This semester I was concerned that I had too much on my plate. I had a full load of classes, hard ones too (mostly), and the books I picked contained a sum total of about 1,375 pages, which, I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a lot of pages. Well I can happily report that I vastly overestimated the difficulty of both my schedule and my reading list. I managed to finish my three books, with more than a few weeks to spare. But anyways, here’s my review:
Guns, Germs, and Steel:
GGS (as I will hitherto refer to it) is a lengthy tome that reads more like a doctoral thesis than a novel. The book focuses itself on the reasons behind the world’s current geopolitical state, more specifically how white europeans managed to colonize/dominate so much of the world. Spoiler alert: it’s food, it’s all about food.
The author, Jared Diamond goes on an excruciatingly detail analysis of the ways in which early food production influenced everything from population sizes, technological development, and political stability. He undoubtably raises a number of very interesting and profound points. GGS is a wonderful book for biologists and anthropologists alike (sadly not much for you historians), but if you’re interested in steamy romance, or action and suspense, feel free to give this one a pass. However if you are able to get past Mr. Diamond’s slow and at times painful examination of everything from plant speciation to linguistic analytics, you will not be disappointed. It’s also required reading in one of Professor Gilmartin’s classes (that’s my dad, not my super villain name)!
The Lost Symbol:
Like all of Dan Brown’s works it was a fun read. Say what you will about Mr. Brown’s writing style, it is very cinematic. As other reviews have far more eloquently pointed out, The Lost Symbol is a roller coaster from start to finish. There is little to no time to stop and catch your breath as it were, which makes for some fairly riveting reading, but could be a tad jarring if you’re more accustomed to the Sunday drive that is Guns, Germs, and Steel.
In terms of content The Lost Symbol seems like a book that’s a little too big for it’s britches. As usual Mr. Brown throws in a generous heaping of conspiracy and pseudo-science, which can be annoying for all of 5-seconds until you remember, oh wait, this is fictional. Dr. Langdon goes on his usual exposition dumps, and will frequently exclaim, “I’ve figured it out” only to wait for 5-6 chapters (albeit 1 or 2 page ones) before for finally spilling the beans. Call it lazy writing, but it’s nothing if not effective. If you can get over the few minor annoyances, and avoid overanalyzing some of the books “weaker elements”, The Lost Symbol is a fun ride, that’d I’d certainly recommend if you’re going on vacation and need something to read. Oh yeah, and despite being 500 pages long, this book goes by stupidly fast.
The Kite Runner:
My final tome (I love that word) this semester was The Kite Runner, and my oh my is it a doozey. Now Khaled Hosseini is a marvelous writer. The book is elegantly written, and nigh on riveting, especially in the later chapters. If you haven’t read one of Khaled Hosseini’s books before, first off what’s wrong with you, and secondly, I’d probably recommend this one, although A Thousand Splendid Suns was also pretty good.
Now if you have read one of Mr. Hosseini’s books before, you know exactly what you are getting into. They are by all means traumatic. Unlike A Thousand Splendid Suns, The Kite Runner at least starts off happy, but let me tell ya’ it gets real heavy real fast. The book seems to lag on a tad towards the middle, but that is forgivable. Overall a fantastic book that I recommend everyone read, just prepare to be traumatized. Man the Taliban sucks…
Stay Tuned for Reading List: Spring 2015!