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Benjamin Hollon

Joined 3 months ago

Getting out of big tech, step by step.

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2022 Reading Goal

Benjamin Hollon has read 0 of 25 books.

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Anna Karenina (2004, Penguin) 4 stars

While previous versions have softened the robust and sometimes shocking qualities of Tolstoy's writing, Pevear …

Review of 'Anna Karenina' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

Having read so many Russian novels recently must be making this easier, because I believe this one was the easiest read yet. I'm getting used to the style, so I don't have to keep stopping to think through what the author is trying to say. That's kinda nice.

I'm not sure what I think about the book as a whole. The characters were relatable, and I enjoyed most scenes, but I usually didn't like the ways Tolstoy would resolve issues in the plot. They felt too harsh and sudden without enough meaning dredged out of them first. Still, I don't know how I'd have done it better, so I won't complain about that too much.

Other than that, I'm glad I read it. It's probably not one I'll reread again anytime soon, but that's more because of the length than the content.

War and Peace (1998, Oxford University Press, USA) 5 stars

"War and Peace centers broadly on Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812 and follows three …

Review of 'War and Peace' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

So, War and Peace. It's a big one, for sure.

But I feel like it's a lot shorter than people think it is. War and Peace has become our archetypal "long book," but it's shorter than Les Miserables (which I read last year) and reads a lot faster. It's a book more on the scale of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which is still long, but is also fairly widely read.

With that out of the way, let's get into it.

Russian Names

This is probably a common barrier to people understanding this book and others like it. In my case, I worked my way up to War and Peace by reading some of Dosteovsky's work: The Gambler, Crime and Punishment, and The Brothers Karamazov. At one point when I was reading Brothers K, it just clicked and I started to get how the …

Of Mice and Men (Paperback, 2002, Penguin Books) 4 stars

An intimate portrait of two men who cherish the slim bond between them and the …

Review of 'Of Mice and Men' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

Okay, so this book was a two-sided coin:

First, I thought that it had some of the best writing I've seen. Really excellent characterization, foreshadowing, and plot development. It's also pretty short; I read it in 1-2 hours.

On the other hand, it's got one of the saddest endings I've ever seen. Read at your own risk.

Overall, I thought it was very worth the read.

Nemesis Games (2015, Orbit Books) No rating

Nemesis Games is a 2015 science fiction novel by James S. A. Corey, the pen …

Review of 'Nemesis Games' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

This one was... different. And I'm not sure if I liked that. It showed an extremely different side of everything, and even put on hold most of the plotlines that had been developing in the first four books.

It was probably my least favorite to read, but definitely the most intriguing from the perspective of the overall storyline; it feels like the authors took a book to step back and set a few things right before they moved on into the later books (which I have not, as of writing this review, read yet) so they can make sure to get things right later, and I like that.

ALSO there are some wonderful all-new plotlines and characters thrown in now that make me excited to see what's coming next. So yeah, different, but it has a lot of potential, depending on how the later books progress.

Dune (AudiobookFormat, 2007, Macmillan Audio) 4 stars

Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, …

Review of 'Dune' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

This was my second time reading this book, and you know, I think I liked it a little better this time. I was able to catch and appreciate some details early on that were important later, and I had a better understanding of what to expect, so some of the more confusing passages were easier to comprehend.

There's definitely some weirder stuff in this book, and I'm not sure I understood everything. Generally speaking, whenever Paul went into a trance and started seeing the future, I got a wee bit lost.

Probably my favorite thing about this book is the world that it's set in; very little context is given (until the delightfully detailed appendixes), but it's glaringly obvious that all of the casually mentioned events from the far past were well thought out and shaped how the world ended up.

I was also extremely impressed by the thinking through …

Leviathan Wakes (2011, Orbit) 4 stars

Humanity has colonized the solar system—Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond—but the stars …

Review of 'Leviathan Wakes' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

Um, here's a thought, but don't read it unless you've already read the book, okay:

I feel kinda horrible to say it, but I was kinda glad when Miller got killed off. Not that I wasn't sad; he was one of my favorite characters, and I really loved how he developed over the course of the novel. It's just like this: if I'm going to stick around for a what, nine-book series, I want to see that the authors aren't afraid of change. Too many books I've read are afraid to let anything happen because they want their readers to keep loving the characters they first saw. (The Oz series is predominantly on my mind; every book solved the conflict with yet another magic object to the point where one of the later plots--and in my opinion one of the more interesting ones--has an evil magician steal all their magic …

Cibola Burn (Hardcover, 2014, Orbit Books) 4 stars

The gates have opened the way to thousands of habitable planets, and the land rush …

Review of 'Cibola Burn' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

To tell the truth, I was saddened to see the Expanse universe expanded beyond our minuscule solar system. I really loved the limited scope of the first books, where you had people trying to fight a vast incomprehensible menace when they could hardly manage their own system.

But this book has pacified me a bit. The colonists in this story are limited as well; in fact, this one's even more limited than the first books were. I like that. It gives me hope that this series won't end up with humanity being a huge advanced civilization akin to the very one they're trying to find/investigate.

(spoiler for 2001: a Space Odyssey) That's possibly the only thing I didn't like about the 2001 book (the movie was terrible in regards to explaining things to the viewer, so I'll pretend it didn't exist): the transcendence of humanity. I get that the whole …