Okay, I did make lots of progress in War and Peace, but then I got really mad at Prince Andrei and had to take a break. Sanctimonious, sexist, idiot jerk. But, I figure being too involved with the book is better for my prospects of actually finishing it, than not being involved enough.
In the meantime:
21. Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge
I LOVED this book! I love the idea of wearable computers. When I think about how much more advanced my BlackBerry with an internet connection is, compared to what my life is like just 10 years ago, I get even more psyched about the idea of what that kind of connectivity could do for society. I also thought the characerization was very well done. Robert Gu's transformation from a complete jerk to a pretty nice guy was actually pretty believable, which is quite an accomplishment, especially when you consider how really terrible he was at the beginning.
22. Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress
Another fantastic book. Set in a near future when genetic modifications of fetuses are widespread and a profitable business, the book explores what would happen if we could modify children to not need sleep anymore. Of course, prejudice rears its ugly head fairly quickly when people realize how much more someone can do without the need to sleep. The main character has a twin sister who was unexpectedly conceived, and who does not receive any modifications. She loves her sister, but her father, who chose to make his daughter Sleepless, does not. He considers the unmodified child inferior. I can't even begin to narrow down my thoughts on this wonderful book, but it was hard to put down. The characters were well-drawn, and I found myself sympathetic to most of them, even when I completely disagreed with their points of view. The political and social environment of the book was well-thought out, and intriguing. The story was just fascinating. Also, I think it is very hard to convincingly write about characters that are smarter and wiser than most people, or that are advanced beyond the current state of the human race (I am thinking about the Supers that the Sleepless breed later in the book here), but Kress managed it. I did feel that the Supers really were superior, even while reading about their learning processes and insecurities.
A couple of thoughts about the last two books I read:
* I thought it was odd that I read two books in a row featuring a young, gifted girl named Miri, since that is not a common name. Not that this is meaningful, it was just a funny coincidence.
* I recognized elements of both of these stories as being from short stories I had read in the past. When I read big compilations of science fiction short stories, I wonder if I really retain these, but when I got to the parts of the books that drew heavily from those stories, I recognized them right away. That was kind of cool.
23. Children of God by Mary Doria Russell
This is the sequel to The Sparrow, which I read earlier in the year. I thought this book was more interesting, and more nuanced. It was a little bit less dark, although still pretty tragic. I liked learning more about the alien characters, and the way that they were shown to be more complex than originally supposed. Sequels can be a bit of a risk, but this one definitely didn't rest on the laurels of the praise received for The Sparrow, and it had many interesting things to say, still. Great book.
24. Strangers in Death by J.D. Robb
The title of this one is rather clever, as this is actually a cosy, small-group-of-people-who-know-each-other murder, unlike some of the in Death books, where it might be anyone in New York City. I thought this one was stronger than the last one, with a slightly lower eye-rolling, Eve-Dallas-is-really-badass quotient. Fast and fun.
25. My Little Blue Dress by Bruno Maddox
Re-read. I loved this the first time, and I loved it again. The author is making up a memoir of a 100 year old woman in one night, so the pace was a bit frenetic, but in a good way. It was amazing how he was able to make the woman both obviously fake, and yet seem very real. Even as it becomes obvious that the woman does not exist, and he starts talking more and more about his (fictional) own life, she has a recognizable voice, and really does seem to be a separate person. The end was really great, too. I picked this up off of a bargain book table, and I am glad I did.
According to LibraryThing, I have 40 books purchased this year. That's wrong, though. I loaned my CueCat to a friend, so I have to type in ISBNs, and I didn't feel like it last night. If I am remembering right, I have 5 books to add still, although it might be 6. I need to lock myself in my apartment and read, read, read! I have lots of books I am excited about, but not enough time to read them all, and no willpower to stay away from the bookstore until I catch up (HA!).
I had to go to the bookstore to get Karen Joy Fowler's newest book, Wit's End, because she is coming to St. Louis tomorrow. The kids will be at their dad's, and going to a book reading is the kind of fun thing I don't often get to do (I missed Kate Atkinson last fall, much to my dismay). I wanted to at least have the book, but I think I might be able to get it read, too--it's very good. The line between fiction and reality is really blurry in this book, and it is quite disorienting. I feel almost dizzy as I read it, trying to figure out what is real, and what is fictional (within the fictional novel, of course). It's very heady stuff. I hope the reading is not too crowded, and I can get my book signed!
I am slightly behind pace for 100 books for the year, but way ahead of where I was last year at this time (16). So, that goal is looking good at least.