Too Many Books

What a wonderful problem, neh? In this case, it isn’t the books I own, nor the books I have yet to read, but the books I have already read since the beginning of the year. What with having a brand-new baby in the house, I haven’t had time for blogging like I did before, so I haven’t posted any reviews of books at all yet this year. At this point, I choose not to go back and do all the new books individually because 22 of the 30 I’ve read so far were new to me.

Tawny Man Trilogy: She kinda took it in a weird direction. Not enamoured with how it all got wrapped up and the plot thread about the dragons seemed to be a little heavy-handed in her intent that we should learn a lesson applicable to our own world. Maybe it was just me when it comes to the dragons, but I was not impressed overall. For having a main character who is an assassin trained since youth, he makes an awful lot of mistakes both professionally and in his personal life.

Persepolis 1 & 2: I don’t know that I would agree with the author on much of substance, be it politics, religion or what-have you, but they were an interesting look into world of the Islamic revolution in Iran and the travails of girl caught up in it all.

Liveship Traders Trilogy: Not that great either. Now that I’ve read nine of Hobb’s books, I don’t think I’ll be reading any more. The first trilogy, which I read last year, was mediocre, but these last couple trilogies have been worse. The characters are insipid, the plot is clever though dragged out far too long and the resolution (once we finally get there) is rushed and unsatisfying.

Baseball Between the Numbers: Interesting, but a bit too much of a “Rah! Rah! Sabermetrics!” book for my taste. Perhaps I just haven’t read the right essays, or lack a proper understanding of statistics, but a lot of the measures that rely on Casper the Friendly “Replacement Player” seem a bit too speculative to me to be relied upon as heavily as they are. Generic everymen are useful for dealing with large numbers of people, to be sure, but with baseball teams (especially of recent years) the statistics are available for real minor leaguers and the pool of actually available players might ought to be more relied upon than some non-existent average that may be better or worse than the players actually available to a team. Granted, it would be difficult to take into account players for which the team could trade, but I think it would still be more useful. A good read overall for anyone interested in baseball.

Ring of Words: A fun little book that looks at the unusual words that Tolkien used in his works as well as his time working on the Oxford English Dictionary. Some of the words are ones which he concocted himself, to which he gave new meanings or modified from other already existing words. There are lots of details such as his preference for “leprawn” for “leprechaun” and such-like. Short (only a couple hundred pages) but informative and entertaining.

Garfield biography: Now this was a short book (139 pages including Epilogue) and it zoomed right through his early life and career to spend over a third of the book on the aftermath of the assassination attempt. I was a bit surprised by this until I read the author notes on the back flap. It turns out that the author is a medical doctor, so it makes sense that he would be interested in the treatment that Garfield received after he was shot. Interestingly, Garfield’s assassin contended at trial that he could not be convicted of murdering the president since Garfield lived on for more than two months and because the doctors confidently announced that Garfield would recover throughout that time. Needless to say, it didn’t work and he was hanged.

Samurai Executioner series: By the same folks that brought us Lone Wolf and Cub, this is a shorter series about a character that appears in one of the Lone Wolf stories. Yamada Asaemon is the Shogun’s sword tester and executioner for commoners. (The hero of Lone Wolf and Cub, Ogami Itto, was the executioner for samurai.) Most of the stories deal less with Asaemon than with the people he encounters; their stories are what are featured most prominently. Asaemon is presented in a similar fashion to Itto as a samurai almost without flaw. He never fails to have a solution to a problem or be unable or unwilling to overcome any difficulty. The stories themselves were about equally violent when compared with Lone Wolf and Cub, though there was more gratuitous sexuality and the books lacked an overall story arc to tie them together. Not worth buying, I don’t think, and only worth reading for the dedicated manga fan.

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