We don’t have beach reading in the Midwest, lacking in oceans

Since FDotM mentioned how social media can cut into your book-reading time, I thought I’d say that for me, it isn’t true. I can read a book any time I want, and I do. It is my custom to read for an hour before bed, or sometimes over lunch, and I chew through books pretty fast.

Sometimes I pick up trash reads. The latest was one called Pistols: A Deep Sea Thriller (hint: you know it’s going to be a throw-away when they need to include the genre in the title; sometimes you can just look at the cover). It’s totally ridiculous. It’s about stomatopods that are exposed to toxic waste and swim around, snipping people in half and cooking them with high intensity sonic bursts. My favorite part was when the scientist character has to explain why they also have toxic slime, and starts babbling about ubiquitination, before he has done any kind of analysis of tissue, or even seen one of the monsters. Cheesy, but sometimes you need something silly.

I’ve also been on a Madeline Miller kick lately, and that’s definitely not cheesy trash. I recently re-read The Song of Achilles, which was magnificent and nearly made me cry. Circe is also really, really good and well worth your while. I’m going on a collecting trip in the old Lake Agassiz lands up north this weekend, and picked up her short story, Galatea for those moments when I’m not chasing spiders.

See? Being an internet nerd is not incompatible with actively reading for entertainment.

Go ahead. Prove your bookworm cred by telling me all the stuff you read for fun. Don’t be shy, and admit to your popcorn reading as well as your high-brow stuff.


  1. cartomancer says

    I’m reading Irving Finkel’s “The First Ghosts”, all about ancient Mesopotamian necromancy.

  2. Reginald Selkirk says

    I’m working on What’s In Your Genome? by Laurence A. Moran.

    But man does not live by books alone. I suggest you buy some plushies from the Museum of the Earth. Sadly, the giant eurypterid body pillow is sold out, but there are other, smaller, choices.

  3. lochaber says

    N. K. Jemisin’s stuff is great, although I may be a bit biased from studying geology in school previously. But, I also like her other stuff outside of the Broken Earth trilogy.

    Also like Cherie Priest, Catherynne M. Valente, John Scalzi, Seanan McGuire/Mira Grant, Charlie Stross, Laura Beukes, Lisa Lutz, Octavia Butler, Chuck Wendig, Ursula K. Leguin, Emily St. John Mandel, Iain M. Banks, and probably a handful of others I’m forgetting at the moment.

    Just started Annalee Newitz’s ‘The Terraformers’, and haven’t read enough to make any judgements, but I’ve liked her previous fiction, so…

  4. Reginald Selkirk says

    Technically, “beach” doesn’t require ocean. Some of Minnesota’s 11,000+ lakes have beaches that are adequate for reading.

  5. tmartin says

    Currently reading:
    The Columbia Guide to American Indians of the Southwest – Trudy Griffin-Pierce

    The best books I’ve read this year:
    Solaris – Stanisław Lem
    The Unexpected Truth About Animals: A Menagerie of the Misunderstood – Lucy Cooke
    Uranium: War, Energy and the Rock That Shaped the World – Tom Zoellner
    Cuba: An American History – Ada Ferrer
    A Sense of the World: How a Blind Man Became History’s Greatest Traveler – Jason Roberts
    Fermat’s Last Theorem – Amir D. Aczel
    The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard – Robert E. Howard

    The worst:
    Lord of Light – Roger Zelazny
    Relentless – Dean R. Koontz
    God: An Anatomy – Francesca Stavrakopoulou
    The Left Hand of Darkness – Ursula K. Le Guin
    State of Fear – Michael Crichton
    What Dreams May Come – Richard Matheson

  6. AstroLad says

    cartomancer @1
    Is it as good as his online lectures? His RI lecture on decoding cuneiform is so much fun I’ve watched it several times.

  7. whywhywhy says

    The midwest does not have oceans and yet has some of the best beaches in the world. The Great Lakes should not be overlooked and the amazing sand dunes and beaches on the East side of them are tremendous (west Michigan from Indiana up to Traverse City, Ontario side of lake huron, etc.).

  8. christoph says

    I’m currently reading the “Murderbot Diaries” by Martha Wells. It’s a SciFi series narrated by a part machine/part organic Sec Unit who managed to hack its governor module so it doesn’t have to take orders, even though it usually does. It spends its off time watching soap opera serials downloaded from entertainment feeds. The term “Murderbot” is a little misleading-it hardly ever goes haywire and murders its human clients. Very well written.

  9. joel says

    Fun reading? Anything by John Scalzi. A couple days after finishing one of his books you won’t even remember the plot, but during the read they are totally engaging and sometimes make you laugh out loud.

  10. says

    Just finished This Is Your Brain On Music: The Science of a Human Obsession by Daniel J. Levitin.
    Interestingly, Steven Pinker came up in this book, with a couple of pages devoted to his thoughts on music, which he regarded as a spandrel that came along with the development of language. “Auditory cheesecake,” he said, with no evolutionary use or advantage. “As far as biological cause and effect are concerned, music is useless. It shows no signs of design for attaining a goal such as long life, or accurate perception and prediction of the world. Music could vanish from our species and the rest of our lifestyle would be virtually unchanged.”
    Levitin thinks Pinker is basically full of shit, pointing out that musical instruments are among the oldest human artifacts found, that all cultures have some form of music.
    I think Pinker is prone to just-so stories.

  11. nomadiq says

    I’m a notoriously slow reader. I probably read about as much as PZ in terms of time, but I can not read fast. So I don’t ploughing through books.

    However, I’m currently reading ‘How Data Happened’ (non-fiction). I pretty interesting take on the historical story behind modern machine learning and how it was born out of statistical analysis. Written by two authors, one a historian of science and the other a practicing academic in machine learning and statistical science.

    I also just started a 1000 page tome called ‘Musashi’ – a translation from the Japanese of a fictional account of the life of a famous Samurai turned philosopher from the late 1500s. The book started as a series written in pre-war Japan and is interesting from the point of the mind of regular Japanese and how they viewed their history and society during the late Meiji and then imperial period. It’s 1000 pages and will probably take me a year to read. Kindle app is telling me I have 8 more hours to go. No I don’t.

  12. nomadiq says

    @13 – I read this book about 7 years ago. Love this book and love the authors take-down of Pinker. My take was Pinker has very much the simplistic model of evolution that 8th graders pick up on first hearing the basic principle of ‘selection’ but not really having much clue about how complex selection actually is or how it operates, or what it operates on.

  13. Dunc says

    I currently have bookmarks in Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men Who Stole the World by Nicholas Shaxson, The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun by JRR Tolkien, and The Story of Trees (and how they changed the way we live) by Kevin Hobbs and David West, and I’ve just collected the first of Andrea Camilleri’s Montalbano novels, The Shape of Water, from the library (translated by Stephen Satarelli).

    For other light reading faves, I’m still working my way through the entire Terry Pratchet and PG Wodehouse bibliographies…

  14. moonslicer says

    I read in phases, periods when I read a lot and periods when I read hardly at all. I’m going through an off-phase right now, though it’s one that’s lasted quite some time. I’m beginning to think that I’ve read about all I’m going to read, which does sadden me because there’s still so much I’d like to get to. Maybe I’ll warm up again some day.

    At any rate, for the time being I’m slowly working my way through a Kindle version of Mark Twain’s complete writings–and the man wrote a lot. I figured I’d keep reading until I got tired of it all, but I haven’t got tired yet, so I’m still at it. I’m especially enjoying a lot of his short stories that I’d never even heard of, and his travel writings are especially good. He never seems to waste much time on stuff that didn’t really need to be noted.

  15. kenbakermn says

    I’m a rationalist, nontheist, don’t believe in ghosts or metaphysical dimensions or magic. Nonetheless, I loved “Jonathon Livingston Seagull”, “Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah”, and other books by Richard Bach.

    I also read and re-read the entire catalogs of Edward Abbey, Kurt Vonnegut, and Cormac McCarthy. Also read the entire Aubrey-Maturin series (“Master And Commander”, etc.) by O’Brien twice.

    When my kids were little we read “Go Dog Go” and “Hop On Pop” innumerable times. I still love those books.

  16. kenbakermn says

    Not to mention the entire Wooster-Jeeves series by Wodehouse. And you can’t read those without hearing the voice of Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry.

  17. redwood says

    @9 Anyone interested in Japan should read Alan Booth, especially The Roads to Sata. He was an excellent movie reviewer as well.

    As for my reading, I’ve been on a LitRPG/wuxia/isekai Fantasy kick for a couple of years now, once I got Kindle Unlimited. Authors I recommend include JF Brink (Defiance of the Fall), Shirtaloon (He Who Fights Monsters), Nicoli Gonnella (Unbound), Zogarth (Primal Hunter), SunriseCV (System Universe), JM Clarke (Mark of the Fool), CMantis (Path of Ascension), and DI Freed (Jade Phoenix Saga). All of these are ongoing series, unfortunately, not yet wrapped up. There are other, better-known series, but these are the ones I currently like the best.

  18. birgerjohansson says

    A question: will it be OK to send books as gifts to your address at the University? You can let your students have them as you are unlikely to have the time, but I think it would be a good gesture, as I live too far away to participate in any skeptics meetings. That annoying ocean is in the way.

    Books I have read:
    All Systems Red by Martha Wells, A History of What will be (the Bring Them To The Stars series) by Neuvel.
    And Glen Cook’s Garret P I series has stood the test of time as a fun fantasy/detective series.
    Non-Fiction: an English translation of Exterminate Every Brute, a chilling look into “the race for Africa” .

  19. birgerjohansson says

    Fun trash: some of the early stuff by Van Vogt, like The War Against The Rull.

  20. Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD says

    Currently re-reading my way through the Liaden Universe series by Steve Miller and Sharon Lee since the most recent one officially dropped on July 4th. (Salvage Right).
    Pratchett of course.
    I also have a great fondness for Freedom and Necessity by Steven Brust and Emma Bull.
    And a bunch of the stuff by Ursula Vernon/T. Kingfisher.
    Her Hugo winning graphic novel (also still available as a webcomic diggercomic.com) Digger is excellent and many of her other works are also a lot of fun.

  21. charley says

    I’m a short walk from a Lake Michigan beach right now, but I’d rather swim then retreat to the shaded deck to read my current book, Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir.

  22. birgerjohansson says

    Christoph @ 10
    Seconded, with enthusiasm.

    Regarding Roger Zelazny, for fantasy I like his “world of tiers” series most.

    And if you have not yet tried the last two novels by William Gibson (The Peripheral, Agency), you are in for a hell of a ride when you do.

  23. hemidactylus says

    13- feralboy12
    Could it be Pinker is correct on music being nonaptive in itself? Typically spandrels are put forward to counter adaptionist just-so-stories.

    If Pinker said it was just after noon July 7th I wouldn’t assume him wrong just because he is Pinker.

  24. Rob Grigjanis says

    kenbakermn @19:

    And you can’t read those without hearing the voice of Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry.

    Yes you can. I still hear Ian Carmichael and Dennis Price.

  25. Pierce R. Butler says

    Just recently finished The Mount, an odd YA novel about a future world where aliens use humans to ride around on, as told by the young thoroughbred who does NOT want to rebel for freedom, and am now looking for other Carol Emshwiller titles.

    Almost through Kevin Phillips’s The Cousins’ Wars: Religion, Politics, and the Triumph of Anglo-America, a lengthy treatise on the common elements in the English Civil War, the American Revolution, and the American Civil War, a rather contrarian but well-argued analysis which I find eye-opening even in the parts I disagree with: definitely recommended for history nerds.

    Ariaflame… @ # 23: Pratchett of course.

    Have just started the Johnny Maxwell trilogy (1992-96), another YA mostly of interest to everything-by-Pratchett fans – intriguing flashes of his later wit and ethical observations, falling short in character development (so far).

  26. John Harshman says

    birgerjohansson @26

    That’s Philip Jose Farmer on the World of Tiers, though Zelazny did write an introduction to the third book in the series.

    Somebody should mention Naomi Novik. Oh, I guess somebody just did. Best Napoleonic Wars dragon books ever, and her two fairy tale books are great too.

    Also very partial to Django Wexler’s fine French Revolution fantasies.

  27. Oggie: Mathom says

    Currently reading:

    Lost Dorsai — not as good as I remember from high school.

    Under the Southern Cross: Ther South Pacific Air Campaign Against Rabaul, Thomas McKelvy Weaver

    Ancient Sea Reptiles: Plesiosaurs, Ichthyosaurs, Mosasaurs, and More, Darren Naish

    The Imperial Japanese Navy in the Pacific War, Mark E. Stille

    The Princeton Guide to Prehistoric Mammals, Donald R. Prothero

    I’m also reading a book on South American fossil mammals, a history of the French Revolution, neither one is to hand right now, so I don’t have the authors. Sorry.

    I have also read, today, Dr. Suess’s Sneetches, I Had Trouble In Getting to Sollow Salew and Fox in Sox. Well, I tried to get through that last one, much to the amusement of my granddaughters.

  28. christoph says

    @ birgerjohansson, #26: Cool, another Martha Wells fan! I like just about everything Roger Zelazny wrote, Particularly the Amber series. Fun fact-he earned a black belt in Aikido before most westerners even knew what it was.

  29. says

    I can tell that if I hosted a party and you all showed up, we’d have a convivial time talking books, and I could just hand out the contents of my overloaded bookshelves as party favors. tmartin and I might have to have an amicable argument, because I adore Lord of Light, but that’s OK.

    Van Vogt’s The War Against The Rull: I never finished it, but that’s because, in 9th grade, my asshole creative writing teacher caught me reading it, and confiscated it. Trash, he said.

    Beaches: No, we don’t have any. To me, a beach is rocky, full of tide pools (it has tides!), and covered in writhing marine worms and crustaceans and molluscs. Bonus if it has a cold onshore wind spattering you with fat raindrops. Real beaches.

    Pinker: he’s a fool. The fact that we have music at all, that we respond to patterns and rhythms and tones, tells me that there is something fundamental going on. It could be a byproduct, but it’s a byproduct of the machinery of our minds. I also wouldn’t reject an adaptive hypothesis out of hand — music plays a huge role in courtship and socialization.

    iiandyiiii: I got the book just this morning! It’s on the list.

    Birger: yes, people send me books all the time. I read many of them, but many more are just not that interesting to me personally. There is a table at the end of the hallway near my office that I periodically dump books on, especially at the end of the semester or spring break. The library has annual book sale, too, and I’ll trundle a pile over that way.

    Richard Bach: My favorite was Biplane. It made me want to take off in a Jenny.

    Irving Finkel: I’ve listened to his lectures on YouTube — he’s a blast. Maybe I’ll have to try one of his books.

  30. zygoptera says

    The five books I read this morning were all books for kids.

    Weasels with Measles by Lesley Sims

    Skunks in Trunks by Russell Punter and David Semple

    Adder up a Ladder by Russell Punter and David Semple

    Urgency Emergency: Humpty’s Fall by Dosh Archer

    The Fly on the Ceiling: A Math Reader by Julie Glass

  31. brightmoon says

    I’ve got an NK JEMISEN book I’ve got waiting . Lately I’m not reading much as I’m doing what I call “ refilling the well” . That basically means watching others create stuff. The list is extensive. I watch soapmakers, bookbinders, woodworkers, etc. I like Tad Williams fantasy books and I’m re reading one of his longer series . I like fantasy and science fiction so I read a lot of it.

  32. Trickster Goddess says

    I will automatically read anything by Adrian Tchaikovsky or Alastair Reynolds. Current reads are the fourth Bobiverse book, Heaven’s River by Dennis E. Taylor and Indian Givers: How Native Americans Transformed the World by Jack Weatherford. I also enjoyed his earlier book about Genghis Khan.

  33. Gaebolga says

    Technically not a book, but I reread the web serial Worm<\i> recently, and I’m currently rereading the sequel Ward<\i>, which isn’t as good, (but honestly, how could it be).

  34. Reginald Selkirk says

    To me, a beach is rocky, full of tide pools (it has tides!), and covered in writhing marine worms…

    Cladistically speaking, we are all marine worms (?)

  35. Oggie: Mathom says

    To me, a beach is rocky, full of tide pools (it has tides!), and covered in writhing marine worms…

    Any rocky river or stream will have temporary pools depending on the rainfall. Not as regular as tides, of course, but, then again, no one knows how tides work.

  36. brightmoon says

    I cant read at the beach . I’m either playing in the water or playing in the sand . Coral sand like they have in Barbados is just weird to me . It stays cool and doesn’t heat up like quartz sand does. NYC has a few beaches and frankly I wish they’d close the one in Far Rockaway. Too many people drown in shallow water because of the currents there.

  37. Trickster Goddess says

    BTW, PZ may particularly enjoy Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Children of Time as it involves uplifted spiders.

  38. nomaduk says

    I don’t read nearly as fast as I used to, and the pile of books I haven’t read yet keeps growing. I suppose someday I’ll actually retire and then I’ll have time again. (Ha!) In the meantime, I manage a few pages every night before I fall asleep, and then a few more during brief awakenings in the middle of the night….

    I’m currently reading The Glass Hotel by Emily St John Mandel. Before this, I read her Station Eleven, which was excellent; this seems equally good. My wife insists I read all of her stuff, which will probably happen.

    I’m also slowly, slowly, wading through Richard J Evans’s The Coming of the Third Reich, and hope someday to get to the other two in the series, The Third Reich in Power, 1933-1939, and The Third Reich at War. It’s a long haul, though; Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich was a much quicker read.

    Before this, I managed to slog my way through Tim Powers’s Acquire, which, despite having enjoyed his Anubis and everyone seeming to think he’s the greatest thing since beans on toast, I found interminable and virtually incomprehensible, but succumbing to the sunk cost fallacy managed to push my way through anyway. Stephen Graham Jones’s My Heart Is a Chainsaw was great fun, as was Linda Nagata’s The Red: First Light, though I’m not sure whether I’m up for continuing the series; we’ll see.

    I read Ian Tregellis’s Bitter Seeds, and enjoyed it, so I dove into the second book of the trilogy, The Coldest War, and found it just okay, and finally gave the third one, Necessary Evil, a shot, and really found it all disappointing and would not recommend even starting the thing.

    Other things I’ve read and enjoyed in the past year or so:-
    The Daughter of Time, Josephine Tey
    In the Heat of the Night, John Ball
    The Scholars of Night, John M Ford
    The Dragon in Waiting, John M Ford
    Kolymsky Heights, Lionel Davidson
    The Once and Future Witches, Alix E Harrow
    Circe, Madeline Miller
    The Women of Troy, Pat Barker
    The Silence of the Girls, Pat Barker
    Archangel, Robert Harris
    The Compleat Traveller in Black, John Brunner
    A Red Death, Walter Mosley
    Lost Horizon, James Hilton
    Revelation Space, Alastair Reynolds (I’ve actually read this twice, and liked it a bit better the second time around)
    The Secret Speech, Tom Rob Smith
    Farthing, Jo Walton
    The Man from the Train, Bill James and Rachel McCarthy James

    Things I’ve read — or started reading and gave up — recently and not enjoyed (not already mentioned above):-
    The Dosadi Experiment, Frank Herbert (seriously, who ghost-wrote Dune?)
    Hull Zero Three, Greg Bear
    Ancestral Night, Elizabeth Bear
    The Wire in the Blood, Val McDermid
    The Quantum Magician, Derek Künsken

    When I only have a few minutes, I’ll catch up on one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, or one of Robert E Howard’s Conan stories I haven’t read yet.

    Maybe I read faster than I think.

  39. katybe says

    A discussion on books never fails to bring me out of lurking! It’s utterly uncanny.

    I haven’t actually got around to reading the book yet, having attended a talk by the author when I was what felt like 12 months pregnant in a heatwave 6 years ago, so I can’t absolutely swear to the quality of the evidence, but to throw in a title for the readers interested in the origins of music, Stephen Mithen wrote one called The Singing Neanderthals. In his talk, he argued that the structure of their throats possibly suggested that singing, or at least communicating via musical notes, might actually have come before speech. As I say, I haven’t yet read all his evidence to back this up, and human evolution falls considerably earlier than my area of expertise, but he made a convincing argument in an hour long talk.

    I’ve not read as much as I’d like in the last 6 years (see above) but Seanan McGuire, Catherynne Valente, VE Schwab, Becky Chambers and Terry Pratchett are usually my go-tos for someone I trust to write across a range of SFF styles. I’m currently re-reading book 1 of VE Schwab’s Shades of Magic series, before a follow-up trilogy starts off later this year, and book 7 of Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce books, As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust. If you enjoy mid C20th country house style murder mysteries with slightly more modern sensibilities and unusual titles, I would also recommend James Anderson’s Burford mysteries, which begins with The Affair of the Blood Stained Egg Cosy.

  40. eastexsteve says

    The Clansman, by Thomas Dixon Jr. Published in 1905. Just started it.

  41. iiandyiiii says

    Reading “Chain Gang All Stars” which is a fantastic and dystopic takedown of the American prison system. Also just finished my millionth re-read of Cormac McCarthy’s “Blood Meridien”, which is the book that made me want to write books.

  42. drsteve says

    I finally finished Malcolm Harris’s Palo Alto: A History of California, Capitalism, and the World, which I highly recommend. Now I’m in the middle of Percy Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound.

  43. says

    I just finished reading Memory’s Legion, the collection of short stories and novellas set in the Expanse universe. It was very good. When I finished it, I wanted to pick up Leviathan Wakes and read the whole series again, but I’ve got too many books in my reading list and I’m a very slow reader.

    This year, I’ve also read:
    Johnny and the Dead by Terry Pratchett, which I handed off to my 10yo stepson. I think he’ll like it.
    Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and its sequel The Last American Vampire by Seth Grahame-Smith
    It might have been earlier this year that I read the last few books in the Expanse series, too. But time has no meaning any more, so I’m not sure when that was. I seriously recommend the Expanse books for any lover of science fiction.

  44. JustaTech says

    For once I’ve read all but one of the Hugo nominees for best novel (still waiting on Nettle and Bone from the library) and liked all of them very much (except the Daughter of Doctor Moreau, which was well written, just not my jam).
    I’ve also read one of the novella nominees – What Moves the Dead. Very, very good, but very much a summer read because it is very creepy and atmospheric and you need hot, dry, sunny weather to balance out the creepy mushrooms.

    Other than that I’m almost done reading Seanan McGuire’s InCryptid series (fantasy about cryptozoologists with really good thought about the biology/ecology of a lot of the cryptids) and just about to start “The Wellness Trap” about how terrible wellness culture is.
    I’m not going to try for the public library’s Book Bingo this summer – that much reading just isn’t compatible with a nearly-mobile baby (and all the people who want to visit to see him)!

  45. whheydt says

    At a lull at the moment, but recent (re-) reads were Graydon Saunders ” Commonweal” books…The March North, A Succession of Bad Days, Safely You Deliver, Under One Banner, and A Mist of Grist and Splinters. It’s probably unfair to mention reading over various things my wife wrote. Her SFF is downloadable from her web site (www.kithrup.com/~djheydt), but I have her SCA bardic notebook, as well.

    Re: PZ Myers @ #34…
    On the seizure of books… In the high school I went to, football rallies were mandatory. As a senior, I got to sit in a folding chair on the floor (as opposed to bleachers on one side or the other). I sat in back….reading. The PE teachers/”coaches” tended to line the back wall, where the doors were (to keep anyone from escaping, perhaps?). So one came over and took away the book I was reading. So I got out another book and started in on that. Repeat. Third book… Repeat. fourth book… I think he gave up, which was good, because that was the last book I had with me. When the damned rally was over, I just walked up to him and held out my hand. He return the three books. I left without saying a word.

    I am given to understand that a year or two later, the policy changed and one could spend the rally time in the school library.

  46. outis says

    Eh, I have been amusing myself with a botany tome from the 20s, I can’t resist old books of that kind for some reason (Botanica e fisiologia delle piante).
    A friend of mine is absolutely bombarding me with books, so I started The atom station by Halldor Laxness, the Icelandic Nobel Prize. Next will be Kenzaburo Oe’s Pinch Runner’s Memorandum, just because of the title, and ’cause I liked his Okinawa book.
    I also found some remaindered classics, so it’s a bit of Orlando Furioso now and then.
    For SF I am finding KS Robinson’s Aurora rather heavy going, which is strange because I devoured his Mars Trilogy in a flash. Some Bradbury on the side.
    For comics I recently got a bundle of French stuff, just finished Bolshoi Arena 1 by Boulet, not bad at all. Next it will be some manga, as they are super popular in France and you can find excellent translations, so I’ll start with Planetes maybe.
    And allow me to say: Lord of Light is really good and The left Hand of Darkness is fabulous, let that be known far and wide.

  47. DonDueed says

    I recently read Richard Frank’s “Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire”, which (despite the oddly redundant subtitle) makes a clear case that the use of nuclear weapons was decisive and necessary to end the Pacific war promptly, and undoubtedly saved millions of Japanese lives (not to mention American ones).

  48. gijoel says

    I’m reading The house at the cerulean sea. It’s a very sweet love story about a gay man who inspects orphanages for children with magical powers.

  49. christoph says

    @ Justa Tech, # 52: Is “The Daughter of Doctor Moreau” by Sylvia Moreno Garcia? I’ve read and enjoyed a few of her books: Certain Dark Things, Gods of Jade and Shadow, and I’m about to start Mexican Gothic.

  50. birgerjohansson says

    Nomaduk @ 45
    I agree on the poor level of The Dosadi Experiment and Hull Zero Three . I believe the publicing term is “pot-boiler”.
    There is a recent five-volume graphic novel series about Skywatch etc with the protagonists Jenny Sparks and the others from the ‘Authority’ narrative universe but I forget the name of the author. I am normally not into graphic novels but both plot and artwork was spectacular.
    Older graphic novels: the three tomes with the demon Wormwood as protagonist and with sidekick robot Dr Pendulum. Comedy is hard to pull off well, but this is great.

  51. birgerjohansson says

    Stanislaw Lem wrote some comical stories along with the more philosophical books.
    The Cyberiad, plus The Memoirs of Ijon Tichy: anthologies built around more or less wild ideas.
    The novel ”The Great Futurological Congress ‘ is a longer Ijon Tichy story.

    The more serious His Master’s Voice – a short novel- is The SETI novel, even if I liked Sagan’s Contact.

  52. John Harshman says

    The Clansman, by Thomas Dixon Jr. Published in 1905. Just started it.

    I’m waiting for the movie.

  53. DLC says

    The Trump Indictment. dry but short. Worth the read.
    A Murder of Quality — John Le Carre’
    The Spy Who Came in From the Cold — also Le Carre’.
    When I’m done with Le Carre’, I plan on going back to the Jeeves and Wooster novels. Wodehouse is too good to binge on.

  54. John Harshman says

    Excellent for binging: Jack Vance. The Demon Princes series, the Tschai series, the Durdane series, the Lyonesse series, the Alastor Cluster series, or just anything he wrote. Personal favorite: Emphyrio.

  55. kaleberg says

    Who says there are no beaches in Minnesota. A few years back, we went to a friend’s destination wedding at Peter’s Sunset Beach Resort in nearby Glenwood, MN. It had a lovely fresh water beach.

    As for reading, I’m blasting through the five Joe the Bouncer books. They’re thrillers featuring a tough guy bar bouncer working as a deputy / fixer tor the organized crime gangs of New York City. It has a touch of Fritz Lang’s M in which even hardened criminals draw the line. Hey, it’s escapism. Still it’s fun, and Joe lives in my old neighborhood with his con artist granny do the take out food alone is worth reading about. (I think the Ecuadorian Chinese place does Nepali sushi these days.)

  56. Rich Woods says

    I’m in the middle of Michael Moorcock’s The Citadel of Forgotten Myths. I haven’t read any of his Eternal Champion stories for maybe 20 years now (although I read each of them a dozen times over as a teenager) so it’s nice to get back to some Melnibonean weirdness. Chaos does not disappoint.

  57. StevoR says

    Nearly finished reading exoplanet hunter Sara Seager’s life and science story The Smallest Lights which is a fascinating and quite different mix of bigraphy and astronomy. Halfway through Geoffrey Robertson’s Bad People – and How to Be Rid of Them on Human Rights and the Magnitsky laws* and I must start reading Rob Bleckly’s pre-publication SF novel The Break of Civilisation as I know the author and am meant to be giving him feedback on it soon!

    See : https://theconversation.com/book-review-geoffrey-robertson-makes-the-case-for-naming-and-shaming-human-rights-abusers-160985

  58. lumipuna says

    Just recently I saw some Twitter argument on whether the shores of North America’s Great Lakes can be really called “beaches”. Apparently, it depends on whether the associated water body is functionally like a sea, stretching out beyond horizon or something like that?

    I used to assume the word beach was a direct equivalent of Finnish hiekkaranta, meaning literally any patch of sandy shoreline. Naturally, our local “beaches” tend to be small and numerous, located by many small lakes and rivers and sheltered sea bays. The Baltic Sea itself is hardly more than a big lake.

  59. hemidactylus says

    @57- christoph
    The Daughter of Doctor Moreau is by Sylvia Moreno Garcia. I’ve read mixed reviews, but I liked it. Fleshes out the panther lady notion a bit more I suppose. She was influenced by the movie Island of Lost Souls. She has an interest in degeneration, eugenics and other end of 19th century cultural tropes, plus adds the Yucatan Caste War as historical backdrop. Learned a little more about Mexican history, more from reading outside the text for context— henequen plantations and debt peonage stuff and subjugation of the indigenous people. I also watched a couple versions of the Moreau movie and a documentary why the more recent one with Brando and Kilmer turned into a train wreck.

    Now I’m reading The River of Doubt by Candice Millard about Teddy Roosevelt’s journey with the legendary Candido Rondon down an uncharted river in Brazil. Cut TR’s life short by quite a few years in the aftermath.

  60. birgerjohansson says

    John Harshman @ 60
    Yes, it would be some adventure story about….highland clans fighting off anglo-saxon intruders? An epic story about fighting oppression, I am sure.
    Teddy Roosevelt wanted the Amazonas to be cut down to provide grazing for herds. It is as if the land was defending itself. Fuck him.
    And that brings me to the Herzog film “Aguirre, The Wrath Of God”.
    The insane Klaus Kinski playing an insane conquistador.

  61. Robert Webster says

    I’ve been on a magic kick lately:
    Widdershins – Very Love Craftian story in Elizabethan England about a gay translator of dead languages, complete with unspeakable horrors and magic cabals.
    Magic and the Shinagami Detective, about an FBI agent who gets sucked into a magical world by an insane witch. Procedural.
    Missy the Were Cat
    Quicker, sci-fi about a young lady who has mutations that make her stronger and faster than anyone else
    I’ll stop there. I tend to read random series and switch if I get bored.

  62. John Harshman says

    An epic story about fighting oppression, I am sure.

    I’m pretty sure that’s how the author saw it. YMMV.

  63. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    I read mostly non-fiction (and mostly mostly non-fiction about music), so take that into consideration when perusing my recent reads:

    The Come-Up: An Oral History of the Rise of Hip-Hop by Jonathan Abrams
    We’re Not Here To Entertain: Punk Rock, Ronald Reagan, and the Real Culture War of 1980s America by Kevin Mattson
    Lost Highway by Peter Guralnick
    Possibilities by Herbie Hancock
    Summer of Blood: Peasants Revolt of 1381 by Dan Jones

  64. birgerjohansson says

    Charlaine Harris has written an excellent alternate history suite with just a smidgeon of magic, starting with “An Easy Death” (the Gunnie Rose series) .
    Becky Chambers have written some feel-good SF novels, if that is the right term.

  65. says

    I recently finished the latest trilogy by K.M. Shea, Gate of Myth and Power. It’s urban fantasy, and is a retelling of the myth of Hades and Persephone in a world where magical races openly exist with the human world. There are previous trilogies in the series, all good, but this was the most fun for me.

    The Persephone character is a cat shifter who has different powers from other shifters, and being adopted she has no idea why. The Hades character is incredibly powerful and responsible for the lives of many. When he adopts a cat to keep it from torture, he has no idea who he’s bring into his small household with his assistant Charon, and his friends the werewolf Kerberos and a blind vampire.

  66. whheydt says

    Re: Robert Webster @ #69…
    If you’re reading books with a lot of magic in them, I suggest the Graydon Saunders “Commonweal” books. Also Poul Anderson Operation: Chaos and Operation Luna. There is also anything by Randall Garrett in his Lord d’Arcy stories, with one novel–Too Many Magicians–among them. Another possibility is Dorothy J. Heydt’s The Witch of Syracuse, which is a patch up novel of her stories about a 3rd century BC Greek woman (see http://www.kithrup.com/~djheydt to download it).

    I’ll grant that the Saunders, Anderson, and Garrett books are what I class as “techno-magic” in that magic has actual discoverable rules and there are those who do what we would recognize as research. Saunders gets kind of complicated on that…magic in his world has rules: a vast array of possible sets of rules, most of which are rather nasty and the Commonweal does it’s best to stay away from those. In the Heydt work, magic tends to be rather subtle, as in the “what exactly happened there?” sense. One story was originally rejected because the editor of the anthology it was written for said that it “wasn’t magical enough.”

  67. says

    I’ve read The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin, and have been putting off reading the next book in that trilogy, The Dark Forest. Also gotta pick up Ron Chernow’s big Hamilton bio at the 1/3 mark where I left off over a year ago.

    Don Dueed @55: …Richard Frank’s “Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire”… makes a clear case that the use of nuclear weapons was decisive and necessary to end the Pacific war promptly…

    I read a long article that uses, both a chronology of events and bombing-raids leading up to Japan’s surrender, and a comparison of the lives and capital lost in each raid, to make a case that it was the USSR’s imminent entry into the war, NOT our two nukes, that actually caused the Japanese to surrender. Shorter summary: our nukes killed fewer people and did less damage than many other conventional- and fire-bombings; and it was many days from Hiroshima to the Japanese surrender. Why did it take that long for the Japanese to be properly terrified of our new bombs?

  68. says

    I wish I was as learned as the rest of your commenters, but my current mental health status just makes me constantly re-read “Ascendance of a Bookworm” by Miya Kazuki. It helps that a new book in the series has been coming out in English every two months. It is the story of a sickly medieval peasant girl who wants books and ends up causing cultural, religious, and political revolutions because they got in her way.

  69. silvrhalide says

    Loved the Amber series. Liked Zelazny’s short stories/anthologies better than a lot of his novels. I often wonder what he would have thought of the “smart” cars and talking cars, given that he wrote “The Wild Ones”. Although anything by Tesla would be the obvious candidate to “mono” their drivers. Hopefully they start with Muskrat.

    Catching up on PC Hodgell, rereading Dune series (the original six, not the ghostwritten crap by Anderson) again, maybe some Brin & rereading LeGuin. May finally get around to Jemisin, it’s hard to say at this point. Maybe rereading some Robin McKinley if I can find where I stashed the lot.

    Continuing the graphic series Monstress by Marjorie Liu & Sana Takeda.