Friday, September 05, 2008

book 'em, danno

The only argument I can raise in my defense is: at least I am not a crack addict.

You know my familiar lament. I have all kinds of things to do to get ready for my move to Mexico now that I have a tentative date. (More on that soon.) The top two being fix the house and learn Spanish.

And I have been promising to get right on that --just as soon as I finish reading one more book: The History of Mexico. As we all know, I am up to Porfirio Diaz. The book was published in 1938. So, I just need to exile Diaz, read about the revolution, and get Cardenas on his way to nationalizing anything that moves -- and I will be done.

Or so I thought. On one of my late night book-buying binges, I ordered a stack of books that showed up in the hands of the ever-responsive USPS. Jennifer Rose occasionally publishes books that arrive at her home. Here are mine:

  • Breaking Out of Beginner's Spanish -- Joseph J. Keenen

  • Mysteries of the Middle Ages: And the Beginning of the Modern World -- Thomas Cahill

  • What the Gospels Meant -- Garry Wills

  • Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith -- Anne Lamott

  • Western Mexico: A traveller's Treasury -- Tony Burton

I once propounded a theory that I could delineate the details of a person's personality simply by looking at the person's reading list. If that theory was correct, you might surmise that I am a liberal Catholic Democrat (perhaps, a crypto-Unitarian) who enjoys traveling, and is desperate to learn a new language. To paraphrase Meatloaf: 2 out of 6 ain't bad.

With the exception of the Spanish book, the rest should go on my reading table. I may not be able to read them until I get to Melaque. Kim of Boston recommended the Keenen book as a good learning tool. I have read the first chapter, and that appears to be a good assessment. Lots of language tips.

At least that book fits into one of my major tasks. Now, if I could just read about fixing up houses, rather than paying to have it done in the real world, my little cloud cuckoo land would be practically perfect in every way.


Vanya said...

I have the Keenen book myself and have found it helpful but I sometimes still turn to my 'Spanish for Dummies' book too. I think it'll be easier once I'm there. I plan on taking lessons and hope that immersion and repetition will do the trick. My countdown is now at 30 days!! We'll be back in Melaque around the 13th of Oct. Will see you there, I hope!

glorv1 said...

Good luck Steve, because that's quite a load. I have quite a load myself going right now. 3 textbooks, 4 critques, research, and I am sure you know the drill. I do wish you luck though and my regards to Mr. Jiggs.

Steve Cotton said...

Vanya -- I keep forgetting that we have the Melaque house in common. I will not be back down until late April. Drop me a line at srcotton at comcast dot net.

goooooood girl -- Thanks. If I ever get to them.

Gloria -- The books may need to wait. I have to get some other things done -- or my adventure will never begin.

Michael Dickson said...

You likely will not find the Keenan book of much use now. It assumes a certain level of Spanish on your part, a level I imagine you lack. However, when you have a pretty firm Spanish base, you will find it very valuable.

In other words, it´s not for beginners.

Now, one must wonder why you let the Britney Spears lookalike, clearly spam, into your comment list.

Steve Cotton said...

Michael -- I have already found the Keenan book to be helpful -- especially on pronunciation of consonants. I could not figure out why I could read some words and understand them, but the same words spoken slipped by misunderstood. I now know why. But you are correct that I need to get a better foundation of the basics before I can fully apply the lessons Keenen can teach me.

Thanks for the heads up on the post. I simply missed the obvious. Pretty faces can do that.

Laurie said...

I used Coffee Break Spanish, which offers free lessons online. I used them as a free podcast through itunes. But Google it, and you can use your computer or your ipod. It was a great refresher for me before moving to Honduras. The lessons are short, and it is one of the most popular podcasts on itunes with millions of users.

Steve Cotton said...

Laurie -- I hate to admit this, but I live without an iPod. But I will take a look at Coffee Break. Thanks for the tip.

Laurie said...

No Ipod? Well... I don't know what to say, except I love your blog and I will keep reading it. Don't forget Coffee Break Spanish. It's really good.

Steve Cotton said...

Laurie -- My lunch colleagues today finally pushed me over the edge. I am going to buy an iPod and speakers for the Mexico trip. Here I am trying to gtet rid of things. Instead, I am buying new items.

Anonymous said...

Good Luck on both the house and the Spanish. And while this isn't exactly true, the house will be an event while the Spanish will be a process.

And I hope you enjoy the Keenan book. Even if it will grow more helpful with time (which I believe it will), I personally think it's an amusing read even if you have no interest in learning Spanish.


Kim G
Boston, MA

Steve Cotton said...

Kim -- And both will be enduring experiences. I filled up my recycle bin with old computer books and various papers from my kitchen counter. Cleaning first. Spanish later.