The Sweet Land

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New Reading List Entry: Geek Wisdom: The Sacred Teachings of Nerd Culture

This book was a really interesting collection of quotes and references from geek culture spanning multiple decades with a couple paragraphs discussing each one. Being familiar with most of the material in the book, I really enjoyed the thoughts and discussions throughout. The format also made it very conducive to reading one or two in a sitting or a bunch of them all at once. A fun read if you consider yourself a geek or want to better understand the tastes of a geek in your life.

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Find me on Goodreads if you’d like to see the rest of my reading list.

Goodreads

I have started using Goodreads to track my reading wish lists and review completed books. It has a whole book database and is much cleaner to use than the Tumblr page I’ve been using up to this point, and means I don’t have to go digging for links in order to add books.

new reading list entry: the crystal shard by r. a. salvatore

imageAfter my friend Potter suggested R. A. Salvatore's Icewind Dale trilogy (and the related Dark Elf trilogy) about a million times, I decided to give it a shot. I’m really glad I did because I ended up really enjoying the first book in the series, The Crystal Shard. I wasn’t sure what to expect having never read any of Salvatore’s work before, but I was pleasantly surprised. I love fantasy but sometimes feel that fantasy novels move too slowly. I’ve really enjoyed Raymond E. Feist's Serpentwar Saga, for example, but it takes me a while to get through those books because it’s very slowly paced. I sometimes felt the same way about Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.

This book, on the other hand, leans more toward the flow of The Hobbit. There always seems to be something happening, and any backstory or exposition is limited to a few pages at a time to keep the pace from languishing. As a result, it’s hard to put down and a very fun read. I’m looking forward to reading the next entry in the trilogy, Streams of Silver, once I finish up a couple other books I just received. Well recommended.

As always, check the Reading List for more pending, in progress, and already finished reads.

required reading

I’m adding a few books my pending reading list because Mel got Ellie a set of really nice, cloth-bound children’s Puffin Classics books and I realized that I haven’t read most of them (I think The Secret Garden was the only one I’ve actually read). I probably should have read some of them in school, but I got very good at seeming like I read things and writing reports on them even though I probably never even opened the cover. I love reading, I just wasn’t a big fan of being told what to read.

My plan is to have read all of them before Ellie is old enough to read them herself so that I can share the stories with her. It’s convenient that they’re all available for free in the iBookstore so I don’t have to carry her nicely-bound copies around before she can enjoy them. I may re-read them when she does too, sort of like a daddy/daughter book club.

New Reading List Entries

I have added two new entries to my reading list as I forgot to update it recently. I have been listening to an excellent audiobook of The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien and have already completed both The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers. I am including an audiobook on the list because it’s unabridged and I would have read the actual book (which I own) if I had the time to sit down and do it, but “reading” an audiobook while driving makes much better use of my car time and allows me to get through books I wouldn’t otherwise have time to experience.

The reader of the book is fantastic. He does great voices for all the characters, sings all the songs to original tunes, and generally immerses you in the world. I highly recommend it, and I’ll post an update when I remember the guy’s name.

New Reading List Entry: Isaac Asimov’s Robot City: Book 2 - Suspicion by Mike McQuay

Isaac Asimov's Robot City: Book 2 - SuspicionSuspicion, the second book in Isaac Asimov’s Robot City series, builds nicely on the plot begun in the first book, Odyssey. It manages to be full of action, thought-provoking, a little pulpy, and immensely engaging and readable. It’s very short (only 156 pages) so I plowed through it quickly, but it’s well worth it. The first two books have been good enough that I’ll be picking up the remaining four books in the series on my next trip to McKay’s Used Books.

From the Wikipedia entry for the book:

Derec, who has amnesia, and Katherine have been transported to mysterious planet containing an experimental city entirely populated by robots. The only other human that had resided in the city was murdered several days before their arrival, which was by transport using a mysterious device called the Key of Perihelion. Because they wish to keep secret how they arrived in Robot City, the robots assume either Derec or Katherine committed the murder. Of course, a robot couldn’t do so due to the First Law. Thus, Derec and Katherine must clear their names.

New Reading List Entry: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Steve Jobs by Walter IsaacsonI had always been an Apple fan (some would say fanboy), and I had admired Steve Jobs for what he had accomplished, but he had always been somewhat shrouded in mystery. He was very private, and did not share much about himself with the world other than what we saw on stage at Apple events. After reading Walter Isaacson's biography Steve Jobs, I think I have a much better understanding of who he was, why he did some of the things he did, and why Apple is the way it is today. He was an over-emotional, sometimes hurtful control freak, but I’m confident that Apple would be out of business right now if it weren’t for his ideas, high standards, and insistence on pushing the industry forward. Definitely a must-read.

From the Wikipedia entry for the book:

Steve Jobs is the authorized biography of Steve Jobs. The biography was written at the request of Jobs by acclaimed biographer Walter Isaacson, a former executive at CNN and Time who has written best-selling biographies about Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein.[1][2]

Based on more than forty interviews with Jobs conducted over two years—in addition to interviews with more than one hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues—Isaacson was given “exclusive and unprecedented” access to Jobs’s life.[3] Jobs is said to have encouraged the people interviewed to speak honestly. Although Jobs cooperated with the book, he asked for no control over its content other than the book’s cover, and waived the right to read it before it was published.[4]

Originally planned for release on March 6, 2012, its release date was moved forward to November 21, 2011 due to Jobs’s deteriorating health,[4] and again following Jobs’s death on October 5, 2011.[5] The book was finally released on October 24, 2011 by Simon & Schuster in the United States.[6]

New Reading List Entry: Rage of a Demon King by Raymond E. Feist

Rage of a Demon King”, Raymond E. Feist's third book in the Serpentwar Saga, is much more interesting and action packed than the second book in the saga (“Rise of a Merchant Prince”) and takes place on a much grander and more epic scale than the first (“Shadow of a Dark Queen”). This, combined with the fact that it very effectively alternated between two distinctly different but related groups of characters, made it an excellent read. The plot was interesting, there was action abound, and the main characters were genuinely compelling. A solid recommendation if you like fantasy, though you’ll definitely want to read the first two books in the saga first for context.

New Reading List Entry: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

I read this book after hearing some interesting details on the Fear the Boot podcast about how the Tin Woodsman (known in the movie as the Tin Man) came to be made of tin in the original novel. The movie largely followed the book but left out the origin of the Tin Woodsman entirely and changed a number of other plot details that gave the story a decidedly different and much more whimsical feel.

I thought it was also much weirder than the movie, as there were a number of types of creatures present that were not mentioned in the movie. There were creatures with the body of a bear and the head of a tiger, and others with no arms that could spring their heads out like jackhammers.

All in all, it’s worth reading as it’s relatively short, very easy reading, and available in the iBookstore for free. As always, here is the summary from the Wikipedia page.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a children’s novel written by L. Frank Baum and illustrated by W. W. Denslow. Originally published by the George M. Hill Company in Chicago on May 17, 1900,[nb 1] it has since been reprinted numerous times, most often under the name The Wizard of Oz, which is the name of both the 1902 stage play and the 1939 film version. The story chronicles the adventures of a young girl named Dorothy Gale in the Land of Oz, after being swept away from her Kansas farm home in a storm. Thanks in part to the 1939 MGM movie, it is one of the best-known stories in American popular culture and has been widely translated. Its initial success, and the success of the popular 1902 Broadway musical which Baum adapted from his original story, led to Baum’s writing thirteen more Oz books. The original book has been in the public domain in the US since 1956.

Baum dedicated the book “to my good friend & comrade, My Wife”, Maud Gage Baum. In January 1901, George M. Hill Company, the publisher, completed printing the first edition, which probably totaled around 35,000 copies. Records indicate that 21,000 copies were sold through 1900.[citation needed]

Historians, economists and literary scholars have examined and developed possible political interpretations of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. However, the majority of the reading public simply takes the story at face value.

Be sure to check out the rest of the books on the Reading List.