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What I read in 2004







6 *An Equal Music Vikram Seth 12/24 381 What a book to finish on Christmas Eve! Dear friends of mine gave this book to me. And I again thank them. Very different kind of book from what I've read. Such a beautiful story and such a delicate writing!
I used to be impressed by the authors' expertise on the subjects of their books: John Grisham's indepth knowledge of law, and Asimov's very readable account of scientific facts. But Vikram Seth is in another league: his writing of music is so touching! In his own words he confesses "Music to me is dearer even than speech." (in Author's Note)
How can one be so musical without himself being a musician? Come to think of it, a musician wouldn't be able to give this much life to music in written letters. He also must be a poet.
Really beautiful work of music and literature.
5 *Noble House James Clavell 12/04 1370 Very complex and engaging story. No doubt Clavell is a mast story-teller.

But I saw lots of things which reminded me of Tai-Pan too many times: being saved at the last moment by a huge luck, a huge disaster at the end etc. Still, a great book!

Now I have a problem: should I go on to Whirlwind, the last book of Asian saga by Clavell, or should I change to someone else?
4 *Tai-Pan James Clavell 10/05 734 Reading Shogun prompted me to read another Clavell and I was not disappointed. He IS the master story-teller. I love it! I'm going to read another of his Asian saga. How can one write a novel like this?
My only complaint was the last 20 pages because I like happy-ending. But, come to think of it, maybe his death was necessary to bring out the potential from his son.
3 *The Year's Best SF:10th Annual Edition Judith Merril 08/29 379 Collection of short stories of SF. Lots of imaginative stories. But I realized I'm not much into short stories.
2 *Shogun James Clavell 07/26 1152 3rd reading. The more I read this book, the more I was amazed at the every aspect of the book. I know now why they call this "in-depth psycho-analytical study of characters." So many good lines such as the following:

"The law may upset reason but reason may never upset the law, or our whole society will shred like an old tatami. The law may be used to confound reason, reason must certainly not be used to overthrow the law." (in p.864 Toranaga.)

"Hate comes from fear." (p.897 Father Alvito to Blackthorne)

... by universal custom, your enemy is never more polite than when he is planning or has planned your destruction. (p.279)

1 *King of the Confessors Thomas Hoving 01/24 333 One of the very few non-fictions I've read. But it was really exciting like a fiction! The detailed accounts of how the Metropolitan Museum acquired an art object: an ivory cross with Christ with a placard proclaim him as the "King of the Confessors."
The abundant talks of art in the book as if it is an everyday event made me feel so inadequate and unsophisticated. It was a good experience for me to be able to appreciate the history and beauty of art. I was envious of the author. Very good reading!