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January 12, 2005

Books read since August 24, 2004

OK, enough about sports for just a little bit. I have to get this out of the way before it becomes even more impossible. One of the reasons I wanted to start a blog so long ago was to keep track of my reading. I used to do this through a site on another library server, but I gave that up when I started to keep track of the books I've read on this blog. However, the last time I wrote about the books I've read was back on August 26 so I've got some catching up to do. If you are interested, great, if not that's OK.

What follows are the books I've read since August 26, 2004 with a little blurb about them, and whether or not I enjoyed them:

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell
This was a fantastic book. One of the best books I've read in the past couple of years. Strange and Norell tells the story of two wizards in Englad that are trying to restore magic to its former glory. The book is written in a Victorian/Charles Dickens style so it is very dense. Everything is explained in excrutiating detail complete with footnotes that sometimes last for 2-3 pages. But every word was pure joy to read. Highly recommended.

Wisdom of Crowds
Another nifty book that goes against the age old addage that you shouldn't follow the crowd. In this book the author argues quite convincingly that large groups of people are almost always smarter as a whole in decisions than one or two so-called "experts." Fascinating anecdotes are sprinkled throuhgout the text making for a very short read. If you are a manager you should definitely check it out.

A Day in the Life: The Music and Artistry of the Beatles
This is one of the few books that I have read twice. This was the second time I read it. I needed some background for my most recent Songs for a Desert Island in which I discussed "Strawberry Fields Forever." So, I read this book again. If you are at all interested in the Beatles, this is the book to start with. It is by far my favorite book on the Beatles, and I've read a lot of them.

Black
This is a Christian science fiction book that I really wasn't expecting much out of, but in the end I really enjoyed it. It has one of the strangest beginnings to a book I've ever read. The reader is shuttled back and forth between alternate realities, one of which that is so confusing it made me stick with the book just to learn what was going on. So, it was nice to read something that unique for a change.

Circuit of Heaven
This book tells the story of a future where most of the Earth's residents have decided to upload themselves to a Matrix like reality called the "Bin" where they can live an eternal existence. The main protaganist of the story, Nemo, has decided not to enter the Bin, until he falls in love with someone already there. A stirring story of virtual romance with some profound questions of the nature of reality, Circuit of Heaven continues a string of great books from one of my new favorite authors, Dennis Danvers.

Book Nobody Read
You know, this book sounded a whole lot cooler than it actually was. The author, Owen Gingerich, decides he is going to track down all the first and second editions of Nicolas Copernicus's De Revolutionibus and look at the margin notes to try to figure out who read that particular copy and what they thought of it. The idea was that although De Revolutionibus greatly impacted the Renaissance and the Reformation, the author was under the impression that very few people read the book or understood it. For those of you that don't know, De Revolutionibus postulated that the Earth revolves around the sun. Anyway, the book was utterly boring. Only an archivist could truly appreciate it, from my standpoint.

End of Days
Sequel to the Circuit of Heaven above. Not as good as that book either, although it was still a page turner.

Time Travelers Wife
OK, I'll admit it. I cried at the end of this book. It was so touching I couldn't stop the tears from flowing. It wasn't The Notebook type tears (I cried like a baby at the end of that one) but it was enough that I had to get a tissue. The Time Travelers Wife is a unique bit of science fiction in that it certainly has time travel, but the science behind it is unimportant. The book deals with how it affects a relationship between a man and a woman, starting with when the woman is just a young girl. Very imaginative and well written. And of course, very touching. Right up there with Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell for books I really enjoyed this last year.

The Elric Saga
Fantasy ... either it really works, or it doesn't. The Elric Saga tells the story of Elric of Melnibone, the albino ruler of that kingdom, and his trials and tribulations. Typical fantasy: tons of magic, an important quest, an evil arch nemesis, etc. etc. Once you've read A Game of Thrones and others in the Song of Ice and Fire series, other fantasy books just do not compare.

Anvil of Stars
Sequel to the Forge of God. In the Forge of God sinister aliens destroy the Earth and only a handful of humans escape with the help of the mysterious Benefactors. In the Anvil of Stars The Benefactors recruit child survivors to be the crew of a "Ship of the Law," a ship designed to seek out the planet destroyers and give them justice. Anvil of Stars is very similar to Ender's Game in that children are again used to seek revenge on an alien culture. And again, it takes a special kind of child to have what it takes to carry out that revenge. Overall a good book, but not nearly as good as Ender's Game. If you haven't read that one yet, do yourself a favor and do so.

American Gods
Wow. American Gods tells the story of Shadow, an ex con that gets out of prison just after his wife dies. Along the way back home he meets the mysterious Mr. Wednesday who offers him a job. Shadow later learns that Wednesday is actually the old Norse god Odin, and all of his buddies are also old gods that were brought to America through immigration and slavery, but have all but been forgotten now. The book deals with how the gods are coping with being forgotten, and Wednesday's efforts to change all that and get some of his old glory back. This one took a while to get into, but in the end it was a very satisfying read. A little gruesome though. Sometimes gods demand sacrifice.

That's it for now. Hopefully I can keep up with this a little better in the new year.

Posted by snackeru at January 12, 2005 4:36 PM | Books

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