Books

I’ve gotten through quite a few books in the past few months without posting anything here.  I guess I have been bad about posting items on books, movies, role-playing, social stuff for the same reasons why I haven’t been posting technical items: Not enough time in the day.  Anyway, onwards towards the description of books I have been reading for the past few months.

Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson

This took FOREVER.  It was a good story, but the first third of the novel just didn’t grab my attention as much as it probably should have.  The second section, where Half-Cocked Jack was the main character was a breeze to read and I got through it quickly, but then the third section took me awhile as well… Probably because I haven’t had as much time as I would like to read.  Most of my reading time recently has been via Audio Book while on road trips…

As for the book itself, Stephenson has done a decent job opening the Baroque Cycle.  The various means of his work, through plays, poems, prose, family trees, letters, cyphers, etc convey the struggles through the evolution of the scientific community as well as the political struggles and revolutions throughout.  The dialogue is interesting, if a bit dry depending on which of the storylines you are reading.  All in all this was a decent book.  I will finish the series, but I am not nearly as interested and excited in Stephenson’s writing now as I was after Cryptonomicon.

The World According To Garp by John Irving

I have been on a pretty big John Irving kick since I got my subscription to audible as a Christmas present.  The first book of his which I "read" was The World According to Garp.  This was one of my wife’s favorite books and she had asked me to read it a few times over the years.  Garp deals with the life and death of T.S. Garp, a young man who is brought up by his mother, a nurse by occupation, who may or may not be a sexual suspect.  Garp examines the fears of life and death through relationships.  Some of my favorite portions of the book include the short stories or chapters of the novels which Garp himself is writing and the relevance that they have to the story as a whole.  The book itself has many of the elements which Irving is famous for; including bears, transsexuals, prostitutes, adultery, etc.  I also particularly like the strong emotions which the book seems to evoke when dealing with extremist philosophies…

The Cider House Rules by John Irving

This was one of the better books which I have "read" in some time (another audible selection).  It examines the coming of age of Homer Wells, an orphan who just happens to have the bad (good?) luck of always finding his way back to the orphanage.   In doing so, he is eventually taught to make himself useful by providing assistance to the residing doctor and quickly learns all of the medical procedures for obstetrical procedures and other gynecological issues.  It is also a story which revolves around finding his place in the world, in relation to the orphanage and outside.  All of the characters were wonderfully written and the situations and plot points were all very well presented.  Of the Irving books which I have read so far, the characters in the cider house rules have been the most likeable and relatable.  Overall, this was a wonderful book. 

After I finished the book, I watched the movie, and although it was good it completely changed around the interactions between many of the main characters; changing a large number of the moral dilemmas to trite situations that belittle the characters as the are presented in the book.  The movie is still worth a screening, but doesn’t hold its own against the book in any way.

Pandora, by Holly Hollander – by Gene Wolfe

This one for me was an incredibly quick and easy read.  It was fun, and not nearly as dense as most of Wolfe’s other works.  It dealt with a story written by Holly Hollander, a younger woman who is caught up in some strange events when her mother brings home a strange box labelled "Pandora" which she auctions off the right to open and keep the contents during a fund raiser.  As one would guess, opening up pandora’s box is not exactly the wisest decision and events lead towards multiple deaths, including at least one murder and the eventual revelation of ‘who done it’.

A Walking Tour of the Shambles by Gene Wolfe and Neil Gaiman

Another very quick read.  This is a campy fictionalization of a walking tour guide of the shambles, a neighborhood in Chicago.  In it there are a number of humorous horror elements detailing the various locales and some of the denizens of the area.  One of my favorites was the Rent a Rifle at the top of the largest building where you would attempt to shoot sight seers of the sears building.  Overall, I would probably say that this is one that most people could skip… but as it was written by two of my favorite authors it has been on my too read list for quite some time.

Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris

Another of the Sookie Stackhouse books.  This was one of my least favorite as it appeared to have a whole lot less story actually happening throughout.  I was about halfway through the book and thought to myself, "well, I know what is going to happen as the big event… but why hasn’t it happened yet?  I’m halfway through the book already".  This one dealt with the events following the shifter’s revelation that they are part of the world as well as the vampires.  It also dealt with a war between various factions of the fairies, all of which Sookie gets caught up in.

Currently Reading

Right now I’m about halfway through "A Widow for One Year" by John Irving.  I’m listening to this on audio and it has been pretty good so far.  Up to this point I have known most of the plot points as the movie "A Door In the Floor" followed the first third to half of the book nearly dead on.  I’m right at the point where the content will be new to me and the writing has been pretty good so far.  I’m looking forward to the rest of it.

I’m also about 1/3 of the way through "The Reader" by Bernhard Schlink.  I picked this up as my wife was reading it for a book club that she has decided to join.  It also seems like it will be a very quick read.  I watched the movie that was based on the book not too long ago and it seems like a faithful presentation of the material, at least to this point.

I’ll start up on "The Confusion" by Neal Stephenson soon.  It’s just after how long Quicksilver took me to finish I wanted to get in a couple of short books to feel like I am actually getting through a good number of books.  I know that that is silly, but it’s just the way I think sometimes.

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