Summary of reading: April – June 2013

July 2nd, 2013 at 5:47 am
  • Roughing It" by Mark Twain – a kind of a "travel log" of the author’s years spent in Nevada, California and Hawaii in the 1860s. While reading the book I actually had to look up "high tale" in a dictionary – I’ve never seen such a concentration of obvious exaggerations before; I suppose it has gone out of style in the last 100+ years of literature, and I’m happy – it’s really distracting. This makes the book less than great, though it’s still a very interesting read – the accounts of life in the 19th century "West" are fascinating. Amid the jokes, Twain provides detailed and interesting historical background on such topics as the Mormons, the gold/silver rush and the early days of Hawaii as an American territory.
  • "The Architecture of Open Source Applications, Volume 1" – descriptions of the architecture of 25 open-source projects, from known ones like Mercurial, LLVM and Sendmail to some small and obscure ones (perhaps well known only in small circles). The idea is great, and the book could be great, if only the quality of the chapters was uniformly good. But as each chapter had a completely different set of authors, the quality naturally varies a lot. Some chapters are fascinating, and some are unreadable. Overall I liked the book, however, and I may read the second volume at some point.
  • "Eloquent JavaScript" by Marihn Haverbeke – a readable, short and dense introduction to JavaScript. I doubt that folks new to programming can learn much from it, but for someone with experience in other languages it’s just right. At less than 200 pages (~150 for just the core JavaScript parts) it can be consumed very quickly. It’s a shame it only covers ES3 and not ES5, but that’s not too bad. Reading it also emphasizes just how quirky JavaScript is. Even though the author is naturally quite fond of the language (it seems to be his main go-to tool and he did write a book about it…), he can’t help himself but mention how this or that feature is badly designed, confusing and shouldn’t be used.
  • "A Winter’s Tale" by Stephen King – a rather weird short book. Feels like a creepy experiment for a story-within-a-story writing.
  • "The Body" by Stephen King – an entertaining book about a group of teenagers going on a weird trip to look at the body of a dead kid some tens of miles away from their town. The writing is good, but not great – though I must admit the author certainly has a lot of creativity to tap into.

Related posts:

  1. Summary of reading: April – June 2011
  2. Summary of reading: April – June 2012
  3. Summary of reading: January – March 2013
  4. Summary of reading: May – June 2010
  5. Summary of reading: July – September 2010

4 Responses to “Summary of reading: April – June 2013”

  1. JFLNo Gravatar Says:

    You know that the “The Body” gave of one of the too rare good movie adapation (“Stand by me”) of Stephen King novels, right ?

  2. MDNo Gravatar Says:

    Regarding the AOSA1 book — any chapters you’d recommend in particular?

  3. elibenNo Gravatar Says:

    @MD, Unfortunately I didn’t make such a list – I probably should have. A good heuristic would be to look for “lessons learned” or similar in the end of the chapter and read it. Those are often the best parts of the chapter and if you like it you can read the whole chapter.

  4. Calvin DaltonNo Gravatar Says:

    The experiences and observations of Mark Twain has he writes in his work does have a lot of hyperbole. Yes, all those exagerrated phrases have become a lost art form.

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