What are you reading these days?
What are you reading currently? Fiction or non-fiction or poetry, any genre, any language! Tell us what you're reading, and talk about it a bit.
What are you reading currently? Fiction or non-fiction or poetry, any genre, any language! Tell us what you're reading, and talk about it a bit.
During Christmas, my grandfather told me I could pick out any books from his library that I wanted to keep. He's always been big on history, so I jumped at the opportunity and grabbed a bunch of books about early American history, WW2, and a few others that interested me. Given my grandfather's religious and political leanings as well as the age of some of the books, I'm going to be taking a lot of them with a pinch of salt until I can verify the quality of the books a bit. I don't mean to look a gifted book in the dust jacket, but this is the man that gave me a Rush Limbaugh book about the American Revolution a few years back. Safety first!
But anyway, my favorite grabs were his Landmark books. If you're unfamiliar, Landmark books were a series of history books for kids that give a very broad overview of various events, people, etc. I very fondly remembering reading a few of them as a kid for various book reports. As an adult, they're very devoid of detail, but do make a good launching point for further study. For example, I was reading one about The Crusades and learned about Peter The Hermit. I quickly realized I didn't know anything about The Crusades as reading about Peter ultimately lead to the Rhineland Massacres, which I had never heard of and the book completely omitted. I can't think of a valid reason to either, given that the book takes no issue describing the violence between Muslims and Christians. Doesn't even seem like a bad attempt to paint the Crusaders in a positive light, because the book describes the chaos they sowed on their way to/from Constantinople.
Definitely taking all of those books with a pinch of salt, but will continue to read them to encourage me to do further read of more detailed sources (just wikipedia for now, admittedly).
I started The Grapes of Wrath and I really like it. I could be wrong, but it kind of reads like a prequel to the events in The Road
i just finished The Grapes of Wrath.
what a brutal story. not much else to say… it’s just brutal. i’ve never read a book that i loved so much while simultaneously thirsting for it to just end.
edit: merging two Grapes of Wrath comments
I was planning to read Worm and Ward but it turned out to be a bit too depressing for me to read right now. So instead I decided to start League of Peoples, as recommended to me by @autumn.
The first book, Expendable, was absolutely amazing. It's set in a truly unique and interesting universe governed by a coalition of seemingly benevolent beings, with a well intentioned (but exploitable) set of laws. The story and characters were also great, and I was fully invested from start to finish. I don't read many first-person perspective novels, so that threw me off a bit at the start, but I got used to it rather quickly and actually came to appreciate it by the end.
The second book, Commitment Hour, cranked the unique/interesting factor to 11. I have never read a book with a premise even remotely like it before, and I absolutely loved it. The story dragged a bit at times, especially when describing the history of the Patriarch, but I easily powered through those parts because the rest was so utterly captivating, and the characters so interesting. I really don't want to spoil it for anyone who might read it, so will just leave it at that. (But I can totally see why it was your favorite of the bunch, @autumn!)
I look forward to reading the rest of the series, and seeing where the author goes next, since they have quite the imagination, and the unique story possibilities in this universe they have created seem endless.
I’m so glad you’re enjoying the series! It’s definitely a hidden gem in the sci-fi world. The later books are written even better, as the author gets more comfortable. :)
I didn't find their writing bad to begin with, but that's still good to hear. I'm excited to see where it goes next. But I'll be honest, while I will still be happy if the series goes back to being solely about Ramos and the Explorers, I will be a bit disappointed if some of the characters from Commitment Hour don't make an appearance again at some point. I really want to know more about Earth, all the people who stayed behind, and the Spark Lords! :P
I finally finished all of the remaining League of Peoples books. They were all really good, and I particularly enjoyed Vigilant, Hunted and Trapped. But now I'm sad, since even though there are no more books in the series I don't want to leave the universe yet, especially since it left off on a bit of an unresolved cliffhanger. :(
Ah well, can't have everything, I suppose. I still really did enjoy reading the series though, so thanks again for the recommendation, @autumn.
Suzuki: The Man and His Dream to Teach the Children of the World - Eri Hotta
I posted the New Yorker review back in November and decided to read the book. It's a great story that covers a large chunk of interesting 20th century history, in Japan and (since he travelled) in Europe. Even as told by a fairly skeptical biographer, Shinichi Suzuki's teaching was clearly inspiring and effective for many.
It's unclear whether Suzuki's ideas about teaching young children would have generalized beyond violin lessons. He hoped for this, but was quite impractical about pursuing it, and the one school that tried only lasted a few years due to bad luck.
I'm curious about other people's experiences with "average" Suzuki method schools. The author only talks about that a little bit; the book is about the man himself rather than the many schools he inspired.
If you're curious what the music from the official lesson books sounds like, there are (unofficial) recordings on YouTube. Here is Perpetual Motion.
I can finally share a month I’m proud of.
I started with Recursion (2019) by Blake Crouch.
His books read like it could be easily adapted to any other form of media, and—excitingly—his other novel, Dark Matter is going to series at Apple TV+ (not to mention Wayward Pines).
I’m not a huge sci-fi fan, but his books make one out of me. Although, towards the end of Recursion there appears to be a plot-hole:
Barry and Helena create a recording for alternate-timeline Barry, although it is never explained (or I missed) how they brought it back into the memory.
Nonetheless, I really enjoyed this book and regret having waited this long to finally read it (I’ve had it since March 2020).
Next, I followed it up with Summer Frost (2019) also by Blake Crouch as part of a collaborative series of short stories. I decided to try this one since it was included in Kindle Unlimited (and is, in fact, an Amazon Original), but I was less impressed by this one. It was fine, and given its short length, I’m not upset that I read it, but I wouldn’t recommend it to people. Still, I’ll likely try and read the other 5 stories in the series and see if there are any hidden gems in there.
Moving on to a better book, I like to read a fiction and a non-fiction alongside each other, so while I was reading those, I was also working through Under a White Sky (2021) by Elizabeth Kolbert.
In this book she explores on-the-ground many proposed solutions to combatting climate change and also gives a lot of (American-focused) historical insight into how we got here. And, if you’re a fan of Tom Scott, this book has a lot more information on the electric fish he covered back in August.
I finished Where the Crawdads Sing (2018) by Delia Owens. I enjoyed most of the book, but the ending fell flat and the poems were plain drudgery (which makes sense as she seems to think more of herself than perhaps she should). Tonight I’ll watch the film and see how that compares.
I am now reading Upgrade (2022) by Blake Crouch, and The Sixth Extinction (2014) by Elizabeth Kolbert which won the Pulitzer Prize. Adventurous, I know. Hopefully by this time next month I’ll be able to update with how these turned out and have moved on to other authors.
Just finished reading The Idiot by Elif Batuman. It took me ages and ages to read because life got busy and I didn't make time for it, and I regret that because it was actually a very good and funny book and the fact that I read it over like 5 months definitely detracted from that. But I can recommend it, and will probably read the sequel Either/Or.
Agatha Christie books, specifically Poirot.
I've been working my way through the David Suchet TV series of Poirot, with only a few episodes left. I decided to try out the books to see how they compare to the episodes of the show.
Started off with the debut, "The Mysterious Affair at Styles", which I was pleasantly delighted with. From the outset Christie nails the character of Poirot (and Hastings to boot), with the mannerisms coming through from the page mirroring how Suchet portrays it in the show. I found the story itself interesting, wanting to turn the page and know a little bit more of the mystery each time. Christie did a great job at revealing little pieces of info over time, drawing you in, you aren't sure how they fit in yet, but they draw curiosity and make you eager to find out where it's leading. The conclusion of the mystery and the twist of it all really surprised me and I felt like it all fit together really well.
I rewatched the TV episode afterwards and was disappointed. Poirot stories in book-form are split in to the smaller side of things (the short stories of "Poirot Investigates", the Affair at Styles, which is something like 150 pages, so longer than a short story but not a full novel), and the longer novels. For the long novels, the show tended to make those feature-length episodes, with the shorter stories being adapted in to 50 minute episodes. Styles was adapted in to a feature-length episode (during the period of the show when the episodes were all 50 minutes long), as a sort of semi-special episode since it was the first book with Poirot in it, and a sort of prequel to the reset of the books (it was the first real mystery involving Poirot and Hastings working together, when Poirot was first moved to England during the great war).
Somehow the 1 hour and 40 minute runtime didn't feel like enough to capture the feeling of the book. A lot of time in the book is dedicated towards exploring and establishing how the husband of the victim was the prime suspect, and how all signs were pointing towards him. In the end, ||it comes as a great twist that the husband did murder her, but through an accomplice, while he himself was setting up all signs to point to him as the clear suspect, before revealing his alibi at the inquest, so he can't be charged for the murder again later. || In the book, the emphasis on this setup really pays off with the twist, but in the show it feels like it gets breezed through. A lot of the little detective work in the book also gets cut for time. The episode itself isn't bad by any means, but to me it misses a lot of what the book does really well.
After that I've been reading the short story collection "Poirot Investigates". Each story is about 15-20 pages, which is an interesting change from the 150ish of Styles. Each story is a neat little mystery, a quick setup, some detective work and snappy dialogue between Poirot and Hastings, and then a quick conclusion tying all the clues together in a way you didn't expect. It doesn't have the longer drawn out detective work in a longer story like Styles, and you get less room to introduce and flesh out characterization of the people involved in each mystery, but the mysteries themselves are nice bite sized ones you can pick up throughout the day.
Three stories in, I also rewatched some of those episodes of the TV show, and I thought they did a better job bringing those to screen than they did for Styles. Since each story is only 15-20 pages, it gives them plenty of room to encapsulate the whole story in the screenplay, with room to breathe for introducing characters, and adding more scenes to the episodes to flesh out parts the stories in the book couldn't. The first half of the show's run (up to about season 10 or so) was mostly short-story adaptations, in the 50 minute format. The show had a regular cast of side-kicks (Hastings, Japp, Ms. Lemon), was more comical and lighthearted in tone, and had a heavier wash of art-deco styling.
Honestly I prefer these episodes to watch over the later ones, since they're easier to fit in to my nights, a nice little lighthearted nighttime refresher to watch. For the later seasons they started adapting the longer books (Orient Express, Appointment With Death, Death on the Nile, etc.), which necessitated a larger runtime, cutting out the friendly faces of Hastings, Japp, and Lemon, and moving to a much darker tone. I'll likely move on to these books eventually and see how they compare (the darker tone may be more of an invention of the TV show rather than borne from the books, the TV adaptation of Orient Express is incredibly grim, and apparently the book not so much). I am very curious to see how the longer, more popular later novels are written, since they're the Poirot novels that are the most well-known. I'm also especially curious to see how the timeframes of the later novels come across, since the TV show timeshifts them all to be in about the 1920s to the 1930s, while the books go all the way up to the 1970s depending on when they were written.
Oh yeah and one final thing I was not expecting was the casual use of random slurs in the books, like the n-word, or the Asian-related c-word. These books were written in the 1920s so it came with the time, but each time I saw them on the page it did give pause, they just kind of come out of nowhere and are dropped in a conversation like someone's name.
I just started The Lionheart Curse. The lead character is Damian Lucas... and I think I've dipped my toe into a Dan Brown knock-off. Its one of those books where the author is showing off his research, but when he does it, he's using exact dates. Nobody speaks like that, and its absolutely destroying the flow of otherwise enjoyable airplane pulp.
The other thing I don't like about this genre of book is how there's always some old mentor who spent their life trying to uncover some secret, does it, leaves a shitload of clues, and then within seconds our hero is solving them... and everything is in plain sight!
I have no idea why or where I got this book.
edit: this book is like that scene with Alice Cooper in Wayne’s World
another edit: gary stu in full effect. everything this guy thinks up works perfectly. the author of this wrote a lot of comics — so it’s understandable that he’d give this guy a form of super power..
more edit: this is total bullshit. of COURSE the protagonist is now the center of the universe. This is so ridiculous.
final edit: its over. I swear this was written over a weekend.
After watching a ton of Warhammer 40k lore videos over the last few weeks, I decided to finally jump into the books, starting with the Eisenhorn trilogy. I already plowed through the first two over the weekend, since they were so surprisingly good I couldn't put them down!
I can see why so many people recommend them as the ideal starting point, since with Eisenhorn and his crew jumping around the galaxy so much, working to solve the various cases of Heresy they encounter, you get a really good glimpse into the lives of various strata of citizens of the Imperium, and a decent overall sense of its byzantine institutions, their roles, and the myriad people involved in keeping the chaotic mess held together.
I've enjoyed them so much that I will most definitely be reading a lot more of them afterwards... probably starting with Gaunt's Ghosts next, which seems to be the most recommended of the bunch after Eisenhorn.
cc: @Amarok, since you posting that WesHammer video is what sent me down this rabbit hole.
Hopefully you found Astartes Project in your travels?
Not only is it the best fan-produced video I've ever seen, it's probably in the top 10 for coolest shorts I've seen period.
I have. I watched it years ago. Even though I haven't actually read any of the novels before now, I adore the 40k universe, and am reasonably familiar with its lore from having played pretty much every 40k videogame, watching various groups on Youtube/Twitch playing Dark Heresy together, and watching various other 40k related videos over the years.
p.s. My favorite 40k short is the official Armouring of a Space Marine one. So fucking epic.
p.p.s. Not a short, but related to the above... here's another fun video series I recently watched:
Surgeon Reacts to Space Marine Creation Process