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Books from Summer 2010

Derek Miller
The list author says: "This is a list of a selection of books I read this summer. Some were part of a (self-generated) project to read some classic science fiction, others were just novels I'd come across under various circumstances. Though my opinions are mixed, it's always fun to read!"
Freedom: A Novel
Freedom: A Novel
"A book I should probably read again in 20 years. Franzen's a wonderful writer, an easy and natural stylist, and his characters are engrossing and rich. However, the novel felt very close, almost too close, to The Corrections, which I greatly admired. However, numerous extended passages are superb, and the book is well worth the time."
Every Man Dies Alone: A Novel
Every Man Dies Alone: A Novel
"Though engrossing (I read it in two days) and heartstopping (Nazi Germany was terrifying), the book didn't strike me as the masterpiece it's hailed to be. Fallada's style is dry and journalistic and the characterizations are mere sketches. A good read, but not a must."
Dune, 40th Anniversary Edition (Dune Chronicles, Book 1)
Dune, 40th Anniversary Edition (Dune Chronicles, Book 1)
"Herbert has an extremely specific and involved vision of the future. But the writing is appallingly poor. The book would be a stronger yarn if Herbert's stodgy, overwrought prose and obsession with neologisms got out of the way. Unfortunately, the book, like the planet, is dry as dust."
Neuromancer
Neuromancer
"Raymond Chandler meets Wired magazine. Gibson has a distinct, cool style and a classic cyberpunk dystopian vision of the future. But style comes at the cost of some opaque writing which suggests, as is apparently true, that Gibson doesn't actually know anything about computers. A hallucinogenic novel, if you like that kind of thing."
Cryptonomicon
Cryptonomicon
"A totally engrossing and interesting first half that entirely falls apart for the last 8000 pages. Horribly over-written and indulgent, what would be a cool book dissolves into a long, hot mess. But kudos to Stephenson for a cool idea."
Snow Crash
Snow Crash
"Like Cryptonomicon, a cool beginning and a fizzle of an ending. However, this book lasts longer before it falls apart. The style here is closer to Gibson's (though clearer and with a more specific conception of technology). A good read."
The Forever War
The Forever War
"Good book. Writing's not particularly notable, but the story is clean and crisp and the issues are engrossing enough, if not handled in any particular depth. Recommended."
Wolf Hall
Wolf Hall
"Know how this book won all kinds of awards? It deserved them. It's wonderfully well-written (once you get past Mantel's obsession with pronouns), relates a superb story, draws rich and full characters, and builds an entirely engrossing and believable world. Excited for the promised sequel."
A Place of Greater Safety: A Novel
A Place of Greater Safety: A Novel
"Though the writing is not as uniformly excellent as Wolf Hall (too many cliches), the bulk is finely done, with wonderful flashes of humor. The politics are stunningly clear, the characters rich and nuanced (esp. the leading trio of Danton, Desmoulins, and Robespierre), and sense of contingency, uncertainty, and fear most palpable. Highly and strongly recommended."
Washington Square
Washington Square
"Early James is not as much to my taste as late James. The style is not as lush, the motions of the characters are not as fine, and the plotting is not as subtle and mature. That being said, James is still a superb novelist, and this short book is an excellent intro to his work."