Monday, April 7, 2014

on book 17.

book 17 of 60: writing machines by n. katherine hayles

date started: 3.20.2014
date completed: 4.6.2014

this is another book for a research project, which may sound incredibly boring to some.  about the ways in which text and technology cooperate to create meaning, and as such should be considered inseperable, hayles presents ideas here that are not only interesting and fresh but, in my opinion, woefully overdue.

i did not think research on textual studies could get better than jerome mcgann...until i found hayles.  AMAZING.

probable next read:  on hold.  i'm in the middle of a dance with dragons and feel that it might never end...

Friday, March 21, 2014

on book 16.

book 16 of 60: special topics in calamity physics by marisha pessl

date started: 3.11.2014
date completed: 3.20.2014
pessl's other book, night film, was good most of the way through, but fell apart completely in the end for me.

this book was so much better, including the end.

pessl's characters are so vivid--so distinct from one another. the turn in the end of the book is startling, given how well you think you know the characters by that point, but it somehow works.

the entire read is engaging, constantly leaving you wondering how exactly the narrtive will shake out.

i don't have a lot to say about this book--i really can't put why i like it so much into words, but i know i like it, and that's enough.

probable next read:  a dance with dragons by george r.r. martin

Monday, March 17, 2014

on book 15.

book 15 of 60: the maze runner by james dashner

date started: 3.11.2014
date completed: 3.16.2014


if you love repetition, flat characters, and intentionally too-long withheld information, this book is perfect. given the apparently large faction of fans the series has, there must be something compelling here, but it's lost on me. maybe i've just read too much of this genre and have ridiculously high expectations.

while the end and epilogue evoke interest, i don't think they make up for the 300 pages of shoddy-at-best writing you have to endure to get there. this book reads like an inexperienced writer's first attempt at a novel, which makes it difficult to get through. couple that with one dimensional characters who remain static throughout the narrative--only "changing" when they suddenly remember something--and monsters that, to be frank, evoke more laughter than fear, and you have a text that just doesn't work for me.

everything that was wrong with dave egger's the circle seems repeated here. it could have been a captivating take on the PA/dystopian genre, but it just isn't

probable next read:  the graveyard book by neil gaiman (i.e. i need a book that won't let me down!)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

on book 14.

book 14 of 60: destination truth by josh gates

date started: 3.1.2014
date completed: 3.11.2014

fun. campy. a bit preachy at times. basically everything the television show is condensed into a book.

a memoir of the host of syfy's destination truth, this book is comprised of a collection of essays and accounts of josh gate's travels--both before the tv show and during.  it has moments of humor, sarcasm, profundity, and wit.  it also has a small amount of gates' preaching about traveling/travelers/tourists/stupid americans.

all in all it was a quick, fun read that got me through a really busy and stressful couple weeks.

probable next read:  special topics in calamity physics by marisha pessl

Saturday, March 1, 2014

on book 13.

book 13 of 60: storm kings: the untold history of america's first tornado chasers by lee sandlin

date started: 2.21.2014
date completed: 3.1.2014

i love weather. had I been better at math, i would have become a meteorologist and researched weather for the rest of my life.  after reading the worst hard time, this book felt like a natural next step.

while, ultimately, interesting, there are many monotonous sections of the book which make it a bit difficult to slog through. sandlin does a nice job of moving through the stories of the various men involved with meteorological science throughout the ages, even if some of these stories are more reminiscent of kindergarten recess than scientific inquiry.

particularly interesting to me was the section on Tetsuya Fujita, the scientist behind the enhanced Fujita scale for tornado categories.

all in all, this certainly wasn't my favorite piece of nonfiction, but I certainly could have done worse.

probable next read:  destination truth by josh gates

Saturday, February 22, 2014

on book 12.

book 12 of 60: the worst hard time by timothy egan

date started: 2.13.2014
date completed: 2.21.2014

i've been obsessed with narrative non-fiction for many, many years, and this book has been on my shelf for far too long.  

about the dust bowl in the 1930s, egan goes to great pain to paint a complete picture of the event without condemnation of those involved.  moving between the stories of the lucas, white, osteen, borth, and hartwell families, and a few other primary figures, egan demonstrates just how afflicted various areas of the great plains were during this time.  the book drips with dust--bringing the terror of the dusters to life.

he also focuses a good deal of time on hugh bennett and franklin roosevelt and their attempts to bring sanity back to the area.

what i found most thought provoking in this text is the realization by many scientists in 1938ish that the dust bowl was not a weather event but rather an entirely preventable environmental catastrophe caused by men.  egan is able to draw this point out without condemning the nesters considered responsible. after all, they were lied to by developers and their own government (through the homestead act), encouraged to overproduce wheat, and had little to no knowledge of the environmental impact that tearing up the grass would have.

what is uplifting is that many of nesters who remained to the end eventually began heeding hugh bennett's soil conservation service's advice and practicing safer planting practices and reseeding the plains with drought tolerant grasses.

i must admit that i'm a bit obsessive when it comes to historical accounts, especially when they are so geographically close to me.  i live just six hours by car from one of the main cities focused on in the book, dalhart, texas.  after reading the text and researching the images referenced in it, i want to go to dalhart, boise city, and baca county just to see stumble upon a row of trees roosevelt so desperately wanted planted that still stand, a monument to the foresight and understanding of one of our greatest see grass green and growing in the know that, while it will never be the land that it was before the dust bowl, that it has recovered some and life continues to go on.

all in all, this was a deeply moving text for a reason i can't quite put my finger on.  well done, mr. egan.

probable next read:  red rising by pierce brown 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

on book 11.

book 11 of 60: a man without a country by kurt vonnegut

date started: 2.12.2014
date completed: 2.20.2014

i read this book the day it came out several years ago. always a fan of vonnegut, his non fiction is my favorite.

filled with lovely bits of snark and insight, this book is an absolute pleasure to re-read.

probable next read:  red rising by pierce brown