Monday, March 12, 2012

A Book Update

Here are some of the things I've been reading over the past few months. I'll try to describe the general genre and let you know what in particular I really enjoyed about them. Maybe you'll find one you'd like to read!

When I picked up Fair Play: What Your Children Can Teach You About Economics, Values, and the Meaning of Life by Steven Landsburg, I definitely did not mean to read it at all, much less all the way through--in three days! But the truth is, it's not your run-of-the-mill economics book. Not that I'd really know what those are, because I never read them... But it's clearly a book for the lay person. Landsburg argues points from logic and examples pulled from life with his daughter. The personable flavor this lends the book (and the many hilarious stories) make it a very easy read. He talks about all kinds of things from taxes and policies, to personal rights, population growth....just take a peek at the table of contents. My favorite was his delightful chapter that had nothing to do with economics, but was basically contemplating the meaning of life and the beauty of enjoying poetry with his daughter. I know not everyone enjoys the same sort of book, but if you feel like you're stuck in a rut, reading the same thing day in and day out, take a look at the this book--it was a nice variation in my usual reading line-up.

I read In the Hall of the Dragon King and the sequel Warlords of Nin, but skipped the last book in the series which I think is called The Sword and the Flame. These books were quick and enjoyable, set in a medieval kind of time period, but with magic and sorcery thrown in. I found the plots of the two books to be a little too similar for my taste--which I why I didn't delve into the last one. And yet, the plots were very interesting, the characters were deep and admirable, and Lawhead's use of magic and his invention of this fascinating world was truly masterful. Even though these books probably aren't on my read-again list, I'd certainly recommend them to anyone who loves Arthurian-type fantasy tales.

The Dark Lord of Derkholm definitely took me by surprise. I had read many of Diana Wynn Jones's books, and loved all of them, so I grabbed this one and the sequel, Year of the Griffin, off the shelf without even looking at the back cover or the inside flap to see what the story was about. Once again, Jones hit on a fun new concept involving magic and a connection between multiple world. Only this time, one man from a world like ours, discovers a porthole to another, magical world, and with the help of an evil demon, he uses that entire world as an amusement park for rich adventure-seekers. The whole tale is about how the magicians band together to try to get rid of the "Pilgrim Parties" and consequently choose the unlikely wizard, Derk, to be the year's "Dark Lord." It's clever and Jones inserts a very believable political hierarchy/conflict that forces opposing wizards to work together. The oddity of it is that, even though it's all a "game" the magical world is really very damaged by the Pilgrim Parties and their "battles" and adventures.

In contrast, the sequel, Year of the Griffin, has only one level of reality (yay!) It follows Derk's youngest daughter from the first book, (who happens to be a golden griffin) as she starts classes at the wizard's university. Each of her classmates has some reason why they shouldn't be there or some mystery about who they really are. These, along with a crazy University Chairman who is fixated on getting to the moon, and a serious budget problem as the university struggles to shift its focus after 40 years of catering to the Pilgrim Parties, all combine for a hilarious free-for-all of more turns and twists than you'd find in a bag of pretzels! These books are definitely written for kids. This is like slapstick fantasy, and totally worth your while if you just want a book you can laugh at.

Of course, I read Persuasion as well, but I honestly don't have much to say about it, since I already posted some of my thoughts here. I thought it was amazing--maybe my favorite Jane Austen book ever. If you like classics, then go read it!

That's all for now, I think that catches me up through mid-February. I've read a lot more since then, and the recent ones have strayed farther from my usual selections. For the publishers I'm thinking of submitting to, I wanted to check out a few of their more recent books to see what sort they were, and if my own book would fit in with them. So that's what I've been reading recently. I hope to post on them soon!

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