January 24th, 2009

red panda eating bamboo

Booklog: The Investigation by Staniław Lem

The Investigation The Investigation by Stanisław Lem, translated by Adele Milch

rating: 3 of 5 stars
The Investigation is beautifully written, even in translation. Scenes are described with a clarity that I can almost touch. Lighting is especially described vividly.

I put this on my detective/mystery shelf, because those are the genre tropes Lem is playing in, but it's not really a genre book. Specifically, many people read detective/mystery because they like that the mystery is solved in a tidy package at the end, and that doesn't happen here. It's more of a commentary on the human condition, especially the conditions of emotional isolation, uncertainty, and inability to connect/communicate with other people.

It took me forever to read this book because I figured out early on that the resolution that makes me enjoy a genre book wasn't going to be there.

So I only gave the book 3 stars because I didn't enjoy it that much, but as a work of literature it probably deserves 4 stars at least.

It's been a long time since I read Stanisław Lem's other famous book, Solaris, but my impression is that Lem's themes worked better for me in that book, because I am used to those themes being played with in the science fiction genre.

View all my [goodreads.com] reviews.
red panda eating bamboo

The latest "WTF?" must-read book meme; or, why canons suck, round 23,532

Via james_nicoll, who says:
The Guardian's list of F&SF books you should read before you die. I hope that by not having read some of these, I will have achieved an inexpensive, practical form of immortality.

Rules as explained by Andrew:

The rules of the meme are familiar: bold the books one has read, italicize the ones on the pile to be read, and -- this one is my addition -- strikethrough the ones you wouldn't be caught dead with and/or violently disagree with.
The OH and I went through this list and we were all "No Bradbury? No McCaffrey? No Le Guin (but Ringworld)? No ORWELL?"

ETA: Apparently some novels that were originally on the list got left off, Bradbury and Le Guin among them. Furthermore, this is only part of a longer list, and some novels that would legitimately be classified as F&SF were listed in other genres. I'm making a post about that list too.

1. Douglas Adams: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979)
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red panda eating bamboo

Rilly rilly long canonical book list to rant at

1000 novels everyone must read: the definitive list

Selected by the Guardian's Review team and a panel of expert judges, this list includes only novels – no memoirs, no short stories, no long poems – from any decade and in any language. Originally published in thematic supplements – love, crime, comedy, family and self, state of the nation, science fiction and fantasy, war and travel – they appear here for the first time in a single list.

Feel we've left off a crucial book? Email to us with your nomination and an explanation in no more than 150 words at review@guardian.co.uk, or post your submission to The Guardian, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU, by 4 February.
1000 novels is 20 per year for 50 years, and most people don't read that much, and even for people who do read a fair bit, that wouldn't leave a whole lot of time for reading stuff that they might especially enjoy. So I think the idea of 1000 novels "everyone must read" is ridiculous.

Really the only "must read" list I could get behind would be a list of authors that I think most people who enjoy reading should try at least one book of.

That said, I put an asterisk next to authors I think belong on such a list.

I also put an asterisk by books that especially moved me, but that doesn't mean I think everyone must read them.

I also bold the ones I've read (If I've read something by that author but not the listed book, I'm bolding the author's name), italicize the ones I intend to read, and strike through the ones I hated or have no intention of reading with prejudice.

If you think there are books I should put on my "intend to read" list, I would be pleased if you listed them in a comment and explained why.


Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis
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