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What to read

August 5th, 2010 No comments

One of the people I follow on Twitter (@hhariri) asked if anyone had any book recommendations. This is always a good question, but it did not contain any details whether he wanted fiction or non-fiction. I will – most likely incorrectly – assume, that he was interested in non-fiction, and will in the following name a few of the books I have enjoyed reading lately.

As the people who know me are aware, I do enjoy books, and have read my fair share. The “lately” in the above paragraph should therefore be taken literally, except in the few cases where I have come across a very good book within the same genre.

The Foundation series by Isaac Asimov is a classic and it was just as enjoyable as the first time I read it. Alastair Reynolds is also a good scienfiction author. Some time ago I read House of Sun, Pushing Ice and The Prefect, and more recently Chasm City of the Revelation Space-series. I was given Redemption Ark by a good friend, but have had some problems getting a copy of Revelation Space as I would have prefered to read it on my Kindle, and I understand this book should really be read prior to reading Redemption Ark. Unfortunately Revelation Space is not available on the Kindle, making a purchased of a more “physical format” required and I am now looking forward to receiving it one of these days. As a last note, before we leave the science fiction genre, I would like to mention Blindsight by Peter Watts. I was (also) given this book as a gift and I am ever gratefull, as it is one of the best SciFi books I have read, fully comparable to the best of William Gibson (it has been a long time, since we have seen anything worth while from him).

I have always been a fan of detective novels and enjoys a good “whodoneit”. One of my favorite authors is P. D. James and her new book, Talking about Detective Fiction, was not a disapointment, even though it – as the title indicates – talks about what defines a detective novel instead of actually being one. It was fun to get her take on the genre and in addition I got a few titles from the earlier days, I will look forward to reading. Her last novel, The Private Patient, is highly recommendable. Another old favorite is Scott Turow. His latest book, Innocent, is actually a sequal to this very first book Presumed Innocent; yes, it has been made into a decent movie staring Harrison Ford and Bonnie Bedelia, but do yourself the favour and read the book. I must say, that I was slightly dissapointed with Innocent. In my opinion it does not live up to the usual high standard of his other books. An author, whom I just recently got acquainted to, is Val McDermid. She has written several books about Dr. Tony Hill and Carol Jordan. So far I have only read the first one in the series, The Mermaids Singing, and it was excellent. I am looking forward to the next one (The Wire in the Blood) which is already safely stored on my Kindle. Like for the SciFi-books, there is an author which I would like to point out, namely Mark Billingham. His books about Tom Thorne are nerve wrecking and can also be highly recommended.

One type of crime or detective novels that I enjoy is the one set in a historical setting. The books by Ellis Peters about Brother Cadfael comes to mind in this category (A Morbid Taste for Bones is the first) and I think I must have read them all. More recently, however, it is the books by C. J. Sansom about the lawer Matthew Shardlake and Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel which have given me many hours of good entertainment. Both happes to be set under Henry VIII in England and both are able to convey how it must have felt to live back then – something I am glad I do not. A more recent setting is the books by Tom Rob Smith. He has so far writte two books taking place in the Soviet Union under Stalin. The first, Child 44, if my favorite, but the second, The Secret Speech, is not to be missed. Like Mr. Sansom and Ms. Mantel, Smith is able to give you the feeling of how it must have been like to live in fear under the reign of Stalin. Don’t read Child 44 if you (already) have problems sleeping.

How many “favorites” of something can you have, before it is not a favorite any more? I am asking because I was next going to mention a book by yet another favorite auther of mine John Irving. Ever since The World According to Garp, first published in 1978, I have been a fan. I love his humor, his plots and his ability to tell stories within the main story line. His latest novel, Last Night in Twisted River, fully lived up to my expectations.

It is very individual whether one likes a book or not. I have in the above given just a few pointers to some of the reads I really enjoyed and hope others may find them amusing/thrilling/moving as well. No classics are amongs them, but sometimes it is like that and I have read my share of Tolstoy, Dickens, Kafka, Camus, Hemingway, Green, …. I have also left out all the excellent Nordic authors I have recently read (Næsbø, Adler-Olsen, Dorph and Pasternak, Roslund and Hellström, Larsson, …).  Should you be interested and do you  have a profile at LinkedIn, I try to keep my readling list up to date. I would be really interested in suggestions of what to read next, so drop me a comment if you have a good reading experience you wish to pass on.

Finally, remember that “A book a day, keeps reality away” :)

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