- Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883
- Publisher: Harper Perennial
- Year: 2005
- Pages: 464
I’ve been familiar with Simon Winchester only for his two books about the Oxford English Dictionary, namely The Professor and the Madman and The Meaning of Everything. I’d made the lazy assumption that Winchester major field of interest was, therefore, dictionaries and language in general. It wasn’t until I picked up Krakatoa that I noticed his bibliography is not only voluminous, but multifarious as well, spanning people, major events, and obviously major publications.
- Salt: A World History
- Publisher: Penguin
- Year: 2003
- Pages: 498
The proposition to create a whole book about what appears a simple and straightforward substance may seem rather daunting. Certainly, one expects that salt could provide a number of amusing or amazing anecdotes, but 500 pages worth? In Kurlansky’s defense, he manages to tell a tale more full-figured than a smattering of interesting errata, but I can’t help but feel as though there was at least 75 pages worth of fluff.
- Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Boxset
- Publisher: Oni Press
- Year: 2010
- Pages: 1208
I should disclose right away that prior to the 2010 film Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, I had never heard of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s superlative graphic novel(s). The only reason I watched it, in fact, was a combination of my friends’ rave reviews (despite lackluster box office performance) and the fact that I absolute adore directory Edgar Wright’s previous films. My reaction to the film was positive and visceral, as it seems to hit all the right stylistic notes, and of course its contents were a geekfest of epic proportions.
- The Magician King
- Publisher: Viking
- Year: 2011
- Pages: 416
When I reviewed The Magicians last year, I noted that, despite my mixed feelings for Lev Grossman, which includes an outright antipathy for his notions of good storytelling, I was nonetheless impressed by the novelty of what he’d accomplished with his new novel. Almost an anti-bildungsroman, it took every good aspect of magical tales and flushed them down the toilet—ostensibly as a creative way of writing the general malaise that affects the unambitious or ambivalent.
- How To Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe
- Publisher: Pantheon
- Year: 2010
- Pages: 256
The father-son dynamic in books is old as books themselves, and done with varying levels of success. From the rolls of my own little book meme, I can cite Egolf’s Lord of the Barnyard, Cave’s The Death of Bunny Munro, and McCarthy’s The Road. What makes this dynamic so powerful is that while it appears to be an ancient and simple sort of narrative thread, it turns out to be much more complicated and nuanced than we ultimately expect.
How To Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe is a quirky late-bloomer bildungsroman masquerading as a science fiction novel in the vein of Douglas Adams. With respect to this latter point, the influence is obvious.