- The Unlikely Philosophy of Joe Versus the Volcano. I stumbled across Joe Versus the Volcano on television this weekend and promptly re-fell in love with it. The aesthetics! Meg Ryan playing three different characters! Tom Hanks when he was still being goofy in movies! The weirdness of it! This movie is a delight – but polarizing. My husband, for example, does not enjoy this one. I think he’s wrong.
- Why Donna Tartt’s The Secret History Never Became a Movie. Basically because it’s never been high enough on anyone’s priority list. I love The Secret History. Not every book needs a movie made from it.
- Hollywood Meets Hickory. A lovely story about a successful small-town North Carolina film festival.
- Why the World’s Best Mathematicians are Hoarding Chalk. This video was a delight, especially if you know or have known any mathematicians.
After we went to Victoria, BC, we hopped the Washington State Ferry to travel to the San Juan Islands, specifically, Friday Harbor. We didn’t have a car, so the biggest town made the most sense. We spent another three relaxing days, one of which was even sunny!
Look, coffee and books are two of the things I really associate with Seattle. It has the most coffeeshops per capita in the US, and there are lots of bookstores and local authors. But we really didn’t do a lot of coffee and books.
I did read a lot on the trip though. In Friday Harbor, we went bike riding around the island on the beautiful day and to the Whale Museum on the day that was gross and rainy.
I got A LOT of reading done on the trip and we ate VERY well. Overall, it was lovely and relaxing.
What’s it about?
There are two teenaged girls.
Bonnie is the good one. Her parents died young, leaving her to grow up in group homes. One night, she discovers she has extraordinary strength. She uses it to rescue a necklace that a bully has stolen and thrown away from another girl; later, she takes care of the bully. She wants to and practices using her strength to help people.
Lola is the bad one, killing her mother, feeling like the world owes her something all the time. She takes whatever she wants – jewelry, clothes, people – not caring about anyone else.
They both have super-powers and are basically unkillable. You know how the story goes from here.
Why should you read it?
Well, that’s a hard question to answer. The story of The Girl who Would be King is good. It has lots of action and moves along at a decent clip. The settings are ok – there are a few that are rich, but many are just kind of there. The characters are the same way: a handful of them feel like people, the rest are one-dimensional.
The big problem is the writing – the actual words on the page. The sentences are clunky. It’s distracting. (Not that I have much to talk about here – my own writing’s not that great. I’m working on it.)
So, should you read it? Eh? Maybe? I can’t really recommend it, but I never did want to put it down.
What’s it about?
The Diamond Age is a classic from 1996 (that feels so wrong to type – I was in college, for chrissakes). It’s a story about the future and a special kind of book – an electronic book before there were kindles or nooks or iPads. This is a book that helps a child learn. It’s personalized to the child – figuring out what they know about both academics and the world around them. It teaches these children how to function in the world, and the goal is not just to make them book smart, but also to give them the drive and the ability to succeed as things change. And not just react to that change, but create the change. Three bespoke versions of the book are made: one for a wealthy man’s granddaughter, one for the inventor’s daughter, and one that gets lost and ends up in the hands of a street urchin named Nell. They change the world.
Why should you read it?
Disclaimer: The Diamond Age has been my favorite Neal Stephenson book since I first read it. I may have read Snow Crash first, but I like this one more.
Why? There’s the obvious: I’m female and I love reading. I’m generally tech-optimistic, even if I have doubts about our current technology. A sci-fi book about education and reading with women in primary roles? Sign me up.
But I also love it because of the world it creates. The characterization of China was off – Stephenson missed China’s meteoric rise over the last 20 years – but the Vickys (the neo-Victorians) and the other various sects play well together. And I can see a neo-Victorian strain in Silicon Valley, with its insistence on perfectibility – if we could only do x or figure out y, then we could make everything perfect!
It is a classic. Read it if you haven’t.