My brother-in-law gave me an Amazon token for my birthday last weekend. After spending quite some time perusing the internet behemoth’s online store, I ended up looking at books. I was given a Kindle for my birthday a couple of years ago, but have rarely used it – I tend to prefer paper books even though they are heavier, and take up more space in my bag. There’s something about holding a real book though – about the smell of books – and about spending time in second hand book shops (quite possibly my favourite places in the world).
Anyway. I bought some books for my Kindle, and thought I might share them with whoever might be interested.
Dune, by Frank Herbert
Everybody must have heard of Dune, right? Or at least seen or heard of the 1980s movie? It’s a colossal science fiction fantasy epic that walks over Star Wars movie adaptations without even realising they were there – and I’ve never read it. The synopsis reads as follows :
Melange, or ‘spice’, is the most valuable – and rarest – element in the universe; a drug that does everything from increasing a person’s life-span to making intersteller travel possible. And it can only be found on a single planet: the inhospitable desert world Arrakis.
Whoever controls Arrakis controls the spice. And whoever controls the spice controls the universe.
When the Emperor transfers stewardship of Arrakis from the noble House Harkonnen to House Atreides, the Harkonnens fight back, murdering Duke Leto Atreides. Paul, his son, and Lady Jessica, his concubine, flee into the desert. On the point of death, they are rescued by a band for Fremen, the native people of Arrakis, who control Arrakis’ second great resource: the giant worms that burrow beneath the burning desert sands.
In order to avenge his father and retake Arrakis from the Harkonnens, Paul must earn the trust of the Fremen and lead a tiny army against the innumerable forces aligned against them.
And his journey will change the universe.
How to Stop Time, by Matt Haig
I’ve seen this book several times in book shops, and picked it up at least once. For one reason or another it has never made it to the checkout with me, but this time it did. Here’s the synopsis:
Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret. He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old history teacher, but he’s been alive for centuries. From Elizabethan England to Jazz-Age Paris, from New York to the South Seas, Tom has seen it all. As long as he keeps changing his identity he can keep one step ahead of his past – and stay alive. The only thing he must not do is fall in love.
The Complete Fiction of H.P. Lovecraft
Of course I know “of” H.P. Lovecraft – but he’s another author who’s books I’ve never quite got around to reading. I’ll admit the main draw in this collection is the “Call of Cthulhu” – a story I have seen referenced inumerable times in popular culture, but don’t know a thing about. Here’s the synopsis:
Written between the years 1917 and 1935, this collection features Lovecraft’s trademark fantastical creatures and supernatural thrills, as well as many horrific and cautionary science-fiction themes, that have influenced some of today’s writers and filmmakers, including Stephen King, Alan Moore, F. Paul Wilson, Guillermo del Toro, and Neil Gaiman.
Mortal Engines, by Philip Reeve
For the past several years I seem to have been living under a literary rock. It was with some surprise that a Peter Jackson helmed movie turned up in theatres a few months ago about a fantastical world where cities have become lumbering machines. It was only after seeing the trailers for the movie that I discovered a wildly popular series of books that had somehow passed me completely by. Here’s the synopsis of the first book (of four):
In a dangerous future, huge motorized cities hunt, attack and fight each other for survival. As London pursues a small town, young apprentice Tom is flung out into the wastelands, where a terrifying cyborg begins to hunt him down. MORTAL ENGINES launched Philip Reeve’s brilliantly-imagined creation, the world of the Traction Era, where mobile cities fight for survival in a post-apocalyptic future.
The Humans, by Matt Haig
Another book I’ve seen on countless bookshop stands in railway stations and airports while traveling with work, but somehow never picked up. Here’s the synopsis:
After an ‘incident’ one wet Friday night where he is found walking naked through the streets of Cambridge, Professor Andrew Martin is not feeling quite himself. Food sickens him. Clothes confound him. Even his loving wife and teenage son are repulsive to him. He feels lost amongst an alien species and hates everyone on the planet. Everyone, that is, except Newton, and he’s a dog.
Who is he really? And what could make someone change their mind about the human race … ?
In a perfect world I would already have started reading these books, but I’m halfway through a rather famous (and incredibly nerdy) book called “The Soul of a New Machine”, by Tracy Kidder. Those with eagle eyes will have spotted it on Joe MacMillan’s desk in the closing scenes of “Halt and Catch Fire”. It tells the true story of a technology company bringing a computer to market in the early 1980s, and could in many ways be seen as the seed that “Halt and Catch Fire” grew from.
I promise to get started on these books soon though. Have you read any of them? Have you heard of them? Any thoughts? What are YOU reading?