A fun read for the end of the summer. Less campy, more like a science fiction writer's "serious" attempt to describe what a large scale zombie outbrea...moreA fun read for the end of the summer. Less campy, more like a science fiction writer's "serious" attempt to describe what a large scale zombie outbreak could be like. (less)
I'm not a fan of mysteries in general, or of crime fiction especially. So why this book? Because it makes Southern California practically a character...moreI'm not a fan of mysteries in general, or of crime fiction especially. So why this book? Because it makes Southern California practically a character itself. There are plenty of books that make much of their locations in New York, Chicago, London, or Paris. I'm looking for books that do the same with LA. I've had more trouble than I expected trying to find "LA books," so I started with this one, the first in the long-running Harry Bosch LAPD series. It was a sure thing for location, and in that respect it didn't disappoint.
The story itself and the central character are ok, but nothing to get too excited about. A little cliche. Still, I can see myself trying another Bosch story sometime in the future, in between some other "LA books."(less)
Apparently this book is famous & widespread in all but the English-speaking world, where it took seventy years to get a translation. I just learne...moreApparently this book is famous & widespread in all but the English-speaking world, where it took seventy years to get a translation. I just learned about it from the All About Books podcast. Though intended for a young audience, it's still very informative and enjoyable for an adult armchair historian like me.
For the past several years I've been studying world history (or at least western civ), a subject I somehow missed in my 1970s/80s education. I've been reading Wikipedia articles on many topics, and I remember poring over printouts on the Holy Roman Empire, trying to understand its odd history. This Little History would've been an even better introduction, since it covers such a broad sweep in such understandable language.
It was also particularly interesting to consider how the author first wrote this from Vienna in the 1930s, with no inkling about WW2 that was about to start. It was so interesting, then, that this edition included an epilogue where the author used the benefit of hindsight to reconsider some of his observations made at that earlier time. His revision of opinion about the end of the first world war--especially President Wilson's role & integrity--was fascinating.(less)
Ok, it's just as amazing (especially for its time) as I'd heard. So interesting to compare it to 1984 (which I hope I also gave 5 stars). The standard...moreOk, it's just as amazing (especially for its time) as I'd heard. So interesting to compare it to 1984 (which I hope I also gave 5 stars). The standardized options for mass production of human beings was an amazing dystopian vision, and the satirical references to Ford, Lenin, Malthus, Marx, etc. were brilliant. It's true that I was a little less enthused during the middle of this short (yea!) book, but the book's opening and--especially--the final dialog between "The Savage" and Mustapha Mond, the Resident World Controller were parts I'll always remember.(less)
Well, I'm glad that I read it, but it was a bit of work for me to get through. I like picking books that inform vacations abroad with a historic conte...moreWell, I'm glad that I read it, but it was a bit of work for me to get through. I like picking books that inform vacations abroad with a historic context, but more often they work better after-the-fact, since the place comes alive in the story AFTER I've seen it myself, not before. In this case, I was looking for a book relating to the "trip of a lifetime" Candy & I took with the kids last January. Just about every book I could find for Munich was necessarily related to the ugly events leading up to WW2, but I had more choices in Italy for Venice, Florence, or Rome. I ended up with this sprawling tale of Rome's history from it's legendary founding (a trade crossroads even before the Romulus & Remus story) up through the end of the Republic.
That's one thousand years and we only JUST got to the start of the Roman Empire and the far-off birth of Christ (which is not part of this book).
I've never read Michener, but I gather that the author of Roma, Steven Saylor, uses a similar historical fiction approach: focus on some common characters from a couple families, and let the events of history play out through their eyes. Only this time he has to go a significant step beyond, and follow two of Rome's ancient families through many, many generations (skipping several times) in order to span the thousand years in a reasonable number of pages (550, which was a lot for me!).
I don't know what else he could've done with that task, so it's hard to fault him for it, but the net result was a lot of storybook sort of Roman episodes, described through characters that have similar family names but otherwise lack a real narrative thread that weaves through the whole book. That's part of why it took me so long to finish (six months). I kept going but wasn't usually compelled to learn what happened next.
Still, it put some meat on the bare bones of history, giving me vivid accounts of Rome's ancient king (and why they never had another one, at least in name), the Punic Wars, the sack of Rome, the Vestal Virgins, the rise & assassination of Julius Caesar, and much more. (less)
My comic book phase was somewhat late, and very short, just a few years in high school. I'm neither a big fan of them now, nor do I have any strong pr...moreMy comic book phase was somewhat late, and very short, just a few years in high school. I'm neither a big fan of them now, nor do I have any strong prejudice against them. I love the concept of graphic novels tackling adult themes, even while they do so with the mythology of superheroes in costumes. I also enjoy the ethical resonance of the primary struggles between good & evil that are par for the course with superheroes & villains.
I'd heard this graphic novel presented a future struggle between traditional superhero ethics of protecting the peace, versus the latter (and lately more popular?) superheroes as vigilantes. That these two points of view are crystallized in Superman versus Batman are the only reason I'd tackle this book, because I'm otherwise not familiar enough with the DC universe. My comics were Marvel.
But when it comes to this subject, you just HAVE to build it from Superman and Batman. In fact, I'm pretty sure this is a subject DC has covered many times before, with these same iconic characters. Though I was pleased to see moral complexity on the "Superman side" of this struggle (the side I naturally agree with!), the story didn't measure up for me. I just didn't know enough of the other characters, and Batman's story didn't anchor the vigilante side of the question like I thought it would/should.(less)
I only made it halfway through this book before I gave up. It just never grabbed me. I had picked it for its Paris locale. I'm not normally a fan of m...moreI only made it halfway through this book before I gave up. It just never grabbed me. I had picked it for its Paris locale. I'm not normally a fan of murder mysteries, so perhaps that was a poor choice.(less)
Checked out from the library on a whim, and then it was the only book I had with me on a cross-country flight earlier in the month. It was an entertai...moreChecked out from the library on a whim, and then it was the only book I had with me on a cross-country flight earlier in the month. It was an entertaining, quick read with more to do about marketing and consumer psychology than a typical fitness/nutrition book. The author runs an academic lab focusing on food marketing research, but also consumer behavior in the broadest sense. In addition to suggesting small plates to help people like me eat less, his research also includes how to help soldiers eat MORE when they're in pitch-black conditions, all stressed out. Interesting stuff.(less)
Salter's book about F-86 fighter pilots in the Korean War was recently recommended (endorsed) on one of my favorite podcasts, the Slate Culture Gabfes...moreSalter's book about F-86 fighter pilots in the Korean War was recently recommended (endorsed) on one of my favorite podcasts, the Slate Culture Gabfest. It's a tight piece of writing (~250pp) about a man's honor & values, and for that reason Salter is compared to Hemingway. I've never read Hemingway, but from little I know about his work, I guess the comparison makes sense.
Salter himself flew these planes in Korea, and you can't help but wonder if the lead characters inner thoughts mimic what the author himself experienced. I don't think it's autobiographical, but merely informed by what it's really like to be in that unique situation. The uncomfortable relationship with another character, a weasel-y one that nonetheless has some real skill as a fighter pilot, is the strongest part of the story.
I was a little let down by the ending, although I expect others will think it was perfect, perhaps the only way it COULD end.(less)