16 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.

Previous topics

Previous topics are listed in the wiki.

25 comments

  1. [4]
    skybrian
    Link
    Circe by Madeline Miller The novel is a retelling and expansion of an episode in the Odyssey from the sorceress's point of view, starting out with some interesting stuff about disputes between the...

    Circe by Madeline Miller

    The novel is a retelling and expansion of an episode in the Odyssey from the sorceress's point of view, starting out with some interesting stuff about disputes between the Greek gods. The writing style is appropriately mythic. Fans of high fantasy or of Ursula K. Le Guin's work would probably enjoy it.

    6 votes
    1. [3]
      skybrian
      Link Parent

      “I meant to tell you,” he said. “I heard a prophecy of you. I had it from an old seeress who had left her temple and was wandering the fields giving fortunes.”

      I was used to the swift movements of his mind, and now I was grateful for them. “And you just happened to be passing when she was speaking of me?”

      “Of course not. I gave her an embossed gold cup to tell me all she knew of Circe, daughter of Helios, witch of Aiaia.”

      “Well?”

      “She said that a man named Odysseus, born from my blood, will come one day to your island.”

      “And?”

      “That’s it,” he said.

      “That’s the worst prophecy I’ve ever heard,” I said.

      He sighed. “I know. I think I lost my cup.”

      3 votes
      1. [2]
        skybrian
        Link Parent
        I finished Circe and I'm thinking it's a near-perfect example of how to write a novel based on Greek myths. There are some quieter parts, but it's surprising (and yet inevitable) until the end.

        I finished Circe and I'm thinking it's a near-perfect example of how to write a novel based on Greek myths. There are some quieter parts, but it's surprising (and yet inevitable) until the end.

        3 votes
        1. wikirobot
          Link Parent
          I read it around Christmas and have to agree its very good

          I read it around Christmas and have to agree its very good

          2 votes
  2. [2]
    bilbodwyer
    Link
    I just finished reading Children of Time and have made a start on the sequel. It's one of the best bits of science fiction I've read in years, and cannot recommend it enough. There's a few...

    I just finished reading Children of Time and have made a start on the sequel. It's one of the best bits of science fiction I've read in years, and cannot recommend it enough. There's a few different threads going on through the story. One follows an ark ship of humans fleeing a dying Earth and trying to find a new home, in a very Battlestar Galactica-esque series of "and then things got worse" events. The second one follows the history of a planet populated by super-intelligent spiders, and their rise from basic hunters in the wilderness to a planetary civilisation.

    It's an absolutely superb read, one that deals with all sorts of fantastic themes including gender equality, artificial intelligence, and religion. 100% worth your time.

    6 votes
    1. [2]
      Comment deleted by author
      Link Parent
      1. bilbodwyer
        Link Parent
        Already digging it! Just got up to the part where The virus hits the Aegean and the team are stranded on Nod. I assume I'm about to hit a time jump and catch up with what the octopuses are up to :D

        Already digging it!

        Just got up to the part where The virus hits the Aegean and the team are stranded on Nod. I assume I'm about to hit a time jump and catch up with what the octopuses are up to :D
        1 vote
  3. evrim
    (edited )
    Link
    I finished Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami recently, and I loved it. Here is the premise of the book (although I'll probably butcher it): We are following two main characters. The first one...

    I finished Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami recently, and I loved it.

    Here is the premise of the book (although I'll probably butcher it): We are following two main characters. The first one is a 15-year-old high school kid, who decides to run away from home, and finds refuge at a local library in a new city. The library is run by an old lady and a young guy, who takes a liking to the boy. The second character is an old guy with an intellectual disability, but with the ability to talk to cats. People hire him to find their missing cats, and he unexpectedly finds himself as part of a bigger journey while looking for one of those missing cats.

    Murakami has a very interesting style. His writing is amazingly creative, you feel really invested in the characters and the story. In the end though, you don't always get the "resolution to the story" you expect, yet Kafka on the Shore felt great still, even to a guy who doesn't much enjoy openendedness.

    I also read The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle about a decade ago, and I remember not feeling as good about the questions in the book not being answered satisfactorily as I felt after reading Kafka on the Shore. Maybe I have just learned to enjoy the journey more than the end as I grew older.

    4 votes
  4. krg
    Link
    Cities in Flight by James Blish Found it at a used bookstore and bought it based on cover alone (the first-edition omnibus shown on Wikipedia). I'm a sucker for cool book covers. About half-way...

    Cities in Flight by James Blish

    Found it at a used bookstore and bought it based on cover alone (the first-edition omnibus shown on Wikipedia). I'm a sucker for cool book covers.

    About half-way through, now. Kinda standard sci-fi fare of that era, I'd say. As with much speculative sci-fi, some of the forecasting is prescient.

    4 votes
  5. super_james
    Link
    The Price of Peace: Money, Democracy, and the Life of John Maynard Keynes by Zachary D. Carter This was recommended on Matt Stollers BIG newsletter and I've been meaning to read about Keynes for a...

    The Price of Peace: Money, Democracy, and the Life of John Maynard Keynes by Zachary D. Carter

    This was recommended on Matt Stollers BIG newsletter and I've been meaning to read about Keynes for a while so thought I'd pick it up.

    It's a surprisingly entertaining and approachable read although feels very long. It's also full of little historical moments I'm amazed I hadn't come across such as the 1926 General Strike in the UK and how Keynes was involved in negotiations for the Treaty of Versailles and Bretton Woods.

    I've not finished it yet but I'd highly recommend it. It's really making me realize how current events echo recent history. The 1918 flu pandemic tore through the negotiations after WW1, obvious from the dates once you know but it'd never occurred to me before.

    4 votes
  6. mrbig
    Link
    Well at the precise moment I’m reading I Think I Might be Autistic by Cinthia Kim since sometimes when I say something personal on Tildes people very affectionately and with the best intentions...

    Well at the precise moment I’m reading I Think I Might be Autistic by Cinthia Kim since sometimes when I say something personal on Tildes people very affectionately and with the best intentions indicate that I might be autistic :P

    It’s a good book but a bit on the self-help/personal story side, so I may complement it with something more technical later on.

    4 votes
  7. JoylessAubergine
    Link
    Night Lords: The Omnibus (Night Lords #1-3) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden. My favourite Warhammer book so far. It's the first i have read that focused on Chaos but these edge lords are only Chaos...

    Night Lords: The Omnibus (Night Lords #1-3) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden. My favourite Warhammer book so far. It's the first i have read that focused on Chaos but these edge lords are only Chaos aligned because they are too edgy for the Emperor. They were dark on a level rarely seen from protagonists even in the rest of the "grimdark" canon i have read.

    Atomic Habits by James Clear. Okay book. I have a bit of innate dislike of self help books but this had some good tips. I really liked the habit stacking which i have already put to use.

    The Great Partition: The Making of India and Pakistan by Yasmin Khan. I found this very disappointing. It explained neither the why or how. It wasn't a narrative and it wasn't an analysis. I was left feeling lost with only more, relatively basic questions that a book with this title would have at least partially answered. The book was "essentially everyone did bad stuff" with some stories and experiences to pad it out. Many of the anecdotes literally end with "there was similar stuff on the other [Pakistani/India] side"

    3 votes
  8. Staross
    Link
    I started reading Proust again, I'm at the fourth book. I found the third one a bit boring but this one opens with an homosexual sex scene, definitively more attention grabbing. I'm reading it...

    I started reading Proust again, I'm at the fourth book. I found the third one a bit boring but this one opens with an homosexual sex scene, definitively more attention grabbing. I'm reading it aloud, which I find helps decipher the incredibly long winded sentences (sometimes they take a whole page).

    3 votes
  9. jlj
    Link
    The Lies We Were Told by Simon Wren-Lewis (based on his mostly macro blog), and, based on a friend's recommendation, Notes On A Nervous Planet by Matt Haig. The former is good so far, if a bit...

    The Lies We Were Told by Simon Wren-Lewis (based on his mostly macro blog), and, based on a friend's recommendation, Notes On A Nervous Planet by Matt Haig. The former is good so far, if a bit bleak. The latter is pretty inane, to be honest, but it has its moments; if nothing else, I appreciate my friend's concern re my lock-down anxiety.

    I recently finished Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirky. I can think of no higher praise than to say that it's aged very well, particularly considering the rate of change over the last decade. A colleague recommended Gene Wolfe, so I treated myself to a few of his; might crack The Fifth Head of Cerberus shortly, to break up all this non-fiction.

    3 votes
  10. kfwyre
    (edited )
    Link
    Know My Name by Chanel Miller Miller was the "Emily Doe" from the Brock Turner case. Her incredible victim statement went viral because of its resonance and its unflinching communication of...

    Know My Name by Chanel Miller

    Miller was the "Emily Doe" from the Brock Turner case. Her incredible victim statement went viral because of its resonance and its unflinching communication of uncomfortable truths. If you haven't read it, I encourage you to do so. It is long, but it is undeniably powerful.

    The book is her full-length memoir on her life and experiences, identifying herself and her real name instead of the "Emily Doe" of the court case. As is clear from her victim statement and made even more clear in her book, she is a writer who knows how to command language. Her book is filled with breathtaking moments and illuminating insights. Sometimes she writes with the lightness of a feather, and sometimes she writes with the strength of a sledgehammer. Sometimes, she takes truths that we're blind to and conveys them in such plain and obvious ways that you wonder why you've never seen them that way before. Sometimes, she speaks truth to a concept and then captures it in a metaphor so resonant and illuminating it's haunting. I don't like overhyping things as I feel like I set people up for disappointment should they take me up on my recommendations, but this is one of the best books I've read in a long time. Miller uses her voice in such a powerful, incredible way that it left me floored.


    Exhalation by Ted Chiang

    This book was also excellent, though in a very different way. The book is a collection of sci-fi short stories. I'd seen mention of it and, in particular, its feature story "The Lifecycle of Software Objects" around Tildes from a few different users, and I'm very glad they surfaced this book for me. The stories are varied but mostly deal with the human impact of technological advances in unusual and interesting ways. They very much feel like Black Mirror episodes, though not always as pessimistic.


    Pivot by L. C. Barlow

    This is a horror book far from my usual tastes, but I read it on recommendation of a friend, who knows the author personally. It's hard to talk too much about the book without giving away a lot, but the basic premise is that it follows the life of a 7-year-old who is being groomed by an adult to kill people. The book slowly zooms out as the child gets older and becomes more aware of the bigger picture that she's in, which includes some compelling supernatural elements. It is a very uncomfortable read, which is high praise for horror. I simultaneously hated reading certain parts of it but also couldn't put it down. I, like the main character, kept wanting to see the whole big picture. The book does end in a satisfying way, but it is also part one of a trilogy which has yet to be fully published, so I still don't have the full big picture I want to have. It grabbed me enough, though, that I will be picking up book #2 when it comes out.


    Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

    I read his Homo Deus first, which I liked better than Sapiens, but I think that's just because it was the book that introduced me to his effortlessly insightful writing style. The way he mixes disciplines for his commentary is unparalleled. Furthermore, the book is so dense and covers such a large amount of ground that I consider my reading of it to be more akin to skimming, as I listened to the audiobook as background to other tasks. It's the kind of book that you could really sit down and dive into and get a lot more out of.


    Current Alphabet Challenge Scorecards

    Print Books

    A: Asimov, Isaac - Foundation
    B: Barlow, L. C. - Pivot
    C: Chamberlain, Diane - Big Lies in a Small Town
    D: Dark Matter (Blake Crouch)
    E: Emily St. John Mandel - Station Eleven
    F:
    G: Gracefully Grayson (Ami Polonsky)
    H: Hate Inc.: Why Today's Media Makes Us Despite One Another (Matt Taibbi)
    I: Ishiguro, Kazuo - The Remains of the Day
    J:
    K:
    L:
    M:
    N: Nevertheless She Persisted: Flash Fiction Project (Various Authors)
    O:
    P: Possession, The (Annie Ernaux)
    Q:
    R:
    S:
    T: Ted Chiang - Exhalation
    U:
    V:
    W:
    X:
    Y:
    Z:

    Graphic Novels

    A: Alex Robinson - Box Office Poison
    B: Bechdel, Alison - Are You My Mother?
    C:
    D: Drawing Power: Women's Stories of Sexual Violence, Harassment, and Survival (Various Authors)
    E:
    F: Fies, Brian - A Fire Story
    G:
    H:
    I:
    J:
    K:
    L:
    M:
    N:
    O:
    P:
    Q: Queer: A Graphic History (Meg-John Barker; Julia Scheele)
    R: Robinson, Alex - BOP!: More Box Office Poison
    S:
    T: Telgemeier, Raina - Smile
    U:
    V:
    W:
    X:
    Y:
    Z:

    Audiobooks

    A: Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation (Andrew Marantz)
    B: Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth (Rachel Maddow)
    C: Cottom, Tressie McMillan - Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy
    D: Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs (Michael T. Osterholm; Mark Olshaker)
    E: Edward Snowden - Permanent Record
    F: Farrow, Ronan - Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators
    G: Gladwell, Malcolm - Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don't Know
    H: How to Survive a Plague (David France)
    I: Ijeoma Oluo - So You Want to Talk About Race
    J: Jodi Kantor; Megan Twohey - She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement
    K: Khan, Ali S. - The Next Pandemic: On the Front Lines Against Humanity's Gravest Dangers
    L: Lee, Justin - Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate
    M: Margaret Witt; Tim Connor - Tell: Love, Defiance, and the Military Trial at the Tipping Point for Gay Rights
    N: Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia (Peter Pomerantsev)
    O: One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy (Carol Anderson)
    P: Pollan, Michael - In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto
    Q:
    R: Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man's Fight for Justice (Bill Browder)
    S: Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story (Jacob Tobia)
    T: Tressie McMillan Cottom - Thick: And Other Essays
    U:
    V: Virginia Eubanks - Automatic Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor
    W: West, Lindy - The Witches Are Coming
    X:
    Y: Yuval Noah Harari - Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
    Z: Zeisler, Andi - We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrrl to CoverGirl, the Buying and Selling of a Political Movement

    3 votes
  11. daltonlp
    Link
    The Buried: An Archaeology of the Egyptian Revolution by Peter Hessler. This book is ridiculously good. One of the few authors where I've decided to read everything he writes.

    The Buried: An Archaeology of the Egyptian Revolution by Peter Hessler.
    This book is ridiculously good.
    One of the few authors where I've decided to read everything he writes.

    3 votes
  12. wikirobot
    Link
    I just finished The Draco Tavern by Larry Niven, it was a nice collection of short stories about the future of Earth after first contact with all of the stories focused on the proprietor of a...

    I just finished The Draco Tavern by Larry Niven, it was a nice collection of short stories about the future of Earth after first contact with all of the stories focused on the proprietor of a Interstellar traveller tavern at Earths only space port. It has some interested looks at human and alien interactions.

    3 votes
  13. moocow1452
    Link
    Bit of a comfort food month for me, going over Bravest Warriors tie in comics, the Green Lanterns run with Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz, some of the DC Graphic Novels, and if I get around to it, The...

    Bit of a comfort food month for me, going over Bravest Warriors tie in comics, the Green Lanterns run with Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz, some of the DC Graphic Novels, and if I get around to it, The Wicked and the Divine.

    2 votes
  14. viridian
    Link
    The Plague by Albert Camus I just wrapped up The Stranger a couple of weeks ago, and really enjoyed it, so I decided to give this topical literary work a whirl. So far I enjoy enjoy it, Camus does...

    The Plague by Albert Camus

    I just wrapped up The Stranger a couple of weeks ago, and really enjoyed it, so I decided to give this topical literary work a whirl. So far I enjoy enjoy it, Camus does a great job of painting a picture with words, and the non-metaphysical subject matter (the literal plague) obviously hits close to home right now. As for absurdism, it's not an idea I buy into, largely because I don't buy into the predcate ideas of nihilism. That said, it's not a philosophy heavy book by any means, so you should go in expecting a good story about a plague rather than something like 'Myth of Sisyphus'.

    2 votes
  15. box0rox
    Link
    The Year 1000 by Valerie Hansen Large scale world history from a different point of view. Instead of the usual Western European history you already know, it's all over the planet. Sometimes it...

    The Year 1000 by Valerie Hansen
    Large scale world history from a different point of view. Instead of the usual Western European history you already know, it's all over the planet. Sometimes it strains a little to make the connections: the subtitle is: "When Explorers Connected the World - And Globalization Began", but the collection of topics is unique, and the writing is engaging.

    2 votes
  16. spctrvl
    Link
    Having finished my rewatch of The Last Airbender, I read the graphic novel series before rewatching Korra. They're really good, but they're only set a few months after TLA, and I was kind of...

    Having finished my rewatch of The Last Airbender, I read the graphic novel series before rewatching Korra. They're really good, but they're only set a few months after TLA, and I was kind of hoping for more filling in of the 70 year gap between it and Korra. As is, while it tied up a few loose plot threads from the series, I don't feel like I missed a whole lot. That said, while I don't know what the general expectations are for the Netflix live action TLA adaptation, I suspect animating the comics might have been a better move.

    2 votes
  17. jprich
    Link
    I just burned through the first two books of the Captive Prince trilogy. Using them as research before I attempt a small piece of the genre. About half way through the third and Im not looking...

    I just burned through the first two books of the Captive Prince trilogy. Using them as research before I attempt a small piece of the genre. About half way through the third and Im not looking forward to the ending per the reviews.

    2 votes
  18. [3]
    skybrian
    Link
    I've started Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer. This is far-future science fiction with some magic thrown in, and it drops you in the deep end like some cyberpunk books do. Abundance, rapid...

    I've started Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer. This is far-future science fiction with some magic thrown in, and it drops you in the deep end like some cyberpunk books do. Abundance, rapid travel, and ubiquitous tracking have erased all borders, so people have their choice of law based on becoming citizens of whichever "hive" they prefer. Use of gendered pronouns is scandalous, but there are scandals. Recommended.

    2 votes
    1. [2]
      skybrian
      Link Parent
      Update: finished this novel and started the next. (There are at least three in the series.) For a science fiction novel, there's a surprising amount of sex. And horror. And 18th century...

      Update: finished this novel and started the next. (There are at least three in the series.)

      For a science fiction novel, there's a surprising amount of sex. And horror. And 18th century philosophy. And conspiracy. And more sex. There is an explanation of what Marquis de Sade was up to. Somehow it works in context.

      It's not unusual for the world's most notorious serial killer to be explaining, apparently quite sincerely, how good and trustworthy some other character is. It's unclear yet whether he was lying, since the situation is weird and the characters are also weird, and there are still plenty of secrets.

      2 votes
      1. skybrian
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        I'm mostly through the second novel, Seven Surrenders. There are a ridiculous number of plot twists. I'm not sure there is anything to it other than plot twists. In retrospect, the the first novel...

        I'm mostly through the second novel, Seven Surrenders. There are a ridiculous number of plot twists. I'm not sure there is anything to it other than plot twists. In retrospect, the the first novel is basically Chekhov's armory, full of stuff that seems to be just weird color but turns out to be critically important.

        Well, okay, there are some long speeches where villains tell you their motives. And a lot of fighting.

        I predicted one plot twist in advance. Yay me.

        It seems appropriate for 2020.

        1 vote
  19. krg
    Link
    ~120 pages into Set the Night on Fire: L.A. in the Sixties by Mike Davis and Jon Wiener. Really good account of racism in 1950s-60s Los Angeles, so far. From the publisher: Makes me wonder how...

    ~120 pages into Set the Night on Fire: L.A. in the Sixties by Mike Davis and Jon Wiener. Really good account of racism in 1950s-60s Los Angeles, so far.

    From the publisher:

    Los Angeles in the sixties was a hotbed of political and social upheaval. The city was a launchpad for Black Power—where Malcolm X and Angela Davis first came to prominence and the Watts uprising shook the nation. The city was home to the Chicano Blowouts and Chicano Moratorium, as well as being the birthplace of “Asian American” as a political identity. It was a locus of the antiwar movement, gay liberation movement, and women’s movement, and, of course, the capital of California counterculture.

    Makes me wonder how this era will be written about in the future.

    2 votes