Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Mini-Reviews: College Reading Part 4

Generally these mini-reviews have been of nonfiction, but this final edition for the semester is a mix.

Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
1973; read for an Honors College reading group
I think we members of this reading group would unanimously sum up the book as WTF?!!! But, we made it. Well, three of us did, anyway. Issues: loooooooong and confusing. Themes: paranoia, drugs, WWII, phallic imagery, the occult. Read if you like weird books; it's interesting even if you don't understand all (or really any) of the incredibly vague references. Definitely a book to re-read, but only after many years of recovery.

Life in the Ancient Near East by Daniel Snell
1997; read for Ancient Near Eastern Civilizations
This was much easier and less formal/technical to read than the ancient Egypt book for this class, but I still took little concrete knowledge away from it. The information was very general and didn't connect much to nice physical facts, like influential rulers or wars. Snell is currently writing another book on the ancient Near East; I learned and retained much more from the first three chapters of it than from this work.

The Odyssey by Homer (trans. E.V. Rieu)
read for Classical Mythology
I liked this more than The Iliad, mostly because I found it both more interesting and easier to read. I was still losing attention for dialogue and details at times, but it was less of a constant thing than it was before. I much prefer prose translations to verse, which might have been a factor. Also, adventure stories are more interesting to me than war stories, and The Odyssey delves more into tales from outside the immediate plot.

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