The DRW Book Page

The DRW Book Page

All-time favorite books

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Watership Down by Richard Adams

Snow Crash and Zodiac   by Neal Stephenson

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn

and the Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Recently read and recommended:

Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive Scrabble Players by Stefan Fatsis
The author sets out to describe the world of tournament Scrabble, but in the process, winds up, descending into that world himself. While the quirky characters and the Scrabble culture are fascinating, the idea that detail that stuck with me the most is the way that most of the elite players had given up learning the meanings of words and had turned to regarding and officially allowed "word" as just a pattern of letters. The moral? The price of obsession seems to be that it can define you completely, so be careful what you get obsessed with.

The Evolution of Consciousness by Robert Ornstein
An entertaining disection of the nature of consciousness with lots of pop psychology anecdotes. Having been thinking about this topic for several months, I was gradually coming to some of the same conclusions, but Ornstein does a good job of convincing the reader that the mind is actually composed of many minds, the "squadron of simpletons", each taking control in different situations. This is what makes perfect consistency or rationality hard, but it also makes humans highly adaptable. While I do not agree with all of his conclusions, I can certainly recommend this book to anyone who wants to think about the mind and the meaning of consciousness.

Watchmen by Alan Moore
While I have never read comic books before, Watchmen was such an intelligent story and a clever use of the medium that I am already on the lookout for another great comic.

Jipi and the Paranoid Chip by Neal Stephenson
An incredible short story by my favorite author. While I was bothered initially by confusion as to whether it was set in the Diamond Age universe or the Cryptonomicon universe (or maybe all of his stories are in the same universe, just at different times), eventually I got swept up in the events and the ideas. Of all the short stories that Stephenson has written, this, I think, is the best.

Older reviews

Currently reading:

Check out my media journal where I am currently tabulating media inputs and experiences and sometimes commenting on them. It's chiefly an experiment to look at patterns in my media consumption.
I have a known propensity for what you might describe as the literary equivalent of the first-person shooter: stories that put characters into difficult situations from which they escape using extreme cleverness.

Still searching for:

Eifelheim by Michael F. Flynn
Alexander's End by Joseph Garber

Will get around to eventually:

Shadow Star by Chris Claremont
First-Order Principles for College Teachers by Robert Boice

Favorite "on-line" resources:

Hypatia, a recommendation engine worth using Prior to the advent of the Internet, it was tricky to find books that I enjoyed. Now, I have overcome that problem with the help of book-recommending sites, especially AlexLit's strength is its "collaborative filter" which starts by having you rate a bunch of books and then matches your tastes with a couple hundred other people so that, by looking at their preferences, it can predict with certain probabilities what you will like and how much you will like it. I was initially skeptical, but its recommendations have repeatedly led me to some of the best books that I have read in the last few years.

Other useful book recommendation sites: The One Book List, A Physics Booklist
Places to get books: Bookstores in the San Francisco Bay Area, San Mateo County Book Sales, Fantastic monthly used book sale in Palo Alto (mirrored elsewhere)
Free writings online: Free Speculative Fiction Online

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