November 19th, 2004 § 2 comments

Being the book addict that I am, I couldn’t help but be pleased when I came home the day before yesterday and found six new books waiting for me. I can’t compare the effects of the smell of new books to that of cocaine, since I never used the latter, but judging from the things people say about it, I guess the former has a similar result on me.

From the six books, I had already read two, borrowed elsewhere. I decided to buy them because my wife wanted to read them, and they were part of a promotional package in the online bookstore I use at the time. Unsurprisingly, those two books are The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons, both by Dan Brown.

Some months ago, since I kept hearing and reading about them everywhere, I decided to get them and see if they were really good as people were saying. I got them and read them in a couple days and I have to say that I, too, enjoyed them. Both books have their merits; they do entertain the readers, and that’s more than can be said about a lot of more respected works. They are not deep, there are lots of flaws in Dan Brown writing style, but their pace is fast, and they manage to keep the reader interested to the very end.

What’s more impressive about the books, of course, is their success. The Da Vinci Code has been on The New York Times’ best-selling list for eighty-six uninterrupted weeks already. Almost every day, wherever I go, I see people reading or carrying a copy of one of those two books. Conspiracies really sell, it seems. Dan Brown must grin from ear to ear every time he awakes. Considering that the books are a hodgepodge of crazy theories (most of them incorrect, as we know from their historical context), he’s doing extremely well.

Together with them came one of the thousand books devoted to the analysis of The Da Vinci Code. I wasn’t really interested on it, but without it I couldn’t get the promotional price so I bought it anyway. Amusingly enough, this book was written by a pastor associated to the Dallas Theological Seminary, one of the most respected Baptist seminaries in the world. Considering that I’m a Baptist myself, I’m curious to see what the author has to say about the subject.

The other books are the complete new trilogy by Neal Stephenson, The Baroque Cycle. Neal Stephenson is one of the authors you can’t find in Brazil, except by importing his books, so, albeit his fame, I have never read one of his books. I own a digital copy of Cryptonomicon, which I purchased at Fictionwise, but I didn’t read it yet.

The events in the book happen amidst the big political and social changes that dominated the late 17th and early 18th century, including the big scientific advances that took place in the period. Many of the characters are historical, including Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz, whose conflicts are part of the plot. The plot, by the way, is said to be colossal, which scared some readers. Me, I like them big plots.

Now I have four voluminous books by Stephenson (the smaller is over 800 pages long) to read on my (probable) vacation by the end of the year. Judging from the reviews, I think I’m going to like them. The book titles are interesting by themselves: Quicksilver, The Confusion, and The System of the World. Intriguingly, the covers are silver-, bronze-, and gold-colored, respectively.

As soon as I finish reading them, at some unspecified time in the future, I will review them here. Recently, I’m not taking time to review the books I’m reading because I’m too short on personal time, but there are some authors I found recently that deserve the effort. Philip Pullman and China Miéville are two names that come to mind.

So, what have you been reading?

§ 2 Responses to Reading"

  • Wilson says:

    If you’re in São Paulo or Porto Alegre, Livraria Cultura is your friend. You can usually find a few of Stephenson’s books there; they had Cryptonomicon the last time I checked, for example (over 6 months ago, though).

    I would recomend that you read Cryptonomicon before the Baroque Cycle; they are somehow related, although it’s hard to explain exactly how. It’s the same kind of theme, more or less, and some of the characters seem to be related.

    By the way, the versions of the books I’ve seen have different covers; the first one was red, the second green, and I haven’t seen the third one yet. They were British editions, so that may be the difference.

    Regarding what I’ve been reading, I’ll let you find it out on my “books” blog :-) []


  • Ronaldo says:

    I’ve used Livraria Cultura and Submarino to import books over the past few years, and they usually have the books I want. Unfortunately, they also charge too high for the privilege. :-)

    About The Baroque Cycle, I may well read Cryptonomicon first. You and other recommended this, but I’m still a bit undecided since Stephenson himself said it was not necessary, but would make Cryptonomicon less predictable sometimes.

    With regards to the color of the covers, probably there’s a difference between UK and US editions. I bought the US editions.

    Good books blog, by the way. I keep intending to do one, but time is really short. :-)

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