China Miéville - Perdido Street Station

Normally, the primary issue that I have with books is that they are well written but not interesting. "Perdido Street Station," on the other hand, was very interesting, but the writing got in the way of the story.

Joshua Unruh - Downfall: Saga of the Myth Reaver

I had never read a Viking-noir saga before "Downfall," but I think I like it.

The book features Finn Styrrsson, a Viking with the strength of thirty men [sic] in each hand who travels the world slaying monsters with the hope of a glorious death that will see him to Valhalla.

James Loewen - Lies My Teacher Told Me

"Lies" is about the outright lies, omissions, and boringness of US history textbooks. The book was filled to the brim with interesting historical facts mixed with a dash of outrage at the system.

Loewen loves history. That's why he's sad that history is the most hated subject in school. He blames this, largely, on history textbooks. These textbooks aren't just biased (though they are biased); rather, they take out everything interesting, including all of the controversy, all of the ideas, and anything that makes anyone seem bad.

Seth Godin - We Are All Weird

Seth Godin wrote "We Are All Weird" to encourage people to celebrate weirdness rather than try to encourage normalcy.

He traces history of normalcy and weirdness. Before specialization, people couldn't be as weird because they had to spend time on surviving. Mass marketing through things like 3 TV channels made it easy to promote one way of being. Standardized industrialization made it profitable to encourage everyone to be the same – then you could sell to everyone. People internalize this, and a culture of normalcy became self perpetuating.

Patrick Rothfuss - The Kingkiller Chronicle

Name of the Wind Cover

Two of my friends managed to convince me to read Patrick Rothfuss' "Name of the Wind." That and its sequel, "Wise Man's Fear," each caused a week of work to disappear. Those two books and an unreleased sequel comprise Kvothe's story of his life. Kvothe is a famous wizard who grew up in a travelling troupe and, thus, has an appreciation for putting on a good show. In other words, it is a story about a storyteller, a story with an emphasis on stories. Needless to say, it is told well.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Cover from

SLE was reading "The Reluctant Fundamentalist" instead of "Seasons of Migration to the North."  Since I enjoyed "Seasons of Migration" a lot when I read it over the summer in Cambodia, I thought I might enjoy the book that filled its slot.

It was interesting.  The book is an extended monologue, where the narrator and protagonist tells his life's story to a stranger.  It's similar to Camus' "The Fall" in that sense.  It was also similarly jarring. 

The Plague: Camus' and My Philosophy


My favorite reading in SLE was Camus’ The Stranger.  The protagonist, Meursault, is very similar to me in many ways.  He has seen what the existentialists call “the absurd” – the idea that, unless you believe in religion or a substitute (like nationalism, fascism, capitalism, Marxism, etc), there is no way to say that there is any absolute Truth or value, and in the current historical moment, even if people claim to believe in those things, most are just going through the motions.  In other words, “the absurd” is the idea that there is no absolute meaning to life.  The universe is


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