Or more precisely, no time for books that aren't part of my studies. And that sucks. Really sucks. And I have tried to do something about it... but not very successfully. Over the course of the late winter/early spring this year, I did manage to get through the book from Yamaha (written by Gary Davis and Ralph Jones) called "Sound Reinforcement Handbook" (2nd edition). If you ever plan to work with sound, whether in a small club, for your own work, for a friend, or even want to learn how to use Digital Audio Workstations (like Studio One, Garage Band, ACID Pro, Reason, etc. ... all of which generally emulate physical audio equipment in some way), this book is a must
! It was surprisingly inexpensive as well and I have learned more from it than I did in some of the courses I have taken. I literally read it cover to cover (in very small bites, it can be very dry in places... but not uniformly dry throughout). It covers everything from how microphones and speakers work and everything you need to know in order to use them, through mixers and cabling and signal processors and MIDI and ... literally everything you need to know. It even covers how to design and then "tune" your setup to rooms from small clubs to full stadium concert setups, and everything in between. It also covers stuff like psychoacoustics (how the brain perceives sound: its strengths and weaknesses), how to interpret specifications for equipment, etc. Again, I can't stress enough that if you have any interest in the production or reproduction of sound, this book is critical to own and read.
The thing that prompted me to post about books is I just finished re-reading Watchmen
. I had read it when I was still in North Carolina when a friend loaned it to me. I wasn't quite sure what to expect but was impressed with its ambitious attempts to approach storytelling from many angles simultaneously, and the grand scope of the story itself. In the end, I wasn't overly influenced by it, but I found a copy for $2.99 at a thrift shop and decided it had been long enough since I'd last read it (the movie has been and gone in the interim) that I should probably give it another go this summer. Wow. Second time's a charm in this case! Because the format wasn't quite as new to me as it was when I read it first (I've read comics and graphic novels before, but reading Watchmen is something of a challenge because so much is going on at once)... I was really able to get into the storytelling and appreciate the amazing artwork this time through. I would have to say that I was thoroughly engaged through it all and was moved more than once at the world and characters and scenarios that were woven together in it. There are no "good guys" there are no "bad guys"... just people doing what they could to try to achieve their vision of their own lives... that and a scathing critique of the world we live in and how it works and what the inevitable outcome of our actions (and inaction) will be. I'm really glad I read it again.
Before Watchmen, I read the book Swallowing A Donkey's Eye
, published by ChiZine Press (CZP) out of Toronto, and picked up from them at Can-Con
last year (I think, time is blurring pretty bad for me these days with all that's going on). Note: I linked to Amazon because there are better reviews of the book there than I can do here. It was definitely worth reading... gonzo in places, and pretty straight-up dystopian fiction writing in others, it weaves a tale of corporatism gone mad, of society under such strong control that even the chaos is fully orchestrated, and of some seriously screwed up people populating it (as one might expect). This was my first CZP book and I have several more to get through, and I'm looking forward to it! With media (of all types) available at the click of a mouse, it is always way more noise
these days, and finding a publisher that is going to print challenging stories (especially Canadian stories) is worth its weight in praseodymium to me! When I want something to read, if I know I can turn to a particular publisher and be reasonably assured of getting something I will enjoy, I will support the heck out of them. I'm only one book in to CZP, but I bought enough to decide whether they qualify or not... I do like their attitude though, and that often is indicative of what will be found within their covers. Of particular interest for me is the novel by Ottawa writer John Park called Janus
, which I will likely read as my next CZP book. As a note: do not
go to swallowingadonkeyseye dot com ... it appears to have been abandoned and is now infected with malware that can infect your computer if you don't have proper protection. Sadly, this sort of thing happens far too often and because it was once a legitimate site, still turns up high in the list from Google searches.
Before I get to another CZP book though, I want to re-read from the start and finish reading With The Light
. I ran across Volume 1 on a store shelf, in 2008, when I was still living in North Carolina. It is a Japanese manga set of omnibus editions (each book contains several volumes of the stories that were compiled and published in Japan and which originally themselves appeared serialized in a magazine), and it is a unique and amazing work. Subtitled "Raising An Autistic Child", the stories follow an autistic child from birth and both dramatizes and discusses (docudrama?) the challenges faced by both families with autistic children and autistic children themselves... especially when dealing with the many institutions in our society, the social stigma around autism, and providing care for someone who may not be able to communicate their needs in a coherent manner. Much of the fictional experiences portrayed in these stories mirror my personal experiences raising a child with autism (high functioning, but so many of the symptoms and problems are nearly identical... as are many of the solutions and strategies... these are actually pretty overwhelming and often painful books for me to read because they do bring back floods of emotion... it has been an often difficult time for all concerned). I had purchased the first four books and then loaned them to my ex to read and, due to issues when I got back to Canada (understatement), it was many years before I got them back. I think I had read only the first three even... So, when I got them back, I set out to start collecting them again as I consider them to be truly important works. Unfortunately, the earlier volumes I was missing appeared to be out of print (such is the fate of these sorts of publications it seems). The 7th and 8th (and final) volume were available, but I had to hunt down volumes 5 (had to import from the UK) and 6 (found in the US I think) and pay a pretty penny for them to boot. I am daunted at the prospect of launching myself at them again as, for me, they are pretty heavy; but I am simultaneously looking forward to it. The books are heavily researched and the coping strategies provided in them mirror those that I found by trial and error (and continue to learn every day). The books are affirming and, even when the stories are heartbreaking, are unflaggingly optimistic. As a sad note, the author, Keiko Kobe, died in early 2010... so the 8th volume is comprised of various works in progress on the series, and will be the last.
Other than that, there is going to be an awful lot of reading this coming year, but much of it is going to be technical (whether in the sciences or humanities). I'll try to keep reading fiction through it all, because I find it makes the rest of the reading I do less of a chore. Now, back to reading feminism texts in preparation for my exams on Monday and Friday of next week!