So I seem to suck at trying to do long form reviews of anything, because I continually put it off until I think I have enough puffed up crap to fill a long and rambling post. Well here comes a new idea, describe why I’d want to even write about the book in a paragraph or less, and then jam all those paragraphs into one post. TA-DA! And thankfully none of my work is being graded or evaluated for any practical purpose, so my lack of proper structure and so forth in my writing doesn’t matter.
Insomnia by Stephen King
I love Stephen King books, really I do, you can ask anyone, but something about this one was just plain weird. Maybe it was the senior citizen hero, maybe it was the weird inter dimensional beings pulling the strings, maybe it was the heavy handed Pro-Choice message of the early 90s, or maybe it was the extreme length of the book. I’m not sure what it was, but I didn’t enjoy it was much as I’ve enjoyed nearly every single other book King has written. That’s not to say its a bad book, its jut nowhere near as good as his other work. If you’re a fan of his Dark Tower series, this one is definitely required reading, but other than that if you’re just a casual fan, don’t fret if you put it off, you’re missing anything too important. Though it does take place in Derry, the setting for his famous IT, which may be enough of a draw for some people.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
If you have any love of computer, movies, tv shows, video games, pop culture, or nearly anything for that matter that happened in the 1980s, you will love this book. It is one big love letter to the 80s as viewed through 40 years in the future. People in the OASIS, an online virtual reality environment you can see and feel are all hunting for a several hundred billion dollar easter egg hidden in the game, and to get it they need to know Everything about the 80s. The references are flying by every other line, but Cline doesn’t pull any punches, nor does he pander to newbies. There’s room for everyone, but you have to be interested to start with. The geeky will likely only take a serious look. Do Enjoy!
Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin & Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
I’m going to write about both Game of Thrones and Clash of Kings together, as they’re both part of the larger Song of Ice and Fire series by Martin, which is now on its fifth book I believe. These books are like an alcoholic drink where you can’t taste the alcohol. The effect just sneaks up on you and knocks you on your ass. Technically you could classify them as fantasy novels, but most of the fantasy elements aren’t quite there, yet. In the setting of Westeros there was magic and dragons and whatnot in the past, but they’re gone. During the course of these books the magic begins to return, in lots of sneaky ways that you don’t really notice until they’ve passed. These novels could also be more easily classified under suspense, as you really never know who’s going to die next. Martin is one of few authors who is not afraid of spending an entire book making you fall in love with a carefully developed character only to kill them. He kills characters without mercy, anytime, anywhere for any reason. You sit on the edge of your seating reading each page carefully, hoping against hope that the characters you like will make it to the end of the chapter. I think to an extent I’m becoming a cold hearted bastard reading these books, trying to maintain some distance and not get too attached to any one character. It’s hard, but such an enjoyable read. So if you like knights and dragons and castles, but like it on the lighter side with the fantasy stuff, definitely check out this series. Be forewarned, these are some very very long books.
Parker Series Part 1 by Richard Stark
I recently finished reading the first portion of Richard Stark’s (aka Donald Westlake) Parker series. These books follow Parker, the professional criminal, through a series of robberies, heists, foul ups, and huge payoffs. His series is really split into two parts due to a 20 year hiatus he put the character on. The end of the first series was the book Butcher’s Moon, a fitting book to end the character on at that time. Tying up loose ends in a very violent and satisfying way. I’ve recently let my old boss borrow this set of books, and judging by the speed he is flying through them they’re as good as I thought they were. For those in the book industry, Butcher’s Moon was until recently an extremely hard book to come by, having slipped out of print, and running up huge sums at auctions. Now thanks to University of Chicago Press, the entire Parker series is available in very affordable and handsome paperbacks. If you have any love for mystery or crime writing and you’ve not read Stark, pick one up as soon as you can, you won’t regret it.
Inside Steve’s Brain by Leander Khaney
This book was something I came upon in a care package from home. Not surprising really when all my mail is routed through the book store I used to work at, and they just drop in titles they think I might like. This one was very cool, taking an unauthorized look at how Steve runs is life and his business, and how that impacts those around him and how they do their work. Some people seem to think Steve Jobs is megalomaniacal tyrant, who gets results through fear. Or that he’s a perfectionist jerk who demands too much of those around him, and gets results only through their slave like love of him and Apple. Turns out he’s a little bit of both, but really just a ridiculously smart business man who does things that the public doesn’t know they’re going to really like in the near future. A fun read, but really only a good recommendation for someone who’s an Apple fanatic.
The Essential Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Waterson
The Essential Calvin and Hobbes is easily one of the best things I’ve read this year. I think I’ve owned this book once or twice in the past, but honestly didn’t really appreciate what it was that Watterson was really doing with this strip. Reading it now I see that he’s created a way at looking at the world around you through Calvin and Hobbes’ eyes. When you look at things that way, the concepts get turned on their head, and you really stop and think for a minute wondering, why didn’t I think of that. Much of the strips are really just downright hilarious, some of them tear jerkers, but all of them are honest and accessible, and never pull a punch. If you’ve never read Calvin and Hobbes, you are really missing out on something special.
What I’m Reading Now:
Comeback by Richard Stark (Parker returns, 20 years later)
Nightmares and Dreamscapes by Stephen King
Mile 81 by Stephen King
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
The Authoritative Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Waterson
- See Mom, I can still write blog posts, two in one day