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Whatcha Readin’?


I just downloaded the book Annihilation to my Kindle app. I think the premise is incredibly intriguing and I can’t wait to dig into it. If anyone here has read it, please lemme know how you liked it (in a spoiler-free manner).


But enough about me. What are you reading?

SEK ADDED: When you’re done reading Annihilation, I highly recommend this long interview VanderMeer generously did with me a month or so ago.

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  • Karen

    I’m reading, among other things, “The Guns of August.” Barbara Tuchman wrote non-fiction that’s as gripping as a novel.

    • Hogan

      Max Hastings gives a lovely shoutout to The Guns of August in the introduction to Catastrophe 1914, and it’s well earned.

      The First Salute is on my bedside stack.

      • Aimai

        Guns of August is fantastic. I remember, though it is a long time ago now, that Manchester’s The Arms of Krupp is also very gripping.

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          the Krupp book was fascinating. it’s a damned doorstop but well worth the time

          • hylen

            Amen, brother.

          • JoyfulA

            My husband loved the Krupp book, to the point that I feel like I skimmed it myself. He notes that the NYT review claimed some factual errors.

        • Hogan

          Manchester’s biography of MacArthur (American Caesar) is excellent.

      • JoyfulA

        I was upset by The First Salute. Dammit, Tuchman didn’t concentrate on all the monuments in Philadelphia and the Battle of Brooklyn and my ancestors and whatnot, and forced me to take a different perspective!

    • GoA was a huge influence on me; it’s where I learned the people in charge can & do screw up royally.

      That said, her account is too indebted to the Schlieffen school, which pinned the blame on Moltke for defiling The Plan. She also is too credulous of Gallieni’s fans, IMHO.

      • Hogan

        True, but you don’t read GoA to find the current state of WWI scholarship. You read GoA to show you why you want to find out the current state of WWI scholarship. Or, in a few cases, make some WWI scholarship yourself. (That’s pretty much what Hastings says, with more elegance.)

        • rea

          it’s where I learned the people in charge can & do screw up royally.

          Kennedy had just finished reading it as the Cuban Missile Crisis started, and it was a very good thing that he had that lesson in mind . . .

    • DrS

      I’ve got that one in the queue, but haven’t gotten to it quite yet.

  • Bartleby

    Just started The Illuminatus! Trilogy, by Robert Shea & Robert Anton Wilson. Only about 50 pages in, but I’m happy with it so far.

    • If I remember that book right, it’s mostly normal for about 50 pages, then it hits craaaaazytown. Of course, I love it.

  • NewishLawyer

    Embattled Dreams: California in War and Peace 1940-1950 by Kevin Starr

    From a Distant Place by Don Carpenter

  • Adoannie

    Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life. And Max Blumenthal’s Republican Gomorrah.

  • SEK

    I’m nearly finished with James Corey’s Abaddon’s Gate, because without Iain M. Banks around, I’ve been hankering for extremely disturbing space operas.

    Comics-wise, I’m halfway through the recent Batman-related Court of Owls books, which have done nothing but give me nightmares because owls are evil fucking birds, not to be trusted.

    • RobertS

      Thanks for the reminder. I need to look into getting a copy of the next book in the series, which I understand is to be released in two weeks.

  • somethingblue

    The Long Goodbye over again. This is after reading The Black-Eyed Blonde by John Banville pretending to be Benjamin Black pretending to be Raymond Chandler, and I needed to get the taste out of my mouth.

    • hylen

      LOL. You can’t beat the classics.

  • Larkspur

    I liked Annhilation, thought it was creepy, what with the impending sense of “OMG I think something is happening in the world but I don’t even have the fundamental cognitive capacity to imagine it, but here it is happening anyway, WTF?” You know? Because I am not a scientist or even a college graduate, but I still can imagine that getting a glimpse of something that I’m pretty sure is utterly alien is going to be deeply creepifying. Like what it would feel like to read a book from an ant’s POV.

    I just finished Afterparty by Daryl Gregory – SF, neurology, drugs, theism, weirdness – and can recommend it. Non-fiction-wise, I recently read The Children’s Blizzard by David Laskin, about a humongous, devastating blizzard in the Great Plains in 1888. I think it should be on the same shelf as The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan (Depression era U.S. dust bowl), The Johnstown Flood by David McCullough, and hell, 1491 by Charles C. Mann. Little Heathens by Mildred Kalish (Depression) also belongs on that shelf, but it is a less emotionally wrenching read.

    Or if you want something completely different, like 7th century Britain, I recommend Hild by Nicola Griffith. A woman named Hild or Hilda (and eventually St. Hilda) did live in Britain, but few records exist of her, so, as Griffith says, she made up everything else, and she did it brilliantly.

  • Hogan

    Goddamn it, bspencer, now I’m going to be up all night and then I’ll have all this stuff to read. Why you gotta do me like this?

    Stupid day job.

  • The prophet Nostradumbass

    I just finished The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen.I have a couple going, too, Stephen King’s Danse Macabre, and the third A Song of Ice and Fire book. Those books are starting to become a chore.

    • wjts

      Machen is great. “The White People” (which partially inspired T.E.D. Klein’s The Ceremonies) and The Three Impostors. Roughly contemporary, in a similar vein, and also quite good is William Hope Hodgson’s The House on the Borderland.

      • Oh my god yes to Machen and T.E.D. Klein and Hodgson. And also to Danse Macabre, which is probably one of my favorite books about horror.

      • The prophet Nostradumbass

        Just downloaded The Three Impostors. One thing nice about Machen, you can find much of his material for free.

  • Hi, i know I’m new here but i how It’s okay to jump in and share. I’ve started writing again. If anyone wants to read a feminist fairytale centering on the friendship between a lesbian queen and her dragon-riding warrior woman bodyguard, click on my nym. The first installment in the series came out last year and the sequel is coming next month.

    • Barry Freed

      If your dragons have a thing for getting it on with automobiles you may well pick up a few fans here.

      • haaaaaa :P Well, let’s put it this way: if you’re all about subverting the typical “knight saves princess from dragon” trope in ways that posit the dragon as the good guy, I think I’ll make you happy.

  • YooHooligan

    I’m wading through Vol. 1 of The Plum in the Golden Vase on the Kindle (I was stoked to learn that the whole thing has been translated) and then switching to whatever book I grabbed from the top of the Partner-in-Crime Done Read It pile that exists at varying heights on our staircase. I have Authority in the unread Kindle queue, though. SOON.

  • Currently reading: Lagoon, a novel of first contact set in Lagos, by Nnedi Okorafor and Nicola Griffith’s Hild, about the life of 7th century saint Hilda. Both are interesting, challenging reads that need more of my attention than a lot of novels.

    Waiting in the wings is Jo Walton’s My Real Children, an alternate history story about a woman who can remember both histories.

  • I just finished The Falling Sky by Pippa Goldschmidt, about an astronomer who discovers something that may undermine the big bang theory. I liked the beginning, which is about academia inside baseball and being a woman in a scientific field, but by the end the book turned out to be more interested in the protagonist’s family drama, which I thought was less well handled. Next up I’ll probably read All You Need is Kill, because I saw the movie (Edge of Tomorrow) over the weekend, and it was terrible, so now I’d like some grounding in the book for my review.

    I haven’t read the Southern Reach books yet, though I have a copy of Annihilation and am looking forward to it. But if you find the premise intriguing it’s worth noting that VanderMeer is working in a mini-subgenre of writers riffing off the Strugatsky Brothers’ Roadside Picnic. Another example of the form is M. John Harrison’s Kefahuchi Tract trilogy – Light, Nova Swing, and Empty Space. I think Harrison is one of the best writers working in SF today, and I really recommend his stuff.

  • hylen

    The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Muriel Barbery. Highly recommended to all LGMers.

  • john not mccain

    I am in the middle of Samuel R. Delany’s Dhalgren for what must be my 50th time.

    • Barry Freed

      That’s pretty hardcore.

      • John (not McCain)

        I read it for the first time starting on my 13th birthday. It was, as they say, influential.

  • RobertL

    I’m reading “The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible”.

    I’ll also be going to the UQ Institute of Modern Languages library tomorrow to pick up something basic in Spanish.

  • Katya

    Caleb Crain’s Necessary Errors
    Christopher Clark’s Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914

  • Pat

    Dresden Files, Book 15, Skin Job. Came out last Monday.

    • Retief

      There’s a new Dresden Files!? Maybe I won’t finish annihilation this week.

  • kingchazs

    Just read Skin Job – liked it! Next up – probably another Neal Stephenson novel on the Kindle app. I also need to finish David Byrne’s book on music.

  • Retief

    I’m two-thirds of the way through Annihilation and I’m starting to wonder if there’s a payoff coming.

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