02 September 2013

5. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Technically a reread since I read it once when I was designing my Monsters course.

Quite a book!

30 August 2013

4. A Voyage for Madmen by Peter Nichols

It seems weird to me that I read PN's first book, Sea Change, seven years ago. Weird because I have very specific images and memories about the book still in my head, and other books I read at the same time, and recorded here in this blog, I have almost no recollection of. It's been on my shelf for a while, spared from donation, unread, through a few moves, and a few hurricanes. What finally pushed me to pick it up was this short essay by Maggie Shipstead.

This book is about the sailors who competed in the first non-stop, around-alone sailing race in 1968. I became so enthralled with the exploits of the four major competitors that I impulsively went to Amazon to buy a number of Bernard Moitessier's books, and Knox-Johnston's account of the voyage. The excerpted logs and diaries weren't enough, especially for what I have read as complementary material about BM, who seems to have the same religious view of the sea that I have.

At points I found myself looking for some kind of graphic organizer, so I could make sense of the dates and positions of each sailor in the race. And more pictures! But at the same time I thought the interweaving of journal and narrative was done very well. And PN is a master at the end of section foreshadowing that you find in a lot of these narratives of adventurous epics.

Since this 1968 race there have been more single-handed around-the-world races and more fully-crewed around-the-world races, so the idea caught on. I mean, people still want to explore the boundaries of what is capable, and this kind of racing certainly qualifies as a Test.

30 July 2013

3. REAMDE by Neal Stephenson

I love Neal Stephenson and I love long books  (This one also clocked in at over 1000 pages!).

REAMDE is a computer virus that encrypts all of the users files and holds them hostage until a ransom is paid. And not the kind of ransom that is put in a briefcase and tossed off a bridge, but a ransom paid in an online game. So imagine hundreds, thousands of computers infected with this virus, and all of the users forced to pay a small ransom of in-game gold to the virus writer in exchange for the password.

That's the premise of the book, and so over the next 1000 cinematic and descriptive pages we meet an assortment of characters including Russian gangsters, Russian "security agents," hackers, jihadists, and gamers, all of whom wind up on one of the longest chase scenes in modern fiction!

I can't wait for the movie!

18 July 2013

2. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

I like long books.

The main character in this long book - almost 1000 pages - is the cathedral that is being built in the fictional town of Kingsbridge, England. I read this book when it first came out and I was in HS and I have thought about it every once and a while since then. It's nothing like the first three books of the Dragonlance series, but somehow the characters in this book and those books have stuck in my head like people I actually met and know.

1. Crime & Punishment by F. Dostoevsky

Great book - though I had a little trouble with the Russian names - with a very satisfying ending.