19 votes

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.

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29 comments

  1. [4]
    drannex
    Link
    The Fourth Discontinuity - the co-evolution of humans and machines by Bruce Mazlish I have a love for pre-internet (prime) writings on technology and cyberspace, far more hope and interesting...

    The Fourth Discontinuity - the co-evolution of humans and machines by Bruce Mazlish I have a love for pre-internet (prime) writings on technology and cyberspace, far more hope and interesting thoughts on the future. Many predictions are true, many are still possible, and very few are incredibly wrong. I just recently started and I am enjoying it so far and is similar to another one of my favorite books, The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace that really blew up my world view a few years ago.

    The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee. I loved his other books, only read a few pages but just the first page is great.

    The Heart of a Goof by P. G. Wodehouse this is a collection of short stories about morals, life lessons, and golf. Isaac Asimov used this book as inspiration for a number of his other short stories.

    10 votes
    1. [3]
      Algernon_Asimov
      Link Parent
      I know Asimov mentioned liking Wodehouse's work: he says in his introduction to the 'Azazel' collection that "if you occasionally detect the faint influence of P.G. Wodehouse, believe me, that's...

      The Heart of a Goof by P. G. Wodehouse [...] Isaac Asimov used this book as inspiration for a number of his other short stories.

      I know Asimov mentioned liking Wodehouse's work: he says in his introduction to the 'Azazel' collection that "if you occasionally detect the faint influence of P.G. Wodehouse, believe me, that's not accidental". However, I wasn't aware he specifically cited Wodehouse's stories as an inspiration for any of his stories. Does Asimov say anywhere which of his stories were inspired by this Wodehouse collection?

      I have a couple of other collections by Wodehouse, and wouldn't be averse to buying another one. It would be interesting to see the connection between a Wodehouse story and an Asimov story.

      2 votes
      1. [2]
        drannex
        Link Parent
        He based the concept of the 'Oldest Member' from Heart of a Goof for his use in Asimov's The Union Club Mysteries, I can't find a direct quote (albeit, I know there is one for I have seen it, but...

        He based the concept of the 'Oldest Member' from Heart of a Goof for his use in Asimov's The Union Club Mysteries, I can't find a direct quote (albeit, I know there is one for I have seen it, but has evaded my quick queries).

        Wikipedia: Oldest Member (character) and The Union Club Mysteries

        2 votes
        1. Algernon_Asimov
          Link Parent
          Oh. Okay. Now that you remind me, I have a vague memory of seeing something about this (possibly the same thing you've read). It's not mentioned in the Foreword of 'The Union Club Mysteries',...

          Oh. Okay. Now that you remind me, I have a vague memory of seeing something about this (possibly the same thing you've read). It's not mentioned in the Foreword of 'The Union Club Mysteries', unfortunately (I checked).

          It's not as direct a connection as I was hoping for, but thanks for the explanation.

          2 votes
  2. [2]
    hamstergeddon
    Link
    I've been on a post-apocalyptic kick lately. Read The Postman by David Brin last month and just wrapped up A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr. earlier this week. Right now I'm reading...

    I've been on a post-apocalyptic kick lately. Read The Postman by David Brin last month and just wrapped up A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr. earlier this week.

    Right now I'm reading Malevil by Robert Merle. Such an incredibly slow (and mundane) start, but I think it's beginning to pay off. 4 chapters of pre-apocalypse is certainly giving the first post-apocalypse chapter a bit of context and weight it otherwise may not have had.

    Of the three books, so far, I think The Postman is my favorite because it ends on a happier note. Canticle is a little soul-crushing. Spoilers ahead, but basically humanity nukes itself and then begins purging scientists and the educated, leaving it in a dark age of knowledge. Thousands of years pass and by careful preservation of forbidden knowledge, humanity rebuilds itself until it has surpassed its previous self. Only to then nuke itself into oblivion again. Very depressing, but also not at all unbelievable.

    6 votes
    1. krg
      Link Parent
      Have you read The Road? If you haven't, I recommend listening to Earth's The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull while you read (though, apparently that album was made with Blood Meridian as the...

      Have you read The Road? If you haven't, I recommend listening to Earth's The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull while you read (though, apparently that album was made with Blood Meridian as the inspiration).

      2 votes
  3. FishFingus
    Link
    Echo Burning, by Lee Child. Third I've read, and the same number in the series. It's been hold for quite a while during my laughable attempts to study, but now I've restarted and almost concluded...

    Echo Burning, by Lee Child. Third I've read, and the same number in the series. It's been hold for quite a while during my laughable attempts to study, but now I've restarted and almost concluded it. The basic Lee Child formula is that Jack Reacher, ex-MP drifter and most dangerous person without a transmittable illness, drifts into a town, discovers a conspiracy and eventually kills a lot of people before moving on. Not exactly gee wowzers territory, but good enough for a laugh.

    5 votes
  4. Icarus
    Link
    I have started reading The Pale King by David Foster Wallace, partly inspired after reading the article I posted yesterday in ~humanities. I'm only in the beginning so I can't make much commentary...

    I have started reading The Pale King by David Foster Wallace, partly inspired after reading the article I posted yesterday in ~humanities. I'm only in the beginning so I can't make much commentary on it besides I like Wallace's writing style.

    5 votes
  5. Douglas
    Link
    I'm still dragging my feet through The Terror. It's not the book's fault, I think I just have a really hard time paying attention reading stories set in places I'm completely unfamiliar with. I...

    I'm still dragging my feet through The Terror. It's not the book's fault, I think I just have a really hard time paying attention reading stories set in places I'm completely unfamiliar with. I know it's a bit sad, but I'm fairly certain I only made it through Harry Potter & The Lord of the Rings books because my imagination got to piggyback off all the visual work the movies did.

    The Terror's first 6-7 chapters are all about setting up where they are, what they're up to, introduces a few members of the crew, and does a few flashbacks/flash forwards that completely went over my head and left me a bit confused until I went back and read the summaries of those chapters. It's just now starting to take off and get really interesting, but my god what a chore for me.

    I do not think I will make my reading goal with this beast kicking things off. I'm gonna have to read some trashy novels to get back on track once this is done.

    4 votes
  6. acdw
    Link
    I just finished Pet, by Akwaeke Emezi. I thought it was really good, really powerful. It's about a city where they've gotten rid of all the "monsters:" abusers, charlatans, etc., that stand...

    I just finished Pet, by Akwaeke Emezi. I thought it was really good, really powerful. It's about a city where they've gotten rid of all the "monsters:" abusers, charlatans, etc., that stand between us and a better world. And a monstrous hunter comes out of a painting to hunt a monster that no one wants to see.

    I've just started Ultralearning by Scott Young for work. It's about learning things really quickly. So far it's interesting.

    I've also been reading The Now Habit by Neil Fiore, about procrastination. It's taken me a while to read b/c I've been....procrastinating. lol.

    3 votes
  7. moocow1452
    Link
    On recommendation, I'm going through the Sandman series, and it's... fine. It feels like if Bojack Horseman did a run of Doctor Who from what I have read so far, but while they should mesh on...

    On recommendation, I'm going through the Sandman series, and it's... fine. It feels like if Bojack Horseman did a run of Doctor Who from what I have read so far, but while they should mesh on paper, I'm not sure how well it works in this context. Comparing to Gaiman's Eternals series, it's a lot of the same structure where weird stuff happens with really old people involved and it's supposed to be profound, but it doesn't... speak to me in I have to know what happens next. I'm halfway through book 2, maybe that changes soon enough?

    3 votes
  8. [2]
    cptcobalt
    Link
    I'm reading Cibola Burn which is book 4 of The Expanse. I'm not planning to watch Season 4 of the TV Show until I finish the book, so I'm trying to get through this book. The problem for me is...

    I'm reading Cibola Burn which is book 4 of The Expanse. I'm not planning to watch Season 4 of the TV Show until I finish the book, so I'm trying to get through this book.

    The problem for me is that this book is really slow compared to the last ones. I've been struggling to quantify why I'm not interested in churning through the book though: I think it's because there's a quite dull cast of characters that it follows—I don't think I really like anyone that's new in this book.

    Cibola Burn Spoilers

    I actually really like the new world, including all of the exploration and unexpected ecology. That's fun! I just think the people we're introduced to are dull as shit and don't evolve in interesting ways over the course of the book. This is extremely unusual for The Expanse. I hope Book 5 recovers.

    3 votes
    1. Crespyl
      Link Parent
      I agree that Cibola Burn is definitely something of a change of pace from the other books, the next book does pick up again IMO. I actually kind of enjoyed the weird slow desperate disaster aspect...

      I agree that Cibola Burn is definitely something of a change of pace from the other books, the next book does pick up again IMO.

      I actually kind of enjoyed the weird slow desperate disaster aspect of CB and was really curious how the show would try to adapt it. I think they did a pretty good job of hitting the important bits without letting it get boring, and they traded a lot of the "downtime" from CB to introduce setup for Nemesis Games next season.

      One aspect of the whole arc of the series that I find interesting is just how old the main cast gets, even with future tech keeping them active and healthy for a long time, their age still starts to catch up to them. CB is where I first started to notice it and it becomes more of a factor later on. It's something that I think a lot of TV shows tend to avoid (for understandable practical reasons) and I'm curious to see the approach Amazon ends up taking.

      2 votes
  9. [2]
    Algernon_Asimov
    Link
    My main reading is 1968: The Year That Rocked The World by Mark Kurlansky. It's hard going, mostly because Kurlansky keeps jumping all over the place - USA, France, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Mexico....

    My main reading is 1968: The Year That Rocked The World by Mark Kurlansky. It's hard going, mostly because Kurlansky keeps jumping all over the place - USA, France, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Mexico. He's trying to show that the protests happening that year were a global phenomenon but, given that there are very few direct connections between the events in these various countries, we're left with a narrative that keeps jumping randomly from one place to another. It doesn't flow. One chapter we're in Poland, next chapter we're in the USA, next chapter we're in Czechoslovakia, and so on. It's informative, but it's hard to keep track of everyone when every chapter focuses on a different group of people in a different country. I'm starting to think I should read each country's chapters in sequence, rather than keep jumping between countries.

    My bedtime reading is Casebook of the Black Widowers by Isaac Asimov. Ostensibly, it's a book of mysteries. However, this is just comfort reading for me. I enjoy the writing style, and the banter between the Black Widowers at their monthly dinners. The mysteries are secondary for me.

    2 votes
    1. Algernon_Asimov
      Link Parent
      I'm not sure if these threads are good for me, or bad. This is the second time I've abandoned a book after writing about it in one of these threads. It seems that writing about a book I'm not...

      I'm not sure if these threads are good for me, or bad. This is the second time I've abandoned a book after writing about it in one of these threads. It seems that writing about a book I'm not enjoying makes me realise that I'm not enjoying it.

      So...

      I've put down '1968: The Year That Rocked the World' and picked up Hidden Figures. Yes, it's the book that that movie was based on. According to a "Note to the Reader" in the book, the manuscript was optioned for a movie even before it was finished - which is why the movie came out only three months after the book. I haven't seen the movie yet, despite wanting to. So, when I saw this book in a shop, I knew I had to read it.

      And it's much more enjoyable than '1968'. I'm not regretting the switch. This book is personal and political. These women were breaking barriers by being the first black professionals employed at Langley Memorial Aeronautics Laboratory. The author provides historical context, but she also personally interviewed some of the people she's writing about (or their children, or their co-workers) to provide personal insights. And she has a nice writing style.

      I recommend it.

      3 votes
  10. JoylessAubergine
    Link
    I spent the first 6 weeks of the new decade reading the Vorkosigan Saga.I read it in chronological order which is what the author recommends. Overall i really enjoyed it and it's been a few years...

    I spent the first 6 weeks of the new decade reading the Vorkosigan Saga.I read it in chronological order which is what the author recommends. Overall i really enjoyed it and it's been a few years since i had a series that long to tackle. Great series with many types of stories, some arre classic space scifi, some thrillers, some romances. However the final book is abysmal i recommend people skip it. It has a terrible retcon and is simply a bad book. It tainted the series for me a bit.

    Today i finished Vita Nostra by Marina Dyachenko and Sergey Dyachenko (English Translation). It's about a young girl who gets taken to a magical Russian boarding school. Harry Potter but Russian. It's dark, its' weird, it's confusing, it's hard to read at points. Hard to even say what its about. If you dont mind feeling lost i do recommend it.

    2 votes
  11. [3]
    byron
    Link
    I'm finally reading Tiamat's Wrat, the most recent book in the Expanse series. Overall I like the series if you like space opera with a bit of horror/hard sci-fi. So far I'm enjoying this one over...

    I'm finally reading Tiamat's Wrat, the most recent book in the Expanse series. Overall I like the series if you like space opera with a bit of horror/hard sci-fi. So far I'm enjoying this one over book 7.

    2 votes
    1. [2]
      FinnG
      Link Parent
      I love that series! I thought the time jump between books 6 and 7 was really interesting. It's the sort of thing that I think could have ruined the series if it wasn't done right but for whatever...

      I love that series! I thought the time jump between books 6 and 7 was really interesting. It's the sort of thing that I think could have ruined the series if it wasn't done right but for whatever reason it has worked pretty well in this particular instance.

      I think it's been a good way to add a new layer of development to all the characters. We got to see them all gaining notoriety in their youth, now we get to see what happens to them as the world around them changes and they get older. Really looking forward to the next book in this series later this year.

      2 votes
      1. byron
        Link Parent
        Oh, definitely I think the time jump made sense and mostly worked, it's just that the first one after the jump felt overly long to me. 8, however, seems to be getting the payoff of the work to do...

        Oh, definitely I think the time jump made sense and mostly worked, it's just that the first one after the jump felt overly long to me. 8, however, seems to be getting the payoff of the work to do the time jump.

        2 votes
  12. [3]
    FinnG
    Link
    Fiction: Oathbringer (Brandon Sanderson) This is the latest in a series (The Stormlight Archives) which I thoroughly recommend if you're into high fantasy. It's sort of reminiscent of A Song of...

    Fiction: Oathbringer (Brandon Sanderson)

    This is the latest in a series (The Stormlight Archives) which I thoroughly recommend if you're into high fantasy. It's sort of reminiscent of A Song of Ice and Fire in that the books are very long and the world building is quite thorough, but I feel like the story is a lot more focused. GRRM has a tendency to ramble a bit about things that aren't necessarily relevant. I'm listening to the audiobook and the two narrators (one for the male characters, one for the female) are absolutely fantastic and really sell the story. The world and plot is so packed full of tiny details that I'm sure I'm missing a bunch. I'm already looking forward to a second read through in a year or two, which is something I've only ever done with a handful of books! It's the first Brandon Sanderson book/series that I've read and I'll definitely be checking out his other stuff. Any suggestions?

    Non-fiction: Prisoners of Geography (Tim Marshall)

    This was recommended to me by my dad at Christmas, and I'm slowly getting through it. I'm reading the physical book which I always take a bit slower than audio books. It's a really interesting take on geopolitics. Each chapter explains the geography of a different country and goes on to explain how that countries geography affects the countries politics. It's quite information dense and there's a lot to digest in each chapter. I've been finding the arguments put forward very convincing, but I often wonder if it's just because Tim Marshall good at putting his arguments in a really clear and concise way that I'm partial to. I also wonder whether that even matters! The fact that each chapter is completely isolated almost makes it like a collection of essays on the same topic, rather than a book, but I quite like that it lets me dip in and out whenever I want without feeling the need to compulsively keep reading!

    I'm always looking for recommendations. Let me know if there's anything that you think it sounds like I might like.

    2 votes
    1. [2]
      kodystriplin
      Link Parent
      My brother in law just got me into Sanderson (The Way of Kings) over Christmas and I am LOVING IT. Same delightful fantasy worldbuilding as Robert Jordan or RA Salvatore but feels so much more...

      My brother in law just got me into Sanderson (The Way of Kings) over Christmas and I am LOVING IT. Same delightful fantasy worldbuilding as Robert Jordan or RA Salvatore but feels so much more focused; he's constantly rolling the story forward rather than stalling with long, sprawling descriptions and background story.

      1 vote
      1. FinnG
        Link Parent
        I've not actually read any Robert Jordan - I didn't realise wheel of time was finished by Sanderson after Robert Jordan died! Definitely on my list to check out next.

        I've not actually read any Robert Jordan - I didn't realise wheel of time was finished by Sanderson after Robert Jordan died! Definitely on my list to check out next.

        1 vote
  13. [3]
    Echinops
    Link
    I just finished The Maltesse Falcon and thoroughly enjoyed it. I'd highly recommend reading the book first before watching the movie as I couldn't get Bogart as Spade out of my head. I've been on...

    I just finished The Maltesse Falcon and thoroughly enjoyed it. I'd highly recommend reading the book first before watching the movie as I couldn't get Bogart as Spade out of my head. I've been on a John Huston kick lately, so it was natural that I read this. I hardly ever laugh out loud whilst reading, but Spade's constant mocking and belittlement of 'the kid' is hilarious.

    Also reading Plant Life: A Brief History which is essentially a biological textbook that chronologies the evolutionary history of plants on earth, from single celled alga to flowering plants. It is well written, and anyone who has any interest in botany would benefit from the knowledge.

    2 votes
    1. [2]
      Algernon_Asimov
      Link Parent
      This is a problem with movies based on books. After you've seen the movie, you'll always picture it when you read the book. It's one of the reasons I won't watch 'I, Robot' - I do not want Will...

      I'd highly recommend reading the book first before watching the movie as I couldn't get Bogart as Spade out of my head.

      This is a problem with movies based on books. After you've seen the movie, you'll always picture it when you read the book. It's one of the reasons I won't watch 'I, Robot' - I do not want Will Smith in my head whenever I re-read the book. (The main reason, though, is that the movie is not only not based on Isaac Asimov's book, but that its plot is antithetical to Asimov's own views about robots.)

      1 vote
      1. Echinops
        Link Parent
        Oh yeah. I've read that book and seen the movie. The movie did have an interesting plot structure to it, but I agree, nothing like that book. I try to separate the 2 mediums and realize they are...

        Oh yeah. I've read that book and seen the movie. The movie did have an interesting plot structure to it, but I agree, nothing like that book. I try to separate the 2 mediums and realize they are very different and movies will always have time constraints that books do not. So I've gotten past the need for purism in regards to book to film translations.

        That being said, the most egregious adaptation that made me want to vomit was another Will Smith film, I Am Legend. The book is a masterpiece in almost every regard. His movie was a vomitous cesspool that TOTALLY missed the entire point of the story.

        2 votes
  14. pallas
    Link
    I've been reading Iris Murdoch's Under the Net on and off for the last several weeks, and am almost finished with it, after enjoying A Word Child, both off the recommendation of the TLS podcast....

    I've been reading Iris Murdoch's Under the Net on and off for the last several weeks, and am almost finished with it, after enjoying A Word Child, both off the recommendation of the TLS podcast. It is amusing, but not as enjoyable as A Word Child. The latter had a magnificently charming and palpable sense of mid-century London to it, along with a sense of hapless guilt, of endless frustration and self-doubt, and pointless feuds that simply hurt others but seem inevitable. The former is charmingly frenetic, but the ways in which the entitled and self-destructive protagonist continually misunderstands and is misunderstood, through his own absurdity, becomes rather frustrating. Or perhaps it is simply too familiar.

    Also from the TLS podcast, I've been convinced to revisit Byron, whom I haven't read in over a decade, and am starting off on Don Juan, which I haven't read before.

    I'm hoping to get a copy of Fiona Benson's Vertigo and Ghost, which caught my eye in the LRB bookshop, but I haven't been able to find a copy here easily and am reluctant to have books shipped without good reason.

    2 votes
  15. LukasDrsman
    Link
    I just read Animal Farm by George Orwell. I'll probably start reading 1984.

    I just read Animal Farm by George Orwell. I'll probably start reading 1984.

    2 votes
  16. [2]
    vegai
    Link
    Dune. I've read this a few times, but I never got to its sequels, so now I'll continue to those once I'm done with the first one again.

    Dune. I've read this a few times, but I never got to its sequels, so now I'll continue to those once I'm done with the first one again.

    2 votes
    1. dnaq
      Link Parent
      I really enjoyed the first Dune book and avoided the sequels for a long time since I was afraid of being disappointed. Many years later a friend of mine was talking about how good the sequels were...

      I really enjoyed the first Dune book and avoided the sequels for a long time since I was afraid of being disappointed. Many years later a friend of mine was talking about how good the sequels were and that I really had to read them. I did, and I didn’t like them at all. To be honest they ruined the first book for me.

      Your mileage might be different, a lot of people like the sequels as well, but I’m not one of them.

      2 votes