So, here are the first 5 out of the 50 book challenge I’ve set for myself. Note that I’m a relatively slow reader so there will likely be long stretches between the posts. And because I need to at least skim-read a lot of academic books as well due to my job, I’m including those as well as fiction or other non-work related literature.
There is some back-catalogue here from my ‘have read’ mental list but not from years and years ago. The rule of thumb is that if I’ve read it recently enough that I can write a short review without having to go back to the book, it’s included. In practice that means 'last 6 months or so'.
Anyway, first 5! Enjoy :D
***Lightning by Dean Koontz
– Koontz is one of my favourite authors and I’m pretty sure I’ve read most of his books. This is an older one and it shows; the author’s excellent use of simile and metaphor is not quite as honed as in the later books and his personal philosophy/worldview which is always there is pushed a bit too explicitly here. Still, as always, the characters are vividly drawn and personable, the plot twist is pretty cool, and the ending, as always, is a happy one.Persian Boy by Mary Renault
– As a rule, I’m not very keen on historical novels and fictionalisation of real historical people. Even in fanfic I tend to skip historical AUs unless the concept really grabs me or I trust the author. Anyway, this book was pushed into my hands by pushkin666
who will talk your ear off about Alexander the Great if you give her half an opening *g* And I’m glad it was, because I really, really enjoyed reading this. It takes a while to get used to the language (although, to be honest, getting over my instinctive dislike of first person narrative was a bigger obstacle) but the story of Bagoas, a noble born turned slave who ends up sharing Alexander’s bed and his last years, soon pulls you in. The ending was too abrupt as I would have liked to know more detail about what happened to Bagoas after, but apart for that I have no complaints.Psychology and Crime (Key Approaches to Criminology) by Craig Webber
– This is a very readable introduction to the topic of criminal psychology. It doesn’t cover everything (indeed skipping some key areas) but on the other hand it focuses on areas often ignored by other texts. There’s a genuinely integrated approach to psychology and criminology, and the first chapter does a great job at teasing out the parallels in the development of two disciplines. Chapter 4 on Crime in Groups is the only one I’ve seen that summarises relevant social psychological research in the context of group offending. Chapter 5 and 6 cover mass murder, genocide, war crime and terrorism, which are also areas rarely given this level of depth in general textbooks.Teaching for Quality Learning at University by John Biggs
– One of the ‘bibles’ of higher education literature, I’m told. I’ve read this for the post-graduate teaching certificate I’m doing, first resentfully but then with some appreciation. Biggs sets out an argument for his concept of ‘constructive alignment’ (between teaching and learning activities and assessment) which has basically become the gospel of current educational philosophy in universities. Sick of ‘learning outcomes/objectives’? Take it out with Biggs. Useful books for parts of my assignment, but more useful for articulating some stuff I instinctively knew but can now put in fancy academic terms. More useful still for giving me quite a few good ideas for teaching/learning activities and assessment tasks to try out on my students next year.White Weddings by Milly Johnson
– If you have ideological problems with the concept of marriage, this probably isn’t a book for you. However, if you can suppress your rage against such a heteronormative institution, this is an above-average ‘chick-lit’ (I have issues with that term but that’s another rant) novel; well-written and engaging enough that you care about the characters even though you spent most of the book wanting to smack them on the head. Fair warning: it does all centre on weddings and ‘finding the one’ so if that’s too nauseating for you then give it a miss.