This was exactly the kind of non fiction I love to read: informative, specific, and entertaining.
The Fruit Hunters is a great romp through the underwo...moreThis was exactly the kind of non fiction I love to read: informative, specific, and entertaining.
The Fruit Hunters is a great romp through the underworld of exotic fruit lovers/hunters, and includes several great anecdotes, such as how the kiwi game to be the kiwi, or what exactly a durian smells and tastes like (which, I have experienced first hand).
All in all, a great read for anyone who has ever gone through Whole Foods or Central Market and wondered: what the fuck is that spiky yellow fruit there, and what does it taste like?(less)
This was my first foray into both steampunk and anthologies.
I've always loved the idea and execution of steampunk, and wanted a good gateway drug into...moreThis was my first foray into both steampunk and anthologies.
I've always loved the idea and execution of steampunk, and wanted a good gateway drug into the literary form of it, and this anthology seemed like the way to go. Turns out I was more or less right.
Like any collection of works, there were some that were better than others, but overall, this was a great introduction into the world of dirigibles, steam powered technology, greatcoats, and general Victorian-era goodness.
One of the highlights for me was the short story entitled "The Steam Man of the Prairie and the Dark Rider Get Down: A Dime Novel", by Joe R. Lansdale. It was extremely violent, and at many points I had to quite literally stop reading and almost look away, but, it was enthralling.
I'd recommend this book to anyone who's looking for a good collection of short stories dealing in all things steampunk.
This is the first true fiction book I've read in well over 7 or 8 years, if not longer.
I guess at some point in my readings, I just decided that nonf...moreThis is the first true fiction book I've read in well over 7 or 8 years, if not longer.
I guess at some point in my readings, I just decided that nonfiction was what I got more enjoyment out of, and also that if I was going to read, I wanted to learn.
So, I went into this book with mixed feelings. I was worried it wouldn't hold my attention, or that I'd have a hard time wanting to go back to it to finish it once I started.
I was wrong. I finished it in 6 days.
Scott Smith's The Ruins tells the tale of a group of 6 friends (4 of them are two couples), who set out on a side-trip from their vacation in Cancun to search for the brother of a young German man (part of the 6) they met while in Cancun. Their search leads them to a rather secluded part of Mexico, well off the beaten path, in which they wind up on top of a hill near some supposedly ancient Mayan ruins.
What proceeds to happen is true horror. As you may well have already read or heard, this book does for trips to Mexico what Jaws did for going to the beach, or what Deliverance did for camping. If you've read (or seen, as I have) Scott Smith's other tale, A Simple Plan, you know that he's a master at taking a bad situation, and making it far worse than you can possibly imagine.
To borrow a phrase from Stephen King (whose review and recommendation of the book urged me to read it), the book is really "one long, screaming close-up" of sheer terror. It never breaks for chapters, just an extra line break here or there to catch a short breath. Smith refuses to turns away at the gruesomeness that occurs here, leaving the reader with absolutely no relief.
What I loved about The Ruins is how Smith delves into the psyches of each of the characters, letting the reader in on each of their inner dialogues with themselves. You really get a sense of what each one of them is feeling, why they do the things they do, why they say the things they say. Some of these dialogues may go on for a page or two, but only span seconds in real time, making each and every action all the more powerful.
While I'm still going to continue to be selective about which fiction books I choose to read, I doubt that any other will ever come along that takes me on this much of a horribly awry, fast-paced trip down in to the bowels of hell. (less)
Monopoly is another one of those books that I really love reading, as it falls into the category otherwise known as "monohistories". Basically, the bi...moreMonopoly is another one of those books that I really love reading, as it falls into the category otherwise known as "monohistories". Basically, the biography of a singular item. I've read many of these types of books (salt, coffee, etc), and I always enjoy seeking them out.
What makes Monopoly, the book, interesting is to read about life before Monopoly, the game. There were numerous incarnations of money/property related games that all had the intention of imparting on the player a sense of what it takes and what it's like to own property and to effectively manage real estate. None of them really took off, and it took a series of seemingly random events and people to really make Monopoly, the game, work.
The book is authored by a former SVP of Parker Brothers, and is clearly meticulously researched (just take a gander at any one of the 10 appendices for evidence), and it's obvious that Orbanes has a love for the game. Its not without slow parts though, particularly in some of the early history of the pre-Monopoly era - which, is understandable, as most people who read this book will be interested in Monopoly, the game, and not any of its spritual predecessors.
Still, the book does pick up pace once it gets into the publishing of the first, and subsequent, editions of Monopoly, as well as its battles in court, its historians, its world championships, and its enduring appeal on the American landscape.
All in all, this book should appeal to anyone who's wondered how such a timeless game like Monopoly evolved over time. If nothing else, you'll at least learn some interesting facts to tuck away to impress your friends during your next game of Monopoly.(less)