Bookshelf Archives – October 20th, 2020

Books I’m Reading, Have Read, Or Want You To Think I’m Reading Or Have Read.

My Latest Bibliothoughts

It’s been an odd few months. I’ve been able to read books faster than I’ve found time to write. My creative energies were sapped by other writing and other stresses. But the reading went on, and I want to share thoughts on many of the books that have slipped past like dandelion seeds on the breeze.

So, instead of going in depth on one book, I’ll do a round-up on a few of the books I finished most recently – or at least the books I’ve read, even if I haven’t finished them. 

The Body: A Guide For Occupants

by Bill Bryson

I must confess, I haven’t finished this yet. There were so many other books I wanted to read. And I felt guilty for not finishing, because I always finish every bit of Bill’s books I can get. I have some of his travel books as both a hard copy and an audiobook. 

But then I realized that’s okay. This isn’t the sort of book that demands to be finished at one go. You can dip in and out as your intellectual bandwidth permits.

What Bill Bryson does so well with topics like the body (and science, and the history of home) is that he finds the fun, interesting minutiae and explains them in a light-hearted way to pique your curiosity without necessarily being the ultimate authority on life, the universe, and everything about the given topic. 

For instance, did you know there was a name for that feeling you get in your ears when you’re coming in to land in an airplane? It’s called a Valsalva effect. And did you know the largest research institution in the world dedicated to the senses of taste and smell is located in Philadelphia? I didn’t even suspect those senses had any research institutions dedicated solely to them. 

Bryson has crafted another story based on science. It’s engaging, but it’s not one you have to plow through. I’m working my way bit by bit through the book, taking breaks to finish other books as the mood strikes me. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

The Last Emperox
by John Scalzi

The conclusion of the Interdependency trilogy was … satisfying. People who deserved comeuppance got comeuppance. Zingers got zinged. Witty banter was bantered. Plots got twisted. The conclusion was both surprising but also, without spoiling too much, pretty fucking unsurprising.

Did it have the same depth of character and emotional heft as the Old Man’s War series? No, I don’t think so, because the story has already failed to stay with me as fully as Scalzi’s previous masterwork. It’s possibly not even the same depth as the Lock In books. But as always, John Scalzi writes a fascinating, exciting story that keeps moving, with enough WTF twists to keep you coming back for the next one. 

Fuzzy Nation

by John Scalzi

Yes, another John Scalzi. He’s like a really great Netflix series; sometimes, you just need to binge. 

This is a re-boot/tribute to an earlier novel by someone I’ve never heard of, H. Beam Piper. It’s a perfectly fun tribute to social justice and environmental causes, and avoids the hero gets the girl cliche. 

As with all Scalzi novels, there are some exhilaratingly-badass moments of dialogue, and the characters are all interesting – even some of the antagonists are not entirely devoid of attraction. 

Again, it may not have the depth of Old Man’s War, but it’s not a book I would throw out of bed in disgust. And more than that, it’s a fun read, perfect for a long flight (if you remember what those are) or a lazy day in the park. 

These aren’t all the books I’ve finished of late. I’ll write more soon, in particular about Trevor Noah’s Born A Crime and Sonia Purnell’s A Woman Of No Importance.

Read, To Be Reviewed

  • Born A Crime, by Trevor Noah
  • A Woman Of No Importance, by Sonia Purnell

Next In The Queue

  • I’ll Be Gone In The Dark, by Michelle McNamara
  • The Obelisk Gate, by N.K. Jemisin
  • The City We Became, by N.K. Jemisin

In Limbo/Progress Made Here and There Between Other Books

  • Star Wars: Most Wanted, by Rae Carson
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