books I've read recently
I’ve ended up with a bunch of new books recently. Gloria gave me quite a nice stack of them for my birthday. Her parents gave me an Amazon gift certificate which was used mostly for books. Some kind anonymous person gave me a copy of Red Alert, which I’d wanted to read. Many of the books have been pretty light reading, so I’ve gotten through a few already. It’s been very pleasant! Mostly I get my reading done when Martha is playing at the park, or while I’m walking through town, or waiting for the bus, or while I brush my teeth. I actually didn’t get much reading done at OSCON. I was busy, and during the trip home, I was trying to sleep!
Walt recommended The Automatic Detective, a hard-boiled detective story about an indestructable robot and his buddy the giant talking gorilla. It was pretty much exactly what I expected, and that was good. I’m glad it’s not a series, because I wouldn’t want seconds, but the book was a fun read. It reminded me of my fizzled-out plan to run a ray gun gothic hard boiled detective RPG set in New Jersey.
I stumbled across Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality when reading the Wikipedia page about John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats. I had been reading about him after getting his song No Children stuck in my head after watching all of season three of Moral Orel on the way to OSCON. It was probably the number two thing I talked about too much there, right after Le Pigeon. Seriously, that show really got good after the first season.
Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality is part of a series of books somehow related to albums. I don’t really know what the deal is. The book is good, though. It’s the journal of a teenage boy institutionalized for attempting to kill himself. For much of the work, he’s pleading with the powers that be, who read his journal, to just please give him back his Black Sabbath tapes so he can be happy. I really liked the structure of the book and the voice of the narrator. It was ambiguous in many places, and I thought it was always ambiguous in the right way, leaving questions in the air that seemed interesting but were actually best left unanswered. The whole thing was made more interesting when I remembered (from the Wikipedia page) that Darnielle was a psychiatric nurse.
Last year, Gloria gave me The Infection, which is more or less a zombie apocalypse novel. (Hey, it’s only five bucks on Kindle right now!) I thought it was much better done than other books like it that I’d read, and I liked that it did some weird stuff with the nature of the zombie apocalypse. When it was done, I was glad that there wasn’t a sequel, though. It seemed best left alone.
Well, this year a sequel came out and I put it right onto my wish list and Gloria got it for me. The Killing Floor was pretty good. Unfortunately, when it was done I was hoping there’d be no sequel, but it really ends with a setup for a final book, and I get the impression that no matter what, I won’t like the ending. But, hey, I could be wrong! I’ll certainly read that last book, anyway.
If I ever run an All Flesh Must Be Eaten-y zombie game, I will totally steal stuff from these books.
I forget when, but at some point not too long ago I stumbled across Red Alert, the novel on which Dr. Strangelove was based. Unlike the movie, the book is not a satire. I expected it to be really hamfisted, but in the end I actually really enjoyed it. It was interesting to see just how slight the changes needed to be to take the book from serious to satire. I was very surprised by the ending, especially given the things I knew about the author. I’m sort of interested in reading his post-nuclear-war book, Commander-1, although it sounds a little goofy. Still, for $1 used, I think I’ll get around to it.
Finally, I’m now back to the first book that Gloria gave me last month: The Forever War. I’d started reading it, and then moved on to each new book in turn, and have been reading things in a jumbled order since then. The Forever War was recommended by Bryan after my lukewarm reaction to Old Man’s War. So far, I think it’s better, but it keeps reminding me of that book, which isn’t helping it very much. Still, I am enjoying it. (I enjoyed Old Man’s War, too.) I’m still only a quarter of the way through it, too, and I’m looking forward to getting to the middle.
After that, I’ve got a pile of stuff queued up, and I’m excited about all of it. Tonight, though, I mostly worked through my Instapaper backlog. Man, Instapaper has been a huge help in reading articles I would’ve otherwised skipped. I am glad to pay for it.
Now it’s time to go to bed… maybe after one more chapter.