June 4, 2008

Today I finished reading Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon for what is, I believe, my fourth full time. It is my favorite book, and I think I’ve finally figured out why. Every time I read it I get something completely new out of it. Not just that thing you get when you reread a book and miss bits you skimmed the last time; completely new elements. Of course, the words are all the same. Unless someone did some jiggery-pokery with my Kindle copy, the text is identical to that of the tome sitting on my shelf. What’s different, then, is me. The last time I read the book was just after college, I’m sure. Both of the times before that had to have been *in* college, as it was released in 1999. So if you assume that I read it the first two times basically back-to-back, that’s 3-4 years between each reading of the book. In my life, at least, a lot has happened between those 3-4 years.

The first time I read it was in 99′, my sophmore year of college. I hated the class I was taking, enough for me to doubt my interest in programming and take up with network administration books in an independent study course the next year. The highlights were making better friends with folks like Messrs Feldman and Kiefel, Jon Mathison and Gabe Hicks. I played a lot of Half-Life, Baldur’s Gate, and System Shock 2, and watched more Discovery Channel that is really healthy. My takeaway from the book was how much I loved Stephenson’s prose, and respect for folks that understood business.

Today I wonder how I managed to understand most of the words in the book, let alone the context. The me of ten years ago was a blithering idiot about most of the stuff Stephenson talks about in that book. The elements that really struck me were how daft I must have been about travel – actually traveling, not just flying across the country – and long-term relationships. Aye yi yi.

I also have to admit to a shameful fact: Crypto is the first ‘for fun’ book I think I’ve finished since the trip to California in February. But it will very much not be the last. I’ve already started in on Corey Doctorow’s Little Brother, which you can read for free on the interwebs if you’d like.

I’m so … so very glad to be reading again. Words fail.


One comment

  1. I’m really having a hard time getting through it, honestly. I’m not that much further along than I was last time we talked (maybe 10 chapters further or so). It’s not that it’s uninteresting—I just have a hard time wanting to pick it up and read more. I’m not gripped. Maybe I just don’t care about the characters yet?

    I keep hoping it’s going to grab me and make me want to keep going, but I might just switch over to the Chuck Palahniuk books I bought soon… :(

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