May 2020 Books

I’m way behind on posting books here, but here are the books I read in May.

The Martian, by Andy Weir

I’ve read this book before (at the beach maybe 4-5 years ago), but I saw that there’s an Audible version read by Wil Wheaton, and I thought it was time for a good man-overcomes-tremendous-odds-to-survive book. I don’t know why Barnes & Noble doesn’t put that description on an endcap display.

The plot: Mark Watney is part of a manned mission to Mars. He and his crewmates are only a few days into their mission on the surface when there’s a giant storm and they have to scrub the mission. Mark is injured and, after the crew can’t locate him in time, presumed dead.

Mark is much less dead than assumed, and he patches himself and applies himself to the business of survival alone on a hostile planet–the slightest mistake could cost him his life. Thankfully for Mark, he is exceedingly resourceful.

NASA eventually realizes Mark is alive and they put their best minds to work to rescue him.

This is a fun, funny, hopeful adventure tale. There’s a good bit of math that’s kind of tough to just hear, but Wheaton does his best and expresses Mark’s sense of humor well.

The movie version of The Martian is quite good as well, so I recommend both.

(Language warning if that bothers you.)

★ ★ ★ ★

A Room with a View, by E. M. Forster

This gets its own review as it’s for my 50 Classics project. You can see the review here. (tldr: I enjoyed it)

★ ★ ★ ★

The Princess Bride, by William Goldman

I usually skip introductions in fiction books, because it might be an essay that spoils the ending and assumes you too are an academic reading this for the nth time. This introduction is very much not that, and Ben, who knows I hate intros, told me I had to read it. So I did, and it was great.

The conceit of this book is that Goldman, the author, is abridging and re-telling The Princess Bride, a book written by S. Morgenstern. Goldman says his father read him “the good parts” of the story, and now he’s trying to do the same for a new generation of readers. What a great and hilarious idea! So Goldman periodically interrupts the story to tell us that at this point, he cut 20 pages of Florinese history–you’re welcome–and ok back to Westley and Buttercup and their adventures.

I’ve seen the movie dozens of times, but had never read the book, and May 2020 seemed like a great time for something fun and light to read. The book has plenty of adventure and was great for a time when it was hard to focus and I didn’t want anything bleaker than the news.

★ ★ ★ ★

From a Certain Point of View, short stories by various authors

These short stories were great fun. For the 40th anniversary of the original Star Wars movie, a bunch of authors wrote short stories exploring minor characters or small moments from…a different point of view.

Some of these stories worked better than others, but it’s fascinating to see how a whole story can be made of something that’s a tiny tiny moment in the movie. Small characters are given whole backstories, villains are humanized or made more villainous, and the Star Wars universe expands a little further.

One of my favorites was the most entertaining few pages about paperwork I’ve ever read, so that’s a feat.

★ ★ ★

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