The OF Blog: Recharging the batteries

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Recharging the batteries

I read very rapidly and I try to read a book a day, if possible. With almost 300 books read so far this year (my highest in about 10 years, when grad school almost wiped out my mind), I have found the need to read all sorts of fictions and non-fictions in order to keep myself relatively sane.

Last week, a certain lovely someone alerted me to the impending publication of a companion piece to Umberto Eco's excellent illustrated 2004 book, On Beauty, called (naturally) On Ugliness. Like its brother volume, On Ugliness is around 450 pages printed on very glossy paper and very nicely bound (listed price is $40, but I was able to buy it for $29 with free shipping). Although I am only about 50 pages in, I am hooked.

The book is structured similar to On Beauty. There are a wealth of famous and vividly done illustrations and paintings that accompany Eco's essays, as well as copious citations from contemporary writers on the theme of ugliness. Since this isn't intended to be a full review (otherwise, I would have waited until I was finished with the book!), I'll just be content to say that Eco is much, much more than a very talented novelist. His literary criticisms and scholarly works are also worth reading and if the remaining 400 pages holds up to the promise of the first 50, On Ugliness might be a worthy addition to the number of outstanding works Eco has written.


I also received my purchased copy (alas, no freebies for this one!) of the second part of Catherynne M. Valente's The Orphan's Tale, In the Cities of Coin and Spice. Fitting that I would receive this now, just a day after its official publication date, considering that the first volume, In the Night Garden, is a finalist for the 2007 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel (see my review of the book and my ranking of the WFA finalists in the October 2007 archives).

I am greatly looking forward to reading this continuation of those fascinating stories-within-stories that Valente constructed so well in the first volume. Hopefully, I'll have a review of this up around the end of the week or perhaps early next week.

And after these, probably some non-fiction or non-genre works. Or maybe some early Nalo Hopkinson or Sheree R. Thomas's anthology, Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora. Have to keep mixing it up, or else the batteries will run dry.

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