What have you been reading lately?

The Closing of the Western Mind by Charles Freeman – Interesting read about how Christian faith replaced Classical reason.

Grass For His Pillow by Lian Hearn – Second book of the Otori Trilogy; not great, although the first book was passable so I thought I’d try the second.

Talisman by Graham Hancock and Robert Bauval – More crackpot pseudo history from the masters; still, I love skimming this nonsense.

Just got The Ultimate Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy on Christmas, and I’m on Restaurant now. I’m also about half way through The Dead Zone. After I finish those two I’ll be reading Crichton’s “Eaters of the Dead” (which I also got for Christmas).

Guards! Guards! by Pratchett and America: The Book.

Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon, which I’m sure one of you lot recommended.

Oh, and the instructions on the back of various 'flu remedies, as some unknown benefactor decided to give me 'flu for Christmas.

Kind of the “how did we stop the fascists last time” reader:

Rise of the Counter Establishment: From Conservative Ideology to Political Power by Sidney Blumenthal. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0060971401

The Next American Nation: The New Nationalism and the Fourth American Revolution by Michael Lind. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0684825031

The War Years, 1939-1945 (A Nonconformist History of Our Times) by I.F. Stone. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0316817775

Globalization and Its Discontents by Joseph E. Stiglitz. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0393324397

The Roaring Nineties: A New History of the World’s Most Prosperous Decade by Joseph E. Stiglitz. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0393058522

Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco.

Not quite what I was expecting when I picked it up, and it’s not quite a ‘page turner’ but yet I’m enjoying it in small doses. Basically it’s a grand conspiracy book done artistically, Name of the Rose style.


The Farseer trilogy by Robin Hobb. Not quite my cup of tea but entertaining enough to finish, I think.

Finished out the year on a Jack Vance binge.

Demon Princes Vols. I and II
The Dragon Masters
The Last Castle
Planet of Adventure

Simply some of the best Sci-Fi and best dialogue ever. Found out about him through a recommendation on George R. R. Martin’s website.

On a side note: I read all three of G. R. R. Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice and really enjoyed it. Saw them mentioned here in fact and it really is good stuff. Martin does have a monumental case of writer’s block at the moment. The last book came out in November 2000 and he hasn’t finished another since George Bush was elected. The Bush victory this last November sent him into paroxysms. I’d be willing to bet we won’t see another book until a Democrat wins. I wish he could move past this dark depression of his and just finish the book. Interestingly he seems to try and cure his writer’s block by playing computer games…or at least that’s what he said in this interview from 2000 when the last book came out. I bet you George is a MMOG crack head. Yet another life destroyed :cry:


I was pleasantly surprised by this book, which I read about two years ago. I feared it would be complete touchy-feely pseudoscience, and was happy to see some justification for the idea tied to physiological imaging of the limbic system. Goleman may go too far with the concept, but in my opinion, he started on more solid ground than 90% of the self-help books out there. I know the academic journal Psychological Inquiry devoted one of its 2004 issues to emotional intelligence. I’m assuming academic researchers ripped the concept to shreds, but it’s rare that an idea first advanced in the popular media is ever mentioned in professional journals.

Back on topic, I recently finished Bringing Down the House, by Ben Mezrich. Fairly light, but enjoyable. I’ve almost completed Wittgenstein’s Poker, by David Edmonds & John Eidinow. It tries to fill in the details of a 10-minute public argument that took place in 1946 between the philosophers Popper & Wittgenstein. I recommend it to anyone interested in 20th century philosophy or the history of Austria.

I received a lot of books for the holidays, so I’ll be reading the following fairly soon:
From Dawn to Decadence, by Jacques Barzun
A Short History of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson
Complications, by Atul Gawande
Secrets of the Vajra World, by Reginald Ray

“A Short History” was one of the most enjoyable reads i’ve had in a long while. The scientists that made the discoveries that have shaped the modern world are often more interesting than the discoveries themselves.

I fuckin’ love Jack Vance. An amazing prose writer, with more and more original ideas in each chapter than most SF/fantasy writers muster for a trilogy.

If you haven’t read them yet, I recommend the non-series novels Emphyrio and The Blue World, along with the first two books of the Lyonesse trilogy (the third is a throwaway contract-breaker) and the first two books of the Araminta Station trilogy.

[edit]And To Live Forever, The Narrow Land, and Nopalgarth.

Is it good? I began his earlier novel number9dream and loved what I read, though somehow I got sidetracked.

As for me, I’m reading The High Place by James Branch Cabell (the novelist I spent the most time with in 2004) and am just finishing the complete run of Marvel’s Dr. Strange titles from 1965 to the present day.

I’ve been reading the Miles Vorkosigan novels because a friend of mine lent me Memory which is the seventh or eighth in the series. I said, “But this is like the seventh one”

He said, “I guess, but it’s a good book, you should read it, you don’t have to read those other ones.”

But you can’t read a series of novels out of order, says my obsessive compulsive side.

Luckily my girlfriend has them all and has been lending them to me. I’ve got one more, then I can actually read the one my friend pressed on me.

But as a break from those I picked up From a Buick 8, one of Stephen King’s lesser books, in the bargain bin. It’s a quick read, and kind of fun as a tangent to the Dark Tower books.

I got a bunch of books for Christmas, the one I’m most excited about is the new Alton Brown cookbook, I’m Just Here for More Food where Alton takes on baking.

Before I can read those, I have to read a bunch of scripts to decide which one(s) get done as Emerson’s student written show this year. Not my decision alone, but I’m one of the readers. If you’re an Emerson student and want to bribe me…

I’ve been going through the Deverry series by Katherine Kerr. Very enjoyable so far.

Glad you like it, Euri. How far along are you?

I’m currently reading Kallocain by Karin Boye, a sci-fi story about a man in Chemical City no. 4, part of a totalitarian world government, who is developing a drug which makes people tell their innermost secrets in a matter of minutes, thus effectively removing the last vestige of privacy that exists in that world.

Glad you like it, Euri. How far along are you?

I’m currently reading Kallocain by Karin Boye, a sci-fi story about a man in Chemical City no. 4, part of a totalitarian world government, who is developing a drug which makes people tell their innermost secrets in a matter of minutes, thus effectively removing the last vestige of privacy that exists in that world.[/quote]

I finished Daggerspell and I am about 1/3 the way through Darkspell. I put it down for a long time because of my little Warcraft addiction. I am thoroughly enjoying most of the characters, even the insufferable assholes, and the world feels very gritty.

Now that I can finish Darkspell in a good three hours, I am going to save it until the next 2 get here from Amazon.

I liked it quite a bit . . . but then, I’m pretty much a sucker for most of his work.

I enjoyed it a little more than I did Prey, but that may just be due to that fact that I am more interested in SOF’s subject matter (environmental issues).


I finished SOF about 3 or 4 days before the tsunami disaster struck Asia. A large part of SOF’s plot involves a group of “environmental terrorists” who plan to generate an artificial tsunami to strike the west coast of America . . . to raise awarness for their “cause”.

It was more than a little jarring to see an event unfold in real life that I had just read a similar fictional account of.

I just got done reading a reissue of Wild Cards, the superhero anthology edited by George R.R. Martin. I didn’t think it was all that great.

When was Wild Cards published? I sure hope it wasn’t recently because he had better not be waisting any time while I am waiting for my next book. Time to zip off another fanatically crazed fan letter urging him to hurry it up in case a truck hits me.