Books of the summer 2006

30.07.2006Books
  • Nick Hornby – A long way down
  • There`s something about Nick. It`s either his humor, his way of getting the colors out of the most bleak matter on the planet or both. A long way down tells a story about a group of people that decides to end it all…and then change their mind when they end up on the same roof-top, pearing into the abyss. A washed-out rock star, a punk teen, an abandoned mother and a pedophile tell their stories and then start making up excuses to live on. And fight another day. Nick manages to avoid the major stereotypes about the greatness of life and delivers another
    good summer read.

    Rating: 4/5

  • Ryszard Kapuscinski – Ebony
  • Africa. Often perceived as one country, it`s actually bursting with diversity. Ryszard describes his professional involvement with Africa, covering every major african conflict for a polish newspaper. He writes about his passion for the dark continent, its people and customs. He is a bystander, only describing what he sees and does not try to make any sense of it. From dictators to famine, from famine to draught, from life to death. From dawn till dusk.

    Rating: 4/5

  • Michael Strangelove – The empire of mind
  • Is the web shrinking or expanding? Is the Net being ripped apart by corporations or being sown together by people who care? The book deals with the phenomenon of online piracy, grass-root media and the way the non-corporate is beating the shit out the corporate world. How information technology is enabling people to become not only a passive observer but an active participant in the shaping of tomorrow. Blogging not important? Hah!

    Rating: 5/5

  • Christopher Brookmyre – All fun and games until someone loses an eye
  • Pop-action. Mixing comedy and action sequences, the author aims for the top, but misses. The book tells a story about a secret agency on the hunt. It also tells a story of a bored housewife who wants to live it up, but does not get the chance. Until she runs into them. Not as good as Hornby, but still manages to keep the reader entertained for an hour. Just don`t expect too much.

    Rating: 3/5

  • Donald Powell Wilson – My six convicts
  • This book is funny. It deals with writtings of a psyhcologist who spent three years in the Leavenworth Penitentiary, cooperating with convicts while writing a research paper on drug abuse in prisons. The thing that makes it funny is the translation. In 1961 when the book was published, the slovene language had a serious vocabulary deficit. Which shows in the book as terms like lie detector are copied and then explained in length in several footnotes. Fairly amusing.

    Rating: 3/5

  • Jack Kerley – The hundreth man
  • Another pop-corn. This one inspired by The silence of the lambs. It seems to me that Jack did not listen to Thomas very well and just got the basics. A psycho…check. A detective…check. Mhm, a plot…check. The whole thing feels like a Harris novel, but in reality falls short from getting there. Even the title is explained in only one short paragraph and does not mean anything plot-related. All in all, a fair summer read, nothing too shocking and worth remembering.

    Rating: 4/5

  • Frederic Beigbeder – Windows on the world
  • This turned out to be the diamond in the rough. When I picked it up, I thought “Another one of the 9-11 books…sheesh!“. Baya read it first and cried. And laughed. On almost the same page. Now this I had to see.

    The story is told by two characters. One is the author himself and another is a character that is trapped with his two kids in the Twin towers on the 9-11. The two story-tellers talk to each other as parallels are drawn between the Twin towers in NY and Tour Montparnasse, the tallest building in Paris. I saw it as an extremely dark humour-ish, a book that deals with death in a whole different way than Hornby and his suicidal pact.

    Rating: 5/5

  • Paulo Lins – City of god
  • Interesting, yet hard to read. Mostly because of the language. The story that was made into a movie tells a story of the City of god, a favela and couple of kids that are trying to survive in it. But this is no Peter Pan story. These kids all pack guns, deal drugs and try to outlast each other. The stories revolving this pack of rats are interesting enough, the only flaw is the poor translation.

    Rating: 5/5

  • Vladimir Nabokov – Lolita
  • What Emanuelle has too much, this book lacks. Maybe it`s a mistake, comparing those two together, but I could not shake the feeling that I was reading a PG-13 version of Emanuelle while in fact I was reading Lolita. The story is known and there is not much to say expect for the fact that the author is great at painstakingly develop a meaningless story. Is this love? Who is hitting on who? Oh, the mystery of it all!

    Rating: 3/5

  • Nasrin Alavi – We are Iran (the persian blogs)
  • Blogs in a theocratic country are always a bad idea. Which does not mean that stops people from “doing it”. Blogs in Iran are more than just egobooster for the young and the restless. The book is great detailing the development of the iranian blogosphere and at the same time offers some of the milestones that changed the country. In many cases, for the worst. Politics, culture, business… it all reflects in the blogs, which is one of the best examples on how the blogs can affect the life of a country. And not just contribute to one`s ego.

    Rating: 5/5

  • R. Scott Hall – The blog ahead
  • Blogging as a social phenomenon in the modern society. A blog is a conversation, executed between the bloggers and their readers. What`s more, blogs are turning more and more into a people-generated media, with their news and reports updating a thousand times faster than those of the mainstream media. What are the companies doing to overtake blogging? Incorporate it? Is there a way to escape the blog?

    Rating: 5/5

  • Marina Lwycka – A short history of tractors in Ukranian
  • I bought this book based solely on its title. Come on, you gotta love it. It tells a story of an aging man, his half-of-his-age mistress and two daughters desperatly trying to save the poor guy from her clutches. Of course, the mistress fights back just as fiercely and just as dirty and in the end…

    A classic comedy with lots of twists.

    Rating: 5/5

  • David Kline, Dan Burstein – Blog!
  • Two journalists on the search for truth and knowledge. What makes a great blog great? What area of our daily lives have blogs already impacted and which are the ones that the blog hasn`s struck yet? The book is comprised of essays and interviews and it makes an interesting insight in the world of blogging from a blogger point of view. Although a little less technical than A Blog Ahead it`s still useful and fairly interesting.

    Rating: 4/5

  • P.J Tracy Trilogy (Wanna play? + Live Bait + Dead Run)
  • Not the best crime stories that passed my hands. It`s a series, with the same people solving different crimes. The first one deals with a software developing company that puts out a crime game which then serves as a pattern for a serial killer. The second one tracks our dynamic quintet as they deal with their past and the third one puts them in the middle of the big scale conspiracy. The thing that bothered me most is that the writers (daughter-mother duo) did not do their homework and manage to publish quite a few factual errors about computers, the way the web works and alikes. Which in turn kills the book and the authenticity. And despite the fact that the authors are trying to convince us of the authenticity of the characters by throwing in “real-life” problems and situations, the trio is still a poor job.

    Rating: 2.5/5 average

  • Stephen King – Firestarter
  • Classic 1st period King. You got your good guy, bad guy, a secret and a revelation. Girl with pyrokinetic abilities that is running away from a secret agency. All hell breaks loose. The end. A good read.

    Rating: 5/5

  • Stephen King – On writing

  • The master`s biography mixed into writing tips. The “behind the scene” book about the King`s opus. Interesting read about how to get something done.

    Rating: 4/5