Recently read books

I’ve read a bunch of books over the past couple of months. Here’s some short reviews.

Freakonomics

Pretty interesting, is somewhat disjointed. To at least some extent it is a bit of a “look at me, look how smart I am” kind of book, but that’s okay because Steven Levitt is pretty smart. I guess the theme of the book is “Data matters, and there are lots of ways to get it”

Raymond E. Feist

Since April I’ve read:

I’m not normally a big fan of fantasy work, but Feist is an excellent writer. His books are very easy to read, and keep you turning the pages (as you can see by that list..). I do think he’s a bit lazy, particularly in his later work, though for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, a story should have a beginning, middle and end. His later books – especially from the Conclave of Shadows and Darkwar Saga series are really just one long story. It’s quite annoying to get three quarters of the way through a book and realize that there is no way the story is going to come to even a partial conclusion. I end up looking back at some of his stories and thinking that whole chunks were just padding.

Secondly, once you have read his first trilogy, all his other books are really just the same story retold with different characters, and a different threat.

OTOH, I’ve just started Rise of a Merchant Prince – which I wouldn’t do if I didn’t enjoy his writing.

Jack McDevitt

I’ve enjoyed both the McDevitt books I’ve read so far: Moonfall and Slow Lightning. One particularly noticeable thing in both these books is the major roles given to female protagonists, which is fairly unique amongst science fiction authors. In Slow Lightning, the lead character is female – which I found quite refreshing.

The Cobweb

The Cobweb is a Neal Stephenson book I picked up for $5 on a cheap books table at a local bookshop. I’d never heard of it before which is strange, because I’ve followed Stephenson’s work for a while. It’s a political thriller, co-written with his father – quite a change from his normal cyberpunk and historical novels… although, come to think of it I suppose it’s difficult to say any kind of book would be out of character for someone who writes historical novels and cyberpunk sci-fi…

Now I’ve got to work out what I’m going to read next. Some more Feist and McDevitt is in the queue, as is the new Richard Morgan. I’ll get RESTful Web Services as soon as I can find it. Rainbow’s End is a book I’m considering carefully. Vernor Vinge is probably my favorite author, but Rainbow’s End has had mixed reviews, and I haven’t read the semi-sequal Fast Times at Fairmont High.

Recommendations are welcome….

BTW, I’ve been trying to keep my LibraryThing catalog up to date. If you enjoy reading, LibraryThing is pretty cool.

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