The Skeptics Guide to the Universe is $2.99 on kindle today. The reviews are overwhelmingly positive except for people who are fans of acupuncture or salt rooms or who hate Hilary Clinton. Sounds interesting.
They’re mostly new authors, usually with a few books in a series (amazon wants you to buy the other books in the series by the author). There’s usually several genres to choose from. Sometimes they suck. For free, and you-pick-em, what do you want?
I’m most of the way through “Exhalation” the collection of stories by sci-fi author Ted Chiang. Meh.
I liked the stories in his other collection, “Stories of Your Life and Others”, but none of the ones in this book have impressed me at all, and I think I’m on the last one.
This one’s probably the most promising of the lot, with a great title - “Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom” - and an interesting premise of a world in which there’s a device that lets you communicate with an alternate you, in an alternate timeline - a branching of reality that’s precipitated by activating the machine in the first place - and the consequences of such a technology.
The story itself is not turning out to be as interesting as the title and premise would suggest.
I’ve been thinking that it’s like a P.K. Dick story that was written by an author of historical biographies or something similarly dry.
Can someone remind me who was the Meh staffer who recently published their first novel, and the title of the book? A link to it on Amazon would be even better.
I think it was ChadP, but my memory sucks, and a search of these forums for “ChadP” didn’t find me the answer after several pages of search results.
That book of the Brit economy looks kinda interesting. Or perhaps a summary would be interesting.
Re Graham Greene
He is viewed as a substantial novelist. Was Nobel shortlisted.
And also was reputedly often in a quite miserable frame of mind.
I have been reading a bit about his private life:
and he seems to have been a talented, tormented, educated, privileged shit for much of the time.
And, as judged by his contemporaries, often a notable and total hypocrite.
In his case this perhaps these judgments matter because he was so willing to actively participate in profiting (sexually, reputationally, esp financially) from practices and institutions he condemned;
and to betray, lie to, or undercut, so much (institutions, persons, and esp values and beliefs) he praised or claimed to espouse.
I am no Greene expert and this is just a quick take based on a bit of reading.
But, if one wants to know a little of “the person behind the work”, well, Greene looks to be quite a case study.
@f00l - I’ve seen a couple Graham-Greene based movies but I don’t think I ever actually read one of his books. Someday I’ll read “Our Man in Havana” (but the film had Alec Guinness and Maureen O’Hara in it!!!)
I’m kind of regretting “Surrender”, which is pretty much a continuous stream of bad news, baldly presented. A better (and shorter) book on the British economy is supposed to be “Forging Ahead, Falling Behind and Fighting Back: British Economic Growth from the Industrial Revolution to the Financial Crisis” by Nicholas Krafts.
@f00l - As for a summary, “Surrender” (by Nicholas Comfort - funny about the names) largely blames British businesses for failing to modernize and government for failing to coordinate policy with reality. Of course he can’t ignore the impact of the British unions, which were stupefyingly obstructive and greedy. I haven’t finished it yet, but he speaks glowingly about the German and French governments for protecting their industries while supporting continuous equipment improvements and support for industrial education.
I’m reading Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History by Kurt Andersen. It was a kindle deal-of-the-day which I did not buy because my library had a digital download available (also a hard copy, but I’m still semi-boycotting the library, even though I only know two people who work there now and like them both). It’s very openly anti-Trump and anti-Evangelical Christianity (which I don’t have a problem with, but feel should be clear about in case someone else does), but as far as the introduction goes puts the ultimate blame for current American culture on Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press and everything that happened in the 1960’s.
When I saw the title I thought, hot damn, this is going to be about the Burned-Over district and Spiritualism and Mormonism and the New Thought movement! And it is, but Andersen is a novelist and not a historian, so the book is not quite as wonky and historically detailed as I’d like. It’s funny, but I WANT MORE HISTORY AND FOOTNOTES. For an example of my state of mind: he quoted Keith Thomas, author of Religion and the Decline of Magic and I squealed because I’ve read that book three or four times (I love that book).
@mossygreen Update: He goes into no detail on anything and it’s driving me crazy! Quotes w/out footnotes and it doesn’t look like there’s a bibliography. I think he oversimplifies a lot of things as well, spends no time on the New Thought Movement and so (perhaps inadvertently) presents How to Win Friends and Influence People as a new thing rather than a direct continuation of it. So far has ignored all weird religious movements and cults that aren’t at least nominally Christian except for Scientology, and I’m up to the '60’s, so it’s not going to happen. Really, I’d just like to read all the books he read in order to write this one.
@sammydog01 I have an irrational dislike of J.K. Rowling and that book in particular because I read it at the same time I read Tanith Lee’s first published book, which was also for children, and which I thought was much better. I had a very emotional why aren’t people reading this other, much better writer?! reaction which is probably not fair.