As the COVID Pandemic continues on, reading remains very important to me. Even more so, as a large, multi-day event my wife and I were planning to go to was cancelled (due to COVID) at the last minute (a huge disappointment to both of us, but, we agree, it was the right decision).
As I’ve said before, my usual habit is to alternate reading a novel (often science fiction) with a non-fiction book, for the variety it offers.
A wonderful non-fiction book was The Lost Art of Scripture, by Karen Armstrong. As I’ve said many times before, though I’d currently label myself as at least an agnostic, if not an atheist, I’m still fascinated by the subject of how the various major religions came to be. Being Jewish, I relate most easily to Judeo-Christian religions, naturally. Armstrong’s discussion of the evolution of Judaism is very interesting. I also was fascinated by her description of how Christianity, originally a sect of Judaism, came into its own as a separate faith. A section I remember most vividly tried to explain how the idea of “the Trinity” could be explained as part of a supposedly monotheistic religion (if I got it correctly, the explanation is that “God” is very compicated, and human language doesn’t have enough descriptive words, so “the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” are really talking about the same thing. Her discussion about Islam is also very good. I have to admit that I find the Eastern religions, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism, harder to relate to, and Armstrong’s discussion of their scriptures harder to follow (but still interesting). Overall, this is one of the best books I’ve read this past year.
The recent science fiction book I read was also excellent, and very different from many others I’ve read. The book is A Memory Called Empire, by Arkady Martine, a penname for Dr. AnnaLinden Weller, and a relatively new sci-fi author. Whereas most of the books I’ve read in this genre are galaxy-spanning stories involving many spaceships shooting each other to pieces (which I also love), this one is much more “psychological”, exploring the personalities of the main characters, who are all human (though it does take place in an area far from Planer Earth). It is very good! It apparently won a 2020 Hugo Award.
Happy reading, and Happy New Year to all!