succumbing to peer pressure

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Books Completed

1984, George Orwell - just as terrifying and upsetting as the first time around. Interestingly, I read this ages ago (I can't even remember when exactly, but I'm guessing junior high) and yet my brain managed to hang on to specific passages in amazing detail. Guess it made an impression. Also, someday (meaning never) I'm going to write an essay on True Believers and compare and contrast O'Brien (in 1984) with The Operative (in Serenity).

Mountains Beyond Mountains, Tracy Kidder - this one is about Paul Farmer, and often succumbs to hero worship. But the author is pretty honest about that, and honest about his conflicting feelings about Farmer and his work, which I appreciated, so the worshipping didn't bother me too much. I think Farmer is doing excellent, and necessary work, and I believe what I wrote in April's copy (to keep you inspired and pissed off) but I also think we all need to take Farmer with a grain of salt. Because in addition to being a driven, impressive, well-intentioned person, he's certainly also a dysfunctional, personally-desctructive person, and attempting to follow his model seems to me to be the road to unhappiness.

Survivor, Chuch Palahniuk - I think I'm over Palahniuk and his gimmicks. He still occasionally manages to turn a good phrase, offer a new, interesting description of something, but this one and Diary both just feel like a high school kid trying too hard to be shocking and subversive. Sigh.

Book Started

Plows, Plagues, & Petroleum: How Humans Took Control of Climate, William F. Ruddiman - on loan from Brian, who wants me to hurry up and finish so he can a) return it to the library tomorrow and b) argue with me about it (the book, not the library due date). Good so far, very interesting overview of lots of large scale climate stuff I knew nothing about (earth's rotation and tilt and whatnot spread over thousands and thousands of years). I can't yet figure out if Brian agrees or disagrees with the thesis, so I'm feeling all this pressure to read very thoughtfully and critically, which is slowing me down.

Books Acquired

The Confusion and The System of the World, Neal Stephenson - the remaining books in the Baroque Cycle, on loan from Dad (and Travers wants me to hurry up and read them and pass them along to him since he recently wrapped up Quicksilver).

The Road, Cormac McCarthy - evidently a very dark and depressing post-apocalyptic story on loan from Dad.

Rainbows End, Vernor Vinge - random sci-fi, I think given to me (rather than loaned) by Dad. But he said he didn't like it very much, so it's percolating down to the end of my list.

Books Purchased

junior, Macaulay Culkin - the kid's roughly my age, I had a huge crush on him right around My Girl, and Home Alone is inextricably linked with my life. So it was an impulse buy because it looked interesting and I was indulging in my end-of-semester tradition of rewarding myself with a few non-mathematical books. After flipping through it a bit it looks in danger of being self-indulgent adolescent blather. Ah well. It would hardly be the first time I read a crappy novel written by a famous actor. (see The Hottest State and Hello, Darling, Are You Working?)

The Rule of Four, Ian caldwell and Dustin Thomason - quickie dork novel, perfect end-of-semester fare.


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