My reading list over the past few weeks has been slim from moving and unpacking. However, now I have all of our new housemates’ books to read, too, so I may not need the library for a while!
The Really, Truly, Honest-to-Goodness One-Pot Cookbook by Jesse Ziff Cool – Some dishes that I thought sounded interesting and will hopefully try to make the next few months: Steak and sweet potato hash, Tunisian lamb stew with spinach and bulgur, Moroccan chicken with couscous, fried rice with mango, shrimp, and egg, shrimp with corn on the cob and summer beans, and egg foo yung. All the recipes claim to only use one pot for cooking, although some of the dishes make recommendations like adding a salad or steaming some vegetables for a complete meal.
The Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey – This edition is made of three novels: Dragonflight, Dragonquest, and The White Dragon. I’d read Dragonflight and Dragonquest a few times before, but when Liz unpacked it from their boxes of books, I had a sudden urge to read them again, out of nostalgia if nothing else.
I own the Harper Hall trilogy by the same author (Dragonsong, Dragonsinger, Dragondrums), which overlaps some of the events of Dragonquest and The White Dragon but through a different character’s perspective. I still enjoy those books and the first two Dragonrider books, but must admit that I think the series not very well-written and the characters two-dimensional. In my opinion, the books just don’t have the same “soul” that Orson Scott Card or Lois McMaster Bujold’s books have, although I think some of them are initially entertaining to read. (I stopped reading McCaffrey after all the books started sounding the same to me, which is the same reason why I stopped reading David Eddings.)
Anyway, all of these books take place on a planet called Pern, which is scourged by intermittent “rainfalls” of dangerous organisms called Thread that bridge the gap between Pern and its neighboring planet. If left alone, Thread would destroy all organic matter in its path. The Pern society of civilizations centered in protected Holds, centers of expertise called Crafthalls, and dragonriders, has developed to combat this threat. The dragons and dragonriders are linked telepathically, and the dragons can breathe fire, which chars and kills the Thread, while also being able to go “between” (transport from one place to another). The Dragonrider trilogy focuses on a few key characters – F’lar, Lessa, and Jaxom – and the various challenges that they face.
Not exactly a glowing review, perhaps, but I will say that I appreciate how McCaffrey takes the “Oldtimers” (who save the day in the first book) and turns them into a source of conflict in the later books. It makes the series more interesting.
Angels and Demons by Dan Brown – I have to admit that I’m a bit anti-hype, so it took me a long time to actually get around to reading The DaVinci Code. I didn’t especially have enough interest to try to read anything else by Dan Brown, but Liz unpacked it and mentioned that it was a quick, thrilling read, so I brought it this weekend on our camping trip.
I hadn’t realized that the book features Robert Langdon as well (it takes place before The DaVinci Code). He tries to keep the Illuminati, a secret society that most scholars thought was extinct, from completing a series of brutal murders that will culminate in the destruction of Vatican City. Most of the events of the book occur in a 24-hour period, as Langdon is first called to the scene of a murdered physicist and then runs around Rome with the physicist’s adopted daughter, Vittoria, to try to interpret and discover the “path of illumination” — physical clues around Rome that were supposedly placed there by the Illuminati.
The best part of the book was definitely the ambigrams. I found the plot quite riveting, as well, although I was irked by Brown’s style of claiming factual information as he had for The DaVinci Code. (See Wikipedia for various notes about factual inaccuracies.) Overall, a great read, but don’t naively take the background of the story as “history.”
With a bookmark:
(Books I just started reading, or books I’ve been “reading” for ages. Most recent first.)
- Sahara by Clive Cussler
- The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst
- A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson