SurrDave (surrdave) wrote,

Recent books

It's been a while...

The Italian Secretary: A Sherlock Holmes mystery by Caleb Carr. (Audio, unabridged.) Carr captures both the characters and the Victorian setting, and it's a good enough plot. In other words, it's a fine read, but it's clear that it was a good author but not Conan Doyle writing it.

Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift. Interesting in the way first discovering science fiction was interesting. Very inventive, and he put a lot of thought into each society (not just Lilliput, Brobdingang, and the Hounyhym). Being from the eighteenth century, it sits between Victorian prudishness and Shakespearean bawd. At times the commentary is heavy-handed.

The Glass Bead Game by Herman Hesse. At first I thought it would be cool if the idea were real--a game whose pieces are elements of culture spanning all disciplines of knowledge--but it really only works as what it is: satire of academia. There are fine moments, but as they cannot be extracted from the whole, it requires a full 600-page commitment. Not entirely sure it was worth it.

Solstice by David Hewson. Serviceable but entirely unremarkable techno-thriller. Nothing wrong with it--at first I thought it was awful science, but he did know what he was talking about--and yet I spent much of the book looking forward to the next Preston & Childs.

River Town by Peter Hessler. I reviewed an early chapter of this wonderful book some years ago, when I gave my copy to andpuff. I certainly can't say I'm educated in Chinese culture, but this does at least give a sense of it, with many wonderful lasting images and moments. Highly recommended, though as far as I know his other books (e.g. Oracle Bones) would do as well.

Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Coleridge. I enjoyed this. There were many more familiar phrases than I expected in a single work, and it was more coherent than I'd been led to believe. This was a free audio from librivox, and the reader was capable enough but perhaps too young to interpret.

Black Amazon of Mars by Leigh Brackett. Standard Brackett, yet another Eric John Stark story with a meandering pulp plot focusing mostly on the fact of being sci fi. As such, quite good. Short. Free Librivox, and I think it was read by a computer--remarkable advancements in voice synthesis.

The Apology by Plato. Misnamed, since it's actually Socrates' Apology related by Plato. Librivox, but read by a human, an older male who had inflections suitable to an aging Greek philosopher. Socrates is pedantic but makes a strong argument.

Amphigorey Too and Amphigorey Also by Edward Gorey. In honor of his birthday. These are quick reads, and while the novelty is gone, they're pretty close to the quality of the first one. Amphigorey is highly recommended; these are for people who liked the first one. He sent me to the dictionary a few times (it's not hard to tell when he's made up a word and when he's dug up something obscure).
Tags: book review

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    I let the books speak for themselves here. I selected representative samples, equally representative of the book and of my opinion. Certainly I don't…

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