Friday, July 04, 2008


I'm out of fresh reading material and of the books I have that I do reread, I have already done so. I have a new order coming in from Amazon - What the book was out-of-stock or something for a few of my choices - but they won't arrive for a few weeks.

What to do?

I do have some podcasts to catch up on but, while I enjoy them while exercising or commuting, I much prefer books when the option is available. When I have books, I get a backlog of pods to be listened to but when I don't have books, I am searching for new pods halfway through the week. That's where I am now.

Here's what I've read recently (purchase links are to What the Book):

Quantico, by Greg Bear. I chose this book on Tripp's lukewarm endorsement. I normally enjoy Bear's stuff so I thought I'd chance it. I liked it. The story is of a time slightly in our future and about two generations of FBI agents tracking down a domestic terrorist. A major part of the book is the infighting between various federal agencies, while some cool and horrible weapons are used. Purchase.

Finding your inner fish by Neil Shubin. My friend Patrick, who is concerned that there aren't enough transitional fossils, this is the book for you. A non-fiction book on evolution, it describes why we humans are the way we are. It even explains why men get inguinal hernias - of special note to my family. Purchase.

Various books by Neal Stevenson. I actually didn't care for his Baroque Cycle but clearly found something of value there seeing as I have since read Snow Crash (fantastic!), Cryptonomicon (very good), and Zodiac (very good). In the Baroque Cycle, a character would step through a doorway into a seventeenth century street and Stevenson would paint, with marvellously fine detail, what the character was experiencing. There was a remarkable texture to the descriptions. Unfortunately, and this is purely from my recollection, when Errol Flynn-style swashbuckling occurred, and it did quite often, the excitement seemed mired in the details. The future queen of England is being chased down a street and her lover leaps from one horse onto her pursuer's horse - thrilling but only afterwards because I was still processing the details of the street. Purchase (books by Stevenson)

Snow Crash had everything. It is funny and satirical, it smoothly meshed fantasy and science fiction, it had conspiracies, chase scenes and wild sword fights. I borrowed it from a friend and will probably buy it for myself to read again sometime.

Mao's Last Dancer by Li Cunxin. A biography and not my regular sort of reading material at all. I bought it because the guy was interviewed on CNN and thought my wife might be interested in it. She started it but became busy with other stuff. I read it because there was nothing else in the house. It makes me wonder; I think that Jenkins guy was a traitor to defect to North Korea but feel Li made the right decision. I guess that's an example of my prejudices and the propaganda I was exposed to. Purchase.

The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler. An attempt to read a classic. Well, I succeeded, so I guess it wasn't an attempt. I don't read a lot of crime fiction and this didn't move me to read more. I hope I will not be shunned for dismissing Chandler like this. Purchase.

The Drawing of the Dark, by Tim Powers. Its a sort of Arthurian retelling set in Vienna in the 16th century. I first read it in high school and have reread it many times. This is one of the few Powers books where the hero ends the tale still retaining all his extremities - I think the hero of Forsake the Sky ends up being a multiple amputee and to lose a few fingers is to get off lightly. He, the hero that is, does take quite a beating, none the less. Purchase.

To help me out, send your used books to KwandongBrian at Kwandong University.


Patrick said...

It's a deal... if you read Marvin L. Lubenow's 'Bones of Contention'

Alternatively, here are some e-books of a spiritual nature:

happy reading!

Patrick said...

From that adfor-mentioned e-book website, I read Kerkegaard's 'Provocations'... a little deep but an excellent insight into real Christianity, not the superficial version we all think we know.

Patrick said...

I seem to remember there being an 'unofficial' bookcase in Mona's office at KD. There might be something there for you.

kwandongbrian said...

We'll see about Bones of Contention.

We have a few bookcases full in a teacher's lounge. I'll have to have a look on Monday when I drop by the school.

Masuro said...

There is a science fiction and fantasy magazine waiting in your mailbox for you. I have ordered a subscription and you're welcome to read them after I've finished. I also have another book for you but I keep forgetting to bring it to school.

kwandongbrian said...

Thanks Masuro. Are you looking for anything to read?

Masuro said...

Hard to believe, but I am presently overloaded with reading material. I order books that interest me faster than I can read them. In fact, a desire to get to the latest arrivals is causing me to read too quickly. I should stop ordering but when I see something interesting I order it before I can forget I wanted it. Most of the books I'm ordering these days concern criticism and philosophy of photography.

Patrick said...

and there's also Kwandong library itself, which is actually fairly well stocked with fiction and history books in english

kwandongbrian said...

"..books I'm ordering these days concern criticism and philosophy of photography." - Is that two independent subjects? Are you reading about criticism in general?
I bet you are to best make some complaints to a certain complaint-unfriendly organization.

Thanks for another suggestion. I use the KD library more than most of my coworkers, I think, but thought about using it in this situation. Thinking about it, its probably because I live in Sokcho; I could sign out a book this Monday but have no idea when I will return to Gangneung, much less the university.

kwandongbrian said...


Thanks a lot for lending me "The Omnivore's dilemma". I'm only forty or fifty pages in, but find it fascinating.