Book Thread 2020

Greetings fellow reader. What book have you read recently? This is a thread to share your thoughts.

(The previous thread went on too long, and is now broken for me, clicking on it doesn’t open it, I just see a perpetual spinning circle).

Currently reading Words of Radiance, book 2 of the Stormlight Archives. I’m about 40% of the way through it so far.

I read book #1 years ago and really did not like it for some reason, despite loving his other books outside this series. I read Skyward recently, which while not amazing was enjoyable enough for me to try to go through the Stormlight Archives again. Read book #1 again and this time really liked it (no idea what changed), so now I’m going through 2 then 3.

Prior to that I read And Then I Thought I Was A Fish, which was non-fiction about a guy’s period through psychosis. It was an incredibly fascinating read.

Currently working through the last two Expanse books at the moment. Once I’m done those I’ll likely resume Discworld, as I took a break a while back after likely the worst novel I’d read in the series, Moving Pictures.

Just finished Stephenson’s latest, Fall. I’m still processing, but overall I rather enjoyed it. Kinda uneven, intentionally so, but when it’s good it’s great and Stephenson’s prose when it’s not just dueling author mouthpieces telling you how he feels about Silicon Valley techbro culture or whatever remains excellent.

I just finished it also and I think it may be my least favorite of his books. I still enjoy reading his prose, but it felt aimless, which is a problem given that it’s over 900 pages long. I found his vision of where the real world culture was headed more compelling than the generic virtual world that occupies the vast majority of the book, also. I do think it’s interesting to examine how consciousness upload might actually work given the science we know, but it doesn’t actually spend that much time on that either, it just kind of turns into really underbaked fantasy and because we change characters so often and there’s little originality to the setting I found it difficult to care about any of that.

Just finished A Brightness Long Ago, the new novel by Guy Gavriel Kay. Not in my top 5 of his works, but that’s a really high bar.

Before that, Impure Blood by Peter Morfoot. This is a crime novel, not my usual genre. But I know the author and thought I should give at least his first book a try. Really enjoyed it, looking forward to reading the rest of the series now.

Next up is Dogs of War by Adrian Tchaikovsky.

Interesting. I just read that one at Christmas. And I wouldn’t call it the worst at all. It isn’t Going Postal or Wee Free Men, but it was serviceable. Had some plot lines that trailed off (wherefore elephants) to no effect, but it wasn’t as lifeless as Snuff (personal pick for worst).

There was an idea and concept there Pratchett wanted to explore, though I felt like it needed more space to connect the many dangled, and dropped, threads. A failed experiment in a new concept rather than a too formulaic treading of the same grounds like Snuff.

I’m still very slowly working my way through Don Quixote.

It was like a huge pothole in the otherwise really smooth road that had been the series for me up until that point.

Have you been reading them in any particular order?

My order has been ‘whatever one the library I am at has available’ order, with continuity of series somewhat in mind.

Release order, yeah.

Just started a new fantasy series with Cold Iron.

I made it halfway through Cold Iron before putting it down, a couple of weeks ago. It starts out well enough but the tangential relationship stuff and the long suspension of plot and character development was boring me to tears.

I tried Cold Iron last year and had a similar reaction to @Barstein.

Finished up Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter this morning, after previously reading his newest novel, Recursion. They tread similar, orthogonally related territory. Recursion is a tighter, more consistent story with better, more relatable protagonists. Dark Matter, which is a techno-thriller about a junior college physics professor and family man who is kidnapped and thrust into very strange circumstances, is fine, but the dude is sometimes an utter idiot, and the author applies the rules of the universe inconsistently. There’s a neat twist at the end that changes the paradigm of the story, but the twist is undercut because he doesn’t follow through on it to its logical conclusion and ends the novel too neatly. It was an entertaining read, but I’d recommend anything by Peter Cline over it.

And now I’m moving back to The Expanse for book 7. I’ve been spacing them out over the last couple of years, hoping to catch up to the authors just about at the time they release book 9. But, it looks like I might end up a bit ahead of them.

So I just finished this gem:

Given to me by my QT3 Secret Santa, it has proven a FANTASTIC history book about D&D, but also wargaming and boardgaming in general (and a tiny bit of computer games).

I’m immersed in along term project of reading through the whole Cambridge Ancient History (finishing book 5 out of 19, 3 more years to go or so) so it was fascinating to jump from such broad-stroke history to this hyper-focused and well written approach.

It’s still a history book throughtout, though. Expect a lot of data and a dettached (if ironic and charming at times) approach.

Still, highly recommended if you like history or games!

I’ve been tearing through the Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells. Just fantastic stuff. I can’t stop reading.
I’ve also gotten into Philip Kerr’s pre and post-WW2 Germany “Bernard Gunther” noir detective mystery novels. So much so that I’ve even started watching Babylon Berlin on Netflix. I just find the whole time period of 1920s/30s Berlin fascinating. I’ve read through the first 3 novels in the series and really enjoyed them but they’re not going to be for everyone. There are some descriptions of graphic violence and I have to admit that the protagonist is quite flawed and, well, a bit of a mysoginistic pick at times. I don’t know if that was the common way of thinking or not back in the 30s but it is a little jarring. On the other hand, he gets a bit of a pass because almost everyone else around him is a Nazi.

I just finished Union Pacific: The Reconfiguration: America’s Greatest Railroad from 1969 to the Present. It’s, obviously about the Union Pacific Railroad from 1969 on. It goes into the effects that deregulation had on the industry and the merger of the UP and a whole bunch of railroads.

As a railroad geek, I loved it. It is a long book at 520 pages. Granted, a lot of that is footnotes but it took me almost a month to get through it.

I loved the Murderbot Diaries. Such an awesome series.

I just finished The Rhesus Chart, another in the Laundry series by Charles Stross. I’m torn on this one. It really slogged for the first half of the book and it was a chore to pick it up every night and read a chapter but then it hit its stride the 2nd half and I was up till 2:30am because I couldn’t put it down.

And there’s a full novel out this year!