Haven't read anything which isn't either an academic text or a light, frothy paperback for a long time. It's been surprisingly difficult to go back to a more elevated sort of fiction but also really satisfying.
The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen Donaldson.
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door, and a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past, through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need, the people will waken and listen to hear
-- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Firestorm by Nevada Barr, Playback by Raymond Chandler and So You Want to Become a Park Ranger by Richard Boyer.
Richard Boyer seems like a nice man but I wonder if he self published and if anyone actually pays more than three dollars for this book. It was like he was going for the effect of All Things Bright and Beautiful or All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriott (wonderfully written memoirs of a British country veterinarian in the mid 20th century)....but no, no, it's not like that at all. It's like reading your retired great uncle Morts blog, or something the park service would include for a free gift to new trainees.
Philology: The Forgotten Origins of the Modern Humanities by James Turner
The Language Wars: A History of Proper English by Henry Hitchings
Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty
The Search for Modern China by Jonathan D. Spence
The Myth of Nations: The Medieval Origin of Europe by Patrick J. Geary
ASOIAF: A Clash of Kings by GRRM
Just finished Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Loved it. It's a rare and wonderful experience to identify deeply with characters who are actually very little like me. Something to do with circumstances and millennial anxieties, I guess.
Started another zeitgeist-y book today ... Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One's Looking) by Christian Rudder. A chapter in, I've learned so far that I've been over the hill for the last six years.
Beginning: Horza is being held in a sewage tank, charged with crimes of state. His wrists are manacled to the wall and his legs are similarly encumbered. The tank slowly fills with sewage, closer and closer to his mouth, and then, ever so slowly, above the nostrils. Horza's lungs are bursting for a breath of fresh air when suddenly there is a flash of light. He wonders, Is this what it's like to die?
"But you forget that there is one value that is greater than all others: human freedom. Because no matter how perfectly you set the world up for humanity, they will always rebel simply to exert their own selves. You cannot win."
Just finished "A Distant Mirror" by Barbara Tuchman. I now know more than I ever desired to know about the fourteenth century.
Now I'm reading "A Walk in the Woods" by Bill Bryson. It's one of the few Bryson books I haven't read, and I heard it's being made into a movie.
One of the reviews on the cover made me laugh. According to Christopher Lehmann-Haupt of the New York Times, reading this book is "the best way of escaping into nature". I'm no Ralph Waldo Emerson, but I'm pretty sure there's a better way of escaping into nature: actually going out and escaping into nature.