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Tuesday, August 13, 2019

4 years!

Today marks my completion of four years of doing at least one half hour of reading per day. In the past year, I have read 33 more books comprising 14,786 pages. This brings my total for the four years to 129 books totaling 65,187 pages.

My year four books were:

Foundation and Empire - Isaac Asimov (282 pages)
The Emporer of all Maladies - Siddhartha Mukherjee (609 pages)
All the King’s Men - Robert Penn Warren (464 pages)
Second Foundation - Isaac Asimov (279 pages)
Seal Team Six - Howard Wasdin (416 pages)
The World According to Garp - John Irving (624 pages)
Foundation's Edge - Isaac Asimov (480 pages)
Algorithms to Live By - Christian Griffiths (368 pages)
Crime & Punishment - Fyodor Dostoevsky (551 pages)
Foundation and Earth - Isaac Asimov (528 pages)
Me Talk Pretty One Day - David Sedaris (288 pages)
The Golden Bowl - Henry James (789 pages)
Prelude to Foundation - Isaac Asimov (512 pages)
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - Rebecca Skloot (384 pages)
Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury (159 pages)
Forward the Foundation - Isaac Asimov (464 pages)
The Stranger in the Woods - Michael Finkel (224 pages)
The Adventures of Augie March - Saul Bellow (608 pages)
Southern Reach Trilogy - Jeff VanderMeer (901 pages)
Steve Jobs - Walter Isaacson (656 pages)
Go Tell it on the Mountain - James Baldwin (272 pages)
The Fifth Season - J.K. Jemisin (512 pages)
Man's Search for Meaning - Viktor Frankl (200 pages)
Moby Dick - Herman Melville (592 pages)
The Obelisk Gate - J.K. Jemisin (433 pages)
The Righteous Mind - Jonathan Haidt (528 pages)
Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad (80 pages)
The Stone Sky - J.K. Jemisin (464 pages)
I Am Malala - Malala Yousafzai (327 pages)
A House for Mr. Biswas - V. S. Naipaul (576 pages)
Fleet of Worlds - Larry Niven (304 pages)
Born in Blood and Fire: A Concise History of Latin America - John Charles Chasteen (400 pages)
Light in August - William Faulkner (512 pages)

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Born in Blood & Fire: A Concise History of Latin America

Most of the historical non-fiction that I've read so far has been focused on the United States or one of the world wars.  It was something of a departure to read Born in Blood & Fire: A Concise History of Latin America by John Chasteen.  This book covers Latin America from the first European encounters in the late 15th century up to the present.  It's actually a textbook, but I found it remarkably readable.  Obviously a 400 page book covering over 500 years and 20 countries can only have go into so much detail.  Even so, I think it provided me with an excellent look into the evolution of Latin America and how it came to be what it is today.

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Tuesday, July 2, 2019

The Broken Earth trilogy

N.K. Jemisin's Broken Earth trilogy seems to have received pretty much universal acclaim.  I enjoyed the series, but I don't know that I'd agree with the most effusive critics, who have given it labels like "one the greatest works of fantasy literature ever put to page".  The person who wrote that isn't alone.  When the last book was published the author became the first to win three consecutive Hugo Awards and the series became the first to have all of its works awarded the Hugo for best novel.

The writing style takes some getting used to.  It has the typical problem in sci-fi and fantasy novels with making up to many words.  While I get that it can be seen as adding flavor and depth to the author's world, I would sooner them just use existing words for things that are already real.  There is also a seemingly random use of perspectives for the narrator.  There's a reason for this, but it can be jarring at first and you don't really know why it's happening until late in the first book.

Jemisin does weave a fairly rich narrative and world.  Her characters a complex and generally very well made.  The work is fairly progressive in its portrayal of sexuality, sexual identity, and marginalization in society.  I'm no developmental psychologists, but the reaction of children to abusive situations seemed off to me.  A big positive is that she actually finished her series in a timely manner, which is a lot more than you can say for some fantasy authors.

I recommend the books for anyone who likes fantasy.  I will note that they do have mature topics and have sexually explicit scenes, so keep that in mind.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Moby Dick

Along with War and Peace, Herman Melville's Moby Dick has always been what springs to mind when I think of "great books".  I put that in quotes because that was my perception of what literary critics believed, I didn't personally have a view on either of them until recently.  When I read War and Peace I was very surprised to enjoy it very much.  It remains my favorite book.  Moby Dick, not so much.  I'm glad I read it, but I wouldn't say it was altogether enjoyable.

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Sunday, May 12, 2019

Steve Jobs

I've never cared for Apple products, so I never really had much of an interest in Steve Jobs.  I always saw him as a very arrogant leader of a company that I didn't really care about.  I had no idea how arrogant he really was.  His biography by Walter Isaacson is my latest non-fiction book, which tells the fascinating story of an emotionally stunted but brilliant individual.  I enjoyed it and learned a lot that I didn't know.

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