Remembering the last books I read (part 2)

(The last one got too long so I’m continuing it here.)

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch: What if the version of you from a parallel reality is kind of a jerk? What if they all are? A thriller where the protagonist’s biggest problem is himself. A good airplane book (even though I didn’t read it on an airplane).

Imaro by Charles R. Saunders: An African Conan-style sword-and-sorcery story. Pretty raw and visceral. I can easily imagine an alternate timeline where these stories were immensely popular.

The Culture of Time and Space, 1880-1918 by Stephen Kern: A book that explores the way that 1880-1918 was a period of time that shattered the way people thought about things like time, distance, speed, history, tradition, and many other things. Really fascinating stuff. There are a lot of tracks to follow out of this one.

Broken Souls by Stephen Blackmoore: Turns out I’ve been reading a lot of books by guys named Steve. This is a supernatural noir story about a guy who occasionally has good intentions but whose efforts generally cause bad repercussions to everyone around him. A quick, fun read. Also, a sequel of a book I didn’t read, which didn’t end up mattering much.

Questland by Carrie Vaughan: Shades of Ready Player One, but this time it’s a deadly amusement park. An extremely light, quick read.

Boxer, Beetle by Ned Beauman: This collector of obscure historical memorabilia gets embroiled in a mystery surrounding a Nazi entymologist. There’s a boxer character in this book that’s a pure delight.

Rabbits by Terry Miles: The only alternate reality game (ARG) novel I’ve read that really gets at how thin the line is between these games and unhinged conspiratorial thinking. Quite entertaining. Delightfully weird. Set in Seattle, which I enjoyed.

Meeting the Other Crowd: Fairy Stories of Hidden Ireland by Edmund Lenihan: Stories transcribed from around Ireland. Strange and delightful.

Everyday Chaos: Technology, Complexity, and How We’re Thriving in a New World of Possibility by David Weinberger: I found this book interesting, but I remember almost nothing from it. I expect it was due back at the library and I read it too quickly.

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson: The subtitle says it all. It’s pretty funny, but also has some useful thoughts on living with mental illness.

Family Ties by Clarice Lispector: I think I read this but I have absolutely no memory of what it’s about. Did I read it? I don’t know why my past self would’ve written it down if I hadn’t. … Ah, it’s a book of short stories. I remember it now. I think I liked them.

The Memory Theater by Karin Tidbeck: A novel about the terror and boredom of timeless immortality. Also, about the power of stories. An extremely odd book that I found fascinating.

The Lost Direction by Timothy S. Boucher: (A friend of mine.) I think Tim is calling this book’s genre “lorecore”. A secret history of an ancient, lost civilization. Deeply charming. If like Tolkien (or other) fictional lore, you’d probably enjoy this one.

Remembering the last books I read (part 1)

Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson: The third in the Malazan Book of the Fallen series. A much tighter book than Gardens of the Moon. This was the book where I knew this series was something special. Pretty bleak. On a second read, I was extremely impressed by how many seeds were planted that bore rich fruit throughout the series.

Batman: Last Knight on Earth by Scott Snyder: All I remember of this one is that it was extremely surreal. A fever dream. But the art was cool.

The Lido by Libby Page: Before this year, I’d never encountered the word “lido”. Apparently, it’s a British term for a public swimming pool. A charming story about a neighborhood coming together to save their swimming pool. Also, the story of an old woman and a young woman becoming friends over swimming. Heartwarming in the best way.

Memories of Ice by Steven Erikson: The third book in the Malazan series. This is the one where I feel like the series really starts to come together, even though this is a looser, baggier story than Deadhouse Gates. Some of my favorite characters in the series were introduced here.

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk: A bleak, wintry novel about death and human-caused environmental devastation. Also, murder. Really solid writing. Recommended. I had only recently heard the term “ice dam” and then encountered it in this book. Funny how that happens.

The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd: Exquisite nature writing. A beautiful, lovely meditation on the Cairngorms mountains in Scotland. Worth your time, even if you don’t think you’re into nature writing.

The Man Without Talent by Yoshiharo Tsuge: A comic about a lazy man with exceptionally poor business ideas. Bleak but quite funny.

The King Must Die by Mary Renault: A retelling of the story of Theseus and the Minotaur. I’m super into these creative reimaginings of ancient stories. Really good stuff.

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell: Shakespeare and his son. A story about a plague. I wasn’t sure about this one at first, but O’Farrell stuck the landing, which moved this from good to great for me.

The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi: Part two of a trilogy. Very readable. An emperor that doesn’t really want to be one plus an empire that’s dying but doesn’t know it yet. I’ll definitely read the third one.

A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine: I really, really liked her first book. This sequel is quite good, too. Highly recommended (but you probably want to start with the first one).

Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots: A book that tries to reckon with the human cost of superhero antics. An interesting spin on the superhero genre.

Hummingbird Salamander by Jeff VanderMeer: Another by one of my favorite authors. I guess you could call this one ecological noir. VanderMeer seems to swing between surreal and a more realistic, minimalist writing. This is one where he’s more restrained. Recommended.

The Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Ante-bellum South by Kenneth M. Stampp: Punctures many, if not all, of the false mythologies of the slave-holding South. Paints a stark and upsetting picture of a time that some in our country seem to think was just a grand ole time. Well worth a read, especially if you want some deeper insight into why the USA operates in such perverse and self-destructive ways at times.

Feed by MT Anderson: People have computers implanted in their brains and, turns out, it’s mostly used for advertising. One of the more compelling and creative teen dystopia novels I’ve read.

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent by Isabel Wilkerson: Makes the compelling, well-researched, and personally engaging point that the USA’s problem isn’t racism so much as a race-based caste system. Another one that’s very much worth your time. Thought-provoking!

The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox: A charming, jumble of a book. Angels, demons, fairies, talking crows, and probably some other stuff I’m forgetting. Sometimes it seems like an author just has so many ideas, tumbling round and round, just bursting out. I had no idea where this book was going but I found it to be a pretty satisfying ride.

The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson: A clear-eyed take on our climate dilemma that also manages to avoid complete doom and gloom. All about the hard work it’s going to take to tackle the challenges ahead. Robinson is an excellent science writer and describes complex scientific and technical concepts with great clarity.