Summer is here! Just as we did around the holidays, we decided to share some of the books we’ll be reading over the next couple of months.
I’m reading Japanese Tales of the Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library. Would like to get into the PFTFL’s volumes of India folktales as well as their Latin American collection. Also reading The Artist’s Way At Work.
Schindler’s List: I couldn’t stomach watching the movie when it came out, and even kept it queued up to watch long after. One of my girls picked up the paperback, so I finally braved reading it. It’s not a book to “enjoy,” but to endure and reflect upon and be humbled by.
Palace of Treason by Jason Matthews. It’s the second book in the Red Sparrow trilogy. (Red Sparrow being the first, which was made into a movie, which, unsurprisingly, wasn’t as good as the book). It’s a spy series that’s fiction, but the author is a former CIA officer, which adds to the believability and interesting operation knowledge of the content.
Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins. Incredible personal story of overcoming odds and obstacles. The guy is remarkable.
J. Carlos Perez
I’m in the middle of Frederick Douglass, Prophet of Freedom. It’s beautifully written, and I was hooked as soon as I read the introduction. What a remarkable, complex figure.
Here’s what’s on my nightstand this Spring: Programming for Musicians and Digital Artists: Creating music with ChucK. (Brett adds: If you like ChucK, I recommend Ge Wang’s book on design. It is focused on design for creative systems, but the principles and systems he outlines are broadly applicable.
Brett g Porter
I treated myself to a non-development-related book this weekend: Playing Changes: Jazz for the New Century .
In the book, Chinen outlines the ways that a new generation of musicians (my generation, at the median) is reclaiming the ownership of jazz traditions and extending them into a new century, away from the museum-quality glass vitrines that sterile preservationists like Wynton Marsalis are arguing it belongs in. I’d enjoy it even if it didn’t stake out an aesthetic position that’s largely congruent with my own. An added bonus from living in the NYC area for decades — it’s nice to see specific performances referenced as significant and realize that I attended the show in question.
Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters. An alternative-history novel in the form of a mystery but packing a payload of pointed thematics on overt and covert racism, civil rights, and what it means to own or control another human being or their bodies, the extent and subtlety to which people use each other for gain. This book doesn’t let you sit complacently with your “truth” as you perceive it. And, as much as this is an alternative history novel, you only need to extrapolate in a minor way to see that we are inside that “alternative” history.
I’m reading House of Rain: Tracking a Vanished Civilization Across the American Southwest by Craig Childs. It is the story, such as it is known, of the ancestral Puebloan people known as the Anasazi. Cool stuff, although not exactly from the same shelf as “The Americans”.
Not reading any books at the moment. Just random articles about landscaping and fixing my golf swing.
I’m currently re-reading Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay in preparation for the (sort of) sequel, River of Stars.
A couple books that I have read recently that I really enjoyed were Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens and An American Marriage by Tayari Jones.
Most of my reading is blogs via RSS these days (yes, RSS is still a thing, and you can have it when you rip it from my cold dead hands), but my stack of in-the-middle-of-reading books includes:
Ancestral Machines by Michael Cobley
Against a Dark Background by Iain M Banks
Lone Star Dinosaurs by Louis Jacobs (which I picked up last night at the monthly meeting of the Dallas Paleontological Society…my 9yo proto-paleontologist insisted we attend…it was, as usual, a good time)
Oh, and I just got a copy of Don Quixote, which I’ve never actually read, and recently decided I should have.
My sweetie and I love reading to each other. We particularly love YA books, for their driving plots and lack of navel-gazing. Over the winter and spring we read the three Hunger Games books and the five books in the Chronicles of Prydain (I’m told I read Gurgi rather well!). Currently we’re reading Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, in the middle of the second book, The Subtle Knife.
The Power of Eight by Lynne McTaggart was recently given to me by a meditation guide. Not something I would normally choose, but quite interesting.
I’m brushing up my French by reading Tintin. Currently on Le Lotus Bleu.
Well, I’m embarrassed to report I’m still slowly reading various books in the Pendragon RPG series. Uh the specifics aren’t important unless you’re going to play the game. This also caused me to start reading a version of the Arthur stories by Mallory. Well, the version I read as a kid certainly had a lot of people smiting and doing things “passing well” and “falling into a swoon” — maybe even more swooning than girls transforming into trees in “Ovid’s” Metamorphosis. It sounded something like Monty Python, which is what I’m expecting. But I guess I got the very sincere edition because evry werd es speylt a neue waye evrie tyme et is wrytyn. I dunno, it’s really distracting, especially when I’m only able to read half a page at a time. I might need another version “for comparison”. I guess I could see what’s on Project Gutenberg these days… Thanks for reminding me, though it’s another dangerous black hole.
Actually Ovid’s Metamorphosis would be a good recommendation (though I haven’t read it in over 10 years). It’s a bunch of Greek myths you’ve probably heard before in some form, but the way they’re told is amusing: a character tells a story, then a character in that story says “this reminds me of another story…” My copy, very appropriately, has a woman transforming into a tree on the cover, “the bark growing over her mouth.” Notably, there are two occasions in the book where a fight breaks out, and the writing suddenly turns into a gore fest for several pages straight. Curiously, as dozens or hundreds of characters die in variously gruesome ways, their names are given for the first and only time. It seems traditional somehow, whether because I’m supposed to know them all from other ancient stories or as a way to honor the (mythologically) dead. I guess this is what humans are compelled to produce in a world without special effects.
I read The Three Body Problem recently, by acclaimed Chinese sci-author Cixin Liu. It’s the first book in his Rembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy. I’ve started reading the second book Dark Forest, but have stalled. The book is interesting for a number of reasons. First, by providing insight into life in the China of the 70s up to the present day; second by its amazingly creative plot elements; and finally because of its style, which is different than I think one is used to in story-telling in the West. It’s hard to put a finger on what’s different, but for one thing It doesn’t have the same type of character arcs one finds in today’s Western fiction. It has a lot of characters but in some ways the characters seem very simplistic.
There was an interesting profile of Cixin Liu in the New Yorker recently.
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