Archive for April 4th, 2008

Apr 04 2008

B. Mac’s Bookshelf of DOOM

Published by under Book Review

I provide advice about how to write novels, comic books and graphic novels. Most of my content applies to fiction-writing in general, but I also provide articles specifically about superhero stories.

A reader asked for my suggestions on reading material. I fumbled the question by saying something like “it really depends on your taste.” He responded (paraphrased) “obviously, if I had thought that your tastes were incomparable to mine, I wouldn’t have asked you.” Touche!

So, mainly for the benefit of said reader, I have decided to post a photograph of about half of my bookshelf.
My tastes are very eclectic

Of these, I would really recommend only Weapon, Starship Troopers and Black Powder War for the average sci-fi or fantasy reader. (With the caveat that BPW is the sequel to His Majesty’s Dragon, which should obviously be read first).

For readers that are a bit more artsy and literary, I recommend The Best American Short Stories of 2007 (not seen above), which has five stories that I found commendable. “St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves”  was extraordinary, “Sans Farine” was distinctly excellent, and “The Boy in Zaquitos” and “The Bris” were pretty good. And, if you’re more literary than I am, you’d probably like most of the other stories, I think.

My next book is CS Lewis’ Surprised by Joy, which has not arrived yet. I’m not sure what to expect. I’m a minor CSL fan and memoirs have always interested me. It looks to be very religiously influenced, but I’m basing that entirely on the front-cover.

I think someone with a casual interest in politics would enjoy Jack Goldsmith’s Terror Presidency and John Mueller’s Overblown. TP is Jack’s memoir about his time as the head of the Office of Legal Counsel. (I hate dropping names, but I feel obliged to offer a personal disclaimer here. I was once one of John Yoo’s coworkers, in one of the remotest senses imaginable, and Jack’s book treats Yoo like a minor villain. My recommendation of this book should not be construed as an endorsement of Jack’s legal opinions or his feud with Yoo. I simply enjoyed his style of writing and think he provides an interesting perspective on legalism and the legal side of the war on terror).

Overblown is a more conventional argument piece. Mueller’s main thesis is that the risks of terrorism have been hyped and that it’s more appropriate to try to mitigate the damage of terrorist attacks rather than try to overspend on defensive measures that are unlikely to be 100% effective. I thought most of this book was well-argued and interesting. (Again, this is not an endorsement of his politics: off the record, I disagree with probably 75% of the book, but that’s immaterial to its quality). I did take issue with what I thought was an exceptionally questionable point about Pearl Harbor, though. (If you’re interested in that, please keep reading).

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