Recently Read - 21st January 2008

Here's a list of the books I've recently read, with an Amazon-style star rating and a few comments.

  • Thirteen - Richard K. Morgan
    Morgan's latest anti-hero. A deeper novel then the Takeshi Kovacs series, with more politics and world building. This tended to make it drag at times. After about 300 pages, it really starts to get going, and the body count starts increasing dramatically. About 100 pages from the end, when you think it's starting to finish, Morgan introduces more plot twists and away you go again.

  • Idoru - William Gibson
    I've now read all of Gibson's novels, and a lot of his short stories. I haven't "read" Agrippa (A Book of the Dead) yet, but at that price and with it's self-destructive nature, I'm unlikely to bother. It all seems so artsy-fartsy to me.

  • The Light Of Other Days - Arthur C. Clarke & Stephen Baxter
    Based on the idea of "Slow Glass" found in Bob Shaw's excellent Other Days, Other Eyes, (a book that badly needs to be re-released), but taken so much further. Chock full of ideas and possibilities. What would the world be like if everybody could see everything you were doing (or had ever did)?

    Minor spoiler: one of my favorite parts was where one of the main protagonists uses the technology to keep going back in time to see his ancestors. All the way back.

  • The Lady In The Lake - Raymond Chandler
  • Red Harvest - Dashiell Hammett
    Two more novels about hard-boiled detectives set in California.

  • Forrest Gump - Winston Groom
    I saw the film when it first came out and was expecting the book to be very similar to the film plot. Therefore I was pleasantly surprised that the novel has Gump doing several other different (and highly unbelievable) things instead. Entertaining and funny in places.

  • Nightmare in Manhatten - Thomas Walsh
    Won the Edgar for Best First Mystery Novel in 1951.

  • Times Without Number - John Brunner

  • Dusk And Other Stories - James Salter
    One of the Amazon reviewers referred to Salter as "Hemingway with a heart". I'll agree that the sentences are economical, with not a wasted word, but what made me give it a lower star rating was that there were several stories that just ended in what appeared to be, a bunch of non sequiturs. Very annoying.

  • How To Live With A Neurotic Dog - Stephen Baker
    I can heavily relate to this book. Highly recommended for dog owners.

  • The Captain And The Enemy - Graham Greene
    Graham Greene's last novel and one of his minor works.

  • Mathamatics A Human Endeavor - Harold R. Jacobs

  • Rebuilding Coventry - Sue Townsend
    A book by Townsend that isn't about Adrian Mole or a spoof of the Royal Family or the Prime Minister. Slightly disappointing. Townsend is much better at satire.

  • Child of Silence - Abigail Padgett
    One of the 100 Favorite Mysteries of the 20th Century and rightly so. An original plot that was a complete page-turner. What makes this even more impressive was that it was her first novel.

  • Coraline - Neil Gaiman
    I'm always on the lookout for books that I think Duncan might like to read when he's a little older. This is such a book. Maybe in 2-3 years.

Which brings me onto Neil Gaiman. If you read Gaiman's bio, it mentions that he was the writer of the Sandman comics (which I'd never read). So this time I decided to do something about it and for the first time, started to read some of the best from the genre of the graphic novel. I wasn't disappointed.

  • The Absolute Sandman Volume 1 - Neil Gaiman
    Luckily the library had this thick heavy book. Volume 1 contains the first 20 issues, plus a few "bonus features" such as the play-like script and directions for the Midsummer Night's Dream story. The writing and artwork are excellent. My favorite episode so far (haven't read Volume 2 yet) is Men of Good Fortune.

  • The Contract With God Trilogy - Will Eisner
    According to the Wikipedia page, this is one of the first graphics novels. Written by Will Eisner when he was 61, and published as a hardcover trilogy in 2006 (with Eisner adding several more illustrations and commentary). The Eisner's are the award in the comic book industry.

  • Batman: The Dark Knight Returns - Frank Miller
    I'm not going to give anything away, but this was like no Batman story I'd ever read before. I loved it.

  • Watchmen - Alan Moore
    A Hugo Award winner, there are a lot of similarities between this book and the last. Both written at a time when there was a clear and present danger of a nuclear war. Both treating the super heroes as vigilantes.

    Allan Moore's publicity still on the back cover, left me wondering whether he was also living in a shack in the woods somewhere and working on a manifesto. But he sure can write. Watchmen often had places where the dialog related to 2-3 stories going on at the same time. Exceptionally clever.

This has now left me wanting to read other great graphic novels and comic books. I'll probably start from this list. Other recommendation gratefully accepted.

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