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March 21, 2008

Y: The Last Man

I am probably way behind on this but if you haven't read it and like comic books at all, I hugely recommend it. I picked up the first volume (issues 1-5 or so) of this comic book the other day from the library after coming across several mentions of it and it really is just great. Have now read the first three volumes and have the rest on request. Engrossing, fun, and great concept with some very cool ideas of what would happen to the world if all the males were to suddenly die.

Posted by aarondf at 12:57 PM | Books | Comments (0)

August 29, 2007

Books: Bad Monkeys

Have a bunch of books at hand I really want to read. Still haven't gotten to Children of Hurin, Founders at Work, the new Thursday Next novel or a bunch of others, all of which I really want to read. Did just read Matt Ruff's new book Bad Monkeys however. Unfortunately, I can't say I liked it nearly as much as I have any of his other novels. Of course I thought all three of those absolutely excellent so was a high standard and each of his books is so different that it isn't surprising he did one I didn't really care for. I actually did quite enjoy the first half but once all the convoluted psychology and confusion made it to center stage (sure it was in the first part but I could ignore it), I really lost most of my interest. Still, read Matt's other books!

Posted by aarondf at 04:04 PM | Books | Comments (1)

July 24, 2007

Harry Potter (no spoilers)

Finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows late last night and, with no spoilers, thought it was the best of the series and huge congratulations to J. K. Rowling for so effectively completing the series.

Posted by aarondf at 11:39 AM | Books | Comments (0)

May 21, 2007

Lloyd Alexander 1924-2007

Lloyd Alexander, author of the wonderful Prydain Chronicles, sadly died last week. Probably my third favorite fantasy series along with Lord of the Rings and Earthsea, growing up, and also along with them one of very few series I have reread several times as wonderful comfort reading. His characters were all wonderfully and uniquely realized and such an imaginative world he built, based on Welsh mythology I have sadly not read. I particularly liked the bard Fflewddur Fflam (and his cat Llyan) and Doli and his people.

Posted by aarondf at 03:29 PM | Books | Comments (0)

May 17, 2006

Books of Late

Read the light fantasy His Majesty's Dragon over the last few nights and found it a very fun read and hard to put down and highly recommend it to people who like this sort of thing. It is basically a lighter version of Patrick O'Brian with dragons but given my dragon fetish, no surprise I actually liked it quite a bit more than O'Brian and am going to get the rest of the trilogy. On Amazon, the book has a nearly perfect 5 star rating.

Also read economist Steven Levitt's Freakonomics which was also excellent and will appeal to the same people who like Malcolm Gladwell's writings. Almost every story he talks about was interesting; I was particularly amused by the bagels in offices story at the end of the book - such interesting data from one guy's little business and that he luckily kept such detailed records of it. The abortion/crime thesis was of course also fascinating and does seem believable - I was quite surprised, however, at the number of abortions performed - had no idea it was that high.

Posted by aarondf at 12:49 PM | Books | Comments (0)

November 21, 2005

Top 20 Geek Novels

Theres a list of the top 20 Geek novels since 1932 on the Guardian site. This is based on a poll. Interestingly, I've read the top 18, own the 19th and had never before heard of the 20th afaik.

Posted by aarondf at 12:37 PM | Books | Comments (0)

June 01, 2005

System of the World finally done

I finally finished Neal Stephenson's 3rd and final volume of the 3000 page Baroque Cycle last night after reading it (just the 3rd book I mean, not the whole cycle) off and on for fully 6 months. I had it out of the library (and renewed as much as I could) about 75% of the actual time. The series is very interesting but is a slog of the first order (particularly System which lacks the adventure yarn pieces of the earlier books) and I am really glad to be done. Now I will switch over to the equally long (but at least for now a single book) Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell which I also started months ago but only got a short way into.

Posted by aarondf at 12:07 PM | Books | Comments (0)

September 27, 2004

Books: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

This first novel, written by Tom Haddon, purports to be written by the protagonist, an autistic fifteen year old named Christopher Boone. The early part of the story is on the surface mostly a murder investigation by Christopher into the death of the neighbor's dog Wellington, but the book is really about the difficulties faced by Christopher and his parents due to his autism. The inability to even allow his mother to hug him due to his difficulty in being touched I found intensely powerful. Quoting an Amazon review:

This is the sort of book that could turn condescending, or exploitative, or overly sentimental, or grossly tasteless very easily, but Haddon navigates those dangers with a sureness of touch that is extremely rare among first-time novelists. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is original, clever, and genuinely moving: this one is a must-read. --Jack Illingworth

Posted by aarondf at 02:34 PM | Books | Comments (0)

July 26, 2004

Books: A Personal History

Finally finished a week or so ago A Personal History, the autobiography of Katharine Graham, past publisher (and daughter and wife of prior publishers) of The Washington Post. The book was quite interesting although a bit of a slog. The early part about her young years was pretty incredible in the number of incredibly famous people she met and hung out with as she dropped in on Einstein in Germany and met tons of other enormously famous people, and this is when she was a teenager and really just having a very wealthy father. Whether all of this is due to it being a smaller world 70 years ago or just the connections of the rich or a combination I'm not sure. Anyway, an interesting book and I am recently reading much more nonfiction (or things like Stephenson's heavily historically based fiction) than I have commonly read in the past which I think is good but which generally goes MUCH slower.

Posted by aarondf at 04:18 PM | Books | Comments (0)

June 23, 2004

Clinton and his book

I can't stand Bill Clinton (personally that is, not over policy) and it is physically painful for me to see him speaking about his book that will make him another ton of money. I strongly feel that he should have resigned over the Monica scandal (again, over his lying to his Cabinet and the American people, not over his actions with Monica which I don't give a damn about) and am convinced that had he done so Al Gore would be our president right now by a wide margin. Not that I agree with all of it, but there's a post here titled "No One Died When Clinton Lied" expressing many of my feelings.

Shortened to a single statement, my primary objection to Clinton is that in every situation where he had to make a choice between himself and his country (and his party), he chose himself. This level of selfishness in that position sickens me. Fortunately, over policy he didn't have to make this choice.

Posted by aarondf at 03:44 PM | Books | Comments (0)

June 15, 2004

Books: Kitchen Confidential

This is a non-fiction book about the life of cooks inside major restaurant kitchens, written by a NYC restaurant chef. Oddly enough, I did not much enjoy the first 60% of the book but had gotten far enough that I decided to finish it and ended up being glad I did. The book turned around for me as of the chapter A Day in the Life describing a typical day of the author and then stayed better for most of the rest of the book. The author is a self-described asshole and in large parts of book seems to be revelling in this in a manner I just didn't enjoy but when he gets beyond himself to talk about the kitchen and the people there and stuff his comments are quite interesting. Mildly recommended in the end for people who are at all foodies.

Posted by aarondf at 11:28 AM | Books | Comments (0)

May 20, 2004

Sherlock Holmes meets Cthulhu by Neil Gaiman

All of the Hugo nominated (Science Fiction awards voted on by readers) short fiction is now online, last but not least being the really enjoyable A Study in Emerald by Neil Gaiman which is an alternative history story of Sherlock Holmes in a Cthulhu world.

Posted by aarondf at 03:47 PM | Books | Comments (0)

December 16, 2003

The Return of the King

Finished reading The Return of the King last night as I have been doing with the other Lord of the Rings books just before the movies. Started it Friday night and read about a hundred pages each night. As with every other time reading this, I cried several times at the end, particularly at Aragorn's coronation and all during the Grey Havens final chapter, especially strongly over Frodo's final speech to Sam about sacrifice. Absolutely a masterpiece!

As for the movies, I expect to generally like this one more than the others as I expect for this one Jackson will want to build up the characters more to their appropriate stature than the shadows of them he has had before. Still, we'll see how it goes tonight at midnight. Will I be enraged or tearful?

Posted by aarondf at 11:43 AM | Books | Comments (0)

November 19, 2003

Comics: V for Vendetta

Wow, this is amazingly good. I read and enjoyed Watchmen years ago but I thought this was even better. If you haven't read this and like dark comics, I recommend getting this ASAP. Amazing job, Alan Moore and David Lloyd.

Posted by aarondf at 10:40 AM | Books | Comments (0)

October 09, 2003

Lord of Castle Black by Steven Brust

I don't know why I write here about so many more of the movies I watch than books I read.

Anyway, this book is part of the 'Paarfi' time period in the Vlad Taltos universe. Brust writing as 'Paarfi' I am sure would get pretty annoying to many but I am pretty successful at finding the amusement lasts just long enough to avoid the annoyance. I love the world and the characters and almost everything else Brust has written, both in and out of the Dragaera universe. Brust also has a rarely updated blog and is also a poker player. This is quoted from his blog:

Chapter 1. How to slowplay until you're beat and then check
Chapter 2. Drawing dead and getting there.
Chapter 3. How to bluff the nuts into the guy who has them.
Chapter 4. How to prevent bad beats by always going in with
the worst hand.
Chapter 5. How to put your opponent on a hand you can beat
so you can call.
Chapter 6. Chasing with overcards and other loss leaders.
Chapter 7: Bad call justifications:
A) I was in the blind, so I was already half in.
B) They were suited
C) My good hands are getting beat, so I have to play this
D) In a game like this, you can't win playing just the
good cards

Posted by aarondf at 04:13 PM | Books | Comments (0)

June 17, 2003

Set this House in Order - Matt Ruff

I had earlier read Matt Ruff's other two novels, Sewer, Gas & Electric and Fool on the Hill, and really enjoyed both, although they are very different books. This one is even more different, being told from the perspective of a person with multiple personality disorder. Assuming the multiple personality stuff is based on sound research, this book, unlike the others, is set in the present and has no fantastical elements. Still, it is gripping and informative. I didn't enjoy it quite as much as the other two but plan to continue to read everything Ruff writes.

Posted by aarondf at 04:59 PM | Books | Comments (0)