Thursday, February 21, 2008

3 Books I've Read Lately

Housekeeping vs. The Dirt - Nick Hornby. Even better than The Polysyllabic Spree, and with an irresistable touch of "naughty boy" as Nick pondered one of the more disgusting lines from The Dirt. Thanks to Mr. Bybee for buying a magnifying glass while he was here. It's just a cheap toy, but it did the job nicely. Thanks to Mr. Hornby for giving me lots of new fodder for my reading/book-buying wishlist. My hot lit-crush continues unabated; I found a copy of Fever Pitch this weekend. Nick, if you're ever in Korea...

Brainiac - Ken Jennings. I was one of the people who tuned in week after week, watching in amazement as Ken Jennings kept winning at Jeopardy! Not only did he win every day, his matches were "runaways." Although I was determined to go to Korea, at the last minute I felt extreme reluctance because Ken was still winning. Sad but true, he was one of the main topics in my first few phone calls back to the States.

Brainiac not only tells about Ken's long, strange sojourn on Jeopardy!, it discusses his early interest in game shows and explores the history of quiz shows and America's fascination with trivia. The quick wit, modesty and intelligence we glimpsed on those 75 unforgettable shows is also very much present in his writing. Ken offers up knowledge, trivial or otherwise, in the same gentle spirit of someone offering to let you have the first bite off the ears of their chocolate Easter bunny.

Luckily, I read this book before I went to Seoul last weekend. Ken grew up there, and he mentions in passing that Jeopardy! aired every afternoon at five-thirty on AFKN (now known as AFN). Guess what? It's still airing! I gave Aaron the heads-up and we watched an episode, blissed out after months of no Jeopardy! in our lives. Thanks, Ken!

You Suck - Christopher Moore. This is the story of Jody, a young female vampire who's in love with her 19-year-old minion and boyfriend, Tommy. Problem: He's alive and she's undead, so she fixes that. Tommy's a little peeved at first, thinking Jody should've asked him before she turned him into "a foul, dead thing", but they love each other and are determined to work through their problems, which are considerable. This couple is being chased by the cops, Tommy's former co-workers, Elijah, the crusty old vampire who turned Jody and has decided that he wants her all to himself, and Blue, a hooker who decided to dye her skin blue as a career move. (Who knew that guys thought such things about Smurfette?) In spite of all this, there's always time for a game or two of turkey bowling.

Jody and Tommy find another minion, Abby Normal, a 16-year-old Goth girl who is the true star of You Suck with her hilarious diary entries. Moore keeps things hopping plot-wise, but sometimes characters appear, are introduced and gone within a page or two, creating some confusion. In retrospect, I wish I'd first read Moore's earlier novel, Bloodsucking Fiends, which details Jody's early days as a vampire.

While in Seoul, I got the wild idea to catalog all the books I've acquired since I moved to Korea, so that's been my big project since returning to Gumi yesterday. While it was geekily fun, I didn't realize that it would be such an involved chore. When I showed up in Korea nearly 3 years and 3 months ago, I had 5 books with me. Now I've got over 300. I think the days of people feeling book-sorry/generous for the poor expat-bookworm Bybee are coming to a close. Anyway, you can check out my Korea collection here.


Eva said...

oh, gameshows on AFN. The second time we lived in England, I could walk home for lunch, and my mom and I watched Wheel of Fortune every day. :)

How are you going to get all those books back to the States?! Or are you going to farm them out to your book club?

Sam said...

I assume that's the same Christopher Moore who wrote "Lamb," the story of Jesus and his best pal Biff?

I just finished that one up in audio version and it was really made me laugh and it made me think about religion. It's my first experience with Moore's writing and I'm looking for something else of thanks.

Jeane said...

I am jealous of everyone who's read Housekeeping vs Dirt! I am dying to read this book but can't afford to buy it right now, and it's so popular hard to come by... even at the library!

Bybee said...

That's a good question. I haven't thought of moving back to the States, but I have thought of moving to and my books!

Yes, they're the same guy. I want to read Lamb as well. Someone in my book group has it...I might try borrowing from her.

Is your birthday near? Or any holiday where you might receive a present? Do you have bookwormy/spendthrift friends? I'm trying to come up with ideas!

Jeane said...

Well, I just had a birthday, where my sister gave me a copy of The Polysyllabic Spree. She wanted to give me Housekeeping too, but couldn't find a copy to purchase for me!

jenclair said...

I loved Lamb! I think I'll look for Bloodsucking Fiends and then You Suck!

I also MUST get around to Nick Hornby.

Bybee said...

Easter's early this year...sometimes I get presents for that from my mom.

Yeah, it'll be equally fun but less confusing if you read Bloodsucking Fiends and then You Suck. I wish I had!