What are you reading?



  • edited March 2013
    I've very much enjoyed Abercrombie's First Law trilogy and follow-up books in that world. He has taken heat from the "anti-grimdark" folks, which I object to on multiple levels (not the least of which being the label "grimdark") but I appreciate his grittier take on some common Fantasy tropes. Also the man can write a battle scene like nobody's business. There's a sequence in The Heroes which really blew me away with how well-crafted it was, and in a way very cinematic.

    For the curious, his posts and a follow-up on the whole "grimdark" thing:

    And some comments on the topic from Elizabeth Bear:

  • I pretty much just repeatedly read Mixing Secrets by Mike Senior. Then mix. Then hate myself and repeat.
  • I recently read Trickster by Jeff Somers. The premise is that magic is fueled entirely by blood - whether it's the magician's or someone else's doesn't matter. Most magicians use "bleeders" who give their blood, whether voluntarily or because they've been bewitched to do so. The protagonist, Lem, and his sidekick Mags, refuses to use anyone else, even volunteers, so they survive using only their own blood for magical grifting like making one dollar bills look like twenties. When they rescue a young woman from a car trunk and discover that she is covered with invisible rune tattoos, they find themselves on the run from the most powerful Archmage in the world.

    The plot is fast-paced and twisty and the protagonist is compellingly drawn. There are a few clunky, repetitive passages but they aren't so bad that they make the book unreadable. It's a worthwhile read for fans of paranormal thrillers and urban fantasy.
  • FYI,  Feast for Crows and the latest book Dance with Dragons are concurrent and not sequential. One of my friends got bummed with some of the events in Feast for Crows and didn't bother with Dance with Dragons. I told him he's basically stopped watching Fight Club halfway through. 
  • "Just wait! He's not done killing characters yet!"
  • Just picked up "The God Argument" by A. C. Grayling after seeing him on Colbert..... should get it Monday
  • I've caught up on New Scientists, and just have this week's to finish before I can get back to Old Man's War. And today, I happened to pick up The Ghost Brigades (the sequel to Old Man's War) at a jumble sale (it's like a stoop sale, except that you're not in Brooklyn or anywhere near a private dwelling that might have a garage) so I guess that will be next. It's the first John Scalzi book I've owned a physical copy of, and also the first whose purchase he doesn't get any money from. Clearly digital media is making artists starve. ;) (Well, it's harder to burn for warmth, anyway.)
  • Mainly html books now. Manage a Wolverine comic, and Storm of Swords. But back to textbooks.
  • edited April 2013
    Nabokov! as much as I can. I adore him!
    Although lately I've also been reading (an English translation of) Livy's Ab Urbe Condita to study for a Latin quizbowl I have coming up (because I am actually the coolest ever).
  • I myself prefer legal thrillers like John Grisham, Michael Connelly, James Patterson and the like. 
  • Finished Quiet, now reading Zoe's Tale, in preparation for reading The Human Division.
  • Last week, I dug out my copies of the five "Miracleman" collections in order to loan them to a friend and decided to re-read them before I handed them over so they'd be fresh in my mind when he is ready to talk about them. It was neat to see some of the themes that Moore would later address in "Watchmen" introduced in these earlier stories. In the later volumes, Neil Gaiman also addresses concepts he'll cover in more depth in future work, especially the Sandman series - like the nature and purpose of stories and storytelling. 

    For those not in the know, Miracleman was Alan Moore's reinterpretation of Marvel Man, which was the British ripoff version of golden age Captain Marvel. Moore asked himself, what if Mike Moran (the Billy Batson of the series) grew up and forgot his magic word... and then remembers it as a middle-aged man? The re-emerged Miracleman discovers that no one remembers his youthful exploits, and the initial story explores why that is. It also asks what it means to suddenly become a god-like being, and what the appearance of superheroes would mean for society (because of course Miracleman isn't the only one to reappear). Like I said, these are themes that are also central to Watchmen, but it's interesting to see Moore's early take on it.

    It isn't easy to find this material for a reasonable price (although it might be easier these days -- I acquired my set pre-internet), but if you can, and if you haven't already read them, they're worth the read.

  • edited April 2013
    The Miracleman stuff is really, really amazing. I try to reread them every so often, a process that is complicated by the sad fact that I don't own them. 

    For those confused by SaintPete's description, when he says "Captain Marvel" he means "guy in a red suit and a cape who says Shazam" and not "spacefaring Marvel comics hero from the 60s/70s/80s" or "vaguely related female hero still being written who debuted as Ms Marvel". 

    The character name has been used a few times, but the "original" was sort of a ripoff of early Superman back in the early years of comics (1939/40).

  • edited April 2013

    I just finished Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion, the first two books in Dan Simmon's Hyperion Cantos. I absolutely loved Hyperion. I really dig character driven books, and the heart of that book is the stories that bring of the main group of characters together. It had a really intimate feel to it and was really well written. I think it will stay up there among my favorite books. 

    Fall of Hyperion was a pretty good book, but not, in my mind, an adequate follow up to the first book. Whereas the first was intimate, the second was epic in scope. And the ending was all right, but had a bit of a deus ex machina feel to it. Chunks of the story were also written in present tense ("Kassad stands up to run towards the shelter", etc.), which is always a little jarring to me.

    Next up, I might switch gears and tackle The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson. Sure it's 1200 pages, but  his books usually read kind of fast. I'll get around to the other pair of books, which I understand takes place a couple hundred years after The Fall of Hyperion. I think if I'm not expecting another Hyperion, I'll be okay. 

  • Speaking from experience, I'd skip the balance of the Hyperion books. 
  • Dang it!

    I wish authors would stop writing crappy follow ups to amazing books. Now that's THREE of my favorite books that are tainted by poor sequels - Ender's Game, Dune, and now Hyperion. And it seems that in each case the books just get progressively worse. Take the Ender's series: Ender's Game - amazing; Speaker for the Dead - interesting; Xenocide - meh; Children of the Mind - really?

    Maybe I'll stick to one-offs for a while. . . after starting the first of Sanderson's expected 15 book behemoth.

  • That's why I like Sanderson. I love all of his books so far (that he has written himself, haven't dived into Wheel of Time at all, Jordan or otherwise).

    Currently about to read Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs (latest Mercy Thompson book).

    After Frost, I'll be moving on to Stormlord Rising by Glenda Larke. Loved her first of the series, The Last Stormlord, but have been sidetracked from the rest of the books by work. life, and other books on backlog.
  • edited May 2013
    I'm still reading Old Man's War (near the end, now), but I just started listening to an audiobook (does that count?) about music theory. The guy sounds hilariously emphatic/pompous/dramatic/Shatneresque, and then, out of the blue, makes a fart noise. I've only learnt one thing so far, but I think this is going to be amusing even if I don't learn anything else.

    Edit: Now reading The Ghost Brigades. It's hard to get used to reading a paper book again; I have to hold it open while I'm eating, and put a bookmark in it when I close it, and flip through the pages to find out how many are left in the chapter.

    I'm on to lesson three of the overly-dramatic music theory course, and it's still hilarious both where it is supposed to be and where it isn't, and it gets funnier by the day. Also, I've learnt some things. Tenoroon! GANZ LANGSAM! *giggle*

    ETA: Just as I thought. Music theory is just group theory in disguise. Sheesh, if the circle of fifths is just a cyclic group of order 12 based on multiples of approximately 4/3, why didn't they just say so?

    Note to self: don black hat and play a series of tritones next time a piano and some innocent musicians are around.
  • edited May 2013
    MJPM: Frost Burned is really good.  I really like that Patricia Briggs has the same idea of a world as other female authors, but the stories actually have denouement and don't revolve around sexuality as a control mechanism.  Patricia Briggs writes really great female protagonists that grow stronger from book to book without needing to be rescued each flippin' book.  Laurell K Hamilton should take notes...she's prancing down the path of Harlequin books with fur and fangs with no real meat to them.

    I'm currently entranced by "The Girls of Atomic City: The untold story of the women who helped win World War II" by Denise Kiernan.  It has the feel of the Northwest Women's History Project, but it has the added goodies of nuclear physics.  It goes a bit soft on both items, but it is still very interesting a third of the way through.  I hope to one day do my doctorate on the effect of women working during World War II changed the US.  My life and my mother's life were positively changed by my grandmother leaving a farm to work while her husband went to war. 

    Can I admit to not liking S M Stirling as much as I hoped?  The first book ("Dies the Fire") went light on the clothing descriptions and was quite ingenious. 

    maletero: Try "Shadow of the Hegemon"  I think it is where the series goes back to brilliant, personally.

    And I'll flat-out state "Anathem" was a horrific violation of the English language to Neal Stephenson's (very cute) face.  I am of the faction that despises that book.
  • @Fizzgig I just finished Girls of Atomic City on Wednesday. The book sounded good by itself, plus I loved the author's interview on the Daily Show. I really enjoyed it, but not quite as much as some other non-fiction I've read (The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, for example).

    I just finished Silver Linings Playbook, which was a great book. Slightly different from the movie, which was also great, and which I maybe liked slightly more...it's close though. Now it's on to Perks of Being a Wallflower, then I really want to read some John Green books.
  • I'm reading the Discourses of Epictetus.
  • Ok, so I've finished Girls of Atomic City, and I agree with you, CindyLouWho. Parts of it were better than others, but the feminist cheerleading got in the way of my enjoyment, along with the sidetracks into documenting the extreme racism with no resolution or signs of improvement. I think the author tried to write 3 different books and her editor forced them into one tome, and the author had the most enthusiasm for Women's history. Overall, my thought is take the good and leave the rest...
  • J K Lasser's Business Tax Guide.
  • Just finished The Way of Kings. Overall a good book and a really good start to a BIG series. I think it could have easily been cut down to the 800 page range. I think one reason it seemed to drag a bit at times is that, in contrast to most other epic fantasy that I've read, there's no grand journey here. With rare exception, all the major characters are in the same setting for the whole book. I think this contributes to the slow pace, at times; a lot more words are needed to develop the characters and the tension. No traipsing through the countryside, encountering enemies, with the exposition that usually comes after such encounters. I found myself missing that. I was getting ready to be pretty deeply disappointed, and then I got to the last ~150 pages. Quite an ending and a great setup for the next installment. 

    Next I'm going to expose myself to Pratchett or Stephenson (see the above discussion). Or I might read a biography about Tesla to see why The Internet is so enamored with him. 

  • edited May 2013
    "Note to self: don black hat and play a series of tritones next time a piano and some innocent musicians are around."

    Don't you dare!  ;-)
  • I had to stop reading Way of Kings a couple of days ago.  The writing and exposition is just too clunky.  And it falls afoul of the xkcd rule about fantasy books with too many made up words that have perfectly cromulent mundane analogs.  I expected to like it, too, because I really enjoyed the Mistborn series.


    So now I'm back to catching up on Charles Stross's Merchant Princes series. I like it, but not as much as his other stuff, like Halting State or the Laundry Files.

  • Saint Todd, I understand why you stopped reading. I really wanted something in the Way of Kings to set up the world and explain some things. In my opinion, Sanderson showed here that you can take the old adage "show don't tell" too far. He likes to wrap some of the inner workings of his worlds in mystery. It has worked pretty well in the past, Mistborn being an excellent example (still need to read the last book - it's high on the list). In a world as big and complicated (or maybe just poorly written) as the Way of Kings, I could have done with a little less mystery. One small, non-spoilery example, what in the wide world of sports is crem? Is it just clay? If not, why not? 

    Depending on where you stopped, I think you could probably skip ahead to the middle of part 3, or maybe part 4, if you don't mind missing some Shallan chapters. Part 4 is great and made up for a lot of the drudgery leading up to it, in my opinion.

    And as for what I'm reading, I decided to start with the first Discworld novel. I understand it might not be the best Discworld novel, but I found that out too late. A 250 page read will be a nice change of pace.

  • I was at a music festival over a long weekend and had plenty of time to read (though I tried not to since I underestimated how much reading material I had with me), so I finished The Ghost Brigades and got about halfway through 2001: A Space Odyssey, which seems to be quite short. I hope it has a more comprehensible ending than the movie.
  • If I remember correctly - and it was a long time ago - I think the ending of the written version of 2001 made more sense than the movie.


    I'm reading Yergin's "The Quest", which is about the oil industry (or "awl bidniz" as we call it.) More interesting than I expected.

  • Just finished The Color of Magic, the first Discworld novel. That was a FUN read. I look forward to reading more.

    For now, though, I've started the violation of the human language, mentioned above. I'm glad I got some exposure to the audiobook before starting the read. But I'm not sure what to think of it, yet. There are an awful lot of made up words. Some useful to the book's setting, but some decidedly not. They serve NO purpose.

  • I read Feed and Blackout by Mira Grant last week, and this weekend is the Denver ComicCon.... not good timing on my part, geesh... I preferred Feed to Blackout, but I don't like my heightened state of paranoia... I feel the same as I did after reading Hot Zone and World War Z.

    @maletero... Good luck with that. Words meaning both the current meaning and its opposite lead to buffer overflow issues.

  • Fizzgig, did you skip Deadline? I agree with you about Blackout. It was probably my least favorite of the series, and, yeah, it's probably best not to read any of them right before a con, particularly the related novella "San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats".

    On a related note, I've got a brother/sister pair of cats named Shaun and George.
  • *laughing about the cats*  *biting tongue about cats being lovey dovey*

    Yes, I skipped Deadline, but DID NOT skip the novella you referenced.  I am NOT going to the San Diego Comic Con next year.  *shudder*  Oh, and did you catch CNN's "We're all gonna DIIIIIIIIIEEEEE" front page article on the new virus that has killed a massive 49 people last I checked? Ever so helpful, thanks there!  Why not run another lovely pseudo-scientific article about the specifics about the virus that changes the behavior in ants and caterpillars so the hosts will engage in risky behavior and get eaten by birds, who then act as transmission vectors??

    So... yeah...  didn't grieve when the Denver Comic Con tickets sold out this morning.  I've been watching Wil's Twitter feed (cutest baby EVER!) instead of being creeped out in mass crowds.

    I'm going back to trash novels for brain bleach for a bit...
  • I've re-read all of the Dresden Files and the Codex Alera series for about the 5th time each.  Just read the new (and final) Sookie Stackhouse novel.  Not sure what I'll start next.
  • edited June 2013
    The movie Silver Linings Playbook left me with a lot of questions so a friend suggested I read the book. It is much much better than the movie. Much. 
    @Meretia how was the latest Sookie book?  I wasn't sure if I would continue after the one before.
  • I am now into the final two books of the Malazan Book of The Fallen series and oof it's been a trial. Its the most involved story I have read with sooo very much happening it is often hard to remember who is who and what is what. Worth it though so far, Erikson don't let me down now!
  • Moreso than the GRRM books?
  • @St_Trousers  He won't  :-)    I loved the series myself even though sometimes you had to "push through" some parts
  • "The Sugar Frosted Nutsack: A Novel" -- Mark Leyner
  • edited June 2013

    Finally finished Anathem. Blazed through the last 150 pages, not so much because I was engrossed, I just really wanted it to be done. It's a fascinating world, with some really, really interesting ideas. But oh boy, it was tedious at times. And that ending? Meh. I would love to go into why the ending didn't work for me, but that would involve spoiling the whole book. In my opinion it wasn't quite an abomination, but it looks like i really should have started with Snow Crash like everybody here said. I should start taking the advice I ask for. 

    Now I'm reading Brandon Sanderson's new YA book, The Rithmatist, as sort of a quick palate cleanser. I like it a lot, so far. After that??

  • I read Anathem first and then moved on to Snow Crash. Took me forever to get started with Snow Crash tho. Had to just plow through the first chapters until it took hold.
  • A combination of sickness and lethargy meant I did a lot of reading in the past month or two, mostly in my comfort zone of light fantasy. I can't recall them all, but off the top of my head:

    By Mercedes Lackey:
    The Fire Rose
    Reserved For The Cat
    The Silver Gryphon

    Shadow of the Lion by Mercedes Lackey, Eric Flint and David Greer

    By Elizabeth Moon:
    The Deed of Paksennarion
    Oath of Fealty

    By Tamora Pierce:
    First Test
    Tortall and Other Lands

    By Blake Charlton:

    Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley

    Song in the Silence by Elizabeth Kerner

    Sing the Four Quarters by Tanya Huff

    The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson

    The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal

    The Art of Software Testing, Third Edition by Glenford J Myers

    Javascript Bible, Seventh Edition by Danny Goodman, Michael Morrison, Paul Novitski and Tia Gustaff Rayl

    Of particular note is the Hugo-nominated novella The Emperor's Soul, which is excellent. I'd never read any of Brandon Sanderson's work before, but now I am intrigued by his solid world-building and characters.

    I was quite charmed by Spellwright, which features a world where magic is performed by writing, and the main character is a dyslexic wizard. The world is inventive enough that I bought the sequel. Honestly the plot has lost me a little, but I find the world interesting enough that I want to keep reading the series.

    I've also been listening to a lot of history podcasts, most notable Mike Duncan's The History of Rome. It is *fascinating* to learn the historical origins of battle techniques and social structures that show up in fantasy novels. Elizabeth Moon's Paks books are partly set in a mercenary company and thus contain a lot of military tactics that would be right at home in a Roman legion. The complex political intrigues in alternate history like Shadow of the Lion (set in Renaissance Venice) used to bore me, but after many hours of listening to the melodrama of imperial succession it all makes more sense.

    An interesting side effect of my newfound historical background is that the simplistic tropes I used to enjoy now frustrate me. The False Princess (which, to be fair, is a YA book) drove me up the wall after a promising start, because the main character becomes obsessed with putting the "rightful" heir to the throne back in place, despite the subtitute seeming to be better trained and poised to become an excellent ruler. Familiarity with history makes such devotion to biological succession feel naïve.

    The only Neal Stephenson book I've read is Cryptonomicon, and despite assurances from friends that I'd love Snow Crash or Quicksilver, I've been leery. Now that I seem to be favouring more complexity in my reading it might be a good time to try Stephenson again.
  • edited June 2013
    I recently started reading Gardiner's Grammar.

    (Mark is old.)
  • the Paksennarion books are among my all time favorites. So much so that my favorite D&D character was based on Paks. I always said if I was a parent those books would be required reading for my children. 
  • @robgonzo I was delighted to find that Moon is writing another trilogy in that world, though Paks is only a secondary character now. While looking it up I found that the second and third book are already out; I may have to track them down while Oath of Fealty is still fresh in my mind...
  • @chicazul I read the first of the sequels, and found the theological underpinnings had reached unbearable proportions: the hero was insufferably self-righteous, the bad guys too evil-for-evil's-sake. Maybe I'm oversensitive, but a world where good people are good because their god tells them to be and evil people are evil because their god tells them to be is the world that many unpleasant people believe they already live in, and it's not a worldview I want to visit.
  • I have started reading (and am as yet very much enjoying) Engraved on the Eye, a collection of short stories by Saladin Ahmed.  I need to get around to reading any of John Scalzi's stuff.  I really enjoy his blog and Twitter presence, but just haven't been in the frame of mind to sit down for a non-fluffy, not-short type of book. 

    I think this is because I need a vacation that doesn't involve moving where I live.  :P
  • Scalzi is surprisingly breezy for how deep some of his concepts are.
  • Getting ready to re-read The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody, by Will Cuppy.  Funny and historically pretty accurate.
  • edited July 2013
    io9 has an interesting article up this weekend to poll readers for which book series they gave up on too late. I saw a couple of my dislikes on there... like Wheel of Time (though honestly I only made it through one book). Xanth was on there, which made me sad. Orson Scott Card's Ender series was listed, too. Sword of Truth made me meh...
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