Archive for September, 2007

Rainy Days Are Made for Reading

Posted September 22, 2007 By Jandy

Here is Southern California we don’t get many rainy days, especially this time of year. During the winter we get drizzly, gray days. But today is more of a rainy day, at least what counts for rain at the edges of a desert. It can’t compare with the rainfalls around the rest of the country, of course.

But wherever these days occur, they always feel like a good day to curl up with a warm drink and a good book. I finished Archer Mayor‘s new John Gunther mystery, Chat, last night. It is the perfect type of book for these kinds of days. It’s a cozy mystery that keeps the reader guessing on one story line and on edge with the other one. It’s comfortable, too. Although I haven’t read any of the others in the series (and I will), the atmosphere is comfortable and welcoming. The tone reminds me of Margaret Maron‘s Deborah Knott series. I recommend Chat when it comes out next month.

So this morning I will pick up one of the best science fiction books I followed up the from the science fiction list, Vernor Vinge’s Marooned in Real Time. I’ll be gone later in the day and part of tomorrow, but it’s pulling me in and seems to be easy reading. I may finish it over the weekend. Otherwise I’ll finish it early next week (hopefully before I get caught up in the new television season, especially Heroes.) I’m going to enjoy this rainy day while I can.

100 Top SciFi Books

Posted September 12, 2007 By Jandy

Marylaine Block is a librarian who puts out a weekly email Neat New Stuff and ExLibris. She lists a group of web sites that she feels would be beneficial for librarians.

Last week she included a link to the Sci-Fi Lists 100 Top Sci-Fi Books. It’s a site where people can vote for their favorite science fiction or fantasy books. According to the site, it is regularly updated with those votes. Of course I had to check it out since I am such a huge science fiction fan.

The top three books on the list are Dune by Frank Herbert, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, and the Foundation trilogy by Isaac Asimov. I started going down the list. The book in the #20 spot, Hyperion by Dan Simmons, was the first one I hadn’t read. Out of the top 100 I’ve read over half of them, but not as many as I would have thought. Some of them are sitting on Mount Bookpile waiting for me to get to them (Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott, for example). Others I’ve read more than once (like Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams). After I went over the list, I reserved Hyperion from the public library.

The Sci-Fi Lists site also includes the next 100 sci-fi books, the top 100 sci-fi television shows, the top 100 fantasy books (as well as the next 100), and the top 100 fantasy movies. It also includes reviews and links to purchase the books and movies. If you like science fiction or fantasy, you’d like this site.

The World Without Us

Posted September 3, 2007 By Jandy

Alan Weisman’s book, The World Without Us, is fascinatingly scary. It’s no wonder it has jumped right onto the non-fiction best seller list. I returned it to the library late. It was on hold so I couldn’t renew it; but I needed to finish it. I had left it at the bottom of the stack and didn’t start it until a few days before it was due.

What appalled me the most was the dates on some of the human damage to our environment that Weisman illustrates. I remember Earth Day when it was first created, yet the newest method of coal mining in West Virginia started in the 1970’s – about the same time. I often drove through that state well into the early 1990’s but I never noticed any missing mountain tops. Now I don’t think I want to look.

Weisman not only covers recovery from mankind’s abuse of the Earth, which worsens each year, but also the natural changes that occur due to weather, water, air, flora, and fauna. He also covers millenia of the Earth’s natural history, from before the beginnings of mankind, discusses the massive changes, both slow (glaciers) and sudden (asteroid strikes).

Although this definitely is an environmental and conservationism book, it is much more. Weisman pulls in human history (I didn’t know what is currently going on at the island of Crete) and science as well as what is happening to the world. This book should be on everyone’s reading list who wants a better world for our children.