Book Log – Shakespeare Wrote for Money

Shakespeare Wrote for Money by Nick Hornby

This is the third and purportedly final collection of Hornby’s monthly essays about reading from The Believer magazine.

I am terribly disappointed that he stopped writing this column. I finished the book on the plane ride to Juarez this week, and laughed out loud a few times, which is embarrassing.

Do you read for fun? Are you not pretentious about reading? Do you want dozens and dozens of good recommendations spanning many genres and decades?Then you absolutely need to read these collections. I think they’re funnier than Nick Hornby’s novels, and I dearly love his novels.

Also, the introduction is by Sarah Vowell, who everyone should be in love with. My favorite excerpt:

I’m dismayed by how cheered up I was when the September 2006 issue of The Believer arrived and under “Books Read” Hornby had put down “none.” In that column, collected herein, he confesses that he didn’t read a book at all because something called “the World Cup” was on TV. I’m not entirely sure what that is, as I do not live in the world; I live in the United States. But from what I can tell, he didn’t crack a book because this World Cup thing was as all-consuming a free-time eater-upper as the DVDs of the first three seasons of Battlestar Galactica were to me. Not that I’m convinced that this Ukraine v. Tunisia rivalry he describes has the depth of feeling and moral ambiguity so dramatically summoned by the space humans’ ongoing war with the Cylons the humans themselves created, but then again what does?

Go get this book, and the others. If you come by my house, I’ll loan them to you. Probably.

Volume 2: Housekeeping vs. The Dirt
Volume 1: The Polysyllabic Spree

Who is going to continue what Hornby has started? Who will have the time and dedication to read 7 or 8 books a month and write about them in a humorous way?

I’m accepting applications in the comments below. It’s an unpaid position, and anyone likely to recommend Tolkein need not apply.

Book Log – Silas Marner

Silas Marner by George Eliot

I’m working my way through the Eliot oeuvre courtesy of

Silas is a short, simple work, but well-written and enjoyable. Silas Marner is a weaver who moves to a new land and ostracizes himself from most human contact after being jilted in love. He remains focused on his work and increasing wealth until a robbery forces him out of his hermitage.

Middlemarch was primarily a story of the upper class (as is all of Jane Austen’s work), so it is refreshing to delve deeper into the lives of more common folk of the era.

I note that Gutenberg has a Spanish language version… there’s a lot of dialect in this book; I wonder how they handle it in translation.


Aside from a Palm Z22 filled with Eliot, I’ve got The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America by David Hajdu and A User’s Guide to the Brain: Perception, Attention, and the Four Theaters of the Brain by John J. Ratey lined up for vacation reading.

Also, Diez Comedias Del Siglo De Oro should I feel compelled to really exercise the mind.

Portugal’s Drug Decriminalization

Scientific American: 5 Years After: Portugal’s Drug Decriminalization Policy Shows Positive Results

This is a wimpy, half-a**ed decriminalization of marijuana, heroin, LSD and others… it’s still jailable to grow it and sell it, but if you’re caught owning or using it, instead of jail or punishment, you’re sent for counseling. Possibly a small fine.

Walter Kemp, a spokesperson for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, says decriminalization in Portugal “appears to be working.” He adds that his office is putting more emphasis on improving health outcomes, such as reducing needle-borne infections, but that it does not explicitly support decriminalization, “because it smacks of legalization.”

Huh-huh… he said “smack”.

He doesn’t say what exactly is wrong with legalization. Possibly it just wouldn’t fit into a single column. Possibly because the reason is because people would use drugs and drugs are bad. And that sounds like a weak argument no matter how you phrase it.