I had quite a productive month reading.
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
Faithful readers may recall that my wife and I started a tradition that we would choose a book for each other in March. I lost a bet and got two books, but it was just as well. Of course this novel was long enough that I did not complete it until early April.
The Pillars of the Earth was a pleasant read. The first aspect which appealed to me was the setting. I really found the medieval England portrayed in the novel compelling. Reading about a totally different time and place can be quite thought-provoking.
But the real showcase is the cast of characters. Follett creates a lot of interesting and relatable characters. Prior Philip, Tom Builder, Ellen, Aliena, and Jack are all lovable in their own ways. And you love to hate the antagonists. Add in a good plot and some fascinating bits about historical architecture, and you’ve got a great read. Recommended.
- Scientific American March 2012 – Julian Dibbell reports on the developments of decentralized mesh networks. This article does a great job pointing out how the current access to the internet via ISPs betrays the intended “web” architecture. Mesh networking is seeking to correct that structural flaw.
- Harper’s April 2012 – Charles Glass writes a fascinating (and at times disturbing) report of the “private security” industry.
- Biblical Archaeology Review July August 2011 – I have gotten quite behind on this periodical. Luckily they are fairly short reads and there are not many issues a year. I’ve resolved to read one a month. As usual, this issues had some great articles and pictures.
- Tin House #51 – I am still so pleased with this subscription. A lot of great stories and essays in this one. I particularly enjoyed the interview with Robert Krulwich and Jab Abumrad from Radiolab.
- Harper’s May 2012 – I found the report on “The Decline and Fall of Public Housing” by Ben Austen to be really interesting. Growing up in Portland I did not know much about it.
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
I should be somewhat ashamed as a sci-fi fan that I had never read this novel. It is a classic, and for good reason. The premise is awesome, the characters and plot are superb. There is also the minor fact that Card seems to have made some strikingly accurate predictions about the future of technology and gaming.
As in The Worthing Saga, it seems Card intends the novel to make the reader think. It worked for me, and I found my mind returning to the closing action of the novel throughout the days after I finished it. I think some people may think the end is a bit of a curve ball, but I found it to be vintage Card. Recommended.