Aardy R. DeVarque (aardy) wrote,
Aardy R. DeVarque
aardy

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Books that I read in November

Books that I read in November:

69. Herodotus. The Persian Wars, translated by George Rawlinson (714 p.)

70. Christie, Agatha. Witness for the Prosecution (192 p.)

71. Butcher, Jim. Blood Rites (The Dresden Files, bk. 6) (372 p.)

72. Baum, L. Frank. The Wizard of Oz (Oz, v. 1) (236 p.)

73. Christie, Agatha. Peril at End House (224 p.)

74. Thucydides. History of the Peloponnseian War, translated by Rex Warner (648 p.)

November total: 2,386 pages
2013 YTD total: 25,401 pages



I've surpassed my secondary page goal with a month still to go, and just need to finish one more book to reach my secondary books goal!

Both Herodotus & Thucydides are here because I'm working my way through the 54-volume Great Books of the Western World series, except I happen to also have standalone copies of each, which were much easier on the eyes. When I discovered that Herodotus includes the story of the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae, and the battle of Marathon, and the battle of Salamis (which I only otherwise knew about from playing the Empire computer game back in the day), I knew I needed to read it. It was good overall, and I'm glad I read it, but there were long stretches of soporific prose in between actual action or the frequently barely believable travelogue asides. The latter, especially, often made me laugh out loud--and many of them were already generally not believed or outright disproved by Aristotle's time. In general, I'd definitely recommend this one--it doesn't contain as many quotable quotes that still ring true today as Thucydides' history does, but I think it's a better, more interesting read overall.

Thucydides' history is one of the books that I was assigned back in college and just couldn't finish. After a certain point, I couldn't read more than a page or two without falling asleep, gave up, and skimmed just enough of the rest to be able to write the assigned essays and move on. Since it was the next book in the Great Books of the Western World series, I decided to give it another chance. I'm now glad I did, but there are still a lot of really long stretches of insomnia-curing prose in there. I didn't realize that the last book ends, unfinished, about six years before the end of the war, so now I'm a bit annoyed at having to track down the rest of the story elsewhere in order to learn the details of how it all turned out. However, there are dozens of passages in there that, given that this was written circa 425-400 B.C., are almost eerily descriptive of modern society, and especially of modern politics. So I don't know that I'd recommend it in general, but I'd definitely recommend reading choice excerpts.

Witness for the Prosecution is a collection of short stories, almost all of which are psychological or borderline-paranormal suspense rather than the mysteries for which Dame Christie is so well known. Except for the last story (and to some degree, even that, despite being a Poirot mystery), this collection has a lot more in common with Poe than Poirot. Highly recommended.

Peril at End House is a Poirot mystery, but as with many of them, there's a twist that elevates it above your bog-standard mystery detective story. In this case, there are actually more than one, but the initial and most important twist is that the murder hasn't happened yet, there've just been several attempts, so Poirot spends most of the novel trying to prevent a murder rather than solve a murder. I actually figured out part of the mystery before the big reveal, which doesn't always happen for me with Poirot novels, because so often critical clues are kept from the reader. In any case, highly recommended for mystery fans, perhaps for everyone else, too.

I read the first few Dresden Files books several years back and generally enjoyed them, but not enough to actively track down the rest of the series. Then this one fell in my lap. So despite skipping a few books, I read this one anyway. I can tell I missed some interesting stories, but I didn't really need to read them all to understand the basic status quo of the continuing subplots or follow the main plot here. Basically, Dresden gets called in to protect the actors & crew of a movie who are being supernaturally killed one by one, only to discover that the movie is pr0n and the industry is run by "White Court" vampires who live on emotions rather than blood. Interesting setup, decent execution. Still likeable, still recommended, but I still didn't like it enough to feel any compulsion to read any others; if any happen across my path, I will, but I won't go out of my way to track them down.

I've started reading The Wizard of Oz books to LE, and naturally started at the beginning. This is the only one we've finished so far. She liked it a lot, though it's still just a bit above her comprehension level, so a lot of the jokes go over her head & she takes the surrealism in stride as just something else weird or silly or not understandable. After we were done, we showed her the movie for the first time--I wanted to make sure her very first experience with Oz was with the books rather than the movie. She liked that, too, but I think she liked the book more. I was a little bit surprised at the amount of both out & out violence and surreal fantasy that I didn't remember there being in this volume, but I think it's fairly typical for "children's" books of its time & place, and doesn't detract as much as it might. Anyone who hasn't actually read the original book definitely should--especially an edition that uses colored ink lines for the original illustrations.



Feudalism: Serf & Turf
Tags: books, reviews
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