[Novel] The Sympathizer (Viet Thanh Nguyen)

The Sympathizer

Book

A novel about Vietnam War and American culture from the eyes of a Vietnamese communist spy.

Positive:
Negative:
Sarcastic, flowing prose
Profound, likable, interesting characters
Enthralling plot
Solid, profound story
Enlightening on Vietnam War
Enlightening on American and Vietnamese culture
Thought-provoking on human nature and how it’s incompatible with communism

[Novel] A Song for Arbonne (Guy Gavriel Kay)

A Song for Arbonne

Book

While not among the most original or ambitious, A Song for Arbonne is a realistic medieval fantasy novel inspired by actual history that delivers a believable no-bullshit setting and solid story.

Positive:
Negative:
Good, high-level prose, especially for a fantasy work
Doesn’t stand out from the rest of similar books that much
Believable, realistic, gritty setting
A lot of semi-important characters make the plot hard to follow sometimes
Characters fulfill their roles adequately
A bit slow on the pace
Solid medieval story

[Courses] The History of Ancient Egypt

History of Ancient Egypt

A comprehensive summary of Egyptian history from its prehistoric beginnings to the end of Cleopatra’s reign taught by a professor who’s a little bit obsessed with mummies (you’ll learn everything there’s to learn about them by the end of the course, lol).

I’ve listened to more fascinating presentations from great courses, but this lecture series is still one of the best resources to learn about Egypt I’ve found, especially if you’re a newbie to its history.

http://www.thegreatcourses.com/courses/history-of-ancient-egypt.html

[Novel] Tropic of Cancer (Henry Miller)

Tropic of Cancer

Book

While Tropic of Cancer may come off like ramblings of a sex crazed maniac at first, you soon realize it’s a fantastic satyric representation of the ridiculousness of modern life and human nature in general.

Positive:
Negative:
The text flows and is pleasant to read despite incorporating fairly heavy words
A bit hard to follow, especially when it enters its metaphysical passages
Wacky, interesting, likable, relatively profound characters
The story is basically just random episodes from the guy’s insane life
Full of genuinely funny black humor
Though-provoking on life in general