23 June 2009

Mud Bricks in Naryn

The Actor and the Housewife

The Actor and the Housewife: A Novel
I read this one based on Melissa's review a few weeks ago. I think I liked it, although I'm not entirely sure how I feel about it. As Melissa pointed out, it's sort of hard to define. I never could quite lose the feeling that it was a teenager thinking up the entire plot since it was so completely unbelievable (even though Shannon Hale does about as good a job with the plot as I think could have been done). It was funny though, and I liked that. Becky was more believable, but that's probably because I've known some Beckys.

It's the sort of book that's great for a weekend while the rest of the family is camping because it's the sort of book you zip through. But in the end, like most books that you zip through, it doesn't really stay with you.

I'll be interested to see how this one does though, since it is a very Mormon book that isn't being marketed solely to Mormons. And even though I don't not recommend it, but I'm not totally convinced it was really worth my time.

11 June 2009

Our next-door neighbors moved out today. We'll miss them. I didn't know if we were ever going to get out the door though. One thing about moving is that you get better at it the more times you do it.

Invisible China

Invisible China: A Journey Through Ethnic Borderlands
This is a new book about minorities in China by Colin Legerton and Jacob Rawson. Legerton and Rawson have lived in China for 5 years and speak Mandarin well, but after learning more about the various minorities in China, they each spent a year studying a minority language (Koren and Uyghur). This book is about their travels all over China to learn more about some of the minorities.

This is an excellent introduction to the minorities of China. The authors point out that even though less than 10 percent of China's population is minority, that's still 120 million people who would create one of the largest countries in the world if they were independent. The historical territory of the minorities also covers about half of China's current territory. This is a major and overlooked group of people.

My interest in China is almost exclusively in the minorities, so a lot of what they write about was familiar to me (I was surprised by some of the things they were surprised by). But if you're not very familiar with the minorities in China, and even if you are, this book is worth reading. The authors, especially as the book goes on, mostly disappear from the book and the opinions of the people they talk to are clear.

I thought the photos they included were a little odd since there were so many that included the authors with a group of people (it was a little like looking through someone else's travel photos and not caring much about them because you don't know the people in the pictures). But that's a very minor complaint. A bigger complaint would be the hand-drawn maps. They were lovely, but not very accurate. The map of the northwest left Tajikistan completely off, which isn't a minor mistake. That same map gave India some pretty liberal borders too.

Recommended.

Ender's Game

Ender's Game
This is actually the first time I've read Ender's Game. I've been meaning to forever, and my local book group did it this month. I liked it and I can see why it's such a popular science fiction book. I'd like to read more from the series or related books, but I've heard they vary in quality (as do all series) so tell me which ones are worth reading.

05 June 2009

Why Darwin Matters

Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design
I read this book for a book group and enjoyed it, although I should have, because I don't see any conflict between evolution and religion. I'm looking forward to the discussion, though, since a lot of people do see a conflict.

Genes, Peoples and Languages

Genes, Peoples and Languages (Penguin Press Science)
I'm not really sure why I read through this entire book (not that's it long or a difficult read), because I felt like it was a little out-of-date at almost 10 years old. But I did read it and learned a lot from it, and I'd like to read another, more recent, similar, readable book about this topic.

I'd have liked more about languages, but there wasn't much there about them.

Dealing with Dragons

Dealing with Dragons: The Enchanted Forest Chronicles, Book One
I probably read this when it was new and have been meaning to reread Patricia Wrede's dragon books. I enjoyed this again.