some things i've read
first off there's my favorite authors
of whose work i read all that i can find, or in the case of asimov, just
scads, but nothing like the entirety of his corpus.
next there's some thoughts on words, my love.
then there's what's been through my hands since i started keeping this
list. perhaps i won't remember to put everything i read on here, or will
fail to make time to review much of it. but without trying, one will
never know what might have been.
- 10 march 2004: The DaVinci Code
a conspiracy-theorish thriller, well written and chock full
of crazy history, sects, propositions, and exposures of some
rather unbelievable (but purportedly true) coverups. for
instance, Mary Magdaline is in Da Vinci's The Last Supper.
a page-turner, recommended by 4 of my close female relatives, oddly.
and now by me. i'd definitely read something else by that author.
- 22 march 2004: The Zen of Zelda
sadly not at all about video games. happily all about zen.
more for dog people than anything else, but with those nuggets
of zen wisdom that are so worthy of deeper contemplation. too
bad i have rush-thru-it-itis, it was all of 20 minutes of reading
with cute dog-based photos to slow me down just a tad. a good
one to leave on the coffee table, or consume inside the bookstore.
- 25 march 2004: The Book of Jhereg
a fantasy trilogy set in a world where sorcery and witchcraft
exist along with other strange things (of course). rather tasty.
i will definitely be looking for more by Brust since i dig his
style and world, altho the main character is sometimes a bit harsh
for my tastes (but then isn't that the sign of a good author, one who
can make you respect and believe even the characters you dislike?)
- 2 april 2004: The Book of Taltos
followon to the Book of Jhereg. Though these books are ordered in
compliance with their history, they were not written in this order,
so in this two-book compilation, it feels like i got both Brust's
rookie effort and his most advanced of the 5 i've read. It was a
nice contrast but i'm happier about where he's going in terms of
style, depth, and immersal than where he's been. i'll still read
more of this series.
- 4 april 2004: Crazy for You
this is not my sort of book. however, the author was recommended to
me by a very cute bookpeople employee so i found this at the UT library.
it's a kind of romance novel, but with a decent telling of the story;
i cared about the characters and was happy when everything worked out.
perhaps not the most exciting book ever, but definitely satisfying and
a nice quick read like Pratchett..
- 6 april 2004: Pure Drivel
Steve Martin used to be really funny. now he's somewhat funny uh-oh.
in this case it's a fairly stirring sort of strange, that hits hard
but with a wiffle ball bat. a bunch of short passages about
thoroughly random stuff and in random styles, from screenplay to
dogs-eye-view to a nifty metapiece penned by the words of the
book themselves. "Hello. I'm hello, and I'd like to say
- 8 april 2004: Naked Pictures of Famous People
John Stewart is the funniest man on television today. this is
incredibly reminiscent of the steve martin piece; a collection of
short essays which are fairly bizarre and somewhat humorous. i'm
not sure what i think in the end; it was entertaining but i'd
probably trade it for some of his tv shows, tho it definitely
had its moments.
- 8 may 2004: the Confusion
Neal Stephenson is one of my favorite authors. this book continues
his series that started with
Quicksilver which was an occasionally difficult but fully
enjoyable read on the level and depth of
Cryptonomicon. i couldn't say no to adding just one more book to
the toread stack since it's by this fellow, and indeed i was not
disappointed at all! if you liked quicksilver, you'll like this. if
you didn't, stay away. it's meatier even than cryptonomicon, and of
- 14 may 2004: Eastern Standard Tribe
Cory Doctorow is one of those people who's always been around in the
hacker scene, or even rather the cracker scene, feels to me a bit
like Bruce Sterling--not directly involved but heavily indirectly
involved. my perception's probably off. but he's a decent writer
and having recently read his
Down And Out in the Magic Kingdom and enjoyed it, i had
to check out his latest freely downloadable effort, since it was
free and textual--i read it when i need a short break from work
usually. it's not quite as compelling as Down and Out...
but it's enjoyable nonetheless, and full of novel thoughts about
the socio-techno interactions of the future.
- 17 may 2004: The Long ARM of Gil Hamilton
Niven's one of my favorite authors and i suddenly had an urge to
reexperience some of his world. i bought a lot of his stuff at
half price books and so i have a bunch of first edition (paperbacks)
with this really cool font and very seventies color scheme, but
the stories still feel as fresh as today's scifi. this one is
about a guy with a third psychic arm who is a detective, solving
cases with his unique ability to reach into people and through
stuff. i like the scifi/detective merger and niven does it as
well as asimov IMHO.
- 20 may 2004: Tales of Known Space: The Universe of Larry Niven
another funky 70's first ed with great quality stories. this has
14 separate stories and a timeline of known space (something sorely
lacking from any of asimov's work i've ever seen, tho it's similarly
convoluted in progression and incorporating short stories as well
as novels from many decades too!), and the real gem is author
commentary on how stuff ties into his history, as well as after-the
fact realizations about inconsistencies and context. the stories
are superb, and talk about some of my favorite niven characters
(lucas garner, louis wu, beowulf shaeffer) in addition to being
great scifi that doesn't get bogged down in its sci such that i
can't enjoy the fi, yet still stays juicy enough to keep me engaged.
- 24 may 2004: Convergent Series
yet another funky old niven. this is another collection of shorts
mostly about aliens. a quintet of draco's tavern stories (a bar
run for aliens by humans) that helps round out some characteristics
of other races, in addition to some nifty stuff that's unrelated to
much of anything (a story about one way to get a hitchhiker-turned-
holdup to run away screaming, frinstance). two pseudopods up!
- 27 may 2004: A World of Ptavvs
yet still another funky old niven. most of the reviewers on amazon were
not too fond of it but it worked well enough for me. his first novel,
the first known space novel, and worthwhile. not too long, catch
and fun. what can i say, i'm easy to entertain, i guess. in contrast
to the previous three, it is a single story, not a compilation.
- 29 may 2004: Protector
even yet still another...this one is actually pretty nifty in the character
and historical development department. particularly cool is a completely
alternative explanation for how humans came to be on earth (planted by a
later-life-stage super-human from the inner galactic core, and then
evolved from homo erectus or thereabouts).
- 5 jun 2004: Ringworld
niven's huge classic. a fun adventure within known space which kicks off
a long series of novels (akin to asimov's foundation series). still early
in niven's career but he's fully hit his stride by then (1976) and this
is positively a masterpiece, both in character development and general
plot. the wide-open possibilities of it all are really what's great,
there's just no end to where it could go and that is one of my favorite
features of a storyline that i really dig such as this one. extremely
recommended, probably as a first-read for niven newbies.
- 6 jun 2004: Ringworld Engineers
follow-on to Ringworld and describes a lot more of its physics,
history, and populace. 3/5 of the important characters from
Ringworld reappear in this tale which is equally tasty as the
- 26 jun 2004: Ringworld's Children
a follow-on to Ringworld Throne, which i mistakenly read in the
wrong order. still tasty, very fresh, and yet another winner. i'm
running low on things to say about niven books, but i enjoy them all a
lot, typically reading them in one or two sittings.
- 24 jul 2004: The Lovely Bones
via mom. a really beautiful book about people dealing with death.
rather original point of view (omnipresent, the ghost of the dead
girl) and on the side a bit or murder mystery. but mostly about
coping mechanisms, only not at all as mechanical as that phrase
- 31 jul 2004: Feed
for some reason caught mention of this on slashdot, didn't bother to
read their review except for the nutshell, and went out and got it
from the library. finished within 24 hours, and that 24 hours
included a triathlon, sleep, and a long evening with friends (during
none of which did i read =)). futurefiction, tragic/endoftheworld-istic,
sad, compelling. supposedly a kids a book, but i feel it to be quite
- 10 aug 2004: Devil in the White City
this was loaned to me by debbie/snax as neither of us are in book-buying
mode at the moment due to too many already in the queue--i don't so much
care about the queue but frankly i now have a toread BOOKSHELF which is
overflowed; i vowed to keep it to one shelf and failed. so anyway i'm
not shopping, but borrowing is legal.
this book is a true story, but very well told, about the worlds fair
in chicago in the 1890's, and the story of a multiple murderer who
operated in that region at the same time. it's fascinating, and i
learned a lot about chicago/the world of that era, while at the same
time being gripped by the story. also takes you along on a ride for
the invention of the skyscraper, shredded wheat, pabst blue ribbon
beer (it was the medal winner at the fair that year! ha!), and some
other surprises. highly recommended--definitely some of the most
interesting and well-told history i've ever read.
- 3 sep 2004: When We Were Orphans
read this, appropriately enough, at the orfunner burn. kinda silly
story about some british ex-pats, vaguely sherlock-holmes-ian, only
less clever, but with more texture, social, cultural, and interpersonal.
still a quick read that did develop into a bit of a page-turner somehow.
- 15 sep 2004: The Name of the Rose
i never managed to finish the first Eco book i started, Focault's
Pendulum. this is equally dense but i somehow made steady
progress, and it was enjoyable and captivating, and of course, contains
characters several orders of magnitude smarter than me that keep me
going "wow". it's set in the 13th century and is studded with
untranslated latin which is also a treat for me (i do have to bust
out the dictionary just about all the time, tho). i'm still not sure
what the book was really about outside of the detective story that the
characters act out, but i know it must have been something amazing.
worth reading, but i don't think i'll ever be able to read it again.
this book took me just about 6 weeks of reading without a break (that
is, i didn't stop reading it for more than a few days at a time) to
finish, making it probably the most continuous time i've ever spent
finishing a book. so you get an idea of how tough it was.
- 28 sep 2004: On a Pale Horse
well, it's been probably 7 years since i've read any piers anthony, and
i'm sad i waited this long to come back to him. of course, i ridicule
him frequently and frankly i am not a fan of xanth and its ilk, but this
book was a little more grown-up and a lot more compelling and less punny.
still didn't entirely forget that it is piers anthony, as an event took
place in niqueldimea, among other cutesy moments, but it was overall
satisfying and a rather interesting view on good and evil in an
interesting world where science and magic are both transforming things
on a level akin to where technology is today. thanks to gwynn for the
- 31 Oct 2004: The System of the World
i love Stephenson's work. this was far more of a pageturner than
Confusion and so i managed it in the space of about 2 weeks. i
read the last few hundred pages in a couple days (this is no
100-pages-an-hour sort of read, and it was a mere 900 pages long),
because i couldn't wait to discover what lay beyond the next
page-turn. a fitting end for an epic series. i look forward as always
to the next magnum opus..
- 20 Nov 2004: Magic: The Final Fantasy Collection
Asimov is a time-tested favorite of mine, and this is a posthumously
published anthology of his more fantastic (and less scientific, i
suppose) stories, as well as some essays about scifi vs fantasy and
fantasy writing in general, followed up by some general scientific
thought on evolution, politics, the nature of intelligence and learning,
and Misc. since i live for favorite authors' ramblings on writing as an
aspiring writer, this really turns me on. as well he had some particularly
relevant political thoughts to our era even though he's been dead for
several years now. viz:
the whole premise of democracy is that it is safe to leave
important questions to the court of public opinion--
but is it safe
to leave them to the court of public ignorance?
and it's new-to-me asimov, too! woo!
- 26 Nov 2004: Bless Me, Ultima
i read this for a book discussion group i'm supposed to be part of but
had never been compelled by any of their choices before now. i wasn't
thrilled with this choice either but i was very wrong in my initial
misgiving. it is a powerful folk tale, and feels very mexican (possibly
because it is by a mexican and partly in spanish) and very
people-of-the-land-ish. has the same good, solid, earthy feeling as
Trilogy--more of the essence of being a ranchero than the boring
details. kinda hard to explain, but this was a quick read and fully
worthwhile. i wish more books touched so deeply and were so mysterious
and yet still satisfying like this one was (most books that are too open
to interpretation leave me wishing for resolution; this one just leaves
me thoughtful and interested).
- 1 Dec 2004: The Hero and the Crown
Gwynn's suggestion. i gobbled it up and want more. assumed from cover
graphics that it'd be typical half-baked fantasy but was pleasantly
surprised to find it a a beautiful golden brown, delightfully crisp.
- 5 Dec 2004: To Sail Beyond the Sunset
random heinlein that johnbo and kimbo were going to throw away for some
reason. water damage, seems like. meh. features prominently my kitty's
namesake, that cat who walks through walls, pixel, but is otherwise
unremarkable in quality compared to other heinlein but typically
satisfying in filling in details of his universe from other angles.
lots of baby-making and that unique heinleinian political viewpoint.
the life story of lazarus' mom maureen, in case you are already embroiled
in his reality =)
- 2 jan 2005: The Bromeliad Trilogy
a strange thing from pratchett. not silly and punny like his other stuff
so much though there was an aftertaste of it. a story of nomes, small
(4") people who live in our world that we don't know about. just...not
very pratchetty. decent but not compelling or hilarious like the rest of
his stuff. but i found it worthwhile and slurped it up in typical
pratchett time (a couple of days). i do have to recommend every single
one of his discworld novels before you try this one though.
- 3 mar 2005: Dealing in Futures
wow have i really not read anything in two months? anyhow this was an ok
anthology of scifi short stories from a guy named Halderman who won a
nebula, sez the cover. it was ok. i enjoyed it but more the format and
genre than the content, somehow.
- 27 jul 2005:
The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
yeah, i stopped reading for like 5 months. it was crappy. this book was
actually part of the reason but not because of its content (fabulous as always--
i've probably read it 6 times now) but because of its length. it is 5 books
in one and as such is a hulking monster. but i'd been making intermittent
progress on it since i saw the movie and finally finished the last 200 pages
on a plane trip. douglas adams still rocks my world. i'm sad that he's
- 30 jul 2005: The Camera My Mother Gave Me
I don't read a lot of books about the vagina, in fact this is probably
the first. i do enjoy the All About My
Vagina blog but had never thought about it other than as a curiosity
really. one that i am very curious about in conjunction with beatiful
women, of course =). anyhow this is a quick read by a great, frank,
honest author about a life of vaginal pain. wow, that sucks. but
the vagina has been humanized for me. and i read this book straight
through in like 2 hours because it was captivating and moving.
- 12 aug 2005: Island
Aldous Huxley is such an amazing writer, but future dystopia only seems fun
to me if it's not something I think I could take on and win. Gibson and
Stephenson's futures seem reasonable to me and I think I could handle them
in some way; not lose in their game-world. Not so for Huxley's Brave
New World -- I don't think I'd be one of the strong, more likely just
a deluded doped dupe. So this book was a little less depressing mostly in
that it's about a Utopia instead of a Dystopia and despite intrusion of
reality into the Utopia it had an amazing number of wonderful insights into
living for real and living peacefully and harmonically. I'd put it up there
with Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance in its fullness with
concrete examples and explanations of how to introduce Quality to one's
And did I mention that it's beautiful? Each of story, form, and prose.
- 17 aug 2005: Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town
It's strange--I'm not really sure what I think about Cory Doctorow's
writing. I used to think I'd met him when I was 17 at a hacker
convention but after poking around just now I'm not sure anymore since
his writing doesn't seem like the writing of that guy. but we're both
Anyhow just wrapped up this reading (and it reminds me that I can read
an entire book on-screen despite it not being as nice as a paper version)
and I think this wasn't my favorite work of his but again it was
*compelling* and I really enjoyed the element of fantasy that he worked
in with his normal techno-society-transforming meme.
The most relevant thing about his writing is that my writing is rather
like it. Or so I've been thinking as I read this. Which is good and
bad--he's a good writer, but I don't think he's great, just compelling.
I hope I can be great someday. It's all about me, see?
Anyway this is another one you can download for free:
- 2 sep 2005: The Party's Over
Is the world about to consume itself and revert to the bronze age? This
book presents a pretty scary outlook for our future and while it's not
necessarily predicting a complete catastrophe, it's a hard read because
it argues so well that I'm certainly concerned for the future. This book
is reminiscent of Ishmael
that we are overconsuming and close to exhaustion of resources that
will be extraordinarily difficult to recover from--life is going to
change precisely because our technology is not running on some
constantly renewable energy source. Nobody knows when, though. Sobering,
- 13 sep 2005: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The latest, pretty tasty but a little less with the subplots than the
past editions. Still worthwhile IMHO.
- 8 oct 2005: Accelerando
One of the most involved but plausible near-future sci-fi histories I've
read. Actually kind of scary in its implication that the singularity is
coming (which I'm a little worried about) but also that we might miss it,
and that what we have to leave behind could very easily be a bunch of
overintelligent software that kills us off. only not terminator-style,
or matrix-style, just kind of by apathy or something. Despite that
message it's level of detail, created future vocabulary, and vision is
pretty enthralling. I'll have to read more of this guy's stuff. Oh, and
you can download it free.
- 17 oct 2005: Everything Is Illuminated
this is one of shay's most favorite books which she gave me for my
birthday in 2003. it took me over 2 years to finish it--it is brilliantly
written, but it is at the same time somewhat painful to read since one of
the main characters is not a native english speaker and his (ab)use of the
language is horrifically funny. engenders embarassment-for-him in the
reader, or anyway this reader. and i'm very susceptible to that, in all
media. however the story is very touching and one of those that you feel
is so deep somehow overall but can only look into the depths of the puddles
rather than the depths of the ocean that reside in it. good thing i like
- 22 oct 2005: What the Dormouse Said: How the 60s Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer
really turned me on. it's a type of book i like, computer history,
but with a really personal, interesting, and insightful viewpoint which
really makes it feel a lot more like an exciting story than just a
retelling of facts. which life is, after all, it's just hard to convey
that in writing sometimes. this book is up there with Levy's
the Net, and Hafner's
Where Wizards Stay
Up Late. the personal
angle and the investigation of the counterculture interfluence on how
things came to be how they are today (leading fairly directly to open
source and creative commons vs microsoft and the MPAA) is really wonderful.
Also, this book just inspired me to be a better writer, a better hacker,
and a better human--so many examples of people changing the world for
the better, doing good even without knowing, really makes me want to be
like them =). yeah, so it was written for people like me. but maybe
people like you, too?
- Nov 2005: The Elephant Vanishes
Is a book of short stories by Haruki Murakami. Somehow I ended up with
two separate oblique recommendations to check out his work, particularly
the story "Sleep" within a couple of days from the blogosphere. These
recommendations came not from friends of mine but from people like
(excellent reading, and frequent reading of mine as well!). Anyhow,
I managed to track this collection down and it definitely falls under
the category of compelling. It's not a page-turner, and any individual
paragraph seems kind of boring or at best straightforward, but as a
whole the stories are somewhat moving and seem a very Japanese feeling
sort of opus to me. I think I like it. Sleep in particular was good
but it was also the longest story. It is not the sort of writing that
everyone will enjoy. However if it is your thing, you owe it to yourself
to try it. How to know? A leap of faith, m'dear.
- 1 dec 2005: No Plot, No problem!
is a guide to surviving national
novel writing month, what a crazy ride it is, and Chris Baty (the
author of this book) is a founder of the "contest" and a witty and
pragmatic motivator, too. whee!
- 6 dec 2005: Ferdydurke
Another from the realm of the compelling. Exquisitely crafted
self-deprecation and satire from a 1930s-poland still somehow rings true
even in its depiction of class disparity and lambasting of
institutionalized learning and bad authors. Kinda made me not want to
publish anything I write, lest it be taken as awful or pretentious but
not really. Another recommendation from the blogosphere (idle words,
at the end of
this blog-archive-page where there is a far more useful review).
- 12 dec 2005: PostSecret: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives
The author is a guy with a mailbox. He calls it art. He's asked the
world to send in their 4x6" artful confessions to his mailbox and he
publishes them, in their full glory and anonymity. Pretty moving stuff.
To get an idea of what's in here, he makes a
weekly post of the cream
of the crop he's received. One of the better coffee table books I own,
but also moving and I will actually revisit it, despite its short-read
- 13 dec 2005: The Self-Destruction Handbook
Got this because one of my favorite cartoonists, Sam Brown of
Exploding Dog did the cover art.
But aside from the giggle I got from reading a book about how to take
up an addiction or become a sleaze, it was really pretty weak. Not
recommended except maybe as a conversation piece.
- dec 2006: blindness
via a livejournal query of "best books you've read lately", i picked this
up and after a bit of a slow start i'm really pretty into it now. it is
one of the NY Times top 10 recommended books of the year or maybe it was
just a staff pick at book people. anyway, quite enjoyable.
- jan 2006: all families are psychotic
So I bought this for my parents for xmas because they loved microserfs
and liked shampoo planet and my feelings coincided. However, I really
didn't enjoy this very much and kinda regret giving it to my parents
because our family is not at all psychotic and this book doesn't really
seem like something they'd like. not particularly recommended, unless
you think your family is the most dysfunctional one you can imagine
and you want to be surprised that it can get worse.
- feb 2006: coraline
This is a children's book from an author who has yet to score a miss with
my taste buds, Neil Gaiman. However, this is not a normal children's
book--it's kind of like Dr. Seuss crossbred with Roald Dahl--appreciable
to children and adults alike! The story is simple but the imagery is
intense and the prose lyrical. And those are all Good Things. That it
is a quick read is about all that actually made it seem like a children's
- mar 2006: a deepness in the sky
this one was recommended by Chrysta and Thedward if I recall correctly,
and I've always gotten the best recommendations from those two. well,
except for greg egan who is just Too Much for me, though he's obviously
brilliant and great for someone smarter =)
Back to this bad boy, though. Sci-fi set in Vinge's Fire upon the
Deep universe, it's described by
salon magazine as
a look at what the universe would be like if the technological
optimists are not right.
I can only agree but say it's amazingly
well-done to boot, and that as always his representation of alien
intelligence is actively ALIEN but totally accessible which really
makes me feel tingly inside.
- mar 2006: going postal
pratchett never fails to satisfy. and here he explains some of the magic
that i've always found in the postal service, well, discworld style. i
mean, elvis used to be my postman, and shit is magically and cheaply
transported around the world from the comfort of your front yard, i
think it's magic no matter what you say. but pratchett will convince
- april 2006: a fire upon the deep
i had to reread this once i so thoroughly enjoyed finishing a deepness
in the sky. now that i know a little more of the history of the
universe/humans in the universe, it was even more wonderful. alien
races, interstallar drama, civilization-wars, oh my! space opera really
just doesn't do vinge justice since it's just one genre. he's kinda
like herbert here, exploring motives and really making you think about
thinking, all while telling a captivating story.
- may 2006: Here they come
mcsweeney's recommended this and
they were totally right. primal, young, fresh, and a little scary, but
not in that horror movie way.
- june 4 2006: The third Policeman
first read this at age 17 in high school english. found it tough but
titillating--an odd combo that still holds. has some kooky/silly things
to say about sexuality and bicycles, but really it's all about the way
the story is told (a protagonist with no name and his series of funny
events) and the way the language is used by some of the characters that
makes me giggle so much. hard, but great.
- june 7 2006: To Alcatraz, Death Row, and Back
this was a UT press special--
one of those $3 paperbacks that looked like it was probably worth the cost
of admission. it turned out to be the real life story of a guy who was
somewhat of a crook, but told rather compellingly and straightforwardly.
i can't really say what made it work, but i finished it pretty quickly.
it could easily have been told in a tragically boring fashion but was not.
- june 11 2006: Pattern Recognition
Sara asked me when i told her i was into gibson what i'd thought of this
book. of course i read it when it came out, because i adore gibson, but
it felt flat and didn't really fit in with his previous works. sara asked
my opinion and when i replied with something akin to "meh", she asked
whether i was analyzing it in comparison to other gibson or as its own
entity which made me wonder, so i read it again and enjoyed the heck out
of it on its own terms.
wikipedia has this to say about it, but really, just check it out.
Gibson has begun to adopt a more realist style of writing, with
- july 8 2006: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Emily got this for me as a recommendation, one of her favorites and
most touching. I'd somehow rather missed out on dave eggers outside
of mcsweeneys, whose features i like most were anyhow not written by
him. With a title like this, how could i go wrong? it is kind of
heartbreaking, moreso as a true story than on paper, in my eyes, but
i really enjoyed dave's writing style--fanciful and exaggeratory but
it's hard to tell where the exaggeration stopped. and he's got a
quirk that on occasion tickles that same spot as douglas adams, that
way with words that just makes you giggle at the whole english language.
- 31 aug 2006: A Confederacy of Dunces
I'd started on this back in my favorite boulder bookstore (see link at
the bottom of this page) because it looked silly. i marked it for later
reading and suddenly stumbled across it at robin's, so i picked it up
again and finished. it's slightly bawdy, disturbing, and gross, but
definitely compelling and real...down in the trenches, antihero style.
not sure i'd recommend it, but it is very...something.
- 6 aug 2006: Helena the Muse
This is my friend Deanna's novel from our
grand novelwriting adventure last
year. Hers turned out WAY better than mine--due no doubt to the vast
amount of effort--research, editing, writing-group suffering, etc she
put in as well as her natural talents =)
I hope she gets published soon--this book is ready for An Audience!
Meanwhile I posted the link to the novel's blog up there so you can
check it out..
- 15 aug 2006: Generation X
Coupland, tickles. This is the first book I want to write, but I don't
feel half as creative as him. Or a tenth as enigmatically meaningful
(yeah, he's definitely got the dichotomy of oxymoronicity down).
- aug 2006: All Tomorrow's Parties
another recent-gibson, featuring heavily the golden gate bridge, which i
enjoyed reading because i jogged the golden gate bridge (there and
back, ~3 miles) while I was in SF in late july. also i love the bridge-
- 3 sep 2006: Virtual Light
the review of the previous book is precisely what i'd say here, again.
- 12 sep 2006: in the beginning was the command line
read for class, but the premise is engaging to a linuxophile &
techhistorygeek like myself. of course stephenson's still a god and
he turns his gaze on O/S UI and lays it on the line.
- 24 sep 2006: snow crash
duh, it's a masterpiece. read it now! now now!
- 22 oct 2006: hey nostradamus
coupland again. a little more emotional than most coupland. i liked it
pretty well. kinda sad.
- 8 nov 2006: Interface
co-pseudonymously-written by stephenson. this was probably back in the
zodiac era and it shows. also his fellow-writer is not as good as him.
an interesting story, though, about a president controlled via a microchip.
and it shows stephenson's tendency toward a moderate number of plot threads
that take awhile to weave together...not a waste of time
- 29 nov 2006: The Diamond Age
stephenson's other masterpiece. the one i recommend for girls--not that
it's just for girls, but it's definitely got a lot of girl-power in it.
- 21 dec 2006: Zen in the Art of Archery
beautiful, reminiscent of zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance,
but a little less beat-you-over-the-head about it.
- 13 jan 2007: Quicksilver
I reread this due to wanting a hyooooge book I knew I'd like all the way
through while I travelled overseas. I do love the depth that Stephenson
gets into in this series. Of course you should read all 3 of them if you
like the first one. Historical scientific fiction with a touch of fant'sy
is really stellarly done here.
- 17 jan 2007: Thud!
A recent Terry Pratchett, who can do no wrong, but has done more right in
- 6 feb 2007: The Earth Will Shake
One of my favorite authors, in fact,
he who wrote my favorite book ever (The
Illuminatus! Trilogy) actually has a more riveting story in this
trilogy. It's a historical (hmm, 18th century?) setting with a lot of the
same mystical conspiricism but much easier to follow than the big jobber.
It's a real page-turner and I have to warn you now that the guy died and
never gave us the fourth & final book. it was just about to get even more
interesting, too. Still worth rereading (this would be my 3rd round...)
- ? feb 2007: The Widow's Son
Book #2 of the above
- 21 Feb 2007: Nature's God
Book #3 of the above
- 20 Feb 2007: Fugitives and Refugees: A Walk in Portland, Oregon
Written by Mr. Fight Club, about the town I was about to visit and move
to, it's more historical than useful present day but well-presented and
definitely shows a lot of the quirky, seamy underbelly stuff which I love
and is hard to come by in more popular tourist guides.
- 23 Feb 2007: All the Myriad Ways
An out-of-print Niven book I can remember absolutely nothing about 10
months later. Kids, don't wait to post book reviews if your memory is
as bad as mine. Sigh.
- 27 Feb 2007: word freak
There are other people out there who suffer worse scrabble addictions than
myself. A journalist goes to explore their world and becomes one of them.
There but for the grace of God go I...
Well-written, truthful, but still entertaining for the personality sketches
and if you want a hint of what it's like to fall about 1% closer to the
scholastic persona than me and be soaked in studying to play a game, an
insight into my own life. fortunately, I have dodged the non-art of study
and play a very organic game informed by thousands of online matches with
people better than myself.
- 7 Mar 2007: The Mote in God's Eye
Niven & Pournelle team up. I love Niven and like Pournelle OK, and
together they're pretty awesome. First contact done thoroughly and
- 11 Apr 2007: Wee Free Men
Cute kid lit from the funny master. I hope that if I ever have kids, they
enjoy this sort of thing from an early age. It's intelligent but
accessible. Mostly unrelated except in tone and circumstance to Discworld.
- 15 Jul 2007: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
i actually finished this back in september 2003, but it was obvious
that i did not get a unified picture of the central concept of the
book, Quality. it had a lot to offer someone starting to take
writing seriously so i left it in the to-read shelf and managed to finish
it for a second time in summer 2007, also on a road trip that blew my
- 13 Aug 2007: Prey
a nanotech thriller from Mr. Jurassic Park. I actually like many of his
other works better, such as this one. it's a little meatier than JP in
the science department and actually knowing a little about the topic
(as opposed to biology in JP) i could sink my teeth in a little. it was
a pageturner and i finished it in about 16 hours. not too heavy, overall.
- 15 Aug 2007: Soon I Will Be Invincible
a quirky alternate-reality-with-superheros-and-supervillains in, i liked it
quite a lot really. my dad grabbed it for me from the library and it was
perfect. i might have guessed since coupland was quoted as saying it was
great, and while i don't always like coupland's writing, i usually agree
with his taste in Things
- Sept-Oct 2007: every single Terry Goodkind book. In a matter of like a month and a half, over 6,000 pages. I'd like to say it was deeply moving, but it wasn't. It was good, but it was kinda fluff.
- Oct 31, 2007: Glasshouse
Charlie Stross is one of Hard Scifi's new up-and-comers and I really like
his style. He gave away something earlier on the internet and so I got
into him enough to buy this one. Very sociological for hard sci-fi but
totally worthwhile and weird just like I like em.
- Nov 2, 2007: Spook Country
Gibson is still one of my favorite flavors even though he's stepped way
back from cyberpunk to focus on near-present future dystopia. I love the
way his thrillers are thoughtful and full of a spice of other that still
makes him sci-fi, but with a tinge of fantastical and amazing. However
it totally slips under the radar in most of those categories and is just
compelling and wonderful writing.
- Nov 5, 2007: The Monkey Wrench Gang
Now here's something crunchy: an eco-terrorist thriller from the point
of view of the naturalist. Terrorism is the only way to get through.
Characters hold up even 30-40 years after the book was written and the
story is compelling in a fun and happy way.
- Nov 15, 2007: Cradle to Cradle
We need to reboot the planet and our ideas on design. Friend Raj turned
me onto this and it is a must-read about how to save the planet. We're
not talking about stop driving, we're talking about stop making junk and
start making sustainable technology and culture. And contrary to many
books that naysay without providing alternatives, these guys *do*
sustainable design and show that with a lot more care, it isn't
particularly more expensive but it is 100% better for the world. As much
as I'm a fictionlover, this was probably my book of the year and I
cannot recommend it highly enough. For a brief taste of the downer part
of the message see the story of
stuff (20 minute flash movie).
- Nov 30, 2007: Nebula Awards Showcase 2007
Er. I actually finished this a long time ago. Though I skipped the
biggest story which I read this go. Not as inspiring and inspired as
I would have hoped for award winning stuffs, but some really awesome
bits among the meh.
- Dec 3, 2007: Screw Heaven, When I Die I'm Going to Mars
The latest (as of this writing) publication by one of my favorite
cartoonists and I think the only one who tends to put his stuff in print
as a primary form of publication. Too Much
Coffee Man is how I met him and getting to watch him talk about his
work and draw some strips live at powell's books in Portland made me
buy this immediately, and consume it over the next hour...
- Dec 12, 2007: Confessor
The end of the Sword of Truth Megaseries (11 books!) that I started in
September came out and so I got to find out how it all ended. A good
ending that could have taken, paradoxically, 2 books or only half of the
book to finish (in that some parts were so good i wanted twice as much,
and some so boring but necessary that i wanted the clifs notes). Well,
at least we've seen how things turn out. I won't spoil it for you.
- Dec 20, 2007: The Art of Happiness
An American psychologist and Dalai Lama team up to illustrate the Dalai
Lama's path to a better life--through happiness! It appeals to the
hedonist in me but is eminently practical and would be an awesome read
for someone who's got the wrong sort of focus in their life (hate, greed,
whatever), and for me was an affirmation of my life path. so at least
I have that going for me. Well-written and accessible.
- Dec 22, 2007: A Good Old-Fashioned Future
Sterling may be an ass sometimes but this book was incredibly enjoyable.
Most worthwhile was Maneki
Neko which is just a beautiful view of where a techno-socialnetworked-
society could end up. utopia begone, dystopia ho!
- Dec 24, 2007: A Separate Peace
I originally read this sometime in high school and Rachel recently told me
that she'd reread it and found it even better as an adult, so I gave it a
try too. It was, in fact, still very poignant and wonderful and somehow
reminiscent of a past I never had.
- Early 2008: Wherein I forgot to list much of what I've been reading.
- Early 2008: The God of Small Things
Her turns of phrase, and immersion in a heretofore unknowably beautiful
culture, how sweet. Someone I've long since lost touch with showed me this
beautiful book so many moons ago and I just wrote her to say thank you. Maybe
she'll write back.
- February 2008: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting
I laughed but have not forgotten. Compelling and worthwhile as so many of
the Eastern European novels I read are. But not comfortable.
- Mar 25, 2008: Anansi Boys
Neil Gaiman's fantasticality remains exceptionally fantastical and beautiful.
- 16 Apr 2008: Ender's Shadow
I really enjoy Card's writing, and this different-viewpoint version of
Ender's Game does not disappoint. The most interesting thing to
me about this story as an author is that the main character's amazing
intellect makes a character-based omniscience believable and enthralling
as a pure character-viewpoint story without resorting to disembodied
provision of information ("everyone was mad") or narration.
- Apr 2008: Shadow of the Hegemon
- May 8 2008: Shadow Puppets
- May 13 2008: Shadow of the Giant
All three of these continue on from Ender's Shadow and are at least as
captivating as the original series.
- May 29 2008: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
It was as enjoyable as the past few. Either you're into it or you're not.
- July 2008: The Book of Athyra
Enjoyed it pretty well, it was definitely a bit of a page-turner.
- 19 Aug 2008: What I talk about when i talk about running
Murakami's prose style continues to compel and delight me, and i always have liked biographies of people whose art i like. autobiography of a writer i dig, about a topic i understand to some degree (endurance sports, race training)? hellz yeah. it was pretty light reading, and felt a little like that book about zen and archery. a very much "don't try, only do, simply" treatise, not trying to instruct, just inform. probably completely devoid of interesting bits unless you like running and murakami's style.
- 22 Aug 2008: Rant
Wow. This was pretty great. I don't really know how to explain it, but i'm definitely going to run out and find some other stuff by Palahniuk. Glad I accidentally found it at Powell's!
- 10 Sep 2008: Fragile Things
I dig on Gaiman in general, but this wasn't one of my favorites. It was certainly filled with gems of varying fineness and rarity, but it wasn't captivating like a full-length story of his tends to be.
- 13 Sep 2008: Mort
Yay, a Pratchett book heavily featuring the character Death, a favorite. Not his best work but still really entertaining.
- 20 Sep 2008: Invisible Monsters
- 22 Sep 2008: Sourcery
- 14 Oct 2008: Anathem
- i kinda fell off the wagon for awhile there. i've read some books since Anathem. a fair amount of murakami & palahnuik, some pratchett and gaiman, and a lot of misc. some bikey books, some wonky books, some silly books.
- sometime in 2010: Infinite Jest jesus, it's not infinite, but it has intense staying power. it took me 3 months of small bursts to finish this. it was totally depressing and totally worthwhile. i can't recommend it too much..or too little. epic, for sure.
- 22 Jan 2011: Babel 17: i had never read any delaney before but i love him the way i love frank herbert. such deep introspective into human behavior! and his sci-fi was pretty amazing too. that it aged well enough over *45 years* for me not to feel it was dated (yet it was not nearly as abstract as, say, diaspora, which has had an easy time staying futuristic). i'll be looking for more of his work.
- 22 Jan 2011: Nightwork: this book was about a really cool topic but it was pretty terribly written and the pictures were of low quality. go read the website about MIT hacks if you're interested--it's at least as good.
- 30 jan 2011: Fool is a saucy retelling of King Lear, with a lot of britcom-ness and other shakespearean bits mixed in, and it was tasty! also rather easier to digest than Willy S, to my mind.
- oh this just isn't working out right now. i'm trying out goodreads as of this writing, if you're into that.
i do most of my reading online. there are a zillion and one things to see on
the internet, and there are at least hundreds objectively worth reading.
much of my LiveJournal
Friends page does not necessarily fall under that category (of course
it's all subjectively great or i wouldn't spend so much of my time there!),
but there are a few consistent exceptions to that rule which i'll share
with you here.
- Paul Graham is a geek, a
sociologist, and rather smart. points out interesting trends in life
and tech and analyzes them in an accessible fashion. a good one to start
with, and one which i wish every middle/high school student who's ever been
unhappy with their existence could read, is
Why Nerds are Unpopular.
- Joel Spolsky is similar
to Paul Graham--both are true hackers who started tech companies that
succeeded, and write about the experience. Joel's stuff tends to be more of
a geek/management nature journal entries whereas Paul's are more
weeks-invested essays, but there's a substantial amount of crossover. i've
learned a lot from both of these guys but more about coding from Joel.
- The Onion is satire with some severely
long-lasting flavor. imagine the tastiest piece of gum you've ever chewed,
and the flavor remaining as intense and joyful and not going all squishy,
hard, or bland in the middle for like 10 years and you get the onion.
i also read some webcomics. usually i drink words by the liter, but
when i want them by the drop with guaranteed humor in,
i go here.
of course, there are plenty of books on my to-read shelves (64
at last count). i've passed
the point at which i am not actually allowing myself to buy more books
until i make a sizable dent in this bunch, though i continue to cheat
on this policy both at the library and in impulse purchases.
there are also quite a few more things i'm interested in on
and some things that are in progress. most of them are at least
medium term: typically i find them worthwhile but hard reading,
so i won't give up, but i'm easily distracted to lighter reading.
however some are just what i'm actually reading at the moment,
as in, making daily progress. and i hate myself (just a little)
for ever adding more to this list without taking some off.
all of my book links are to amazon in this document; their website is
fantastic and i buy stuff like dvd's from them. however i strongly
encourage you to support a local bookstore in your shopping;
is my library-away-from-the-library in austin,
while i recommend the tattered
cover in denver and the
boulder bookstore in boulder, and of course powell's city of books in portland..
if there is a canonical awesome local bookstore for your area, please
feel free to tell me about it and
i might link it in here.
- Strunk & White's The Elements of Style
i just feel like i ought to have read it since i am so critical of
others' grammatical gaffes. in fact i think i just blew a rule on
the first page, i should have said the grammatical gaffes of others.
so it's a needed thing.
- The Tao te Ching
ponderous, man. really ponderous. i could finish this in an hour
but it's obvious that it is the kind of thing you're supposed to
sip and not gulp. each passage is worthy of a day's contemplation
but i'll read 20 and then stop guiltily feeling that i am short-
changing myself. quite excellent despite my weaknesses, tho. i'm
reading a version bound in moleskin (the fake kind) that "some guy"
translated. i like it but i can't find an actual link to it.
- The Illuminatus Trilogy - yeah, it was time to read it for the 12 time. spurted to page 400 and stalled. not given up yet tho.
This document was last modified on Saturday, 05-Nov-2011 01:12:38 CDT.