Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The secret to reading

I finished three books in the past two days (that is, finished one, and started and finished two more). In addition, I also did an enormous amount of yard and garden work, fixed the front door, and did more plaster work and masking upstairs. I feel extremely productive. And, I figured out the secret to having lots of time to read. I noticed that for the last two days, I didn't turn on my computer. I can waste truly amazing amounts of time online. A lot of it doesn't feel like loafing, either. I read interesting news articles, write e-mail, and educate myself. But it does sink a lot of time.

The books were good, too. I read Sara Gran's Dope, and I really enjoyed it. It wasn't a perky, happy book -- there aren't enough letters in the word noir to fully express the noirness of this novel -- but the story was very well told, and we develop a lot of sympathy for our viewpoint character, Joe. It's a snapshot of New York City in the early 50s, seen from the junkie's point of view. After reading her extremely creepy first book, a demonic-possession story (or not) called Come Closer, I was curious to read more, and I wasn't disappointed. I also started and finished The Last Colony, the last book in Scalzi's sci-fi trilogy that began with Old Man's War. I really liked the entire book, except for the last sentence. I can't say why it irritated me so much, but I would've been a lot happier had the book ended two words earlier. I don't want this to distract from the fact that the story was excellent, and a fitting end for the Old Man's War trilogy. I recommend all three books. The third book was Neil Gaiman's short story collection Fragile Things. As a rule, short story collections are hit-or-miss; even in the best collections, the hit ratio is maybe fifty percent. Neil Gaiman writes some truly excellent stories, and some that are less good, but they're all entertaining reads. Even the worst of his stories are still pretty good and highly imaginative. This collection is interspersed with poetry, including my favorites, "The Day The Saucers Came" and "Inventing Aladdin". The story "A Study in Emerald" might be my favorite in the book. It's a Sherlock Holmes story that doesn't star Sherlock Holmes, written for an anthology described as "Arthur Conan Doyle meets H.P. Lovecraft". All three books are worthwhile reads.

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