Monday, November 26, 2007

The other books lying around

In no particular order (except for maybe they happen to be piled this way, and ordering them in any other fashion is beyond me for the moment).

(At this very moment I am between (fiction) books — but just for the moment, having finished New Grub Street last night and intending to choose one of the following for when I tuck into bed early this evening. Oh, but which one?)

The Adventures of Amir Hamza: Lord of the Auspicious Planetary Conjunction, by Ghalib Lakhnavi.
An Islamic saga dating back to perhaps as early as the seventh century, chronicling warriors, kings, tricksters, fairies, courtesans, and magical creatures. Which I received on my birthday actually, but it's a review copy, so I'm not really sure it counts. But it kind of does, cuz it's an awesome gift of a book. "Lord of the Auspicious Planetary Conjunction"!

The florid news writers, the sweet-lipped historians, revivers of old tales and renewers of past legends, relate that there ruled at Ctesiphon in Persia (image of Heaven!) Emperor Qubad Kamran, who cherished his subjects and was a succor to the impecunious in their distress. He was unsurpassed in dispensing justice, and so rigorous in this exercise that the best justice appeared an injustice compared to his decree.


The Story of General Dann and Mara's Daughter, Griot and the Snow Dog, by Doris Lessing.
Because I love-love-loved Mara and Dann, and this is the sequel, and though I hear it's something of a letdown, I have-have-have to know what becomes of them.

Only Revolutions, by Mark Danielewski.
A review copy, received at the time of its release in paperback. I keep turning it over and over. Still I can't make up my mind which end to start reading it from.

The Wasp Factory, by Iain Banks.
Because I've been intrigued by the write-ups of a few of this author's books, and last spring's discussion at Bookblog made me pick up a copy. I'm not sure if there are actually any wasps in it, but it seems to have enough else (its surreal quality! and a psychopath!) to recommend it, including a blurb on the back cover from The Times (London) calling it "Rubbish!"

Zig Zag, by José Carlos Somosa.
I loved The Art of Murder by this author, not least for its genre-blending but most particularly for its utterly unique premise. Zig Zag seems to lean toward more conventional SF, and I expect it will complement nicely the discussions we've had in this household of late regarding the possibility of watching the past as it unfolds (if you travel x light years and have a superstrong telescope...).

The Mustache, by Emmanuel Carrère.
Something a little metaphysical — that age-old problem of identity. A couple bloggers wrote about it last year, and I saw the movie in-between. My copy includes another novel, Class Trip, but I'll try the mustache on for size first.

The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature, by Steven Pinker.
I hadn't meant to buy this book — I have another unfinished Pinker by my bed, and having read a full 3 of his already, I don't expect anything exactly new. Which is fine, because even if I'm familiar with the concepts, any idea he chooses to flesh out will make an interesting and entertaining read. But then I went to hear his presentation on the book, and I got caught up in all the excitement and bought one to get it signed. Yes, I will write about the lecture someday, but now I feel I should really read the book first to do it justice.

(The problem with reading non-fiction, for me, is that I need to digest it in small bites. Which means I need to be reading something else between meals. Literary snacking. Which for me is vaguely unsatisfying, and leaves me feeling spread thin, unfocused. I don't like this feeling, but don't see a way around it.)

Other Colors: Essays and a Story, by Orhan Pamuk.
Another review copy. I've dipped into it a few times. It's not the sort of book to read in one sitting. I will endeavour to post snippets and my thoughts about the book (I have some!) accordingly, from time to time.

Do you think I can read them all by year's end?

Of course, there's a ton of other books lying around, most notably Infinite Jest, which I vow to finish, erm, someday. Somehow I don't see myself even starting on Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle this year.

I, for one (probably the only one), wouldn't mind having an ebook reader. Heck, I've wanted one for years. Guarantee me that it won't be obsolete anytime soon and that books I actually want to read are available in this format, and I'm sold (assuming it's moderately priced). I've run out of shelf space as well as space for more shelves and money for more space.

Are you reading anything good right now? Anything great? Anything in particular you're trying to clean off your plate?
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