"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested."
-- Francis Bacon
The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Educations You Never Had by Susan Wise Bauer: This is a very good book for those interested in self-education. It is at heart concerned with helping one become a "serious reader," making reading a discipline in which you don't just read, but understand what you read, and are able to apply the lessons learnt. After introducing you to the concept, the author (a professor of literature, who co-authored a similar series for those who want to home school their children) examines the five primary genre (novel, autobiography, history/political, drama/play, and poetry). She provides an overview of each form, a brief (and interesting) history, a guide on how to be an educated reader, and a summary of various examples of each. Throughout, Bauer provides various gems such as "Sometimes autobiography seems very much like dating. The people involved are incapable of making any sort of objective evaluation -- but no one else can make this evaluation for them."
Good Bye Lenin!: One of the pleasures of living in a big city is the wider choice of foreign and independent films. There are various theaters in Manhattan in which one can see them, but the one to go uptown is the Lincoln Plaza, across the way from Lincoln Center for Performing Arts. The moviegoer also has various nearby restaurants to go to as well as a Barnes and Nobles megastore (and some other shopping choices, for those so inclined). Subway and bus options are close by as well.
The selection for me this time was Good Bye Lenin! (very popular in Europe), a charming and often quite funny satire that takes place during the last days of the nation of East Germany. A loving son tries to recreate the East Germany of the old for his mother, an idealist communist who just came out of a coma, so might have a relapse if she knew that communism fell while she was away. Meanwhile, big changes are happening to the country and him and his family as well. The cast is very good and the movie's conceit provides a way to show us how things changed but as well as how some were not totally comfortable with the passing. It also provides a vision of "East Germany as it should have been," while still showing the clear problems the real one had. A serious movie deep down, but fun all the same.
Oscars: My preview of the Oscars can be found here and a composite movie proposal here. I'd add that I saw Mystic River after writing my comments on the nominations, and aside from perhaps Tim Robbins, I still think others should win those awards for which it was nominated. Also, Billy Crystal's schtick is getting tiring ... I wish Steve Martin was hosting.
Happy ... Leap Day