Friday, October 11, 2019

Booknote: Bestseller: a Century of America's Favorite Books

Robert McParland, Bestseller: a Century of America's Favorite Books. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2019. ISBN: 978-1-5381-0999-1.

Genre: nonfiction
Subgenre: books, reading, reference, pop culture
Format: hardcover
Source: Hutchins Library, Berea College 

This book does a few things. One, it looks at bestseller books year by year from the 1890s to the 2010s. Two, it looks at reading habits of people throughout the centuries, so you learn what people read then and now, reflecting the context of their times. Three, you also get historical context. The author tells use what else is going on in history, literature pop culture, and other areas in society to better appreciate why people read what they read at a given time. The book is way more than a list of bestsellers.

The book is arranged in nine chapters after the book's introduction. Each chapter has a small introduction to the decade it covers, then a section for each year in a decade looking at specific bestsellers, patterns, reading habits, historical context, and even interviews with sample readers to illustrate specific points. For example a brief interview with a World War II veteran about his reading habits back then while at war. After the chapters, you get a section of notes. There is also a bibliography. Note this bibliography covers the works the author consulted and not the bestsellers listed. It could have been helpful to have an additional list of the bestsellers, say by decade or such.

A strength of the book is that it covers so many elements about readers and reading along with the bestseller listings. You get to trace how reading habits in the United States changed and evolved over time. We do see that at times people in the United States did read more, and they did read more "serious" things, but they did so also reflecting their times.

While interesting overall, the book is more like an academic textbook, so a lot of the text can be pretty dry reading. Thus, some parts have a better reading flow; some parts you may find more interesting and may want to focus on more. Other parts may be more dry, and you're better off skimming them. In the end, this book works pretty well as a reference work where you can study the decades and see what was popular at a time and why, learn what motivated readers to pick up specific books thus making them bestsellers.

This is not a book for personal collections unless you are a scholar in pop culture or literature. It is more a book for libraries. I'd say it is mainly for academic libraries, especially if their college or university has strong interests in literacy and popular culture. It also works for trivia, say to find what books were bestsellers in 1955. Do note the book takes us to 2018, so as of this post, it's pretty current. However, over time this book is limited by its range, so the question is if will get updated editions down the road?

Bottom line is I liked it. I recommend it mainly for academic libraries. It may also be good for some public libraries, likely ones with larger popular collections.

3 out of 5 stars.

* * * * * 

Additional reading notes:

The author tells us what the book provides:

"This book provides a listing of bestselling books and recalls the contemporary context in which those books were situated" (vii).

A brief definition of bestseller from the book:

"A bestseller is a book that has caught the imagination of many readers. It is a book that has energy and momentum in the market and is being successfully marketed by its publisher" (ix). 

You can still find books from the 1950s with relative ease:

"Books from the 1950s can be found today in libraries, tucked away and forgotten in the corners of older homes, or stacked in rows at garage sales" (54). 

Media Notes: Roundup for September 2019

 This is a somewhat random selection of the movies and series on DVD and/or online I watched during September 2019.

Movies and films (links to for basic information unless noted otherwise). Some of these I watched via or other online source. The DVDs come from the public library (unless noted otherwise). In addition, I will try to add other trivia notes, such as when a film is based on a book adding the information about the book (at least the WorldCat record if available):

  • Bangkok Assassins (also known as Bangkok Kung Fu. Action. Drama. Martial arts. Thailand film). The movie description: "Kidnapped as children and trained as martial artists, five teenagers seek justice for the assassination of their Shaolin kung fu master" That is the very basic plot. The children are kidnapped and exploited to be beggars to make money for their masters. A generous old martial arts master rescues them and teaches them various martial arts skills. They grow up. The sensei is killed by a man seeking dark powers. At the same time, the five now grown children seek revenge against the men who exploited them, so there are really two plots. Plus there is a bit of romance, drama, a little bit of humor here and there, and the martial arts scenes are good. For a short movie (about an hour and 44 minutes), it packs a lot. I enjoyed it. The basic description does not do justice to this well made and at times moving film. Worth watching. One of the better ones on TubiTv. Film is in Thai with English subtitles. 
  • Con Man (2018. Drama. Crime. Based on a true story). A movie of the life of con man and ponzi schemer Barry Minkow. This caught my eye because I saw an episode of American Greed on him, so took a chance. Movie is not that big a deal, but what it does have is a pretty good cast of actors in various small roles such as Mark Hamill portraying Minko's dad, Talia Shire was his mom, Armand Assante as a mobster, James Caan as an FBI agent, and Ving Rhames as Minko's prison mentor. Oh, also Bill Goldberg (you may know him from professional wrestling) portrays an early "business associate" (and steroids provider. Minkow was also into steroids), and Robert Pine (you may remember him as the sergeant on CHiPs) as the judge. Minkow portrayed himself (his adult self), which does not really add to the movie. Movie combines the drama with documentary segments where the real people discuss parts of the story. If you know his story (and the Wikipedia entry I linked gives it well enough), you know this is not a feel good nor a redemption story. Minkow really is an asshole, and this movie does highlight that. Other than the good cast, not much to recommend this movie. Heck, even this film production turned out to be controversial (again, the Wikipedia entry goes over that briefly). As I said, it was fun to see the cast, but otherwise, not really recommended. Via TubiTv.
  • Pokemon Detective Pikachu (2019. Adventure. Fantasy. Comedy). The basic description: "In a world where people collect Pok√©mon to do battle, a boy comes across an intelligent talking Pikachu who seeks to be a detective." This is the big screen debut of Pokemon, and to be honest, it was seriously underwhelming. Aesthetically, the movie looks pretty good, and the effects are great. The Pokemon look great on screen, and you can believe they would be integrated into society. Ryan Reynolds as the smart ass Pikachu is good, but that is mostly him being himself. In other words, after the good looks and smart ass character, this movie is a convoluted mess of a plot that drags way too long. I could not wait for the movie to be over between the usual cliches (the son mad at the father, the overeager intern, the forced romance between the intern and the protagonist, so on) and as I said, messy plot, this movie was a serious waste of potential. The kids may like it mainly to see the Pokemon, but that is about it. This movie got a lot of hype when it was coming out, but it mostly vanished afterwards. I can see why. This is one of those you just rent, or like me, just wait til the library gets it to see it if you must. This certainly was not worth full admission price if at all, and it reminded me of yet another reason why I do not go to movie theaters anymore. Go play the games, read the mangas, watch the original anime series, and skip this movie pretty much. It may be a "kids' movie" but even kids' movies deserve better than this mess. Via DVD from public library.  
  • Dune (1984. Science Fiction. Adventure). Based on the novel by Frank Herbert, this David Lynch film was quite ambitious in adapting the novel.  Having said that, it does capture the feel of the novel quite well, and I think it still holds up. The novel is one of those big classic works that is not easy to film, and one with a lot of depth. The movie is not perfect, but it is pretty good, and as I said, it captures the feel of the novel. It is overall a classic and a product of the 80s, plus it is fun to see some of the cast including Patrick Stewart and Sting among others. Sure, there is a mini-series that came later, but this film will remain a must see for fans of the novel and science fiction in general. Via TubiTv.

Television and other series (basic show information links via Wikipedia unless noted otherwise). Some of these come in DVD from the public library. Others may be via YouTube, which, as noted before, I keep finding all sorts of other old shows in it, often full episodes:

  • Sherlock Holmes (1984-1994. Granada Television Series). I watched some later parts of this back in September and October of 2018. I found some more episodes online (one place had pretty much the full run), so I watching some more of this favorite series. Via YouTube. Some episode highlights: 
    • "The Blue Carbuncle." When a countess has a valuable jewel stolen, an innocent man is accused of the crime. Circumstantial evidence is strong. Holmes comes across the jewel in a goose of all things, and soon the hunt is on for the truth, and to get the innocent man out of jail. A nice mystery and also nice Christmas season story. 
    • "The Final Problem." This comes at the end of the second season of the series. This is the adaptation of the story where Holmes finally confronts Moriarty; Conan Doyle meant to end the series here, but due to popular demand, he brought Holmes back in later stories. This adaption is somber, more serious than other episodes, but still very well made. 
  • Inside the American Mob (2013). Six parts documentary series from National Geographic on the American Mob. It strives to look at the Five Families, and it combines dramatizations with stories told by those involved in them both law enforcement and mobsters (well, former mobsters). The series starts in the 1970s, where the Mob is in their prime just as the old generation of bosses (immigrants) is giving way to the younger generation (US born Italian Americans). The same goes for the FBI and law enforcement as new, younger agents who are street savvy join up and really give the FBI an edge they lacked, starting with Operation Donnie Brasco. So interesting the series follows these two generations in a parallel way between the mobsters and the lawmen. From there, the series goes on to look at the rise and fall of fortunes of the Mob through the 80s all the way to Gotti and then the 90s. Via YouTube.

Friday, October 04, 2019

Booknote: Yarrick: Imperial Creed

David Annandale, Yarrick: Imperial Creed. Nottingham, England (UK): Black Library, 2015. ISBN: 978-1-84970-847-0.

Genre: science fiction
Subgenre: military sf, Warhammer 40,000, Imperial Guard, commissars
Format: trade paperback
Source: I own this one. There is an omnibus of the series, which I may consider getting if I like the series after reading one or two more.

In the Warhammer 40,000 universe, Sebastian Yarrick is a legendary character, a prominent hero admired and respected. Yet all legends have to start somewhere. Before Yarrick became a Lord Commissar, he was a freshly minted commissar. Imperial Creed is the story of his first mission. This is where the legend began.

The book starts the story right away. The buildup is good, and soon we are caught in various political intrigues. A commissar is a political officer, in this case for an Imperial Guard regiment, but when Yarrick goes to Mistral, he is in for a very steep learning curve. Mistralians basically elevate political games and corruption to high art, and it will take Yarrick's wits, knowledge, and senses to cut through as the local barons are uprising against the Ecclesiarchy. On the surface, that seems terrible and the mission simple enough: put down the rebellion. Soon Yarrick and his mentor, Lord Commissar Rasp, find out nothing is as it seems. The local Ecclesiarchy bishop is a corrupt tyrant. To complicate things, the Adepta Sororitas, Sisters of Battle (the military arm of the Ecclesiarchy) and though assigned to the bishop, well, they may not be too pleased with that assignment. In addition, an inquisitor is nosing around, and other plots unravel. Yarrick has a lot to balance.

I like how Annandale reveals the plots gradually. Tensions and intrigue rise as we move along in the narrative. Sure, Yarrick is still learning, but he is a fast learner and willing to do what needs to be done. The pace of the novel may start a bit slow, but it soon picks up and gets to a high octane end. I also enjoyed this was a novel of a new commissar growing into his job. Novels featuring commissars often just start with them already established into their careers. For example, in the Ciaphas Cain series, a series I enjoy, it is mostly framed as his memoirs and records from an archive; he is already a legend. So is Yarrick, but here we see where exactly Yarrick started. And this is also a good, entertaining novel that has a good blend of intrigue and action, a bit heavier on the intrigue.

I will note also that the book's narrative handles various points of view. In each chapter, Yarrick is the main character, and we always get a section with his point of view of events, but Annandale also moves from his point of view to the point of view of other characters. Choice of other points of view vary by chapter. This does add some more depth to the novel.

In addition, as I noted, we do see how Yarrick learns and grows. One example is his first meeting with Cardinal Wangenheim (our corrupt bishop). I enjoyed seeing the lesson Yarrick learned, cynical and practical. This is one of various passages I enjoyed in the novel. Here, it is Yarrick speaking to the readers:

"I was young, but I was not entirely stupid. I could see what kind of man stood before me. He was the most powerful authority on Mistral, appointed so by the Adeptus Terra. We had come to this planet to uphold the order that he represented. He was not worthy of his position. A child could have told that at a glance. As a thought experiment, I told myself that perhaps my first impression was wrong, and that this was an able administrator and holy man. I dismissed the idea before it made me laugh. But I knew my duty, and I was bound to honour and protect the office that Wangenheim held. So I swallowed my distaste. I played the part of the lowly officer in the presence of a great man.

I don't do that any more" (65-66).

The book is a fairly easy read. For fans of Yarrick, this adds to his legend. For more casual Warhammer 40,000 readers like me, this novel is a good entry point in the series; the story is his first mission, but the book itself is not first in the series. Given that WH40K has so many series going, deciding what to pick up next may not be easy. Sticking with a series is not easy either in WH40K. For example again, Ciaphas Cain is up to ten books (novels) as of this post. Yarrick is up to four at least so far. On the other hand, I recently picked up the first volume of the Imperial Guard omnibus, and I ended up dropping it and not finishing it because it just did not work for me (I though the start was seriously slow and with no indication of picking up the pace among other issues). Point is quality in series can vary, and given they publish so many different series, you get choices but it can be hit or miss. Personally, I liked Imperial Creed enough I am willing to take a chance on the next story. It is not too heavy. It has as noted a good blend of intrigue and action, and it keeps you reading. It is 350 pages in trade paperback, but it keeps you reading and draws you in. In the end, I really liked it.

4 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Signs the economy is bad: October 3, 2019 edition

Welcome to another edition of "Signs the Economy is Bad" here at The Itinerant Librarian. This is the semi-regular (as in when I have time and/or feel like doing it) feature where I scour the Internet in search of the oh so subtle hints that the economy is bad. Sure, pundits may say things are getting better, but what do they know? And to show not all is bad, once in a while we look at how good the uber rich have it.

Welcome to another Friday and another edition of this series. Let's see what I've managed to find this week. 

Rural News

  •  There are a lot of hospital closures going on in rural areas, and leaving a lot of people without health care access. Via UPI.
  • In Iowa, they close down maternity wards in rural areas. Via Iowa Public Radio. That'll stop them from breeding one would hope.
  • Now, I usually like stories about libraries and community involvement. In this case however, I have mixed feelings. This story basically highlights public libraries helping with "everything from free healthy-cooking and Zumba classes to seminars on how to prevent diabetes or administer Narcan, the overdose-reversal drug." Sounds good. Sounds noble. Sounds actually like stingy taxpayers who elect selfish asshole politicians that are not properly funding community health so they are dumping all of those needs on the already underfunded local public libraries and hoping the patch works. Story via The Rural Blog.
  • What else is closing in rural areas? Grocery stores, as in local grocery stores. What's taking their place? For the most part, Dollar General Stores. Via Pew Trust. On a side note, our small town here has at least three of them, AND we still have a Walmart. Most other rural places Walmart would not even consider. The catch, by the way, with a lot of rural areas is they are Party of Stupid strongholds, for example, FTA: "“North Dakota is a red-leaning state,” Beadle said. “We’re much more free market than having government intervention. It really would take a drastic instance for the state to step in.” In other words, they'd rather starve, or rather let their rural population starve in a food desert than do something because that would not be "free market" enough for them, which when you think about it, is also part of the reason those hospitals in rural areas are closing too. But hey, you get what you vote for. 

Government News

So what has the government been up to?

  •  Well, for one, they are working on privatizing those detention centers they are keeping children in. Story via Latino Rebels. In the U.S., folks want to make a buck anyway they can, and if that means making money off the misery of some children, that works too. For example, FTA: "Sheltering migrant children has become a growing business for the Florida-based government contractor, as the number of minors in government custody has swollen to record levels over the past two years."
  • The I.R.S. has stated what most of us probably know: it is just easier for them to audit poor people than rich people. Why?  By their own admission, " its response is that it doesn’t have enough money and people to audit the wealthy properly. So it’s not going to." Story via Pro Publica. Just another example of "and justice for some." 
  • The USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) is basically letting chicken processing factories with safety issues keep operating in order to speed chicken production. Story via Pro Publica. Hey, those chicken nuggets and the Colonel's secret recipe chicken ain't gonna slaughter themselves. Besides, chicken nuggets are mainly a slurry concoction, so if a human finger falls in the mix, who is going to notice? 
  • Meanwhile, the Secretary of Agriculture tells small dairy farmers who are struggling there is little hope for them. Via The Rural Blog. Translation: he basically told them "sucks to be you, losers!" 
  •  The common understanding is if you end up in prison, at least they are responsible if you have medical needs. Well, that is the "understanding." In Washington County, Alabama, the sheriff basically said fuck that, check if they have insurance, and then dump them at the local hospital so they do not have to pay for it. The inmate patient died. The sheriff pretty much admits that a few deaths will happen, because, you know, shit happens kind of thing. FTA: "Settlements have been reached in at least three lawsuits filed against the Washington County Sheriff’s Office over the past decade that claimed it failed to provide adequate health care in the jail, including ones in which inmates were bonded out just prior to hospitalizations. The jail still employs no medical staff." Story via Pro Publica. So yea, even having to pay out settlements, they do not give a shit down there. Pray you do not end up anywhere in their jail (or in Alabama for that matter).
  •  In some positive news, the U.S. Army did meet its recruitment goals for 2019. Story via Telesur. Was it a lot of patriotic Americans signing up? Nah. It was just good old things are tight, the economy is bad, and hey, the Army may just be able to pay for your education in college and help you avoid college loans kind of thing. Seriously, "according to the head of the Army Recruiting Command Major General Frank Muth wars abroad are 'not really part of the discussion,' as the ‘sale’ pitch, based on his experience visiting 30 to 40 recruiting stations this year, is focused on the student loan crisis and the economic situation of U.S. youths."

In Other News of the Bad Economy

  • Wall Street, equity firm and hedge funds keep buying up local small newspapers, piling them with the debt of the acquisition, then stripping them bare and closing them down when there is no more to squeeze. In other words, business as usual. Story via Truthdig. On the one hand, I get it that some of those local newspapers do the journalism no one else does for their area, but let us be honest here on the other hand. The locals clearly do not support them (or they might be able to stay afloat), and also being honest, not every local newspaper is worth saving. I've known some local rag sheets that really deserve to be shut down given their shitty quality of what they try to pass for news. 
  • Once again, the U.S. is tops in something? What is it this time? In being cruel as heck when it comes to granting bereavement time to workers. Story via Salon.
  • So, what can we blame Millennials for this week? Turns out they are now killing Amtrak's dining car service. Story via Boing Boing. Damn it Millennials, can't even have a decent service on a train without you guys messing that up too. 
  • Crystals for things like healing are in high demand these days. However, read how these crystals are often mined in some of the worst conditions. Story via The Guardian.
  • In Mexico, this one hospital will accept trade and barter in fruits, corn, and coffee for medical prescriptions. Medical service is already free, but you do need to pay for medicines. Story via Primera Hora (and it is in Spanish).

Uber Rich News

  • Well, so you don't go saying we just look at the hoi polloi, the uber rich also have their problems in the bad economy. One of the big problems for them is selling a luxury apartment in Manhattan. Buyers can be picky, and they may not be plentiful. So sellers need to come up with new incentives to get people to buy. The latest incentive? Having an on-demand sommelier (that is wine steward for us plebeians) in the luxury apartment building on speed dial to call as needed. Story via Departures.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Booknote: The Horror Show Guide

Mike Mayo, The Horror Show Guide: the Ultimate Frightfest of Movies. Canton, MI: Visible Ink Press, 2013. ISBN: 978-157859420-7.

Genre: nonfiction, reference
Subgenre: film, movies, horror
Format: trade paperback
Source: Madison County (KY) Public Library.

For starters, the title may not be the most accurate as the book only covers movies; it does not cover television (or other "shows" for that matter).

The book is a reference book listing horror movies. The definition of horror is a bit broad, so it means the book can and does include things like comedies that have horror elements, thrillers with various degrees of horror content, and horror spoofs. In that sense, it attempts to be comprehensive. However, you need to keep in mind this is one author's compilation, and it is a selective and opinionated one at that. While the author does have expertise, other horror fans and experts may agree or disagree with his selections and commentary. The book's content can be wide open to debate. Having said that, what Mayo provides is pretty good. The book provides a broad listing of classics and modern (as of the book's publication date) movies ranging from blockbusters to cult movies and even some schlock.

The book is arranged as follows:

  • Contents. Note movies are listed in alphabetical order. On a side note, in the text, a main movie and sequels are grouped often in a single entry. For example, Saw 1-7 get one entry, but each film is listed individually in the contents.
  • Introduction: Here the author looks at the state of the genre, a bit of history, and key changes at the time the book was being published. He also goes over issues he's observed such as over-reliance on sequels and remakes and lack of originality, especially in recent times (and I can definitely agree with that). If you want a good snapshot of the genre around 2012 and then get a sense how far or not we've come, this introductory essay is worth reading. 
  • The movie entries grouped in alphabetical order. Each alphabet letter gets a section in the book. In addition, due to the excess and basically glut of originality and sequels and remakes in the previous 15 years (from the date of the book's publication, a trend that has only gotten worse over time), the author and publisher changed the book's arrangement from previous editions. "Entries on series and remakes are grouped together by the primary word in the title-- Amityville, Exorcist, Hellraiser-- even when the titles break alphabetical order" (xiv). You know you are dealing with a lot of movie clutter when you need to consolidate with prejudice. I do appreciate they worked to keep this book at a manageable size. 
  • An appendix for movie credits. Lists actors (main), directors, and screenwriters. 
  • Index listing names, titles, and illustrations. 
Overall, this is a good reference book. It can't possibly cover everything; no book of this type can really do that. What it does cover it does pretty well. The author is fully aware of his limitations and works within them to provide a good overview, commentary, and brief reviews to help readers decide if they want to watch something or not. You are welcome to disagree; I did on some things, but that is good. The author does offer well informed content.

An issue with the book is that of many other reference books with lists: the Internet. The Internet means compiling, maintaining, and updating lists like horror film lists is easier, faster, and can often be sourced out more than in one book. I am not saying what you get on the Internet is better, and sometimes it is atrocious, but for quick reference, the Internet wins out on at least "it's good enough" (you can debate the merits of that in the comments below or elsewhere).

Despite the above, if you are a hardcore horror fan or buff, you probably want a book like this. Horror film historians may want it for the essay introduction and historical research. This is a good selection for public libraries. Fans can use this book like I would, which is to get ideas on new (or mostly new to me) things to watch. Libraries could use it for "film advisory," like reader's advisory but for film (say, "Ive watched every Poltergeist film, anything out there similar?"). In fact, to aid in "film advisory," the book also offers some note boxes with lists like "The Top Eight Big Monsters on Campus Movies." By the way, that is a good feature but it is not indexed which limits potential usefulness. Book also includes some black and white illustrations.

In the end, I liked it. If you ask me, unless you are library with a good film collection in terms of movies and books on film, or if you are a horror fan/buff, this is a book to borrow and browse.

3 out of 5 stars. 

Friday, September 20, 2019

Booknote: The Gallery of Regrettable Food

James Lileks, The Gallery of Regrettable Food. New York: Crown Publishers, 2001. ISBN: 0-609-60782-0.

Genre: nonfiction
Subgenre: humor, retro, cookbooks, food
Format: coffee table style hardback
Source: Borrowed from the Madison County (KY) Public Library

At the time I checked this book out of my local public library, I wanted some light humor, and this book fit the bill nicely. The book is a bit like a coffee table book in terms of size and format.

The author began his work and calling when he found an old recipe book in his mom's house: Specialties of the House by the North Dakota State Wheat Commission (you can actually find copies of this on Amazon and Ebay. I tried to find a free copy; that was not an easy task. Apparently the book is somewhat collectible now, and no one has scanned it). By today's standards, the recipes in that book look and appear atrocious; one has to wonder about they ate back then. The author did, and he began collecting old cookbooks, sharing recipes and photos and art from these "trade groups." These books try to appear "official" or even government-approved, but in reality they are made by "trade groups" trying to get you to use their products, often with truly ghastly results. To top things off, Lileks not only shows the recipes, photos, and art of the time; he also adds his seriously sarcastic, humorous running commentary. Additionally, he displays his work on his own website ( So yea, this book is yet another Internet page/project that got a book deal. On a positive note, this book is much better than most entries in the "internet/niche blogger" book deal genre.

One strength of the book is in the art and photography. Some of the photos and/or recipe art look like things you would not feed a dog. Lileks captures them in all their glorious and horrifying splendor.

Another strength of the book is his humorous commentary. However, this can be very inconsistent. When he gets it right, it's funny and can make you laugh. The problem is Lileks can have a tendency to overdo that humor, and when he does it, he beats it into the ground to the point of annoyance (often, for a reader it becomes "yes dude, we got the joke five pages ago, shut it and move on already"). This inconsistency is why I could not rate this book higher than I did. Still, overall, it is a good, entertaining work of retro humor.

The book is simply arranged with a preface and 27 short chapters. Some chapter topics are:

  • "What's Black and White and Dead All Over?"
  • "Cooking with 7-UP" 
  • "The A.1 Guide to Better Sex"
  • "Glop in a Pot"
  • "Famous Chefs Forced to Use Marshmallows"

In the end, I really liked the book despite a flaw or two. If you want to buy your copy, go ahead, though I'd suggest borrowing it or getting it second hand if you must.

4 out of 5 stars.