlimited) - Janice Bennett
I didn't finish this whodunnit - it got just a little bit like too much hard work following the main character around, who just happens to keep bumping into the policeman assigned to the case - there was just too much of the mechanics of the plot on view.

Sucking on Figs - Kristina L. Phillips and Sabina Anais Joy Wiseman
I got halfway through this short story.  It appeared to be about a rather dysfunctional family and food - but it was just too yucky and mean for me to continue.

The Lunatics of Suburbia - Anna Inger
I think I got about a third of the way through this crazy tale about a woman, her best friend who is  rather loose with her morals, ends up pregnant to a man the size of a large fridge, and whose husband is going to leave her if he finds out - not funny, or clever, no real insight - couldn't be bothered continuing.

Agatha Christie Short Stories:
Sanctuary; The Harlequin Tea Set; The Second Gong; Triangle at Rhodes; The Case of the Caretaker; Yellow Iris; Philomel Cottage; Four-and-Twenty Blackbirds; The Red Signal; The Love Detectives; The Under Dog; The Perfect Maid; Strange Jest; The Dream; The Dead Harlequin; Tape Measure Murder; The Rajah's Emerald; Poirot and the Regatta Mystery
These were an absolute delight - I think I have read some of them before, but they were worth re-reading.  I particularly liked the Poirot stories - his character and language are wonderful.  The least successful for me involved a Mr Satterthwaite and his mysterious friend Mr Harley Quin.  Those stories were a little too mystical for me.

The Secret Life of Water: A Microbiology Tale - David Wooster
This is a short story and is part of a longer work to do with cholera - sounds dry, but is quite fascinating - it's amazing the power that water has, and how it moves through our system, and what goes on in our cells.

Active Reader: And Other Cautionary Tales - Mark Leslie
This is a collection of quite bizarre and  twisted horror stories - all somehow connected to books.

The Little Book of Bizarre Bedtime Stories - Stephen Feates
I didn't get very far into this - about 3% - not my thing - not very entertaining.

A Taste of Irrationality: Sample Chapters from Predictably Irrational and Upside of Irrationality -
Dan Ariely
These are two sample chapters from two books - one gives examples and research showing that work needs to be meaningful; the other talks about eh economic price of items, and the social considerations (ie when an item is $0, non economic factors come into play).

Different Sex II - More Erotic XXX Stories

The Most Beautiful Walk in the World - John Baxter
I bought this in Sydney at the Kinokuniya shop that I mentioned here - I devoured it almost immediately.  I didn't realise until I started reading that I have read his "A Pound of Paper" which I loved.  This book is about living in Paris, walking around it, experiencing the unseen, being surprised at how others see your city.  The author is talked into becoming a walking tour guide, as he has so many stories about literary figures and what they did where.  Really great stuff.

Termites of Northern Australia
I bought this in Kakadu last week and read it straight away.  Since I saw my first termite mound 17 years ago on a long camping trip through the Top End, I have been fascinated by these structures.  This book is basic, but there are lots of good pictures and some interesting facts about termites (they are not ants, but are a relative of the cockroach) and the fact that they play a very important part in the ecosystem.   I was told many years ago (by a dodgy tour guide) that the structure above ground is just a small proportion of what is below ground, but I can't verify that - in fact, this book says that there are above ground builders and below ground builders.  Either way, what they achieve is their building is amazing - this quote puts it in perspective -
"In human terms, the construction of a large cathedral mound by a termite colony is equivalent to a million, blind-folded people joining forces to build a skyscraper covering eight city blocks and towering over a mile into the sky"