Sunday, January 1, 2012

December reading

I, Robot [Cory Doctorow] - free e-book from feedbooks, downloaded to Android phone. A very interesting sci-fi short story - an homage to Asimov - by an author who is also one of the editors of the website Boing Boing. This is one story in a collection called Overclocked: Stories of the Future Present (free download), and if this one example is anything to go by, I'm going to have to look up more of his work.

The Best of McSweeney's [Dave Eggers, editor] - bought in 2006 (the receipt was inside the front cover!), and sitting in the unread pile of books beside the bed until now.  McSweeney's is a US literary magazine, and this collection of short stories covers a range of styles and subjects. Some I liked more than others; one I didn't finish. Definitely worth reading though - not sure why I waited so long!

Fables of Aesop [Penguin Classic, 1973 reprint of a 1954 translation by S A Handford]. Containing 207 fables - some only a few lines long; most of them only a paragraph or two - this is a great book for when you're constantly interrupted while trying to read! The fables are attributed to Aesop, who was possibly a Greek slave in the 6th century BC, but who knows if he really existed, and whether he wrote down all these stories with morals? Some of the morals don't quite accord with modern thinking, but this just makes them all the more interesting for someone with am historical bent!

Dead Set-Up [Kit Moodie]. According to the Australian Crime Fiction Database, this is Kit Moodie's only published crime novel: "A musician and a writer, Kit Moodie has published music books as Kathleen Moodie, and short stories and a novel as Kit Moodie. Kit has sold short stories to magazines and newspapers. She has written a sequel to her only published crime novel but it remains unpublished." I picked it up in a box of books from Freecycle some years ago, and have a vague recollection of being told that the author was from Canberra, but I may be wrong, and I couldn't find anything online to confirm this. Set mostly in Sydney, it's an interesting tale of a complicated plot that an innocent man finds himself the victim of (and he's not the only victim). One clue, crucial to solving the crime, is painfully obvious, but if you can reconcile with the main character missing it, then the rest of the story is a good read.

Guenevere: The Queen of the Summer Country [Rosalind Miles]. The first book in a series of novels about Guenevere, beginning with Arthur having just been proclaimed king after pulling the sword from the stone (a setup by Merlin), and then quickly skipping back to Guenevere's childhood as the daughter of the Queen of the Summer Country, soon to become a queen in her own right. The story of Arthur and Guenevere is well-known, but this book brings out many of the conflicts of the time, and the changes that Britain is experiencing, particularly changing from a female-oriented society and the nature-centred old religion and ways to a male-dominated, Christian society. Worth reading for that alone. Rosalind Miles is an historian as well as a novelist, and I'd be interested in reading some of her non-fiction works as well as her other novels.

The Kite Runner [Khaled Hosseini]. For some reason I never imagined reading a book about Afghanistan and its people - two boys in particular who grow up together but under vastly different conditions. It's an amazing book - devastating and hopeful and everything in between. Read it.

Additional Fables [Rolf Grunseit]. No, not more Aesop's fables - these short stories are about mathematics and mathematicians, and they're fascinating! Ranging from an Australian Dreamtime story about solving tricky problems to the German mathematical genius Carl Gauss in the 18th and 19th centuries, the book contains tales of some of the major mathematical discoveries over human history. My ten year old daughter enjoyed it as much as I did, and my 8yo wants me to read it with him too :)

Printcrime, When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth, Anda’s Game [Cory Doctorow] - three more of the stories from Overclocked, available for free from . Loved them all, despite a few distracting typos and proofing errors, and will be reading the two remaining stories as I have the opportunity.

The Venice Experiment: A year of trial and error living abroad [Barry Frangipane with Ben Robbins]. The first book I've read on my new Kindle :) I wasn't sure about ebooks - short stories are all very well, but a full novel in a digital format? Turns out I love it! So compact and easy to carry around (at least it will be once the cover I've ordered arrives - I'm a bit paranoid about damaging it at the moment), and the page-turning button is in exactly the right place for me. Searching for books on the Amazon site is a little painful with the on-screen keyboard, but easy on my main computer, and the books transfer automatically via wi-fi to the Kindle. And I loved this book too! I'm going to Venice in October, and while I won't be staying for a year, I'm looking forward to a couple of weeks exploring this unique city with all its quirks even more now.

We even managed to watch a few movies in December - some ok but once is enough children's films (Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2 [much better than the first one], and Gotta Catch Santa Claus [the best bit was the ice-monster and his evil snowman henchmen]), and Star Wars Episodes I, II and III. I don't know if I ever watched all the Star Wars movies when they first came out - if I did, I obviously didn't take much notice. The kids received a lot of Star Wars Lego for Christmas, so we figured they needed to see the movies (they've been watching the Clone Wars TV series for a while). We all really enjoyed these films, although the end of Episode III is quite emotional, and we had an 8yo in tears at the demise of some of his favourite characters. But he's ok now - he's decided that if Anakin turns to the Dark Side and becomes Darth Vader, then so will he! So apparently I am now the mother of a future evil overlord ... We'll watch Episodes IV, V and VI during January.


  1. Thanks, Karen! And glad you like the Kindle. If you have any questions about Venice as your trip approaches, let me know.

  2. Thanks for commenting Barry :) I'll be visiting Venice with my son, who will be 9 by then. We'll only have about two weeks (in between Paris and Rome), but I figure that's a whole lot more than all those people on the cruise ships get! We plan to stay in an apartment, and will make sure it's not on the ground floor - thanks for that tip!

  3. Hi

    I just followed your trail from my blog. I'm going to look at a sample of that book "The Venice Experiment" on my Kindle, thanks!

    I fall more in love with Venice by the day. It's going to be an ugly scene when I have to leave.