All posts tagged: Books

Book rating details

On Book Ratings

I’m a little obsessed with book ratings. They matter to me. A lot. When I check bookish social networks for recommendations, I look at the following details in this order: the average rating, friends’ reviews (if any), the most popular 5-star rave, and the most popular hatchet job. So to contribute to the bookish community, I rate the books that I’ve read and redirect users to a review link, if available. I always think in terms of numbers. Instead of disputing whether I like or love a book,  I decide between 3-stars or 4-stars. I’ve adopted the Goodreads rating system, which I think is pretty decent. This is not true for many people, of course, seeing that they’ve adopted their own rating systems. The most common ones are changing the descriptions of the numerical ratings and the inclusion of half-stars. I have no issues with these, but with regard to the latter, I tend to round the ratings down (i.e. 4.5 to 4, and so on). I often encounter 3.5’s and 4.5’s, but I have yet …

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

Book Review – The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

The Bone Clocks tells the story of Holly Sykes and it covers six decades of her life. It begins with a teenage Holly running away from her family and ends with a granny Holly trying to survive in a dystopian future where the world’s oil resource has run out. The novel is divided into six novella-length parts, the form that Mitchell is, I daresay, most comfortable with, and they represent a decade each of Holly’s life. Each part is narrated by a different character. There’s Holly herself in the first and last parts, a Cambridge undergraduate and a returning character from Black Swan Green (Mitchell’s fourth), a war journalist who may have become a war junkie, a writer who was once the Wild Child of British Letters, and another returnee from The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (Mitchell’s fifth) who is a doctor and an Horologist. What is an Horologist? It is a soul who, after its body dies, can’t help but be resurrected in another child’s nearly dying body. It’s a sort of a birthright, …

Inverted World by Christopher Priest

Book Review – Inverted World by Christopher Priest

Inverted World is a hard science fiction novel that was republished by NYRB Classics, which might be a surprise considering the impressive, and obscure, titles that the imprint carries. If you visit NYRB’s online store and click science fiction, you’d see that there are only less than ten books under this tag. This is an intriguing choice and it begs the question why Inverted World? Surely, there must be something in it. The novel opens with what I would posit as one of the most interesting opening lines: “I had reached the age of six hundred and fifty miles.” It has the tone of Ray Bradbury’s “It was a pleasure to burn.” Both immediately set the worlds that they present. In Priest’s, age is no longer measured in years. It would dawn on the reader that this makes perfect sense for a city whose survival depends on how far they have traveled away from a gravitational force that pulls and destroys everything. The citizens of the caged and walled city called Earth are unaware that their city …

Book Report: July 2015

Book Report: July 2015

This is a ho-hum month. I did finish a couple of books but that feels like months ago. I guess that’s because of my fourth moderating stint at our book club. The online discussion is on full steam so I’m not really getting much reading done. Well, yes! I’ve moderated a book discussion for each year since we started these face-to-face discussions. I would have liked to sit out for a year but I get restless just trying to make the thought settle in my head. Books Finished: Austerlitz by W. G. Sebald – Mesmerizing. I keep putting off a review because the haunting feeling is too much (let’s not get started on the review backlog). 5 out of 5 stars. Neuromancer by William Gibson – They say that this is a science fiction must-read because of how it saw the Internet’s future. Really, now? Bleech! 1 out of 5 stars. The Quiet American by Graham Greene – Our book of the month. I’m going t read more of Greene’s books. 4 out of 5 stars. Ubik by Philip K. Dick – …

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

Book Club Book Review – The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

The Maltese Falcon is one of those books that I approached with a mild hesitation because the last time I read a proper crime fiction, I nailed it as the worst book of that year. That’s two years ago, and I’m not obviously over it. Private Detective Sam Spade is hired by a beautiful woman to track down her sister. That’s the first chapter, and the second chapter kicks in with a murder. You’d think that a murderous death and a beautiful woman’s plea for help are just coincidences, but of course they are not. Before anyone can make any connection, a bunch of suspects are thrown around because it isn’t palatable if there aren’t red herrings served on your plate. But what are these people killing each other for? Yup, point your finger at the Maltese falcon, the prized object in this novel, which I’m not going to talk about. But seeing that some editions of this novel have an image of a perching black falcon in the cover art, it’s safe to say that this statue is …