Recent Books — Siberia, the Yukon, India; Hadoop; Hunger Games

3 books about frontiers:

* “Travels in Siberia”:amazon by Ian Frazier. The author wanders thru Siberia over the course of a decade. Interesting as a travelogue covering some very rough territory. Interesting in it’s explanation of the role Siberia has had for the Russian nation — untameable unending frontier, prison, safehouse in times of war, source of great natural wealth — and the ambivalent effect on the nation’s psyche. I would have liked a little more character study of the people met on the road, but a good read. 4 stars on Amazon, 3.91 on “Goodreads”:http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7966160-travels-in-siberia, I’d give it 3.5.
* “The Floor of Heaven”:amazon by Howard Blum. The intersecting tales 3 men and the Yukon gold rush. Contrast the frontier spirit of the American/Canadian west — boundless opportunity and optimism — with the Siberian spirit in the first book. 3.9 stars on “Goodreads”:http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9581463-the-floor-of-heaven, 4.5 on amazon, I like this a little better than the Siberia book as the characters have much greater depth.
* “India Calling: An Intimate Portrait of a Nation’s Remaking”:amazon by Anand Giridharadas. An Indian-American returns to India to understand his and his family’s past, and to participate in the economic growth of the country. Interesting for its explanation of the nature of the family in Indian culture, and how that is changing with economic growth. 4 stars on Amazon, 3.58 on “Goodreads”:http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9706504-india-calling, it was a fine read, I’d give it 3.5.

A technical read:

* “Hadoop: The Definitive Guide”:amazon by Tom White. Kind of a maintenance guide for Hadoop and tools. Not the best intro to the technology, but useful at a certain level. Different editions get 3-4 stars on Amazon, “Goodreads”:http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6308439-hadoop gives it 3.75, I’d say 3 stars at best.

And then escapism:

* “The Hunger Games”:amazon, “Catching Fire”:amazon, “MockingJay”:amazon by Suzanne Collins. Avoided this series but all the movie talk finally sucked me in. Fun. The first especially. While targeted at young readers, the ending is not simplistic at all. Generally get 4.5 stars on Amazon and Goodreads, I would certainly agree. I am excited for the movie(s) now…