Made it to both Taipei and Kaohsiung this summer, and as a result I've acquired a lot of books.
"The Pilgrim's Progress" by Tom Bunyan
A primer on Christianity, couched within an adventure story. This story is divided into two parts, and the second part is virtually identical to the first. Incredibly tedious, though I'm happy to know that people don't bother with nonsense like this anymore.
"Spillover" by David Quammen
"Spillover" refers to the passing of diseases between animals and humans, often resulting in epidemics. Consistently pretentious, often condescending, yet it does offer some fascinating insights as to how epidemics such as Ebola and AIDS come to be. Could have been much shorter.
"The Savage Detectives" by Roberto Bolano
I have also read Bolano's "2666," and was intrigued enough to seek out "The Savage Detectives," a much earlier (and more complete) novel. Unfortunately this book bored me to tears. It's extremely long-winded, full of pointless details, and designed for those suffering from a certain amount of intellectual vanity. Novels like this might make people feel "smart," but they sure aren't entertaining.
"A Field Guide to Radiation" by Wayne Biddle
A nonfiction introduction to radiation, written by a non-scientist. It's not a bad book, though the author tries too hard to be funny. He also displays a definite bias against nuclear power. I think a more balanced account would have served the subject better.
"N-W" by Zadie Smith
A novel centered around four Londoners. I have also read Smith's White Teeth, and this novel reminded me of that novel. White Teeth is much better, but N-W is not bad.
"The Case for Mars" by Robert Zubrin (with Richard Wagner)
A plea for a renewed program of Mars exploration, with particular emphasis on the author's Mars Direct program. Robert Zubrin is an aeronautical engineer, formerly in the employ of Martin Marietta. The first few chapters are very boring, but the later chapters on colonization and terraforming were interesting.