Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Do you love all things about 80s geek culture? D&D? Atari/TRS-80/Commodore 64 video games? Movies like War Games? Do you want to read hundreds of pages with endless references to all of these things? Well then, I've got the book for you!
Lets run through the setup: Dystopian type near future earth setting. Check. Everyone spends all their time hooked into a VR world that has replaced the internet. Gotcha. Super rich dude who invented the VR world dies and leaves all his money and ownership of the VR world to whoever can follow the clues. Bingo. Oh, and did I mention that he LOVED the 80s? As you're probably assuming, the protagonist is a poor high school aged kid that also loves the 80s. You're also right in guessing that he makes a few friends along the way, and that they get to fight against the evil, rich, powerful corporate bad guys who want to get even more rich and powerful. The book is better than I'm making it out to be here, but seriously, this book is written for males that like video games and were born between 1971 and 1978. If that's not you, this book may not be for you.
Academ's Fury by Jim Butcher
Cursor's Fury by Jim Butcher
I reviewed the first book in the series, Furies of Calderon, a while ago, and here is book 2 and 3 (of 6). Book two had a slow start. Book three was excellent. Other than the fact that every library I go to has all the books in the series except the next one I need, this series has been very, very good. This is one step below "excellent" in my make-it-up-as-you-go ranking system. Book four is sitting beside my bed right now. There isn't much to say that would make much sense if you haven't read the first book, but the world that Butcher is creating has expanded nicely, as the main characters become tangled up in larger politics and wars. If you've read any fantasy at all, you'll understand when I say that this is a book with a map on the first page. Anyway, I'm enjoying the series.
Storm Front by Jim Butcher
As I said, the library doesn't always have the book I need when I need it, so I picked up another book by Jim Butcher. The first book in a series is about Harry Dresden - he's a PI in present day Chicago who also happens to be a Wizard. This isn't Harry Potter style magic where you wave a magic wand and make essentially whatever you want happen. (Summon anything from anywhere! Turn anything into anything else! Stun someone! Turn their legs into jelly! Turn them into a ferret! Apparate to anywhere (except Hogwarts)! Turn yourself invisible! Do all the housework! Anyway . . . ) This Harry (Dresden that is) lives in a world with a much grittier type of magic and consults with the police when weird stuff goes down, as well as other jobs for private individuals. In this book he's got a gruesome double murder that the police don't understand, and a missing persons case and (lo and behold) things are all interconnected! The book was ok. There are now 15 books in the series. They pre-date the Fury books of his that I've read, so it's possible that his writing has improved over the years and the Dresden books would improve as the series goes on. (maybe?)
How Not To Be Wrong by Jordan Ellenberg
Math nerd book alert! Jordan Ellenberg is a math professor at the University of Wisconsin - he's like a real deal mathematician. The book essentially expounds on a couple of core topics which is that 1) math is useful to all sorts of problems, and 2) we would all be better off if we understood math better in order to not be wrong, and 3) that includes you. His goal is to demonstrate simple yet profound insights that good math gives to the world, and he points out plenty of bad math along the way. ("Bad math" being a large degree of what you see in the news, and nearly everything that you see from anyone on TV with an 'R' or 'D' after their name.) Ellenberg writes well, and manages to insert enough humor in the book that I start reading paragraphs aloud to Shannon. Shannon lovingly puts up with me when I do this. Coming in a bit over 400 pages, the book is a little longer than it needed to be, but I liked it. This book is accessible to anyone with a high school education and things like this should be read by more people (especially those people with the 'R's and 'D's after their name on CNN/FoxNews). Sadly, we all know that it's mostly math nerds that are going to read the book.
And since, in all likelihood, you aren't going to read the book please remember these things:
- Not All Lines are Straight. Linear trend lines are often silly things to use.
- 5% or more of scientific studies are wrong, because that's how we've designed our system.
- If you never lose, you probably aren't taking enough risk.
- Percentage increases or decreases are terrible to use if the numbers might be negative
- All public opinion polls can be messed with to make them appear to say whatever you want them to say.