What I’ve been reading

by on July 23, 2009 at 7:37 am in Books | Permalink

1. Genesis, by Bernard Beckett.  A dystopia by a Kiwi author who writes (broadly) in the style of Margaret Atwood.  My complaint that it was too short is one of the better complaints you can have about a book.

2. Calvin, by F. Bruce Gordon.  This excellent biography brings French Renaissance theology to life.  Recommended.

3. Bangkok Days, by Lawrence Osborne.  Books on this topic are tricky because they have a tendency to exploit cheap salaciousness but this one is quite good and also conceptual in nature.  It prompted me to order more books by the author.

4. The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science, by Richard Holmes.  It's a well-written book with a great cover, a nice title, favorable reviews everywhere, and good information on each page.  Still, I don't quite see what it all adds up to.  But if you're inclined to read it, I don't see any reason not to.

5. The Generalissimo: Chiang-Kai-Shek and the Struggle for Modern China, by Jay Taylor.  A new and apparently exhaustive biography, based on many new sources.  The first fifty pages (all I've read so far) read very well.  I am told that Chiang was "incorruptible" — who would have known?  "Brutal, but underrated" seems to be the takeaway.  This could well be one of the more important non-fiction books of the year.

Fabio Rojas July 23, 2009 at 7:46 am

I too read Genesis. I enjoyed reading it, but it felt too “M Night Shamylan” for me (twist ending). Though fluidly written, I felt the history exam format was a bit of a sci fi crutch. Perhaps some length would have helped, to embed the history in the larger story.

RW Rogers July 23, 2009 at 9:03 am

Chiang may have been incorruptible but rumor has it his wife was not. Anyway, thanks for the book tip. I’ll add it to the list.

Douglas Knight July 23, 2009 at 2:07 pm

“Incorruptible” is a great euphemism for “corrupt.” It’s not like he got worse over his career.

Allison July 23, 2009 at 11:45 pm

But if you’re inclined to read it, I don’t see any reason not to.

Because you’ve forgotten what opportunity cost is? Odd, that.

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