What'cha reading?


Pattern Recognition is one of my favorite books of all time; I regularly return to it. A friend recommended it to me with a single comment, “I think you’ll like the main character”, and she was right.

If you enjoyed it, I’d highly recommend the next two in the pseudo trilogy, Spook Country and Zero History.

As influential as Gibson’s early work in defining Cyberpunk as a genre was, I think his more recent “future-now” work is his best.


I found a copy of The Sons by Franz Kafka (up till now I had never read any Kafka), which is a collection of his stories that have the commonality of young men suffering abuse from their fathers and toxic masculinity, in general. Specifically it has The Judgement, The Stoker, The Metamorphosis, and Letter to my Father. All very poignant stuff. I’ve also recently been reading though Marx’s Capital concurrently with David Harvey’s A Companion to Marx’s Capital. And I must say that Kafka goes really well with Marx, and I wonder if he himself was a Marxist.

Also, I’ve recently read an autobiography of a classical pianist that grew up in the Cultural Revolution in China, and I’m in the middle of the sci-fi book The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu, which opens in the cultural revolution. it’s like everything’s connected…


I’ve been really digging Tim Rutherford-Johnson’s Music After the Fall: Composition and Culture Since 1989. It’s a really great view of music coming out of the Western art music canon (why that is hard to define is a part of the book). One of the fascinating parts of the book is how the avante garde adopted neo-liberal ideals (as the term has been historically understood, i.e., free market, rather than how it is used today, i.e., militarily interventionist Democrats) in their push to focus on affect and the listener rather than structure and the composer. Really great read if you have an interest not only in music but also in how art forms change over time. Lots to analogize to contemporary gaming.


For a long time I was convinced that I preferred her criticism to her fiction (despite being a big fan of her novels). But this book floored me enough that we named our daughter after her.


The last book I read was The Body of Il Duce by Sergio Luzzatto, which is a book about Mussolini’s body, both in physical and political terms. It explores artistic and propagandistic uses of his body in life (a symbol of strength in his early days) and death (a decaying corpse strung up from a gas station for all the world to see). The premise is a little thin but, as someone unfamiliar with this stage of Italian history, it was fascinating, particularly in the political and cultural rehabilitation of neo-fascism. Luzzatto effectively lays out a case that Christian Democrats (the centre-right of Italian politics that dominated the scene from the end of World War II until the end of the Cold War) effectively ignored the lessons of the anti-fascist resistance and allowed a neo-fascist culture to grow up around Mussolini’s body. It’s good!

My current book is Simon Ings’ Stalin and the Scientists: A History of Triumph and Tragedy 1905–1953, which is a fairly decent piece of science-history. While light on deep analysis of the whys and hows of some of what it discusses, it’s a perfectly fine blueprint for people unfamiliar with science in the early history of the Soviet Union.


Currently reading The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty. Thief with mysterious powers finds out where her mysterious powers come from, gets involved in magical shit. Pretty standard fantasy thing but it’s good to see fantasy based on something outside of European history/stories (story starts in 18th century Cairo, and is based on Muslim and traditional Middle-Eastern folklore (especially Aladdin)) and i am always a slut for tricky street rat characters.


I had this on hold from the library… but it arrived for me mere days before I was set to leave on a 9-day trip, and there were people in the queue behind me, so I returned it early. Now I’m at the very end of the queue ;_;

Granted I wasn’t desperately anticipating it the same way I was eagle-eyeing, e.g., Zen Cho’s novel debut or whatever, but still. Sigh. Back to waiting… waiting…

I writ up a 2017 reading retrospective post earlier this week which I won’t spam here, but pulling from that list, here’s some other fantasies incorporating elements of real-world mythologies and settings apart from/in addition to the European, for anyone who might find it of interest:

  • A Crown of Wishes, Roshani Chokshi – romantic fantasy; a standaloneable companion novel to Star-Touched Queen
  • Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, Julie C. Dao – very dark fantasy
  • The House of Binding Thorns, Aliette de Bodard – epic postapocalyptic fantasy; sequel to The House of Shattered Wings
  • Jade City, Fonda Lee – gangwars in a lightly fantastical setting
  • Certain Dark Things, Silvia Moreno-Garcia – vampire gangwars
  • Shadowhouse Fall, Daniel Jose Older – YA urban fantasy; sequel to Shadowshapers
  • Beasts Made of Night, Tochi Onyebuchi – high fantasy
  • Sorcerer of the Wildeeps and A Taste of Honey, Kai Ashante Wilson – a pair of sci-fantasy novellas which I understand to be same universe/different time

Not all of these were 2017 books, although I believe most of them in fact are. I was particularly impressed by Sorcerer of the Wildeeps (although it was pretty dark).


So far this year I have read:

The War of the Worlds

Mother Night by Vonnegut

And The Alchemist by Coelho

And I am currently reading Butchers Crossing.

But man, Kurt Vonnegut guys? This is my 4th Vonnegut book and I am continually blown away by his incredibly satisfying writing. I am straight up giddy with excitement to read all the rest of his books!


I read this due to someone on here (maybe yours!) recommendation and I’m so glad I did. Read it in a week and really loved the ending. I didn’t expect it but it made perfect sense which is a double whammy of goodness.


Glad you liked it!



Witches of America by Alex Mar. Good book, just finished it.

Now reading Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie.


The Girl in the Tower, Katherine Arden.

Sequel to The Bear and the Nightingale, it’s a series that takes place in medieval Russia and uses a lot of elements from Russian folklore. The Domovoi, or house spirits, for example.
The second book takes more of an adventure story turn, and while I still enjoyed it, preferred the ghost story/folk tale feel of the first one.


I just finished reading We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, which was fantastic.


A quote from Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity led me to my next read:

“I’m not the smartest guy in the world, but I’m certainly not the dumbest. I mean, I’ve read books like The Unbearable Lightness of Being and Love in the Time of Cholera, and I think I’ve understood them. They’re about girls, right? Just kidding. But I have to say my all-time favorite book is Johnny Cash’s autobiography Cash by Johnny Cash.”



I’ve only read Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five. But ever since, I’ve wondered why I don’t read more Vonnegut.


I never read enough, and I’m trying to get better at making it a habit.

Currently, Vandermeer’s Annihilation.


Currently reading The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson. It is a part of the Wax and Wayne series which is the sequel series to The Mistborn books. I read the first three Mistborn books over December and really enjoyed them all.

Prior to the Mistborn books I read Elantris also by Sanderson which kicked off my need to read his other books.

Other books I read recently that I really enjoyed : A Door into Ocean by Joan Slonczewski, Revenger by Alastair Reynolds, Blindsight and Echopraxia by Peter Watts, and Kingdom of Ashes by Elena May.


Love Beyond Body, Space and Time: An Indigenous LGBT Sci-Fi Anthology

It’s technically a required reading for a class but I like it! The class is a general Sci-fi studies course so its kind of awesome we’re reading stories and theory from marginalized voices unstead of just like… Suvin.


I hope you check out The Stormlight Archives as well! They’re very long and very dense but very, very good. Tackling the Mistborn series is actually next for me once I finish Persepolis Rising, the currently-final book of The Expanse series.


I’ve been meaning to get into Sam Delaney’s work recently. I read Nova a while back and really enjoyed it. You can tell that his word building was VERY influential for William Gibson and the other Cyber Punks. Babel 17 is another sci-fi adventure, but with Delaney’s characteristic queer view of the future. The main character is a girl on the Autism Spectrum who is a poet, but also studies languages and is brought in to decode an alien language. It’s really interesting and fantastical.