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My sodding goodreads replacement (maybe)

What it says on the tin.

Currently reading

The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World
David Abram
Pantheism: A Non-Theistic Concept of Deity
Michael P. Levine
Wicked Enchantments: The Pendle Witches and Their Magic
Joyce Froome
Antz - Ellen Weiss;Todd Alcott Ahaha I just remembered this was my favourite book for a while back when I was 8. I don't remember much about the book's quality, other than that it was a pretty faithful adaptation of the movie. I do remember having a weird crush on the main character, Z, and I remember asking my mum what Woody Allen was like, since he voices Z in the movie, and I was really upset when she told me he was basically a big nerd (the fact that Z was pretty much Woody Allen in ant-form is hilarious in hindsight). Guess it was best that my heart was broken early before I learnt he was a gross dude that married his own adopted daughter.
Panpsychism: The Philosophy of the Sensuous Cosmos - Peter Ells There I was needing to while away the night when, after googling pantheism for a while, I stumbled upon the word "panpsychism", which eventually led me to this book (thanks, uni, for apparently having every ebook on the planet)! I'm definitely no philosopher, and so I was a bit wary of how successfully I'd be able to wrap my head around the concepts presented in the book. Luckily it turned out that my sleep-deprived state was the best way for me to read this book, as it all made perfect sense - right up until I went to bed and tried continuing to read the next day. It was a bit messy after that. Nevertheless, I think Ells did a good job making his arguments clear and understandable for a general reader. I mean, I'm not going to pretend to understand how the bloody hell quantum theory works, but it all still made for a quick and interesting read. Perhaps too quick? A re-read will definitely be necessary to properly absorb all the information. Overall, I think I've got a fair understanding of panpsychism now ... just don't ask me to explain it to you.
Journey of the Universe - Brian Swimme, Mary Evelyn Tucker After reading some reviews of this book before I borrowed it, I was prepared to be slightly put off by gushing prose and "preciousness", however, aside from the author's overuse of the word "luscious", (which, to be fair, was probably only used twice, but it felt like a dozen), I was really pleased by this book. I expected a short and sweet account of the universe, and that is what I got. It didn't always manage to hold my attention; there were several times where I would get lost in thought or taken on tangent daydreams after a particularly striking image from the book. There were also many times where I'd be struck by that feeling of awe and mild terror you get when you look at the stars for long enough and remember that you are so tiny and insignificant, and that was pretty great. There was a rather moving moment towards the end of the book when, after having gone through the journey of the universe and demonstrated the role which everything had on earth until humans began to shape it to their liking, Swimme muses on what is next for us now that we have a greater perception of time and our effect on the world: Our puzzlement regarding our destiny is especially poignant since everything else in the universe seems to have a role. The primeval fireball had the work of bringing forth stable matter. The stars had the work of creating the elements. The same is true on Earth. Each species has its unique role to play for the larger community. The phytoplankton in the oceans fill the air with oxygen and thus enable every animal to breathe. That is their great work, to fill each lung with nourishing breath.But do we humans have such a role? With respect to the universe itself - is there a reason for our existence? Is there a great work required of us? (p. 112)It was an interesting and thought-provoking book. Not a textbook by any means, though I did learn a lot (the moon is a chunk of smashed-off earth? Is that common knowledge? I feel like I'm the last person to know this!). It's the kind of book I'd like to buy so that I can re-read it every now and then to remind myself how strange and wonderful the world really is ... especially in such times as now, when the world just seems like a giant, waggling middle finger.
The scarecrow: A novel - Ronald Hugh Morrieson What a grimy, unpleasant book. Excuse me while I dramatically wash my hands of it now that I'm done with it.Okay. So. The Scarecrow isn't a bad book, but there was a lot I didn't like about it. I suppose what muddied my enjoyment of it the most was the book's skeevy preoccupation (not to mention the protagonist's preoccupation) with the sex life of the protagonist's 16 year old sister Prudence. For me, Prudence was the only character worth giving a toss about, as the rest were too one-dimensional or unlikeable. Or both! The protagonist had his moments, but the scenario closer to the beginning that almost led to a Kite-Runner moment pretty much soured me on him for the rest of the book. Actually, I'm sure it would have been a worse situation than in that book, since 1) Ned knew what was going to happen (seriously, what a bastard), and 2) he would no doubt have been on the receiving end of it as well had it happened. Reading the book was also kind of unpleasant. It felt like a fever dream at times. It's hard to describe, but a lot of the events that Ned (Neddy, Eddy, whatever) recounts just seemed to mush into each other. Maybe that was my brain trying to process the book faster so that I could be done with it.But really, it's not without redeeming aspects. The titular scarecrow had a great aura of creepiness about him, and the Lynch gang that torments Ned and his cohorts were kinda terrifying as well. They reminded me of this gang of boys that me and a friend happened upon one weekend while walking through the local primary school. Actually, we met the "leader's" uncle first. He told my friend "*Nephew's name* would love you" in an awful, leery, knowing voice that bewildered my friend and I then and still creeps me out now. We edged away from the creepy man but further into the school we happened upon a gang of boys probably 4 or 3 years younger than us, who surrounded us and kept trying to touch my friend's arse. We were semi-amused, but weirded out enough to head home, and the boys proceeded to chase us along the street, still trying to slap my friend's arse. Now, those boys weren't on the same level as the Lynch gang, of course. They were more like a proto Lynch gang. I forget where I was going with this anecdote. I guess my point will now be that boys had a creepy sense of entitlement back then and, duh, they still do now. Even the good guys in this book have that creepy sense of entitlement to intrude upon girls. It was weird. But not surprising.2 1/2 stars.
Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching - Laozi, Jerome P. Seaton, Ursula K. Le Guin Really good read. Definitely will require multiple read-throughs to let each chapter sink in, though. This is the only version of the Tao Te Ching I've ever read, so I don't have others to compare it to, but that said, I enjoyed Le Guin's personal rendition of the text, and appreciated her aim to create a version with more inclusive language than other translations/renditions.I'm trying to think of how to rate this book. Like, I literally can't think of how, or by what standards I'm supposed to judge it. It's like poetry books. It's not as simple as marking my level of enjoyment. Unlike novels, I guess. Maybe because they're usually less open to interpretation?Eh. Whatever.
We Have Always Lived In The Castle - Shirley Jackson Love love loved it. Not all of it; the end kind of fell flat, I thought. Everything else was great. So great. The characters were delightfully creepy and oddly charming. At some point I sort of forgot their horrible back-story and became fond of the family dynamic and their routine, or perhaps just in spite of it.Merricat was a fascinating character, as was her system of magic, with the special words that would protect her so long as no one said them out loud, and the items she buried like wards on her property.Guh, I'm still processing the whole book in my head, so I'll just stop here for now and finish my thoughts another time.
Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov Jesus Christ. I've never had such a nauseous reading experience. This is a horror book, there's no other way I can think of it. I kinda wish I'd never read it, vivid and impressive as the writing can be. I'm not sure it was worth the discomfort. I know we're meant to be appalled. I'm not blaming Nabokov. If anything I'm blaming the people that can finish reading this and think of Lolita as a cruel seductress, or in any way to blame for the situation she's placed in. Just knowing those people exist made reading the book a very sobering experience. There were funny moments, true. In fact there were a lot of funny moments throughout the book, but it was very much a *grimace, throw the book aside, repeat* experience. God it was so sad. It's sad enough without Humbert letting little details slip in his narrative like afterthoughts that paint an even more soul crushing picture than you imagined.I want to destroy this book, somehow, anyhow. Which is a pretty amazing feat for a book. I don't hate it, I just want to purge its existence from my memory, because it fills me with too many sad, icky, ragey feelings.Here, Jessie, have this book. Take it off my hands, would ya? :P
Old Days Old Ways: A Book of Recollections - Mary Cameron Gilmore It was like listening to a great grandma wax on about the past, but not without a compassionate eye for the injustices experienced by women and Indigenous Australians at the time. Basically, Mary Gilmore (RIP) should be everyone's (great?) grandma. The Nurse Bennett she spoke of should also somehow be everyone's distant relative. I'm so very bummed that Gilmore never wrote a Bronte-esque novel about Nurse Bennett, who rode solo to attend patients stuck in remote locations, because she sounded like a fricken badass.Gilmore writes about a lot of other subjects - it's fairly loose - but very good at invoking a kind of nostalgia via osmosis for that time period of settlers and cattle and dust that I don't normally care for.Unfortunately this was a library book, so now I have to give it back. I want to find my own copy and keep it under my pillow, or put it up on a special shelf like its some family heirloom that must be treasured.
The Well - Elizabeth Jolley What a sad little story. Not the tear-jerking kind of sad, but that uncomfortable, needling kind of sad that I can sense is going to cast a kind of melancholic gloom over the rest of my day.I was intrigued by the premise of the story - two Grey Gardens-like women hit a man with their car and hide the body in a well on their secluded property, but the man is not as dead as they thought, and drives a wedge between the women. Of course, it is much more than this. As I got further into the story I was constantly reminded of an episode of Winnie the Pooh that managed to traumatise me as a kid. In the episode, Rabbit cares for a young bird, they grow close, and then when the bird wants to leave and have its own life, Rabbit cannot accept this and tries to stop it. In my childish mind, it was tragic that the bird didn't want to stay with Rabbit, especially after all that Rabbit had done for it.Hester, of course, is the Rabbit figure. Man, she was such a sad character. Her actions were really quite terrible, but I couldn't help but sympathise with her throughout. I mean, now that I'm older I get why it's outright cruel, and in the case of The Well, even abusive to try keep people close at the cost of their own will, but at the same time there is still that childish perception in me that wanted Katherine, like the little bird, to just be grateful and not spoil the (seemingly) happy life Hester had created for them. It was impressive how the book managed to make me revert to that childish feeling. Katherine can be a grating character, sure, but she doesn't deserve to be chained to Hester's side.That's why the ending left me with such an ominous feeling.I can see now what people mean when they talk about the odd kind of stories Elizabeth Jolley wrote. I'm looking forward to reading Milk and Honey, when I can finally get around it.
Popular Magic: Cunning-folk in English History - Owen Davies Really fascinating overall. While I can't fault Owen Davies' thoroughness, I do think the book could have been formatted a little better so that reading all this information didn't feel so much of a slog after a while. Not that the text is boring or dense, just that it was difficult to hold my attention at times because it was just all text with no breaks until you hit the end of the chapter. Still, an interesting read, and one I can safely recommend if you're at all interested in the subject.
Bill Wannan's folk medicine: A miscellany of old cures and remedies, superstitions, and old wives' tales, having particular reference to Australia and the British Isles - Bill Wannan Turns out people were pretty cool with drinking snail tea back then. Also, ducks breath cures thrush. You couldn't make this stuff up.Some of the remedies are pretty sound, however, including, surprisingly, one involving asthma and spiderweb pills (!).Overall, a really interesting book, one that's good to pick up and peruse every now and then.
Witchcraft In England - Christina Hole 3.5 stars. Quick and interesting read, but old and likely outdated. I wouldn't put it on a "must read" list, but wouldn't encourage against reading it if one happened to come across it, either.
The Epic of Gilgamesh (Norton Critical Editions) - Benjamin R. Foster, Anonymous

"Six days and seven nights I wept for him,

I would not give him up for burial,

Until a worm fell out of his nose."


Ancient bromances are intense, man.

But really, while this was a fascinating read, it was not an altogether pleasant one. My edition followed the story as close to the tablets as possible, meaning no embellishments where words became illegible, just a [...] and then moving on, which got tiresome pretty fast. Also, I don't understand why my edition put summaries of blocks of text ABOVE the text they are summarising and not below. They summaries are useful if you have trouble following the text, but placed above the text kills the rhythm and suspense if you forget to ignore them. The book has enough repetitive passages as it is!Overall, however, it really is an interesting book. 4000 years old and you can still see the same elements used in modern books (hero's journey, mother/whore dichotomy etc). And the additional analysis in this Norton edition is really interesting too, so it's not a complete loss.(yes, it does feel really stupid to be rating such an ancient story. Mea culpa)

Tarot of the Magical Forest - Leo Tang A really nice deck, one that definitely lives up to its reputation of being both cute and creepy. I bought it because I wanted a deck without the anglo-centric elements and imbalanced nudity found in most other decks, and to that end the tarot of the magical forest definitely holds up. If you're looking for a deck that is not completely restricted by gender binary, you may want to check this deck out as well. Many, if not most of the cards feature animals that are androgynous, barring the Emperor/Empress, High Priestess/High Priest, Kings and Queens, such is the freedom of using animals to populate your artwork. My only gripe is a personal one, which is that while the cards are generally pretty easy to interpret, I found the bug-eyed stare on many of the animals a bit limiting at times. Maybe its just something to be worked around as time goes on, but right now they look terrified! The expressions make interpreting the card meanings ... interesting, to say the least :P
Tarot (Book and Cards) - Jonathan Dee For a tarot deck/book touted as a "brilliant introduction", I found it a poor choice for a first deck and wouldn't recommend to beginners. Many pips are unillustrated, in fact most of the cards in general lack enough detail for the inexperienced to interpret, forcing them to rely on the book meanings instead. To me, this is not a good way to learn.
The Master and Margarita - Mikhail Bulgakov, Richard Pevear, Larissa Volokhonsky Will have to re-read, preferably after consulting an analysis of this book. Much of the story's sub-text went WAY over my head, and I just couldn't get into it at all, though it did have its moments.