Somewhat, but not enough. My auditory comprehension of novels is higher than my visual, but lower than even my visual comprehension of most non-fiction.
I’m currently in the middle of, like, ten books. Usually I limit myself to one novel, one nonfiction book, and one anthology, but then I started working on a grad degree in literature, so I tend to be juggling a lot these days. Good news is that it’s almost summer break, and I’m not taking any summer classes this year, so I should hopefully be able to whittle that pile down before the fall term dumps more books into my lap. (Not that I’m complaining about more books. Booksbooksbooksbooksbooks!
The one I most recently finished is The Picture of Dorian Gray by my dude Oscar Wilde. Among others, I’m in the middle of The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson, Dracula by Bram Stoker, and Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow.
I finished Charles Sumner and the Coming of the Civil War, which is the first of a two part biography of Charles Sumner by David Herbert Donald and I doubt I’ll be reading the second. It was very well researched and very well written, but at the end Donald makes it clear that he thinks the Civil War was an unnecessary calamity that should have been averted if Sumner had bit his tongue. Strangely, he has written multiple books about how great Abraham Lincoln was, which seems contradictory to his feelings towards Sumner. I might read the second volume anyway. I tried to read several other Sumner biographies and they weren’t very compelling (and its hard to not compel me to read about Charles Sumner).
An Artist in Treason: The Extraordinary Double Life of General James Wilkinson by Andro Linklater is probably the funniest book I’ve read since Decline and Fall of Practically Everyone. The man spent 30 years working as a Spanish agent and US army General, becoming the only person to be Commander In Chief of the US Army without being President, and even became involved in the Burr conspiracy, which would have wronged both nations. The only thing more absurd than the degree of his treachery to both Spain and America is that he got away with it in spite of being caught. It’s the first time I’ve read a biography where the author is unsure of their own opinion of the subject, but then I’m not sure of Wilkinson’s character either, so I can’t blame him.
I bought a boxed set of Kurt Vonnegut’s novels and am really looking forward to diving in. Previously, I’ve read maybe a third of them, but I’m starting from the beginning. The plan isn’t to marathon them.
His first novel, Player Piano, is a very unsubtle story with a familiar Vonnegut theme—people versus automation. This was my second time reading it, and I enjoyed it more this time around, but it’s not great. It lacks the playfulness and humor that I’ve (perhaps wrongly) come to expect.
At some point, Vonnegut graded his works and gave Player Piano a B. I give it a C.
I just started re-reading Slaughterhouse-Five. It was my favorite novel in highschool and upon revisiting might still be. I’m not entirely sure what I like about it so much, I think mainly it’s how Vonnegut writes his prose and how lived-in his characters feel.
After this, the plan is to revisit the other novels that meant a lot to me in highschool: Brave New World, Lolita, and One Hundred Years of Solitude.
So I just finished reading Snaked and Earrings. Its a good book and I really enjoyed it. Was not as dark as I thought it was going to be, compared to some of the horrors on the manga I have read, but still pretty bleak. I didn’t like Lui till the last 1/3 of the book when it she started to she’d her scales a bit. I felt bad for Ama the whole time as he was just a sweet carefree guy, who looked tough on the outside but was actually soft. The other dude can eat dicks the egotistical nob that he is but I think that is part of the book. Its still pretty fresh in my head and it defiantly needs a reread so my thoughts are a bit jumbled. Over all very very much worth reading but it can get heavy pretty much from the start. I kind of want to say more about it but that would be getting into spoilers, but yeah its good.
The book has caused two problems in that now I want to get a tattoo and I am left wondering why someone would want to split their tongue.
Next up is Banana Yoshimoto’s Kitchen as I continue my crash course into Japanese literature that is not Murakami, the one everyone know the not the other guy.
Picked up a copy of Never Caught by Erica Armstrong Dunbar, the story of George Washington’s runaway slave Ona Judge. It was recommended to me on Greg von Teig’s Dank History Stash by someone who works at Mt Vernon. I’m very excited.
I “read” The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson while driving to see the eclipse. It’s a pretty good book with a really sensical, if a bit weirdly powered, magic system and some pretty awesome action sequences. I saw through a bunch of the mysteries that were presented but that didn’t really affect my enjoyment of the novel. Overall I’m really looking forward to the rest of the books in the trilogy .
The Mistborn series is really good; I think you’ll enjoy them. One warning: if you’ve not read him before, his fantasy novels all exist in the same multiverse. It’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole of searching for all the secrets.
Just finished The Stone Sky. I hope like hell it wins the Hugo next year.
A few too many frustrating conversations with my mother have started a new “book club” for my family. We’re starting with The New Jim Crow.
I found Mistborn to be similar to Madoka in that you have all these questions. Why don’t they x? What is going on with y? Just do z it’s obviously your best option!
And then at the end - oh. That’s why. Every single loose end tied up.
Just finished The Fifth Season in preparation for the book club episode. Holy shit. I’m curious to see what Scrym has to say about it.
I read the Mistborn Trilogy and thought it was ok, but not great. I’ve heard that his later books are much better and one of these days I’ll read the Way of Kings.
I had issues with Mistborn. The Way of the Kings is better on many fronts and worth reading, but his language and tone is still a bit lacking. We were listening to the audiobook on a car trip, and I hadn’t caught the author. A couple of chapters in, I asked Adam “Is this a Sanderson book?” because the way in which his ideas outstrip his ability to convey them and his linguistic crutches are unmistakable. I wish he would write for TV/film, as his ideas are inventive, his characters can be interesting, and his dialogue is good enough (in The Way of the Kings, not in Mistborn), but his descriptions become dull/inadequate even when what he is describing could be so excitingly interesting. With a visual media, this shortcoming would be moot
This is my main problem with Sanderson too. He takes very inventive ideas but then describes them either totally blandly, like a kid recounting a video game fight, or so technically he gets bogged down in exactly what magic system element is interacting with what other system design… gets a bit tedious.
Other main gripe: all his characters have exactly one kind of humour, and that is to take what someone says figuratively but interpret it literally and laugh. Sigh.
But once you can get past that, more than half of most of his books are worth reading.
Blindsight by Peter Watts. It’s like Rendezvous With Rama had a baby with Old Man’s War.
It’s also about consciousness and intelligence. I liked it.
You should read the sequel, Echopraxia. It’s also excellent.
I really enjoyed this book a lot. Very different from a lot of other scifi I’ve been reading lately. I’m really looking forward to the pseudo-sequel, Echopraxia.
Edit: Besides, Echopraxia, @malzraa or @Starfox, have either of you read Watts’s other books that take place under water? I haven’t read them myself, but I’ve also heard good things and that they’re kind of like the Abyss, where instead of coming from space, the Aliens come from the deep ocean.
Nah, Pacific Rim was awful.
Seriously, I haven’t read any other books by him. As soon as I can get Echo, I’m planning on reading it.
Peter Watts Rifters series (the undersea one) is really not about aliens coming from the ocean. It’s about stiring up evolutionarily different species that don’t play well with dry land biology.
It’s also about body modifications done to psychologically damaged people allowing them to live at the bottom of oceans. And it’s as bleak as all fuck. I really enjoyed it.
You can get free ebook versions from his website, which he realeased himself pretty much as a fuck you to his publishers screwing around with the release of the books.