Random Titles

I’ve had a chance in the last month or so to catch up on some reading I’ve been meaning to do.

I just finished Orwell’s 1984, something that I’ve been meaning to read for quite some time. I don’t have the capacity at the moment to go into just what this novel meant to me, but I have to say that I was quite impressed and thoroughly amazed at how true the sentiments reign over fifty years after the novel was written. The overtones and warning cast by 1984 still ring true to this day, and are, if anything, even more applicable now than in 1949.

I also had a chance to read Richard Matheson’s I am Legend. I’m not usually one for novels typically cast as horror (although, as I write this, I realize that my book shelf is full of Anne Rice and Stephen King, so that may be a bit of a misleading statement) but I was spellbound by this short novel from the moment I opened the first page until the truly spectacular final sentence. I’m interested to see how the screenplay starring Will Smith plays out. The novel is a very dark, evenly paced tale with flashes of intensity. Read it, and read it all the way through.

My favorite of the books I read, though, was by far Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. While this title didn’t hold any revelations, or social epiphanies for me, I found the book amazingly well written. It re-awoke inside of me a lust for travel, and particularly travel back to my home state of Alaska. It is a great story following the true life story of Chris McCandless as he travels North America ending up in the woods of Alaska – ending, quite literally, when his body is found by moose hunters in the great white north. The book is being adapted into a movie by Sean Penn and is set to release very soon. I, for one, am really looking forward to it.

Reading Into the Wild prompted me to re-read a few of my old favorites of Jack London – Call of the Wild and Sea Wolf – both amazing books in and of themselves, but neither as amazing or raw as I remember them being when I first read them as a child.

I also picked up a few novels that while well written, I really found little interest in and put in a similar category as Kite Runner – somewhat well written, and certainly having it’s place in the face of modern writing, just not something I find particularly touching or worth reading again – those were The Road by Cormac McCarthy, and The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. The Road was written in a truly unique style, never using any names for characters, and had some interesting touches on where society could end up; all told through a truly touching story of a father and son as they strive for hope against oppressive odds. Unique, and interesting, but ultimately nothing special in my book. The Secret Life of Bees, on the other hand, was a great story, but I didn’t find it to be good writing, nor particularly moving or unique.

One of my guilty pleasures of reading is the Science Fiction and Fantasy genre, but it’s something that I have a hard time finding good titles and authors to choose from. One of my all time favorites is Neuromancer by William Gibson. His writing style was raw and fresh at the time, and his melding of science, technology, and society came together as something truly remarkable. I’ve read a few of his recent novels though and have been thoroughly unimpressed. I “read” the audio book Pattern Recognition and was unimpressed, but chalked it up to being watered down because of the medium. I then, in the hopes of discovering something great, picked up his latest novel Spook Country and was again thoroughly unimpressed. I found the novel utterly forgettable, holding nothing of the intense raw & fast paced writing that first drew me to him, and in it’s place a slow paced, dry novel that barely reaches to the edges of today’s technology, let alone the future.

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