It’s funny how much I think of myself as not actually reading that much (I do a lot of other stuff, too) but when I sit down to write them all down, it starts to seem like a pretty large number.
Night Heron by Adam Brookes: A solid spy/thriller set in China. Tense and exciting. I wasn’t sure where this one was going to end up. I’m always a little skeptical of books about China written by Westerners, so definitely take this one with a grain of salt.
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig: I almost certainly read this one because it had the word "library" in the title. I’m wracking my brain trying to remember a thing about it. (I read a synopsis about it.) Oh yeah, I quite liked this story about a woman living different lives, in a multiverse kind of way. Clearly inspired by Borges’ "Library of Babel" story. I don’t know why it didn’t stick with me, even though I enjoyed reading it.
Termination Shock by Neal Stephenson: My biggest problem with Stephenson’s books is that I lose too much sleep to them. I enjoyed this one more than any of his books since the Baroque Cycle. I’m sure that Stephenson’s info dump style of writing isn’t for everyone, but of you’ve enjoyed any of his other books, you’re almost certain to enjoy this one too.
The Dragon’s Path (Dagger and Coin, book 1) by Daniel Abraham: I set out to read the first of The Expanse series, but instead I somehow ended up reading this fantasy story instead. It’s got that epic fantasy flavor, but it’s more about trade and diplomacy than war and fighting monsters. I liked the sedate vibe of this book. Characters who are good at what they do or discovering what they’re good at, struggling to succeed against pretty steep odds.
By Night in Chile by Roberto Bolaño: Read this for a book club. This is a solid intro to Bolaño, because it isn’t many hundreds of pages long. The story of a Catholic priest’s slide into corruption leading up to Pinochet’s coup and after. Dark, dark stuff. Not a pleasant read, but a pretty eye-opening one.
Desperate Characters by Paula Fox: Another one that I have pretty hazy memories of… Ah, yes. An unhappy married couple have an unpleasant weekend together. The cat (who bites the wife) is the most vibrant character in this book. It’s not quite an anti-marriage novel, but I can’t imagine someone wanting to rush off and get married after reading it. Pretty mesmerizing stuff, even though it whooshed out of my head pretty quick after finishing it.
The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West: West’s book Black Lamb and Grey Falcon is one of my favorite books, so I was delighted and surprised when this short book turned up in my free library box. An emotionally fraught book about a solider returning from war and having no memory of his wife. Very odd.
The Guns of August by Barbara W. Tuchman: The story of the first month of WWI. Powerful stuff about how (probably?) smart and capable people can think themselves into catastrophe when given enough power and opportunity. Things that stood out: I had forgotten (or never knew) just how close Germany came to winning the whole thing in the first month; the English were completely hapless and almost entirely useless in the first month of the war; people were terrified of Russia’s army, but when they got into combat they proved to be a paper tiger.
Drown by Junot Diaz: A collection of short stories. Once I looked up the titles of the stories, I remembered them. "Edison, New Jersey" and "Negocios" were the ones that stood out for me.
Foundation by Isaac Asimov: I read this when I was a kid and, after watching the recent tv series, I was curious to reread it. I had forgotten how much it feels like a set of short stories. I think it holds up pretty well though. The adaptation has a very different vibe. The book has an almost jovial quality to it that the adaptation is completely lacking. It was fun to reread it.