Summer reading

Since you’re reading this, you probably have some idea of my
tastes. Recommend me some summer reading. It doesn’t have to be
light or nontechnical or fiction or anything at all — just stuff
that you think I would enjoy. (Even better if you tell me why
you think I would enjoy it!)

13 responses to “Summer reading”

  1. haha Hrmmmm. Actually, I really don’t trust that I have any idea what you would like, but…. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. A scary novel about a house that’s growing on the inside but not on the outside, but that doesn’t even begin to describe it. Read the editorial @ Amazon. I haven’t met someone who didn’t enjoy this book. Haven’t met someone who fully understood it either (ooh, I bet that makes you curious =P).

  2. Michel Foucault’s “Society Must be Defended” lecture transcriptions. These are transcribed from tapes made by various attendees during his course at the College de France in 1975-1976.

    “Skeptical Odysseys”, edited by Paul Kurtz. This is a collection of reminscences by various members of CSICOP at its 25th anniversary.

    “The Burden of Office”, by Joseph Tussman. A discussion of the difficulties in being a leader and a powerful argument to the effect that in a democratic society you are one (or at least share similar duties and therefore burdens). This is accomplished entirely through short retellings and discussions about great works in literature with political relevance.

    “Gender Wars”, by Brian Fawcett. Because he deserves your money. The typography is misguided but the text is intelligent. He’s only half a genius.

  3. If you’ve never read Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun, you really should. It’s like reading Joyce or Nabokov, except it’s post-apocalyptic scifi . . . by a trained engineer who gets the science right . . . who thinks Thomas Aquinas really had it right. And it’s not just a cult thing; Wolfe has won all the major genre awards over the years. The four volumes are currently in print in two compilations of two books each.

  4. Light-reading might include Dan Brown’s “Digital Fortress” or “The Da Vinci Code” if you have not read them. They are not stunning literary works that people will be dissecting and writing about in 100 years, but they are fun and pretty quick to get through.

  5. Auuuugh! “Digital Fortress” had me closer to bashing a hole in the window of the airplane I was in just so that I could throw the damn thing out out OUT than any book has in a long time.

    Hm. Perhaps that’s severe. Okay, it felt like a book written about smart people by someone who’s studied them extensively. If you can ignore the fact that the author doesn’t understand the technical details he writes down, and if you can gloss over some pretty dumb sentences, then it’s a quick thriller. I’d still recommend Elmore Leonard or Joe Lansdale or somebody like that if you want a fun, engaging mystery/thriller thing. I like light reading, but I think that Dan Brown is below my personal tolerance for ‘light’.

    More light reading: Anything by Christopher Moore (especially “The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove”). The oddly absorbing Cod. David Sedaris and Sarah Vowell.

    Also worthwhile: Haruki Murakami, Bill Bryson. Lots of people hated Foucault’s Pendulum, but I thought it was charmingly and absurdly intricate. I recently enjoyed Al Franken’s Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, which made a good riding-in-the-car book because I could laugh out loud and read choice passages to my carmates.

  6. Yeah, I had a little rantlet over in my journal about much the same. My job involves ensuring people’s B2B messages over SSL and S/MIME are conformant to specs (and various spec-dialects). I’ve read the first (blue cover) and second (red cover) editions of Applied Cryptography front-to-back. I have gotten quite good at amateur cryptography (substitutions, transpositions, etc) in my spare time for the weird games I play.

    Yes, Mr. Brown is a little down on his tech. (I particularly liked the “mutating plaintext” that was everyone’s holy grail.) Still, if you ignore that, or just pretend to be in his fictitious world of technology, it is a quick, fun little thriller.

    I would have to second Al Frankin (and Molly Ivins if you want the same subject matter, but slightly more serious). Lots of people like Michael Moore, but I find him annoying in large doses.

    I might also have to second David Sedaris and Sarah Vowell, without even having read their print books. The two of them on This American Life are excellent! I snagged the “audiobook” of David Sedaris reading excerpts of his book in front of Carnagie Hall from iTunes when it was a dollar, which was also great.

  7. Seconding Christopher Moore. Lust Lizard is a sequel to Practical Demonkeeping, though, so you may want to start there in order to keep your chronology straight. Lamb is also stellar, answering the time-honoured question, “what if Christ knew kung-fu?”

  8. That’s the problem, though. Pretty much all that’s left is stuff that looked mildly interesting and very cheap (mostly from Benjamin Books); there’s little in there that I’m really itching to read.

  9. But those are never as fun as the books you don’t own yet!

    See, the books in your ‘to read’ pile already hate you. Even though they might eventually get over their grudges at being snubbed for so long, it’s not clear they’ll ever quite understand.

    It is imperative to always approach the books in your ‘to read’ pile with zero guilt or pity in your heart. If you’re fresh off a brand new book and you’re filled with a NEED to READ!, and you pick up a ‘to read’ book with zest and desire, then you have a hope of reestablishing the bonds between you and the poor, lonely abandoned book. On the other hand, if you glumly reach for a ‘to read’ book after having denied yourself that hot little number you pass every day down at the used bookstore, the book will sense your desire to be elsewhere and spurn you.

  10. Sssh. You’re encouraging him to spend tons of money at Chapters this summer! ;)

    Heh. Actually I’m mostly poking Rich; he’s been saying for months he ‘needs to get to all those books in the to be read pile’. heh.