Book Review: Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie

Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie
Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie
Random House, 2015

I have another shameful confession: Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights is the first novel by Salman Rushdie I’ve ever read.

Just like with Margaret Atwood, the absence of his other work in my reading history is another one of my biggest gaps.

And just like with Ms. Atwood, I wish I’d read some of his other work first.

I spent some time thinking about how to write a review of this book, how best to sum it up. Then I came across the New York Times review of it and realized that I can’t put it any better than they did. So I’m going to be horribly lazy and just link to theirs:

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Book Review: The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood
The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood
Nan A. Talese, 2015

I have a shameful confession: The Heart Goes Last is the first novel by Margaret Atwood I’ve ever read. The absence of her work in my reading history is one of my biggest gaps.

I wish I’d read some of her other work first.

The Heart Goes Last isn’t anything much beyond fine. It’s not great and it’s not a testament to her prestige. If it weren’t for Ms. Atwood’s larger reputation, this novel wouldn’t impel me to read anything else by her.

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Book Review: Snakewood by Adrian Selby

Cover of the book Snakewood by Adrian Selby
Snakewood
by Adrian Selby
Orbit, 2016

This review was first published by Booklist on March 15, 2016.

Kailen’s Twenty were legendary, undefeatable mercenaries present at some of the most important events in the history of the Old Kingdoms. Now, three decades after they disbanded, someone is killing them off, one by one. Set in a brutal world of subtle magic, clashing empires, and commercial interests, this is an impressive fantasy debut. Selby demonstrates the command of style, character, plotting, and world building of a seasoned author. The tale switches between the first-person perspectives of multiple characters, and Selby’s writing style changes appropriately. The nonchronological narrative is woven through with flashbacks. Selby creates a robust world that’s entirely believable, but he doesn’t get distracted showing it off. He lets the story live in this world in a deeply effective way. Snakewood has much in common with the work of Joe Abercrombie and should appeal to his fans. As a story about the violent world of warriors and magic, Snakewood is reminiscent of Matthew Stover’s Acts of Caine series, but without the science fiction elements.

The Pernicious Appeal of Wanting to Quit

This post is part of my effort to tell the story of my recent health journey.

In the interest of full disclosure, getting myself back to health wasn’t as straightforward or as easy as my last posts make it sound. I faced crises on the path—several, actually, at several points in the process. Maybe it would help to share one of those crises here.

The following is something I wrote two-and-half years ago, about a month after I’d started going to the gym on a regular basis. I’d spent the previous few years slowly reversing my inertia of inactivity and had finally reached a point that going to the gym for more serious exercise was something I genuinely wanted to do.

Even then, even with all my new motivation to get healthy, I still found myself close to giving up…

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Your Weight Isn’t Your Health

This post is part of my effort to tell the story of my recent health journey.

But what if nothing much changes in your life to make you care about improving your health?

You could just keep on as you are—which means that, eventually, you could end up with some kind of health scare. Better if it never gets that far.

I think there’s a way to build up to caring about your health without a scare and without major life changes—much like how I took many small steps to slowly change my inertia of inactivity, you can generate a momentum of caring. It starts with a necessary first step:

Stop making weight the goal.

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Book Review: Arkwright by Allen Steele

Cover of the book Arkwright by Allen Steele
Arkwright
by Allen Steele
Tor, 2016

This review was first published by Booklist on March 3, 2016.

Steele’s latest is many things: it’s a love letter to science fiction and the history of the genre, with cameos from many great writers and scenes set at several memorable historical events. It presents an original solution to a fundamental challenge of colonizing other star systems using ships that travel at sub–light speeds. It envisions a fascinating future for humanity in the galaxy, focused on the legacy of one particular family. But what makes Arkwright unique is that this isn’t a story about a colony ship traveling to a distant world. Rather, it’s the story of how such a ship gets built and launched in modern times. This novel fits well with Steele’s fascination with large-scale construction and engineering projects. It’s different from much of his other work in that it takes place predominantly on earth and a portion of it focuses on past history. Steele doesn’t manage to create a perfect marriage between all these threads, but his vision is engrossing, nonetheless.

It’s Not Just About the Obstacles

This post is part of my effort to tell the story of my recent health journey.

Getting rid of some of the obstacles that built up and stopped me from committing to exercise was an essential part of my path to better health, but it wasn’t the only factor. I need to talk about the elephant in the room:

Back in my late 20s and early 30s, when I was overweight and sedentary, my health simply didn’t matter all that much to me. I didn’t care about it.

It wasn’t just the cascade of obstacles that stopped me, it was the fact that getting healthier wasn’t important enough to me to bother overcoming them.

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