Posts Tagged ‘book’

I am currently reading the Song of Ice and Fire series (Game of Thrones) by George R.R. Martin and decided to do a bit of an experiment. You see, people have been recommending that I read the books, or at the very least watch the show on HBO for a while now. I normally like sci-fi and I find that I have to be in a certain mood for a Fantasy novel of any length, let alone an epic series where each book is 800+ pages. (I’ve never been one to balk at length, it’s just that it’s a commitment that is sometimes difficult to make before you know if you’ll even like it or not.) Anyway, I started the novels, then had a thought. I’ve read enough of the first book to get a handle on the plot, so I’ll watch the first episode of the HBO show and see how I like it. See if it’s true to the book (always a huge deal for me) and maybe it will help me solidify the characters in my mind. If I can put a face to a name, then I can tell Arya apart from Sansa more easily. Or so I thought.

Well, it turned out that I had read just enough so that the show didn’t have any spoilers for me. I read another hundred pages or so and watched episode two. Rinse, repeat. Great.

But then I got to thinking. This wasn’t the first time I’ve done this. A few weeks before, I watched the beginning of “Treasure Island” (1991 version) with my son because we were reading the classic by Robert Louis Stevenson yarn for bedtime and I thought it might interest him to see how what we had just read looked like in “real life.”

But now, for the rest of the book, Jim Hawkins will look like a young Christian Bale to my son. And Long John Silver can’t look like anything other than a crusty Charlton Heston. treasure-island7

And the same is true for me now. Danaerys  Stormborn will always appear in my minds eye as Emilia Clarke ( yes, there are worse fates.) Ned Stark is Sean Bean. Etc. That’s when I had a terrifying thought:

We are letting our imagination wither and die like an atrophied muscle.

Our kids watch cartoons about other fictional kids going out to their backyard and having adventures where they imagine that they are astronauts, cowboys, wizards… But my kids aren’t doing any of that! THEY ARE SITTING INSIDE, WATCHING A TV SHOW ABOUT KIDS WHO HAVE IMAGINATION! (I’m lookin’ at you Backyardigans!)

Caution___TV_is_not_a_friend

AHHHHHHH!

How do we fix this?

546478_442017515827707_205344452828349_1567538_131592471_n022412_stihl_print_campaign_1 022412_stihl_print_campaign_2

All right, I’m not a spokesperson for Stihl, but they come close to my point. We need to get our kids (and ourselves) outside more often. We need to sit under a tree and dream. We need to create. No matter what you think your talent is or isn’t, you can create something.   If you’re good with your hands, make something. If you’re “too out of shape/ too fat/too clumsy/ etc.” that’s not stopping you from writing an amazing story or composing a beautiful song, making a stunning piece of jewelry or woodwork. The author of the books I’m reading now doesn’t have what most people would call an athletic build (see below), but he has created an amazingly detailed epic book series. No excuses. Go from a consumer of culture to a creator of it.

Everyone dies

Everyone dies

Terence McKenna had a thought along similar lines:

“We have to create culture, don’t watch TV, don’t read magazines, don’t even listen to NPR. Create your own roadshow. The nexus of space and time where you are now is the most immediate sector of your universe, and if you’re worrying about Michael Jackson or Bill Clinton or somebody else, then you are disempowered, you’re giving it all away to icons, icons which are maintained by an electronic media so that you want to dress like X or have lips like Y. This is shit-brained, this kind of thinking. That is all cultural diversion, and what is real is you and your friends and your associations, your highs, your orgasms, your hopes, your plans, your fears. And we are told ‘no’, we’re unimportant, we’re peripheral. ‘Get a degree, get a job, get a this, get a that.’ And then you’re a player, you don’t want to even play in that game. You want to reclaim your mind and get it out of the hands of the cultural engineers who want to turn you into a half-baked moron consuming all this trash that’s being manufactured out of the bones of a dying world.”

― Terence McKenna

Turn off your smartphone, turn off the music, stop doing things just because they will make a #clevertwitterhashtag or Facebook post later that will def impress your “friends” or “followers.” Live Life. Rediscover your passion and be amazing at it.

CREATE!

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2010…………………………………………………………………………………………………………66

2010 was another great year in my reading life. I would have to say that my top favorite books this year were:

The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness

This book was integral to our getting a real handle on our finances, getting on a budget, becoming debt free, amassing six months worth of expenses in an emergency fund, and starting to build wealth.

The “In Death” police procedural mysteries by J. D. Robb.


These near-future, gritty, sexy mysteries really grabbed me this year and I have now read more than half of her 30+ books. The characters are great and the interplay between all their relationships kept me intrigued enough to keep picking up the next one in the series. I especially like the audio books because Susan Erickson does such a great job acting all the different characters with distinct and entertaining voices.

The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett.


I don’t normally read a lot of pure fantasy with magic and things, but this was some awesome, hardcore demon slaying goodness. I also really like how we followed three characters from very early ages up through adulthood. This is a great book. A mysterious world with captivating characters pull the reader along on an incredible journey through years of their lives. It was hard to put this one down until I was done. I could see this being a great video game or movie in a few years.

After that, there were so many others and I enjoyed almost all of them. The books on Afghanistan were very interesting and also a few of the survival type books, both fiction and non-fiction. (more…)

It’s a little late this year, partially because I’ve been reading other good books, but here it is! My 2009 reading list…with reviews!

2009………………………………………………………………………………………………54

Zoe’s Tale

John Scalzi is a master of clever dialogue. He has just the right amount of snarky humor and sarcastic wit to satisfy my particular taste. I read this one with my wife which made it special as she was once a sixteen year old girl. Somehow it didn’t seem right for me to read the parts about how a certain boy was sooo cute. I think Scalzi did a great job of retelling a story from a different point of view. Nice work John.

Bloodcast 1                         1-10-09                                                                   Scott Sigler

I liked it. Sigler has as good a grasp of short stories as he does with novels.

Crystal Rain

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one. The world building is fantastic. You really get plunged into a whole new culture, I like how it kept changing, revealing more and more of the past as you read. I know most books do that, but this stood out. I will definitely finish the series.

Contagious: A Novel

Awesome. This sequel is even better than Infected. After listening to the first six podcasts, I gave in and had to read the rest. I couldn’t hold back. I read the rest in one sitting. That’s over 300 pages in one go. Yeah, it’s that good. There are many parts not for the squeamish or weak stomached, but come on…it IS Scott Sigler. Very well written with masterful plot points and timing. Read it now, or succumb to the Crawlers!

Ragamuffin (Sci Fi Essential Books)

Tobias has done it again. This book, which is a sequel to Crystal Rain, went above and beyond my expectations for what the story would do next. He expanded the universe out much farther than I thought and I enjoyed every minute of it. It was cool to see all his new characters and how they tied in to the established ones. They story moves along at a brisk pace and sucks you in to the plight of humanity. Excellent 2nd novel.

Secrets of Successful Writing: Inside Tips from a Writing Expert

A great little book filled with easy tips. I read it in an evening. I will use the suggestions more for re-writing though.

The Art of War: New Translation

It’s surprising how many truths this text still contains. I wonder if Bush read this before invading Iraq? Probably not.

Multiple Streams of Income: How to Generate a Lifetime of Unlimited Wealth!

This book was just what I wanted. Like other books, it included various strategies on how to build wealth, but unlike other ones, went in depth into each one. Having said that, the writing isn’t great and a few of the chapters are co-authored which is confusing when he refers to the author in the third person. All in all though, a very good book with different ways to choose how to become wealthy.

Nocturnal: A Novel

This is a great monster/mob story with an incredible plot, unforgettable characters, and lots of nasty violence. Based in the author’s home city, the tale keeps the reader up at night, trying to consume as much as possible before sleeping.

America                                                 3-6-09                                Jon Stewart & The Daily Show

Hilarious, sad, and true-ish.

Sly Mongoose                                        3-13-09                                                Tobias S. Buckell

This was a fun one. Who doesn’t like space zombies and floating cities? A fairly quick read with a lot of adventure. Pretty cool.

The Steel Remains                                3-24-09                                              Richard K. Morgan

Hmmm. It was a really well crafted story. The plot moved along fast and the separate character swirled in towards each other with increasing intensity. I liked Morgan’s anti-hero as always except for one thing. I could have done without the explicit gay sex scenes. Sometimes it’s best to leave the details out, but I guess that’s what people mean when they say his writing is “gritty.” I love the way he writes in general, but I think I like his sci-fi more than this. Having said that though, I WILL read the next two books in this trilogy. It’s a good sword slicing adventure.

Ficciones                                              4-4-09                                                 Jorge Luis Borges

Wow. Crazy stuff. Very creative. Borges has a totally unique writing style. I’m so glad to have been exposed to his writing. I see his influence in other things now.

Infoquake                                              4-6-09                                            David Louis Edelman

Great read. Very quick pace and intriguing story. The future technology of this world is very cool. I want to live there. Plus, I never thought a plot based mainly on business, marketing, etc. could be so interesting. Definitely reading the next one in the series.

MultiReal                                               4-20-09                                           David Louis Edelman

David Louis Edelman continues to improve his financial cyberpunkish series. This answered many questions that were left at the end of the first book but asks just as many. The plot stays tight as a conspiracy unfolds. Very good. I can’t wait for the third one. The world he’d created is vibrant and alive. I enjoy my time there almost as much as following the story. This is a good read, but I would recommend reading “Infoquake” first.

Sun of Suns                                          4-26-09                                                  Karl Schroeder

Very cool world building with a good plot that spirals towards a nail-biting ending. Kind of like steam-punk without the steam if that makes any sense. No it probably doesn’t. You’ll see when you read it, which you should do, cause it’s good.

Cowboy Bebop: Shooting Star 2            4-26-09                                                          Cain Kuga

Cowbot Bebop remains suave and awesome.

Queen of Candesce                              5-2-09                                                    Karl Schroeder

Another great yarn taking place in a spectacular world. I loved all the political intrigue and twisted plotlines. Venera Fanning is an interesting character indeed.

Snow                                                    5-4-09                                                         Morgan Luthi

Very young adult-ish. The way the characters were drawn did not fit the story. Meh.

Rurouni Kenshin 6                                 5-5-09                                                 Nobuhiro Watsuki

Sweet Samurai manga action.

A Random Walk down Wall Street   5-7-09                                          Burton G. Malkiel

Just too outmoded for today’s economy. Plus the main premise of the book is that anything you pick has an equal chance of making money in the market. Basically monkeys could invest as well as someone on Wall street.

Pirate Sun                                            5-12-09                                                  Karl Schroeder

The third installment of the Virga series was just as enjoyable as the first. The varied scenes are each spectacular and vivid. New main characters for each book also give it a fresh feel. Nice work Karl.

Prophets                                              5-24-09                                                S. Andrew Swann

A very cool take on far future human civilization. I thought the focus on religion was intriguing. Especially the character’s take on it when they themselves were created by humans (genetically engineered animal/human hybrids) I look forward to the rest of the series.

Altered Carbon                                     5-28-09                                              Richard K. Morgan

This is the second read through for me. I love this book. Morgan’s ideas are so well developed. Sometimes he just brushes off a whole type of tech with a one liner and I’m sitting there wanting to know more. His plot is great and the characters are gritty real. Still one of my favorites after all these years.

Future Imperfect                                    6-6-09                                                David D. Friedman

This was a great summation of most current tech that will affect us in the next 50 years. The prudent sci-fi writer would take notes while reading this as it is filled with hundreds of cool ideas. The one downside is that it was written by an economist and is sometimes rather dry and legalistic. But it more than makes up for it in scope. Great read!

The Mirrored Heavens                            6-17-09                                                  David J. Williams

While the ideas in this book are cool, and the future history is scary because it still could become true, I just could not get into this one. Maybe it was the author’s style, or the tense it was written in. It is chock a block with action though. The plot switches between four points of view and it does so rapidly and constantly. Somewhat annoying. I doubt I will read anything by this author again. Just personal taste.

The Green Year                                                6-18-09                                                        Jodi Helmer

A good simple book with tons of suggestions on how to live a greener life. We do 192 of them already. It might have been more but some didn’t apply to our family, like buying pet food in bulk. No pets.

How to Learn Golf                                  6-27-09                                                       Harry Hurt III

This offers a good overview of the different styles that are practiced for all aspects of golf. From putting, to swings, on course emotional management to which instructor you should choose. Pretty good overall. But the purpose is not to teach you golf, but how you should learn it. It focuses on helping you pick a style that works for you.

Nickel & Dimed                                     6-29-09                                             Barbara Ehrenreich

Barbara presents this compelling social commentary as a gripping description of someone trying to beat the odds. Every page, you hope that she will make enough to pay her rent. Her writing is insightful and authentic. I was transported back in time to my own days as a server when she described all her hardships waitressing in Florida. Even though this was written nearly a decade ago, it remains a powerful book, full of evidence that many middle class people refuse to see. If you have ever wondered how someone working minimum wage in America lives, read this book.

The Caryatids                                           7-3-09                                           Bruce Stirling

Pretty cool. I think that it is set a little too close to he present for some of the societal changes that he describes, but you never know. I loved the ending in a way I didn’t expect.

How to write Sci-fi/ fantasy                      7- 11-09                                             Orson Scott Card

This is a great book. Very well written and brimming with good advice from a writer who’s been there before. I found the chapters on the business end of writing particularly helpful. Maybe because my novel is already written, so world-building advice is already too late. I might even venture to say that this is a must-read, for an aspiring sci-fi/ fantasy writer.

Catch-22                                              7-20-09                                                     Joseph Heller

I like his style, but I could not get into this book. There was nothing to drag me along besides the oddness of the characters. Maybe someday I will continue, but for now, there are too many good new books out there for me to spend time on a “classic” that is mediocre, in my opinion.

Norse Code                                          7-25-09                                               Greg Van Eekhout

This was a very cool idea that kept me turning the pages. I love Norse mythology and found that Greg hit all the right notes in this urban fantasy with Asgard and Home Depots. If you have any interest in Vikings, you should read this book.

Rotten Rejections                                8-5-09                                                      Andre Bernard

This little book serves as great solace to aspiring writers everywhere. It includes rejections for books that have since become classics of the English language. No one is spared. Dickens, Whitman, Joyce, etc.

You’re not fooling anyone when you take your laptop to the coffee shop   8-6-09           John Scalzi

I just can’t say anything bad about John Scalzi, or his writing. This book is a great collection of posts from his blog about the writing life. His voice comes through clearly in the writing and is easy (and dare I say fun) to read. he makes good logical points about many issues that aspiring or professional writers face. Well done John, and thanks for the advice.

Freakonomics                                          8-6-09                          Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner

This was an interesting view on wildly varying topics. I thought it only a tinge racist though. I know it has “data” to back up the theory that babies with black-sounding names (DeShawn) are not as successful in life as babies with white-sounding (William) names are, but still. All in all though, a fascinating read that will spark many conversations.

The Complete book of insults                 8-6-09                                                      Nancy McPhee

A cool list of insults throughout history. I had to get out my notebook and write down some of my favorite words like: druggles, lob-dotterols, palsied poltroon, etc. 

Mind over Ship                                      8-15-09                                                    David Marusek

This had some really cool ideas in it but was tough to get into. Once I did though, it was hard to put down. It’s got a great plot, very complex, and good characters. I haven’t read the first book and actually didn’t know there was one until the end. Maybe that’s why the author didn’t explain as many off the terms he uses. All in all though, pretty good.

Little Brother                                         8-18-09                                                Corey Doctorow

Little Brother is a dangerous book. Stop reading this and go read that instead. Right now! I can see why this was nominated for Best Novel of ’09. It is one of the best books I’ve read this year. Forget that it’s YA. This book rocks. But if you want to be seen as a responsible adult (say, if you’re a teacher) NEVER recommend it to your students or teens. It is subversive and smart and cool. It should be standard reading for any teen who uses a computer. Great book. I finished it in two days, and inspired to do ll this fun research now. A must for any hacker or tech geek. You’ve been warned.

Anathem                                                            9-9-09                                                  Neal Stephenson

Despite its intimidating heft, I took the plunge and read Stephenson’s latest masterpiece. Wow! The story takes place on Arbre, an Earthlike planet, but not Earth itself. This allows Neal to make pointed social commentary on many things that also bug me, but since it’s not Earth, no one can take offense. He’s not complaining about CEOs jabbering away on their cell phones in cars. He’s complaining about “extras” jabbering on their “jeejahs” in “fetches.” That is just the tiniest smidgeon of what makes this book so cool. The astronomy, math, philosophy, and other ideas he uses are all explained easily and the reader only learns what is needed for the story.
The story itself takes place on a grand scale. I had no idea it would end up like it did. I also love the sense of history. One gets the feeling that Earth would be like this, if only we had the Avout keeping better records the whole time. The characters are great too. His worldbuilding is astounding. Get past how long the text is and give it a try. It will be the most challenging, and satisfying thing you read in a long time.

The Book of Coffee and Tea                9-10-09                                   Joel Schapira

This was a fascinating and well written look into all aspects of coffee and tea. I really enjoyed all the cool behind the scenes stories of how coffee was spread across the globe. This book has also had a consequence of making me into a coffee snob though, so watch out. I enjoy it much more and know which kinds to look for. A great read for any coffee/ tea enthusiast.

The Edge of Evolution                             9-12-09                                         Micheal J. Behe

This was a good book that offers scientific proof that evolution can only account for so much advancement in this vast world we live in. It is very technical though. Maybe that’s why I stopped halfway through. I got the main point early.

The Huffinton Post’s complete guide to blogging             9-22-09                the editors of HuffPost

Great book for someone new to blogging. It has many nice tips for the veteran blogger as well. My only complaint is that the second half of the book extols the virtues and accomplishments of The Huffington Post.

The House of Suns                                9-28-09                                               Alastair Reynolds

Alastair Reynolds takes normal sci-fi conventions and flips them on their head. Oh! A normal story takes place in the span of a few hundred years? Try six million! I love that Reynolds was an astrophysicist so that his science is hard and true…for the most part. At least plausible. This was a great story and had some great characters. I still like Chasm City better, but not by much.

The Graveyard Book                              9-29-09                                                        Neil Gaiman

A very fun book to read on a dreary day. I loved the odd story, and all the little English slang that you don’t find in American books. Like most YA fiction, it only took me an evening and a day to read. The characters were pretty well developed for being a young adult book. I’m looking forward to the further adventures of Bod, if there are any more to come.

The Road                                             10-11-09                                             Cormac McCarthy

The Road is beautiful in its desolate prose, ugly in its lack of punctuation, and compelling in its tale of human survival against all odds. A haunting book that leaves nightmares as a consolation, and dessicated corpses as comfortable decoration. Those who cannot imagine feasting on human flesh out of pure desperation, will find this book squeamish at best. Excuse me while I go stock up on canned goods…

Snoopy’s guide to the writing life            10-15-09                                                Barnaby Conrad

This book was interesting in that it has short essays by famous authors about writing, but I have read many other books on writing that were far better.

Green                                                  10-23-09                                                           Jay Lake

Pretty interesting book. Slow in some parts, very fast in others. Jay’s writing style is very easy to get into though, and Green is a cool character that makes you want to see how everything turns out with her. The world Lake invents is crazy. I’m kind of looking forward to a sequel. It’s also fairly smexy, in a classy way.

Start & Run a Real Home-based Business         10-24-09      Dan Furman

This was a well-written (it better be since he’s a professional business writer) book dealing with the pitfalls and best practices of running a home business. Very useful, practical info.

The Areas of my Expertise    10-27-09                                      John Hodgman

This book was funny, but not as funny as I thought it would be. I like John Hodgman in his appearances on The Daily Show, & thought I knew his quirky humor, but there were only a few times that I really laughed out loud.

Bitter Angels                                         11- 15-09                                                 C. L. Anderson

I didn’t finish this. It was overdue and I just didn’t care enough to renew it. The plot didn’t draw me in and I couldn’t relate to any of the characters. Blah.

Dumbheart                                                 11-25-09                                                Darby Conley

Another great Get fuzzy collection. I laughed out loud many times reading this, even in public. Bucky still loves monkeys, Satchel battles for animal rights, and Rob just deals with the maelstrom of chaos.

The Zombie Survival guide                      12-12-09                                                      Max Brooks

A very thorough guide for what to do when the zombie apocalypse happens. This is a good guide for any big disaster, but adding undead ghouls to the mix makes it even more fun. I loved reading this and now have quite a large shopping list for zombie killing supplies.

501 things to do if you dare                    12-25-09                                                     Ben Malisow

A cool list of dangerous stuff to try. I immediately got out a pen and started checking off things I’ve already done. I think I’m over 150 at least.

I think overall, I most enjoyed discovering the “Jump 225” (infoquake) series, the “Virga” (Sun of Suns) series, and Toby Buckell’s books. Other notable books were Ficiones, Nickled & Dimed, Freakonomics, Little Brother, and the Zombie Survival Guide  .

This is just a quick life update. I am now a stay at home dad for two days a week. The others are spent doing projects around the house that we haven’t had time to do in the last few years. Like: ripping down the wall between the kitchen and dining room, replacing broken window panes, stripping paint, fixing the leaky basement, etc.

I have received 3 rejections from agents about their interest in my novel so far. I’m waiting on 2 more. I may start sending it out to publishers too, but I’d rather have an agent first.

I’m starting on my last semester of classes for my A.S. in Business from OCC. I like my guitar class the best so far. I know how to play, and have for years, but it’s fun remembering all the old Metallica songs I used to know and jamming with the other advanced students.

The toddler is adapting well to his first major life transition: Mom at work, he’s in daycare or with me, I’m gone at night at class. That’s it for now

Chapter 7. (more…)

Chapter 6. (more…)

Chapter 5. (more…)

Chapter 4 . (Six and a half years later.) (more…)

Literary Coincidences

Posted: April 13, 2009 in Books, writing
Tags: , , ,

Have you ever been reading something only to have a particular word, phrase, or topic jump out at you because you have just seen or heard it elsewhere? I had two recently.

Yesterday I was blown away by a literary coincidence. I’m reading “Infoquake” by David Louis Edelman, and on page 181 is the scene where Natch meets Surina in the infinite library and she says, “You haven’t read your Borges, have you?” Guess what other book I am reading right now? Ficciones by Borges!!! Crazy! Granted I finished that particular short story last week but still. Pretty cool.


And another one:

I put down “MultiReal,” (also by David Louis Edelman) last night so my wife and I could watch a movie. We picked Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein since she teaches it in her English class and has never seen it. (plus since it’s about rising from the dead, I thought it would fit nicely with Easter) I stopped reading in the middle of the page.
After the movie, I picked up the book again. The last line of the first paragraph ended with “…cobbled together like some sort of virtual Frankenstein.” Dun Dun Duhhhhhh!

I know I’ve had others too, I just can’t remember specifically. Like I’m reading and someone says, “grilled cheese.” the same time that I read the words “grilled cheese.” What about you?

Chapter 3. Seven years ago (more…)