20 books & 20 lbs (week 47): {insert snappy title here}

Yeah, I guess you could say I’m a little punch-drunk from not having made much progress with my weight. I’ve maintained that 10lbs I took off since the start of the year – which is FANTASTIC – and I’m still struggling on how to get rid of the other 10lbs without doing something severe.

I’m not even sure what to say, at this point. I’ve written and erased three other things prior to getting this onto the screen, so clearly I have a lot of internal conflict I need to work out. My annual physical is scheduled for February, so if I haven’t lost MORE weight by the time I get to then, I’ll ask my doctor for her opinion on the best next steps. As it is, she’ll be over the moon if I took off 10lbs and kept it off for so long, but I know she’ll be even happier if I can take off more. So, I’ll continue to work on it and figure it out. Somehow. I may not make my goal, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to quit working on this.

I heard something interesting on NPR the other day about how gamers go against the paradigm that people set for themselves. Many people quit trying something that they can’t do, yet gamers fail more often than they succeed and they keep going until they eventually DO succeed. I’d like to see if I can somehow keep my feet moving until I do reach that point of success. After all…why give in when I still have the ability to try?

Speaking of trying, I have not one but TWO books under my belt as of yesterday…so that leaves me with only 2 more books. In 5 weeks. *crackles knuckles* Time to get this done.

Book #17: “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” by Douglas Adams

Quite a long time ago, I read “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” (which allows me to bond with my fellow geeks about how one should always carry a towel), but I’d never gotten around to “Dirk Gently”. I have to admit, the book was a bit odd (even for Adams?). I found myself wondering what kind of mobius strip of a novel I’d wandered into, where the storylines folded and wove through, under, into and around each other in such complicated ways that when the threads are pulled tightly it’s completely clear how easily you got lost along the way.

The book follows several characters – a programmer, his boss (a tech magnate), the boss’ sister, an addled Cantabridgian professor, a robot monk, an arrogant but ultimately useless scion who failed at being a publisher, and an incredibly eccentric yet not-quite-attentive detective, to name a few. Along the way, one character dies and spends the majority of the book as a ghost, one crosses through space, one reveals themselves to be a time traveler, and all of the main characters stumble into each other like water molecules in a pot set over an open flame.

I can’t say that I disliked the book, but I can’t say that I fell in love with it. It certainly had its funny moments – and more than a few puzzling ones – and I ultimately don’t know what I thought of it. So, there’s that. I can’t say that’s a rousing review in favor, but I wouldn’t say to avoid it, either. If you’re looking for a strange read, this is TOTALLY the book for you.


Book 18: “Where Angels Fear to Tread” by E. M. Forster

Now this book wasn’t odd in the least…which, frankly, was a disappointment. Forster could’ve used some odd. “Angels” gives a view through a cloudy window into the lives of Victorian busybodies, focusing more on what’s proper than what’s right.

The story opens with the departure to Italy of a maiden and her companion, the widow of a man whose family was clearly at least one rung higher on the ladder than that of his bride. The widow (Lilia) leaves behind her young daughter with the in-laws, who seek to reprogram the girl into being tolerable by their level of society. Meanwhile in Italy, Lilia falls in love with a the handsome son of a local dentist, and her sneering mother-in-law dispatches her other son to demand that she return before any wedding can take place.

Arriving in the lovely town that he himself had recommended, Philip finds that Lilia has already married the local boy – Gino – and he returns home in defeat. Life turns out not to be all wine and roses for Lilia once Philip departs, since the dream of marriage to a weak-willed young man doesn’t match the reality she experiences in this foreign culture. Without going into too many spoilers, Philip makes another trip to Italy – this time not to save Lilia but to affect a rescue of another kind – to a highly unsatisfactory end.

This incredibly short book just didn’t sit well with me at all. It’s slow-paced and brooding; Forster’s Victorians are so stuck-up they couldn’t see past their own up-turned noses. Worse still, it seems that no one manages to have a happy ending. I don’t always need a happy ending, but the coldness of it all just makes even the pursuit of love such an impersonal need for improvement of status or financial situation…and even what little joy you see through Philip’s or Lilia’s eyes is tempered heavily by the oppression of the society in which they live – its repression and limitations.

I’m sure that Forster has better work; they’ve made plenty of movies out of his later pieces (“Howards End” and “A Room with a View”). Focus on those and definitely give this one a pass. Its brevity is really its primary redeeming quality.