What'cha reading?


#285

I’ve been swimming in webcomics this past week after only passively following the same ones for years and amassing a huge “I’ll get around to it” pile and I Fell Alive Again.

So far I’ve gotten through
"The End" - an ongoing scifi comic about a group of humans who get abducted by well-meaning bird aliens trying to save the human species from extinction but Things Go Awry.
“Trying Really Hard” - An ongoing fantasy about imaginary animals trying to justify their existence. The art is REALLY frantic and sometimes even hard to interpret but tbh that’s what I love about it.
“Drop-Out” - a finished Hard But Good read about two suicidal queer furries on a road trip to jump off the Grand Canyon. Obviously content warning for some Difficult Personal Topics in their dialogue.
“Goodbye to Halos” - a Very Cute ongoing fantasy about a magic kid from another dimension losing her home and identity and family and making new ones for herself.
“Rock and Riot” - finished 50’s greaser rom-com about queer kids in love. Obviously not 100% realistic to the social norms of the times? But neither are most period pieces for worse reasons, so I’m all for anachronisms in the name of fun/cute diversity and acceptance.
“Never Satisfied” - ongoing fantasy about a class of magicians-in-training and their animal familiars all trying to prove their worth to their families friends and themselves. They’re not…the best at it!!
“Kim & The Witch” - ongoing ADORABLE story about a precocious exciteable little girl who stumbles upon a witch’s house and becomes her assistant.
“Tales From The Well” - Ongoing fairy tale about a prince who falls into a well into another world. If you love Over The Garden Wall, and why wouldn’t you?, I recommend this.
“Manners’ Magical Monster School” - Ongoing fantasy by the same authors as Tales From The Well about a human transfer student at a magical monster school who’s roommate is secretly a demon! They’re friends.
“Snarlbear” - Finished fantasy about a girl who stumbles into a magical but dangerous monster-filled dimension and Immediately takes to it better than her real world life. But at what cost? BEAUTIFUL colors but a lot of cartoon monster-killing violence if that’s not your thing.

I LOVE WEBCOMICS YOU GUYS.


#286

The Sisters Brothers

Random sample:

“In the morning I checked on Charlie and was unsurprised to find him sick and disinclined to travel. I started in with my halfhearted reprimand, but it was not necessary; he knew as well as I we could not pass another day without hard riding and he promised to be ready in one hour. I did not know what magic he thought to conjure that might bring his suffering to an end in so short a time but I did not engage him on this topic, leaving him instead to his vapors and pains and returning to the restaurant from the night previous for my much needed breakfast.”

I often hear this diction in Austin Walker’s Friends at the Table narration voice.


#287

CURRENTLY I am reading two books: The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco and Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies by Nick Bostrom.

I am really, really enjoying The Name of the Rose, it’s a book I’d heard a lot of talk about before I picked it up and it very much lives up to the hype. It’s ostensibly a murder mystery set in a 14th century Franciscan monastery, and in places it’s very much like a Sherlock Holmes story but with two Franciscan monks instead of a detective and a doctor (It’s even narrated by the sidekick instead of the hero, just like Sherlock Holmes). It’s so much more than just a murder mystery though, and the story is lush with details about architecture, history, semiotics, language, and theology.

Superintelligence is… okay. I am not exactly Bostrom’s target audience, I usually find AI stories quite boring, and this is no exception. I frequently find that Bostrom glosses over topics that are much more terrifying or interesting than the threat of superintelligent AI that he wants to focus on. Also I find it deeply hilarious that he can imagine a far-off distant future with superintelligent AI in total control of the earth sending Von Neumann probes out into space, but he can’t imagine a future without capitalism.


#288

Oh man, I read Cather’s Death Comes for the Archbishop earlier this year and really really enjoyed it, I’ll have to check this one out.


#289

Catching a pretty strong Cormac McCarthy vibe, only with capitalization and punctuation. Interesting.


#290

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Working through some dust collectors on my bookshelf. I think I somehow made it through school without ever having it assigned, but picked it up on my own out of curiosity only to never dive in.


#291


I’m reading The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz, the sequel to the late Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, and the writing of women is pretty rough in it, to be honest with you. Well, not so much the writing of women, but more the narration of them, the way he writes about women, it always seems to drift into the sexual, even in totally innocuous situations. Like, that’s not to say that women can’t be sexual, but when a shooting leads to a description of breasts, and the villain uses and withholds sex as a means of manipulation and reward/punishment, and another significant character is constantly having her willingness to fuck the main dude described in just about any situation. And the sexy dashing writer protagonist whom every woman wants has moved on from being the original author’s power fantasy to the new one’s, it would seem. And the way it treats autism isn’t great either, like it’s another savant celebrating thing where his exceptional gifts are basically “making up for” his other symptoms, as if someone without a similar ability is not enough. But aside from those glaring issues, I am still enjoying it, the plot’s pretty enjoyable.


#292

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The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.
Randomly given to me by a friend, enjoyed it quite a bit. It’s historical fiction revolving around the building of a cathedral in a small 15th century English village. I’m trying to think of how to describe it, and I guess it’s a bit of a medieval soap opera, one that’s very honest about the brutality of the times and also very much centered on people who want to build that damn cathedral no matter what.
Was interesting to me that the author was already famous for writing thrillers but he had this historical novel in him that he really wanted to make. There was some resistance but eventually he published and gradually it became one of his best regarded books.
My only quibble is the characters have speech patterns and conversations like people from the 21st century, but… it’s not like I expected to read Ye Olde English or something.


#293

Just finished my first semester in my masters program so I finally get to dive into books that aren’t for class. I have a backlog of cyberpunk stuff I’m trying to get through so I’ll probably be reading some of that very soon.


#294

It gets even better if you realise that Mort is the weakest of the Death books, and it was already fantastic. Just wait for Soul Music and Hogfather.

Anyway for me it’s Jennifer Government, a fun little satire on libertarianism, and bits of 1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed, a history book about the Bronze Age Collapse, in-between.


#295

Do you count Thief of Time as a Death book? He and Susan definitely have prominent roles in it after all. That and Reaper Man are my faves.


#296

Yeah that belongs with the Death books, and it’s pretty damn great yeah. The biggest reason why Soul Music and Hogfather are my favourites in that sub-series is because of the University faculty. Best Discworld crew this side of the Watch.


#297

Ah yes, everyone’s favourite sci-fi book; Duna!


#298

The 2017 run of Rat Queens! Really glad to see the series make a comeback.


#299

I’ve just started reading the latest Legend of the Galactic Heroes book, and at home I’ve been reading Paperbacks from Hell (a history of the '70s-'80s Horror Novel boom).


#300

I’m reading China Mieville’s October, about the Russian Revolutions of 1917. I’m also really enjoying the new Philip Pullman book, The Book of Dust!


#301


A Brief History Of Seven Killings, by Marlon James

Beginning in Jamaica in the mid 1970’s amid a particularly violent period of gang wars between groups supporting and supported by rival political parties, the book starts with the attempted assassination of Bob Marley. It covers the crippling poverty and awful violence of the slums, CIA interference in the region, and the role of the gangs in the cocaine trade in the US in the 1980s.

This was an amazing book, and a fascinating look at an important time for a country I should know more about as my future in-laws were born there. I did struggle with it at times because of the size and scope of it. There are a lot of characters and different voices, and I did have to look up some of the Jamaican patois.


The Bone Clocks, by David Mitchell
The only other David Mitchell novel I have read is Cloud Atlas, which I loved, and I enjoyed this just as much. A gripping story following a few characters from the late 20th century to a near future where people are living a much more local, self-sufficient existence in a world of depleted resources with little access to modern digital technology. They are caught up in a conflict between two factions of near-immortals.


Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke
After the previous two books, I probably should have picked something shorter, but if anything this is probably the longest. I read this once already, in about 2005 and remember loving it, but recall very little else about it.

It’s set in an alternate history 19th Century England, where magic once existed, but had died out and not been practised for centuries, until it returns via the two gentlemen in the title.

It mimics the style of 19th Century writers like Austen and Dickens, and well, it’s just wonderful.


#302

Wow, that’s a cover I haven’t seen before. It’s pretty.


#303

From the little bit of Marlon James I’ve read, he captures the various Jamaican accents well. His depiction of deep country Jamaicans made me feel like I was talking to distant relatives. x]

I just finished Grave Peril (The Dresden Files, Book 3) by Jim Butcher after on/off listening to the audiobook for, oh, several months. I have all the Dresden File audiobooks, save for the latest, because I love James Marsters voice and because of their length, they’re great to work to when I need to buckle down and finish a project over a weekend.

I’m now listening to the The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson and I started reading Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis by Anne Rice. I’m unsure if I’ll continue the latter. Anne Rice is just too verbose for me. I’m in the third chapter and I feel like she’s been wasting my time with the amount of introspection every character has. It makes sense that vampires would talk and think a lot since they have, like, forever to do it but I sure don’t. I’m hanging in there because I love the myth of Atlantis and I’m curious what she does with it.


#304

Swann’s Way, by Proust. It’s very nice. The writing is beautiful, but a little hard to follow when and where we are sometimes. I probably won’t read the others anytime soon, but maybe later in life.