What are you reading?

edited July 2012 in Everything Else
I'm naturally nosy about what other people are reading; I often find out about books I'd never have heard of otherwise by sneaking peeks at what other coffee shop patrons have their noses buried in. With the proliferation of ebooks, it's harder to do that. So now I have to pester people directly.

What are YOU reading for fun these days?

As for me...
Just finished Thirty Three Teeth by Colin Cotterill. The second in his Dr. Siri Paiboun series, this one has the Laotian coroner/unwilling shaman trying to solve a series of grisly murders made to look like animal attacks, while also navigating the shifting political landscape in the post-communist takeover of Laos. It drags a little in spots but Siri's dry wit and the observations about life in a newly communist country are worth wading through the plot.

Just started In a Witch's Wardrobe by Juliet Blackwell. Fourth in the series about San Francisco witch Lily Ivory, proprietor of a vintage clothing store. Each book in this series has been better than the last; my wife and I are reading this one out loud.

Next up Redshirts.


  • edited July 2012
    I don't read much but have been chipping away at The Nerdist Way: How to Reach the Next Level (In Real Life) by Chris Hardwick.   My wife read this book before I started reading it and it has been great fun to talk about the book on occasion.   The book is funny and also offers some interesting advice on what might work to motivate the reader to start doing, instead of just thinking about doing something.
  • "Motivate the reader to start doing, instead of just thinking about doing something." 

    That sounds like a book I need very much to read.
  • I finished "Redshirts" already.  I'm reading "Ready Player One"; I know I'm behind on that one.  I'm also partway through "Let's Pretend This Never Happened".  I still haven't gotten around to "A Dance with Dragons" yet.
  • finished plodding through Star Wars: Death Star. (don't bother) and am now on Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card and rereading Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice.

  • I picked up Thirty-Three Teeth in Laos last year. The profits from the Lao editions of Cotterill's novels go to charity, divided between rural education and prosthetic limbs.

    Right now I'm about a third of the way through A Dance With Dragons. Hugo voting deadline is in two weeks, and I have two other novels and one novella to read in the prose fiction categories, most of the graphic stories nominees, and two novels from Campbell nominees. I suspect I may not finish in time.

    When I'm done with required reading, I've got a volume of Peace Corps essays, an oral history of the Second City comedy group, and a history of early American counterfeiters on top of my stack.
  • I don't read that many books, since most of my week is taken up by reading New Scientist magazine, and when I do, I tend to prefer non-fiction. But I've read several fiction books lately, because I let my paper subscription to New Scientist lapse so I coud catch up on the backlog I still had from not suspending my subscription for long enough while I went on the cruise.

    I finished Joseph Scrimshaw's Comedy of Doom the other day (it was so nice to see so many people I knew in the acknowledgments) and before that, The Orange Girl by Jostein Gaarder, and before that, I think it was... uh, apparently this one hasn't been translated into English yet, but it will be, and I recommend it; the first novel by Jonas Jonasson. The life of the protagonist kind of reminds me of my own, in an abstract way, because he keeps being in the right place at the right time and meeting famous people.

    I have a feeling there was another one before The Orange Girl, but I can't think what.

    Anyway, there was an error when I tried to subscribe to the digital edition of New Scientist yesterday, so I started reading One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (well, actually, I started reading a biography [in the form of transcribed interviews] of the guy who started the World Wildlife Fund, but it didn't really hold my attention, so I switched) but I think the subscription is sorted out now, so it'll probably take me a while to finish that.

    Oh, I'm still about halfway through Steve Wozniak's biography, iWoz, which I have on my iPad for when I unexpectedly don't have anything else to read. I recommend it, and think it should be read to children and adults as bedtime stories. He's a great guy, and when he talks about electronics or other technical stuff, which is not really the bulk of the book but it comes up a lot because he's passionate about it, he explains it in ways anyone could understand and get excited about. Even if you don't like Apple, you'll love the Woz..

    On the subject of bedtime stories, I read Trevor Strong (from The Arrogant Worms)'s 'Very Grimm Fairy Tales' to various people as bedtime stories, and much fun was had by all. Currently @mrgoldenbrown and I are reading each other (over Skype, in case anyone is not aware we're on different continents) The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, which is one of my favourite books, and I'm also reading that to another friend of mine (one of the ones I read the fairy tales to, who now has a taste for being read to.) Has anyone outside an audiobook read you a story recently? I highly recommend that.
  • I just want to say that I love this thread.
  • edited July 2012
    I recently flew through both Redshirts (fun, not surprising as I like Scalzi's other stuff) and Ready Player One.  I am still thinking about that one, and this thread is apparently where I am going to vent my frustration/questions.  The trope of little guy vs MegaCorp was fun, and a successful love story between adoring fan and popular geek girl celebrity will of course warm my heart.

    But the depiction of the OASIS kept jarring me out of the story.  Was Cline intentionally using an 80's era vision of how people would use computers in the future?  It seems so silly that no one would use it (admittedly I have thought this about at least one web site that recently sold for 10^9 dollars.) I really don't see myself logging into an MMORPG , spending 15 minutes walking my character to a "bank" just to pay a real life bill or order a book from Amazon which is what it seems like was happening.  If I had to "walk" 10 minutes every time I wanted to come to the Joco Forum or pay a teleport fee, I would not be here nearly as much.  (And don't get me started that even teleporting required walking to a teleport station :)  I assume that someone on this forum is passionate enough about stuff like this to either refute my interpretation or sympathize with my pain.

      Next up on my fiction queue is the latest Laundry Files novel by Charlie Stross, Apocalypse Codex.  I expect I will enjoy it as much as I have the rest of the series [a mix of magic-as-math, secret-agents-hindered-by-bureaucracy, and Lovecraftian horrors.]

    The nonfiction book I am currently reading is The Dots and Boxes Game: Sophisticated Child's Play [Elwyn R. Berlekamp].  It's about the surprising amount of math (to most people) behind the game.  I hope to someday be a pen and paper games hustler.

    My hustling skills may need some leveling up though, as somehow @Angelastic got me to read every other chapter of Tollbooth, when I apparently could have negotiated my way into her reading everything.

    @stevendj - Since you seem interested in Hugo nominees, I will take this moment to plug one of my favorite  fiction podcasts, Escape Pod. (it is free and CC)  Each year they air all the Hugo nominees for short fiction.  It was also my first exposure to the awesomeness of Creative Commons - their use of Skullcrusher Mountain as an outro to a mad scientist tale is what led me to JoCo!
  • I'm reading the last book in the Hunger Games series, and I'm looking forward to the next Carrie Vaughn book next month.  I like my books easy but fulfilling, and Hunger Games really fits that bill, and Carrie Vaughn always delivers.

  • edited July 2012
    I'm thrilled to learn that @Angeltastic and @mrgoldenbrown read to each other. Every month, my wife and I select a book; I read aloud to her almost every night. When we first started the practice, we took turns reading but I always fell asleep when she read to me.

    @stevendj - Have you read either of the books in Cotterill's new series? My wife and I very much enjoyed Killed at the Whim of a Hat and the new one is next on our read aloud list. Also, what's the title of that Peace Corps book? It sounds interesting.
  • edited July 2012
    I just finished re-reading To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis and was thoroughly delighted (I read it 9+ years ago as part of a work book club).   It's present is future England and there's timey-wimey stuff back to mostly Victorian England (but elsewhere) and was a refreshing re-read for me.
  • Ah yes, I've also been listening to Escape Pod since @mrgoldenbrown put me onto it. Good stuff. :)

    I remembered the other book I finished recently, which I'd read all but about a dozen pages of ages ago, and then lost. It was The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, a memoir which Jean-Dominique Bauby dictated by way of blinking after a stroke left him paralysed.

    For what it's worth, it was @mrgoldenbrown's idea to read The Phantom Tollbooth, and he has his own copy. My other friend doesn't have a copy, so I have to read it. I've only read her two chapters so far anyway.

    I'm sure we have an old thread about what people are reading, but the search doesn't work, so let's just stick with this one.
  • I haven't read Cotterill's other series.

    There are four Peace Corps books. One Hand Does Not Catch a Buffalo contains stories from African Peace Corps volunteers, Gather the Fruit One by One contains stories from the Americas, A Small Key Opens Big Doors has stories from Eurasia, and Even the Smallest Crab Has Teeth has stories from Asia and the Pacific.
  • I used to be an avid reader.
    Until I was 11 I hadn't read anything that didn't have Janet and John in the title. Then I was given Dragons of Autumn Twilight. My next book was Magician. For the next 15 years I read like a demon. Then my daughter came along, she had a cot in our bedroom and wouldn't settle if I had a light on.
    Skip forward a few years and I finally got started again but mostly these days it's text books. Currently I am reading The Complete and Easy Guide to Beekeeping. I have just finished Something Wicked This Ways Comes. I also just read the Hunger Games books and although I wasn't greatly impressed they have set my reading senses tingling so I will be reading back through this thread mainly and with interest. Obviously whilst trying not to pick up any spoilers!

  • Redshirts surprised me. I was expecting a nifty read, yes, but I wasn't expecting thought-provoking questions about the nature of good writing and on finding meaning in life. A week after finishing it, I'm still turning over that second coda in my mind.

    I followed that up with Duane Swierczynski's Fun and Games. Ex-cop Charlie Hardie, now a down-on-his-luck house sitter arrives at his next gig and finds a down-on-her-luck starlet hiding out from "them," a group of nearly unstoppable killers who have her in their sights. Thinking that Charlie is one of "them," she attacks him, and things go downhill for both of them from there. A slightly difficult to swallow core premise is the only sour note in this fast-paced and witty thriller.

    I'm currently reading "A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War."
  • edited August 2012
    It's Even Worse Than It Looks, by Mann and Ornstein. Chronicles the recent breakdown of the American political system. Focuses on Congress, but discusses all three branches and their dysfunctions due to the advent of extreme partisanship and corruption. Details the sweeping effects of the recent Citizens United decision on the role of money in American politics.

    I dislike politics but follow them as a matter of self-defense. There are shady lobbying groups, paid by big corporations, trying to destroy my livelihood nowadays, and this book explains (among other things) how they work and the loopholes they exploit. Worthwhile reading for any US citizen, no matter where you are on the political spectrum.
  • I just finished reading Steve Wozniak's autobiography (in the dark, at the top of a hill, somewhere in France!) and would recommend it for all geeks, proto-geeks and geek-adjacent, whether they like Apple products or not.
  • BryBry
    edited August 2012
    @Angelastic I believe it was Groucho Marx who said, "Aside from the top of a hill somewhere in France, a book is a man's best friend."

    (This post is right at the borderline for me of too-stupid-to-actually-post.)

    ETA: Was debating between "Aside from" and "Away from" (which is what I originally posted), and I changed my mind.
  • I believe iPads would actually make it possible to read inside of a dog. Technology! :D
  • edited August 2012
    my cat and I just finished reading Highly Inappropriate Tales for Young People, with words by Douglas Coupland and pictures by Graham Roumieu.

    The Guardian published a very abridged version of one of the tales in the book.

    I have always found Douglas Coupland to be very hit and miss. This book was odd, because I suspect it's too violent for small children, but I found the language of the prose to read much younger than I'd like for an adult.
  • I didn't even notice this thread until now, but I've started up a book club thread for discussions on common books on a monthly basis. Feel free to check it out! http://www.jonathancoulton.com/forums/index.php?p=/discussion/2042/redshirt-book-club-because-its-safer-to-stay-inside#Item_4


    Right now I'm listening to Ready Player One and reading A Short History of Nearly Everything
  • @casidi, I nearly steered you to this thread, but that was when I thought the thread you started was specifically for discussion of Redshirts, the novelization of the song Redshirt, the theme to the novel Redshirts.
  • @Bry - I had the same thought, at first. But a monthly book discussion is still a good idea.
  • FWIW, I've finished Ready Player One and am reading Let's Pretend This Never Happened and A Dance With Dragons in parallel.
  • My wife and I have just started Grandad, There's a Head on the Beach (2nd in Cotterill's Jimm Jurree series). Meanwhile, I'm about to finish a collection of short stories from Zoetrope All Story magazine. Usually, I find that with anthologies, the first two or three stories are phenomenal, the next pair are OK, and the rest are dull. But in this volume, I've thought every single story was well written, even if they weren't to my taste.

    In non-fiction... tomorrow I'm picking up a copy of The Coming of the Third Reich by Richard J. Evans because I need to balance out all that light-hearted uplifting stuff!

    Is it kosher to self-promote here? I'll risk getting slapped down if it is, because my short story "The Corwen Octavo" has been published in the latest issue of Mysterical-E online. So... if you like a paranormal detective yarn, take a look.
  • Nonfiction: Kanban: Successful Evolutionary Change for Your Technology Business, by David J. Anderson. Because Scrum is not getting the job done for my Dev team, and I have to find a way to get the process running smoothly again.

    Fiction: Just finished Grandad, There's a Head on the Beach, second in Colin Cotterill's Jimm Juree series. A very funny and worthwhile follow-up to Killed at the Whim of a Hat.

    Read-aloud with my wife: Deeds of the Disturber, by Elizabeth Peters. Peters always delivers strong characters and a fast-paced plot. Having finished all other Vicky Bliss series, Sweetie and I are working our way through the Amelia Peabody series, set during the 19th century Egypt.
  • I am just trying to kickstart my reading again properly. I used to be quite the voracious reader, then got out of the habit, then started just reading textbooks and advice manual type things. 

    Just recently I have really fired up my comic book reading, and finally this week got round to starting Eastern Standard Tribe by Cory Doctorow. It's a nice simple read to get back into things with. I have a few other series I need to pick up again such as the Malazan Book of The Fallen and I ought to get going on Game of Thrones before my entry level nerd status is revoked.
  • I've been on a bit of a reading kick the last few months. Been trying to get caught up on some of the books and authors I have heard a lot about should have read before now (Scalzi, Gaimon, Gibson, etc.). Right now I'm reading Dune and seeing why it's held in such high regard. Can anybody tell me whether it's worth sticking around in that universe for the sequels?

    Oh, and I also recently read the John Cleaver books by Dan Wells. It's a fun trilogy, pretty quick read, too.

  • I found the sequels to Dune dropped off in quality dramatically compared to the first. The second was merely OK, the third was mediocre, and I gave up on the fourth after a the first few turgid chapters. 
  • The Dune sequels get increasingly bizarre, probably peaking in that regard with God Emperor; there's a part of me that suspects that one was actually written by Phillip K. Dick rather than Frank Herbert.  The first time I tried reading the series, I didn't get much past the second book. The second time I got all the way through, but I'm not sure I'd recommend the whole thing.  I know people who've gone ahead and read the Brian Herbert prequels, but I never took it that far.
  • Thanks for the replies. I ordered the second one, so I'll try to stop there.

    And I forgot to mention in non-fiction, I'm working my way through Hodgman's compendium of complete world knowledge. It's a delightfully bizarre read!

  • Once you've read the second Dune, you'll want the third; those two form a coherent whole, and the first big time jump happens after three.  Four sort of finishes up the ecological story, and is where I'd stop if I ever read them again, but there's really only one or two plot points left after three that, if you care about those particular details, would make four "necessary".  Five through seven were pretty clearly intended to be a trilogy, but since Herbert died at the end of six, it's instead a really unsatisfying conclusion.

    The prequels are not good, and it's a shame.  Brian Herbert had the makings of a promising career before he teamed up with KJA.
  • Recently finished Jon Armstrong's Grey and Christopher Moore's Sacre Bleu. If you haven't read Moore, this is a good place to start. Currently on Lois McMaster Bujold's The Warrior's Apprentice, which for some reason I hadn't read before.

    I've also just bought the Humble eBook Bundle, which has another week to go in case anyone is interested.

  • Moore rocks! I don't think he has ever topped Lamb, though.

    Some of A. Lee Martinez's work is equally fun. My favorite is Divine Misfortune.
  • @maletero Whilst @mtgordon is right about the sequels in the Dune series, I think they are still worth reading if you can get them from the library. The House books are also fantastic. They are preludes co written with Kevin J Anderson who if memory serves me correctly wrote the Jedi Academy trilogy. They are much more straightforward than the sequels but are full of the intrigue that makes Dune so incredible. 
  • I got mine used, FWIW.  I think I paid $0.60 each.
  • So I went ahead and bought up through book 4. I'm a sucker for pristine new books, so maybe I overspent. On the other hand, maybe I'll like it; I really, really enjoyed Dune.

    Right now I'm taking a break from the Dune universe and am about half way through The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, which I'm enjoying more than I thought I would! That's always nice.
  • …the Duniverse?
  • in the past 10 days I have read:

    "Vertigo: A Memoir" by Louise DeSalvo
    "The Paperboy" by Pete Dexter
    "The Road" and "No Country for Old Men" by Cormac McCarthy
    "Rebecca" and three collections of short stories by Daphne du Maurier

    This weekend I will read "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley and I don't know what else.

    I AM BACK.

  • I'm reading old newspapers from the 1st of April for research purposes.
  • Yay melagee!
  • Hi. I'm new to the JoCo forums (relatively new to JoCo's music. What took me so long, right?)

    My favorite book for this year is still Ready Player One. I liked it better than Chris Moore's Sacre Bleu. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of CM, but I've loved his older stuff more than his more recent books. My favorite CM book is A Dirty Job. I also enjoyed the Bloodsucking Fiends trilogy (a fun, fluffy read) and of course, Lamb. I like his books to be equal parts absurdly funny and interesting character study (where you care about the main characters). I could not get into Sacre Bleu or Fool. I'm hoping these books don't mark a new trend in his writing.

    Recently I read Ender's Game for the first time. I liked it up until the end part. In fact I found a lot of similarities thematically with it and Harry Potter. Someone on Twitter suggested I check out Ender's Shadow. I'm nearly done with it and overall I think I liked it better than Ender's Game. But it was cool to read both back to back.

    Normally I don't read a lot of sci-fi or fantasy stuff, unless there is humor (like Douglas Adams' books or one of my favorite books: Good Omens). I have read and enjoyed some of A. Lee Martinez's books. Looking for something new to read.
  • I finished The Last Policeman, by Ben Winters, over the weekend. The premise is that an asteroid is on a collision course with earth; the human race is probably going to be extinct within six months, yet Detective Hank Palace still cares about investigating a murder that everyone else insists is a suicide. What would be a mundane murder mystery serves as the foundation for a philosophical question about motive: not just the murderer's but everyone's motivation. Why do we do the things we do? What makes our lives worth living? What would you do if you knew the world would end in six months?

    In addition to a riveting premise, The Last Policeman is a solid murder mystery with crisp prose and compelling characters.
  • Started/finished Princeps by L.E. Modesitt, Jr over the weekend.  This series (Imager) is my favorite by Modesitt so far.

    Started The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter.  It was a bit rough to start but soon settled in to more Pratchett style.
  • Turns out I should have listened to the wisdom of the forums. I got through Messiah of Dune, but stalled about 100 pages into Children of Dune. I couldn't relate to any of the characters.  I may return to the Duniverse sometime when I have more time to slog through a couple more books, but it will be a while. The experience reminded me of Ender's Game. I LOVED that book (still read it every couple years). But each book in that series seemed to lead further away from what made the first book so amazing.

    I ditched Children of Dune in favor of Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. I liked it. Kind of dark, but in fun way. Now at home I'm reading Pattern Recognition by William Gibson - not exactly a light read. John Scalzi's Agent to the Stars is my light reading for the bus. 
  • edited November 2012

    I totally agree on Ender's Game. I like the fIrst book and reread it every so often; I ignore all the others.

    At some point I read Pattern Recognition, but I don't remember much about it. I think it needs more than one reading.

    Recently read No Hero and Yesterday's Hero by Jonathan Wood (MI6 meets H.P. Lovecraft), currently working on Cory Doctorow's Pirate Cinema.

  • I loved Ender's Game the first time I read it, too, but like you guys, I thought the subsequent books were less impressive.

    My reading of late has focused on research into renaissance mysticism in preparation for a novel I want to write. Currently it's John Dee's Occultism: Magical Exaltation Through Powerful Signs. It's very, very dry and I'm going to need a ripsnorter of a novel to cleanse the palate when I'm done. I'm leaning toward David Brin's latest, Existence, since I've never been disappointed in him yet.
  • As far as Ender's Game goes, I think Ender's Shadow is also worth re-reading multiple times.  Again, though, the rest of the Shadow books are ok once.

    I got a bunch of Barbara Hambly and Alan Dean Foster books on a sale last week, so I will probably start on those at some point.

    I did finish Snow Crash and got partway through The Diamond Age before going off the reading kick.
  • @ThatGuy The Diamond Age is one of my favoritest books. Finish it! :-)

    Currently reading (sporadically) and enjoying short stories from Daryl Gregory's Unpossible and Other Stories. He's a local author here in State College, to whom I was introduced by my friend (another author) Greg van Eekhout.
  • Assuming I want to read and appreciate Neal Stephenson's books, where should I start?
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