Dec 11, 2010

Quick capsule reviews

I've been plowing through books on my kindle and on paper, so the backlog of ones I wanted to mention is getting insurmountable.  Here's some short takes on them anyway.

1) Mother Tongue, by Bill Bryson.  An amusing and surprising pop history of the world's most important language.  Highly recommended.

2) Losing Mum and Pup, by Christopher Buckley.  Poignant and surprisingly hilarious.  I miss WFB, the old scoundrel.  Highly recommended.

3) Blackwater, by Jeremy Scahill.  The subject is important and the research exhaustive, but the preening moralizing is irritating.  Mildly recommended.

4) The Years of Rice and Salt, by Kim Stanley Robinson.  Insanely ambitious yet rather whimsical, for Robinson anyway.  Fun for nerds.  Recommended.

5) Mother Night, by Kurt Vonnegut.  One of the last Vonneguts I hadn't read, and among his best.  Highly recommended.

6) Free Culture, by Lawrence Lessig.  If you think copyright law is boring, think again.  Chapters 13-14 are about the most disturbing thing I've read all year.  Highly recommended.

7) The History of Western Philosophy, by Bertrand Russell.  By far the best philosophical overview I've read, mainly because Russell doesn't pull his punches.  If he thinks someone is full of crap, then by God he'll say so.  Probably egregiously unfair in parts, but that's part of the charm.  Recommended.

8) Exploration of the Colorado River of the West and Its Tributaries, by John Wesley Powell.  Still probably the best book about running the Grand Canyon.  Highly recommended.

9) The Silmarillion, by Tolkien.  Finished it for the second time awhile back.  I loved it, but non LOTR geeks probably wouldn't.  Recommended anyway.

10) One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, by Ken Kesey.  Definitely a product of its time, but beautiful and moving nonetheless.  Very highly recommended.

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