What are you reading these days? #12
What are you reading currently? Fiction or non-fiction, any genre, any language! Tell us what you're reading, and talk a bit about it.
Edit 2019-01-16: Add the link for Week #11 below.
Past weeks: Week #1 · Week #2 · Week #3 · Week #4 · Week #5 · Week #6 · Week #7 · Week #8 · Week #9 · Week #10 · Week #11
Alastair Reynolds' Shadow Captain, which is the just-released sequel to his excellent Revenger.
Haven't got far into it yet but what I have read is good and it's nice to get back into the slightly steampunky world of the Revenger series, which isn't normally my thing but I enjoyed the last book.
I am reading a Turkish translation of When We were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro this week. I have only read a few pages yet, so I don't have much idea of what to expect, but it seems to me that it will be a nice, light read; especially after Eichmann in Jerusalem which I read last week, which shocked me so often it felt like I was an alien discovering what humans can be like: violent fools or stupid fools.
The Ishiguro novel starts off feeling like a story of formation of the protagonist, told by him when he is a young adult. I had this book sitting around to be read for so long that I forgot what made me buy it, and I didn't look up any info about it to not break the "surprise" of reading it as if I just picked it random from the shelves in a shop just because I liked the author's name and/or the book's title.
It is seemingly about a private investigator, who was an awkward-ish kid. In the first couple dozen pages he's telling me about his childhood in analepses caused by him encountering an old friend from the high school. This friend tells him, while parting after inviting him to a gathering, that he was always an awkward kid, and from there on the protagonist recounts facts and memories from his own childhood. He is refusing it, but his story and his manner shows that he's always trying to hide his "awkwardness", which seemingly is some sort of asociality combined with a geekery towards the job of being a private investigator.
It being about a detective makes me expect some sort of whodunnit element in there, but I don't know. It may also turn out to be about growing up as a socially awkward kid, which would be relatable (doh...). I expect it to be fun nevertheless.
At the moment I've been reading through the Mistborn series. I read Stormlight Archives a while back, and after Oathbringer I finally became interested in the whole universe. So over Christmas I got to read pretty much every other book in the series :)
I'm about 3/4 through Use of Weapons by Ian M. Banks, a sci-fi novel set in the Culture universe.
The protagonist (Zakalwe) works as an agent for the Culture, a highly advanced galaxy-spanning civilisation, that tries to guide less advanced civilisations into what they consider the correct path of development. The Culture has many such agents, with different specialisations, and Zakalwe's speciality is fighting wars.
The chapters alternate between the main story told linearly, and the back-story of the protagonist told in the opposite direction. It's very reminiscent of the film Memento, but worth mentioning that the book was published 10 years before the film hit theatres.
I like the world-building, the character interactions, and the action scenes. I'm not particularly fond of the story or most of the characters. The highlight so far is the journey of the protagonist's handler on a spaceship between star systems, and her interactions with the crew and the ship itself. Culture spaceships are sentient machines with their own personalities, and this particular one is a delight.
While I can't make a final verdict until I've finished the book, I think I can safely recommend this to any sci-fi fan. It might also be a good starter book for anyone who want to get into the Culture universe. I've previously tried to read Consider Phlebas, the first published book in the series, but I quickly lost interest. I might give it another try now that I'm more invested in the universe.
I read this last year. You're in for a pretty wild ride for the ending, I really liked how the novel went forwards and backwards in alternating chapters, and it really seemed like the only way to do it, given the mystery of Zakalwe's past. Have you read other culture novels? Consider Phlebus is probably the weakest out of the 4 I've read, and I highly recommend The Player of Games. The best game player in all of the culture travels to a planet where the entire culture revolves around a game. How you fair in the game determines your social status. The book after Use of Weapons is a short story comp, and the title story is Diziet and friends traveling to Earth to evaluate whether the culture should intervene. I wasn't crazy about it but it's cool to see Diziet in another story and I believe it's the only interaction between the culture and earth. I'm gearing up to read Excession pretty soon, which a couple of my friends have raved about. Apparently it mostly follows the minds which sounds like it will be pretty interesting.
Not yet. I have The Player of Games standing on my shelf as well. Several years back I bought the first three books in the series, after a friend recommended them to me.
The reason I'm now reading the third book is because I thought it was the second book (I had them standing in the wrong order on my shelf apparently), and I'd already tried the first book. I quickly realised I was actually reading the third book, but by then I was on an airplane, so I didn't have much choice. Thankfully it doesn't seem to matter all that much. :-)
I think it is worth reading the Culture novels in order of writing since there are some references to earlier events.
So I'd personally read the Player of Games and possibly re-visit Consider Phlebas next, although as the first Sci-Fi novel Banks had published it's definitely one of the weaker ones.
Inversions could be read at any point I think since it deals with characters effectively in a backwater.
I personally found Matter and Hydrogen Sonata to be fairly forgettable.
I'm currently reading MindWise by Nicholas Epley. It's very standard pop-science style writing (The results of relevant papers & experiments interspersed with personal and historical anecdotes of dubious accuracy).
That said there hasn't been anything which seems to be wildly wrong in the science yet and several things have been quite interesting.
This is my third Bukowski book and each time I read them, I'm not sure why I do. Maybe it is a schadenfreude thing. "There, but for the grace of God, go I..." type of observation. First Smith book. Enjoying it but not really inspiring to read any other books by her. Fr. Brown is my circle back on classic detectives I keep doing year after year and they are good escapist reading.
I've just finished (within the past minute!) Cherie Dimaline's The Marrow Thieves. It's from the perspective from a Canadian First Nations boy as he runs with his new-found family from Recruiters, white people who steal Natives' marrow to be able to dream again. The novel was light on world-building but the relationships and the characters were incredible.
Getting myself back into reading now. Just finished Slaughterhouse 5. Just bought The Sun Also Rises, and will also be cracking open Breakfast with Einstein.
This gives a pretty nice summary of what type of stuff I'm into so recommendations are appreciated!
Really enjoying Star of the Sea by Joseph O'Connor. It's the story of the last voyage of a ship from Ireland to New York in the mid 19th century, and it's extremely bleak. The conditions aboard the ship in steerage, the lives of the people that are fleeing Ireland, the harsh treatment and outright racism by the English towards the Irish... It's a hard read, but it's extraordinarily gripping!
I'm currently reading Developer Hegemony by Erik Dietrich
The book is a fairly thoughtful take on corporate culture and how we ended up with the system of work we live with currently as well as how it is a failing system for the fairly new concept of knowledge work. He proposes an alternative revolving around viewing oneself as their own company and facilitating relationships with several organizations, rather than limiting yourself to working for just one. It reads very fast and at no point does it really feel as if he is writing extraneously for the sake of making the book longer. Definitely a rewarding read thus far if you're either a developer or someone who is currently a knowledge worker within a more corporate environment.
My todo list for when I finish this book is currently:
Right now I've got Music for Chameleons sitting next to me, though I haven't picked it up in a while. I really love the style of Capote's writing, and every time I pick it up I end up sitting for half an hour straight because I can't put it down. I also have started The Martian Chronicles/Марианские Хроники. It's one of those two-languages-facing-each-other copies, in both Russian and English. I love Bradbury's work in general, so this is a great opportunity to read an author that I love while also practicing my language skills.
I'm a chronic starter and stopper when it comes to books, though it's something that I've turned into. Hopefully I'll break that before it becomes too much of a habit though.