From the archives: Book Club

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Wednesday Book Club: Master and Commander

Wednesday, 30 September 2009 — 10:32pm | Book Club, Literature

This week’s selection: Master and Commander (1970) by Patrick O’Brian.

In brief: The first of the twenty Aubrey-Maturin novels is more of an opening salvo than a completely satisfying story unto itself, but immerse yourself in the music of its naval jargon and you will find it a rich, endearing overture of neo-Romantic escape.

(The Wednesday Book Club is an ongoing initiative of mine to write a book review every week. I invite you to peruse the index. For more on Master and Commander, keep reading below.)

Continued »

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Wednesday Book Club: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

Wednesday, 23 September 2009 — 8:16pm | Book Club, Literature

This week’s selection: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (1997) by Haruki Murakami. Translated from the Japanese by Jay Rubin.

In brief: Murakami’s surrealist epic is a colourful story full of unique interactions between minds and the outside world. Its defiance of storytelling conventions of cause and effect is so extreme as to deny entry to typical reading habits, but it approximates the sense of faded memory better than perhaps any other novel I have read.

(The Wednesday Book Club is an ongoing initiative of mine to write a book review every week. I invite you to peruse the index. For more on The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, keep reading below.)

Continued »

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Wednesday Book Club: Lewis Carroll in Numberland

Wednesday, 16 September 2009 — 8:46pm | Book Club, Literature, Mathematics

This week’s selection: Lewis Carroll in Numberland: His Fantastical Mathematical Logical Life (2008) by Robin Wilson.

In brief: Part biography and part catalogue of Charles Dodgson’s mathematical interests, Numberland is a crisp introduction to Dodgson’s professional work outside of the classic literary diversions he penned as Lewis Carroll. Wilson is content to explicate mathematical puzzles and present collections of facts rather than weave them into a story or thesis, but does so admirably enough to produce a fine survey of what captivated the man.

(The Wednesday Book Club is an ongoing initiative of mine to write a book review every week. I invite you to peruse the index. For more on Lewis Carroll in Numberland, keep reading below.)

Continued »

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Wednesday Book Club: The Scientist as Rebel

Wednesday, 9 September 2009 — 12:45am | Book Club, Literature, Science

This week’s selection: The Scientist as Rebel (2007) by Freeman Dyson.

In brief: This collection of book reviews, lectures, and other essays by one of the great twentieth-century physicists is an outstanding guide to his thought, most notably on the ethics of science and the nature of war. Dyson makes a persuasive case for optimism about the future of our species, provided we learn from our past.

(The Wednesday Book Club is an ongoing initiative of mine to write a book review every week. I invite you to peruse the index. For more on The Scientist as Rebel, keep reading below.)

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Wednesday Book Club: The Immortal Game

Wednesday, 20 May 2009 — 4:41pm | Board games, Book Club, Literature

This week’s selection: The Immortal Game: A History of Chess (2006) by David Shenk.

In brief: The book’s alternate subtitle—”How 32 Carved Pieces on a Board Illuminated Our Understanding of War, Art, Science, and the Human Brain”—offers a hint of Shenk’s scope of thought. Full of colourful stories and painstaking research, this thoroughly accessible work probes into the mystery of how chess has endured for 1400 years and why it delights us still. Shenk guides us on a tour through everything from the intrigue of warring nations to the play-by-play thrill of a historic game, and muses as much about how chess has shaped humanity as how humanity has shaped chess. A must-read for hobbyists and serious players alike.

(The Wednesday Book Club is an ongoing initiative of mine to write a book review every week. I invite you to peruse the index. For more on The Immortal Game, keep reading below.)

Continued »

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Wednesday Book Club: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

Wednesday, 13 May 2009 — 1:15pm | Book Club, Literature

This week’s selection: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (2004) by Susanna Clarke.

In brief: In the height of the Napoleonic Wars, two magicians appear in England and strive to restore its long-lost tradition of wonders, but disagree on whether fairies have any role to play. On one thing we can all agree: this epic love letter to England herself is fantastic, and shouldn’t be missed.

(The Wednesday Book Club is an ongoing initiative of mine to write a book review every week. I invite you to peruse the index. For more on Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, keep reading below.)

Continued »

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Wednesday Book Club: Coltrane

Wednesday, 6 May 2009 — 2:41pm | Book Club, Jazz, Literature, Music

This week’s selection: Coltrane: The Story of a Sound (2007) by Ben Ratliff.

In brief: Ratliff’s carefully organized history of John Coltrane’s diverse musical stylings and its legacy in post-1960s jazz is a concise work of criticism that wisely puts the musical evidence front and centre. Its great success is its insistence on establishing Coltrane’s monumental importance instead of merely asserting it as the truth.

(The Wednesday Book Club is an ongoing initiative of mine to write a book review every week. I invite you to peruse the index. For more on Coltrane, keep reading below.)

Continued »

Annotations (0)


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