Saturday, July 24, 2010

30 Days of Books, Day Two

Day 02 - A book or series you wish more people were reading and talking about.

This is very much a changeable thing for me.

Any book series I am currently reading that I can't find much discussion for I immediately feel that way.

In general, I wish people read more nonfiction, or at least people I know and regularly speak to. Nonfiction books can be incredibly exciting and/or fascinating, if done well, but no one ever seems to be reading them! Again, at least no one I know.

Specifically, I'm reading a series of books on the rise of medical science in the U.S., coming at it from two different perspectives. One side is a feminist look at the incredibly harmful medical "treatment" and "advice" doctors have given to women, starting at the mid-to-late 19th century and moving into contemporary timing, while the other is a look at the Spanish flu that killed so many millions of people during World War I with kind of a side-analysis of the rise of actual 'science' in medicine in the U.S. The feminist book is very critical of the medical establishment circa late-19th-early-20th century, with good reason... the book on the Spanish flu is full of a bit of fawning adoration, not without cause. I love the contrast.

I would love to be talking about this with more people!
For fiction, I'm going to go ahead and come down on The Night's Dawn Trilogy by Peter Hamilton.

 Part of this, I suppose, is the lateness to which I came to this series, but I've told everyone I know that's interested in sci-fi not to be frightened of the length but to pick it up and go. Each of these books is massive, but for a reason: there's a lot of story to tell, a lot of world Hamilton needs to build, and he does an excellent job of keeping you intrigued even as he weaves explanations for everything that's happening.

The Reality Dysfunction, The Neutronium Alchemnist, and The Naked God are incredible, if a bit polarizing, right up until the end, which to me is kind of the point. I love books that challenge my intelligence (even if sometimes I read the trashiest books ever-hey, you've got to have some variety here!) and Hamilton never disappoints. His other books, not set in this particular universe, are also incredible.

Still. I love this series. You're going to see it pop up again in these questions, I just love it that much.

So that's that.

Another book I wish more people were talking about is a book my brother Bryan got me, The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi.

 Gorgeous cover art aside, this book is somewhat of a whirlwind masterpiece of sci-fi reading.

It's another sci-fi setting with an intricately designed and constructed world (that is inherently our own, if quite a bit different). I've seen a couple of reviews but no real discussion and this book is too fascinating not to discuss. Several different characters are intricately involved with each other here, from a "calorie man" who works for a hated agribusiness looking for useful mutations to take him, to the titular 'windup girl', a marvel of Japanese engineering stuck working in a brothel. Some really great writing is going on here and one thing that's really nice is to see a near-future sci-fi setting that does not focus on the U.S. overwhelmingly.

And I definitely think more people should be reading this!

So yep. That's my Day Two.

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