Okay, let’s clear up some more backlog, with books that I am having a hard time writing about.

First, let’s start off with Tina Fey’s Bossypants. Books written by TV people are rarely good, but Tina Fey isn’t just a TV person, she started off as a writer. And it shows. Funnier than you’d expect, and worth reading for people who like Tina Fey (which is to say, people with a sense of humor).

Next up is some Ethshar books by Lawrence Watt-Evans, a short story collection and two novels. These are so far into the series that you almost can’t possibly care whether they’re good or not. But for the record, The Unwelcome Warlock is excellent and one of the better novels in the series; The Sorcerer’s Widow is fine, but very very slight; and Tales of Ethshar is okay, but short fiction isn’t really Watt-Evan’s strong suit. And if you haven’t read any of the Ethshar books, you should; start with the first one and keep reading.

Then there’s Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers. The scientific community is up in arms lately about how Gladwell is cavalier with his facts and comes to unwarranted conclusions; enh, whatevs. It’s a good read, and the stuff it says is plausible. Take it with a grain of salt, like you do with Wikipedia, I guess.

And we’ll end this roundup with Stephen Greenblatt’s The Swerve: How the World Became Modern. This is a fine enough book, but it’s trying way, way too hard. It purports to be about how modernity was born, but really it’s about a particular poem by Lucretius, and how it was lost and then rediscovered in the Renaissance. That topic is interesting enough in its own right to justify the book, and all the “If you read this line in a really forced fashion, it’s clear that Lucretius was talking about quantum mechanics, and maybe we never would have discovered it if not for his poem omg” is just annoying and unnecessary. Worth reading, but try to suppress your eye-rolling reflex as needed.


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