I’m reading tonight through all the many comments my loyal blog readers left today on what they’re reading right now. I was up till 1:30 AM last night trying to finish DIES THE FIRE, but finally went to bed because I had to get some tax work done today with my accountant, and I thought it would be a little uncouth to fall asleep while looking at Form 1040. That would be very uncool. I did finish the book today, and I gather there’s a sequel or two, so I need to look for those.
I’m also rereading through the Harry Potter series, this time reading them aloud to my kids. That’s an old family tradition with us, reading out loud. They’re way past the age when they need to be read aloud to, but we all still like it.
I am reading The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. Set in the 1100’s, it’s an enthralling, one thousand page book about a boring subject: the building of a cathedral. In that sense alone, it’s a marvel. It took the author over three years to write it. It was a major departure from his spy novels. Many thought it was a risk to his career. But it is now considered his greatest work.
Randy sez: That’s one of my favorite books–it’s on my top five list (which actually has about 15 books on it, because some of them are series). The sequel, WORLD WITHOUT END, came out last year and I really enjoyed that one, although I thought it didn’t have quite the magic for me that the first one did. I can’t say exactly why. Certainly, it was a fascinating look at life in a medieval English town.
The most memorable one I’ve read lately is A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS by Khaled Hosseini. Wow. Can that man ever write. If you have never read KITE RUNNER (his first one) I highly recommend it. He is a beautiful writer.
Randy sez: Yes, I thought THE KITE RUNNER was terrific. I’ve been meaning to read A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS, but there’s only so many hours in the day.
Randy, the technology-gone book you’re reading sounds like the same sort of premise as Terri Blackstock’s Restoration series: Last Light, Night Light etc?
Randy sez: Terri’s book is named LAST LIGHT and is the beginning of a series. I think Terri got the idea at roughly the same idea as the author of DIES THE FIRE. She emailed me at the time and asked what could cause all the lights to go out all over the planet, and I suggested EMP (electromagnetic pulse) although I wasn’t sure if it could work planet-wide. So the way Terri wrote it was to leave it unexplained, and have some of her characters wonder whether it was EMP that caused it, but never really say for sure. And that’s pretty much how S.M. Stirling played it too. I’m pretty sure neither Terri nor Stirling have ever heard of each other — they got the idea independently, and their plots are very different. This actually happens quite often, and it’s one reason why “someone stealing your idea” is not a particularly big thing to worry about, although most beginning writers fret about it a lot. Ideas are all over the place, and different writers will develop them very differently. Now if somebody steals your words, you should take action, because that’s plagiarism. But ideas are free as the wind.
My daughter gave me The Splitting Storm by Rene Gutteridge. I assume that Rene is female, so it interests me that her protagonist is a male.
Randy sez: Yes, Rene is a friend of mine, so I can say with some confidence that she is very likely female. She’s done quite well with male protagonists. A little-known fact: Rene is about five feet tall, but she was an All-State basketball player in high school. She once went on a writing-conference cruise while five months pregnant and met an editor who was six feet tall. Naturally, Rene challenged him to a game of “Horse” (it’s a game where you attempt difficult shots with the basketball and if you make it, your opponent has to make the same shot or lose a point.) Of course, Rene won in a landslide and she has never let this editor forget it.
OK, my next question is: What nonfiction book are you reading right now? I’ll go first. I’m reading an e-book named “Google Analytics” which I bought off the web the other day. It’s a short book that gets into the “how-to” of making Google Analytics work. This is rather an odd choice for me. The last non-fiction book I read was “Collective Intelligence” which is all about how to do data-mining on the information that comes from people interacting with a web site, but it has many other uses too. This is a book only a math guy could love. I’m a math guy, so I read it twice. I thought it was really good.