What I’m Reading: August 26, 2017
The Sprawl Trilogy is super dense. Maybe not a good fit for an audio book. The Origins of Political Order is pretty interesting.
The Origins of Political Order by Francis Fukuyama
I've been working on this book for the last few weeks. A significant portion of my reading is done through audio books. Mostly because I can listen while I'm doing other things, like driving or sometimes working. I like to listen to dense informational books while I'm doing something that doesn't really require a lot of attention like doing the dishes or going on a run. That way I don't miss anything from the book. This also means that I tend to take longer to read these types of books and the reading is generally pretty split up.
This book sets out to do exactly as the title says, explain the origins of political order. So far, the author has talked about why Chinese government tends to be more authoritarian, why India is a little all over the place, and we've just started in on early states in the Middle East.
I'd give the book high ratings so far. Based on what I've read, there are a number factors that influence the rise of political order some of these include how land is owned, how it is passed from generation to generation and a number of others. But the two biggest seem to be tribal/familial ties and religion. The way the author connects Jainism and Hinduism with the current way that India is governed is particularly interesting. As is the conflict between Islam and the nomadic tribes in the Middle East.
Overall I'd recommend this for sure.
Mona Lisa Overdrive by William Gibson
I've been through Neuromancer a time or two but this is the first time I've tried to tackle the entire Sprawl Trilogy. The first thing I'll say is that these books are not a good fit for audio and I don't think it's the narration. I've had two different recordings of Neuromancer and each is just as hard to get into. Sometimes audio books will suck you in and keep you on the edge of your seat the entire ride. Not so with any of this trilogy. I've had to struggle to stay engaged with the story and characters.
Honestly, I think it just comes down to writing style. Gibson's work is pretty dense and filled with lots of great descriptions of cool technology. This makes it interesting but also pulls you out of the story.
I've still enjoyed the books but I feel like I'm not getting as wrapped into them as I have with other stories. I think I'll probably just have to go back and read a paper copy when I get the time.