books

book sale

Sun, 2015-09-13 16:55

The Friends of the Seattle Public Library had another giant book sale. I got these books:

  • Harmonograph: A Visual Guide to the Mathematics of Music, by Anthony Ashton
  • Elements of Applied Stochastic Processes, by U. Narayan Bhat
  • Mathematical Modeling Techniques, by Rutherford Aris
  • No More Secondhand Art, by Peter London
  • Existentialism is a Humanism, by Jean-Paul Sartre
  • Futurism, by Caroline Tisdall and Angelo Bozzolla
  • Artists on Art, by Robert Goldwater and Marco Treves
  • Book of Hours, by George A. Walker
  • The Fractal Geometry of Nature, by Benoit B. Mandelbrot
  • Henry Moore: My Ideas, Inspiration and Life as an Artist, by Henry Moore and John Hedgecoe
  • From El Greco to Pollock: Early and Late Works by European and American Artists, by Gertrude Rosenthal

Good stuff.

finishing Dickens

Tue, 2015-09-08 20:42

I just finished reading Nicholas Nickleby, and so now I've read all of the novels of Charles Dickens.

NN was pretty good. A reasonably fast-moving story, some decent characters. However, it lacked the character eccentricity of some other novels, and the overarching story is not really all that interesting. And, it does use the "magic-inheritance-solves-all-problems" device so often used by Dickens.

one Dickens left

Wed, 2014-10-01 19:18

I read Martin Chuzzlewit this summer, so now I have but one Dickens novel left to read!
And it's supposed to be a good one! (MC was not so great.)

  • Dombey and Son (1.95)
  • David Copperfield (1.91)
  • Bleak House (1.91)
  • Nicholas Nickleby (1.86)
  • Martin Chuzzlewit (1.85)
  • Little Dorrit (1.85)
  • Our Mutual Friend (1.83)
  • Pickwick Papers (1.72)
  • Barnaby Rudge (1.41)
  • The Old Curiosity Shop (1.19)
  • Great Expectations (1.01)
  • Oliver Twist (0.91)
  • A Tale of Two Cities (0.78)
  • Hard Times (0.58)

The numbers are proportional to the length of the book (they should be
approximately the number of characters in the novel, in millions).

A Tale of Two Cities

Sat, 2014-05-17 11:15

I forgot to mark off A Tale of Two Cities, which I read last summer. Now I only have two Dickens novels left to read. I should start one soon.

  • Dombey and Son (1.95)
  • David Copperfield (1.91)
  • Bleak House (1.91)
  • Nicholas Nickleby (1.86)
  • Martin Chuzzlewit (1.85)
  • Little Dorrit (1.85)
  • Our Mutual Friend (1.83)
  • Pickwick Papers (1.72)
  • Barnaby Rudge (1.41)
  • The Old Curiosity Shop (1.19)
  • Great Expectations (1.01)
  • Oliver Twist (0.91)
  • A Tale of Two Cities (0.78)
  • Hard Times (0.58)

The numbers are proportional to the length of the book (they should be
approximately the number of characters in the novel, in millions).

Barnaby Rudge

Sat, 2013-08-10 18:24

I finished Barnaby Rudge (by Charles Dickens) today. A very enjoyable read. Not as full of characters as some of his other novels, it feels rather lean and simplified. It does have, essentially, three different plot lines which don't exactly get fully tied-up, but I certainly liked reading it.

I only have three of his novels left to read (I've read all the grey ones).

  • Dombey and Son (1.95)
  • David Copperfield (1.91)
  • Bleak House (1.91)
  • Nicholas Nickleby (1.86)
  • Martin Chuzzlewit (1.85)
  • Little Dorrit (1.85)
  • Our Mutual Friend (1.83)
  • Pickwick Papers (1.72)
  • Barnaby Rudge (1.41)
  • The Old Curiosity Shop (1.19)
  • Great Expectations (1.01)
  • Oliver Twist (0.91)
  • A Tale of Two Cities (0.78)
  • Hard Times (0.58)

The numbers are proportional to the length of the book (they should be
approximately the number of characters in the novel, in millions).

Dombey and Son

Mon, 2012-08-20 10:51

Just finished Dickens' Dombey and Son, his longest novel. It is not great. It starts really well, with excellent writing, characters and descriptions. But about halfway through, it plateaus, and then coasts for a long time -- hundreds of pages -- and then ends. Oh, there is a little excitement with Edith and Mr. Carker toward the end, but this is too little, too late.

I think Dickens blew a chance to have a really exciting story by paying some attention to Walter after he sails. Walter could have had all sorts of interesting adventures, involving wild characters, as he sailed and then was shipwrecked, and rescued, etc. Similarly with Uncle Sol in his travels.

But, no. Dickens just has them go away, disappear, be taken for lost, and then has them simply show up near the end of the book, safe and sound, and they don't even tell us their stories. Quite disappointing.

Still, this, the best paragraph in the novel, is superb:

Through the hollow, on the height, by the heath, by the orchard, by the park, by the garden, over the canal, across the river, where the sheep are feeding, where the mill is going, where the barge is floating, where the dead are lying, where the factory is smoking, where the stream is running, where the village clusters, where the great cathedral rises, where the bleak moor lies, and the wild breeze smooths or ruffles it at its inconstant will; away, with a shriek, and a roar, and a rattle, and no trace to leave behind but dust and vapour: like as in the track of the remorseless monster, Death!

I will continue to read all of the novels of Dickens. So far, I've read the grey ones:

  • Dombey and Son (1.95)
  • David Copperfield (1.91)
  • Bleak House (1.91)
  • Nicholas Nickleby (1.86)
  • Martin Chuzzlewit (1.85)
  • Little Dorrit (1.85)
  • Our Mutual Friend (1.83)
  • Pickwick Papers (1.72)
  • Barnaby Rudge (1.41)
  • The Old Curiosity Shop (1.19)
  • Great Expectations (1.01)
  • Oliver Twist (0.91)
  • A Tale of Two Cities (0.78)
  • Hard Times (0.58)

The numbers are proportional to the length of the book (they should be
approximately the number of characters in the novel, in millions).

Only four left.

Our Mutual Friend

Sun, 2011-09-11 20:11

I just finished reading Our Mutual Friend, by Charles Dickens. I liked it pretty well, and read it faster than I usually read his works. Jenny Wren is certainly the most interesting character, but the plot is really the interesting element in this one, with more twists and dark passages than some of his novels.

My favorite sentence from the book: "Mr Wegg pursued the biography of that eminent man through its various phases of avarice and dirt, through Miss Dancer's death on a sick regimen of cold dumpling, and through Mr Dancer's keeping his rags together with a hayband, and warming his dinner by sitting upon it, down to the consolatory incident of his dying naked in a sack. "

Thus, I am one novel closer to reading all of Dickens' novels.

So far, I've read the grey ones:

  • Dombey and Son (1.95)
  • David Copperfield (1.91)
  • Bleak House (1.91)
  • Nicholas Nickleby (1.86)
  • Martin Chuzzlewit (1.85)
  • Little Dorrit (1.85)
  • Our Mutual Friend (1.83)
  • Pickwick Papers (1.72)
  • Barnaby Rudge (1.41)
  • The Old Curiosity Shop (1.19)
  • Great Expectations (1.01)
  • Oliver Twist (0.91)
  • A Tale of Two Cities (0.78)
  • Hard Times (0.58)

The numbers are proportional to the length of the book (they should be
approximately the number of characters in the novel, in millions).

I probably won't read another until next summer; there are other things I'd like to read now.

bookshelves!

Tue, 2011-08-02 15:48

For years now, Jenni and I have wanted more shelf space in our house. I figured I could build some shelves, and I looked around for a while for a good plan. At Instructables, I found this one. I modified it a bit, and used four foot 1x12s for the shelves, and seven feet long 1x4s for the verticals, but otherwise I followed the plans exactly. I made two of these. One, for the basement used regular hardware, plain nuts and zinc plated (ick) fender washers, since that's all they had at Home Depot. For the other one, I get black oxide fender washers and brass (hell yeah!) acorn nuts from McMaster Carr, a fantastic place to buy hardware and other stuff. Also for the second shelf, we got wood at our local Dunn Lumber. For the shelves, we actually got steppers, so they are quite a bit thicker than standard 1x12s, and they have a rounded edge, which we put at the front of the shelf. Using the acorn nuts requires cutting the all-thread more carefully, but it everything worked perfectly. Cutting the all-thread is perhaps the most time-consuming part. I used my angle grinder with a cut-off wheel, and that goes pretty fast (you could easily use a hacksaw, though), and then you need to clean the threads at the end with a file. Still, not hard to do, and an easy job all around.

I'm very happy with the results. The shelves are a little flexible in the vertical direction, owing to the thin 1x4s. 2x4s would be overkill, but would definitely make the whole thing more rigid. I don't think this flexibility is a problem, however.

Here are some pictures.

The basement shelf, loaded with books:

The upstairs shelf, unloaded:

Closeup of the hardware on the upstairs shelf:

Loaded upstairs shelf, with hopefully temporary clutter:

spring book sale!

Sun, 2011-04-17 10:52

The Seattle Library had their twice-annual Friends of the Library book sale on Friday. Jenni and I have a tradition of going, and then getting ice cream. It's two of our favorite days.

This year, like the last few times, I've concentrated on the art books. Here's what I got:

  • Patterns in Space, by Col. R. S. Beard (1971)
  • A large format paperback with lots of illusrations of fun 2- and 3-D geometric concepts. A very nice looking book.

  • The Technique of Kinetic Art, by John Tovey (1971)
  • A hardback in excellent condition. Covers a variety of mostly 2D kinetic art techniques and methods.
    Includes electronic circuitry for building motorized art of the projected filter variety.

  • Hidden Images: Games of Perception-Anamorphic Art-Illusion from the Renaissance to the Present, by Leeman, Elffers and Shuyt (1976)
  • An excellent collection of graphic techniques involving extreme viewpoints and intentional distortions.

  • The Nude, by Kenneth Clark (1959)
  • A small, thick paperback on the history of the nude in art.

  • Color: A Natural History of the Palette, by Victoria Finlay
  • Folks in my color theory class were raving about this.

  • The Writings of Albrecht Dürer, translated and edited by William Conway (1958)
  • Dürer is one of my heroes, but I really don't know that much about him.

  • Dürer, by H. Knackfuss (1900)
  • A monograph on Dürer. Lots of good illustrations.

  • The World of Dürer, 1471-1528, by Francis Russell
  • A Time-Life large format book with some decent illustrations.

  • On the Just Shaping of Letters, by Albrecht Dürer (1525, originally)
  • A thin, large format paperback about lettering.

  • Drawing from Left: The Journal as Art, by Jennifer New (2005)
  • Lots of examples of famous folks' art journals.

  • Perspective Drawing Handbook, by Joseph D'Amelio (1964)
  • A thin, large format paperback reference on perspective.

  • Freehand Drawing: A Primer, by Philip Thiel (1967)
  • Large format hardback with lots of exercises in line drawing.

  • Drawing Made Easy, by Charles Lederer (1913)
  • An excellent old book covering many aspects of drawing.

  • Pen & Ink Technique, by Frank Lohan (1978)
  • Not exactly "my style", but I'm always happy to get more pen and ink books.

  • Drawing Lessons from the Great Masters, by Robert Beverly Hale (1964)
  • Large format paperback with 100 drawings analyzed.

Overall, a fantastic haul. All these for one dollar each (plus a membership), all going to support the library.

Bleak House

Wed, 2010-12-15 14:19

I finished reading Bleak House the other day. I only liked it so-so, which isn't good for a 900 page novel. The characters were a little too smooth, and not quirky enough for me. Plus the story arc really didn't finish in a very interesting way.

Still, I continue with my project to read all of Dickens' novels.

So far, I've read the grey ones:

  • Dombey and Son (1.95)
  • David Copperfield (1.91)
  • Bleak House (1.91)
  • Nicholas Nickleby (1.86)
  • Martin Chuzzlewit (1.85)
  • Little Dorrit (1.85)
  • Our Mutual Friends (1.83)
  • Pickwick Papers (1.72)
  • Barnaby Rudge (1.41)
  • The Old Curiosity Shop (1.19)
  • Great Expectations (1.01)
  • Oliver Twist (0.91)
  • A Tale of Two Cities (0.78)
  • Hard Times (0.58)

The numbers are proportional to the length of the book (they should be
approximately the number of characters in the novel, in millions).

What to read next? I'm thinking perhaps Nicholas Nickleby, since a lot of people like it a lot. I'm saving A Tale of Two Cities for last since it's the shortest. I know I have a copy of Our Mutual Friend, so that might be a good one. In any case, I'm not going to start until I've read a few other things on my "to read" list.