Recent readings. All the books in the past few weeks
Posted on Sep 17, 2007
I thought I would give a rundown of some of the books I have been reading recently. In the last couple weeks, I have been interested in non-fiction reading. I go through phases were I am suddenly really into books on different sociological issues. For instance, the hikikomori book I read awhile ago, and my fascination with any book that is about Chicago and Urban issues. So anyway - I will tell you what I have been reading and what I am in the middle of.
And without further ado, here are my recently read books:
A Deepness in the Sky and A Fire Upon The Deep - both by Vernor Vinge - Vinge has the ability to personify aliens in a unique way. The reader is able to learn and discover what and who the aliens are without having a actual description of the alien beings. Vinge does all this through an excellent narrative. I quite enjoy this series and am looking forward to the next chapter.
Yakuza Moon by Shoko Tendo - I hated this book. I bought it thinking that it would offer some insight into the world of the Yakuza, instead it was Shoko Tendo's story of her family falling apart and her inability to have a decent relationship. It was a interesting story, but was way off base with what I was hoping for.
World War Z by Max Brooks - My brother Dylan recommended this book to me (I think). I got it after we got back from Colorado. It is really fun. A whole different outlook to the zombie apocalypse than many other zombie books. Hilarious and a lot dark.
Accelerando by Charles Stross - I usually really like Charles Stross' work, so when I started Accelerando I was hoping for the best. Luckily, it is awesome. I found this book through an interview with Vernor Vinge about singularity (I think it was a small world podcast). I like singularity fiction that stays with me for awhile after I finish it. Accelerando has powered many day dreams about the future. I can't wait to upload myself into an AI world!
Blood Music by Greg Bear - This book was recommended in the same podcast as Accelerando. I started it on my way to Colorado and I HATED IT. I thought it was so stupid. So I stopped reading it. Then I started to wonder what was happening to the characters and it eventually drove me batty! So I had to finish it. The ending was awesome. I am glad I read it. I think my initial aversion was the fact that the story is very different than a lot of other singularity books I have read. it isn't through traditional technology that the singularity takes place. It is much more bio than that. But in the end, it is a great read.
Spook Country by William Gibson - I love William Gibson. His novels are fun, easy and quick. Always providing a great bundle of thoughts and entertainment. I really enjoyed Pattern Recognition, so I was excited to read Spook Country. It was OK. I had the same issues that flickr's Kellan Elliott-McCrea had with it - i.e: who in god's name is running the infrastructure that the premise of this book is built on. It is very complex. But the part that was unbelievable was that their was no described handshake between the technology and the hosts of the "geo-located spatial content." It was seamless. Even in my house, with my laptop - connectivity isn't always seamless. So maybe Gibson is relying on 5 more years of this to make everything better. But during the read, it was annoying. Other than that minor point, I thought the book was decent.
The Road by Cormac McCarthy - This book is really spooky, dark, creepy and honestly one of the scariest books i have read in awhile. Not scary like being 14 and reading Steven King books at 3am, scary like questioning human nature and abilities. Scary like not wanting to read the news because the news will make your mind play cause and effect until the only outcome is apocalypse. It is an awesome book. I would recommend it always.
The Last Colony by John Scalzi - This is the third installment of the Old Man's War and Ghost Brigades books. It is great. I love the war stories that are so far ahead of our future that anything can happen. I also feel that Scalzi treats aliens well. They are not annoying at all. The physical differences are left to our imagination while the important parts about them are well thought out and displayed.
So those are the books i have read in the last few weeks. Here are the books I am currently reading:
Taliban and Jihad, both by Ahmed Rashid - I started Taliban awhile ago. Almost before all the books I went through above, but for some reason it is taking me forever to get through it. I think its because I really want to make sure I am reading it with 100% comprehension. No skimming allowed. So I don't read it if I am tired, or sidetracked. I am about 80% done. Thus far it is incredible. I have learned quite a bit from his writing on the Afghan area. I am a bit sad that almost all of what i know now is supplanted by the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and now this book will have to be rewritten. One of the most interesting things to me is how Iran was so thoroughly against the Taliban; whereas Pakistan was helping the Taliban. When our foreign policy is telling the world the exact opposite. I am left wondering if that is a trick on our part - or has the middle east changed that much in 7 years. I am guessing that the answer is both. But the conflict that the Taliban had with Iran seems to be something that is incommensurable and unable to reconcile. So i find it hard to believe that the Taliban, Al-quida have anything to do with Iraq and then have anything to do with Iran.
I have yet to start Jihad.
American Project by Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh - having really enjoyed his work in Freakonomics, I decided to start reading more of his writings. I am about 30% done. It is very well written and quite interesting. From a social perspective: Chicago is such a interesting place. I can't wait to read more. The projects are a sad place, so it is quite something to read about the inception and how it wasn't originally intended as a way to ghetto urban poor.
Everything is Miscellaneous by David Weinberger - I have an awesome hobby of watching Google tech talks. Between them and TedTalks, I am choke full of interesting speakers. So I was cruising the RSS feed of tech talks and I stumbled across the Authors @ Google video of David Weinberger. It was amazing. My mind was blown. It referenced Wittgenstein, Wikipedia and a bunch of other stuff I am really into. So after being enthralled with his presentation for 57 minutes, i decided to buy the book. It is a good read thus far. I am about 45% through and I like how it is set up. Very chapter based - demonstrating order (or the lack of) by different chapters. it is setting up the difficulty of ordering things that humans interact with. Especially when things are in HUGE sets. Like digital photos, web pages, Internet stuffs and anything else. My favorite part of the book is the chapter about Dewey Decimal. Melvil Dewey is insane.
So that is it. I am about 4 books deep. I can't wait to get through them, and not in a "god I wish this was over" sort of way. I am really into savoring the knowledge.
I would love some suggestions - if anyone has some. I just ordered The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World by Alan Greenspan. I imagine that his memoirs will be interesting and quite possibly really boring. heh.