Looking back through my archives I discovered a neat little writing-theme idea (from about four years back) that I never really followed through on: two line reviews of books. Quick and to the point: just two sentences. And, as I wrote before… the reading list fluxes as if it were written on the bellows of an old accordion, and I find I need to devote some blog space to the manifestation of my own personal opinion. I’ve just recently read:
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Jumping on the bandwagon and downloading my very own Kindle copy of this quick-reading, young-adult, post-apocalyptical novel, I was struck by how exactly appropriate it was for its intended audience, particularly young readers with any interest in dystopian fiction. For the rest of us — you grown-ups riding the train to your grown up jobs, I see you there — we could be reading something a little more substantial, these ideas, plots, and imagined societal horrors nothing new in much more thought-provoking literature.
Reamde by Neal Stephenson. A twisting digital crime thriller of a novel jumping from the digital and surreal landscapes of imagination to the grit of mafia crime and back, some have posited that Reamde is a serious departure from Stephenson’s other recent work, but weaving, running, dashing through the story has left me feeling quite contrary to those reviews. Stephenson once again tells the tale of insight, knowledge and critical thought triumphing over conformist simplicity, knitted into the complexities of a fully realized world that haunts your mind for weeks following.
Quiet by Susan Cain. Non-fiction, this is an exploration of the trials of introversion and the introverted in a society that trumpets the praises of the outgoing, loud, and social. Spinning together a web of anecdote and research, with investigative journalism powered by personal experience, Cain explores the balance between the two so-called personality types of modern psychology, with a hint of bemoaning the unfairness of it all, but still relates why introverts might have more to offer a failing society than that society would have us believe.
Empire of Illusion by Chris Hedges. Hedges builds upon Aldous Huxley’s famous speculation that society would eventually wrap itself in so much fluff, fancy, and fiction that the eventual failure of that society would occur not due to the oppression of people by tyranical governments, but through passification of those people’s will to resist, reduced attention spans, and the never-ending pursuit of pleasure. A series of essays dissect our culture in an only-somewhat hyperbolic examination of our general fascination with happiness, entertainment, sport, celebrity and distraction, and come to the unnerving conclusion that we might just be entertaining ourselves to death.