Over before it began

The wife got me a big stack of baby books for Father’s Day. It was a great gift, as I’m already looking forward to reading to the kid when it’s born. In fact, we’ve already started reading to it a little bit before bed. Apparently babies are often calmed by hearing books that they first heard before they were born. One of these books is Where Is Baby’s Belly Button? by Karent Katz. The editorial on Amazon is glowing – “Karen Katz’s adorable babies play peekaboo in this delightful interactive book. The sturdy format and easy-to-lift flaps are perfect for parents and children to share.” Sounds great! Until you look at the cover. Ms. Katz has begun her suspenseful mystery story with one unanswered question – where is Baby’s belly button? But on the FRONT COVER of the book, we clearly see Baby with her shirt pulled up, exposing the missing belly button! Never mind the horrible lessons we’re teaching young girls about lifting their shirts in public. I’ve solved the mystery before I even open the book! Ms. Katz tries to pretend that we’re all stupid, and waits until page six to once again reveal the location of the belly button. At the mere halfway point in the book, we’ve twice revealed the culprit. What if the cover of The Sixth Sense was a picture of Bruce Willis, dead? And then an hour into the movie, we watch him die? That is the sort of nonsense that Ms. Katz thinks we’re looking for in a baby book. She tries to arouse our curiosity with other mysteries – where are baby’s feet? Where are baby’s hands? But I have to admit that I found these questions empty. Once the belly button had made its premature appearance, the rest of the story couldn’t hold my attention, and I quickly put it down.

AbeBooks rules

I found AbeBooks a few months ago.  I don’t remember how, but I’m glad I did.  They’re a book search service for new and used books at small booksellers all over the country.  I just bought Charles Stross‘ latest, Halting State, for less than Amazon (Well, barely less, but still less), and I feel smug because I’m supporting some local bookstore in Georgia rather than a gigantic corporation like Amazon.

Used books are even better – I’ve bought a couple books for $1 + $3 shipping.  If it costs less than five dollars, it might as well be free.  Sort of.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to the book.

I’m currently reading Terrorist, by John Updike.  I read one of his early books, Rabbit, Run, written in 1960.  This one is from 2006.  So far I like it, although I’m only 80 pages in or so.  I wonder if I’m on some sort of watch list because I’m reading a book called “Terrorist” on the Metro right past the Pentagon.  I hope so.

A strange but compelling book

I hereby demand that all people who are good at math make the world free of illness. The rest of us will write you epic poems and staple them together into a booklet.

I tried out the Mount Pleasant branch of the DC public library the other day, and one of the books I picked up was Adverbs by Daniel Handler. I picked it up because, seriously, it had a very colorful cover. That’s how I often pick books at the library. It has worked surprisingly well so far. I didn’t realize this was the Lemony Snicket guy. I didn’t see that movie, and I don’t really know anything about the books. I’m not sure if knowing would have influenced my decision to read the book.

Anyway, I like it so far. It reminds me of Chuck Palahniuk, the guy who wrote Fight Club, except with a softer edge. Palahniuk likes to lead you in circles and then punch you in the gut. Handler leads you in circles and then kind of jabs you in the ribs, hard enough so you rub them, but it doesn’t really hurt.

It’s a little strange – each chapter is not exactly connected to the previous chapter, and he uses first-person narration that is not always the same person.  But it often seems as if it could be the same person.  Except the gender changes.

I’m only about 65 pages in, though, so I can’t give a full review. But I will when I finish it.