Books, berets, and banal reviews – oh my!

So I’ve got Jim Bryson and Missy Higgins on iTunes, a bed full off books and yarn and needles and patterns, and my second helping of mac’n’cheese. It is a good Sunday evening. I mentioned something last post about books, and I will deliver. I had a good Easter weekend finishing not one, not two, but three books. It was grand. And I’ve got some more on the go too. I’m keeping track of the books here. Admittedly, three of the four I’m going to talk about are not my usual fare, but it’s been enjoyable to dabble in books outside my comfort genres so to speak…

I’ll start with the quickest read: Last of the Blue Water Hunters by Carlos Eyles. As somebody who is slightly envious of those madcap people who dive on a single breath for fun, I did find this a fairly interesting, and educational. While it is quite parochial in its setting and focus, the development of freediving/spearfishing in the US is a fascinating story, and while Eyles seems to be unhealthily obsessed with the white sea bass, the heavy decline of marine flora and fish due to overfishing is described with great sadness, as commercial fishing the rise of SCUBA made life difficult for blue water fish and fishermen. Also, I don’t mind fishing (as compared to hunting). The fish have more of a fighting chance of survival than those on four legs running through the undergrowth on land. Also, Eyles’s description of what he sees underwater is vivid, and you are transported to another world under the waves when he’s narrating his time on the boat and his “last hurrah” into spearfishing before turning to underwater photography. It does help if you know to read Eyles with a pinch of salt, but I did actually enjoy the story. Still, he was no match for the next book.

Last Chance to See by Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine is arguably Adams’ best book. He is laugh out loud funny in parts and had me in hysterics for most of the book – all the while presenting really interesting information about very endangered species – including the Kakapo (which was highly amusing) – and the now extinct baiji dolphin, recounting a China before Tiananmen, which he describes, and notes that when referring to China, he then used to use the delineation before Tiananmen and after Tiananmen to talk about travels and politics. Adams had a gift of being able to present science, and fairly complex scientific and biological inquiry with non-threatening and entertaining flair, and it is a book I will probably read again, just for his description of how things could (and do) go wrong…

And now for something a little different.

I read The End of the Affair by Graham Greene during my third year in Middle-English of all classes, as an interpretation of Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde, and really enjoyed it. The movie wasn’t too bad either, but it was nothing like the book (is it ever?). Maurice’s absolute hatred of God for taking his Sarah from him after she felt she had bargained for his life after the blitz… Greene was an angry, bitter, conflicted man himself, and it shows through all his works, but I really have a soft spot for Affair, and it was as much of a bleak pleasure to finish it this time, as it was the few other times I’ve read it.

Finally, The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger. I’ve spent the longest time pondering what to write about this book. I think I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve had a visceral reaction to a piece of literature like I did with this book. There were parts where I felt I’d had the wind knocked out of me, or felt the icy fingers of terror seep into my bones – but it’s not a horror story! At least, not entirely. Most people know it for the 2000 film of the same name starring George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg. Well, the film is based loosely on the book, and since nobody really knows what happened to the Andrea Gail during the “perfect storm” off the Eastern seaboard of the US, the film is tenuous is best. What Junger did, was interview people who had been involved and survived the storm, friends of those who went down with the Andrea Gail and explain, using evidence from previous bad storms, what may have happened, and what they could have expected. And that is the horrific part. Junger does a fine job of illustrating the enormous power of the ocean, and of weather, and how we mere mortals are insignificant in relation to nature. I can’t actually recommend this book enough. It’s been on my to-read list for years, and it was worth the wait. I will read it again, possibly in another 5 years time. That’s how long the shock of some of those scenes may take to get over…

On a lighter note, I’ve been lucky enough to read some of Doc-in-Boots’ short stories. In fact, that is the reason I’m eating mac’n’cheese (sans apocalypse) now. I even got to tinker with her author bio a few days ago for a giggle. I have a few more books on the boil to inflict on you at a later date. I’ve got to probably restart Bridge of Birds, which has been sitting next to my bed for the longest time, looking neglected. I should rectify that. I’m also revisiting the Trilogy in Five Parts, and my wonderful fairy godmother sent me Storm Front by Jim Butcher to read, because, apart from a magic excerpt of a James Marsters-read audiobook, I haven’t managed to get around to the Dresden Files yet. Almost a decade in academia will do that to a person.

But, to more important matters! I cast on two new WIPs yesterday. A Stockholm Scarf in Malabrigo Silky Atardecer which looks like mother of pearl when yarn-caked, and which took hours to cast on last night. I’ve decided to do it in the round, and do it properly, alternating cakes due to the marked difference in colours between the skeins. I’ve already managed one and a half repeats, so it should go quickly. And then, because a long circ and 256 stitches is slightly too cumbersome to take around with me, I cast on Simple Beret by Hannah Fettig, and so beautifully done my DrK in cashmere. I bought a ball of Zealana Tui in Plum from Mishi Yarns in Ellerslie for mine, and seeing as I seem to be smaller than most hat patterns account for, I cast on 80 and increased to 120. I hope that’s enough. And I hope I have enough yarn. I’m already 3″ into the body, so I might even get this done tonight, and then I can start a sock… hmmmm.

But for now, gentle reader, I have a cup of hot lemon, honey and ginger to drink, clothes to iron, and a beret to finish. Hope you all had an entertaining weekend. I certainly did – filled with friends, cousins, ristrettos, a harrowing trip to a supermarket on the other side of the city (and an emergency run for chocolate through hoards of drunk individuals at 11pm), and finally meeting an adored puppy with a wonky ear, even if it was only on Skype. It’s been grand.

Until next time…



  1. I know Wee Jock, he has one eye, and his ‘sister’, Wee Bessie. They are white. Wonky ear or not, he is very cute.
    Jim Butcher is great, and I spotted The Next and Fionavar series in your side bar. I am addicted to Guy Gavriel Kay!!
    You are very patient with all your caking and alternating of strands. Good luck with your beret,

  2. The pup gives you a sleepy yawn of hello! The chocolate run is also hilarious and did you get through it all? And was that the knitting I kind of spied??? Enjoy the Jim Butcher!

  3. oh yay for berets. i think youll be fine stitch wise. i did exactly as per the pattern not thinking that my yarn might be a bit bigger than that, so the hats a bit big now. but a great pattern. and so many books! and so high brow! im firmly ensconsed in the seven kingdoms of westero (game of thrones). i think as a tolkein lover you might hate them!

Comments are closed.