I love learning. It’s part of the reason why going into the non-fiction section of a library or bookstore is a dangerous thing. If an author manages to make his/her odd topic even remotely interesting, chances are that I’ll be hooked. Horseback riding though Mongolia, you say? Sounds great! The History of coffee? Fantastic! And just when I think I’m going to the library to look for a new science fiction writer, Bang! Suddenly I have two book on advances in neuroanatomy.
Which is why I am quite proud that I didn’t freak out in public when I discovered iTunesU. It was a feature I’d seen listed right next to the podcasts on iTunes, but I had never bothered to look into what all it entailed until last weekend. And wow, do I feel like an idiot for not looking into it sooner.
What is iTunesU? Oh, just a whole lot of free recordings of lectures on a multitude of topics from colleges and universities (great and small) from all over the world. History classes from Oxford? Philosophy from Yale? Literature classes from Harvard? Why yes, thank you, I think I will. In spades.
Kids in candy stores had nothing on me while I was searching out the various options available. I’m surprised I managed to keep my number of subscriptions down to five- three history classes, a literature class, and a basic stellar astronomy class. There will be more searching throughout the summer as I blast through these courses. My nerd self is going to be somewhere past Cloud Nine for quite some time.
In other news, I finished the Sabatini biography of Cesare Borgia! It was starting to get tedious toward the end, what with the author’s continuous rants about how this scholar or that was simply repeating all these scandalous tales because he didn’t like the Borgias, and how can he know what was going on, anyway? He wasn’t there at all, so we can ignore everything he has to say.
Well, maybe. Maybe not. While I appreciate Sabatini’s efforts to clear away the centuries of rumors, his constant “That guy is a lying idiot!” refrains got old in a hurry.
Julia Fox’s Sister Queens, on the other hand, was a far more even-handed treatment of the rumor-shrouded Katherine of Aragon, and Juana, Queen of Castile. Fox’s scholarship felt far more solid, and her suppositions were a) clearly stated as such, and b) grounded in primary sources far more than Sabatini’s. Overall, it was a very informative read about two very important women I hadn’t had much interest in until now.
On a final note, I accidentally ended up reading a YA novel by Anthony Horowitz. I think it could be classified as a horror novel. At least, that’s the sort of territory it headed into by the time all was said and done.
What happened, is that I was wandering about Barnes and Noble Sunday morning, and I decided that coffee and a pastry from the cafe sounded like a good idea. While I was enjoying my coffee, I browsed the book selections on my Nook, found a title that sounded interesting and set to reading it (you have the option to read pretty much any book for an hour while in-store). It was called Raven’s Gate, and I blew through it in fairly short order (I was in the middle of page 111 of 192 when my hour expired), and while I found it interesting, I wondered why I was able to guess what was going to happen all the way through. I read Horowitz’s Sherlock Holmes novel The House of Silk last year, and it kept me guessing most of the way.
Well. When I looked the series up on the public library’s website, I discovered that Raven’s Gate is the first in a series of YA novels. Hence why I figured everything out. But no matter. It was still a good read, if not as engaging as the Harry Potter novels or the Hunger Games. I’m thinking about reading the second book, at any rate, and that’s always a good sign.