May 10th, 2012


May Books 5) The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching, by Thich Nhat Hanh

A book by a prominent Buddhist monk outlining key teachings of Buddhism. I started off rather liking it as an approach to mindfulness and how to process suffering and the good things about life. But after he Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path, I started to get a bit irritated with the constant discovery of new lists of important spiritual things, from the Two Truths up to the Twelve Links of Interdependent Co-Arising; it seems to me that over-describing the undescribable is fundamentally a mistake. I also started wondering to what extent Thich Nhat Hanh is presenting a mainstream account of Buddhism or his own particular take (or his school's). And I wonder also if there is much sense of the numinous in Buddhism; there didn't seem a lot here. Anyway, it is still the most interesting book by a Buddhist on Buddhism that I have read.

May Books 6) Deadline, by Mira Grant

Last of the Hugo nominees for this year for me; a sequel to last year's Feed, taking forward the story of newsbloggers in a near-future USA covering the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse. Lots of action and capers, but I did not enjoy it as much: the previous book's narrator is here present only as a voice in her brother's head, there is no presidential campaign subplot, and most of all the story is left unresolved at the end, with a massive plot twist setting us up for the next volume, so it's not a complete work. With some regret, this goes at the bottom of my Hugo ballot.

Links I found interesting for 10-05-2012


2012 Hugos: Best Novel

Fortunately none of this year's Hugo nominees is actually a bad book, an improvement on some previous years (no Willis, no Sawyer). Even so, I found it pretty easy to rank the nominees as follows:

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NB that three out of five of these feature dead girls in frequent conversation with central characters. In two cases it is the narrator's sister.
See also: Best Short story, Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form)