Saturday, January 6, 2007

Books

Here's a few easy reads
that are all a little creepy. One of them is a great work of 20th Century literature. One has been made into two different movies. All three are a lot of fun.

The rating system is based on how challenging the book is to read, not how good it is. All books at Hansisgreat are highly recommended.

* <-----------> ** <-----------> *** <-----------> **** <----------> *****
Easy - - Pretty Easy - - Moderate - - Pretty Challenging - - Challenging

Watschers, by Dean Koontz
$7.99 at Bn.com ISBN: 0425188809
** (pretty easy)
Travis finds a stray dog, Einstein, who has become super-intelligent through a secret science experiment. I'm not usually a fan of dogs, but the image of Einstein sliding Scrabble tiles around the floor on with his nose, lining them up to make words, was really charming. The conflict? Einstein wasn't the only product of the wacky genetics lab: there's also a homicidal monkey creature determined to track Einstein down and kill all his friends. There's a lot of mediocre horror novels out there, but this is one of the good ones. The tension of being chased by a genetically altered monster keeps the novel moving, but the fun interaction between Einstein and his owners keeps it light and enjoyable.
Nightmares and Dreamscapes, by Stephen King
$7.99 at Bn.com 0451180232
*** (moderate)
Stephen King has produced so many books by now, it's hard to imagine that all of them are any good. This is one of his early ones: a collection of short stories, most of which aren't meant to be scary. I'm struck by what an exquisite writer Stephen is when he's trying. Included are the stories that became the basis for two famous films: Stand By Me and The Shawshank Redemption. All of these stories have an dark, eerie feel to them. His use of language and rich symbolism are what really blew me away: here's a book that really exceeded my expectations.
Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
$12.55 at Bn.com ISBN: 0060929871
*** (moderate)
The classic sci-fi novel about a future where drugs, social engineering, and mindless entertainment keep everyone happy. This all comes at a cost, however: the total lack of personal liberty has some characters wondering if the merriment is worth the sacrifice. You may find the first chapter a little hard to follow, but it's over soon enough and the story picks up. I find myself wondering if Utopia is really someplace I'd want to live myself. On the one hand, the jobs are a breeze and there's always the life of drugs, partying, and frequent, empty sex to keep it looking attractive. On the other hand, it does seem sort of hollow. This is one of my favorite novels of all time, one that got me hardcore into reading. Often quoted yet rarely understood: this one is a must-read.

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