Print Story RTW 2008-2009 book list
By MillMan (Thu Oct 08, 2009 at 09:36:03 AM EST) (all tags)
Some good, some bad, sometimes Kundera is all the bookstore in Rishikesh India has that's worth reading.

  1. Parable of the Sower - Octavia Butler I started this before I left, and it matched my apocalyptic mood at the time. I can hardly remember that person now.
  2. Galactic North - Alastair Reynolds Good enough that I went in for most of the rest of his work.
  3. Alan Watts - Joyous cosmology hehe, shroom trips.
  4. 11 minutes - Paulo Cohelo Read this in two hours on a couch in Christchurch. Not sure why I'd read a book about a woman experimenting with her sexuality written by a man, but there you go.
  5. Down Under- Bill Bryson Read this and you'll know more about Australia than 95% of Australians. I'm not kidding. I gave history lessons to locals while there.
  6. The Historian - Elizabeth Kostova A gothy librarianesque friend from my past recommended this and, well, it's about librarians going after Dracula. So yeah.
  7. [memoir of an aborigine, can't remember title/author]
  8. Revelation Space - Alastair Reynolds
  9. Shantaram - David Gregory Roberts The most commonly seen book in people's backpacks on this trip. People would not shut up about how good this book is. It's decent, but it's 300 pages too long. The author has the kind of mind that doesn't know when to lay down and die when the universe keeps telling it to do so, repeatedly, and the ultra-judgmental, poorly self-reflected personality that goes with that becomes extremely grating.
  10. Redemption Arc - Alastair Reynolds
  11. A fine balance - Rohinton Mistry I read this while I was still in Australia, long before I got to India where it is based. It provided some depth to the people you see on the street in India as unless you settle in for some volunteer work you won't get their story. A very well written characters-as-Indian-archetypes book.
  12. Absolution Gap - Alastair Reynolds By far his worst book - it's beyond deus-ex-machina bad - this book didn't even have an ending.
  13. Hello my big big honey - Dave Walker and Richard S. Ehrlich While in Bangkok I decided to by this book instead of a hooker.
  14. Seven years in tibet - Heinrich Harrer Proving that some "backpackers" are qualitative orders of magnitude more badass than me, but who wants to go x years without sex?
  15. Bit of a blur - Alex James I don't even like Blur but I needed something to read on the beach and this was the best of the 10 books sitting in the hotel lobby. Good beach read at any rate, just the usual rock star story. Most of it jived with my "brain in a serotonin bath" thing I had going on at the time too.
  16. Open Secrets - Alice Munro Best short story author alive.
  17. The Namesake - Jhumpa Lahiri Speaking of that, this was decent but Jhumpa should stick to short stories.
  18. Last Evenings on Earth - Roberto Bolono A book about failed poets that I found at the hostel in Chiang Mai. Why I even read this I'm not sure.
  19. The Pol Pot Regime - Ben Kiernan As fun as it sounds, with bonus trauma from the "please by this photocopied book for $2 about my country's horrifying history so I can eat tonight." Ugh. Ugh.
  20. The Girl in the Picture - Denise Chong I knew nothing about the social conditions in Vietnam before, during, or after the war, and this book paints a very good picture.
  21. The Return of Depression Economics - Paul Krugman Well, after Cambodia I couldn't just jump back into happy books.
  22. A Short History of Nearly Everything - Bill Bryson Found that I already knew most of what was in here.
  23. Tokyo Cancelled - Rana Dasgupta The biggest out-of-nowhere book surprise of the trip. I loved this.
  24. Kafka on the Shore - Haruki Murakami Good, nothing life altering. It's Murakami.
  25. On the Road: The Original Scroll - Jack Karouac Read this in Goa. Had I read it later in the trip I wouldn't have enjoyed it, but as it was I understood exactly what he was he was trying to accomplish for himself. I don't go for "kicks" by pursing the chaos like he does, but if you could have read out my brain as a narrative at the time, this is what would have come out.
  26. Pushing Ice - Alastair Reynolds
  27. Musicophilia - Oliver Sacks Conveyed surprisingly little knowledge, IMO. I've read sever pop-sci neuroscience texts and found I already knew most of what he was talking about.
  28. Testaments Betrayed - Milan Kundera Enjoyable for a few money quotes.
  29. This Is It - Alan Watts Wish I had known of him when I was 22 - it would have added so much nuance and new narratives during a time when I was converting from the Christianity I was raised with to the atheist that I am.
  30. Meditation - Eknath Easwaran Bleh. Writing about mediation is even more worthless that writing about music.
  31. Becoming Enlightened - Dalai Lama While reading this I realized I've already got what I'm going to get from Herr Lama. I either learn meditation or drop it.
  32. Behold the Spirit - Alan Watts The only spiritually important book I read while at the Ashram (I read the previous six books while I was there as well). The first book to blow my mind in some time as it contains a lot of insights into the limitations and peculiarities of monotheistic religions that I hadn't picked up elsewhere, and berates protestantism for it's complete lack of spirituality (my sister and I, growing up in such a church, had a long talk about this on the bus from Munich to Berlin). I wonder if there is anyone like Watts out there today - I doubt it. Who can actually write about spirituality? All I find are brain dead modern American Christian books, books that try to reconcile science with religion that aren't even wrong, atheist treatises which I'm glad exist but by their subject wouldn't get into spirituality anyway, and new age crap that does little more than take Christian mythology and replaces "god" with "universe."
  33. Laughable Loves - Milan Kundera I was more in the mood for Roald Dahl's take on sexuality than Kundera's philosophy of sex disguised as fiction.
  34. After Dark - Haruki Murakami Again, it's Murakami.
  35. India After Gandhi - Ramchandra Guha Absolutely outstanding. If you want to read about India's history since independence, buy this now.
  36. Siddhartha - Hermann Hesse Couldn't decide what to buy at the bookstore in Delhi and came away with this. Eh, it was ok.
  37. Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez After 70 pages I thought this was going to be a 19th century English chastity fantasy; thankfully it was not.
  38. Snow - Orhan Pamuk One of those books where I'm not sure if I missed most of the message or if the message isn't as complicated as I had assumed. Superficially the city of Kars (in Eastern Turkey) today does not match the description of it in the book; I wouldn't call it a thriving town but it didn't feel like the dead city described in the book (of course summer vs. winter helps, and according to someone I met there the town is in far better shape than it was even a few years ago). Much of eastern Turkey is unexpected in a similar way - the cities look fairly modern, but the culture sits in the far past. In all the other countries I visited the physical appearance of the cities and their inhabitants mapped onto the culture I experienced quite well. The only other exception I can think of is Delhi swinging a bit in the other direction - being a bit more culturally modern than it would physically appear.
  39. Osman's Dream - Caroline Kinkel A dry history of the Ottoman empire. I'm not sure how I forced myself through this one.
  40. Consider the Lobster - David Foster Wallace A collection of what I think are mostly feature length magazine articles. Wasn't excited by any of them.
  41. Medici Money - Tim Parks If nothing else - confirms most Italian stereotypes. The tragi-comical pointlessness of war and the all consuming corruption of the Catholic church are on full display. I think the Italians of that day really needed some hobbies.
  42. Philosophy and Social Hope - Richard Rorty Turns out I'm a pragmatist and didn't know it, and sorta-by-extension a relativist. Thank dog people like Rorty are around - since the concept of truth is tossed by pragmatism, the philosophical table clearing that comes with it attracts every weak willed academic to project their little middle class fears and self-loathings (insert MNS rant here) onto "reality," giving the whole concept a terrible name. I love how Rorty defines it, as it makes intuitive sense to someone like me trained as an engineer.
  43. The Master and Margarita - Mikhail Bulgakov You know - I think this is the first book by a Russian author I've ever completed.
  44. Accelerondo - Charles Stross Really, really enjoyed this.
  45. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer I read this to scrub my brain after reading half of a book by the most self-loathing author I've ever come across, a guy who should have killed himself years ago. I've already erased the name of the author and the book from my mind. All I can remember is that he's French.
  46. Nocturnes - Kazuo Ishiguro Meh, I'm not going to bother with him again. He's vastly overrated.
  47. A.L. Kennedy - Looking for the Possible Dance A book about someone learning to live, coming from a culture that does not encourage such. Fits with one of the themes of my trip.
< Talk like a pirate that ain't got a brain in his head | We can work it out. >
RTW 2008-2009 book list | 17 comments (17 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Ah by Gedvondur (2.00 / 0) #1 Thu Oct 08, 2009 at 10:18:44 AM EST
You read Revelation Space.

Were any of the follow up books any good?  I was disappointed in Revelation Space.


"...I almost puked like a pregnant StackyMcRacky." --MillMan
I liked revelation space by MillMan (4.00 / 1) #3 Thu Oct 08, 2009 at 10:48:47 AM EST
as much as all his other books excluding absolution gap as I noted. All his books have a very similar feel, so I wouldn't bother with his other stuff.

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

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I have all of his by Herring (2.00 / 0) #11 Thu Oct 08, 2009 at 05:58:30 PM EST
Absolution Gap was the only one I really hated. The Prefect is very good as is Chasm City.

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

[ Parent ]
Absolution Gap and Dalai Lama by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #2 Thu Oct 08, 2009 at 10:33:43 AM EST
I absolutely hated the ending of Absolution Gap.  Most irritating trilogy ender ever.  Fortunately, I'd read enough Reynolds before to not be put off him for good.

I read another book by the Dalai Lama recently on a similar theme.  I forget which one.  "Learning who you really are" or something.  It was interesting, but half-way through I came to the conclusion that with his brand of Buddhism it is either all-in or there's no point.  Since I'm not near willing to go all-in, I'm sticking to other brands of Eastern Mysticism.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

that's a good list. by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #4 Thu Oct 08, 2009 at 11:10:04 AM EST
Who can actually write about spirituality?

Not I; every time I try it either comes out banal or flaky.

I'm neither a goth nor a librarian, but I very much liked the historian; the way the plot was interleaved and laid out was, I thought, extremely well done.

I've found myself disappointed by the one Pamuk i've tried to read; there was something about it which just didn't gel for me.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

spirituality and Pamuk by MillMan (2.00 / 0) #7 Thu Oct 08, 2009 at 03:05:29 PM EST
I think like many topics spirituality isn't something that goes into language easily, if at all. To be honest I'm not entirely sure what spirituality even means.

I tried reading my Name is Red by Pamuk a few years ago, absolutely hated it, and tossed it after 100 pages. A Canadian guy I met in Turkey recommended Snow and added that he though My Name is Red was crap as well. Had he not added that I wouldn't have bothered with Snow.

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

[ Parent ]
My Name is Red by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #10 Thu Oct 08, 2009 at 03:39:53 PM EST
is the one I tried. I'm glad to know i'm not alone in my detestation.

If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.
[ Parent ]
Nice list by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #5 Thu Oct 08, 2009 at 12:41:28 PM EST
I've had "The Master and Margarita" sitting on my stack for a while, but still haven't summoned up the nerve to start it.
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
It was a good read by MillMan (4.00 / 1) #8 Thu Oct 08, 2009 at 03:08:27 PM EST
I like dark Russian humor.

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

[ Parent ]
You don't buy hookers, dummy. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #6 Thu Oct 08, 2009 at 02:26:36 PM EST
You *rent* them. When you buy them, it's called "marriage".

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

You're a bad man by littlestar (4.00 / 1) #9 Thu Oct 08, 2009 at 03:29:06 PM EST
who consistently makes me laugh. If you were here I would hit you while giggling while other women shot me increasingly dirtier looks.


[ Parent ]
I totally want to toke up with yuo. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #13 Fri Oct 09, 2009 at 12:38:45 AM EST
Yeah, my lawn - GET ORFVIT!!

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
otherwise by dev trash (2.00 / 0) #12 Thu Oct 08, 2009 at 08:06:51 PM EST
How did you like Guernsey?

I enjoyed it by MillMan (2.00 / 0) #14 Fri Oct 09, 2009 at 01:55:47 PM EST
not my usual book by any means - it was written by a 70 year old woman and for that same demographic.

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

[ Parent ]
co written by dev trash (2.00 / 0) #15 Sat Oct 10, 2009 at 11:31:10 AM EST
Although I am not entirely sure why the coauthor was brought on board.

[ Parent ]
the primary author by MillMan (2.00 / 0) #16 Sat Oct 10, 2009 at 08:23:38 PM EST
died before the book was finished.

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

[ Parent ]
hmmmm by dev trash (2.00 / 0) #17 Sat Oct 10, 2009 at 09:45:04 PM EST

[ Parent ]
RTW 2008-2009 book list | 17 comments (17 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback