Books Ron Read in 1999

A year in (parentheses) is the book's publication date; a date in [brackets] is the date I finished the book.

Comments on the Year 1999

I used to average at least four books a month. In 1999, I read not much more than two books a month. Maybe I'm getting old, or maybe I'm working too hard.

  1. Erik Davis, Techgnosis (1998) ... About the intersection of the occult and high tech. Thought-provoking. Davis graduated a couple of years before I did at Yale and I was once published in the same issue of the same magazine as he. I keep thinking our paths are going to cross one day. [8 Feb]

  2. David Zindell, War in Heaven (1998) ... Part 3 of Zindell's Requiem for Homo Sapiens. Deep and poetic science fiction. What is it to be human? What is it to be a god? This may be a great book; time will tell. [22 Feb]

  3. William Sleator, The Night the Heads Came (1996) ... Delightful, like all Sleator. Sleator is my favourite juvenile SF author. I discovered him when I bought his book Singularity because it had the same name as my zine. [3 Mar]

  4. Stephen Nachmanovitch, Free Play: The Power of Improvisation in Life and the Arts (1991) ... A wonderful book about Ludist ideals. Made me feel alive, unlike the next two books. Not that that's the criterion of truth or anything. [11 Mar]

  5. Susan Blackmore, The Meme Machine (1999) ... A survey of the incipient science of memetics. Actually mentions my memetics paper in the introduction. Nevertheless, focuses too much on Dennett-style evolutionary memetics. Reading it made me feel dead inside. [14 Mar]

  6. Stephen Batchelor, Buddhism Without Beliefs (1998) ... I read this because The Meme Machine (above) recommended it. I should have known. It espouses a supposedly purified form of Buddhism devoid of supernatural ideas like reincarnation. After reading this book, I felt like a bundle of dried sticks. [14 Mar]

  7. William Hope Hodgson, The House on the Borderland (1907) ... Bizarre, spooky, and sad. What more can you ask for? Read the etext. [15 Mar]

  8. Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write (1938/1987) ... Encouragement for the writer. Best quote: "I have come to think that the only way to become a better writer is to become a better person." I'm going to go read it again right now! [2 May]

  9. G.K. Chesterton, The Club of Queer Trades (1905) ... A lot of fun. Cheerful throughout and trite in places, like much Chesterton. Somewhat of an apology for Christianity. Read the etext. [11 May]

  10. Aldous Huxley, Crome Yellow (1921) ... The purple prose of Huxley's Mr. Barbecue-Smith was what made me decide my book Kennexions needed a serious rewrite. Very good. I wish I had read it when I was 18 or 20; it would have knocked some sense into my arrogant, sex-starved brain, if I had understood it. Read the etext. [12 May]

  11. Lord Dunsany, Fifty-One Tales (1915) ... Strange and wonderful, like all Dunsany I have read. Download the etext (.zip format). [13 May]

  12. A bunch of other books that I lost track of.

  13. Bruce Sterling, A Good Old-Fashioned Future (1998) ... A collection of Sterling's latest stories. I'll buy anything Sterling writes. One of the stories, about a future Japan, ties in nicely with The Transparent Society (below). [14 Aug]

  14. Greg Egan, Teranesia (1999) ... Greg Egan is one of the world's greatest living science fiction writers, but this is his worst novel. Egan is a great "idea man", but the number of ideas in this book would barely fill out one of his earlier short stories. Most of the book is taken up with repetitive ranting against postmodernists in academia. Unless you're an Egan completist like me, don't fucking bother. Try Permutation City, Diaspora, or Quarantine instead -- all of them are dazzling. [12 Sep]

  15. Stewart Brand, The Clock of the Long Now (1999) ... Superb! Thought provoking book about a clock Danny Hillis is building that will tell time for 10,000 years. [26 Sep]

  16. David Brin, The Transparent Society (1998) ... Also superb! This book has completely changed my worldview. It's about the fact that thanks to technology, all privacy is about to vanish -- and why this is a good thing. I can't recommend this book highly enough, and you know how paranoid and secretive I am. [26 Sep]

  17. A bunch of Montaigne, Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, and Hume, from my Britannica Great Books of the Western World set, which my buddy Karl Erickson gave me most of. Thanks again, Karl! [Sep-Nov]

  18. Gene Wolfe, The Shadow of the Torturer (1980) ... Part 1 of The Book of the New Sun. I reread it for the nth time, in the Shadow and Claw omnibus edition. These books set the new standard for fantasy. Their quality can only be compared to The Lord of the Rings. [Nov-Dec]

  19. Gene Wolfe, The Claw of the Conciliator (1981) ... Part 2 of The Book of the New Sun. I reread it for the nth time, in the Shadow and Claw omnibus edition. [Nov-Dec]

  20. Gene Wolfe, The Sword of the Lictor (1981) ... Part 3 of The Book of the New Sun. I reread it for the nth time, in the Sword and Citadel omnibus edition. [Nov-Dec]

  21. Gene Wolfe, The Citadel of the Autarch (1982) ... Part 4 of The Book of the New Sun. I reread it for the nth time, in the Sword and Citadel omnibus edition. [Nov-Dec]

  22. Gene Wolfe, The Urth of the New Sun (1987) ... The sequel to The Book of the New Sun. Must reading for anyone who enjoyed the tetralogy. [25 Dec]

  23. Gene Wolfe, Nightside the Long Sun (1993) ... Part 1 of The Book of the Long Sun, which is set in the same universe as The Book of the New Sun, but not quite as good. Wolfe is always worth reading, however! (This book is now available as part of Litany of the Long Sun (2000)) [27 Dec]

  24. Gene Wolfe, Lake of the Long Sun (1994) ... Part 2 of The Book of the Long Sun. (This book is now available as part of Litany of the Long Sun (2000)) [28 Dec]

If you click on a book title in the index, the link will usually take you to a page where you can buy the book, although sometimes I have linked to an information page, in the case of books that aren't generally available. Similarly, if you click on an author's name, the link will take you to a page where you can buy books by that author. Although I have had to be creative with books that are not readily available (such as self-published or small-press books, or books in Esperanto), usually the purchasing links will point to the online home of the brick-and-mortar Powell's City of Books, in Portland, Oregon.

Books Ron Read | Ron's Info-Closet

Ron Hale-Evans