Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Great Books for the Win!

Like most 21st century guys I’m a great lover of crazy new technology, but one thing I can’t abide is this whole E-book computerised digital reader business. It’s just not natural. A book is a thing to love, hold and cherish, not something that has to be turned on, updated and downloaded. Part of my dislike for these readers comes from working at a computer screen for 8.5 hours a day, after that you really don’t want to go home and stare at another one. I expect it’s the old romantic in me that suggests that books should be printed and placed on musty shelves in some deep dark library basement. There really is nothing like it, the smell of old books is somehow calming and soothing. Some of my greatest university memories involve long hours in the Classics library scanning through antiquated hardbacks.

Anyway enough of my reminiscing… on to the shopping. Most people nowadays buy their books either from Amazon or through their local High Street retailer. Personally I prefer to buy my books from my local Read & Return, it’s a great place to go to if you just want to read something, but not necessarily buy it and have it forever. Once you’ve read the book you can take it back and exchange it for part of its value and replace it with another one at a slightly different price.

I recently brought a bit of a selection from my local R&R. This included David Simon’s Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, Brent Weeks’ The Way of the Shadows and A. B. Bosworth’s Conquest & Empire: The Reign of Alexander the Great.

Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets

It’s hard to really start and write a review for such a phenomenal book. Let’s start at the beginning. David Simon worked as a reporter for the Baltimore Sun back in the 80’s. During his stay at the Sun he spent a year working with the Baltimore City Homicide Division. The book provides an in-depth and accurate portrayal of a year within one of the busiest homicide departments in the US. Throughout the year Simon’s follows cases and detectives as they work their scenes and attempt to solve cases while battling the bureaucracy of the police department. It’s a fascinating insight into the world of homicide with little left out, well worth a read.

The Way of the Shadows

Being a bit of a fantasy nut I have a penchant for assassin books. I’d read some reviews about this book on the net so I decided to grab it and give it a go. Like most fantasy books it starts with an orphan and a love story. I must admit that I liked the characters and the plot, but at points I found myself lost as to what was actually happening. It was too jumpy for me. I also spotted a fair few broken and distorted sentences which for me completely ruined the book. Far from being encapsulated and drawn into the world I found myself outside looking in, trying to work out what was happening. Certain parts of the story are in my opinion badly told and the author fails to complete the images he attempts to describe. It’s a far cry from something like Robin Hobbs Assassin books which in my opinion is high-fantasy majestically written in a captivating style.

Conquest & Empire: The Reign of Alexander the Great

For many years now A. B. Bosworth has been at the forefront of Alexandrian history. If you ever wanted to read a book that provides a simple, yet in-depth, analysis and narrative of Alexander’s rise and fall then this is the book for you. Bosworth’s knowledge on this subject is second to none and the author writes in a superb academic style. Towards the back of a book is a collection of essays concerning several key Alexander themes including the Macedonian army, his connections to divinity and his attempt to incorporate both eastern and western ways of life into the Persian Empire. A must have for any Alexandrian scholar.


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