Home > Articles > The Last 5 Books I Read (June 2016)

The Last 5 Books I Read (June 2016)

A View from the Bridge, Arthur Miller

This is a script I read for my American Literature class. It was alright. Even though it has a distant setting, the characters still feel real. They each have their own needs/desires which conflict in certain ways, which causes the drama/action. My favorite scene is one in which they're all in the apartment, and Catherine and Rodolfo start dancing. The subtext in that scene is very interesting.

People talk about the ending being shocking, and I don't know that I agree. There's enough foreshadowing and character development that it isn't a surprise.

Anyway, it's a fine script. I imagine it's better as an actual staged performance, and I would probably go see it if I knew it was being performed.

Questions for All your Answers, Roger E. Olson

This would have been a good book to give a 13 year old version of myself. At that time, I was struggling with how anti-intellectual the church seemed. Fortunately, for a few reasons I came to find and appreciate the intellectual tradition of Christianity. As such, I don't think I'm necessarily the target audience for the book. Reading it is still enjoyable, but it's not earth-shattering for me.

More generally, Olson seems to be caught in the awkward task of speaking intellectually and theologically to an audience hostile (or apathetic, at best) toward theological thinking. His writing feels at times pulled in different direction. In one corner, he's trying to explain complicated theological lines of thought. In another corner, he's trying to keep it simple enough that people without much theological background can understand it.

That said, there are still parts of the book that I liked. The third chapter was particularly good; it talks about cultural sensitivity and the Trinity in a very practical way that still respects the ideas.

Room, Emma Donoghue

I watched the movie adaptation on a plane and enjoyed it thoroughly. The book is written from the perspective of a child, which seems like an annoying premise. At times the perspective is a bit annoying, but overall I was surprised by how well it worked.

All in all, I enjoyed it a good deal. Because of the narrator's limited knowledge, I was constantly intrigued and kept reading to find out more. While I didn't, you could probably read it in one sitting as it's relatively short.

Ready Player One, Ernest Cline

I didn't like the main character at the beginning of the book, which was not enjoyable. I suppose you could argue that this is Cline setting up for some character development, but that isn't a satisfying answer. Ideally, there would be a way to establish that the character is hauty without making readers hate him. Luckily, Parzival/Wade became a more interesting, less prideful character as I got further in the book.

At times, something would happen in the book that felt irrelevant enough to the plot that I would be drawn out of the action and start wondering how he was going to use that later in the book (he always did end up using or referencing it). I understand that foreshadowing is neat, but it felt a little obvious.

Some of the hacking felt unrealistic. Even within the context of a SciFi universe, it doesn't seem like these sensitive systems should be so easily hackable.

Despite these criticisms, this was a very enjoyable read. Admittedly, I'm a nerd, so I don't know how the reference-laden prose would feel to someone who's not a fan of nerdy books and games. The book never felt like it was dragging, which made reading it a good time.

Oblivion: Stories, David Foster Wallace

This book is a collection of eight short stories. Of these, I found three to be wonderful, four or five to be good, and the other one or two weren't my cup of tea.

Incarnations of Burned Children is short, gripping, and emotional. Wallace does an excellent job of making the story seem real and important.

Another Pioneer is a story about an ancient society told through two or three retellings. The levels of redirection allow Wallace to explore some narrative branching patterns I found fascinating.

Good Old Neon is a story about a man who looks introspectively and finds within himself nothingness. His attempts at dealing with this discovery are interesting.

I noticed two common patterns among all the stories. First, I often started reading, got a few pages in, started to think to myself "This one's kinda boring...", and then suddenly Wallace would introduce something that hooked me.

Second, most (maybe all) of the stories end with a level of ambiguity. Because of this, the stories left me thinking about them on and off in the days after reading them.

Reading this book was well worth my time.