Saturday, September 3, 2011

Recent reading

My reading habits have changed in the past year.  There are two major changes:
  1. I started going to the public library.  Libraries are awesome!  The books are free and I don't need to keep them afterwards.  I really don't care about keeping books on my shelf to show off; they just feel like dead weight.  Anyways, now I have goodreads to keep track of what books I read.
  2. I have a boyfriend.  I would brag about him more, only this would break my general rule of not talking about my boring life on my blog.  Anyway, I regularly take train trips to see him, which means I have more time to read.  I used to only get reading done during summer vacation, but this is no longer the case.
This past year, I read Hyperion and Fall of Hyperion.  Hyperion is hard to describe.  It is about seven pilgrims traveling to the planet Hyperion to see the Shrike, a thorny monster from the future who places its victims on a giant Tree of Pain.  Each pilgrim tells a story (like The Canterbury Tales) of their relationship to Hyperion.  It is a good book.

I also read Fiasco, by Stanislaw Lem.  It is about humans trying to make first contact with an alien planet, and failing (as the title suggests) due to anthropomorphism gone horribly wrong.  A lot of the book is taken up by the humans' fantastic theoretical models, all of which tell us more about the humans than the aliens.  I like the concept but sometimes the execution was tedious.

And I read two books by Ursula K. Le Guin: The Dispossessed and The Left Hand of DarknessThe Dispossessed is about a physicist who tries to enact social change!  That's cool, but I think now I want to read some books where the characters and plot actually matter.  In both of these books, the plots were just excuses to talk about the societies where they take place.

I think I am reading too much sci-fi.  It's not so much I'm a sci-fi fan, but that I usually only read books on recommendations, and I tend to get recommendations from sci-fi fans.  Speaking of which, what books have you read lately?  Any recommendations?

Next on my reading list is Gravity's Rainbow.  Yes, it is ambitious. The narrative style is stream of consciousness, which means that there are many sentences with indecipherable sentence structure, and others with hardly any structure at all.  My wishful thinking is that after reading this, physics papers will seem easy.  But I'm not saying the book is bad so far.  It's kind of engrossing actually.


Warrior said...

Queering doesn't make the world work.

Larry, The Barefoot Bum said...

I normally wouldn't ask, but you've made asexuality a prominent topic here: I'm curious as to how the two of you are managing your relationship. Specific case studies can, I think, be illuminating.

Secret Squïrrel said...

(Sorry, another SF recommendantion, but) If you're not sick of Le Guin, but don't feel like reading any more books from the Hainish Cycle, you might like to give The Lathe of Heaven a try.

Or perhaps the Lemmus Trilogy - what Brian Aldiss would call a "shaggy god story" but really not so bad.

miller said...

Unfortunately I have several privacy concerns and can't provide a good case study. But there was an ace relationships blogging carnival, which should give a sampling.

Secret Squirrel,
Haha, I think you've recommended the Lemmus trilogy before! It's hard to find these old books in the library, but I may check out other books by Julian Jay Savarin at some point.

Secret Squïrrel said...

Heh, I wondered that as I wrote it. (Should've checked). I guess I wanted to recommend something that you'd be unlikely to come across otherwise.

Ok, how about The Forever War by Joe Haldeman or Black Easter by James Blish instead?

miller said...

Ah, I think I've heard of The Forever War before. I approve of using Special Relativity as a key plot point.

Larry, The Barefoot Bum said...

For SF, I recommend anything by Greg Egan. A lot of his work is available online. I recommend especially Oceanic and The Moral Virologist.

For non-SF (or semi-SF), I just read World War Z by Max Brooks (Mel Brooks' son). While it takes an SF premise (the Zombie Apocalypse), it's much more political and social commentary than SF: the plot does not depend on reversing the polarity of the flux capacitor.

For nonfiction, I recommend David Harvey's A Companion to Marx's Capital. It's a pretty clear exposition/interpretation of Marx's seminal work.

Ólafur Jens Sigurðsson said...

A late add here: Anything by Neil Gaiman, Paul Auster, Iain M. Banks or Neil Stephenson.
Also just finished reading L'enquête by Philippe Claudel (don't think there is an english translation out yet), a remarkable and surreal story.
Akif Pirinçci writes interesting stories.
A very popular theme today are nordic crime writers, Jo Nesbø, Arnaldur Indriðason, Stieg Larson, Camilla Läckberg and others.