Thursday, November 20, 2008

Reading Update #8

As you know if you've been here before, I like to read more than one book at a time, keeping books in different locations instead of carrying one book around with me everywhere. Sometimes however, books I start reading in one place get moved to another location so I can read them more quickly.

In the downstairs bathroom: I'm switching up the order here because I finished The Forest of Peldain by Barrington J. Bayley so I moved Ceres Storm by David Herter downstairs. I started them at about the same time but got through the shorter Bayley book much more quickly.

In his recommendation of Barrington J. Bayley, Rhys Hughes said, "Popular writers of fantastical fiction give the reading public one or two 'ideas' per book. We are comfortable with such paucity because it doesn't challenge us. We can't really stand what Bayley offered -- dozens of ultra-clever original high level IDEAS per chapter -- though we always claim that's exactly what we want! Bayley was a high concept writer who worked out his amazing conceits in the guise of hardish science fiction."

I don't think this book fits his description very well. First it was more fantasy than hard science fiction. While it did have a lot of interesting ideas or inventions, for the most part they were extensions of the same idea. However it did surprise me more often that the typical fantasy novel, even those that turn out to have scientific underpinnings instead of magical. There were many places I knew something was coming, but I was never able to accurately guess what it was.

Despite this book not living up to my expectations I rather enjoyed it and I look forward to reading more by Bayley. Now, I really wish I could find some Rhys Hughes at the local bookstore.

In the bedroom: As I mentioned above, I was reading Ceres Storm by David Herter here but I shifted it downstairs where I seem to have more reading time. So far I have only averaged about a dozen pages a day over the last two weeks. I can't say if I'm not finding it compelling because I'm reading it so slow, or if I'm reading it so slow because I can't get into it. As I said last week, the author doesn't give you a lot of information as he goes along. Sometimes you read something that tells you what happened twenty pages before. Only when you were reading twenty pages back, you had no idea you missed something.

I'm not sure what to make of this book. One thing is for sure, I never have any idea what is going to happen next. Not the slimmest clue what I'll find on the next page. It is just completely alien. Which, if you think about it, science fiction should be. This book is set in our far distant future, things should be hard to grasp. I'm assuming it will pay off in the end, I will let you know.

I haven't decided what I'm reading upstairs next. I have dozens of books near the top of my "read next" list and I'm hoping some others will arrive in the mail today.

At the office: I'm still reading A Tramp Abroad by Mark Twain. I'm going to bring this home next week and take it with me when we go to Asheville for five days over Thanksgiving. I haven't been to Asheville in a few years but they have a number of really good bookstores. I've been hording my cash and updating the list of authors I am hunting for and hope to leave a lot of cash behind me up there. I'll let you know in my next update.

In the car: I finished Super Crunchers : Why Thinking-by-Numbers Is the New Way to Be Smart by Ian Ayres but I was not hit with any further inspirations, either work related or story related. The book did make me want to read and/or listen to more books that are math related.

Yesterday I picked up A Way with Words: Writing, Rhetoric, and the Art of Persuasion by Michael Drout. I'll start this tomorrow but I don't think I'll finish it before we leave town. The plan for the nearly four hour drive is to listen to A History of the English Language also by Michael Drout. I just finished it last week but I really want my wife and kids to listen to it.

These are both part of the Modern Scholar series of college lectures on cd. If you have access to these through your library (and not just Michael Drout's) I can't recommend them enough. Especially if you have kids. Let your 8th grader get a taste of what a really good college professor can do.

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