Monday, October 27, 2008

59 - 66

Two posts in one day! I have another one brewing in my head, too. And no, Hilary, my house isn't really settling down yet, I am just bursting with the need for some normalcy. I have missed blogging. I posted on my affluenza blog earlier this month, and I am going to get back to my food blog soon, too.

59. The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon

I am so distracted by the house. I want all those boxes to be gone, dammit! So, it took me a bit to get into this. But, once I did, I loved it. I loved the alternate reality, and how well-thought out and believable it is. I loved the noir homage. I loved the gritty realism, and the scary worldview that doesn't seem quite so alternate after all. I loved the writing. And, most importantly, I loved the end of the book. Very impressive.

I could say a lot more about this one, but so many people already have, that I am afraid I would be boring. Suffice to say, this is one of those books that everyone reads because it is that good, versus books that are popular for some reason that I can’t fathom (like The Da Vinci Code).

60. The Phoenix Code by Catherine Asaro


I came across this while unpacking a box of books that has been sitting in my front closet waiting for new shelves for years now. I got new shelves several times, but never enough to get out the boxes from storage! Now, I got a LOT of new shelves, and I seem to be set for a while. Must do more cataloguing, though. Anyway, I really liked this book. It had a bit more romance than I generally like in my SF, but it had some fascinating stuff about the nature of humanity, sentience and artificial intelligence.

61. American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld

I was intrigued by this book, but kind of surprised at how good it was. In some ways it seemed like not a lot happened, but of course, a lot did. The main character, based on Laura Bush, is so calm and even-tempered that there was never really anything that created a huge spike in her life, good or bad, even though there were many big good and bad things. Well, that's not true, the part at the beginning where she is at fault in a fatal car accident, killing one of her classmates, was a pretty big spike. But many times I was afraid that some big fraught scene was coming that never materialized. So I was impressed at the level of tension that was maintained despite the very calm tone of the book. There was also a lot about the main character's internal thoughts, which I sometimes find a bit boring, but was fascinated by in this book. Highly recommended.

62. Darwin Awards 4: Intelligent Design by Wendy Northcutt

These are always a lot of fun, and this was no exception. This was a nice, light read, and very amusing.

63. More Sex is Safer Sex by Steven E. Landsburg

Economics book. This was interesting, but a bit superficial, in a way that made it difficult to follow his arguments. I often found myself a bit lost because he seemed to be jumping around a bit, and demonstrating the opposite of what he said he was demonstrating. That said, Landsburg is clearly very smart and a rigorous economist, and some concentrated thought on the topics he raises would be rewarding I think, and clear up some things. I just wish he had been a bit more down in the details, and a bit less high-level.

64. Changing Planes by Ursula K. Le Guin

Interesting little book about changing planes (of existence) while waiting to change airplanes in noisy, boring difficult airports (I know, that was redundant). This was basically a bunch of short descriptions of alternate human societies, both warlike and peaceful, and was very good. Le Guin is good at world-building, so this was a treat.

65. Glasshouse by Charles Stross

Lately I haven't read lot of recent sf that I am really enjoying. I read a lot of older stuff that I missed, but when I head the bookstore and look at the current stuff, I have a hard time finding something new I want to read. This was an exception: I REALLY enjoyed this book. I liked the way he explored gender politics from the standpoint of a future where gender doesn't matter in society, but people still tend to self-identify as one sex primarily. And then, he put these people against their will into the opposite sex, and in a historical simulation where they are in a present-day society, albeit an exagerrated one, where people are controlled by societal norms including sexism. It was fascinating. And, on top of that, the science of the future society is intriguing, and he explains just enough to get the idea across, and mostly through the actual story, rather than exposition. I found it slightly disorienting, in a pleasant way, the way I found my assumptions being challenged by this book. Definitely recommended.

66. The Bride of Pendorric by Victoria Holt

I do love me some Victoria Holt books. They are all gothic and creepy, but with sensical protagonists. I can't get too creeped out, because I know they always end well, but I do like reading the twists and turns of the plots. This is what I call comfort reading. The books are old fashioned, yes, but the heroines are never the type that passively accept their fate, and they are always engaged and striving for happiness and fulfillment.

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