2015 Reading List

Weekly Reading List 3/29/15-4/4/15

Hey, a non- Hugo related post!

Earnest Cline’s Ready Player One-

Audiobook, science fiction

This audiobook thing is getting to be problematic for me. I listened to all of Ready Player One in a few days- that’s twenty hours that would normally be dedicated towards reading for me, instead applied towards an audiobook. I really like audiobooks, but this is taking my total reading done to unusually low levels of books. Other than this, I only finished a short story and a graphic novel, though I did do close to a whole additional book’s worth of reading between a Borges collection and two nonfiction books. (I’m being all fancy.)

Anyhow, as far as Ready Player One goes: it was, simply speaking, one of the best novels I’ve read/listened to in quite a while. Definitely blows most of the YA out there out of the water. Wil Wheaton’s narration was also excellent. I’d assumed he’d been chosen to fit the theme of the book, especially since he was actually a very minor character in it, but his narration was excellent.

Brandon Sanderson’s Perfect State-

Short story, science fiction

One of Sanderson’s rare excursions into science fiction. It was reasonably enjoyable, and definitely a bit more risque in some ways than many Sanderson works. (Which seldom tend to be risque in the slightest.) It was fairly good, but ultimately felt entirely too short. As far as his science fiction goes, I’d say I prefer the Legion novellas.

Warren Ellis’ Trees Volume 1-

I always forget exactly how much I love Warren Ellis’ writing. For some reason he just tends to slip to the back of my mind when I’m not actually near something he’s written, yet he’s one of the best comics writers out there. Trees, despite nominally being about the invasion of massive alien structures that have been planted on Earth, then proceeded to sit there, completely unmoving, is really more about the people around them. Despite comics’ love of ensemble casts, they seldom actually flesh out the characters to the degree necessary to really earn a reader’s involvement with the cast. I blame the Justice League and the Avengers- when there is a massive super hero teamup book, the majority of the characters will already have had their own series, have visited other series, etcetera. People already have that attachment to the characters. So many comics writers, however, just think they can replicate that from the get go, and so few actually accomplish it. Warren Ellis does that here, partially thanks to the cast being split up into different locations from the get go, and partially because he’s just that good at what he does. This one is going straight in my pull.

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Weekly Reading List 3/15/15- 3/29/15

 

I didn’t get a lot of reading done over the past couple of weeks, thanks to houseguests and audiobooks.

Brian Staveley’s The Emperor’s Blades

Audiobook, Fantasy

I resisted reading The Emperor’s Blades for the longest time, despite the legions of rave reviews. Why? Because that is a TERRIBLE fantasy title. Blergh. Of course, I read fantasy titles with worse names all the time, so… who knows. Anyhow, I absolutely loved it. It draws much more heavily from Asian history and culture than the usual generic pseudo-European fantasy land, has characters that I actually care about, and is extremely grim without being grimdark. Also, I listened to it on audiobook. That’s the real reason I didn’t get more reading done- I spent about 40 hours over the last couple of weeks listening to The Emperor’s Blades and its sequel, The Providence of Fire. Honestly, that alone puts me at well above average total reading time, especially since most of the rest of the books are Lawrence Watt Evans novels, which don’t take me very long to digest. Anyhow- fantastic book, definitely worth the read. Or listen. Simon Vance does a fantastic job with the performance- one of the best I’ve heard so far, which is admittedly relatively few.

Randall Munroe’s What If: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

Nonfiction, Humor

This book is absolutely amazing. Randall Munroe, the creator of XKCD, has really outdone himself here. While some of the questions presented in the book are ones that were already on his blog of the same name, many of them are new ones just for this book. In this book, you can find out: What would happen if the Earth and all terrestrial objects suddenly stopped spinning, but the atmosphere retained its velocity? If my printer could literally print out money, would it have that big an effect on the world? How quickly would the oceans drain if a circular portal 10 meters in radius leading into space were created at the bottom of Challenger Deep, the deepest spot in the ocean? How would the Earth change as the water was being drained? How high can a human throw something? How much physical space does the Internet take up? What would happen if you were to gather a mole (unit of measurement) of moles (the small furry critter) in one place?

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Weekly Reading List 2/22/15-3/14/15

I’m going to start doing these weekly again, I swear.

Scott McCloud’s The Sculptor

Graphic Novel

Here’s my review. Go read it or something. It’s a really good book.

Lawrence Watt-Evans’ A Young Man Without Magic

Fantasy, Reread

Lawrence Watt Evans is a grossly under-appreciated writer. Primarily a fantasy writer, his books usually (though not always) center on average people caught up in situations out of their depth, rather than on the more normal prophesied hero/ heir to the throne/ unstoppable warrior/ powerful wizards so common in fantasy. A Young Man Without Magic follows a young man, Anrel, recently graduated from college in his nation’s capital, who becomes a hunted fugitive when he gives an inflammatory speech following his friend’s death at the hands of a local lord. Following a up and coming demagogue who uses political discourse and public speeches to fight his battles? That’s something I wouldn’t mind seeing more of in fantasy.

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Weekly Reading List 2/1/15-2/21/15

Yes, I know, I know, I’ve been super lazy lately. Anyhap- three weeks of reading at once. (Also, for some reason, even with my much expanded free time, I’ve been reading less lately, go figure.) The books are in the order I read them.

Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition Monster Manual and Dungeon Master’s Guide

Non-Fiction (I guess?)

I’m going to hold off on doing an actual full review of the new edition of Dungeons and Dragons until I’ve actually run an adventure or two, but from reading the books and doing character building sessions, I can comfortably go out on a limb and say that this is the most elegant edition of D&D yet. Is it the best, though? Dunno if I’d go that far yet, but I’m not saying no.

Blake Charleton’s Spellwright

Fantasy, Reread

Blake Charlton had fairly strong dyslexia growing up, and… well, you should read some of his commentary on that. It’s pretty obvious how much he drew on that experience when writing the Spellwright Trilogy, which features a magic system of magical languages, and a protagonist who is essentially dyslexic in them. It makes for compelling reading, and gives the protagonist, Nicodemus Weal, a sense of authenticity that many characters, even extremely compelling ones. It’s also obvious how much his medical training influenced the books, as well. I first read this one in high school, and damn if it doesn’t hold up well.

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Weekly Reading List- 1/18/15-1/24/14

Thanks to one thing and another, I didn’t get many books read this week. Largely due to sleep deprivation, which makes me read really, really slow.

Firefight- Brandon Sanderson

YA, SF, Reread

I told you, I reread books a lot, especially Brandon Sanderson.

To be fair, I reread this one on my phone- which is what I read on in the bathroom, when waiting in line, etc. If I only have a minute or two, I’ll just read on here. I get a surprising amount of reading done this way, including, weirdly enough, most of the YA novels I read. My Kindle is still the format I do more of my reading on than any other device, but not by a ton- dead tree format is right behind it, with my phone in a distant, but by no means insignificant third. Audiobook comes in dead last. I listened to all of two audiobooks last year. Before that, it was something like 2010 since the last audiobook I’ve read, and before that? I couldn’t even tell you.

The Wanderer- Fritz Lieber

SF

I’ll have more on this one soon, I’m gearing up to reboot the Hugo Readthrough.

I meant to have the readthrough up and ready to go by now, but I’ve just not gotten much done and ready to go in the last week- I’ve been dealing with a major sleep shortage, which makes me move at about a quarter speed.

The Goblin Emperor- Kathleen Addison

Fantasy, Reread

The Goblin Emperor was one of my favorite fantasy novels from last year- it’s a breath of fresh air in the genre. There is very little violence, it doesn’t particularly leave itself open to a sequel- it’s pretty frankly excellent. 2014 was a really good year for fantasy, but it would not surprise me to see this one as a Hugo contender, even for the normally very science fiction dominated award.

Dune- Frank Herbert

SF, Reread

Man, what really needs to be said about this one? A lot, actually, but I’ll wait a couple weeks. Absolutely love this book, one of my all time favorites.