Books read the prior week: I finished several horror books started in October: Lovecraft’s Monsters, City Infernal, and Ararat. Horror was my favorite genre when I was younger. King, Koontz, Saul - I would read the books as soon as they appeared in the library. I think my loss of interest was partially the genre shifted away from me and I grew less interested in scary stories. City Infernal had too much gore-ography for me. Ararat, while scary, ended with a possible child in danger (or dangerous child). Lovecraft’s Monsters, the best of the three, was still too gory for my tastes though the reader Bernard Clark will be on my watch-for list.
When I was pregnant with my first child, everyone wanted to talk to me about the recent murder of a pregnant woman. No matter how many times I explained I didn’t want to hear it, people would insist that I needed to hear this! one! thing! I finally just resorted to sticking my fingers in my ears and humming. Childish, yes, but it got the point across. I think that was the start of my falling out with horror. Child in peril stories hold little appeal for me now and too many horror stories use it.
I also read two great nature reads: The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating and The Soul of an Octopus. Rose recommended Snail and it was a lovely insight into a bedridden woman’s musings on her pet snail. Octopus was a fantastic look at the eight-armed creature plus the action mostly takes place in the Boston Aquarium, one of my favorite places to visit. Both the book and the aquarium are highly recommended. A great Kraken! read if you’re following Rose’s Big Bingo Challenge.
For literature, I was on a trickster kick a few weeks ago so Stacia recommended Mr. Fox. Thank you, Stacia! It was a fantastic book leaving me wondering what is real, what isn’t, where is this story going? Lovely, magical, charming, poignant – a wonderful book. I also finished another Ishiguro - When We Were Orphans, his take on the British detective story. It absolutely wasn’t what I expected as the author takes the unreliable narrator to its extreme.
I finally, finally finished The Myth of the Eternal Return, a short book, but written (translated?) in a clumsy style. I believe it was one of the first books on the history of comparative religion/mythology. A must-read if you're interested in the subject, but not one of my favorite books.
And to wrap up the prior week's reads, there's Home Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow which seemed promising, but ultimately fell short of my expectations. Harari, like many enamored with Big Data, believes humans to simply be a series of algorithms and if good enough formulas are created, outcomes can be perfectly predicted. I've assisted in the creation of predictive models and I adore them. There's something soothing about dealing with massive rows of numbers, cleaning up data, making everything fit neatly into cells and tables and formulas. History can be forced to behave. But ultimately, as anyone who's worked with models knows, they're only predictive, not descriptive, and only within certain statistical boundaries. Humans have a tendency to refuse to conform.
Books read last week:
- Hex by Thomas Olde Heveult. Horror. A witch haunts a New England town. Originally written in Dutch, but translated into English and re-located to the US. I'm trying to finish up my October spooky reads.
- A Pale View of the Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro. Literature. After the suicide of her firstborn child in England, a Japanese woman reflects on her pregnancy in Nagasaki, Japan. Ishiguro’s first book.
- A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab. Fantasy. A magician fights the summoned magic of another realm. An excellent end to the series. I highly recommend all three books in the series.
- The Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston. Nonfiction – Science. A journalist travels with archaeologists in their search for a lost Mesoamerican city. One of my favorite middle-grade series is Scientists in the Field which is probably why I enjoyed this book so much. There’s snakes, bugs, spiders, and flesh-eating parasites, but it’s an interesting look at the steps people will take to pursue their passions.
- Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy by Anne Lamott. Religious Philosophy. I don’t think Lamott’s musings are to my taste though I know many people find her thoughts inspirational. A 240s Big Bingo Challenge read, though my library got rid of the Dewey Decimal system so I can't say for sure (I've already ranted about the change so I'll spare everyone here).
- Devil’s Cut (The Bourbon Kings #3) by J.R. Ward. Contemporary Romance. A former playboy fights to save his family business.
- The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell. Nonfiction – Mythology. The author of The Hero With a Thousand Faces and The Hero’s Journey muses on society, symbolism, and mythology.
I'm currently listening to The Story of Human Language by John McWhorter. I'm not usually interested in linguistics, but McWhorter is an engaging lecturer. I especially enjoy the discussions on languages outside the traditional Western European focus. I have one or two last horror reads that I'm racing to finish, the final two Ishiguro books I haven't read, and a Pratchett that I didn't realize I had buried in my TBR stack. Last week's finance topic led me to search out a few books I'd been meaning to read so I have The Undoing Project, a look at behavioral economics and the rise of Big Data, and The Black Swan, a book on predicting improbable events.