The Reading of Books #17

Some books I read, by Houellebecq and Lévy, Felica Day, R.A. Salvatore and David E. Ewalt, so a lot of geeky stuff again (Dungeons & Dragons).

Michel Houellebecq & Bernard-Henri Lévy – Public Enemies

source: goodreads.com

It’s a fascinating idea to have to of the most influential thinkers (regardless if Houellebecq looks at himself in that way) of the modern times to go into a letter exchange with eachother. Do that with these two leading french intellectuals and you’ve got something special going on. Both are on different sides of the spectrum, but in their letters the interest and respect clearly shines through. When the book begins we can find some stabs and misconceptions, but gradually it becomes an intimate and deeply intellectual exchange.

The two men are united in their self deflating humor and loathing for their roles in life. Loathing and love, because both seem to be addicted to where they are and the way they are perceived in the public eye. I do think that this exchange finds no equivalent in other European nations, this is an exchange embedded in the french form of a ‘public intellectual’, which is a new concept, that rarely actuallye embodies any sort of true intellectualism in other nations. These men however, are deeply involved in knowing the self and therefor int rying to comprehend the other. The fact that they manage to convey it in a convincing and witty manner even makes this a better read, worthy of your attention.

David M. Ewalt – Of Dice and Men

source: goodreads.com

I have only recently embraced the world of D&D, but David Ewalt had done so many, many years before me and knows the game, the history, the rules and the story well enough to tell the tale of D&D itself, which he does in a captivating, spectacular and immersing way. Well, that should be enough of convincing, but let me go a bit deeper into that. Ewalt is a journalist for Forbes, so we’re talking about serious business here. The man had left his roots behind and somehow started to export his nerdy past as an explorer, an ethnographer if you will.

Ewalts trip into the history and dense development of D&D and its affiliates gets a personal touch through that, with a warm and fond approach to the subject matter and some reverence for the key figures like Gygax and Arneson. While the personal fire rekindles, the story becomes a beautiful legend told with much love and warmth, but always remaining that of a journalist trying to tell you more about this phenomenon. There is definitely criticism and analysis, but it helps in understanding that beauty of D&D, it’s about characters, flaws and strenghts. It’s about what you can do when you combine the best of all. Ewalt brings that together in a great read.

Felicia Day – You’re never weird on the internet (almost)

source:goodreads.com

The book by Felicia Day reads as a bit of therapy, as someone coming to turns with her own path in life a lot later in it. Turns out that’s partly why it was written and in what state the author was. I chose to go for the audiobook version on this one, because it was read by Felicia Day herself. Like the book ‘Just A Geek’ by Wil Wheaton it just happens to connect easier that way and is probably the most ‘true to the core’ experience you can get. The book is a good read for everyone who has felt like an outsider somewhere in their lives.

The book is therefor a story of Felicia’s life, filled with humor and self deflating remarks, highl lighting the problems she has faced throughout the years as an insecure person trying to deal with the world. In that way, there’s also a part lamentation of choices done wrong and hardships endured, but it’s all in good fun. We know where it ended, which is in a good place. The particularly interesting bit in the book deals with gamergate, which was a horrible part of gaming history. Being a self-appointed geek for pretty much forever, I felt alienated and truly disappointed with the gaming world after gamer gate, and that sentiment was clearly there. All in all, it’s a fun and light read about that girl who could be your neighbour. It’s great stuff.

R.A. Salvatore – Gauntlgrym

source:goodreads.com

Getting into Dungeons & Dragons requires you to start getting some footing in the vast universe of the game. No other way is better than reading the novels and letting your own fantasy shape that world the way you wish to perceive it. No other character is more intriguing and part of this world than Drizzt Do’Urden, a drow elf (a dark skinned variation, living underground and generally underground). This story takes place later in the cycle of the life of this character, which developed from a supporting character to a main player in the universe.

Gauntlgrym is an old dwarven hold, thought lost and the huge quest for aged King Bruenor of the dwarves of Mithril Hall. Together with his old friend Drizzt he concocts a plan to escape his duties as king and go fight for his ancestral home in the final great quest. This story follows their adventures, wracked with memories and their old past and is a classic adventure novel, displaying various classes, races and elements of D&D.

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