Ex Libris Kirkland

Ex Libris Kirkland is my self-centered way to keep track of what I read, what I like, and what I want to remember.


Recently Quoted

  • He had long ago bought a potter's wheel of him, and wished to know what had become of him. I had read of the potter's clay and wheel in Scripture, but it had never occurred to me that the pots we use were not such as had come down unbroken from those days, or grown on trees like gourds somewhere, and I was pleased to hear that so fictile an art was ever practiced in my neighborhood.

    an excerpt from Walden, written by Henry David Thoreau in 1854

  • One is enough. If you are acquainted with the principle, what do you care for a myriad instances and applications? To a philosopher all news, as it is called, is gossip, and they who edit and read it are old women over their tea.

    an excerpt from Walden, written by Henry David Thoreau in 1854

  • We cannot but pity the boy who has never fired a gun; he is no more humane, while his education has been sadly neglected. This was my answer with respect to those youths who were bent on this pursuit, trusting that they would soon outgrow it. No humane being, past the thoughtless age of boyhood, will wantonly murder any creature which holds its life by the same tenure that he does. The hare in its extremity cries like a child. I warn you, mothers, that my sympathies do not always make the usual phil-anthropic distinctions.

    an excerpt from Walden, written by Henry David Thoreau in 1854

Recently Noted

  • I picked this up because people were mentioning it online as akin to The Dark is Rising, which I just re-read this winter break. While there are a lot of paper similarities, this book didn't land for me at all. I think there were a few intermingled causes:

    1. There are two very specific kinds of UK-speak that seemed hard to parse (Welsh speech patterns but in English, and a kind of lazy early-century snooty rich Brit Jeeves-and-Wooster thing that I surprisingly had trouble with ('Ho, chum, bang on then.'). I literally had to resort to Wikipedia to understand what was going on for big sections of the book.

    2. There are several plot elisions, where something mysterious and terrifying happens, and then a chapter cuts off - and characters never mention it again. This kind of sublimating and avoidance is critical to the overall plot, but it left me very confused.

    3. The whole magic part of the story involves some light posession of people that is touched on briefly, but never really explained much - so I had trouble understanding nearly anybody's motivations.

    Anyway, a weird one. The big picture plot involves a family cursed to re-incarnate a doomed love triangle from the dark welsh past, which inexorably marches forward. It's not a sunny book.

    an note about The Owl Service, written by Alan Garner in 1967

  • Man, I've been totally sleeping on EB White. Like everybody my age I was read Charlotte's Web as a kid, and then saw the movie. But reading it again, and hearing the audiobook narrated by White himself, totally forced me to revise my opinion - it's great.

    Then, Felix's first grade teacher had them read The Trumpet of the Swan, which was also good. Now, we just picked up Stuart Little for our bedtime reading, and dang - what a delight! This was completely unpredictable, all the way through, and I adored the ...magical realism? that animated the story. This is a weird yarn, and I loved it. Felix and Trudy weirdly won't admit to actually liking it, but they were completely into it, and they cracked up at the absurd plot twists or inexplicable story twists (like, the friendly dentist Dr. Carey helps Stuart run away from home and happens to have a tiny working automobile with an invisibility button?.)

    an note about Stuart Little, written by E. B. White in 1945

  • The highlight was The Story of My Life and Wanderings: The Tale of the Former Serf Peasant Nikolai Shipov, 1802-62, a shaggy dog story of a fairly well-off serf who frequently tries to get free. This culminates when he finds an obscure law granting manumission to a serf and his family IF he was captured by mountain bandits - cossacks, chechens, etc - and then escapes. Shipov promptly gets himself posted to border areas and then wanders around at night with money in his pockets. He does in fact get kidnapped, charms his way to a mostly-tolerable existance as a hostage, and then does, actually escape.

    This part was so fun I read most of it out loud to Trudy, who seemed to enjoy the absurdity of it.

    an note about Four Russian Serf Narratives, written by John MacKay in 1881

Looking for more recent books? Check out the Personal Timeline.



Ex Libris Kirkland is a super-self-absorbed reading journal made by Matt Kirkland. Copyright © 2001 - .
Interested in talking about it?
Get in touch. You might also want to check out my other projects or say hello on twitter.