Monday, July 11, 2005

Introducing: Subway Book Reviews

I have a confession to make: I am a bibliophile. Like many bibliophiles, I read books. A lot of books. In fact, many of my best friends are books. [My other best friends happen to include a flock of birds who live with me. But my parrots do not enjoy sharing me it appears, because they occasionally open their doors when I am not home and use their freedom to express their displeasure by autographing some of my book covers with v-shaped holes. I am sure that learning this alarming detail about my family makes you, dear readers, very grateful to know that I, my parrots and my books are all merely electrons on your computer screen instead of real characters who live and breathe next door or down the street to you. But I digress.]

Anywho, since I read so danged many books each week during my long commute and also because I did publically announce that my summer recreational project is to read Online Human Events' list of the Ten Most Harmful Books Published in the 19th and 20th Centuries (along with their 20 "honorable mentions"), I decided to feature a sporatic book review on my blog, ostensibly to motivate me to read all of those subversive books when there are so many more wonderful books crying out to be read instead. I know, I know, in truth I -- a barely employed cluster of electrons -- am poorly qualified to be a book reviewer. However, as you may have surmised by now, dear readers, I do read plenty of books, even though I rarely talk about them here. But considering the number of books that I read combined with my ability to form an opinion of what I have read should make me at least somewhat qualified in this regard.

So I have decided to change my nearly silent state of literary opinionation and in doing so, I have designed my own unique, never-before utilized book review ratings system: This system, my Subway Book Review System (SBRS), is the brainchild of my own misguided imagination and so is patented as belonging exclusively to me. [Incidentally, my parrots also have their own system for reviewing books, a system that they may one day give me permission to reveal here. But until that happy day dawns, you will have to tolerate my system.]

As its name implies, my book ratings system relies on the NYC subways and busses for providing numerical data that I will use to compute a rating for each book that I read. But before detailing my SBRS, I must remind you that this is not a perfectly objective system. Basically, your attempts to replicate my results may vary because I am a very knowledgeable and adept subway rider who carries a map of the entire MTA system in my head, that I know the ins and outs of NYC subway routes as well as any passenger could, which is almost as well as the average subway rat -- a feat that gives me great pride. I am also very adept at finding my way around on subways, having proven this quite nicely when I was alone in Tokyo for six weeks, using the subway system to travel all over the place to go birding, with only my poor command of the Japanese language and a Japanese language subway map to aid me. So, keeping these facts in mind when interpreting all my book reviews and numerical ratings, these are the bases for numerical data that I will collect for my soon-to-be-famous Subway Book Review System (the nuts and bolts);

1. missed stops: the number of times that the reader (me, in this case) misses her stop while reading a particular book, divided by the total number of trips taken while reading the book in question on the subway or bus.

2. missed trains: the number of times when the reader (me) mistakenly jumps on the wrong subway (or bus) or jumps on the correct train (or bus) travelling in the wrong direction, divided by the total number of opportunities that the reader has to make such errors.

Distances traveled out of my way due to these errors are not computed in the results because one express train can really skew these data!

Note: this system replaces the previous book ratings system that I employed while a graduate student in Seattle (that system was based upon the number of times that the reader (er, me) crashed into parking meters and the number of bruises acquired as the result of reading a book while simultaneously walking down the sidewalk. However, this system is currently antiquated because there are no parking meters on the NYC public transit system).

Also note: If this system is successful (in other words, if it amuses me and you, dear readers) I might continue it after I have finished reading the list of subversive literature.


© 2004, 2005, 2006 by GrrlScientist

5 Peer Reviews:

Blogger Primer said...

Looking forward to your reviews. I've gotten the reading on trains part down. As you can see, however, my book reviewing skills arrested in the third grade.

11:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Too funny! I do that all the time - read past my stop. Reading on the DC metro can be a real pain. The lighting in the stations is quite dim. Readers angle to get a spot under one of the can lights, which have a small spotlight effect. I've also been known to deliberately stay on the train to finish a good passage or chapter - kind of like sitting in your driveway to catch the end of a story on NPR (though of course now you can just listen online at your convenience - but it isn't quite the same as hearing on the radio, now is it?) Keep in mind that you are corresponding with a woman who was thrown out of Girl Scouts because all she wanted to do, while the others were playing Prisoner Dodge Ball (the dreadful game that would foreshadow adult life), was read books!


10:08 AM  
Blogger GrrlScientist said...

Thanks for the votes of confidence, Primer and Ellen! I am wondering what I was going to write .. er, ah .. I was looking forward to writing these reviews, too. Especially since I have been "stuck" on The Communist Manifesto (this book also contains other subversive writings, most of which really bother me) for three weeks and have to return it to the library tomorrow. I only have another 60 pages to go .. which wouldn't be so bad if I didn't have other books competing for my time and attention.


11:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know if you're into sci-fi or not, but I have really been enjoying my summer reading project: to read all the Hugo and/or Nebula award winning sci-fi books I can get my hands on. So far the books I have read have been awesome. Good luck with your project and, as always, with the job search. I look forward to your reviews.


1:07 PM  
Blogger GrrlScientist said...

I love sci-fi (I read that genre almost exclusively until I was 15 or so) and I love to complain about it, too. But reading the Hugo and Nebula award winners as a summer reading project sounds lots more pleasant than reading subversive literature, which generally makes me mad because they make comparisons to the biological world, thinking that their fantasy ideal of nature is the truth, and then they build their arguments on these erroneous perceptions. Reading this stuff makes me gnash my teeth in frustration, and it also makes me wonder how many revolutions human society would have experienced if people actually knew something real about nature. But I should not say any more or I will spoil my first gripe session, er, book review.


3:44 PM  

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