Author: Ben Schott
I hadn’t heard of P.G. Wodehouse and his famed characters Jeeves and Wooster until I read this book. It was recommended to me, and I figured it was time for a detour back to fiction, so I gave it a try. I’m so glad to have read it!
The book is wonderfully funny. Set in the leisure class of early 20th century England, the author (like Wodehouse before him, I suppose) follows the life of Bertie Wooster and his Gentleman’s Personal Gentleman Jeeves as they get into and out of a bunch of minor but hilarious hijinx. From the book’s description: “Unfolding in the background are school-chum capers, affairs of the heart, drawing-room escapades, antics with aunts, and sartorial set-tos.”
The writing itself is spectacular! The English language is on full display throughout the novel. I listened to the audiobook version, and the narrator did a perfectly British job reading.
If fun wordplay, long-winded entertaining asides, and upper-crust English shenanigans are your cup of tea, you’ll love this book.
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Author: Khaled Hosseini
About half-way through this one, I had to search the internet to confirm that it is indeed a work of fiction. When that was confirmed, I had a sigh of relief.
Much of the book is incredibly sad. And the reality is that much of the situation in Kabul (where most of the story is based) is incredibly sad and has been for a long time.
The story, though, is beautiful in a way. It touches on relationships between people when things get ugly and complicated, and the beauty that can exist even in the ugliest of situations.
One aspect of the book I appreciated was the rare glimpse into how people in the Muslim world look at things. The particular example that comes to mind: at one point a female character discusses wearing a Burqa at her husband’s request (demand?). She grew to like it because it was like a 1-way window to the world.
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Author: Stanislaw Lem
This book is considered one of the classics of science fiction. No doubt about it, it’s a great book.
That being said, I’m starting to believe I’m tainted in the sci-fi novel category. Because of all the mediocre movies made out of great books, I can’t manage to read most older sci-fi books with any of the amazement and wonder that I get from present-day authors like Daniel Suarez.
I’m not even sure I’ve ever seen the movie Solaris, but the plot just felt so familiar to me that as I read on, I kept expecting to recognize what happened next. I never actually did guess what happened next. But I just can’t shake that feeling…
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Andy Weir, author of The Martian, wrote another book set in space (or more accurately, the moon). It’s not as great as the Martian, but still a neat story with a bunch of science woven in. (View on Amazon)
Isaac Asimov’s famed work of science fiction has been cited by some of today’s most well-known technologists as inspiration for their life paths. I just had to read it to learn what all the hype was about. I found the story immensely interesting, maybe even more for the political commentary than the science fiction. (View on Amazon)
Daniel Suarez comes back with more after his excellent sci-fi books Daemon and Freedom. Change Agent is the story of a future where CRISPR (the REAL new tool that enables DNA edits) has developed to the point where scientists can sculpt DNA to their liking, and Interpol maintains a genetic crimes division. As usual, he’s able to use tech that’s plausibly foreseeable from today’s reality to scare the shit out of readers in a remarkably entertaining way. (View on Amazon)
It’s as if this book was made for the audiobook format. Because it’s mostly written as a diary, it really fits. And the narrator kicks ass at his role! (View on Amazon)
Regardless of your view of Ayn Rand’s politics, it’s hard not to enjoy this book. It’s a really amazing story that tugs at a variety of human emotions. And if you also believe in some or all of her philosophy, there’s obviously plenty of that in this 63 hours of audio! (View on Amazon)