Tuesday, March 31, 2009

March Book Report

Perfectly in line with playing very little poker this month (a grand total tally of 7k hands, with a $600 profit which was enough to make my monthly cash out without my bankroll having a net loss this month), I've spent all the more time reading books. I think I'm on target to break January's record of Most Books Read in a Month, and for my own record keeping and your enjoyment (tremendously more for the former than for the latter) here is March's list:

After borrowing the series from a friend, I wrapped up the "sequals" (if that's the right word) to the Sci-Fi book Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, namely:

  • Speaker for the Dead
  • Xenocide
  • Children of the Mind

Which follows Ender further into the future, and has a decidely more philosophical approach compared to the psychological curiousness of Ender's Game.

Then, I read the trilogy of one of Ender's companions in Battle School, where the first book takes place much in parallel to Ender's Game but then takes the story further and we get to find out what happened after the war:

  • Ender's Shadow
  • Shadow of the Hegemon
  • Shadow Puppets

Content with my adventures in Sci-Fi, I then returned to the real world, reading a short but fascinating book about the phenomenon of Occidentalism:

  • Occidentalism: The West in the Eyes of Its Enemies by Ian Buruma and Avishai Margalit

Al-Qaeda aren't the first to detest the stereotypical pepsi-drinking, rock'n'roll loving westerner. This is an age-old tradition, with traces not only to the Kamikaze soldiers of Japan, but also to Hitler, Marx and even further back. Western - or modern, if you will - culture (although the subscribers to this idea would object to my calling it that) is completely devoid of spirituality, and its citizens - the occidents - are obsessed only with material things and greed.

Back to fiction!
  • Forever Odd by Dean Koontz
... is the second book in the series about Odd Thomas, the psychic young man with some very lovable quirks. It's a horror book on some level, I suppose, but has a tenderness to it that makes it hard to feel very scared when reading. I had troubles putting it down and I think I finished it in less than three days.

My wife has suggested that perhaps atheism can be considered a hobby of mine, and while I'm not sure that that's a good way to describe it, I never the less can't seem to get enough of the writings of Richard Dawkins, Dan Dennett and Sam Harris.
  • Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris
... was a short but devastatingly succinct book. It's written, as the title implies, to a person of faith and demonstrates what Harris thinks of the "morals" that are pushed on the world as a result of very dubious measurement of what actually constitutes goodness. He doesn't aim it only at the Young Earth Creationist whackos (of which there are apparently more than I dared to imagine); he aims it at what he conceives to be the average American christian. I read it in one sitting.
  • Stikkan - by Marie Ledin (Stikkan Andersson's daughter)
... About the man most famous for being the man behind ABBA. He's known in Sweden for discovering many other (locally famous) artists and for writing many of the texts for songs that virtually defined the Swedish music landscape of the 60s. As it was written by his daughter, it was a very personal account of his life, and I actually choked up a bit at the end when I read about his funeral. That doesn't happen often.
  • The Science of Discworld III: Darwin's Watch by Terry Pratchett, Jack Cohen and Ian Stewart
... in essence a science (and science history) book, with every other chapter being a fictional account of wizards from the Unseen University in Discworld attempting to save Roundworld from destroying itself, and every other chapter about the real world science in play. The science is not new to me, but the history portion of it fills in gaps for me, and Pratchett... Well, he's never dull.

And speaking of Pratchett, I'm currently reading:
  • Nation
It's not a typical Pratchett book, although it does contain some humour. I believe it's made for "young adults" and halfway through, I think it's a very nice distraction from...

... The brick about Mao. It gets some, but not much, attention. I work off a chapter here and there, but I'm still only a little less than half the way through. It IS actually interesting, I shouldn't say that - it's just that I have so many other books that appeal to me so much more that I find it hard not to put it down to read a chapter in one of the others instead. But worry not, I shall win this battle in time. Maybe by the end of April.

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