Community Book club - What are you reading and what have you read recently

lashman

Dead & Forgotten
Sep 5, 2018
22,966
56,537
113
Glad to be here too mate.
I hear you started Miniature painting. Nice.
me? nah ... but Li Kao made a thread for it :) check it out:

 
  • Hug
Reactions: Li Kao

Swenhir

Spaceships!
Apr 18, 2019
3,534
7,615
113
I've started reading The Looting Machine by Tom Burgis and it's really starting strong. I can't say for sure, having gone through it just yet but it seems like a very powerful exposition of just how Africa has been exploited and striped of its resources systematically by both its governments and associated industries.
 

toxicitizen

Wake the fuck up, Samurai
Oct 24, 2018
690
1,583
93
Speaking of Hyperion, that was an insanely great book. The Priest story blew me away at the start and i was hooked. Still haven't gotten to the other books in the series even though i already own "Fall of Hyperion" and "Endymion".
If you liked Hyperion then get on Fall of Hyperion asap. It's so freaking good! It's less of a sequel and more like the second half of the book. I haven't touched the Endymion books yet either, though. Fall of Hyperion has a satisfying enough ending that it makes for a good spot to take a break and I wanted to get to other books before getting into them. Working my way through the last few Dark Tower books right now.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Pranooy
OP
Pranooy

Pranooy

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Sep 8, 2018
71
117
33


So finished "Project Hail Mary", this past weekend. It is basically a really good sci-fi novel in the same vein as his first book "The Martian".
Starts off with a lot of similarity to The Martian, but branches of to do some really cool stuff. I think this is a better book than The Martian, mainly coz we have no idea about the circumstance that lead to the current situation and that is slowly revealed in parallel to the current happenings that make up the main storyline.

Really enjoyed it overall and folks who liked The Martian should love it too IMO.
Even folks who enjoy grounded sci-fi (lots of explanation of the scientific reasoning) should check it out.


If you liked Hyperion then get on Fall of Hyperion asap. It's so freaking good! It's less of a sequel and more like the second half of the book. I haven't touched the Endymion books yet either, though. Fall of Hyperion has a satisfying enough ending that it makes for a good spot to take a break and I wanted to get to other books before getting into them. Working my way through the last few Dark Tower books right now.
Wanted to start "Fall of Hyperion", but instead started "The Shadow of Gods" by John Gwynne. It is a Norse-inspired fantasy with some interesting protagonists - a mother, an ex-slave and a warrior.

Check out this cool cover!!

 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: lashman and Pommes

Li Kao

It’s a strange world. Let’s keep it that way.
Jan 28, 2019
4,868
9,549
113
The desire to read something was building up inside me for some weeks now, and I was a little fed up with only reading my Lovecraft / The Weird anthologies, so I started I short read, 'We have always lived in the castle' by Shirley Jackson.
I reserve full judgement for when I hypothetically finish it, but I can say for the time being that while I can respect the intent, it's fucking god-awfully boring to read.



I'm at page 80/151, and should really read a little bit of it today before my usual bedtime reading session, because I sure won't bear to read 80 other pages in one go if things keep the same.

- Moral of the story -
You may have reading OCD and can't see yourself reading mammoth 800 pages books, but short isn't always the answer :sweaty-blob:
 
  • Like
Reactions: Pranooy and lashman

FunnyJay

Powered by the Cloud
Apr 6, 2019
857
1,867
93
Sweden
So, I finished the novelization of Metal Gear Solid 4 - Guns of the Patriots.

In the words of Krusty the clown:



What a mess of a story. I really enjoyed the story of (the games) MGS 1-3. MGS 1 was really good, and while MGS 2 could get fairly convoluted it was still enjoyable. MGS 3 was more simple in it's story compared to 2 but had some really nice twists.

But MGS 4? I don't really know what to say. I don't think I liked the direction the story took at all, especially walking back and retconning some pieces from the earlier games.

And don't get me started on the meme-fest that was Drebin...
 
  • Like
Reactions: Pranooy

Dandy

Bad at Games.
Apr 17, 2019
768
1,886
93
I'm currently reading(and re-reading) the short stories in the Dead Djinn series by P. Djèlí Clark. The full length novel came out, and I want it all fresh in my mind.

The story takes place in an early 1900s alternate Cairo a few years after a famous mystic broke the barrier between this world and magical realm. Djinn and other magical things were now able to enter the world which lead to a cultural/technological boom, and now Cairo is the worlds most modern city. There is steam/clockwork/magic tech like tram cars, and steam automatons. There are various types of djinn, sorcerers, ethereal beings who claim to be angels that inhabit clockwork bodies so they can interact with the world, flesh-eating undead ghuls, and lots of other stuff.

The stories mainly focus on agents of the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities... so like detectives that investigate supernatural incidents.

The first short story, A Dead Djinn in Cairo is available to read for free on the publisher's site, as is the second, The Angel of Khan el-Khalili. There is also the novella, The Haunting of Tram Car 015 and the first full-length novel, A Master of Djinn.

I love this series so far because it is unlike anything I've read before. The world is very fresh and interesting. If nothing else, read A Dead Djinn in Cairo, as it features the same protagonist as A Master of Djinn, a badass, suit wearing, female detective named Fatma el-Sha’arawi.

Anyway, here is the gorgeous cover for the first full-length novel.

 
Last edited:

Mivey

MeatMember
Sep 20, 2018
1,969
5,969
113


Started two books yesterday and really enjoying both.
As a huge fan of First law series, i doubt The Heroes can disappoint me. About Mort, i've heard good stuff and kinda expect to have a good time.
Mort is a really great book, and the start of a small subseries in the Diskwork novels. You're in for a treat.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Pranooy

Li Kao

It’s a strange world. Let’s keep it that way.
Jan 28, 2019
4,868
9,549
113
Helped by insomnia, and the lack of will to do anything else, I finished 'We have always lived in the castle' by Shirley Jackson. Small miracle of sorts as I had all but dropped it. Unfortunately my opinion hasn't changed. It's not shit, there is skill, there are elements that could reasonably be studied and thought about (the sister POV is interesting for sure, a little haunting, even), but it was painfully bland to read. Be it pacing, tired situations (the cousin) and genre (it's a drama, plain and simple).
When I read people on Goodreads writing it was too weird for them... I mean, there is a particular angle, but it's quite vanilla overall.

Not even sure finishing it was a good thing, I need to learn to drop things. It just annoyed the hell out of me that the first book of Shirley Jackson I tried would be a miss.

So we are back at square one. Do I want to start a book that interests me but is too big for my lack of drive and possible bout of reading OCD, or read a small 100-150 page book that will bore the shit out of me.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Swenhir and Mivey

Mivey

MeatMember
Sep 20, 2018
1,969
5,969
113
Helped by insomnia, and the lack of will to do anything else, I finished 'We have always lived in the castle' by Shirley Jackson. Small miracle of sorts as I had all but dropped it. Unfortunately my opinion hasn't changed. It's not shit, there is skill, there are elements that could reasonably be studied and thought about (the sister POV is interesting for sure, a little haunting, even), but it was painfully bland to read. Be it pacing, tired situations (the cousin) and genre (it's a drama, plain and simple).
When I read people on Goodreads writing it was too weird for them... I mean, there is a particular angle, but it's quite vanilla overall.

Not even sure finishing it was a good thing, I need to learn to drop things. It just annoyed the hell out of me that the first book of Shirley Jackson I tried would be a miss.

So we are back at square one. Do I want to start a book that interests me but is too big for my lack of drive and possible bout of reading OCD, or read a small 100-150 page book that will bore the shit out of me.
Have you ever read anything by Ursula K. Le Guin? If you are looking for shorter stories that are still very interesting, I'd recommend her "Hainish cycle", a collection of science fiction books set loosely in the same universe. Each of the stories is essentially speculative fiction, and concerned with how fictional societies, not bound to the rules here on Earth, could work.
Gateway is publishing the individual stories, also easy to find digitally on Kobo or Kindle.
 
  • Hug
Reactions: Li Kao

Li Kao

It’s a strange world. Let’s keep it that way.
Jan 28, 2019
4,868
9,549
113
Beyond the Threshold (1941) by August Derleth

Didn't know what to read next and wasn't brave enough to tackle a big book, so I let nostalgia lure me back to my Lovecraft complete work.
Now, it wouldn't be bad if I hadn't already read the Cthulhu and Dream cycle, which means I'm in the part of the book with short stories from Lovecraft's friends, which are definitely hit or miss.
And it wouldn't even be that bad if I wasn't at the point where the book wants me to read some August Derleth... Now, I know of his Mythos work being seen as subpar at best, and I swear I tried to go in without prejudice, but this is just not good enough. While the majority of the shorts are nearing pastiche territory, with a lot of disposable texts by Howard for example, there are small gems, Clark Ashton Smith being a big one. But Derleth, here, I don't know in what measure it's the bland translation or the original text, it's just NOT good enough.

Descriptions are boring, plot is already read dozens of times, at 30 pages of length it even achieves to feel long. It feels like you asked an AI to write you a Mythos story and it did deliver exactly that, a random Mythos story.

Next story in line is another Derleth, The Dweller in the Darkness (1944), which looks easily twice as long. I'm shitting bricks for all the wrong reasons.
 
  • Like
  • Sad
Reactions: Swenhir and Pommes

Li Kao

It’s a strange world. Let’s keep it that way.
Jan 28, 2019
4,868
9,549
113
Still slowly going at The Weird anthology by Jeff Vandermeer.

The Long Sheet by William Sansom (1944)
Having been relocated to small steel cubicles, a group of prisoners is put through a most peculiar ordeal. Their warders tell them that they will be free once they squeeze every last bit of humidity from a long sheet of wet fabric passing through the room.

Nah. Didn't like. The intro didn't do it any service by comparing it to In the Penal Colony by Franz Kafka, tall fucking order. Narrative structure is mundane, here is what group A did, then B, then C, then D and finally yep, the end. A little too brainy, in that each prisoner's behavior is a pretext to draw observations on human nature when faced with an absurd and well defined task. The somber ending is also weakened by that whole interrogation of the nature of freedom.
Putting it another way, the whole thing is clearly a thinly veiled reflection about this, characters are not important, they are just here to make a point.

The result felt too artificial to me. If I didn't fear using harsh words toward a text I may have simply misunderstood, I would say that it's simply pretentious.


Reading The Aleph by Jorge Luis Borges now. It's hard. Language, long sentences, foreign context, pacing, I feared it would be another failure, but its charm is slowly getting its grip on me. This is just not an easy read for a 2021 shmuck who isn't 100% bilingual, isn't familiar with Argentina, and is more used to the simplistic prose used everywhere now.
It has potential, but we will see.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Mivey

Li Kao

It’s a strange world. Let’s keep it that way.
Jan 28, 2019
4,868
9,549
113
Fuuu… Stop everything and read Borges ? :thinking-face:
 

Panda Pedinte

Best Sig Maker on the board!
Sep 20, 2018
2,376
5,538
113
Since I started working from home because the pandemic I haven't read much like the past years where I used to read a book per month. I recently bought the Foundation trilogy from Asimov.

I had already read them many year ago, though the translation was a bit strange as they were older versions. The package is pretty cool and the book covers are amazing so I hope they republish the other books in the series.



 

Li Kao

It’s a strange world. Let’s keep it that way.
Jan 28, 2019
4,868
9,549
113
The Dweller in the Darkness (1944) by August Derleth
Two teachers agree on spending some time in a far off cabin near a lake and a dark forest. So in the boonies from hell. To search for their disappeared colleague.

Hey, a Lovecraft Mythos short by Derleth which is not shit. Much surprise, so unexpect.
The issue with that short could mostly be situated in the difference of treatment of the Mythos by Derleth in comparison with Lovecraft. While the danger is still very much present, the characters feel a bit less out of their league. The menace of the Mythos feels closer too, not as distant as in Lovecraft stories.
Not a bad read, overall, but minor.


The Shadow from the Steeple (1950) by Robert Bloch
A follow up on a Lovecraft story whose title I forgot and I'm lazy. A dear friend of a young man who died years ago has been spending decades searching for the truth behind this death. All point to a very specific house. Hilarity ensues.

A convoluted way of delivering the story, like, this is the tale of this man, but in order to understand it we have to go years back, oh and let's talk about this man first, and this one. Didn't care for this text, once you get the original out of it, relatively few meat is left on that bone. Nice ending though.
Interesting update of the Mythos to the worries of the time. Feels like a logical follow up to Lovecraft.
Also a text featuring some major player more prominently than in the original Mythos.


Notebook Found in a Deserted House (1951) by Robert Bloch
A young orphan who has been living with his grand mother for years, is sent to live on his uncle farm at the death of the old lady. The farm is in the woods. In the mountains. Double boonies. So much LOL, big ROFL time.

Nice story, pretty nasty. Which doesn't surprise me seeing it's by Bloch, whom I treat with caution given is other work.

Next up : The Haunter of the Graveyard (1969) by J. Vernon Shea


EDIT - I am really fed up with short stories, but still dreading the doorstopers writers pass as books these days. Halp.
 
Last edited:

Li Kao

It’s a strange world. Let’s keep it that way.
Jan 28, 2019
4,868
9,549
113


Agents of Dreamland (2017) by Caitlín R. Kiernan
Early July 2015, in Winslow Arizona. The Signalman, a government agent, is waiting to meet with a mysterious woman, whom he obviously loathes. But the stakes are too high to act any other way.

So first, Caitlín R. Kiernan ! At last, her name is quite present in modern weird fiction, and I was anticipating our meeting. So I was going in with positive preconceptions. And I'm closing this book with positive preconceptions. But I unfortunately didn't have the great experience I had hoped for, nothing to tarnish the idea I had of her writing, but yeah, it was somewhat of a miss. Sort of a good miss, so there is that.

It was a difficult read for a non native, and I suspect it could be one even to one. The text is demanding. Nothing is clearly explained, the reader has to keep trying to piece every small bits together to make sense of the characters and events that are unfolding. So yeah, it's not the easiest of story to read. Which is not helped by the crazy way it is narrated. When one chapter takes place in early July, another can and will be situated dozens of years before, and yeah, even after. Protagonists change depending on the chapter too, maybe obviously, but not all of them still have their full sanity. Did I say it's a demanding text ? It's not automatically a bad thing, mind you, it's weird fiction and sometimes you have to work a little to appreciate the nuances of a story. And that's without talking about the fact that some cosmic horror stories are not meant to be fully understood.
So great and intriguing characters. Creepy scenes, that don't show but suggest. What could go wrong ?

Well in my mind the story is self-sabotaging when it comes to its length. It's a short story, and believe me I love and read a ton of short stories. But in this case, when all was said and done, I can't help but feel the overall plot lacking. Like the narrative is hurrying a little too quickly toward an ending. There is an inconsequentiality to the characters' actions, or put another way, the story ideas are great, the story events are a little lacking. I know that powerlessness can be a trait of cosmic horror, too, but I feel the story beats veer a little too close to pointlessness, and that the overall text would have gained to be longer and being granted some more beats.

So at the end of the day it was a very solid cosmic horror story, I will very probably read the follow-up cases and Kiernan still has all my attention. But it was a little short.
 

Cacher

Romantic Storm
Jun 3, 2020
2,064
5,763
113

Start reading Gardens of the Moon again. I really want to get into a huge fantasy series, and Malazaan being bought up by fantasy community every time in recommendation list is intriguing. This first book is notoriously difficult and confusing to read so I dropped it for five or six times now.

This time I am going to check every difficult vocabulary and make notes during reading. Hopefully this time I could push through.
 
  • Evil
  • Hug
Reactions: Li Kao and Gevin

Gevin

Watch Madoka
Nov 16, 2018
945
2,873
93

Start reading Gardens of the Moon again. I really want to get into a huge fantasy series, and Malazaan being bought up by fantasy community every time in recommendation list is intriguing. This first book is notoriously difficult and confusing to read so I dropped it for five or six times now.

This time I am going to check every difficult vocabulary and make notes during reading. Hopefully this time I could push through.
Feel free to ask here if you have any pressing questions. I'd also recommend the Tor re-read: Malazan Reread of the Fallen – Tor.com, but I'd avoid Bill's commentary since it's aimed more at re-readers and it has some spoileres
 
  • Love
Reactions: Cacher

Cacher

Romantic Storm
Jun 3, 2020
2,064
5,763
113
Feel free to ask here if you have any pressing questions. I'd also recommend the Tor re-read: Malazan Reread of the Fallen – Tor.com, but I'd avoid Bill's commentary since it's aimed more at re-readers and it has some spoileres
Thanks for the re-read page! Oh yes, I just finished re-reading the prologue. Like Amanda from the re-read, I have tons of questions haha. But maybe I should find the answers from the book. Really fun to read others' first impression on the book, though.
 

Li Kao

It’s a strange world. Let’s keep it that way.
Jan 28, 2019
4,868
9,549
113
The intro spits fire, yeah. I too have tried to read it years ago, dropping it at the start of part 2 I think. Very strange moment in the book that put me off a little.
I’ve got no more love in me for fantasy anymore, even avoiding it, but if I read the genre again, Malazan would be in the short list.

I would add The Black Company to this list. In fact, the only Fantasy I’m interested in is Dark Fantasy. I realized some years ago that I need some grim & gritty and character driven drama to make me really feel for the genre. So the Big Commercial Fantasy with its myriad 500 pages trilogies leaves me cold.
 
  • Comfy
Reactions: Cacher

Mivey

MeatMember
Sep 20, 2018
1,969
5,969
113
I read his Neuromancer trilogy, but I never really read his first book, actually. I think I should fix that one of these days...
 

EdwardTivrusky

Good Morning, Weather Hackers!
Dec 8, 2018
4,801
9,163
113
I read "Burning chrome" and no kidding it changed my outlook on things and seriously kickstarted my interest in 3D, VR, Meta-Data Visualisation etc which wouldn't be realised until years later. Jaron Lanier building on Evans and Sutherland's work, Palo Alto Labs, Xerox PARC etc all astounded me and now we have Epic's Metaverse and i don't want it. There again those "Cyberpunk" pioneers also identified the dystopias that would come so we were warned.

Anyway, Burning Chrome is a great collection of stories as it Bruce Sterling's Mirrorshades. There's some i feel are weak but it depends on your outlook and what you wanted. Dogfight co-authored with Michael Swanwick really hit me hard back then as an edgy teen and is still one of my favourite short stories.
 

Li Kao

It’s a strange world. Let’s keep it that way.
Jan 28, 2019
4,868
9,549
113
The haunter of the Graveyard (1969) by J. Vernon Shea
The host of a horror TV program has lived for several years now in a remote part of town, near a dilapidated graveyard that most people avoid. He likes to go there though, and particularly at night to read his horror books. Who doesn't ?

Meh, it's nearly not worth the time I will spend writing this post. And it's too bad because there was potential. I don't think there is a line of dialog, it's mostly descriptions, not bad ones, the cemetery feels suitably moody, the vibe is good. Then it ends in the most mundane, by the number, pastiche way possible.
 

Linkark07

IDKFA
Apr 18, 2019
24
69
13
Finished reading recently Steelheart of the Reckoner series by Brandon Sanderson.

Eh, as a YA novel it is fine. David isn't a memorable protagonist. What kept me going was that, again, another story about evil people with superpowers and some normal people are doing everything to defeat them. It shares some similarities with the Boys, except this is a post apocalyptic world when the supervillains rule the world and we don't have a guy constantly saying the c-word.

Next month club book is Night Shift by Stephen King. Never have read King in my entire life so looking forward to this.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Li Kao