Books I've read last month

Looking at the stack of books I've read in July, you may have the impression that I had more time this month than I had in June:
Let's take a closer look at the titles:
Anthony Horowitz, Snakehead; 2007, 326p
Part seven in the Alex Rider series. This isn't the final Alex Rider story by Horowitz, but it's probably the last Alex Rider book I'll read. Not because I don't like the books (they're fun!), but because my kids have outgrown them. Jago is currently reading part five; Inigo prefers "books for grown-ups".
Ray Bradbury, Death is a lonely business; 1985, 270p (translated as De dood is een eenzaam avontuur)
I had high hopes for this book. I've read Dark Carnival (horror stories) and Fahrenheit 451 (SF) from the same author, and I was looking forward at reading one of his thrillers. Unfortunately, the back cover spoiled the fun: (1) the book is announced as a thriller, but it isn't, and much worse (2) all the people who are killed in the book are mentioned in the short summary. Even the people who die almost at the end of the book! Aaaargh! I hope the person who designed the cover was fired. Another reason why I didn't like the book at first was the main character. Although it's clear that the book contains many autobiographical elements, I had no sympathy whatsoever for him. He's depicted as a loser and an anti-hero, but not in the good sense. This changes at about two-thirds of the book when you're getting used to his personality. It wasn't all bad, I liked the setting (Venice, not in Italy, but in Los Angeles, California) and I wonder if part of my reasons why I didn't really enjoy reading this book are actually caused by a bad translation.
Arthur C. Clarke, 2001 — A Space Odyssey; 1968, 222p (translated as 2001, een ruimte-odyssee)
Arthur C. Clarke, 2010 Odyssey Two; 1982, 313p (translated as 2010 Odyssee 2)
I've seen the Stanley Kubrick film at different ages: in my teens, in my twenties, and as a thirty year old. It surprised me that I interpreted the movie differently at different ages. Although I've seen the movie at least three times, I never claimed that I understand it. However: now that I've read the book, I finally know how Arthur C. Clarke meant it to be. The science part in this SF classic sometimes gets in the way of the fiction part: it's not always fun to read, but I'm glad I've finally read the book, and I was eager to read the sequel 2010 (I don't think I ever saw that movie). 2010 is more a sequel to the Kubrick movie than it is to the book. Saturn is replaced by Jupiter; when you're told about what happened to David Bowman, you get the story from the movie, not from the book. There were plenty of references to things I remember from the eighties (Carl Sagan, new discoveries by Voyager,...), but I liked 2001 more.
Robert Heinlein, Orphans of the Sky; 1941, 160p (translated as Verdwaald tussen de sterren)
After the heavy stuff by Arthur C. Clarke, some of the SF I like most. There are two different communities on "Ship" and there's a constant struggle between them. "Normal people" live on the lower decks; "mutants" live on the upper decks. What we know, but what the inhabitants of "Ship" don't know, is that "Ship" is a spacecraft, and that there's much more space in the universe outside "Ship". When one of the normal people is held hostage by the mutants, he starts to understand. Once he understands, he has a hard time convincing his fellow travellers that they are actually on a ship because they've turned science into religion: the journey is a spiritual journey, the laws of physics apply to the attraction between two people,...
Mike Mignola - John Byrne, Hellboy (part 1): Seed of Destruction; 1994-2009, 128p (translated as Kiem van het kwaad)
Mike Mignola, Hellboy (part 2): Seed of Destruction; 1994-2009, 144p (translated as De duivel ontwaakt)
Mike Mignola, Hellboy (part 3): The chained coffin and others; 1994-2003, 176p (translated as De geketende kist)
A couple of months ago, I've read three episodes of Sin City (Frank Miller) and the three parts of From Hell (Alan Moore), the fact that I'm now reading Hellboy should be sufficient proof that I like graphic novels. I really like the way De Vliegende Hollander has published the series. There's plenty of extra information (comments from Mignola about the creation process of his main character), forewords from Robert Block (author of Psycho), Alan Moore,... Comic books and graphic novels are a father-son thing between Inigo and me. We often discuss about what we like more: the graphical style from Miller, Mignola's fantasy,... We also look for references (for instance one of the characters in Sin City wears a Hellboy T-Shirt) and we try to watch movies based on comic books. The only disadvantage of this father-son relationship, is that we have to fight to be the first to read a new book ;-)
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly, Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus; 1831, 191p (translated as Het monster van Frankenstein)
Reading From Hell (1991, but about 1888) made me want to read Dracula (1897). Reading Dracula made me want to read Frankenstein (1831), but not before I had seen the Frankenstein movies by James Whale: Frankenstein (1931) and Bride of Frankenstein (1935). I watched them together with Inigo. They are outdated, of course, but we didn't really watch them for the story. We were more interested from a technical point of view: which special effects did they use in the thirties? What theatrical tricks were they using? How were the expressions of the actors (for instance the one playing Dr. Pretorius) captured? When I started reading the book, I was surprised. The book was outdated too, but the story was new to me. There are many differences between the original book and the monster we know from the movies. It's fun reading a classic once in a while.
Various authors from Flanders Investment & Trade, Met uw hightechbedrijf de grens over; 2010, 135p
I've written a short summary about this book in my my previous blogpost.
If I count the number of pages of all the books I've read since June 30, I end up with 1482 pages of fiction, 448 pages of graphic novels/comic books, and 135 pages of non-fiction. I think that's a record since I've started writing "Books I've read last month" blogposts.


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