Monday, February 14, 2011

What I'm Reading Now-The Jumbo 2010 Catch-Up Edition, Part III

Well, I think this will finally wrap up all of my 2010 reading.  I didn't realize it at the time, but I did a pretty good job divvying up Part I and Part III.  I guess the trick is to just quit when you get tired.  Isn't that what all the great how-to-succeed-in-life books say?  No?  So, I can take full credit for that?  Awesome.

Anyhooo...Where was I?  Oh, right.  I did a much better job of making some notes on Goodreads after finishing these books, so a lot of what you are going to see below has already appeared on my Goodreads reviews, but I've added new content as well.

The Strain (The Strain Trilogy)The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan-Not that I can claim any kind of aficionado status when it comes to vampire lore, but I think this is the most plausible explanation of vampirism-as-virus that I've come across.  I generally don't get too freaked out by books, but I couldn't do my normal before-bedtime reading with this; I had to read this during the day, otherwise the 12 steps from my couch to my bedroom were too much for me to handle with all the lights off!  There were just too many opportunities for creepy things to be lurking in the hallway.    

The Best of the Best of American Science Writing (The Best American Science Writing)The Best of the Best of American Science Writing edited by Jesse Cohen-  This collection covers 2000-2009, and although I was a little surprised at what comprised "the best" science writing for some of those years (Darwin's had a big influence on modern thought? Really? That's the best you've got for the whole year?), over all I enjoyed the articles. It was interesting to see how scientific focus has progressed over the last decade, knowing where we were just a decade before and, even, where we are now. Although the articles are all science-based, they aren't all technical; many investigate the moral and ethical aspects of science as well, and these were the ones that I found most interesting.  I started reading this back in April during the Read-a-Thon; if you want more details you can visit my Read-a-Thon updates about doctors making mistakes, ambitious plastic surgeons, people who want to become amputees, and why low-fat diets may not really be all they're cracked up to be.   

This Is My Letter To The World: The Omikuji Project, Cycle OneThis Is My Letter To The World:  The Omikuji Project Cycle One by Catherynne M. Valente-Whenever I think of Catherynne M. Valente, I also think of Nymeth.  I don't think I can document this anywhere, but I'm pretty sure it was some of her high praise (possibly for Palimpsest?) that sent me seeking out Valente in the first place.

I'm not much of a short-story person, but overall, I really enjoyed this collection. Many of Valente's stories are twists on the classic fairy tales we all know and love, but many are pure originals (at least as far as I know).  If you're like me, and not sure if a whole book of short stories is where you want to spend your money, you can check out Valente's writing at her blog, and you can subscribe to her Omikuji project and receive one short story a month. This is how I discovered her writing; and in full disclosure, I received a free copy of her book as a token of apology in regard to a billing mix-up, which was awesome and way more than was necessary. So, not only do I like her writing, but now she seems like good people, which never hurts!

Doomsday BookDoomsday Book by Connie Willis-I liked this book enough to keep reading to see what was going to happen, but I think I could have just as easily not finished it and not been too heartbroken. I think the story about an English girl time-traveling to the 14th century is solid, but it just didn't quite have that on-the-edge-of-my-seat quality that I was hoping for, and I never felt all that much for the characters even though their lives were full of peril and drama. I've heard great things about this author though, so I'm willing to give her another chance.

The RuinsThe Ruins by Scott B. Smith-Ann at Books on the Nightstand named this the best airplane book ever back in 2008.  This past October, one of their podcast listeners also called in to recommend it as a good, spooky Halloween read.  I don't know if I would call it the best airplane book ever, but I can see where it would make a good vacation read (as long as you're not going to be tramping through the jungles of Mexico on your vacation!)  It provides a definite creep factor that builds all the way to the end of the book. I feel like this was sort of a "safe" psychological horror. You can easily imagine the horror of the situation that the characters find themselves in, but there's that reassurance in the back of your mind that it could never really happen. Probably.

The Magician's Elephant: Special Signed EditionThe Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo-Quiet little story with some charming bits, but overall, it felt a little slow for me.  I'm not sure that the intended audience, kids, would be entranced enough to stick around.

Ugh.  Remember how at the beginning of this post I said that I thought this would wrap-up all of my 2010 reading?  Well, that's not quite the case.  I realized that I left The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society off my list.  Since I also realized that I had a fair amount to say about it, it will get its own post a la Flower Confidential.  But THEN I will be done for real. I think.


Nymeth said...

I did review and loved Palimpsets a while back! Strangely enough, I have yet to pick up another one of her books. I need to fix that.

Mike said...

I read The Ruins a while back and really enjoyed it. I felt it took a bit to get moving, but when it finally did it was quite engrossing.

The best science writing book looks interesting. I might have to check that out.