Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Euripides' Reads

Every now and again, folks ask me what sorts of books I like to read. Since I read nearly constantly, and my tastes change with the tide, it's really difficult to nail down a type of book, or even a single book.

So to answer to the question, "What sort of books do you like to read?" I've compiled a short list of books that I've read this past month. I've started with the most recent. Maybe there are one or two you'd be interested in.

World War Z by Max Brooks - This is not the kind of book I'd pick up for myself. First off, it's a New York Times Bestseller, which makes it immediately suspect. My experience with bestsellers has not been good. They tend to be either too graphic, have too much sex, or have characters I'd never want to meet, let alone read about.

That said, my sister-in-law gave this to me for my birthday, so I read it.

It's a zombie book. It is a series of interviews with close encounters of the zombie kind. And I found it rather pedestrian. The movie isn't much better, but it does have Brad Pitt.

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas - This book is a classic for a reason. I'd read it 184 years ago when I was much younger than I am now and had nearly forgotten what a fine story it is. Well, actually, it's two stories, and if you've seen the two 1970s movies with Michael York, you've seen a decent screenplay of the book.

True to much of early novels, the descriptions and the incessant dialogs seem to go on forever, so I spent a lot of time skimming, rather than reading. But the descriptions do add to the beauty of the book, and to the depth of some of the characters.

It's a worthy book to try to work your way through.

Honor Among Enemies: Honor Harrington, Book 6 by David Weber - OK, I admit it, I'm a serial reader. This military SF series by David Weber recounts the stories of Honor Harrington, a woman who captains war ships in space. While not my favorite books of all time, this series offers a bit of fluff and and escape to distant galaxies and awesome space battles. The protagonist isn't stupid, and she becomes interesting over the series of the books.

America: Imagine a World Without Her by Dinesh D'Souza - After the movie came out this past summer, I picked up a copy of D'Souza's book to see if it had anything new to say about the problems facing the US today.

The book itself was OK and didn't really add anything new to the discussion. However, I'm glad I supported D'Souza by buying his book if, for no other reason, than he's a conservative of some note who is taking a lot of flak because he has an opinion that doesn't agree with the progressive establishment.

The 47th Samurai by Stephen Hunter - Hunter is a favorite author whose books about Bob Lee Swagger, an aging Marine sniper, are as much about the guns as about the man. Seriously, the guns in Hunter's books are major characters.

In this book, instead of guns, we are treated to an in-depth story revolving around a stolen ancient Samurai sword. The plot is improbable, but the story is really about the swords, after all, and I enjoyed getting to know the mystique behind the Japanese blades.

Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson - A terrific biography of Einstein that creates a pretty good story about how remarkable Einstein truly was, along with a simplified discussion of his major contributions to our understanding of the universe.

What's So Funny? by Tim Conway - Tim Conway is one of a handful of individuals whose comedy has literally brought tears to my eyes. I was hoping for some insight into this comedian's life, but was hoping more for a book filled with his humor. The book was kind of a disappointment in both areas. It was a mediocre biography and had precious little humor.

I enjoyed the book and learning a bit more about Tim Conway, but wouldn't really recommend it.

Theft of Swords/Rise of Empire/Heir of Novron by Michael J. Sullivan - This series of three books (which is actually divided up into six novels) is a decent fantasy about two thieves who make their way through a world of nobles and wars. I enjoyed the whole series and thought that Michael J. Sullivan's writing significantly improved over the course of the series.

This book is superficially about thieves and wizards, but really focuses on the main characters. I love a book where I care about the characters.


So that's it for the past month or so of reading. I always try to alternate fiction with non-fiction, but at my age, I'm more interested in a good story than in wrestling with academic babbling. I've no more patience for most academic works, as they are usually drivel. And while it doesn't show it on this list, I do keep up with current events, especially the Mideast and try to fit in some academic reading here and there (mostly history and political science).

What books are you reading? Anything I'd be interested in?