Friday, May 18, 2007

Summer Reading

With summer coming I am putting together my summer reading list. I am in the mood to go back and read a number of things that I have not read in a while that are crying out for a re-read, as well as a few new books.


American Gods by Neil Gaiman.
The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Ford
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackery
The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
Emma by Jane Austen
Pattern Recognition by William Gibson
*A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
Constantinople, City of the World's Desire 1453-1924 by Philip Mansel

New reads:

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris
The Sons of Heaven by Kage Baker
Spook Country by William Gibson

Why so many books I've read already? In part I am anticipating summertime inertia. A resting object remaining at rest. In equal part, I think they all deserve a second or in some cases third and fourth look.

"The Canterbury Tales" is great because you don't have to sit down and read if from beginning to end. It is easy to pick up and put down as you work through all of the characters individual stories. Though this time I will not be reading it in Middle English. I have enough trouble reading standard English these days, figuring out archaic spelling is too time consuming and probably seemed like more fun when I was 25. I don't feel like I have to show off now.

I remember loving "The Good Soldier" when I first read it, and I know I have reread that book at least twice over the ensuing 25 years.

"Vanity Fair" is one of my favorite books, in large part because of Becky Sharpe who is one of the most vivid fictional characters ever created.

"American Gods" is just a wonderful book. It is scary and dark and a compelling portrait of what Americans really believe in, which is the con game. For all of this countries protestations of Christianity what the average American believes in is the advantage.

"A Short History of Nearly Everything" is Bill Bryson's non scientist guide to science. I have heard that it has been criticized for not giving in depth enough explanations of the topics he covers, however, Mr. Bryson is not a scientist, he is a travel writer and commenter, and so goes out and meets scientists to explain the universe to non scientists. I found it to be a great guided tour filled with enough interesting tidbits of science that the book excited me enough to read more on some of the topics he sketches out in his quick tour of this vast dangerous, hostile universe where by all rights it should be impossible for life to exist on this odd little rock that circles a rather uninteresting and unimportant star on the ass end of the universe.

If you feel as though you need to justify reading Jane Austen I suggest you refer to Eudora Welty's excellent essay on Austen in her book of criticism "The Eye of the Story", which now that I think of it may go on the reread list.

I have loved reading William Gibson ever since I read "Neuromancer" lo these many years ago. I remember hearing "Pattern Recognition" called Gibson's bleak future shock view no longer needing the trappings of science fiction because the Orwellian future he envisioned a quarter century ago has arrived. Needless to say, I am anxious to read his latest offering.

The final installment of the Harry Potter series I just have to read. I started out with the first book when it hit the stores 10 years ago, after hearing Rowling read a section of the book on NPR, prior to its American release. Like everyone else, I have to see how this all turns out.

The other series that is going to reach its denouemont this summer will be Kage Bakers series of Company Books with the final title, "The Sons of Heaven". It is a blackly humorous look at corporate greed and political correctness gone mad. I've been following along with this for the entire series, so I am really looking forward to seeing how this all turns out.

"Constantinople" is a history of the city under the Ottoman's and is responsible for me dreaming of one day visiting Istanbul. If I remember, it is rather lush and offers some interesting insights into the differences in culture between Europe and it's eastern neighbors.

I am going to read "Then We Came to the End" on R.J. Keefe's recommendation. It sounds like a fun read and being summer, I feel like I should have some fun.

That about covers it for the moment and depending on how much time I get I will see how far I can get, or if I need to go out and buy more books.