Ben Crowder

Booknotes 1.4

Nonfiction

  • I finished Isaacson’s Benjamin Franklin. Great biography, studded with interesting detail that was new to me. (Which is no great surprise. I believe I read Franklin’s autobiography when I was young, but that’s it.) The bits about invention and science and the forging of America caught my interest as expected, but the feeling that lingers for me is melancholy, rooted in Franklin’s distance and coldness toward his wife and children. Heartbreaking.
  • After that I read Ken Kocienda’s Creative Selection, about his time at Apple working on Safari and the iOS keyboard. Not heartbreaking at all. Enjoyed the history. (Books about how particular pieces of software were developed are right up my alley.)
  • Just yesterday I finished Will Hunt’s Underground, about caves and cataphiles and the Mole Man of Hackney. Fascinating throughout, but claustrophobia had me wanting to get it over with as quickly as I could. Not joking. Still recommended, though.
  • I’m twenty pages into Arthur Holland Michel’s Eyes in the Sky, about satellite surveillance and Gorgon Stare. Good so far. Gorgon Stare is an amazing name.

Fiction

  • Finished The Bone Shard Daughter. Enjoyed it. Some good twists I didn’t see coming.
  • Also read Robert B. Parker’s Ceremony, part of his Spenser series. I try to occasionally read other genres to expand my palate, but more and more I’m finding that realistic, gritty crime is very much not my thing. This book turned out to be seedy and disturbing and a bit past my comfort level, but completionist tendencies made me finish it (admittedly with liberal skimming). I’m done with the Spenser series, though. And somewhat dumbfounded that I made it this far into it.
  • As a palate cleanser, I read Ted Chiang’s Exhalation. It was good! My favorite stories were “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate”, “Exhalation,” “Omphalos,” and “Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom.” I wish Ted Chiang were a faster writer with dozens of books already in print. (But that would probably shatter what I like about his work.)
  • And I’m now halfway through S. A. Chakraborty’s The City of Brass. Enjoying it. The real-world geographical references continue to throw me — my brain remains utterly convinced the book takes place in a secondary world — but it’s not a big deal.

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