Posts in Category: Fun Reads

My Reading list

Just a quick note because I published it as a page..

I’ve posted my complete reading list over the past few years (well not quite complete but whatever I can remember) over at my blog – The Reading List 2010

Go over, tell me what you like, what you dislike, suggest books for me to read..

My Terry Pratchett Obsession, Reading and TV

(Warning: A lot of links in this post. Proceed at the peril of your own time. Or someone else’s if that rocks your boat ;-) )

So I finished Jingo, book 21 of the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. It’s my 3rd book in from the series in 2 weeks (Pyramids and Unseen Academicals. I am not reading the series in any particular order but then they only vaguely refer to previous books so it’s not a big deal). So yeah, I’m sort of obsessed with Discworld. The series combine two of my favourite genres of stories: Humour and Fantasy. Well I like SF too but it’s been so long since I read SF that it’s been long. So yeah.. But I digress.

Anyway, the best part about the Discworld series is the combination of real world issues with an astonishing blend of humour and poignancy. The humour, in many cases is straightforward but on so many occasions, it just creeps up on you and you’re like, hah, that’s so funny. And then the subtle underlying message hits you that you do a double take.

In addition to reading, I’ve also been trying to watch some TV shows. Primarily The Big Bang Theory which is a brilliant comedy sitcom by the makers of Two and a Half Men. It’s about a bunch of scientists and a cute blonde who is their neighbour. The “scientists” are hardcore nerds and the many of the episodes are themed on “nerdy” concepts. I get a lot of the nerdy jokes and can’t decide if that is a good thing or a bad, I mean with many folks considering me to be a nerd on first meeting (I don’t think I am a nerd because I’m not intelligent enough :-( )

Coming back to reading, I have a huge pile of books left to read (sadly no Discworlds left), a lot of them from Devanshi, and a lot others that I’ve been picking up obsessively but haven’t gotten round to reading. The problem, as I see it is, that whenever I look at a book I want to read, I just want to read another Discworld book and that just evaporates my mood to read. So now I’ve decided, no more Discworld (I plan to eventually own all the Discworld books) until I reduce the unread pile by at least a significant amount (let’s see how long this “resolution lasts.. Hah). Oh and I need to buy a couple of books:

(The second before I watch the movie with the lovely Rachel McAdams)
I think I should dedicate a shelf in my bookcase to all the unread books and then finish them off one by one. An upcoming trip should provide sometime for reading two of the books. Perhaps I’ll also make a list of all the pending books in a next post.

Lastly, I’ve been vaguely following all the iPad hype and thought it would be nice to have one to read my comics (electronic format obviously) but then thought it might not be so nice because of a few reasons:

  • Too expensive
  • Probably does not support CDisplay
  • It’s still the first version so will have a lot of limitations/bugs
  • It’s ecosystem is too closed for comfort or usage
  • It’s too expensive

Well, that’s a long post. Long by recent standards so I’ll close this now. More coming later.

Ps. Yes, I use a lot of parenthesis.

Mr. Penumbra’s Twenty-Four-Hour Book Store – A short story

Read a trippy short story recently – Mr. Penumbra’s Twenty-Four-Hour Book Store. It is a short science fiction-fantasy about, hmm, Books :D

The story is written in a nice easy style at a good pace. It features takes on the recession, layoffs, google and other topics with a hint of geek romance thrown in..

The story is pretty nice story but I disliked the evangelizing of Google. Except for the part extolling Google, the story was good and different.

Book Review: The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps, Edited by Otto Penzler

During the Great Depression, many authors wrote stories at a penny a word to make ends meet. Some of these authors wrote up to a million words a year, usually in the form of detective stories, mysteries and thrillers. A lot of these stories, featuring smart, cynical but brave detectives, were first printed in the wildly popular fiction magazines of the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s such as Black Mask, Dime Detective, Gangster Stories, and Gun Molls, printed on incredibly cheap pulp paper and were the medium for popular stories during the period between the world wars, through the great depression. This was the start of the fiction genre known as Pulp fiction

With the popularity of comics, cheap paperback novels, radio and television, the popularity of pulp magazines declined, eventually shutting many of them down for good, and thus depriving many of our generation of the guilty pleasure of this writing style. Yes guilty pleasure since the rate at which the authors churned out these stories did not allow them to write elegant prose or proofread and rewrite these stories. In a way, this actually established the form and style of writing, making them more gritty and identifiable with the populace in a period when earning a livelihood was tough and money was short.

The decline of the pulp magazines however, has not entirely deprived us of this genre of fiction. The Black Lizard has released a huge compendium of pulp stories collected in a single anthology called The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps. Edited by Otto Penzler, one of the most authoritative sources on pulp fiction, owner of The Mysterious Bookshop in New York City, the book is telephone directory sized tome at over 1,000 pages contains 52 crime stories from the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s with their original artwork and also features two full novels. The book is printed in the two-column format as the old magazines were printed. Penzler provides the foreword to the book and has written notes before each of the stories, usually about the author and his other works.

Featured in this book are some of the best stories and every major writer who ever appeared in the popular pulp magazines of the time. The book contains three stories by Raymond Chandler, Cornell Woolrich, Erle Stanley Gardner, and Dashiell Hammett, the masters of the pulp genre and many other lesser-known authors of the time. The featured novels are by Carroll John Daly, the man who invented the hard-boiled detective, and Fredrick Nebel. These are the classic tales that created the pulp fiction genre and started the trend of the hard-boiled detectives.

However, the stories are not collected by authors but are instead divided into three sections – Crime Fighters, Villains, and Dames with the stories in each section following that theme. The Crime Fighters are the quintessential cynical, honest hard-boiled detectives who are either saving a damsel in distress or setting right wrongs perpetrated on the innocent. These detectives were so popular that they became iconic thanks to this genre. Some of the characters include Sam Spade, Captain Jerry Frost of the Texas Air Rangers, Phillipe Marlowe and others. The Villains section is interesting because many of the stories featured Robin Hood’esque characters who stole from the rich and gave to the poor. There were exceptions of course, like the unrepentant sociopath teenager in “You’ll always remember me” or the precious stone smugglers from The Monkey Murder.

In the age when these stories were written, there were not many women (outside of the movies) who accomplished a lot in the public eye. And this is reflected in these stories. The women in pulp fiction were usually secretaries, damsels in distress or in many cases, femme fatale on the arms of a crime boss. But a good many stories featured them in the role of the protagonist who used their beauty and brains to solve crime and save the day.

For pulp fiction fans, this book is a collector’s edition. While not all stories are great (or equally good to the others) the vast collection will ensure that almost all fans will find a lot to enjoy the book. Each of the stories are prefaced by Penzler’s editorial notes; especially helpful in putting the author, the stories and the heroes in perspective as well as serving as a background for readers who have not read pulp stories before. A highly recommended book for entertainment for many a days, this collectors edition is a must have.

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Book Review: Crecent Garden

Crescent Garden is written by Christopher Love and is the first book published by Evermore Books. As the tag line says, “A novel of New Orleans, the book is set entirely in New Orleans. Love creates a very tightly written book with the story taking place over 3 days just before Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

The story has is focussed on supernatural “powers” gained by the main characters of the book, Malcolm Stance and Ridley Trumball as a result of an accident during their childhood. Malcolm finds out that Ridley is about to be murdered and sets out on a mission to save Ridley from a gruesome death. In trying this, he must first locate Ridley who he thinks resides or at least works in the French Quarter of New Orleans. During Malcolm’s search, he comes across a variety of characters, experiences New Orleans as the city prepares for the big Mardi Gras weekend.

And during all this, Malcolm must try and forget his ex-girlfriend who cheated on him but now wants to get back with him, bringing back a lot of pain and angst within him.

The story is very well written and the city is described beautifully. But what I liked most was the development of the characters, the pain Malcolm feels whenever he talks to his ex-girlfriend, when he longs for her but knows he does not want her back in her life. The dislike for Ridley when he spurns Malcolm’s help because he fears the power they both share.

The best part is in the end, the climax of the book. It pretty much blew me away. Now I’ve read a good number of thrillers, mystery novels and am fairly good in predicting either the “perpetrator”, the next move of the lead character or the ending of the story but in this, I was taken by a surprise. And really nice twist in the end.

On the whole, the book is a pretty good read and Evermore Books have chosen a very good launch for both the writer and their publishing house.

MacBook Air Comparison

Well the MacBook Air has been released by Apple. I think it is a beautiful machine but the specifications of the system sucks. And it’s freaking expensive. I know I wont be getting it anytime ;)

However, I came across an awesome pic which does a feature comparison of the MacBook Air to one of the most popular computers in the history of computing. No surprises that the Air comes out on top. I will let you decide for yourself though ;)