Monday, 8 January 2007

Reading List Update.

Haven't done one of these in ages!

I am currently reading:

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
I am sooooo in love with this book. It's a book that makes you think and reflect on imagination, the human condition, society and life using cities as a frame and guide. Also, Marco Polo is one cool dude.

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
I'm reading this very slowly. I started reading this back in October... only half-way through... Is it any good? It makes for interesting reading but if Dawkins thinks he can stop people believing in God by writing this book, then I can only say that's one heckuva climb up Mount Improbable.

I have recently finished:

14 Oct 2006: The Malayan Trilogy by Anthony Burgess
because of its many "controversial" elements (racial stereotypes mostly) many people here will pass over it. A pity, because not only is it a very good caricature of Malayan/Malaysian society, it also serves as a warning of what things could become (have become?). Apart from being a political and social diatribe, it is also a work of art. Burgess skilled use of wordplay and poetic prose is to be admired.

28 Oct 2006: Haruki Murakami and the Music of Words by Jay Rubin
Probably of interest only to hardcore Murakami fans. Includes some interesting trivia of Murakami and his wife, Yoko, and provides insight to almost all of Murakami's major works. Not much worth reading otherwise.

16 Oct 2006: Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve
A superb adventure filled to the brim with the most unique of ideas. Forget Dianne Wynne Jones, Hayao Miyazaki, this is the book you want to adapt into a movie! C'mon, huge cities moving on traction, a dystopic vision of the world in the future, a gripping plot - what more could a reader ask for? (Don't answer that.)

21 Oct 2006: The Grand Complication by Allen Kurzweil
Quite intriguing. Slow in parts but was very interesting in the way the story folded out. I was amazed at how Kurzweil managed to make computer searches not as dull as they are in real life. It reminds me of The Da Vinci Code in quite a few ways - a refined gentleman as mentor and later betrayer, a French love interest, a search for a long missing artifact. On the whole enjoyable, but not likely memorable. The language used was beautifully archaic though.

27 Oct 2006: Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
An incredible tour-de-force of adventure and tech involving memorably-named characters, Hiro Protaganist and Y.T. Awesome gizmos and gadgets help propel the story along and use of the virtual world Metaverse as a plot device is inspired. Some of the parts of Sumerian mythology went over my head though and the part where Hiro was explaining the origins of the Snow Crash virus was unbelievable to me because Uncle Enzo, Ng and Mr. Lee seemed to understand the concepts too easily. On the whole enjoyable and fun.

8 Nov 2006: Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? by Raymond Carver
Profound, sad, true to life. A collection of short stories that revolve around normal everyday people with normal problems. Sometimes it's the usual everyday problems that hurt the most.

15 Nov 2006: His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik
Fast-paced and immensely enjoyable. Will Laurence keeps saying "my dear" a lot to Temeraire though and I sometimes wonder how deep their relationship really goes...

1 Dec 2006: Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik
Slower-paced, but by no means is it less on the action. This book takes Laurence and Temeraire to China after a diplomatic near-disaster. The first two acts take place on the sea and while they do have their moments, I really had to slog through them. The book shines when they finally arrive in China in the third act and from there it's all good. Too bad the China bit is short.

11 Dec 2006: Black Powder War by Naomi Novik
The third book in the Temeraire series is much better than the second book, Throne of Jade. There are so many cool scenes in this book - one being a covert extraction operation in Istanbul - that I feel overwhelmed every time I try to think of them. And the great cast of characters: Tharkay, Arkady, and a certain fiery personality that appears near the end of the book - are all very engaging. Well done, Ms. Novik, though I wish I could forgive you for writing a cliffhanger ending before making me wait a year for a follow-up.

15 Dec 2006: I'm Not Sick, Just a Bit Unwell by Yvonne Foong
Well-written, even though self-published. Obviously it has benefited from being edited by John Ling. Very educational about neurofibromatosis and provides information and answers to questions that most people won't ask. The only problem I had with this book was that it had no sense of closure, though hopefully that would be fulfilled in a later book perhaps. Also, the religious bits near the end were a bit too sappy for my tastes.

28 Dec 2006: The Girl Who Played Go by Shan Sa
Nice language, too bad I couldn't stay awake long enough to read it. It just took too long to get anywhere. Go is sadly underused, though the philosophies of the game run as themes throughout the book.

30 Dec 2006: The Final Solution by Michael Chabon
A wonderful homage to a certain famous detective. Now an old man, the detective must summon his failing powers when a parrot that squawks out mysterious numbers and a mute Jewish boy who escaped from Nazi Germany enter his life. A good story though ending is a little unsatisfactory and story is too short. Also, the archaic twist-abouts of language employed may turn off "modern" readers.

30 Dec 2006: Jennifer Government by Max Barry
Jennifer Government is to capitalism what Nineteen Eighty-Four is to totalitarianism. And it's funnier too Taxes have been abolished and US companies have taken over half the world. People in US-affiliated countries take up their company's names as surnames. A near-literary thriller that puts forward some interesting ideas and cleverly satires the ruthless expansion of US-based corporations.

3 Jan 2007: Bright Lights, Big City by Jay Mcinerney
A young man finds his life slowly spiralling into the depths of chaos of cocaine and depression. His wife has left him. He is close to being fired from his job at a reputable New York magazine. A good read; honest and simple; use of 2nd-person voice suits story very well. Sort of a (much) tamer Fight Club.

I might be reading these next:
  • The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac
  • The Russian Debutante's Handbook by Gary Shteyngart
  • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
Previous Reading List Updates:

19 comments:

  1. Whew! That's one extensive reading list, Ted! A lot of interesting titles that I'll be keeping in mind.

    May you succeed in all your writing and reading endeavours this year! And I certainly am up for a challenge! :)

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  2. Thanks Eternal Wanderer! Good luck to you too.

    I'm curious: what titles piqued your interest?

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  3. impressive list and v. well summarised!

    i love the cover of 'kavalier and clay' please tell us how you enjoy it

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  4. I love the cover too. Kavalier and Clay looks like it will be a very enjoyable read. I'm not so much of a Golden Era comics fan but I like the Siegel and Shuster vibe the book has.

    I will start reading it after I've finished reading Kerouac's Dharma Bums.

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  5. You just made me want to pick up Philip Reeve!

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  6. Good choice! Philip Reeve is a vastly underrated writer (though he did pick up a Children's Book award last year).

    Mortal Engines is part 1 of 4 books in the Hungry Cities Chronicles. I haven't read the rest yet (am rationing them) but I hear they are very good as well and his writing gets better.

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  7. Holy cow, that is some reading list! Now I will never dare to put up any :P

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  8. Haha! Eh, don't get intimidated or anything la!

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  9. Invisible Cities is amazing, I went looking for other titles by Italo Calvino but I never did find something else like it.

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  10. I have seen the Murakami book in the stores and wondered if it was worth purchasing. Good to know it for fans, moreso than general.

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  11. Mag: I agree... it is an amazing book. It's already inspired three different personal projects. I don't think there is *anything* quite like Invisible Cities, either by him or by any author. It is truly a unique book.

    Winnie: The Murakami book really is a must buy for fans... so much trivia only a Murakami fan could appreciate!

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  12. hi ted, do you know where I can get Haruki Murakami and the Music of Words by Jay Rubin? MPH doesn't have it =( Pls hit me back ya? I'm at peilingzhis@gmail.com

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  13. eh? i checked. nothing :( u sure u sent to the right email? i'm at peilingzhis.wordpress.com

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  14. Pretty sure I did! Unless you gave me the wrong email address...

    Anyways! Kinokuniya has a copy. I saw it there last week. And checking their database, it's still there. Good luck!

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  15. thanks ted! :) i really hope my friend who's a great murakami fan wld love it :) thx for helping me solve a great headache o'er what to get him! :)

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  16. No probs! Always glad to help. Your friend would definitely like that book, although I'd suggest reading all his books up to Kafka on the Shore before reading Music of Words. There's just too many spoilers.

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  17. unfortunately i think he's read everything except kafka on the shore! haha

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  18. heh. Then that should be okay lah.

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