Yes, I Do Read Books! Actual Books! On Paper!
Thanks in large part to setting aside blocks of time to "not be on the computer," I've managed to get quite a bit of reading done this weekend.
Things I've read since Friday:
For Us, The Living by Robert A. Heinlein. I'd been reading this for some while, of course, but finally finished it on Friday. I said earlier that it isn't really much of a novel, just an outline of Heinlein's social and economic ideas in the vague and sketchy form of a novel, and that I'm inclined to award it a few points just because it isn't dishonest enough to really try to hide this fact. Nevertheless, I can't really recommend it, unless you're a huge, die-hard Heinlein fan, in which case you've probably already read it, anyway. The thing is, even for a political/social engineering tract, I don't think it's terribly successful. Heinlein's got some interesting ideas, but most of them are pretty out-there, and they need some vigorous debating and examining to make them feel like they stand up. But Heinlein's protagonist -- who, being from Heinlein's own time, is clearly meant to bring an outsider's skeptical perspective to the proceedings -- never does more than ask a few questions, nod his head and say "I see!" a lot, and occasionally venture a few very mild straw man arguments. I can't help but come away feeling that Heinlein's cheated more than a little by leaving all the potential flaws in his proposed systems conveniently unaddressed.
The Carnivorous Carnival by Lemony Snicket. This is book 9 in the "Series of Unfortunate Events." I think I've said this before, but it bears repeating: I love these books. They're clever, funny, and often rather pointedly satirical, and they feature an interesting story arc that just gets more complex and more engaging as the series goes on. These are the kind of children's books that can be read by and delighted in by readers of all ages, and I recommend them highly.
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris. A collection of humorous essays, mostly anecdotes about the author's (often poignantly dysfunctional) family. Not brilliant, but very good in places, and I found myself laughing out loud several times.
Sirius by Olaf Stapledon. A 1944 science fiction novel about a dog endowed with human-level intelligence. I'm only about 40 pages in, so I can't comment much, but I will say that it's already reminded me of the thing that really impresses me about Stapledon: the man could write incredibly long pieces of exposition and get away with it. Indeed, I think some of his books are almost nothing but extended infodumps, and yet they manage to be absorbing, and often even moving, regardless. I have no idea how the guy did it.