Books Archives

29 November 2005

Obelix et compagnie

Cover of Obelix et compagnie
  • René Goscinny et Alberto Uderzo
  • 47 pages
  • en français!
This is the first book I've read cover to cover in a foreign language. I have to say it was hard work, but it's probably done my french a world of good, as it's been suffering from neglect since the day after my GCSE.

Think I'm going to try a Tintin book next, and actually make more of a concerted effort to learn all those useful words I kept having to look up. The only one that seems to have stuch is sanglier, which I can't see me using in everyday conversation.

Rating: 4/5

Posted by Robert Hart | Permanent Link | Categories:: Books

17 October 2005

Brave New World

  • Aldus Huxley
  • 256 pages
  • 1932
This is an absolutely fantastic book, and I'd recommend it to anybody. The brilliance in the book, (and arguably the scariest thing about it) is how close the dystopian/utopian future is to our current reality. I've not much idea about 1932, but I guess things like the habitual and accepted drug use, and escapism through television are things that have developed since then.

The other aspect of brilliance in the book is the uncertainty and ambiguity over whether the World State is Utopian or Dystopian — certainly the majority of the citizen are happy and contented, and the little malcontent is much more subtle than in George Orwell's 1984.

Rating: 5/5

Posted by Robert Hart | Permanent Link | Categories:: Books

29 September 2005


Cover of Excession
  • Iain M. Banks
  • 464 pages
  • ISBN: 185723457X
Yes, I know this is the second Iain M. Banks book I've read in the last few months, but I seriously believe this is one of the best sci-fi books I've read. This time was a reread, but when I read it first, it was my first experience of his work, and I have subsequently read virtually all his work (he takes up nearly as much space on my book shelf as Terry Pratchett!!)

The plot is gripping, the characters varied, and the "universe" Iain creates is fascinating, convincing and detailed. If you like sci-fi, then you'll love this.

Rating: 4.5/5

p.s. Good though this is, I've decided that I've got a bit ingrained with my reading habits. Too many of the books I read in the last year have been by Terry Pratchett or Iain (M.) Banks. If anybody has some suggestions of things I books that might expand my horizons a bit I'd be interested (particularly if you can do it without spoiling the plot and message of whatever book it is). I've just started Brave New World by Aldus Huxley, which is a bit more of a classic and has a much more serious message, but it's still definitely sci-fi.

Posted by Robert Hart | Permanent Link | Categories:: Books

20 August 2005

How I Paid for College

Cover of How I Paid for College
  • A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship and Musical Theatre
  • Marc Acuito
  • 288 pages
  • ISBN: 0747576580
A novel I picked up for £3 from Fopp when I was down in Bath. I bought it 'cos it was cheap and just wanted something to read whilst I had some time to kill on a rainy afternoon.

I wasn't really expecting much, but somehow I seem to have demolished the 300-odd pages in less than a week. It isn't a book that's going to change the world, or even change anybody's life, but it's quite fun, and doesn't suffer in the way `teen coming of age' movies do, in that they left the sex and drugs in.

To be critical, the book is annoyingly American, not so much in the cultural sense (which is obviously part of the book) but in the language of the book itself.

Probably wouldn't pay more than £3 for it, or even buy other books by the same author, but I can think of a few people who'd enjoy it as a light holiday read.

Rating: 2/5

Posted by Robert Hart | Permanent Link | Categories:: Books

08 August 2005

The Algebraist

The Algebraist

I picked this up for a fiver in Fopp, during one of my occasional rash spending sprees (I think I bought I couple of CDs and a DVD at the same time), but having read it, I feel guilty for having paid so little for such a good book. I'm a pretty big fan of Iain — both his sci-fi and his more mainstream stuff (although I think the distinction is pretty blurred, especially with things like The Bridge and Walking on Glass), and one thing I particularly like is his ability to generate a whole new 'universe' with each new book.

By contrast to his earlier 'Culture' universe, this civilisation is much less advanced, being restricted to STL (slower than light) travel and communication, and the outlawing of AI (which were so prominent in things like Excession).

If I were to criticise this book, I would have to say it leaves me wanting for more, particularly a desire to know what happens to some of the well developed, but under utilised characters in the book.

Anyway, I loved the book, and am planning on rereading Excession in the next few weeks.

Rating: 4/5

Posted by Robert Hart | Permanent Link | Categories:: Books

Thu May 26 22:22:07 BST 2005

Making History

Making History
  • Author: Stephen Fry
  • 574 pages
  • ISBN:0-09-945706-7

I got this book for my birthday from my Sister, and was initially sceptical due to the lead character being a PhD student who is sadly delusioned about how good is thesis is. However, the book is a pretty light read, and has provided more than it's share of escapism. The plot is compelling, and Stephen Fry uses an interesting combination of styles to tell the story.

Rating: 4/5

Posted by Robert Hart | Permanent Link | Categories:: Books