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10:00 am: A couple of ten-second book reviews
I seem to post here very nearly never, and I'd like to change that. Mainly because I *never* post anything lengthy on Facebook, and as a result spend all my social time online clicking "Like" buttons and dropping pithy comments on peoples' shared articles. Which is a little bit sad, really.

So, to try to get back to the ancestral social homeland of LJ, I'm going to try to post at least short reviews of books I've read. I (and Elizabeth, and Sarah) have sheets up on the wall where we write down all the books we read over the course of a year. My personal goal this year isn't so much *number* as *variety* -- I have a habit of picking up books I've already read and re-reading them, which is a fine and comforting activity, but if I'm not careful it means that I can go weeks or months without reading anything new. So, I'm making it a point to read (mostly) books I've never read before, and also to try to sample new authors now and again.

To that end, I recently picked up _The Maltese Falcon_, by Dashiell Hammett, from the Montclair library. It is, of course, a classic of the hard-boiled detective genre, written by one of its founders. And I liked it well enough, though I didn't find myself with any overwhelming desire to devour everything that Hammett has ever written. The characters, because they were gritty and realistic (or, at least, realistic in the view of a pessimist), were largely not terribly likeable. Sam Spade is sort of an asshole, honestly. But, all in all, I don't regret reading the book -- though I confess that I was really hoping that Sam Spade was going to be a lot more like Tracer Bullet from the Calvin and Hobbes comics. Well, I'd still like to read some of Raymond Chandler's work -- maybe he went in more for the over-the-top stuff.

I just finished _REAMDE_, by Neal Stephenson. I like Stephenson a lot -- among my favorite books are _Snow Crash_ and _Cryptonomicon_ (and some day I hope to tunnel my way through his "Baroque Cycle" novels). _REAMDE_ was ... meh. It had some interesting ideas sprinkled through it, but ... SPOILER ALERT (TO END OF PARAGRAPH) ... he inexplicably, around page 300, decided to do his best Tom Clancy impression, and a book that I thought was going to be about weird psycho-social events in a huge online RPG wound up being a book about terrorists and the very-carefully-described weapons and equipment they use. Which I guess is fine if you like that sort of thing, but I had no special use for it.

I finished the book (which is over 1,000 pages long) mainly because I wanted to find out what happened to the main characters, and in the end I didn't think it was worth the trip.

Next up on the reading list: _The Apocalypse Codex_ by Charles Stross, which I've only just started.

Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful

Comments

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From:stormlorde
Date:August 6th, 2012 03:57 pm (UTC)
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you may find Robert Parkers Spenser similar but more likeable, or perhaps Robert Crais Elvis Cole.
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From:thudthwacker
Date:August 7th, 2012 12:41 pm (UTC)
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I shall put them on The List. Thankee kindly.
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From:1cmf
Date:August 6th, 2012 11:43 pm (UTC)
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pity about reamde: i quite liked it and found the decent into clancyland very reminisent of cryptonomicon without being an overt rip off. the gimmik of the in game stuff being pretty much just a game untill you realize that thousands of dollars are flowing freely with no regard for international borders. I definetly get the feeling that Stephenson, when hes not just wrning out priceless bits like the deliverator, does a good deal of research and had taken the time to hang out wkth some real gun nuts and held the weapons described, thus the exceptional gusto of detail much like we get of various locations.
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From:thudthwacker
Date:August 7th, 2012 01:04 pm (UTC)
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That was one of the things that really impressed me about the book -- the amount of research he had to do to get all of the fiddly bits right. Not just the weaponry, either -- the open-ocean sailing, details about Xiamen and the culture there, and like that. I can respect that, and it's not like I never sit down with a good, old-fahioned blast-the-bad-guys book.

But what I was hoping for from Stephenson was something a little more weird. I was fascinated with the idea that there could be "canon bombs" hidden in a virtual world's backstory; that the author could leave suggestions and clues that wouldn't raise any alarms with the editors who were just checking for continuity, but that, when obsessed over by a huge player base -- and of *course* there will be players who obsess over every detail of the world's backstory -- could spark a gameworld-wide civil war that the corporation that owns the game has little or no way of dealing with. Mix that in with the *staggering* amounts of international money-changing going on throughout the system, and you've got the bones of a really interesting and bizarre tale with a lot to say about massively-multiplayer sociology and global economic systems. I'd sorta like to read that book, but alas, Stephenson didn't write it.
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From:greenquotebook
Date:August 7th, 2012 01:17 am (UTC)
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You must read some Carl Hiaasen, if only because you'll love Skink. Sick Puppy was especially good. He also writes kids books, so pick up Hoot or Chomp for Sarah. :)

And the Hunger Games trilogy. A must-read.
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From:thudthwacker
Date:August 7th, 2012 01:07 pm (UTC)
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Carl Hiaasen is yet another author who has been looking at me reproachfully from my to-read list for awhile. Is Sick Puppy a good place to start with him?
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From:greenquotebook
Date:August 7th, 2012 03:07 pm (UTC)
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It was one of my favorites. Also check out Native Tongue. His books aren't a series, though there are some recurring characters, so you can read them in any order. If you troll my reading entries ("40 Books" LJ tag) you'll be able to see what I've read and what I thought of the books. Come to think of it, I really should create a tag just for Hiaasen. There are too many reading entries for one tag to be enough to find anything efficiently. Project for today: add new tags to these entries, so just look for the "hiaasen" tag. Hey, it's raining, so why not?

Another good intro to Hiaasen is a book called Naked Came the Manatee. It's s a book with 13 chapters, each written by a different Florida-based author. Dave Barry starts it off, Elmore Leonard winds it up, and Carl Hiaasen finishes it. Wonderful, wonderful stuff.
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From:greenquotebook
Date:August 7th, 2012 11:40 pm (UTC)
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I added hiaasen as a tag to my 40 Books entries for his books, so you can find them easily. :)
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