?

Review 1996

introduction

What to write, what to write, what to write? That's the question.

I'm not in the best of moods at the present so this year's review may suffer from an influence of grumpiness. It's so bad that as I look over what I've consumed for the year, I find that there's nothing catches my eye. Pretty sad (my mood, not the books).

Obviously, my mood is affecting my judgement because out of nearly ninety works, there must have been something worth reading (and subsequently something worth recommending). Oh, well. I could ramble on some more, but what would be the point? Thus, on to the reviews.

Classics

This is an easy one. It's any (unabridged) book that you were forced to read in high school. Most likely you read Cliff Notes or even worse, setteled for the movie.

Of all the Classics I read, The Old Man And The Sea, is probably the most satisfying. In a simple, concise prose, Hemingway presents a classic (no pun intended) tale of personal courage building on the traditional themes of man against himself and man against the elements.

The Catcher In The Rye was quite good, but it wasn't the great novel of it's reputation (much like Lady Chatterly's Lover). Don't get me wrong, the novel is a solid piece of work. It's just that the impact that novel once had has been lost over the years as society has changed.

When I read Of Mice And Men, I kept having flashbacks to the old Warner Bros. cartoons with the characters of George and Lennie (which were modeled after the characters of the novel). George was always portrayed as a small cat with all the brains while Lennie was portrayed as the large, clumsy cat who was constantly causing harm to come to George. Fairly or unfairly the cartoons are a good representation of the novel. However, the novel is much more powerful and has a very strong ending.

I suspect there is hardly anyone who is not familiar with the story of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde. There have been numerous movies - mostly low budget - and tons of parodies, but none that satisfied me as much as the novel.

Twain's A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court was a disappointment. Having some familiarity with the story through bits and pieces of movies, I had certain expectations for the novel. For one, I expected to find an adventure along the lines of a Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn tale. While it did have some of that adventure, it also contained far too much satire for taste. There were certain points, including the ending, where the level of satire pushed the credibility of story beyond believability.

As with Connecticut Yankee, I had certain expectations for The War Of The Worlds. However, this time I wasn't disappointed. Wells' novel is a masterpiece of science fiction that completely surpasses the screen adaptation. Highly recommended.

Fiction

Any work of fiction that is not a Classic, Science Fiction or Whodunit. In the book trade this catagory would be titled contemporary fiction. Is that like alternative music?

Miscellany

This category exists only as a collector for any work that can not be categorized elsewhere. I hate it, but no one has offered me anything better.

The Dilbert Principle may the best seller of the year when the numbers are finally totaled. It's really amazing how long the book has been in the New York Times top ten (even if I have little to no respect for their list). Adams has definitely managed to tap into the pulse of Joe (or Jane as the case may be) corporate employee. If you're a corporate individual like myself, you can't afford to pass this up.

Free Advice is an advice book, but it's an advice book of a slightly different nature. While is does offer good tips on matters relating to relationships, dating and sex, it's at it's best when one of the three author's (the advice ladies) offers a relevant anecdote. Nothing is funnier than true life situations, and that's exactly what these ladies relate so well.

If I crank up the attitude just a bit, I come to Cynthia Heimel. As I mentioned last year, she does have attitude, but it's attitude in all the right places. If you're a young innocent thing looking for guidance on matters of sex, I highly recommend you read her Sex Tips For Girls. With articles such as "Sexual Etiquette", "Lingerie Do's and Don'ts" and "Remedial Sex Tips", how can you go wrong?

If you pay a visit to your local book store and locate the shelves relating to the Internet, I suspect you'll be quite over-whelmed. Publishing an Internet book has become the 'in' thing and everyone who's anyone is releasing one. It's much like the explosion of Disco singles in the 70's (a disheartening comparison, but a fairly accurate one).

Anyway, trying to determine what's good and what's bad can be quite daunting. If you're at a lose as to where to start, I highly recommend Carla Sinclair's Net Chick. It's a great overview on why you should check out the net, how to get connected and what's out there. One thing you'll want to do before you dive into the work is to make sure that you have plenty of book marks handy. Why? Because there are tons of links that you'll want to reference for later investigation.

Lisa Carver's Dancing Queen is an interesting collection of quirky articles ranging from a love of shopping at K-mart, to the sex appeal of Russian leaders, to a visit to a sadistic beautician. I'm not quite sure what to make of Lisa (and that's appealing in itself), but I do like her work.

As I stated last year, I didn't expect that I had heard the last from Larson and Watterson. Larson's Last Chapter and Worse is a small collection, but what it gives up in quantity, it makes up with thirteen new drawings and over 140 others that have never appeared in other collections. As for Watterson, his two works contain the drawings from final days of his Calvin and Hobbes strip. Both are musts for Calvin and Hobbes fans.

If you're considering Mr. Microsquish's little best seller, Road Ahead, for insights into the Microsquish empire or into the inner-workings of microchip-ed brain, don't waste your time (or money). Other than a few musings on the history of Microsoft (which are the only good parts), the book is utterly lacking in substance as Billy Bob provides a rather narrow vision of his so-called Road Ahead. As with most Microsquish products, you're best to wait for the upgrade.

Science

This category includes astronomy, cosmology, physics, genetics, biology, anthropology, paleontology, and just about any of the other -ologies out there. Also includes science and technological history.

Science Fiction

SCIENCE Fiction -- not Fantasy Fiction. Enough said.

Whodunits

Spelled as properly pronounced. Think Christie, Marsh and Sayers. No hard-boiled, private detectives or policemen. No Grisham.