Thanksgiving is upon us, and while I am looking forward to the usual holiday highlights of a day off from work, inappropriate amounts of eating, hanging out with family, and passing out somewhere, I’m also looking forward to catching up on some of the reading I’ve been neglecting. So, for your pleasure, here are some of the books I’ll be spending time with this upcoming Thanksgiving day:
The Great Weaver From Kashmir by Halldor Laxness – Laxness, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1955, is generally considered Iceland’s greatest novelist and a contemporary master of epic storytelling. I became enamored with his work after reading his fantastic novel World Light several years ago (you can read my staff pick review of World Light here). Very recently, his first novel, The Great Weaver From Kashmir, was published for the first time in English, and of course I got a copy right away. Great Weaver is a semiautobiographical story about an idealistic young man who sets off on a journey to achieve perfection, and in doing so encounters various new ideas that alter his worldview, including socialism and Catholicism. Please note that our library has two copies of this book on order, but you can place a hold so you can be sure to get a copy once they’re in. In the meantime, along with World Light, I highly recommend Laxness’s other great novel, Independent People, and his slightly shorter works, The Fish Can Sing and Under the Glacier.
A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge – This book is BIG science fiction, in the sense that it deals with very complex speculative, yet scientifically grounded, ideas. For instance, the book introduces one to an alien species of doglike creatures who live in packs that share a group mind, and individuals only exist as the whole of a pack of creatures. And in another great leap of imagination, Vinge describes our galaxy as one with various “zones of thought” that influence the level of intellectual and civilizational advancement obtainable by anything living within a zone. Earth and its inhabitants, for instance, reside in the “slow zone,” while godlike, uber-technologically advanced beings exist within the “transcend.” Sound mindblowing? It is, and so much so that it won the Hugo Award, science fiction’s greatest prize, in 1993. Incidentally, its follow-up prequel, A Deepness In the Sky, won the Hugo in 2000.
So, when the Thanksgiving cleanup is done, the family has gone home, and the tryptophan is taking over, I’ll be found relaxing somewhere with these great books. What books will you be reading?