Eclectic Ramblings and Bite-Sized Whimsy

30/09/2011

Oh yeah, it’s a good day…

  • Got laid paid today
  • Work is hosting a golf tournament today, which means I leave early, have lunch and drinks and dinner all paid for while I enjoy the nice 75 degree weather on the golf course
  • Afrin to the rescue, subduing my runny nose once again!
  • Finishing off a Dunkin’ Donuts coffee as I type this
  • Finishing off a work assignment that has been bugging me for weeks as I type this
  • Finishing off The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest tonight, if I can help it
  • Finishing off this post before it gets too long
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friday
good day
happy
golf
coffee
books

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07/06/2011

“ I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book. „

Groucho Marx

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television
books
quotes
truth

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08/04/2011

30 Days of Books: Day 05 - Happiness is…

30 Days of Books: Day 05 - A book that makes you happy

This may be the easiest day of the 30 day book meme for me.  As soon as I saw this prompt, I knew exactly which book I wanted to write about.

glory_roadGlory Road is Robert Heinlein’s one true foray into the fantasy genre, and he pulls it off admirably in a fun Swashbuckling-Musketeers meets Young-Galahad meets Hero-for-Hire plot in a whimsical and humorous set of worlds (yes, that’s meant to be plural) of Heinlein’s creation.

(The rest is over at my blog, since I think people are probably getting tired of my long-winded 30 DoB posts.)

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30 days
glory road
heinlein
books
happy

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06/04/2011

30 Days of Books: Day 4 - Fave of a Fave

30 Days of Books: Day 04 - Favorite book of your favorite series

Building on my last 30 DoB post, where I revealed that Lois McMaster Bujold’sVorkosigan series narrowly edged out Stephen King’s Dark Tower series for the #1 spot in my series deathmatch, I’m back with more Bujold today.  My favorite book in the Vorkosigan series is, by far, The Warrior’s Apprentice.

Although the third book, chronologically, in the Vorkosigan universe, Apprenticeis the first book where Bujold introduces a young Miles Vorkosigan, son of military genius and Prime Minister / Advisor to the Throne Aral Vorkosigan.  Miles, the protagonist in almost all of the series volumes from this point forward, is more “special” than most - his fragile bone structure, short stature, and wonky biochemistry are the result of a poisonous-gas attack his mother survived while pregnant with Miles.  In spite of his physical limitations, Miles’ keen intellect and manic nature power him ever forward through an increasingly more convoluted set of circumstances.

In the first few books of this series, Bujold borrows heavily from a classic space opera heritage, and there are plenty of battles (both in space and planetside), twists, political/planetary conspiracies, and enough energy and dry humor to please just about any science fiction fan.  Later in the series, Miles takes on more of a detective role, and there are some romance aspects and political/court intrigue that come into play that add another dimension to the characters and keep the series fresh.

Yet it is this first  book of Miles’ adventures that I return to when I want to re-read my favorite from the series - early on, he still has the naivety to believe if he just tries hard enough, everything will fall into place just as planned, and enough energy and determination to see things through when they don’t.  He is vulnerable, flawed, and yet constantly struggles to make the best of what he has and come out on top.  His charismatic way of attracting the loyalty and respect of those he comes in contact with is arguably the most fascinating aspect of his personality, and one I personally envy.  The Vorkosigan series is an entertaining romp through the life of Miles Vorkosigan, and Bujold has stated that the series structure is modeled after the Horatio Hornblower books, documenting the life of a single person (yet another series I need to add to my to-read list!)

If you’re a fan of science fiction, or just want a quick and energetic read, I’d recommend checking out The Warrior’s ApprenticeBut be warned - once you get hooked on Miles Vorkosigan, there’s no turning back, and you’ll have at least 12 or 13 other books in the Vorkosigan series that you’re liable to beg, borrow, or steal to get your next Vorkosigan fix!

Tagged with:
30 days
books
reviews
vorkosigan
lois mcmaster bujold

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29/03/2011

30 DoB: Day 02 – The More the Merrier!

30 Days of Books: Day 02 - A book that you’ve read more than 3 times

I’ve been stymied on Day 2 of this book meme, but unlike Steve and Bookmole, it doesn’t have to do with only having a few books that meet this criteria; on the contrary, I have so many books that meet the criteria of having been read more than three times that it was hard to decide on just one to post about!

To me, some books are the equivalent of comfort food, but for the mind & soul.  When I’m feeling sick, or down, or just out of sorts, often picking up a book that I have read many times before will be enough to kick me out of my blues.  I have a couple shelves of go-to authors & books that I have no problem reading once every year or two - sometimes my difficulty is in limiting the re-reads so I can get on to some new books that I haven’t yet absorbed.

With that said, my choice for today’s post is one I “bought” from the library* - Convergent Series by Larry Niven.

This book is a collection of Niven’s short stories - about half are previously published stories from various magazines of the ’60s and ’70s and the others were apparently written specifically for this collection.  Although Niven is best known for his science fiction, about half of these stories are merely Niven’s take on environmental concerns, war, death, and society, frosted with a light scifi/fantasy coating of an exotic setting or set of circumstances.

As the title might imply, there are also quite a few that touch tangentially on Niven’s love for mathematics (he majored in Math in college, and even pursued some graduate work in the field before becoming a prize-winning author.)  The title story, “Convergent Series” combines math and demon summoning in an entertaining and humorous tale that stuck with me ever since I first read it.

Some of the stories, though, are much more poignant and even disturbing.  ”Wrong-Way Street”, “Cautionary Tales”, and “Dry Run” all touch on the fleetingness of life and caused me to pause and reflect on my own actions and the merits of how I’m spending my days.  And “The Deadlier Weapon”, involving interplay between an automobile driver and the hitchhiker who threatens him, definitely got me thinking.

All in all, this book is a nice collection of shorter, somewhat-fluffier pieces that nourish without too much challenge.  I find myself coming back to it not because it is my favorite book, but because it’s so easy to pick up and put down, as needed, and rejoin the characters and plots of some stories I first read as a teenager.  Most people probably won’t want to read it more than once, but then again, as I’ve seen, most people probably don’t read ANY books as many times as I tend to do.

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*I had checked out my copy of this book from the library, and somehow lost it.  I paid the lost book fee for the book, only to find it a couple years later after a move.  The library didn’t want it back by that point, so it became mine.  I don’t advocate acquiring books this way though - it’s not nice to the other patrons who would want to read it!

Tagged with:
30 days
books
meme
larry niven
convergent series
math

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09/03/2011

Day 01 - Best book you read last year

This is a 30 Days of Books entry.

I just looked back over my Goodreads account at the 45 or so books I read in 2010, and checked out their ratings.  Some of them I’m not sure I’d still rate as highly as I did immediately after finishing the book, but there was one that definitely earned its 5-star rating, and merits the title of “Best Book I Read in 2010”.

That book is World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War.

This book was so amazing, that it went past the point of “can’t put it down” and into the realm of “make it last as long as possible.” The world of the novel (post Zombie-Apocalypse) is horrifying, but not without its own hope for the future. No one is left unscathed from the horrors visited across the entire planet by the zombie infestation, but that’s where the beauty of the novel comes into play. 

The book is so wonderful because it’s more than an idea and its implications; the voices of the people in the 2-4 page-long “interviews” are so vibrant and real that you can’t help but get sucked in to their lives and imagine yourself in their place. The Zombie War is portrayed from so many viewpoints, each with an amazing story of its own, that by the end of the book I felt I too had lived through this fantastic apocalypse.

Tagged with:
30 days
book meme
world war z
max brooks
books

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30 Days of Books? Heavenly!

I’m a big reader, and a book fan in general.  So while I don’t normally do any of these type of challenges, this is one I think I can get behind.  I don’t know that I’ll be able to handle it 30 days consecutively, but I’ll at least try to post 30 different entries about these prompts over the next month or two…

Day 01 - Best book you read last year
Day 02 - A book that you’ve read more than 3 times
Day 03 - Your favorite series
Day 04 - Favorite book of your favorite series
Day 05 - A book that makes you happy
Day 06 - A book that makes you sad
Day 07 - Most underrated book
Day 08 - Most overrated book
Day 09 - A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving
Day 10 - Favorite classic book
Day 11 - A book you hated
Day 12 - A book you used to love but don’t anymore
Day 13 - Your favorite writer
Day 14 - Favorite book of your favorite writer
Day 15 - Favorite male character
Day 16 - Favorite female character
Day 17 - Favorite quote from your favorite book
Day 18 - A book that disappointed you
Day 19 - Favorite book turned into a movie
Day 20 - Favorite romance book
Day 21 - Favorite book from your childhood
Day 22 - Favorite book you own
Day 23 - A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t
Day 24 - A book that you wish more people would’ve read
Day 25 - A character who you can relate to the most
Day 26 - A book that changed your opinion about something
Day 27 - The most surprising plot twist or ending
Day 28 - Favorite title
Day 29 - A book everyone hated but you liked
Day 30 - Your favorite book of all time

Tagged with:
books
book meme
30 days
reading

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14/02/2011

fuckyeahbooks:

Karl Lagerfeld’s Parisian studio

What. I can’t even. Can I live there? I’ll trade you my second-born!

fuckyeahbooks:

Karl Lagerfeld’s Parisian studio

What. I can’t even. Can I live there? I’ll trade you my second-born!

Tagged with:
books
heaven

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10/02/2011

Book Woes

That feeling when you’re reading a really engrossing book and you have about 40 pages left to go and you turn the page and *bam* the book ends, and the last 38 pages are a teaser chapter for the author’s upcoming work.

Tagged with:
reading
books
book teasers are evil

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21/12/2010

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books
christmas
christmas tree

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smellslikepoison:

Truth.

You’re preaching to the choir here.

smellslikepoison:

Truth.

You’re preaching to the choir here.

(via recursiverecursion)

Tagged with:
books

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03/12/2010

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dr. seuss
deals
amazon
books

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01/11/2010

 fuckderek replied to your photo:Goodreads and their bookswap program is awesome….

Serious question here. Who actually uses physical books anymore? I read/buy ebooks for everything I need.

As a couple of you pointed out, there seem to be less and less people reading regularly, and those that do are often transitioning to ebooks.

I have a dedicated ebook reader (Sony PRS-505) and can also read ebooks on my Droid.  I enjoy using these devices and take advantage of them to cut down on books I carry on trips, and allow me to read in the dark, etc.  

BUT! I don’t like the restrictions imposed by many of the publishers on sharing books/media I’ve purchased with others (if I buy a book, shouldn’t it be mine to give away if I so choose?)  Furthermore, the difference in price between a ebook version of a book and a used copy of a physical is negligible (often the used book is cheaper) and in that situation, I’d prefer something physical over something intangible.  Especially as I can usually recoup the purchase price by reselling it to someone else, if it’s a popular book.

Also:

  • I can throw a physical book in my glove compartment for times I want to spend some time “unplugged”.
  • Physical books survive a trip to the pool/beach/humid environment better than my electronic devices.
  • If I do lose it (leave it on a plane, etc.) I’m out the price of a book, instead the price of a new device
  • The smell/texture of a book is underrated - turning a page and feeling/hearing the page turn is an integral part of the experience of reading a good book, in my experience

That isn’t to say eBooks don’t have advantages of their own - besides being extremely portable, requiring virtually no storage space, never allowing me to lose my place, ability to add all kinds of bookmarks, lookup words I don’t know with built-in dictionaries, read in the dark, etc.  It’s just none of those are enough by themselves to pull me away from physical books and the experience of reading physical books.

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