This is the third list of books I’ve been reading. (One and two). I’m not sure what made me start doing this. Even writing a couple of sometimes sarcastic comments about each book can be hard work. It’s worth doing though, I reckon. To be accurate, the first two of these should have really been included in the last batch, but I forgot about them so they’re here instead. Anyway, without any further ado, here is the list:
Victory – Joseph Conrad: I really enjoyed this, particularly all the very interesting and utterly dislikeable characters. I’ll definitely be reading more of Joseph Conrad’s books.
Time and Tide – Edna O’Brian: I remember the quality of this being a refreshing change after whichever crap I’d read before it, but for some reason by about half way through I’d lost track of who was who and what was supposed to be going on, so I cast it aside. Probably my fault, not the book’s.
Angels and Insects – A. S. Byatt: Two novellas in one book. The first, Morpho Eugenia, is superb. The second, The Conjugal Agent, has it’s moments, but is ultimately pretty tedious.
Doors Open – Ian Rankin: I bought this at the supermarket because the supply of books of unknown origin lying around the house had run out. I tend to like Ian Rankin’s stuff, and also everything else Morrison’s had to offer looked absolutely awful. Literary masterpiece, it was not. Good read and entertaining, it was.
Consider Phlebas – Iain M Banks: I bought this one off eBay. I love anything by Iain M Banks, or at least what I’ve read so far, so obviously I loved this.
Matter – Iain M Banks: I actually bought this one from a real bookshop. It lived up to expectations, which is to say it was just as great as all his other work, except for Look To Windward which is so good it would be nearly impossible to match.
Lord Jim – Joseph Conrad: After enjoying Victory so much, I expected great things of Lord Jim, but I was a bit disappointed with it. Apart from being heavy going, writing an entire lengthy novel in speech marks is a very strange thing to do. I remember several “someone said that someone said” kind of situations where it ended up nested three levels deep in the pesky things. As I programmer, I ought to be able to cope with that kind of thing better than most, but I just found it annoying.
Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad: Another speech marks extravaganza. This time there was an occasional oasis of non-in-speech-marks narrative which, although it usually lasted only a sentence or two, was a blessed relief. That aside, I found the whole thing rather vague and tedious, despite Conrad’s excellent writing.
Tom Hodgkinson – How To Be Idle: There’s a lot I could have said about this, but I decided to stay in bed an for extra couple of hours and ponder the patterns on the ceiling instead.
Sleepers of Mars – John Wyndham: Five stories by John Wyndham. Some better than others. A recurring theme in his work is that some new technology can be invented, but then the inventor destroy their work (or someone else can) and it’s gone. This is preposterous. Pretty much all new technology is but an incremental improvement on the previous thing. If I ‘invent’ something new, then destroy all my work, it makes no difference because umpteen other people will have invented the same thing at the same time, or soon will. This is one of several reasons I dislike the whole idea of patents. Software patents, in particular, are completely ridiculous. This has nothing to do with the book whatsoever though.
Permutation City – Greg Egan: Very refreshing, in fact unprecedented I think, for me to read a book about technology and software where the author actually has a clue what he’s talking about. An excellent book. (Andy, thanks for the loan – I’ve added this to the pile of borrowed books I’m supposed to be giving back to you!)
Equinox – Michael White: This was a great book, and it was also a pleasant surprise to find that Isaac Newton was a major character in it. A surprise because I didn’t read the back of the book. I never read the back of books – I think it spoils the story to have it summarised before you’ve even started. You shouldn’t have read this really.