Bookshelf

  1. Currently Reading:
    Cover of Othello

    Othello

    by William Shakespeare
  2. Currently Reading:
    Cover of What Technology Wants

    What Technology Wants

    by Kevin Kelly
  3. Currently Reading:
    Cover of Oil!

    Oil!

    by Upton Sinclair
  4. Cover of As You Like It

    As You Like It

    by William Shakespeare
    ★ ★ ★ ★

    As You Like It

    by William Shakespeare
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

    I'd consider As You Like It to be one of the best of the comedies. It certainly features some of the Bard's most famous turns of phrase and most eloquent speeches. The plot does meander quite a bit, but, with the help of an actual deus ex machina, everything comes together at the end and none of the threads are left dangling.

    Among the most interesting aspects of the play is Shakespeare's particularly meta-level play with gender. Toward the end, you have the boy actor who would have played the female Rosalind, masquerading as male Ganymede (a name with homoerotic mythological origins), who is play acting as a female love interest for her own unwitting lover, whilst also becoming the love interest of a female character (again acted by a boy). One can't help but wonder whether Shakespeare was just having fun or there was more behind it. (Given his sonnets, it's not unreasonable to guess that there might be.)

  5. Cover of I'm Waiting for You and Other Stories

    I'm Waiting for You and Other Stories

    by Bo-Young Kim
    ★ ★ ★ ★

    I'm Waiting for You and Other Stories

    by Bo-Young Kim
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

    A collection of four novella's is a strange format for this Korean scifi luminary's debut English-language book, but, I have to say, the stories are great. I've said before that my favorite scifi is the kind that has big ideas and wild creativity on display, and this book delivers. My only editorial note might be that the stories could probably stand to be trimmed just a bit, but the depth of exploration and humanity of the writing vastly outweight this quibble.

  6. Cover of Henry VIII

    Henry VIII

    by William Shakespeare
    ★ ★ ★

    Henry VIII

    by William Shakespeare
    ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

    This one is a very middle-of-the-pack Shakespeare work. There are plenty of dramatic scenes and arresting turns of phrase, but there's really no character central enough to be considered a protagonist, no one to whom the audience ever really feels a sense of attachment. It's as though you can feel the Bard treading ever so gingerly through the messy tale of Queen Elizabeth's parentage, lest he should run afoul of his sovereign's good graces. Indeed, the play's end leans heavily into Elizabethan propaganda.

    Not that I blame Shakespeare for that. His shrewdness was certainly a part of his success. But it does mean that this particular play is more interesting as a historical artifact than as a work of drama.

  7. Cover of The Vignelli Canon

    The Vignelli Canon

    by Massimo Vignelli
    ★ ★ ★ ★

    The Vignelli Canon

    by Massimo Vignelli
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

    This short book is a great little manifesto detailing the values and methods of a master designer. The central lessons are Vignelli's emphasis on deliberate decision making, care with details, and value for simplicity.

  8. Cover of New York City Transit Authority Graphic Standards Manual

    New York City Transit Authority Graphic Standards Manual

    by Massimo Vignelli
  9. Cover of Second Foundation (Foundation #3)

    Second Foundation (Foundation #3)

    by Isaac Asimov
    ★ ★ ★ ★

    Second Foundation (Foundation #3)

    by Isaac Asimov
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
    Continuing my journey through Asimov’s Foundation series, this one continues adding complexity and questions onto the original premise. And it’s just so readable, with a plot that twists and turns.
  10. Cover of The Merchant of Venice

    The Merchant of Venice

    by William Shakespeare
  11. Cover of Drunk: How We Sipped, Danced, and Stumbled Our Way to Civilization

    Drunk: How We Sipped, Danced, and Stumbled Our Way to Civilization

    by Edward Slingerland
    ★ ★ ★
  12. Cover of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Tales of Terror

    The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Tales of Terror

    by Robert Louis Stevenson
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

    The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Tales of Terror

    by Robert Louis Stevenson
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
    I hadn’t read this since I was maybe twelve years old, and I was really surprised at how much the details and even the specific words resurfaced in my memory as I read. A classic for a reason, I enjoyed this every bit as much as when I was young.
  13. Cover of Consider Phlebas (Culture, #1)

    Consider Phlebas (Culture, #1)

    by Iain M. Banks
    ★ ★

    Consider Phlebas (Culture, #1)

    by Iain M. Banks
    ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
    This one was rather disappointing, and I confess that I didn’t make it quite all the way to the end. Too episodic. Too cartoony. Not enough depth.
  14. Cover of Design Elements: A Graphic Style Manual

    Design Elements: A Graphic Style Manual

    by Timothy Samara
  15. Cover of The Comedy of Errors

    The Comedy of Errors

    by William Shakespeare
    ★ ★ ★

    The Comedy of Errors

    by William Shakespeare
    ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
    I don’t know if I wasn’t in the mood or if maybe this kind of comedy plays better on stage than on the page, but this quintessential Shakespearian farce of lookalikes and mistaken identities just didn’t land for me.
  16. Cover of Buddhism without Beliefs: A Contemporary Guide to Awakening

    Buddhism without Beliefs: A Contemporary Guide to Awakening

    by Stephen Batchelor
    ★ ★ ★ ★

    Buddhism without Beliefs: A Contemporary Guide to Awakening

    by Stephen Batchelor
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
    Sometimes you read a book that restates a lot of what you already believe and know, but it’s still worthwhile because you needed to have it brought to the forefront of your thoughts afresh.
  17. Cover of Pericles

    Pericles

    by William Shakespeare
    ★ ★

    Pericles

    by William Shakespeare
    ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
    A minor Shakespeare work for a reason. This one is thought to likely be a collaboration and it shows in its lack of Shakespearean depth of character and interiority. Still, interesting for a completionist like myself.
  18. Cover of The Forever War

    The Forever War

    by Joe Haldeman
    ★ ★ ★ ★

    The Forever War

    by Joe Haldeman
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
    A Hugo Award winner for a reason, Joe Haldeman’s military sci-fi epic takes one character skipping across the surface of time through a thousand year interstellar war. It’s grim, it’s episodic, and it’s brilliant. The book portrays the futility of war with a sharpness that is just as relevant now as it was in the Viet Nam era during which it was written.
  19. Cover of Richard III

    Richard III

    by William Shakespeare
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

    Richard III

    by William Shakespeare
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
    I love Shakespeare’s great villains and Richard III is one of the greatest of them all. Unapologetically evil, it’s a joy to watch him scheme, lie, and murder his way to the top (though his subsequent downfall feels a bit rushed and perfunctory, as if the bard knew he had gotten past the juicy bits and was eager to wrap it up). On this read I really noticed how much House of Cards and even A Song of Ice and Fire draw elements from it.
  20. Cover of Foundation and Empire (Foundation #2)

    Foundation and Empire (Foundation #2)

    by Isaac Asimov
    ★ ★ ★ ★

    Foundation and Empire (Foundation #2)

    by Isaac Asimov
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
    The second book in Asimov's famed Foundation series. It's clear that he'd grown quite a bit as a writer by this one, with a plot more intricate, subtle, and less predictable. A classic for a reason. (In case you're wondering, I have no interest in Apple's new TV series based on the books. It's not the kind of thing that can be done properly on screen.)
  21. Cover of The Brothers Karamazov

    The Brothers Karamazov

    by Fyodor Dostoevsky
    ★ ★

    The Brothers Karamazov

    by Fyodor Dostoevsky
    ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
    My book club chose this one to read and I was relatively interested to see how Dostoyevsky’s work stands up to my high school memories of Crime and Punishment and fragments of The Grand Inquisitor section of this book. The answer is not so good. The book is rambling in the extreme and most of the plot involves around a quasi-incestuous, middle school style game of he-said-she-said romance melodrama. It does explore philosophical themes, but the central question of whether a person can be moral without faith seems to me (as a humanist atheist) to be pretty well answered and not particularly germane to contemporary readers.
  22. Cover of Antony and Cleopatra

    Antony and Cleopatra

    by William Shakespeare
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

    Antony and Cleopatra

    by William Shakespeare
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
    Continuing my Shakespeare reading project, this particular play has always been a personal favorite. The titular characters are so fully realized, mercurial and tragic, that I really love them for all their flaws. Reading it this time, I kept picturing it filmed as a space opera with larger than life production design!
  23. Cover of The Best of Greg Egan

    The Best of Greg Egan

    by Greg Egan
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

    The Best of Greg Egan

    by Greg Egan
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
    A brilliant imagination, full of big ideas!
  24. Cover of Atomic Design

    Atomic Design

    by Brad Frost
    ★ ★ ★

    Atomic Design

    by Brad Frost
    ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
    I think this book would have been mind blowing if I had read it when it was new. But so many of its ideas are now mainstream in the design and development world that it feels very old hat. Something of a victim of its own success as far as the reading experience goes.