On 9/24/2008 I received two books - Anathem by Neal Stephenson and Night of Thunder by Stephen Hunter. As of Friday night I had finished Anathem and I polished off Night of Thunder last night. The least you could say about these books is that they were hard to put down.
I guess I'm still not entirely certain entirely how I feel about Anathem.
One one hand, I don't recommend it to any of my regular readers. Michael would complain about the length and the existential nature of the philosophical content. Nate would get three pages into it and quit like he does on any Stephenson. Jon is reading it now so a recommendation would be redundant. I simply don't think it would even be interesting to the rest of my audience.
On the other hand, is that there were some novel concepts, and more importantly a number of basic philosophical, scientific and metaphysical concepts brought up (though given alternate names and descriptions in the Anathem universe) that are simply good to be familiar with. Everything from Platonism to Occam's razor. In a way, this book is to philosophy and metaphysics as the Baroque cycle was to Natural Philosophy and science.
The gripping hand, however, is that this is a book I would read again. The universes that Stephenson created were well thought out and complete. Many have complained about the made up words but I didn't have as much of a problem with that as I thought I would. The language was not hard to understand and the writing was entertaining. The book was certainly complex but that very complexity lent itself to increasing my immersion.
One more point: I don't think I'd buy an audio version of a Stephenson book as read by the author. Stephenson has some extremely good talents, but ...