Thursday, February 14, 2008

two good books

I recently finished Sundays With Vlad: From Pennsylvannia to Transylvannia, One Man's Quest To Live In the World of the Undead by Paul Bibeau. Now, the subtitle is a bit much because what he is actually trying to do is find out how a medieval prince became the most famous symbol of horror in the world, EVER. Some of what he finds we've all seen before, like Vlad's family life and the coincidence of the Dracul last name but some of the gems Bibeau teases from the Dracula legacy are real treasures. I have never read such a good, concise survey of the current trends among vampire communities today. I have no idea if is an exhaustive study, but it seems quite thorough to me. I'd never heard of most of these people and groups and it makes me wonder which might be active here. Some drink blood, others only psychic energy, if the stories are to be believed, but all are v.v. secretive. Also, I found Bibeau to be HiLaRiOuS! He has a description of Ke@nu Reeve$' fame for unemotional acting that had me ROLLING! He also describes his attempts to get into a pair of plastic pants for a vampire party and other equally amusing tales that keep you reading well into the night. This blend of history and humor was a real treat and I recommend it highly. I think it would make a great, interesting book group choice at Halloween so I'm keeping it on my radar to suggest to my own book group when the time comes. It also reminded me that I have never, ever read Bram Stoker's Dracula and that I should ASAP.

The other book I recently finished was Alan Bennett's The Uncommon Reader. I have to preface this by saying that last weekend I watched the Helen Mirren film, The Queen (2006). I enjoyed it very much and it was absolutely fated that my reserve for The Uncommon Reader came in on Tuesday. There were several desparately British things in the book I would never have understood had I not seen the movie....what an equerry was, for example. The Uncommon Reader begins with the Queen taking a stroll with her herd of corgis. They start raising hell about something and she cannot get them to mind (do they ever, really?) and come to heel so she follows the racket and finds a bookmobile parked next to the palace/castle/big monarch home arrangement. Feeling dreadfully embarrassed about her dogs' behavior, she figures it is only polite to just step in the bookmobile very quickly and apologize for the dogs. Once inside the bookmobile, she is intrigued by all the books and thinks that maybe she should take one out, just for appearances sake and, again, politeness. Never intending to read the book, the Queen imagines that she will just have someone return it the following week when the bookmobile comes back. However, the Queen does read that book...and many more besides, this having some interesting consequences for the staff and even the country.

Watching the movie and then reading this book combined for one of the most delightful reading experiences I've had in long time. Unprovoked smiles, unexpected giggles and a generally sunny disposition resulted. I was excited enough about it to be extra bubbly while I was telling KT and now she's thinking about doing some sort of film program in the fall with her book group by having them come to the library for an afternoon to watch the movie, then reading the book as the next month's book group selection. I think that will be excellent and maybe, just maybe I'll be a copy cat and my book group can do the same if they are interested...and if my book group even gets off the ground. You never know about these things. Adult library programming is notoriously difficult to get started. You sort of have to resign yourself to some poorly attended programs in the beginning before the habit catches on. Exhibit A - my first horror movie marathon. In the hours between noon and 6:30 I had only 19 people and NO ONE showed up for the horror book discussion :( I'm doing it again this year though, it's not going to throw me, not yet anyway!

all right, it's bed time because I WILL get up early and exercise! KT invited me to meet her at the gym but it would require me to get up ~5:30am and that is so not happening. Sorry KT :( maybe after I build up some stamina I can become an early riser again but I just don't have the energy yet, very sad that I've let myself deteriorate to this condition but it will get better just be patient with me!

night ya'll!


Anonymous said...

Thanks so much! I'm tickled you like my book. And that we agree on Keanu.

Katie said...

Ooooohhhh ... "Sundays" sounds so good!
I am going to add that to my never-ending to be read list.
k ;)

Holley T said...

Yay! Author I'm blushing :)

Open Letter to Paul Bibeau

Thanks for visiting and commenting Mr. Bibeau!

I'm really going to be handselling your book to my patrons with similar reading tastes to my own, plus any others I can tow into range.

I've also queued several of the movies you mentioned in Netflix to see if I'd like to use any in this year's Horror Movie Marathon. It was a very inspiring tale.

End Open Letter

Wow, I feel like I'm moving up in the world :)