Here are some more books that I've read recently. End of enthralling introduction!
His Majesty's Dragon (followed by Throne of Jade, Black Powder War, Empire of Ivory, and Victory of Eagles) by Naomi Novik
My mom recommended these to me and I'm pretty crazy about them. I just don't know why not everybody understands how good they must be. I had this conversation more than once:
other person: "So are you reading anything good right now?"
me: "Well, I'm reading these books about the Napoleonic Wars . . . except there are dragons!"
other person: [puzzled stare]
I don't know why it always ended this way. There were the Napoleonic Wars, right? With Napoleon! Versus everyone! Mostly England. And these happen to be novels about those wars, except in an alternate reality in which there be dragons. The author is clearly a huge nerd, about both dragons and the Napoleonic Wars--and if you want something done right, have it done by a huge nerd. The best parts of the books are when Regency-era British manners collide with, well, dragons. Hilarity ensues. And then when military history collides with dragons, adventure ensues! These books are fantastic.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
I knew this book was incredibly popular, and I'd heard it was really funny. I was therefore disappointed to find out that it was really, really, really, really repetitive. It takes the text of Pride and Prejudice and intersperses it every few sentences with references to zombies and fighting zombies. What frustrated me was that he uses the same words to refer to zombies and fighting zombies over and over. (Mostly I got sick of him talking about Elizabeth and her sisters training in and using "the deadly arts." Five times a page it seemed like--"the deadly arts." "The deadly arts.") I read about fifty pages and gave up.
American on Purpose by Craig Ferguson
This one was OK. Craig Ferguson is a funny guy, and this is a funny book, although more an "amused smile" than "laugh-out-loud" type of funny. It's also a quick read. On the con side, I wouldn't have cared at all if I didn't already know who Craig Ferguson is and like him quite a bit. Also, there are times when it seems like an exercise in mentioning all the friends he's ever had, just so all his friends can read the book and be glad that they're mentioned. Like I said, it was OK.
Persepolis 2 by Marjan Satrapi
I wrote in the last Books and Books about how, small time investment considered, Persepolis was good enough to justify reading it. The same is not true of Persepolis 2. The second volume shows the protagonist to be even more self-centered, common-sense-deprived, and unlikeable than the first, and neither the story nor the artwork are interesting enough to make up for that. A waste of time.
Three Cups of Tea "by" Greg Mortenson and by David Oliver Relin
I wanted to like this book. It's the story of a man, Greg Mortenson, who through sheer willpower started an organization that builds schools in particularly poverty-striken areas of Pakistan. Who doesn't root for that? Unfortunately, I thought the writing style of the book made it a total drag. (Note: although Mortenson is credited as the author, he in no way wrote this book. I don't understand why a biography has been packaged as an autobiography, but oh well.) For quite a bit of the book, I just felt like I was wading through unending word slurry, trying to fight through to get to the interesting parts. I did manage to finish it, but I had to make myself do it. I'm very happy to know who this guy is and all the good he's done, but I would much rather have read it in 15-page Vanity-Fair-article format.
Lois on the Loose by Lois Pryce
I work with a guy who's a motorcycle enthusiast, and he recommended this one. It's about an Englishwoman who quits her office job to travel by motorcycle from Anchorage, Alaska, to Ushuaia, Argentina, which I think we can all agree is hardcore. She's very funny, and it was nice to vicariously travel through so many countries in North and South America alone on the open road, because that's pretty much the opposite of anything I would ever, ever be willing to do. Well done, Lois.
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
I saw the movie High Fidelity several years ago and didn't care for it. At all, really. (I'm only about half as mystified by the appeal of John Cusack as I am by that of Nicholas Cage, but that's still pretty darn mystified.) The book was easily better--it's set in England and therefore full of English people (and abrasive English people are easier to take than abrasive American people); and it's funnier (I remember laughing exactly once at the movie; I laughed a fair bit at the book). The biggest strike against the book is that it started to get a bit tedious near the end--there are only so many internal monologues about a guy's fundamental loser-ness that I need to read. But up until then, it was pretty all right. I doubt I'll read it again, but I'd be willing to read another book by the same author.
The Spellman Files (followed by Curse of the Spellmans and Revenge of the Spellmans) by Lisa Lutz
Along with those dragon books from the top of the page these are the other books on this list that I fell in love with. I read all three of them in about two and a half days, and my only regret is that there aren't dozens of them so I could still be reading them. Basic premise: there's this family of private detectives. They're wacky. Bonuses: the author frequently uses not only humorous lists (by the second book, she adds appendices just to store lists and more lists) but also humorous footnotes.
I LOVE HUMOROUS FOOTNOTES.
They're my single favorite literary device.
Oh, I'm still doing bonuses: there's a love interest in the Mr. Darcy mold. In fact, he's my favorite love interest in the Mr. Darcy mold of any of the books I've read and yes, I'm including Mr. Darcy. (Digression/confession: I've never really understood the appeal of Mr. Darcy. It's easy in the miniseries because he's Colin Firth and Colin Firth is Colin Firth. And it's great when he rescues Elizabeth's sister and therefore her whole family from disgrace, but up until then what's the appeal? Even Elizabeth doesn't like him until she visits his sweet house and is all, "Oh, I could get used to this." So . . . I don't get it.)
My feelings about Mr. Darcy aside, these books are hilarious. No, they're hilarious.If you like books and/or things that are funny, you should definitely read them.
13 hours ago