Thursday, December 11, 2008

what I've been reading

Let's see, I've kept my reading fairly light lately. When I'm not reading articles and blogs and pouring over politics and theology and other heavy subjects, I'm typically reading fantasy, science fiction, or historical fiction/non-fiction.

Recently I've read the amazing and terrifying The Devil in the White City, a story of serial murder and the extraordinary Chicago World's Fair. It is historical non-fiction with some liberty taken. The prose is darkly beautiful, and the story compelling. It's one of those books you can't set down, and yet wish you could at times there are moments so appallingly sad. Quite a strange juxtaposition of destruction and creation, and a slice of our history that all Americans should read about. The ingenuity of mankind at its best, and the brutality of mankind at its worst.

From there I decided I needed to go light, and read the Amulet of Samarkand, the first in a trilogy of young adult fantasy. Quite clever. Not fantastic, but fun and witty.

I know I'll likely leave out something. It's hard to keep track of all that I read (often two or three books at once). I ought to keep a spreadsheet.

Let's see, I just finished Son of a Witch, the sequel to Wicked. I liked it a great deal, though it was not as good as its predecessor. Perhaps the novelty of Wicked had worn a bit thin by the sequel. In any case, it was a bitter-sweet read. Lovely prose, but oddly unlikeable characters once again. I'm a sucker for at least one or two "good-guys" in a book. I like dynamic characters, but I prefer more redeeming qualities, and this book came up rather short of that.

Then I read the surprisingly short "Tales of Despereaux" which was a lovely little fable about a brave mouse and a damsel in distress. It was, as I said, extremely short, so this is one of those books you can do in an evening (or two). It's not terribly deep, but it's fun, and the author does a fantastic job inserting herself in a sort of quasi-narrative style with many "Dear readers" and little questions and warnings. A good book for young adults and adolescents, and I actually think you could read this one to much younger children as well.

Then I read The Giver, and I think I'll dedicate an entire post to this one later. Amazing book. Somehow I missed this one growing up. I generally read everything as a child, so I don't know how this masterpiece slipped by me. The themes of tradition and memory hit home, to be sure. Like I said, a great deal to ponder on this one, so I'll leave that for another post. If you haven't read this book go buy it now--it's important reading.

Now I'm about half-way through The Dead by James Joyce. It is supposedly the "perfect" story, so for a writer it's a must read. From there, I'm not sure what I'll read. I'm planning on getting into the Naomi Novik books soon, but before I delve into epic fantasy I think I'd like to get some classics out of the way. Perhaps I'll tackle War and Peace. Or Reflections on the Revolution in France. Or, The Histories.

Any suggestions?