SarahMichigan (sarahmichigan) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

Books #9 & #10

I'll probably jinx myself by saying this, but I'm fairly pleased at the pace I'm reading and having completed 10 books in the first 2 months of 2012.

Book #9 was "City at the End of Time" by Greg Bear, as an audiobook. This is a big, sprawling book about people in the far-future and approximately present day dealing with the fact that the world "lines" are collapsing and the world is about to end. Bear is playing with the idea of multiple universes, and so it's fairly hard science fiction and yet has some fantastical and horror-like elements, too. I"m not surprised the author said he was influenced by Lovecraft. I suspect this would have been slightly less confusing in about the first fifth of the book if I'd read it as a conventional book instead of an audiobook, because I could go back and re-read to help myself navigate the various characters and settings. The book is a little confusing at first, but it pulled me in, and by the end, I found it very satisfying. I'm a fairly jaded reader and I often see plot twists coming a mile away, so when an author can surprise me, I like it, and Bear did that at the end as well. I would recommend this book highly and plan to seek out more by the author.

Book #10 was "Figuring: The Joy of Numbers" by Shakuntala Devi. Devi is extremely well known in India and somewhat less so around the world as being the world's "fastest computer." She got into the Guiness World Record by multiplying extremely long numbers in her head in just a few seconds. On one level, the book is meant to help people who are a little math-phobic see the patterns in numbers and math and give them some tricks for doing what seem like hard computations in their heads. On a higher level, however, Devi is trying to show the "joy" that can come from playing with numbers and finding answers. To that end, she has some fun math story problems and brain-teasers in the final chapter as well. I don't think this book will teach anyone how to be a "human computer" like she is, but I did take away a couple of useful shortcuts. This book is very accessible to the average reader and I think it should be shared more widely in math classes and with children who think they aren't good at math, because it makes it fun and interesting in a way that the average text book doesn't.

1. Blue Light [fiction- Walter Mosley
2. Titus Alone [fiction]- Mervyn Peake
3. "Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?" [non-fiction]- Beverly Tatum
4. Never Let Me Go [fiction]- Kazuo Ishiguro
5. The Jehovah Contract [fiction]- Victor Koman
6. When the Phone Rings, My Bed Shakes: The Memoirs of a Deaf Doctor [non-fiction/memoir]- Philip Zazove
7. The Foreign Student [fiction]- Susan Choi
8.V for Vendetta [fiction/graphic novel]- Alan Moore and David Lloyd

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