Summer Books 2010

I've read a few books over the Summer - here's what I thought of them:

The Millionaires - I should have aborted. I didn't care for this book. The story idea is OK, but the telling was too dramatic and too much made of little things. The reader of the audiobook added flair, but it couldn't be saved. And it ended with a whimper to boot. It was free and recommended, maybe that's why I stayed with it. I can accept the occasional clinker, but I should have pulled the plug, there's so much better out there.

The War Of The Worlds - I liked the movie. I liked the Orson Wells radio program that caused the panic back in 1938 (here's the MP3). Since it's out of copyright in the USA, I downloaded the audiobook read by a volunteer (with a pleasant English accent). I quite enjoyed it, even though I usually don't like old books and there were a few flaws in the recording. I'm impressed that H. G. Wells imagined such fanciful yet believable concepts (for fiction, you know what I mean). And he described things so well. The part about his brother in London was an unnecessary tangent that went too long, and I got bored with a few other sections where H. G. waxed on about some detail, but overall I liked it.

Brave New World - After reading Genesis (not in the Bible) I was in the mood for some more future fiction (I guess that's science fiction, but that usually means space travel and aliens and such). Aldous Huxley can write and I enjoyed reading his prose. It's an odd story, but it has a point, many points. It's not a message story, he just presents a possible future and if you don't see any parallels to where our society is headed, well then you read a nice story (and missed the points). I liked how he described this future society and it's technologies in just enough detail to make them realistic, but vague enough that they don't sound hokey today. Sure he was off on some things, but I'm impressed how well it's held up. Good book.

Snow Crash - Another future fiction. Some cool and ingenious concepts and technology in this book. The history lesson went on a bit long, but I respect the research he did for the book. The premise for the story is inventive and intriguing. And I liked his writing - get to the point and keep the story moving. I can see myself reading more Neal Stephenson. But I think I need to read Neuromancer first.

Blind Descent - I like adventure stories. So when I read a recommendation for this book about explorers seeking the deepest cave in the world I was hooked. The tale is indeed interesting, but the book is hampered by the merely adequate writing and the author's penchant for talking about the story when he should be telling the story. The content was worth it, but just barely. Here's a taste (spoiler): before 2001 the deepest cave in the world was in Austria (1,632 meters, 5,354 feet), and while American Bill Stone and his team was exploring Cheve cave in Mexico that went deeper, a Ukranian team kept pushing deeper still into Krubera cave in Abkhazia, Georgia to the current record of 2,191 meters (7,188 feet). What these people went through and what they discovered was amazing - too bad the book wasn't better.

More Information Than You Require - dug turned me onto this audiobook and it was a hit with me. John Hodgman's humor is sly and often cerebral. He's best known as PC in a series of Apple ads. A few his topics were duds, but most were at least amusing and I usually laughed several times each commute. John's command of language allows him to finely craft his jokes. I even liked his wistful, yet still tongue in check, commentary about fame. The book is probably OK, but you really want the audiobook as it is read by Hodgman and has a lot of good adlibs and cameos, and a few songs by Jonathan Coulton (my favorite song is The Future Soon). Now I need to listen to his first book, The Areas Of My Expertise.


dug said...

what? no Fool?

i'm just starting, wait for it, Gone With the Wind. part one is 41 cds.

I expect to be done by christmas.

KanyonKris said...

dug - Since I didn't finish Fool I didn't feel I could review it.

41 CDs?! I'm too ADD for that, at least for now, too many good books out there (that aren't 41 CDs).

Anonymous said...

War of the Worlds has one of the best opening paragraphs ever written, right up there with Fahrenheit 451. I used them both in my English classes. Good stuff.