Category archives: Recommended

Beyond the Blue Event Horizon (Heechee Saga)

by Dec. 10, 2009 in Books, Recommended, Science Fiction

Beyond the Blue Event Horizon is a sequel to Gateway which I read (warning - spoilers) at the beginning of the year.  Beyond follows the characters from the first but, if you haven't read the first, that probably doesn't help that much so I'll give a brief outline of the universe in which these books are set.

Humans made their way into space, where they discovered the remnants of an ancient, super intelligent civilization.   Gateway is an asteroid from which people can launch into space in hopes of finding even more technology and thus becoming extremely rich.  Unfortunately, many people simply don't return from these flights.  In the first novel, Robinette Broadhead heads to Gateway to try his luck, and the sequel continues his story.

As I was adding this book to my "currently reading" section on Goodreads, I noticed a link to the author's (Frederik Pohl) blog.  I love the idea of authors blogging, especially if they have lead as interesting a life as Pohl has.  Definitely check it out of you are a sci-fi fan.

Speaking of being a sci-fi fan, you really need to be one to even consider reading this series.  While there are certainly elements that anyone could enjoy, such as the clever exposition in the first, it requires far more willingness to get into the geeky sci-fi realm than a book like Dune. Plus, it is the ideas of the book that make it worth reading, and if you aren't into concepts such as faster than light space travel, black holes, and crazy theories about the creation of our universe, you simply won't have a good time reading it.  That isn't to say the writing is bad, it's quite good in fact, it just isn't so earth shatteringly amazing that everyone who has the ability to read should pick up this book right now.

People who should pick up this book (or at least the first) are those who enjoy asking the question "what if there were aliens?  what would that mean?  How does our humanity change or become more evident when faced with creatures and ideas that are difficult to even imagine?"  These are cool questions, and Pohl handles them with skill.

"All myths and deities are tolerable enough to believe in; but what if they become real?"(76)

The Visual Display of Quantitative Information

by Dec. 4, 2009 in Books, Nonfiction, Recommended

I had a dream about The Visual Display of Quantitative Information last night.  This isn't a normal occurrence.  What was most surprising, however, was that in addition to telling a coworker the title and author of the book, I also proceeded to accurately explain the book's main premise.  I even had some visual aids to help sell the argument.

I took all of this as a sign that I should add it as a featured book, even though I read it back in September.  Visual Display provides the reader with a clear, concise understanding of what it means ...

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Olive Kitteridge

by Dec. 3, 2009 in Books, Fiction, Recommended

I knew nothing about Olive Kitteridge before reading it except that it was a Pulitzer Prize winner and that my sister-in-law enjoyed it when she read it for her book club.  I enjoy going into books blind this way, and try to do it whenever possible.  That's part of the reason many of my descriptions and posts here will be pretty vague.  I don't want to give away anymore than is absolutely necessary to get you interested in the book.

With that said, I'm not going to tell you anything about Olive Kitteridge except that it is ...

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Grip of the Shadow Plague

by Dec. 2, 2009 in Books, Fantasy, Recommended

This is book three in the Fablehaven series. If you have read the first two, and are considering the third, it should come as no surprise that I recommend picking it up. So far each book has been exciting, imaginative, and non-stop entertainment.

If you haven't read any of the Fablehaven books and are wondering if you should start, I say yes. From the very beginning, I have been captivated by Mull's books. Plus, they are so quick and easy to read that, if you don't like the first one, it will only take you a day ...

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by Dec. 1, 2009 in Books, Recommended, Science Fiction

The first time I read Dune (this is the second), I remember it made me really thirsty. It also made me want to conserve water, so I stopped showering. I was in college at the time, though, so it was okay, no one noticed.

I didn’t suffer the same level of obsession over water this time through, but I definitely still enjoyed it. I also had a theory, in college, that a connection could be drawn between Dune and Plato’s Republic, but it didn’t come through for me this time. It’s probably still there, I just ...

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The River of Doubt

by Dec. 1, 2009 in Books, Nonfiction, Recommended

I actually received this book as a gift over a year ago. At the time, the subject appeared interesting, but I just couldn’t bring myself to read it – there was always something else in my book queue that distracted me, or kept me from picking it up.

A few weeks ago, however, I was talking with a couple librarians (who are, by the way, always some of my favorite people to talk with) and they mentioned that I would be a good resource for recommending books, except for my lack of knowledge about nonfiction. I read widely on every ...

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I Am a Cat

by Dec. 1, 2009 in Books, Fiction, Recommended

Before I started reading I Am a Cat, I was afraid that I would not be able to relate to it. After all, commentary and parody of the social upheaval in Meiji era Japan is not something that strikes me as approachable. It was immediately clear, though, that I had nothing to worry about. The cat himself was endearing and believable. Furthermore, the observations he made and the comments in general about humanity were not limited to Meiji era Japan, but rather things we could all relate to.

In terms of structure, I Am a Cat is actually a collection ...

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East of Eden

by Dec. 1, 2009 in Books, Fiction, Recommended

I borrowed this copy of East of Eden from my grandfather about ten years ago. I had just finished reading, and enjoying, Grapes of Wrath and so I figured this was an obvious next choice. Ten years later it turns out I was absolutely correct.

East of Eden tells the story of two families, Hamilton and Trask, as they live in Salinas Valley, California. It is both epic, and intimate. It does so many thing right, that it’s hard to speak generically about it without giving away parts of the book that are better experienced first hand.

So, if ...

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