Saturday, August 7, 2010

Summer Reading

I’ve managed to read at least 15 books since mid-June, putting myself ahead of the book a week pace after being behind for so long. Here’s a brief summary of the hits, and luckily, no real misses.

The happy new discovery of the year for me and for my son Mike, has been all the Discworld books by Terry Pratchett. I know we’re late to the party as everyone else seems to have read them already, but we’re awfully glad to be here! I’ve only read 4 of his books so far as I’m also reading other genres, but Mike is on a steady diet of the things, impatient for me to get to certain titles. I love the dry humor, the absurd situations, the colorful characters, but I especially love that there there is a story that draws me in keeps me turning pages.

I finally got to Laurie R. King’s 2 most recent installments in her Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes mysteries, The Language of Bees and The God of the Hive. I also went back and reread the first from the series, The Beekeeper’s Apprentice. Maybe I’m outgrowing these books, because while I like the writing and the pacing, I’m starting to find them a little too fan-fictiony. Mary Russell is a good character, and her meeting Sherlock Holmes in the first book makes perfect sense, but the books could have been just as strong with her as the only detective and without her marrying the man. I also tried Laurie R. King’s other detective series, The Art of Detection, that happened to have a Sherlock Holmes tie in. Really good mystery, good characters, a real police detective book. Nice to know there another series by this author I can turn to now.

I’ve finished the 3rd Temeraire book by Naomi Novik. The Napoleonic Wars! With Dragons! It sounds bizarre, but it works, and she manages to weave in some interesting themes, such as the issue of slavery, making these especially good reads, I think, for teens. Fantasy loving adults have lots to enjoy too.

Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco was terrific, but depressing as could be. His realistic depiction of Medieval life was just a tad too much for me -- I couldn’t focus on the mystery as I was too upset by knowing a poor girl was going to be burned at the stake. I came to realize that I prefer a more romantic version of olden times than a realistic version, hence my enjoyment of fantasy lit.

Simon Tolkein’s The Inheritance was a great page turner suspense/mystery.

My favorite book of the summer, though, is one I picked up at Comic-Con. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss is a terrific beginning to a fantasy series. The prose is lovely, the characters are slowly revealed in a clever manner, and the world is believable. There is none of the clunky exposition that bogs down many fantasies. The passages where he puts us inside the mind of a musician transported when making music are poetic yet realistic. A dragon getting high on opiate trees is a funny adventure romp. It isn't an epic hero quest, but there is an epic hero whose story we are learning almost in a backwards fashion. Now I have to wait until March for the next installment.

1 comment:

  1. I just loved Name of the Wind. The second book is supposedly done (it's the picture that I posted back in May on my blog... you can see it here ( with his baby for comparison!) and I can't wait to read it.
    As for Umberto Eco, my all-time favorite book is his second novel, Foucault's Pendulum. It's a real braincrusher, but if you put the investment into it, you're rewarded so greatly... though I can't promise that it's not depressing too.
    If you're enjoying the fantasy stuff, I can't recommend Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy highly enough. You can borrow our copy if you haven't read it. It's not only engagingly told, but it's one of the most consistant and surprising series I've read in forever.
    I'm doing 52-in-52 myself this year, so I'd love to hear more about what you're reading through. Despite being in the hospital with all this free time, it's weirdly prose-resistant free time.