Thursday, October 25, 2007

More books

Last week I had a lot of reading to do, in between the pastry making, visiting, cribbage (Rachel kicked my butt), backgammon (I played my brother to 32-32. We kept score on the cribbage board), shopping, etc. I read a very clever book called The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett. This book, first in a 434 part series, is set on a world that is actually a disk, called Discworld. Its sun orbits around it. It sits atop A'Tuin, the great turtle, who sits in turn on top of four elephants (or maybe it's the other way around). It's not just great fantasy parody (the sections on Cthulhu and Pern seemed particularly well-done to me), it's at times thought-provoking. With jokes.

I also read an old classic, Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers. Unless you have a specific need, like the need to read lots and lots of science fiction, I will actually suggest that you avoid this book. There is basically no story, the character arc is unconvincing, and there are endless info-dumps, and endless sermons on the value of serving in the armed forces. It's important to view it in its context, of course, (1959) but it suffers from Heroic Spaceman Syndrome along with a lot a lot of the fiction that was being done then. It won the Hugo, so if you are trying to read the Hugos, that might be another reason to read it.

I didn't have time to get to Ursula K. Le Guin's The Language of the Night, which is a first collection of her essays and articles on science fiction and fantasy. So I stole it from my dad.

I have plugged Le Guin here before, for The Left Hand of Darkness. I should mention that she also wrote (and is still writing) a terrific fantasy series called Earthsea that was recently made into a movie (not very faithful, if I remember the hearsay correctly). The first book is The Wizard of Earthsea. I still remember most of the second book too, The Tombs of Atuan. I tried to read the third book, The Farthest Shore, but I didn't really understand it at the time. She has written a ton of great stuff, though.

I am thinking about doing a 2007 book review Retrospecticus in December.

I have been busily listening to Radiohead's studio catalog. All of it. Amnesiac, yes, is the hardest listen and OK Computer is definitely still the best. It also turns out that there are Radiohead concerts on the internet. The best way to see them is to go to, search for your artist, then pick videos longer than 20 minutes. I tried the Beatles, and it appears to have the entire Yellow Submarine movie, the entire Help!, a 40 minute video from the Shea Stadium concert... ad infinitum. Give it a try with your favorite artist...

1 comment:

vince said...

Dan, our reading lists rarely intersect. My list is composed of philosophy, theology, and history ... with only an occasional work of fiction. Non-fiction seems to be beyond your horizon, Dan. My son finally got me to agree to reading a Harry Potter book between the non-fiction books of my list. I just finished Book 3 (Prisoner of Azkaban). They are certainly fun and fast.

My previous non-fiction book was "Great Christian Thinkers" by Hans Kung, a Catholic Theologian who works towards Protestant-Catholic ecumenical goals. He reviews the paradigm shifts in Christian thought brought about by Paul of Tarsus, Origen, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Luther, Scheiermacher,and Barth. It was very good until it got to Barth. Hans Kung is an expert on Barth, so he assumes the reader knows the basics about Barth and, thus, skips to obscure ideas of Barth.

Great book to read if it can be found in the local library.