Thursday, August 10, 2006

Reading Rainbow

It gets a little tough sometimes to crank out a post when books are laying all over the house, beckoning me toward the rocks of distraction. Blogging about reading, though not quite as good as reading, is still good enough to make me stop my ears up and keep moving. Ah, but enough introduction, here's what I've read lately, in no particular order:

1. Geraldine Brooks: March. Aunt J arrived at dinner early on during vacation, teary-eyed and sniffly. The cause of her melancholy? This fantastic book. In the famed tradition of poetic license, Ms. Brooks takes inspiration from Louisa May Alcott's Little Women and crafts a story for the mostly-absent Mr. March. She covers some of his youth, his relationship with Marmee, and his struggles as he attempts to do his share during the Civil War. The characters are fairly well developed, and it was interesting to read about something OTHER than battles in a book about the period. Worth a look if this blurb piques your interest.

2. Neal Stephenson: Snow Crash. Hubster and I are fond of this writer. His Cryptonomicon was entertaining, witty, and intricate. He entertwined WWII history with net-neutrality issues and some decent characters. This book sticks to one time period and its characters are not quite as appealing, but it's still a fun beach read. The alternate near-future he envisions is alternately insane and believable. Sci-fi fans might not mind slogging through his odd scene introductions and terrible ending (the man CANNOT wrap up a book with enough detail) to enjoy themselves. If you're not into sci-fi lit? Probably a pass.

3. Margaret Atwood: Oryx and Crake. After thoroughly enjoying The Blind Assassin, I took a trip through the local mall's BooksAMillion and found this gem in hardback for $10 - ROCK! If you're a fan of Atwood, you'll enjoy this futuristic tale (somewhat similar to Snow Crash, come to think of it, but better). This was recommended to me originally by sbp not long after college, and I'm glad I listened. Rich prose. Dystopia at its finest.

4. Umberto Eco: The Island of the Day Before. I mentioned it before, but I finished reading it at last and can deliver my verdict in musical form, sort of. Think: Aqualung's Strange and Beautiful.

Glimpses of problems and attitudes that exist to this day cloaked in objects and customs that are long gone. Except without the mumbling pop star in the middle of it. In some sense, it's a scholar's ode to a historical trivia, but it's still delightful. I didn't know much about the problem of longitude in history, but now I'm curious. It's a good thing my science-teacher mom's got a book about that.

5. Nick Hornby: A Long Way Down. In the first scene, four strangers make their separate ways to the top of an apartment building on New Year's Eve in order to commit suicide. Excuse me, I need to go get a drink or ten. Once you start reading, though, the proclamation of the Boston Sunday Globe emblazoned on the back cover rings true: "A mordant, brilliant novel . . . A Long Way Down ought to be required reading for writing students who want to know how to evoke one set of circumstances with its opposite; how to capture unspeakable pain with humor; how to suggest camaraderie with trenchant, piss-all irony; how to turn a novel based on suicide into a cello suite about how to go on living." This is my first Hornby novel, but it will not be my last. (Sensitive readers beware: the f-bomb peppers the page.)

I think that's about it, for the time being. I've got a few more in the chute, but I'd prefer to write about them when I'm done. What are YOU reading?

1 comment:

Don Quixote said...

In addition to science journals for work, I am reading the "Circle of Magic" series by Tamora Pierce. It is a Harry-Potter-like tale of 4 young mages learning about their unique forms of magic. Each individual expresses magic that comes from everyday activities (weaving, farming, smithing, and weather-watching). Together, they are a formidable force.

It is a very interesting look at magic and adolescence. One of the more interesting aspects is the tension that exists from “university mages” and these mages of the ordinary things. It is much like the tension between the ivory-tower elites who decide what is to be taught and those “renegade” scholars who dare to espouse a different view. It is one of the few "children's tales" that have caught my interest. I don't care for Harry Potter, for example, but I love these books.