What Are You Reading

I’m wallowing in my annual late-August apathy where I don’t seem to be interested in anything. Which means I don’t feel like posting anything. I don’t even feel like reading anything. I just finished Clan of the Cave Bear (Which apparently, I’m the last person to read it. I didn’t even know it was made into a movie until yesterday) and now I have a bookshelf full of books to read and not one of them is calling out to me.

I spent most of July with my nose buried in a volume of Raymond Chandler novels. I think I read just about every Philip Marlowe novel out there including his short story collection, The Simple Art of Murder. After I had my fill of fedoras and main characters being sapped, I read a few Neil Gaiman novels. American Gods was first and was much better than I expected it to be. I then read his Neverwhere which I couldn’t finish. I think the problem was that American Gods was a much better book and it was difficult to read a story where the characters were barely developed and the plot was…. I don’t even remember what the plot was actually. So I went from Gaiman to Neaderthals and now I’m at a loss where to go next.

I’m thinking about reading The Lensman series which has been collecting dust on my bookshelf for a few years now. Not sure I’m in the mood for space opera. Anybody reading anything good?


  1. Have you read the Hyperion series by Dan Simmons? I just finished rereading those. Some would call them space opera but I love that series.
    Am currently reading The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson.

  2. Reading more than one at a time, as usual here:

    The Honorary Consul by Graham Greene

    Coast of Dreams: A history of Contemporary California by Kevin Starr

    Inside the Mouse: Work and Play at Disney World by The Project on Disney

  3. @Nina, I’ve heard of Hyperion but don’t know much about it. I’ll check it out.

    @dermot One of my favorite novels. Wish I could read it for the first time again.

  4. Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn triology is AWESOME.

    Patrick Rothfuss “The Name of the Wind”

    John Twelve Hawks “The Traveler”

  5. Chris, I would also highly recommend “Hyperion”.
    The first two books “Hyperion” and “The Fall Of Hyperion” are really one long piece. You can’t read one without the other. You might also like to check out Simmons’ two volume work “Ilium” and “Olympos”. Think the Trojan War….on Mars.
    Right now I’m three volumes into Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima’s “Lone Wolf and Cub”. Only 23 more volumes to go! So far, excellent!

  6. I haven’t read anything for months, because I got burned out from reading last year while subbing.

    Since I’m subbing again this year…I’ll be reading again. I’m about 1/3 of the way through “Pillars of the Earth,” which I started sometime in May, put down and June, and will pick up again with school starting. It’s a good story, but the writing itself is pedestrian at best.

  7. Sorry to answer the question you did not ask, since I’m not reading this at the moment, but if you have selectively enjoyed Neil Gaiman then you should check out Good Omens, which he co-wrote with Terry Pratchett. It’s like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but for the apocalypse.

  8. Right now, I’m enjoying “Buddha” by Osamu Tezuka. I’m on part 1 of an 8-part series. It’s a gigantic graphic novel (part 1 alone is 400 pages) about Buddha, I guess. Even if you’re not into religion (I’m certainly not) it’s a fun read. The author practically invented Manga.

    I also just finished Michener’s “Tales of the South Seas,” which was worthy of its Pulitzer. “Hawaii” was also good, especially if you want to get irritated at missionaries.

  9. just finished “the cave of john the baptist”…boring, and probably bunk. am now reading the 17th ed. (2000) of “the year’s best science fiction”.

  10. For your personal context, please bear in mind that “Clan of the Cavebear” (or rather, the numerous books that followed it) were THE introduction to sex for a good number of bookish girls of our generation. Ayla and Jondolar may be responsible for more erotic misconceptions than Barbie and Ken.

  11. I got to meet one of Tezuka’s editors this past spring, mostly she worked with him on Phoenix, it was kind of neat hearing how much she helped shape his work.

    I’m in the middle of Haruki Murakami’s “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle”, it’s pretty good so far. If you haven’t read any of his work I’d recommend starting out with “Norwegian Wood”, it’s probably a better introduction to Murakami.

  12. I’m working on some David Sedaris, non-fiction life observations. It’s easy to read, darkly funny, and it doesn’t require any brain effort.

    Best of luck with your malaise!

  13. I read it a while ago, but I also think you would like the post-apocolyptic “Earth Abides” by George R. Stewart. It’s essentially the same plot as Stephen King’s “The Stand” (I think it inspired King’s book) but it is much, much better. Thought-provoking Sci Fi at its best! Really great, almost on the level of “1984”.

  14. I don’t think you can go wrong with The Lensmen series.

    If you want to get nice and angry, I suggest “Perfectly Legal” and “Free Lunch” by David Cay Johnston. They concern how tax and other government policies over the past 40 years have harmed all but the ultra-rich. (You will not feel right about the new Yankees stadium after reading it – even if you are not a Red Sox fan.)

    Or, if you want an entertaining “WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!” book (really), check out “Death from the Skies by Dr. Phil Plait (the Bad Astronomer). I just finished it, and have resigned myself to the fate that this will all end some time (in like, 10^75 years…).

  15. Ah, but to answer your question: I’m reading a lesser-known (and just plain lesser) Dan Simmons novel “Children of the Night.” He attempts an a-mystical medical explanation of vampirism set mostly in just-post-cold-war Romania. It reads like a Tom Clancy-meets-Robin Cook novel. Not really digging it, but I’ll be done soon.

  16. Currently reading:
    An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations – Adam Smith
    Guns Germs and Steel – Jared Diamond
    Shopclass as Soulcraft – Matthew Crawford

  17. @tim,

    I’ve read Master and Commander. They’re good but I need to be in the right mood to delve into all the nautical talk.

    @mr clam

    Agreed about Earth Abides. One of my favorite post-apoc books…. Even if it is a bit outdated.

  18. I have to concur with the Bill Bryson recommendation. “A short history…” is spectacular.

    Ditto for “Good Omens”.

    I have really been enjoying Max Barry’s works. They really thumb their noses at corporate culture and advertising. Plus they are hilarious too.

  19. I’m reading The Forever War by Joe Haldeman again. I would be re-reading The Neverending Story right now, but my brother has it at the moment.
    Clan of the Cavebear? I’m sure someone I know has it. I’ll check it out.
    The Lensman must be good, because the book store never seems to have it in stock when I try to get it.
    To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Philip Jose Farmer is something I would recommend.

  20. Just got back from vacation (taking the daughter off to college…. *sniff* ) and read a couple of great books: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society (about an island in the English channel during ww2 occupation) EXCELLENT book! and then… The Queen’s Fool by Phillipa Gregory – about Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth in the 1500’s. I really like historical stories.

    also – you cannot go wrong with a little David Sedaris or Sarah Vowell (my fave SV books: The Wordy Shipmates and Assassination Vacation)

    aloha and happy reading!

  21. I forget if I’m pimped this line of books before, but the Marla Mason series of books by T.A. Pratt.

    He writes really fun fantasy …wait, come back. It’s smart, smartly written, funny, and has lots of asskicking. And is very imaginative. The first book is meh until about halfway through, so give it a bit of time before chucking across the room. The rest of the books just get better and better.

    Here’s Scalzi talking to him:


  22. Someone mentioned Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth, which is one of the best novels of all time has a follow up called World Without End.

    The book I’ve just finished is Dhalgren by Samuel Delany. Very good book.

  23. I just started His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. Graphic novel-wise, Joe Hill’s Locke and Key was really good. And I’ve been using this year to finally read Gene Wolfe’s excellent (if sometimes difficult) “Solar Cycle.” It may be too late for you to read them as part of the Gene Wolfe Book Club, but they’re worthwhile nonetheless.

  24. One of the books I’m reading is The Good Fairies of New York by Martin Millar is fun and light. Neil Gaiman wrote the forward, that caught my eye. The opening scene presents the reader with two drunk Scottish fairies tumbling into a New York apartment window and vomit as the resident looks on in horror. Cute:)

  25. Well if you’ve finished everything by Pratchett and Vonnegut, done Pillars of the Earth and World Without End, then I would give Bernard Cornwell a try for a dose of historical novelty. Try the Saxon Chronicle series. Not as sharply focused as the Follett, but fun, easy, and bloody.

  26. Right now I’m reading The business of dying by Simon Kernick. Haven’t ready anything else by him but it’s pretty good so far. If you have any unread Neil Gaiman novels those would be a good read too. 🙂

  27. If you like a bit of a mystery – but you’re into more modern, contemporary writers (dave eggers, nick hornby, james mitchell, jonathan safran foer, etc.) you should DEFINITELY read “Special Topics in Calamity Physics.” Great read. Great writing. Very surprising.

    “Cloud Atlas” by James Mitchell is genius. But you don’t realize how much so until you get to the middle of the book. It can be a bit of an effort to get there, because you’re thinking “huh? what? huh?” But once the book is ready to reveal itself – really worth it. Wanted to re-read it right away.

    And of course, “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” absolutely kills me its so good. I’m never ready to leave that 9 year-old character Oskar. The relationship he has with his father is so singular and special. And the context of the book…man, I cry every time I reach the end. In a good way.

    Nick Hornby’s “The Polysyllabic Spree” is a great, short memoir about Hornby’s monthly dissection of the chasm between the books he’s bought that month and the ones he’s read. Great.

    And, in regards to the previous commenter who said they were enjoying reading David Sedaris, give LISTENING to him read his stuff a try. I promise you, as good as a writer he is – when he actually reads it…it’s significantly better. He’s great. Sarah Vowell and David Rakoff fall in the same category.

    I’m about to embark on either Egger’s What is the What, or Junot Diaz’s The Wonderous Life of…(I forgot the character’s name in the title)

    Any suggestions which I should go after?

  28. I’m in the same mood as well; have things going on in my life and really haven’t been sympathetic to the large stacks of books I have in my bookcase. I’m hoping to actually get more reading out of “The God Delusion” sooner or later. I say the best way to get reading is actually to read in the bathroom. xD

  29. “Soon I Will Be Invincible” is a novel by Austin Grossman. It is a light summer read with its tongue firmly in its cheek. I was captured by the first page. That was two years ago and I still find myself thinking about it and laughing. Look it up on wikipeadia if you wish.

  30. I’m finally reading A Remembrance of Things Past
    Just finished Cryptonomicon, because I am so behind the times as far as currentish books go. Also, I am trying to finally make it through The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood, instead of reading about a quarter of it, and then setting it down like the last three times I tried to read it.

  31. Have you tried Murakami? Everybody waxes lyrically about Kafka on the Shore, but I liked Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World better.

    I concur with A Short History of Nearly Everything (it’s fun! It’ll make you smart!) and Kristina’s suggestions (Cloud Atlas blew my mind, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Clear is stunning and Nick Hornby is, well, Nick Hornby).

    Speaking of which, Hornby’s A Long Way Down is fantastic. The premise alone – four sad souls all decide to off themselves by jumping from the same tall building, but once they get there they run into eachother and they don’t want to jump en plein publique, so they set off on a quest together – had me up in stitches. High Fidelity is awesome too, and it had a really good movie adaptation.

    I’m currently reading Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead, but I’m having a dry spell and I’m not really into it yet. When I start commuting again it’ll get better.

  32. I started reading “Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer” and put it down. “Rise to Rebellion”, “The Tipping Point” and more. Started reading “Once and Future King” and haven’t looked back. It is one of the best books I’ve ever read.

  33. I just got done reading David Simon’s ‘Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets’ Being a big fan of ‘The Wire’ I had heard good things about the book and the reviews on Amazon backed this up. While long (500 some pages) the book gripped me right from the beginning. You actually see where a lot of stuff from ‘The Wire’ actually came from. Specifically Snot Boogie from the opening sequence was a real person and a real story told by a BPD detective. I have also read The Corner by David Simon and watched the mini-series on HBO. Highly recommended.

  34. At the moment, I’m reading Civil Procedure: Cases and Materials, 10th Ed. by Friedenthal, Miller, Sexton and Hershkoff. Ask me how much I’m enjoying it.

  35. “Civil Procedure: Cases and Materials, 10th Ed.” – you too? I loved that boo…


    Ooh: “Prometheus Rising”, as a badly needed antidote to my rationalist fundamentalism. Great stuff.

    “The Years of Rice and Salt” by Kim Stanley Robinson – an alternative history of Earth in which the Black Death kills practically everyone in Europe. The world becomes a struggle between Islam and Buddhism/China. Some of it felt a bit forced, but I found it diverting.

  36. your not the last person Chris. I am currenlty reading Jigsaw, a mystery from Jerry Kennealy. I am a sucker for mysteries or police procedurals. I did just read Duma Key from Stephen King and that was pretty damn phenomenal also a book called Dead in Acropolis which was decent but kind of meandered along too much.

    Next up is Dead until Dark but I have low expectations about that series but looking for something different.

  37. Just finished the Crucible of War: the Seven Years War (have a bunch of history books in queue, got in the mood somehow so slogging through them). Just starting The Girl Who Played With Fire by Steig Larsson.

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