Saturday, June 23, 2012

Books read - more summer reading

52) The Scottish Prisoner, by Diana Gabaldon. This is a book you'll love if you're already well acquainted with Jamie Fraser and Lord John Grey. If not, you'd just be lost and confused. But I first read Outlander in 1995 or so and have been following the series ever since, so I was hooked. Gabaldon doesn't always get every tiny historical detail right (in this volume I found myself wanting to give her a wee lecture on how to address baronets and their children), but she weaves such a richly imagined historical world that I'm happy to set my inner nitpicker aside for the duration.

One reason I can turn off my nitpickery for Gabaldon is that Jamie and Lord John feel more realistic than most military men I run across in fictional versions of the 18th and 19th centuries.  While battle has marked them--they're different men than either would've been if they'd never seen combat--they're neither too shattered and broken to function nor hardened into heartless killing machines.  If either had Claire's ability to travel through time, I can readily imagine them fitting right in with the Napoleonic-era officers and soldiers I've researched, or, for that matter, with my brother the lieutenant colonel or my nephew the captain.  

53) The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption, by Clay Johnson. A quick read, making a surprisingly convincing analogy between the obesity problem--living with bodies that evolved to survive times of famine in an age of abundant food--and the way we consume and process information in a world of constant internet access and hundreds of cable channels. I wish it had had a better copy editor, though. E.g. a military trial is a court-martial, not a Court Marshall, and there was a palpable that would've made more sense as a palatable.

54) Mockingjay. I didn't intend to read the whole thing in one evening, but somehow I did. I was spoiled going in for its grimness and bleakness, and for the major character death, so it ended up being more bearable than I expected. And, obviously, I couldn't put it down. Still, I'm feeling the urge to read something really fluffy and optimistic next.

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