It’s been a while since I published a book review. As is probably obvious, I spend most of my discretionary time these days watching Doctor Who. It’s still not clear whether my infatuation will eventually burn itself out, or develop into a lifelong love affair. Of course I am hoping for the latter–doesn’t everyone who’s in love want it to last forever? In the meantime, I just signed my daughter up for an online homeschooling class entitled Traveling Through History With Doctor Who, because who doesn’t need another excuse to watch a Doctor Who episode every week and then write papers and do projects relating it to history, science, literature and ethics?
I’ve been reading too, though, at least a bit. Doctor Who related books, and even a few others. Check out my latest reads:
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I’ve kept this on my currently-reading shelf for quite a while, but finally realized that I was never going to finish it. For one thing, it’s so long! I like long books, but only if I like them, so I must not like this one very much if it feels like I’m slogging through and not getting anywhere.
Most people I know either love or hate this series, but I find myself merely lukewarm. When I am in a particularly nihilistic mood, I kind of love wallowing in the T.V. series in all its opulent glory, even if I have to cover my eyes for the really gory parts. But I’m not all that impressed with Martin’s prose.
The only character I really like all the time is Bran Stark. If the book were all about him, I’d probably like it much better. Which makes me think I should probably just go back and read Lord of the Rings yet again, if what I’m interested in is the diminutive, melancholic character on the quixotic quest to save the world.
I have a several friends who adore this series. At least now I can say I tried.
Falling in Honey: How a Tiny Greek Island Stole My Heart by Jennifer Barclay
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is far from the best expat memoir I’ve ever read. It probably only deserves maybe 2.5 stars. But I’m moving to a Greek island, so I did enjoy it quite a bit and I’ve rounded up my rating.
Things I liked – reading all the little details, like descriptions of food (I am addicted to descriptions of food), the traditional dancing at festivals, and the idiosyncratic directions to her new house.
Things I could have done without – so many pages devoted to her love life. It seemed like she should have written a separate memoir for that, although I’m sure the two things (Greece and complicated relationships) were inextricably connected in her mind.
So, yeah, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this as good armchair traveling, unless you like it mixed in with an unrelated soap opera.
Doctor Who and Philosophy: Bigger on the Inside by Courtland Lewis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is the book I am going to send back to the library with a post-it note containing my name and email address. Because if you read and loved this book, we should be friends (and because I’ve been informed that in Whovian circles this is considered a legitimate way to make friends).
Every time I watch a Doctor Who episode, I end up with a head full of ideas that I’m just dying to discuss with someone, and my husband can only take so much Doctor Who-related babble. So this book was like water for my parched soul–essay after essay written by people who not only take Doctor Who seriously, but were also interested in exploring its ethical and existential themes. Heaven.
The book is divided into several sections, including Ethics, Personal Identity, Aesthetics, etc. I minored in philosophy, although I haven’t read a whole lot of philosophical texts since I graduated. So most of the philosophical arguments in the book were familiar to me, but I think they would still be accessible without a background in philosophy.
Since each essay is written by a different person, the quality and style is somewhat uneven. But there are enough gems to give the book five stars. A couple of different authors developed the idea that the Doctor’s ethical system is a variation of the “Ethics of Caring” developed by feminist thinkers in the 1950’s, and I found those essays enlightening, since I’m particularly interested in (and enamoured by) the Doctor as an unconventional hero with an idiosyncratic moral outlook.
Whether you want to get your Whovian friend interested in philosophy or your philosophical friend interested in Doctor Who, this is the perfect book.
Doctor Who: The Doctor’s Lives and Times by James Goss
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Someone in acquisitions at my library is apparently as taken by Doctor Who as I am, since I’ve probably checked out a dozen or more books similar this one, which is a sort of documentary-type book about the series.
This one, though, is by far my favorite. While many of the others are simply character encyclopedias, this book has lots of interviews and reminiscing by cast members about what it was like to be part of Doctor Who, and it’s laid out in an appealing scrapbook style.
I admit to skimming some of the earlier chapters, since I’ve only seen a fraction of the classic episodes, and I’m trying to avoid too many spoilers. But if you wanted a nice overview of the series, including characters, plot(s), and behind-the-scenes, you couldn’t go wrong with this book.