Books

Category archives for Books

Best Reads of 2013

Here are my best reads in English during 2013. It was a really good year for quality, though I didn’t read very much: 41 books, twelve of which were e-books. The latter number was boosted by the Humble E-Book Bundle that I bought at Junior’s recommendation (sadly no longer up for sale). Find me at…

An Attempt To Move The Hanging Gardens

About the time of Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC, Greek writers started to offer lists of Seven Wonders that the well-read traveller should see. In the 2nd century BC the Hanging Gardens of Babylon began to show up on such lists. The location of Babylon is well known: on the River Euphrates…

I Was Wrong About Book-On-Demand

Here’s a fun case of me not anticipating an imminent technological development, not thinking that last centimetre of far enough. In July of 2007, six years ago, I wrote: Lately I have come to think of books as computer devices, combining the functions of screen and backup medium. All texts these days are written and…

Historiska media is a publishing house in Lund. In recent years they have been putting out pop-sci guide books about Medieval Sweden, province by province. I’ve reviewed the volumes about Södermanland and Uppland provinces here. And now my friend and Fornvännen co-editor Elisabet Regner has written the first volume in the series that deals with…

In this well-written, painstakingly annotated and beautifully designed book, physicist Baruch Sterman (with contributor Judy Taubes Sterman) traces the history and prehistory of a certain blue pigment, along with its cultural and religious significance through the ages. It’s what the Torah and Talmud calls tekhelet, and it’s made from a gland harvested from Murex sea…

Kay Glans used to edit the literary pages of Svenska Dagbladet, Sweden’s main conservative* newspaper, and Axess Magasin, a conservative Swedish arts & social sciences mag that also has a TV channel. The latter’s standard is high, and I’ve been particularly pleased to find repeated staunch rebuttals of post-modernism there. What I don’t like much…

Hedge-Wizards and Hedge-Parsons

The Grey Mouser, along with Fafhrd the Northerner hero of Fritz Leiber’s genre-defining sword & sorcery story cycle, is the archetype of the Dungeons & Dragons thief. He began his career however, Leiber informs us, as apprentice to a “hedge-wizard” who taught him some simple magical cantrips. I never understood what a hedge-wizard was, until…

Best Reads of 2012

Here are my best reads in English during 2012. I read 50 books this year, six of which were e-books. I flirted with LibraryThing for a while, but lately I’ve found that Goodreads is more the kind of leisure reading database/community that I enjoy. Find me there. Packing for Mars. Mary Roach 2011. Delving into…

Book Review: Erotic Refugees

I’ll tell you two things up front: this book is my friend’s first published novel; and I would have read it with great enjoyment even if I had no idea who the guy was. Paddy Kelly classifies it astutely as “Dick lit / Romantic comedy”: it’s Bridget Jones or Sex and the City, only from…

Scifi, Rocketry and Occult Silliness

Jack Parsons (1914-52) was a rocketry pioneer, a science fiction fan and a deeply committed occult follower of the aged Aleister Crowley. I recently read the 2004 edition of John Carter’s biography of the man, Sex and Rockets. The Occult World of Jack Parsons. Despite such promising material, it’s not a very engaging or well-written…