Monday, February 27, 2012

Ready Player One

by Ernest Cline

This book was voted one of the top books of 2011 on Goodreads, so I've been on the hunt for a copy for months now. I raided five different bookstores, without finding a single copy before giving in and finally ordering it off of Amazon. Miraculously, a mere two days later it appeared on my porch. 

I'm almost afraid to say that I like this book a lot... because it's a total "geek-fest". Almost. But I'm just geeky enough to say that I lost myself in this video game/80's throwback world created by Cline. In the future, the United States has fallen to pieces, and civilization has turned to the virtual reality world called the Oasis for their escape. Before his death, the creator of the Oasis left behind a 1980's based scavenger hunt for the entire world to participate in, with the winner taking his entire fortune & control of the Oasis. This is when we find our hero Wade (AKA Parzival) stumbling across the first key in the hunt and jump starting the competition.  Along the way, he faces many 80's based challenges (arcade games, movie quotes, etc.) and builds a strong network within the Oasis (which he lacks in the real world).

Cline's book was entertaining, and even though I was NOT able to place many of the references (Who has recently played any Atari games?? D&D? Obscure robots from Japanese comics?), there were enough pop culture references to keep me engaged (Monty Python! Ferris Bueller! PacMan!). Despite this incredible 3-D world he builds in the mind of the reader, Cline emphasizes that we also need to keep our feet grounded in reality. His characters learn that avoiding the problems of the decaying world around them by immersing themselves in the Oasis simply encourages the destruction of their real lives. Even though this story takes place over 30 years in the future, it is applicable to us today. As technology increases and we find ourselves with cell phone programs that talk back to us, 3-D computer games, simulators, and video game systems that track our movements - it may be easy for us to fall into the same trap of avoiding reality. Cline calls his readers to participate in the real world, while still letting us have fun in the imaginary one he has created.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


by Tina Fey

Who doesn't love Tina Fey? SNL.... Mean Girls... Date Night... I mean, 30 Rock! But seriously, Tina Fey is hilarious. And if possible, I love her even more after reading her book. Why? Because she seems like someone that I could be friends with. In other words, she is a normal person despite all the Hollywood hoopla. Sure, she has lots of strange little quirks; but isn't that what makes someone interesting? Through her writing you are introduced to the self-deprecating humor that she brings to every enterprise in her life. She gives some advice on working in the "industry", but the majority of Bossypants is about her life history, women in comedy, building her career and family, and some entertaining anecdotes. At times she's extreme and paranoid in her reactions to certain events (e.g. being called to her lifeboat on a cruise = Titanic), which makes for a great fun read (although her sense of humor would be understandable to even the most stable person on the planet). I often found myself laughing out loud, and I think you will too.