Raph al Guul: Reading Pleasures 2014

Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis

This post is part of a series of posts in which students of the English Seminar present their favourite books they have read in 2014. The lists are not restricted to books that were published this year. If you want to participate as well, send your list to zest.editor@gmail.com.

Today’s list comes to you from our very own Raph al Guul.

I don’t really enjoy reading for my studies. It’s not that I have a problem with the literature itself, but I absolutely despise reading on a timer. If you give me a book and tell me to read it by a certain date, I’d consider it a chore, not a joy, even if the deadline was more than generous. The following is not a list of chores. These are books I picked up to read for pure enjoyment and at my own time. And one of them I didn’t even finish.

Falling Man

Don DeLillo – Falling Man

This was better than closing his eyes. If he closed his eyes, he’d see something.

A disturbing read that might have been unbearable to see through if it wasn’t for DeLillo’s language that just about keeps you on the edge of sanity. This novel didn’t exactly make me feel good – it moved me. Ironic, considering that the central image of the novel is a falling man, indefinitely suspended in the air…

Micro

Michael Crichton, Richard Preston – Micro

“Do you know what Robert Louis Stevenson said about travel?” he said, calling back to the others. “He said, ‘It is better to journey hopefully than to arrive.’” “Fuck hope, I’ll settle for arrival,” Danny Minot remarked.

Technically, Micro is not that great. As far as Crichton goes, this one was about on par with Sphere, except that the end of Sphere makes up for an otherwise almost mediocre experience. Micro, on the other hand, remains only “okay” throughout. However, it is Crichton’s final novel and no fan could but cherish every last word of it, taking solace in the fact that perhaps some of the less polished passages and the flaws overall could be the result of Crichton’s not living long enough to finish Micro himself.

Binary

Michael Crichton – Binary

To him the ideal was chess – one man pitted against another man, each trying to calculate the intentions of the other in a game of enormous complexity with many alternatives.

One of the older Crichton novels, Binary is a solid thriller. In favor of sheer tense entertainment it lacks the depth of his later work, but remains similarly gripping. It is also far less technical than what you might expect after reading the likes of Prey and Timeline. As a former competitive chess player, I appreciate the parallelisms between the game and the narrative that unfolds within the novel – though someone who does not care about this particular theme may well miss it entirely. But even then Binary would remain, as introduced, solid.

Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis 1

Dark Horse Comics – Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis

“I’m selling soap. And you smell like you could use some.”

Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis is a Dark Horse comic book. More importantly, it is a LucasArts Point-and-Click adventure game from 1992, incidentally my favorite video game of all time. I finally got my hands on the tie-in comic and found it to be better than any of the Indiana Jones comics I’ve read so far – just like the game was the best Indiana Jones game to date. I suspect that this opinion may be heavily swayed by personal nostalgia, but who cares? It’s Indy, don’t be silly.

One More Thing

B. J. Novak – One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories

CONGRATULATIONS TO AUTHOR JOHN GRISHAM, declared the full-page ad, which featured a smiling, handsome picture of his face from ten years ago, WHOSE NEW THRILLER ‘THE SOMETHING’ DEBUTED THIS WEEK AT #1 ON THE NEW YORK BESTSELLER LIST.

This may be cheating; I did read this book in 2014, but I have not finished it yet. One More Thing is a collection of (very) short stories, which I pick up every now and then to move ahead one or two pieces at a time. They’re the kind of humorous stories you might read before going to bed, while waiting for the bus, or perhaps during the 15 minute break of a university seminar. Personally, I don’t see the point of reading a collection like this in a single go, but One More Thing is definitely a clever read and would work either way. My favorites so far: “The Rematch” and “The Something by John Grisham.”

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