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January 23, 2011

Sunday Book Thread

It's going to be a real grab-bag this week, my groovy babies: I had to fit my reading into whatever little pockets and hollows were available in the spaces between work and what I often laughingly refer to as my social life.

I'm still laboring on Taruskin's Oxford History of Western Music. As I said, this will be a project of a year or more, and given that the five volumes in this set are not only long but information-dense, it takes me awhile to get through a chapter. (I have to digest pages out of these books, as one would digest a good meal).

Another book I had occasion to dip into was Kernighan and Ritchie's The C Programming Language for a software-maintenance project at work. I've often thought that this book has remained an information-technology classic for so many years because it is such a well-written and concise book -- it runs to only 250 pages or so, and it neatly encapsulates the language. (Many other boat-anchors of programming books could learn by this one's example. Brevity is the soul of wit, guys.) C's influence is still strong in the systems-programming and embedded spaces, and lives on in the Mac platform in the guise of "Objective-C". Every programmer really ought to have a copy of this excellent book on his or her shelf.

On the fiction side of things, I must confess, I've not really seen anything that calls to me. Much of the new fiction I see is either of the "chick-lit" sort that involves spunky or troubled women searching for love in a hostile world, or trendy "lit'ry" stuff that has about as much dramatic weight as a cotton-ball. It's the same old fictional story -- New York writers think that New York is the center of the Universe, and most literary publishers and editors live in New York, so you tend to get the New York view of the world more often than not. The young twentysomething Vassar and Brown-educated women who tend to be the front-line readers and editors of novels have determined that anything smacking of adventure, excitement, violence, or even a male point of view is "genre" and therefore not "literary". I expect that men are deserting the fiction market not so much because men don't like to read, but because female-oriented publishers don't really know (or much care) what men want to read.

What are you all reading?

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posted by Monty at 09:33 AM

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