What are you reading?



  • I recently found out that Neal Shusterman decided to make his Unwind novel into a trilogy, so I picked up the second book Unwholly. Unwind is one of my top favorite books, while the writing is definitely YA the story is amazing,
    I also found http://www.buzzfeed.com/ariellecalderon/books-to-read-before-they-hit-the-big-screen?sub=2331123_1293367 on pinterest and have been working my way through a few of them
  • edited July 2013

    I've finished a handful of short books over the past couple of weeks. 

    Finished Sanderson's The Rithmatist, which was a quick, fun read set in a magic steam-punk world with a chalk-based magic system. Looking forward to the sequel)

    Then I read The Emperor's Soul, also by Brandon Sanderson. I seem to remember reading that he set out to make it a short story, but it turned into a ~175 page novella. I thought is was a very good piece, which hinted at a lot of interesting ideas that were beyond the scope of that short-ish work.

    Next up, Arthur C. Clarke's 2001. I had never seen the movie, so I went into the book thinking is was about a computer that had gone crazy. Well, I was wrong. I was really impressed by the writing, and struck at how different the tone and pacing is from more recent fiction. It seemed to put a lot more weight on ideas and tone than action. What I've read of Asimov, it might have been the style at the time. I liked it! Unless the wisdom of the JoCo forum says otherwise, I'm going to pretend there are no sequels to this book. I can live with the ambiguity of that ending.

    Today I read Silver Linings Playbook. Saw the movie a few weeks back, and liked it. You guys here seemed to like it. And yeah, I liked it. Liked it enough to read the whole thing in a day. It had a very different tone from the movie. I think the changes made for the movie made for a better movie. But I'm glad I experienced both stories.

    Hooray for books!

  • I also finished 2001 fairly recently, and it was far better than the movie, although the movie would probably be better if you watched it after reading the book.

    My subscription to New Scientist recently finished, and I don't think I'll renew it for a little while, so I'll be reading more. A couple of nights ago I read a pocket guide to Apollo 11, before sending it off to my dad, and I thought it was a great summary of everything from the first ideas of flight and rockets to the return of the Apollo 11 crew to Earth.

    Right now, at home and whenever I have it with me, I'm finally reading Quantum Realities by Jonathan Allday. At work I'm reading C# In Depth (3rd Edition) by Jon Skeet. The rest of the time, when I only have my iPad with me or I'm stuck somewhere where it's too dark to read from paper, I'm reading Invasion by Mercedes Lackey. It's pretty slow going at first and I'm worried I won't remember who the characters are when I finally see them a second time, especially given I read fairly slowly and with other books in between, but things are starting to happen now. I'm kind of confused about the setting because some things make it seem like it was written many years ago when WWII was on people's minds a lot and a much of today's technology didn't exist yet (they talk about ATMs as if they're new and uncommon), but then suddenly wikipedia is mentioned. But I'll keep at it and maybe things will become clear.
  • Just finished Ian Whitcomb's Ukulele Heroes - The Golden Age. Probably not interesting to the general public, but I enjoyed it and learned quite a bit about the people who played and play the instrument. The style is very conversational. I liked it.

    Next up is whatever is on the Kindle. Charles Stross, I think.
  • My wife gave me a copy of Guy Gavriel Kay's latest, River of Stars. Kay is the best fantasy writer out there, bar none. (Although I have nothing against Martin, Kay is a better stylist.) River takes place four centuries later in the same setting as Kay's last Chinese-inspired work, Under Heaven. There's very little magic in River, since part of Kay's style seems to be that magic recedes as time advances, but it's still a compelling story that kept me turning the pages.
  • I'm now reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane.  I just started.  No spoilers!
  • Couple of comedy books.
    Marc Maron's Attempting Normal. I really liked. Very honest biography. But if you've listened to Maron a lot lately you'll know pretty much all these stories. Still, a very good read. When I heard David Sedaris on the WTF podcast raving about the book it clicked with me that the tone was very similar. So, if you like Sedaris' work, you'll like this one too.
    Self Inflicted Wounds by Aisha Tyler. Another very open look at some of the more humiliating moments in Tyler's life. I don't like Tyler's writing style as much as Maron's and the tone, especially toward the end was a bit preachy. Still a good read tho.
  • Yesterday I finished Ben Winters' second book in his "Last Policeman" trilogy; if you aren't familiar, it's a (planned) trilogy taking place in more or less present day, except there's an asteroid on its way that's expected to kill pretty much everybody.

    Winters takes a lot of time and care figuring out what might happen in such a world, and then winds a mystery plot through that world via his protagonist, a young (and now "retired") detective in the Concord, NH, police department.

    I read the first one on New Year's Day; I read the second one yesterday. Consider that a vote in favor. ;)
  • @chetman - Thanks for bringing up Winters. I enjoyed the first book a lot and I'm eager to see what he's done with the new one.
  • I'm now reading Before the Lights Go Out.
  • I'm now reading Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal.
  • @SaintPeteSam Yeah, it's a fun ride. I feel like he keeps kinda whiffing the endings, but the rest of the story is good enough I don't care.

    He's also setting himself up for a big finish (est. release date July 2014).
  • I'm now reading The Name of the Wind.
  • Devouring the Dresden Files books by Jim Butcher (I KNOW... finally), using Kindle.  They're $8.99 but you can get them bundled 1-6 or 7-12 for $54.99!   A savings of negative $0.175 !!  Sheesh
  • Lots of mention of those Dresden Files books. I think I'll check them out sometime. For now, I just finished reading "Quiet: The Power of Introverts. . . ." As an introvert, myself, I thought I might learn something. I guess I did learn that there have been studies showing that western culture is geared towards the extrovert. Other than that, I didn't find the book to have much to say beyond "people are complicated". 

    So I started reading Cryptonomicon. So far (p. ~80) I like it MUCH better than Anathem. 

  • Sorry for the off topic but, Talk of the Dresden Files reminded me of this. 
    These are friends of mine. Can't wait for the completed movie.
    Sorry, return to book talk now. :-)
  • Just finished: Charles Yu's _How To Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe_, which was a weird little delight.

    Next up: either _As I Lay Dying_ again, or the Resa Aslan book everyone's chattering about. I read an except on my Kindle and was pretty sucked in.
  • I'm now reading The Wise Man's Fear.
  • @mtgordon (or anyone), how are those Rothfuss books? I've been thinking of checking them out, but I don't generally like my fantasy to be too dark. I don't really need extra grit in my recreational reading. Many years ago I started reading Game of Thrones (around the time it came out in paperback), but stopped because it was darker than expected. I might make it back there someday. I hear it's good ; )
  • Unless you're reading Pratchett, dark is not completely avoidable.  The Grimms and Anderson were dark.  Even Tolkien was dark in places.  In terms of darkness, GRRM is espresso to Tolkien's americano.  Rothfuss is closer to a latte.  It unquestionably has its dark elements, but it has quite a bit of lighter material as well.  It reminds of Rowling, but written for an older, more mature, more educated audience.
  • Eloquently stated. Thanks.

    Thinking about my "darkenss" preferences, there are two things that sort of put me off: explicit sex and violence and (anti-)heroes that are extremely, deeply flawed and/or evil. That's a gross over simplification but it'll have to do, here.  (I think it's an interesting topic which I wish we could discuss.)

    As I recall, I stopped reading Game of Thrones because it "failed" with regard to the explicitness (at least it did to my ~17 year old self). As for examples of anti-hero front, the Neil Gaiman books I've read (American Gods, Neverwhere) left me . . . uneasy because of some of the ambiguous characters in there. I mean, I really enjoyed those books, but there was definitely ends justifying questionable means. The good guys weren't really all that good, in the traditional sense. If you'll forgive a mention of the world of TV here in the book thread, I watched House of Cards all the way through and enjoyed watching it. But I ended up frustrated that such a well-written and produced show didn't have any main characters that were "good guys". 

    I know that life's not black and white, but maybe one of the reasons I like to read fiction, is to enter a world where things are a little more black and white. A little escapist? Maybe. Some of my favorites, Tolkien, Sanderson, Eddings, Jordan, and since you mentioned it, Rowling, all have their darker parts, but all have clearly defined good guys and bad guys. And none of them are too explicit for my tastes.

    Writing this out here, my brain wants to go back to the John Cleaver books by Dan Wells. The first person POV character is a teenage psychopath who is definitely flawed. Deeply flawed. But he wants to be good in the traditional "good guy" sense. Mostly. I think that, combined with the deliberately less-explicit-than-it-could-have-been writing, the length of the books helps those fall on the lighter side of the too-dark divide.
  • There's no explicit sex that I've seen, with the caveat that I'm about a quarter of the way through the second book, and fairly little implied thus far.  They live in a world where sex exists, but it's all happening behind closed doors, and not with major characters.  There's a seemingly-chaste character who reminds me a bit of Capote's Holly Golightly.  Kvothe, Rothfuss' protagonist, is quite sympathetic, but he's human.  He's largely gray in that he makes mistakes, and he has blood on his hands.  The good guys are good, and the bad guys are bad; there's some moral ambiguity in some of the minor characters, but they're exceptional in that regard.  I can't say the good guys always trust each other all of the time, but that's more about uncertainty than it is about ambiguity.  I know what you mean about some of Gaiman's ambiguous characters; to avoid spoilers I'm going to use LotR references, under the assumption that everyone has read/seen it already, which may not be true of American Gods or Neverwhere.  Rothfuss seemingly is more interested in making good characters seem potentially bad for dramatic effect (analogous to Aragorn in Bree) rather than making ostensibly good characters engage in backstabbing (analogous to Saruman).  GRRM made a point of killing off his most principled narrator, just to show that he wasn't writing a book with a Hollywood ending.  Since Rothfuss is writing a nested narrative in which the protagonist is relating the story of how he came to be a legendary hero, it's clear that he survives at least long enough to start telling his tale.
  • Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman.
  • Well, there was a lot more sex in the last third of The Wise Man's Fear.

    I'm now reading Hobbes' Leviathan.
  • Anyone here read Michael Chabon's collection of essays, Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands? I stumbled onto a copy last week. It has some very insightful material on science fiction, fantasy, and comics. His analysis of Cormac McCarthy's The Road even made me consider giving it a second read despite disliking it the first time.
  • I finished Neil Stephenson's Diamond age a little bit ago. Another great Stephenson book. Loved it. 
  • Now reading Wool by Hugh Howey.
  • I haven't been reading as much as I'd like, but I'm about 3/4 through Cryptonomicon and loving it. It is making up for the disappointment that I felt reading Anathem. 
  • I just finished up Pratchett's Dodger. It's a lovely piece of historical fiction, and it was really nice to spend time inside Sir Terry's head but outside the Discworld.

    Up next is Richard Kadrey's Dead Set. It's YA about a punk teen girl who's father has passed away and what happens when she finds his soul in the back room of a record shop.
  • "I just finished up Pratchett's Dodger. It's a lovely piece of historical
    fiction, and it was really nice to spend time inside Sir Terry's head
    but outside the Discworld."

    Have you read Nation yet?  That may be my favorite book by him to date, despite my overwhelming love for the Discworld.

  • Have any Pratchett fans listened to Steeleye Span's new Wintersmith album, which they created in collaboration with him? I have listened to Steeleye Span since the early 70s and have read all of Pratchett's work, but my first few listens haven't really done it for me. I haven't been able to put a finger on exactly why yet.
  • I loved Nation! And the Tiffany Aching books are near the top of my epic to reread list.
  • _The Goldfinch_, the new novel by Donna Tartt. 

    I so very much wish she'd write a new novel more often than every 10 years. 
  • Parasite by Mira Grant.  Loved her Newsflesh trilogy.  Hoping this trilogy is good as well.
  • Now reading: "Understanding Lasers - An Entry-level Guide"
  • "Salsa Guidebook for Piano & Ensemble," Rebeca Mauleón
  • Audio books:  
    Finished: Murphy's Law by Rhys Bowen - I like her Royal Spyness series
    Now listening to:  Operation Broken Reed by Terry Eagleton, account of secret mission behind enemy lines in the Korean War

    Regular books:
    Finished:  Triumph of the City by Edward Glaeser - about Urbanism
    Now reading (dipping in and out, it's long): The Campaigns of Napoleon by David G Chandler.  Good, though doesn't live up to billing as a Shelby Foote equivalent,

    Need a verb for listening to an audio book - "auditing" ?
  • Finally finished Cryptonomicon. Around page 900, when the plots were finally starting to come together, I realized that the main story could have been package in a tight 300-400 page thriller. I'm really, really glad it wasn't. It was a great read. The style, with its long digressions and tangents (the Cap'n Crunch scene was brilliant, if flawed in its approach to that fine breakfast food), would have fallen apart in less-capable hands, I think. 

    Anyway, now I'm on to finally finish up the Wheel of Time. 
  • edited February 2014
    Sorry to interrupt all the Cruise preparations, but I have read more books and want to talk about them. Don't worry, this won't take long.

    Finished the last book of the Wheel of Time. I thought it was a pretty good end to a series I'd been reading for nearly twenty years. A few too many battles for my taste, but considering the last three books were supposed to be one BIG book, it isn't so bad.

    I've also read the first two books in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series because they came very highly recommended by my son. My wife says that Riordan is the Dan Brown of YA. I agree with that assessment and will leave it to you to decide if that's a good thing or not. I'm just starting book 3. At least it's a quick read. . .

    I took a brief trip into the world of non-fiction and read Nickel and Dimed, wherein the author took a series of low paying jobs to see how the working poor make life work. I picked it up for a dollar, and I'm glad that's all I paid. It is an interesting idea, but I don't think the author treated the people she wrote about with the respect they deserved.

    Last night I finished Watership Down, which I started because I was thinking of raising rabbits as food for the end times and wanted to see what kinds of prophecies I could expect from them. I really did pick it up because of Hogdman's end times writings and performance. I thoroughly enjoyed it. A lot. I can't believe that Richard Adams pulled it off--an engaging book about a bunch of rabbits (OK, so it's really about loyalty and courage and the triumph of brain over brawn and other things). 

    How about you guys? Read anything good lately? 
  • I'm currently reading The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch after somebody shared around Pat Rothfuss' Goodreads review of it. I'm only about a quarter of the way through, but it is quite good so far.
  • So it looks like this thread slowed down due to cruise focus, but I am a giant book nerd and am really excited about this, so...I'm going to post and see what happens.

    Just finished Sarah Pinborough's Dog-Faced Gods Trilogy, which I really liked. A mix of mystery & fantasy/horror, which I thought she handled quite well - didn't have one theme overwhelming the other. Along similar lines, I finished Lauren Beukes' The Shining Girls (also mystery & fantasy/horror) and liked it so well I immediately picked up her other 2 novels: Moxyland and Zoo City. (I already HAVE most of Sarah Pinborough's other books - she's a bit of a favorite.)

    I have a used bookstore, and the application (which I did not create) is, bar none, the best application EVER. One page of contact info & job history, and then the rest is questions about what the applicant likes to read and why. I've never had as much fun as I did filling out that application!
  • I liked Zoo City.
  • edited March 2014
    Found a signed (to my former roommate) copy of The Lost Tribes of the Alleghenies by Alan Margolis and have really been enjoying it.  A rare (for me) departure from Fantasy/Sci-fi for me and is a "growing up" story set in the 70's in rural PA.  It's well written with interested characters and themes (so far) of religion, business, friendship, sexual orientation, and comedy.
  • My boss strongly recommended that I read "The Passage" by Justin Cronin. The last time he strongly suggested I read something, it was "Hyperion," so I was expecting it to be amazing. It was weird, because it increasingly followed tropes I expected in a postapocalyptic vampire novel, but I absolutely could not stop reading.

    Then I told my boss I was finally reading it, and he sheepishly admitted he had recommended it to me while he was on about page 200, and on page 201 it became a totally different book that he no longer enjoyed nearly as much.

    Now I'm reading the first of Mary Robinette Kowal's Glamourist Histories.
  • > [...] the first of Mary Robinette Kowal's Glamourist Histories.


    I totally read this as "the first of May - crap, let's try that again."


    I recently had my first Octavia Butler experience, reading "Kindred." I wish I had known about her sooner! Now the part of me that wants to read her entire ouevre, is waging war against the part of me that says I only have so many years in this life and I haven't read, for example, any Thomas Pychon yet. 

  • Just finished Snow Crash. Did you guys know that it's a pretty good book?  Oh yeah, you did and told me to read it instead of Anathem. The whole Sumerian language virus thing was a bit of a stretch, but I had a great time reading it. Also would have preferred that the female lead be a little older than 15. I understand why a lot of authors use young protagonists if there's some need of an "innocent" character or something. But Y.T. is a cynical, hardened, streetwise character; probably could have written that as a 17 or 18 year old and still kept some of the requisite recklessness. 

    I'm also just about done reading Watchmen. I've recently been reading some comics for a sort of quick reading fix. Even with my limited exposure (tried out maybe 8 or 9 titles, regularly reading 4), it's obvious that the level of writing is inconsistent, some of it really bad. But whoa! Watchmen. Not a quick read, or particularly "fun". It's as fully formed and deep as most novels. Quite the feat. I also think that it holds up pretty well for a groundbreaking title. A lot of times I'll read one of these game changing books and come away not seeing what all the fuss is about--I'm looking through the lens of the "changed game" (Neuromancer is the type example for me). 
  • @malatero:  Yeah, well, we tried...  but with his other books being so good, it's hard to fathom how frustrating Anathem is without reading it.  I despise Anathem. 

    For those people who like belly laughs in their trash novels, Shelley Laurentson is cracking me up lately.
  • @Fizzgig.... does that make it Anathema?
  • On Kindle: How to Create a Mind, by Ray Kurtzweil
    Hardcopy: The Science of Composting, by Eliot Epstein.
    Tried reading Ecotopia Emerging on the boat, but only got about 40 pages in before I got bored.
    Storybooks rarely hold my attention, but I know other people enjoy them : )
  • I've been reading these Solar Clipper stories by Nathan Lowell ( linky ), and really enjoying the heck out of them.   It's nothing hugely deep, but what a fun and fast read!

    It's sort of my literary version of that "guilty pleasure" song.  =)
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