Posts Tagged ‘Great Lives’

A blurred view

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

My bag is remarkably empty of crochet projects at the moment (I purged it of the four I had been carrying around, but evidently went too far) so now that Luna’s bag is well and truly finished I began a log cabin style table mat from the same string. If I don’t fall asleep first I’ll take and add some pictures once I finish writing this entry.

216. Women’s Costume of the Ancient World by Paul Louis de Giafferri

This book is a great idea, pulled together (so far as I could tell) from extant murals, statues, bas-reliefs and so on of a few thousand years ago. The problem for me is the ‘flowiness’ of many of the costumes. I don’t believe images of wild Bacchante tell us how women actually dressed. But this is a very impressive collection indeed.

217. London: The Panoramas by Mark Denton

Fabulous photographs of London on the larger but still human. I really enjoyed the section at the end with brief notes on each photo. Denton appears to prefer long exposures which turn movement ghostly. I especially like the Impressionist appearance of “Autumn, Tavistock Square” and “Horsechestnut, Thames Path” which both show leaves in a blaze of colour. The Tavistock Square one features several people sitting reading on park benches, so they are all in focus, not having moved particularly, but the branches overhead were evidently swaying in a wind, and float as a beautiful mass through the air.

218. Great Lives: Marie Curie by Philip Steele

A very important woman whose family devoted themselves to the greater good. The science you need to know is explained clearly, and there’s lots of context on the state of women’s education and the changing political status of the countries Curie lived in. (And yes, the ‘Great Lives’ moniker is backed up rather than argued against in this instance.)

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Thursday, 17 July 2008

I was out late last night, and didn’t put the computer on once I did get home, so no post and not much crocheting. (I have finished Syd Rabbit’s tummy, but not attached it yet.)

The books I have to discuss have no unifying theme at all, that I can think of. Any suggestions?

206. Great Lives: Mao Zedong by Fiona MacDonald

This is the point where I wonder at the series being entitled “Great Lives”, when the book ends up being pretty negative about Mao as a person and national leader. I suppose they really meant “Influential Lives” or some such. (I’ve only actually so far read this and the Gandhi one I mentioned a couple of days ago, although I know there’s one on Saladdin, among several others. It’ll be interesting to see what judgement is made on him.)

Anyway, Mao is certainly portrayed as influential in his middle and later career, but also egotistical, domineering and murderous. It’s got pictures, quotes, context and dates, and is an interesting read. I have recently read one or two books about modern Chinese life (although not politics/leadership specifically) but nothing really about the country’s history since Wild Swans, well over a decade ago. Another major topic to explore further!

207. The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

A great fun novel, with thoughtful characters who have interesting and amusing adventures, without shying away from the darker side of life, even in a country apparently as wonderful as Botswana. I have heard episodes of the radio dramatisation of the series before, but I enjoyed the book more, and look forward to getting to the rest of the series.

208. Reaching the Stars by Ruchoma Shain

Shain writes as well about her own life as about her father’s, although this is a quite different book from All For the Boss. This is much more of an anthology of her memories and those of her many students in different contexts and continents, and of very different ages, as well as tips and thoughts on being an educator and guide to life, as well as the timetabled class. I enjoyed it, but would be far more likely to return to her first book than this one.

Two hundred books and all’s well

Friday, 11 July 2008

A pretty satisfying day, all things considered.

I have nearly finished the body of Syd Rabbit, and I have begun his tummy cover. This was on the way home, when I didn’t have his stuffing with me, of course, so went on to another part without closing the body up. I meant to finish the body this evening, but other things came up, and it’s a bit late now, as I keep my toy stuffing materials in a drawer in my flatmate’s room. There are plenty of other bits for me to get on with while commuting tomorrow, so I amn’t troubled.

Talking of toys, I’ve just today signed up for TT#2 in the new Travelling Teddy group on Ravelry, and Teddy’s Travels are due to begin in just over a week, so we’ll see how long it takes him(?) to get to me, and then how long he’ll stay. I’ve never done anything like this before, so we’ll see how it goes. My group is all in North America or Australia apart from me, so if he gets here before any of my summer travels (presuming I ever get around to arranging them) he can come some of the way with me before going on.

And speaking of white bears (as apparently TT#2 is), it’s time for us to get to book 200 this year, which I think is cause for a very small celebration. A lot of them are fairly thin books, but I’ve actually read them, so I think they count. (I don’t count the ones I just skim, to get a general idea of the content with.) I amn’t convinced I’m awake enough to say very much in sense, so it might be worth checking back tomorrow if you think you’d want to know more about any of them.

194. Step-Up History: The Great Famine by Feargal Brougham and Caroline Farrell

The Great Famine in Ireland is an important topic, and this book addresses it well. The impact lasts. This book simply reinforced the shock and horror brought home to me last year, when we visited Kilmainham Gaol (which hadn’t been to in years). They have an exhibition about the history of the place, including a chart of the number of inmates every year. Up to the early 1840s in was a few hundred each year, during the famine it shot up to many thousands, and then after the famine it went right back down again. People were imprisoned for vagrancy and ‘minor’ theft of food, not just to get the immediate food, but because they knew they would be fed something in the prison and so put themselves in a position to be placed there.

195. Step-Up History: Children in Victorian Times by Jill Barber

Rich and poor children’s lives were very very different from each other. I can’t get over the idea of children climbing up and down chimneys as small as 23cm x 23cm to clean them. (That’s less than the size of an A4 page, while purposely bringing down soot on top of you.) The rich certainly didn’t live as we do nowadays, but in better off families children went to school all year, were looked after, had food, clothing, shelter and toys. Things did change for poorer people – working conditions were ameliorated, at least officially; education became more available, then free, then compulsory, at least at primary level, but would remain very hard for many.

196. Great Lives: Gandhi by Philip Wilkinson

This is mostly an overview, as it must be at this length, but there is some interesting detail I hadn’t known/thought about before. It is clearly laid out, with pictures that inform and are interesting. The book covers Gandhi‘s entire life, including the significant periods before the struggle for Home Rule/Independence for India.

197. Look Inside: A Victorian House by Richard Wood

In this one the children are practically invisible, but its interest continues. The book in many ways focusses on the servants, as the ones who actually keep the house going.

198. Animal Story: Gorilla Mountain by Dougal Dixon
199. Animal Story: Orang-Utan Rescue by Dougal Dixon
200. Animal Story: Polar Bear in the City by Dougal Dixon

A great but hard-hitting series for fairly young children and up. The Orang-utan book was the saddest by far, for me. Each follows the life of a particular young example of the species, born in the wild and growing up with its mother/family, including the natural growth and experiences experienced together, as well as various interactions with humanity, for both good and evil.