I’ve read several books lately that I’ve been meaning to post reviews for here on the site. But, I never seem to have time to sit down and write good lengthy reviews, so I figured I’d give just a quick run-down of some of the good ones.

East of Eden by John Steinbeck
This is a beautiful novel that tells the story of two families in the late 19th to early 20th century who relive the biblical story of Cain and Abel several times. I liked it because it was a wonderful exploration of human character and the battle between good and evil that goes on in all of us, and the redemption that is possible. It’s a great book — I’m definitely going to have to read more Steinbeck.

The Children of Hurin by J.R.R. Tolkien
I was really excited to read a new complete Tolkien novel — the first new one to be published in 30 years. It’s a story that takes place during the pre-Lord of the Rings history that is covered by the Silmarillion. It starts out reading much like the Silmarillion, as it is covering the history and getting you prepared for the story, but after getting the background completed the narrative reads easier and closer to the style of Lord of the Rings. I loved it and thought it was a great and tragic story. A must read for any fans of Tolkien. And you don’t really have to read the Silmarillion first. If you’ve never been able to make it though it, this novel does a good job of covering the necessary history beforehand. But, I’d recommend reading the Silmarillion just to fill in the gaps between this old Middle Earth history and that in the Lord of the Rings.

Right now I’m reading 1984 by George Orwell. It’s a very scary glimpse at a society in which the government exercises complete and total control over everything. It was written 30 years ago, but I believe it is very timely for today.

39 Ways to Live, and Not Merely Exist

I just found this on Digg: 39 Ways to Live, and Not Merely Exist. Awesome list. My favorite right now is #23: Play with Children. My favorite time these last couple of days has been wrestling with Emma and plays “B-Ball” with her in her play room. Fun times!

Notre Dame

A couple of weeks ago I had the urge to get a new board game. So, after browsing BoardGameGeek for a while and listing to some podcasts I became interested in a new game that lots of people were talking about — Notre Dame. So, I picked it up.

This weekend I got a chance to play it with some friends, and then later my wife. I love the game. It’s very deserving of its high rating on the Geek. In the game each player has a section of the city that they are trying to make improvements to and earn prestige points. But, as I learned in the first game, you have to keep a balance between earning gold and influence markers as well — they are the tools that you use to get the prestige points. You also have to keep an eye on the rat counter, which measures the pestilence in you section. This progressively moves up during the game and can be costly if it gets to the end on its track.

The game can seem overwhelming at first as you are trying to remember what all the cards do and trying to figure out what the best action to take would be. But everyone caught on fast and it ended up seeming much simpler than it did at first. I played one game with 4 people, one with 3, and then one with just me and my wife, and the game played great with each of those numbers. And, being the good host that I am, I let my guests win each game πŸ™‚ . Everyone had a good time and wanted to play again.

So, if you’re looking for a very solid, strategic new board game, give this a shot. We sure enjoyed it.