bookmark: the shadow cutter

The Shadow Cutter – by Harriet Smart

Notes to follow . . .

Finished 3/29/20

bookmark: after rain

After Rain: Stories – by William Trevor

Notes to follow . . .

Finished 3/13/20

bookmark: the violin maker

The Violin Maker: A Search for the Secrets of Craftsmanship, Sound, and Stradivari – by John Marchese

If you have no interest in violins, I would suggest that this may not be a book for you. I, on the other hand, am interested in violins and found it to be an interesting look into the world of violin making.

It is pretty amazing that these music boxes made of bits of wood and string are such complex, yet simple, constructions. Even more amazing is that there are violins made long, long ago that are still being used and that are so valued that no musician can afford to buy one without either an inheritance or a patron. Indeed, many of the violins made by the old masters are owned by collectors and temporarily loaned to more renowned violinists for their use.

The book superficially follows the making of a violin by an accomplished craftsman, Sam Zygmuntowicz, for a well-known violinist, Eugene Drucker. It does not cover violin making in great detail, so don’t expect to be able to follow along and make one yourself. This book is more about the spirit of violin making.

As well as the making of the new violin, this book covers some of the history of the old violins, the Amatis, Stradavaris and Guarneris, as well as some of the violin players who use these old violins. These violins and their players exist at a level far above most violinists, but one wonders if the practical value of the old violins is a bit overblown. That is also touched on a bit in the book.

I started to learn the violin when I was in sixth grade, until I realized that it was going to be real work before I was able to play anything worthwhile. Like so many other things in my life, that reality led me to give it up rather quickly. I regret that. I now own a violin of my own with the thought that someday I am going to learn enough to turn out at least one tune, but we will see. As well, I would love to actually make a violin, whatever the quality may be, just to be able to say I have done it. Obviously this book had an appeal to me. If you are of like mind, or at least have an interest in music, perhaps it will appeal to you, too.

Finished 3/4/20

bookmark: paddle your own canoe

Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man’s Fundamentals for Delicious Living – by Nick Offerman

I suppose that someone actually interested in the mechanics of being an actor would be interested in this book. Perhaps someone as ego-driven as Mr. Offerman. Unfortunately I am not that person. Instead, most of the behavior described in the book describes an obnoxious person more interested in his own “hijinks” than in being a decent human being. Of course, since the author devotes a great amount of his book to his youth, one can make some allowances for being an asshole “back in the day.” The problem is that he revels in his past assholeness, rather than seeing the youth that he was as someone with the morals and manners of a self-absorbed child.

So why did I read this book? Well, Mr. Offerman is an accomplished woodworker, and as such I was willing to follow up my reading of his book, Good Clean Fun: Misadventures in Sawdust at Offerman Woodshop. Secondly, because I had read that book, I was given this book as a gift. Personally, if I am to recommend one of these books to someone, read Good Clean Fun.

As a disclaimer, I must admit that I am, indeed, an old fart, and as such find a lot of the author’s discussion of his sex life and his language grating on my sensibilities. I am guessing that I am not his main audience. Still, I like to think that I am somewhat liberal in my acceptance of human nature, so I actually found my reaction to his writing a bit surprising. I guess I’m more “old-fashioned” than I think I am. In one chapter he says he will keep it cleaned up for his mother, but loses that ability half way through the chapter. I am sure his parents are proud of his accomplishments, but I wonder how they really feel about this book. I would be shaking my head after reading it if the author were my son.

Since I read the whole book, obviously there is some worth to it. He makes a few good points. If I had not read it, though, it would not have been a loss.

Finished 2/29/20

bookmark: pigeon pie

Pigeon Pie – by Nancy Mitford

Notes to follow . . .

Finished 2/12/20

bookmark: charlie and the chocolate factory

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – by Roald Dahl

Notes to follow . . .

Finished 2/12/20

bookmark: christmas pudding

Christmas Pudding – by Nancy Mitford

Notes to follow . . .

Finished 2/8/20

bookmark: the dead songbird

The Dead Songbird – by Harriet Smart

Notes to follow . . .

Finished 1/17/20

bookmark: the butchered man

The Butchered Man – by Harriet Smart

Notes to follow . . .

Finished 12/30/19

bookmark: jane eyre

Jane Eyre – by Charlotte Brontë

I was surprised at how good I found this book. Sure, it is considered a “classic” and as such must be good, but I do not find that to be universally true. For me, this one was a real page turner.

Yes, it is dated, but that’s part of its charm. The only issue I had was related to this datedness. Some of the word usage is not what it is today. It would have been nice to read an annotated version, but I don’t even know if there is such a thing. Even when I tried to look the words up in my Kindle version, there was often either no definition or a definition that seemed totally unrelated to how the word was used.

Beside enjoying the story, I now understand references to Mr. Rochester, Thornfield, and other names. I’ll be able to answer a few more Jeopardy questions.

It’s also a fascinating look into the morals, ethics and culture of the time. There was more than one time that I wanted to ask Jane Eyre what the heck she thought she was doing, but I’m operating from my current perspective, which would probably be totally foreign to their way of thinking.

After finishing the book, I looked into the lives of I was surprised at how good I found this book. Sure, it is considered a “classic” and as such must be good, but I do not find that to be universally true. For me, this one was a real page turner.

Yes, it is dated, but that’s part of its charm. The only issue I had was related to this datedness. Some of the word usage is not what it is today. It would have been nice to read an annotated version, but I don’t even know if there is such a thing. Even when I tried to look the words up in my Kindle version, there was often either no definition or a definition that seemed totally unrelated to how the word was used.

Beside enjoying the story, I now understand references to Mr. Rochester, Thornfield, and other names. I’ll be able to answer a few more Jeopardy questions.

It’s also a fascinating look into the morals, ethics and culture of the time. There was more than one time that I wanted to ask Jane Eyre what the heck she thought she was doing, but I’m operating from my current perspective, which would probably be totally foreign to their way of thinking.

After finishing the book, I looked into the lives of Charlotte Brontë and her family. I confess I didn’t know anything about them, so was saddened to find out how, and how early, their lives ended. I could see several features of their lives that were used in this book.

You never read it either? If you’re a jock who only likes to read Sports Illustrated, you might not be a good candidate to read it. If you appreciate something with a little more depth and emotion, give it a try.

Finished 11/23/19