What'cha reading?


I’m only 100 pages into Annihilation or so, but the crux is something strange is happening in a tract of land in the southeast United States and mysterious group called the Southern Reach is sending teams of researchers into this Area X to investigate.

What makes this premise work really well is that we, the audience, never get a clear picture of what is happening. One strange event is proceeded by an even stranger event, which is capped off by a sense of deep unease or outright terror. It’s a story told in reflection as they protagonist metricuously records events in her journal, and her take is unreliable. Reading Annihilation is like trying to view a painting under several sheets of tracing paper. As each layer of obfuscation is peeled away, you have to recontextualize the story you thought lay ahead of you.

It took me a dozen pages or so to adjust my “ear” to this style of writing, but it’s worth it.


And the movie doesn’t spoil the book (aside from sharing some central plot beats), so you can enjoy that for the solid flick that it is. :blush:


Thank you but my comment was actually directed at @leburgan and the Malazan series. I have read the Southern Reach trilogy and really loved it :wink:


I think your read is right. What threw me before I got to the epilogue was that I was so disoriented that I couldn’t imagine Moss herself being able to make sense of things and actually have any useful actions to take. Maybe that make sure her finding a path that much more compelling? In any case, I really dug the whole thing.


I’m reading American War by Omar El Akkad. It’s set in a not-very-far-future America profoundly changed by climate change and a second US civil war. It has a lot, lot to say so far about borders, refugees, and empires.


I’ve been (slowly) reading NieR:Automata Long Story Short and it’s been okay. It’s just a retelling of the game story with a couple extra bits. The chapters following 2B/9S have been kind of dry, probably partially due to already knowing the story but also due to how quickly it goes through everything. Between those chapters though are the extra bits that are short chapters from Adam, Eve, and A2’s perspectives and those have actually been really great. And on one hand I feel like complaining about typos is a bit nitpicky but also I feel like you should never ever spell the names “9S” and “2B” wrong because what how do you even what. I’m two-thirds of the way through so I feel committed enough that I’ll finish it. There’s a second book (Short Story Long, I think it’s called) that is going to be out sometime later this year but I’m not sure I’ll pick it up. Oh and each chapter has an illustration by Toshiyuki Itahana and they’ve all been fantastic. I’d love to be able to just get a small artbook of them because I super love them.


Sure. Malazan is a series of books that follows the downfall of the titular Malazan empire. I’ve been sitting here for a few minutes on how to describe it further. It is mostly told via the point of view of soldiers of the empire, but is always told through both sides of the same conflict. And this is where it can be hard to recommend, the book does contain multiple points of view per book, the first book has over 20, and while chapters only tend to have a few characters, there is no announcement of who’s pov you are following, just a line break. Secondly, its one of the most In Media Res book I’ve read, it drops you into the world with near no explanation. This is a world with characters who have histories longer than 300,000 years, and Erikson, the author, is an archaeologist and anthropologist, and it shows in the world itself. Finally, and probably most importantly, Heavy content warning for everything. The series has been called grimdark, and is often violent. Many bad things happen on screen.

That being all said its one of my favorite series of all time. It is fundamentally a call for compassion and empathy even in times of strife and war. Erikson is also a great writer with great prose, although his writing quality increases dramatically from book 1 to book 2. He is constantly challenging fantasy genre tropes and plays with them masterfully. Here’s where I just steal the themes section from wikipedia:

Erikson has stated that apart from examining the “human condition”, all his literary work share “compassion” as a theme, or main driving force. Furthermore, when envisioning the Malazan world, both Esslemont(co-creater) and he agreed to create societies and cultures that never knew sexism and gender based hierarchies of power.
Other themes include social inequality, egalitarianism, death, life, history, historical accuracy .

I fully recommend them with the warnings above.

Edit: after listening to the kingdom hearts podcast, one of my favorite things about this series is how it plays against the traditional light good/dark bad trope, and how great the representation is.


I’m really tempted to get into Die (DIE?) - anyone reading it?


This seems like it would be extremely my thing (if I weren’t finishing law school and just had a baby). I am going to write it down and hopefully, at some point, will check it out.


Interesting idea and use of sentence structure to disorient, but sentences are verbose and repetitive. Allegories don’t work when an author wants to explains the allegory within the allegory. Saramago depicts blindness as a void of personal identity and animalistic tribalism. Also maybe just a “smidge” sexist in those rape scene depictions. So I understand a word like “sensitivity” doesn’t really work in a setting based on societal collapse through an epidemic, but this does not give leeway for the author to just wantonly make the blind helpless or the main protagonist (a woman) a poorly written martyr. Everything seems written from a male ableist perspective and on top of that it’s just plain boring.


I finished American War yesterday. It’s very good and also the most bleak and sad thing I’ve read in a long time. Going to stay with me a long while.


Capitalist Realism. I really like it but I feel a bit lost not having read Deleuze and Guattari



Pretty good if you’re interested in the history/origin of sayings and superstitions from Japanese folklore. I would like more information in some areas but it is also nice to see something faithful to the original text, which in many cases was light on details.


In the middle of Shadow Captain by Alastair Reynolds and The Hod King by Josiah Bancroft.

Hyped about The Black Monday Murders resuming in April!


Finished My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh. Enjoyed Eileen so I thought I’d give this one a try.

A young woman tries to sleep a year of her life away with the help of medication. Like Eileen, there’s a brutal honesty to how the protagonist sees the world that’s charming and a bit of a gut punch.

Her descriptions of her psychologist Dr. Tuttle made me smile:
“There was no shortage of psychiatrists in New York City, but finding one as irresponsible and wierd as Dr. Tuttle would be a challenge I didn’t think I could handle.”

Reminds me of Hunter S. Thompson in a very strange kind of way, dark comedy mixed with frantic drug use.


So I’ve read both issues of DIE that are available, and wow, that is some “Austin would love this” goodness. Does for 80s roleplaying games what Phonogram did for indie music. Looking forwards to seeing the RPG that is at the core of it come out, too.

Trying to catch up my other 2 fave comic series - Wicked and the Divine and Rat Queens - and the Shadowrun one-off of Rat Queens is just soul food for me. I’ve loved that weird game ever since I found a copy of “Never Deal With A Dragon” in a book store as a kid, so to see it done in the Rat Queens style was just excellent. Back to the main run soon.


Does anyone have any good non-fiction recommendations about the Shogunate of Japan, or a good retelling of the Three Kingdoms history of China?


Got a copy of A Man of Shadows from the Library, it was good!
Sometimes the story dragged a little, definately not short (around 350 pages).
I think I enjoyed the more dream-like sequences the most, like the characters journey through Dusk.
The whole book takes place in what I assume is a city enclosed in a dome, then divided into halves that are always day and night, with twilight in between, a no man’s land covered in living mist.
edit: ugh lost a few paragraphs b/c of technical issues or something, but anyway , was an interesting read that made me nostalgic for his other work.


Winter of the Witch, the conclusion of Katherine Arden’s triology that combines Russian folklore and early Russian history (roughly 1400’s)

A wonderful finish to the story, it makes me wish I remembered the other two books in more detail (it’s been two years since Bear and the Nightengale, I think.

Winter takes some turns regarding the struggle between belief in the Cyyeri (Devils, or Spirits) and the emerging Christian church that I appreciated. As is noted in the end of the book, “the concept of dvoeveriye, dual faith, persisted in Russia up until the Revolution.”


1Q84 by Murakami! I got it from the library, so I’m going to have to renew it like 12 times.