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Manny Rayner's book reviews

I love reviewing books - have been doing it at Goodreads, but considering moving here.

Currently reading

The Greatest Show On Earth: The Evidence For Evolution
Richard Dawkins
R in Action
Robert Kabacoff
Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies
Douglas R. Hofstadter
McGee on Food and Cooking: An Encyclopedia of Kitchen Science, History and Culture
Harold McGee
Epistemic Dimensions of Personhood
Simon Evnine
Pattern Recognition and Machine Learning (Information Science and Statistics)
Christopher M. Bishop
Relativity, Thermodynamics and Cosmology
Richard C. Tolman
The Cambridge Handbook of Second Language Acquisition
Julia Herschensohn, Martha Young-Scholten
Man Som Hatar Kvinnor (Millennium, 1) - Stieg Larsson One of the best thrillers I've ever read. Great story, great characters, very intelligent and thoughtful. Writing is nothing special but it doesn't need to be.


I finally saw the movie a couple of days ago, and I'm a bit conflicted. On the plus side, it conveys the feel of the book very well, and several of the main characters are excellently realized. I particularly liked Lisbeth, who was just perfect. But they have taken some enormous liberties with the story. For example, Erika, who in the book is a central figure, has almost disappeared.

So if you're a purist, you might want to avoid this, but in the end I decided I liked it. I guess it's just a bit too long, and cuts were necessary.


I just read the following passage in Precious Williams's review of this book, but I have seen at least half a dozen similar ones:
The constant references to sandwiches (you get the impression the Swedes eat at least an entire loaf of bread every day), coffee (how on earth do they manage to sleep?) and breasts became tedious very rapidly.
I can stay silent no longer. Precious and others, I lived in Sweden for most of the 80s, and I can tell that you Stieg Larsson wasn't making it up:

1. Sandwiches. Yes, you're right: Swedes love sandwiches. There's a widespread belief that eating bread is good for you. When I was there, I caught the tailend of a popular campaign by the Ministry of Health, whose tagline was Ät 6-8 skivor bröd om dagen - eat 6-8 slices of bread a day. Moreover, Swedish bread is delicious. I'm thinking about kruskalimpa and rågrut right now and my mouth is watering. If they were on sale here, I'd definitely eat more sandwiches.

2. Coffee. Swedes used to drink more coffee per capita than any other county in the world, though I understand that they've now slipped a couple of places. It's powerful stuff too, but you get used to it. Fun facts: Swedish has a verb fika, meaning "to drink coffee" and a noun, påtår, meaning "a second cup of coffee". You know, the old Eskimo/snow thing.

3. Breasts. Topless sunbathing is popular in Sweden, and Swedes are in general extremely relaxed about nudity. Swedish men have pretty much the same interests as men everywhere else in the world. If I were drunk I'd probably recount an anecdote or two at this point, but as it is I'm afraid you'll just have to take my word for it.