Divya Manian

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Book Reviews for January & February 2011

This year started pretty well for my reading schedule. I managed to finish two huge books in January, but am on a particularly slow pace since. It also doesn’t help that I am in Oslo for the first two weeks of Feb getting to know people in Opera as part of my new position. So these are all I am left with:

The Jewel in the Crown

I was recommended to read this by Coldhead (warning loud music and visuals). I am usually not a fan of colonialist literature, but The Jewel in the Crown breaks new ground. There are characters of different hues, and the experiences are described vividly, while not portraying a flattering picture of the British Raj. It is very well written and a book (for being so wordy) requires as much to describe the story. I can’t wait to read the rest of the books in that series.

Gould’s Book of Fish

When I was embarking on my first trip to Australia, good old Coldhead, recommended I read Gould’s Book of Fish in addition to Voss. I never got around it, but I finally did! It is incredible (except for the ending). I really cannot describe how amazing it is. I only beg you to read it.

Tokyo Vice

This is a horribly written book by someone who was one of the very few white reporters for a Japanese newspaper who worked on the Tokyo police beat. There is an incredible amount of information on how Tokyo’s police/press work, but it is all suppressed by bad writing. Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan is definitely not worth your time unless you have a passing interest in Tokyo Crime scenes.

Ender’s Game

When I finished Ender’s Game I thought it was a plot for a bad science fiction movie, but then I realised it was written more than 30 years ago! It is quite a remarkable modern take on alien invasion with more than a thinly veiled support for wars and war games. I suppose the supporters of the book would claim the ending justifies the pacifist motives of the author, but I think it doesn’t. It is a nice read to escape the tortures of flying, but I don’t think it does anything more than be a precursor to game strategies outlined in Liar’s Poker.

As usual, here is my plea for you to recommend books you liked reading this month!