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Preview: timspalding's books from LibraryThing

timspalding's books from LibraryThing

Recent books from timspalding's LibraryThing library


The maze runner by James Dashner

Fri, 11 Aug 2017 14:54:50 -0400


The Maze Runner: The Maze Runner, Book 1 by James Dashner

Wed, 09 Aug 2017 00:17:03 -0400

(image) timspalding's review: "What a disappointing book. I figured I should read it since it got a lot of attention, sales, and awards. YA isn't my genre, but similar motives got me reading The Hunger Games trilogy and I was glad of it. I was certainly not glad here. The premise is solid--a bizarre, original and highly specific situation. But the excitement fades away to nothing as the pedestrian writing grinds on and the truth is revealed. The story is largely driven by this revelation, with basic facts kept from the reader, often in truly desperate ways—amnesia, selective amnesia, bits and bobs that pop out of amnesia, people too nice to reveal the terrible truth, people too mean to reveal the truth, ambiguous conversations, interrupted conversations, etc. At the end, a bunch of information is dumped at one time—a big heap of dull, dystopia tropes. I was long past caring. There are some compelling, if predictable, personal dynamics early on--questions of leadership reminiscent of Tunnel in the Sky or some other teenage, group robinsonade. But they aren't developed, and I got tired of being told what the main character "felt" all the time, as if his reader's couldn't imagine a character is scared in a scary situation without the author saying "Thomas was scared." Well, Tim was bored. Tim felt this book was not a good book. Tim did not like it. Tim could not be paid to read the sequels."

The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail - but Some Don't by Nate Silver

Wed, 05 Jul 2017 23:15:22 -0400

(image) timspalding's review: "As a devotee of 538, website and especially podcasts, I was looking forward to this book. I wanted to love it. It was enjoyable, certainly, and I learned a few things. But after opening the door, it hung out in the mud room, instead of exploring the house and ending in the basement. I particularly tired of the pat narrative framing common to the "thinky-think book" sub-genre—the fiction that Silver went visiting various interesting people and interviewing them, and only then drew out lessons from their lives. And I tired of a certain reluctance to get into the statistical and interpretive weeds, when even minor articles and moments on the 538 website have pushed my understanding more."

A History of Britain, Volume 3: The Fate of Empire, 1776 - 2000 by Simon Schama

Sat, 17 Jun 2017 03:41:27 -0400

(image) timspalding's review: "Thin."

Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Political Life by Robert Dallek

Sun, 09 Apr 2017 09:13:29 -0400


Min ven Maigret by Georges Simenon

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 16:35:53 -0400


The Squire's Tale (The Squire's Tales) by Gerald Morris

Wed, 15 Mar 2017 16:16:55 -0400


The Renaissance: A Very Short Introduction by Jerry Brotton

Tue, 14 Mar 2017 02:45:39 -0400

(image) timspalding's review: "I love the side-alleys of history—the relatively ignored, the peculiar, the losers, the things that could have been but didn't end up being, the stuff that's fascinating, but didn't move the world. My Classics/history grad school work was a parade of such topics. But there's a time and a place for such work, and a "Very Short Introduction" is not one of them. Rather, such books need to hit the dead center of the topic--the stuff that sets it apart, the stuff that matters. In another context, I'd love to hear Brotten talk about, say, Ottomans in the Renaissance. (I mean—I'm the guy who put Filelfo's poetic encomium to Mehmet the Conqueror on their Classics reading list!) But not in a Very Short History, where I expect to get a brilliant synthesis and theory. So… meh."

The Cold War: A Very Short Introduction by Robert J. McMahon

Tue, 14 Mar 2017 02:17:19 -0400

(image) timspalding's review: "Largely fine, this quick survey falls down in two critical ways. First, there's a persistent bias in focus and attribution, no doubt partially about the state of the sources, but still marked. The author seems to prefer different vocabularies and sentence structures to describe the US and the Soviet Union. The US tends to do things--often for the wrong reasons or bad motives--while such things merely take place, happen or occur with or around the Soviet Union. The US acts, but the Soviet Union more commonly reacts, responds or defends. The US acquires its various satellites intentionally, and mucks around with them unfairly; the Soviet Union just seems to have them, and is never seen to do much beyond "supporting" them. As Britain was once said to have done, the Soviet Union seems to "conquer half the world in a fit of absence of mind." Second, while the internal politics and motivations of the US and Soviet Union are dealt with in depth—anyway, depth appropriate to a short survey—China is treated as a mysterious, "inscrutable" power."