Monday, January 31, 2011

Very Good, Jeeves, by P.G. Wodehouse

I haven't read Jeeves stories in a few years. In that interim, I've watched a few episodes of the BBC show, so some of these plots were already known before I read them. Nevertheless, there are few ways to spend my time as enjoyably as reading Wodehouse. Maybe if I could read Wodehouse while having sex and eating a really great deli sandwich, but I don't know that my wife would agree to that, and the deli would probably kick us out.

Rating: seven out of seven giant inflatable monkeys.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Phantom Mudder, by Darrel and Sally Odgers

My son keeps loving these books, and he is now closing in on being good enough of a reader to read them himself. This book was more enjoyable to me than others have been, because the high-strung overbearing lady turned out to be the villain and Jack helped get her in trouble. Hurray for sticking it to annoying people!

Since this book took place at a dog show, it was kind of like a Jack Russell surprise party, with all of his friends in one place. My kids liked that some dog characters they had forgotten about were continually showing up. And I liked that the office supervisor-type lady got in trouble. (Have I mentioned how much I hate that type of lady?)

Rating: six and a half out of seven giant inflatable monkeys.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Invasion From Planet Dork, by Greg Trine

The last of the Melvin Beederman books we had left to read. I thought this series was getting progressively annoying, culminating in the unpleasant experience of reading Book 6, but since then, the last two books have become enjoyable again.

My kids like when Superhero James and Superhero Margaret are involved, and I like when it's not always the same thing (a bad guy buys a lair from Big Al's and sets up shop in the Hollywood Hills to do evil and sinister things, yawn). This story involved aliens, and required the heroes to do some space travel, which was something that hadn't come up in any of the previous books.

Rating: five and a half out of seven giant inflatable monkeys.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Dog Called Grk, by Joshua Doder

Again, my family are suckers for books about dogs. Sometimes that is handsomely rewarded, as with the Jack Russell series by Darrel and Sally Odgers, and sometimes we are completely screwed, as with the horrendous Space Dogs book (also by Australians, actually). This book was also written by another of the Queen's subjects, the Englishman Joshua Doder.

My kids liked this book, and it was enjoyable to read to them. The only problem is that it was probably aiming for kids slightly older than mine (eight and six right now). The parents of some of the characters are disappeared by an authoritative regime, and sometimes the regime wants to kill the kids, not just tie them up or something. It would probably be just fine for someone 10 or older.

The book isn't as much about the dog as you might be lead to believe. The dog is more the common element that ties the human characters together, and the action is mostly organized around the people. The dog, though, manages to be helpful in critical situations, so to some degree success depends on him.

Rating: five and a half out of seven giant inflatable monkeys.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Denationalisation of Money, by Friedrich A. Hayek

This book had quite a bit to say about the problems that arise from government monopolizing currency issue, which was probably the high point of the book. This book also has quite a bit to say about competitive issue of non-redeemable currency, which I think is sort of an intellectual dead end. But in a world where perhaps 90% of people think "Of course government has to control currency; otherwise, there'd be chaos!", the parts regarding government currency monopoly are sorely needed. And as a bonus, the whole thing is only about 100 pages.

Rating: six out of seven giant inflatable monkeys.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hector and the Search for Happiness, by Fran├žois Lelord

On a family trip to the bookstore, I saw this book. I know everyone says judging a book by its cover is a bad thing, but the truth is we all do it, and it works out pretty well. I'm not ashamed to say I judged the crap out of this book based on its cover. I made a note to get my hands on a copy someplace cheaper (and yet my wife continually asks me, "Why is Borders going out of business?").

That "someplace cheaper" turned out to be Target, where I selected it as a Christmas present for my wife to give to me. And thanks to the number of things I have distracting me, I honestly forgot about it until I opened the present. Maybe I should pick out all my Christmas presents.

I liked this book. I thought it had a nice balance of moral and story. I've read Who Moved My Cheese? and, because I'm evidently a glutton for punishment, The Present, so I know all about books that beat you over the head with their too-cute fables. This book wasn't like that at all. Hector traveled to visit friends in distant countries, taking notes on aspects of happiness he learned along the way. A perfectly good book, with some good insights into the nature of happiness.

Rating: six out of seven giant inflatable monkeys.