Recommended Reading #5: Armageddon, With Social Justice & Rock Wizards

Welcome back to Recommended Reading! I hope your Sunday is going well. I woke up to a short story rejection, so I lopped off 350 words and sent it in to another place. Excelsior!

To some, today’s trilogy needs little introduction. Each book won the Hugo Award, three years running, the first time an author had accomplished this feat. And the author, N.K. Jemisin, has been central in the fight to get the vocal alt-right trolls in the speculative fiction* community to shut the fuck up**.

In an acceptance speech that’s being hailed as one of the best ever made at the Hugos, Jemisin defiantly raised a “rocket-shaped finger” (a reference to the rocket-ship design of the massive Hugo statue) to the racist rhetoric that positions the recognition of her work as being about identity politics rather than her own talent.

“It’s been a hard year, hasn’t it,” she began. “A hard few years, a hard century. For some of us, things have always been hard. I wrote the Broken Earth trilogy to speak to that struggle, and what it takes to live, let alone thrive, in a world that seems determined to break you — a world of people who constantly question your competence, your relevance, your very existence.”

The Broken Earth trilogy takes place in a world called the Stillness, where geological cataclysms periodically decimate the population, through both the initial events and the ensuing nuclear winters. Some people, called orogenes, are born with the power to harness and redirect the earth’s energy. They are hated and feared, and the dominant imperial power collects them as children, to break them and train them to serve the empire.

One day, after deciding such a civilization is unfit to continue, an orogene of immense power rips the continent in half. The story begins that day, following a handful of orogenes and their associates as they try to survive. For a fantasy epic, it’s very intimate; as with all the best stories, the conflicts are between individuals with different goals, each for understandable reasons.

I ordinarily would pick something less famous to write about, but this one is just so good. You should check it out! The first book is called The Fifth Season, and is probably available wherever books are sold.

What have you been reading lately?

*I know some of you love to hate this umbrella term for stories about worlds other than the one we live in; I don’t care.

**I was chatting with my friend about this the other day. I said, “I guess I could see how your stereotypical libertarian reader might disagree with some of the themes, but it’s a very nuanced take on prejudice and empire.” He said, “You’re acting like these people opened the book after they saw a picture of a black woman on the back.” Touché!






166 replies
  1. 1
    Jerzy Russian says:

    What have you been reading lately?

    Data Analysis: A Bayesian Tutorial, Second Edition, by D. S. Silve with J. Skilling. Also too, Handmaid’s Tale.

  2. 2
    japa21 says:

    Fantastic trilogy, as are her other works. If this series had been written by a white male, the right wing trolls would not have raised a peep in protest. The only problem is, I don’t see how a white male could have written this series.

  3. 3
    scav says:

    Japser fforde’s Early Riser. Always trusted to provide a bonkers world I’d far rather live in.

  4. 4

    @japa21:

    I don’t see how a white male could have written this series.

    Me neither.

  5. 5
    Baud says:

    where geological cataclysms periodically decimate the population, through both the initial events and the ensuing nuclear winters

    Still better than having Trump as president.

    Thanks for the rec. I’ll check it out.

  6. 6
    debbie says:

    I just finished Ian McEwan’s “Machines Like Me,” a novel about a man who purchases an AI robot/man named Adam. I’ve loved McEwan’s books for years and years, but not even he can turn me into a fan of dystopia. The real world is bad enough, for Chrissakes.

  7. 7
    Cermet says:

    Please stop using decimate for the elimination of more than one-tenth of a given population; it does not mean 30% or 50% or 90% or what ever large value seems to sound good with the word; to decimate means to eliminate, kill, destroy 10% of a given group – not less, not more. If you did mean decimate, then a nuclear winter and other really major global disaster would likely kill far more than that, so avoid that usage unless that is the exact measure your aiming for. Thanks.

  8. 8

    @Cermet:

    Please stop using decimate for the elimination of more than one-tenth of a given population

    No.

    it does not mean 30% or 50% or 90% or what ever large value seems to sound good with the word; to decimate means to eliminate, kill, destroy 10% of a given group – not less, not more.

    This is 21st-century America, not ancient Rome. From the OED:

    decimate
    VERB

    1. Kill, destroy, or remove a large percentage or part of.
    1.1 Drastically reduce the strength or effectiveness of (something)
    2. (historical) Kill one in every ten of (a group of soldiers or others) as a punishment for the whole group.

    You know you’re fighting a losing battle if the stuffy old lexicographers at Oxford are ahead of you!

  9. 9
    PsiFighter37 says:

    Very coincidental…I am actually reading the first book of the Broken Earth trilogy right now. Grabbed it as I was doing some browsing in the Strand bookstore a few months ago in Union Square. I’m not a big fantasy reader to begin with – you need to have the imagination to world-build what the book is describing, and I just don’t have the energy most days – but it’s an interesting tale so far. About a third of the way through it.

    I am also reading books on parenting, which is decidedly more anxiety-inducing.

  10. 10
    Martin says:

    I’m reading the 25 years of documentation that I accrued from my last job as I’ve been restructured into a new job and the higher ups seem to have overlooked that I, you know, actually did shit that will still need to be done, but nobody is tasked with doing it now.

    And the Mueller report, because Liz told me to.

    But I think I’d dig the shit out of Broken Earth, so I may rotate over to that once my work de-fucking is done.

  11. 11
    Baud says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    I think I’ll start using “medioate” when referring to destroying half of something.

  12. 12

    @PsiFighter37: I’m not a huge fantasy fan either, which is why it took me a minute to pick up the book.

  13. 13
    opiejeanne says:

    I need to read the final book in the trilogy. I stalled at the end of book 2, and not just because the third book wasn’t yet available. I was really bothered by the way the second book ended but maybe the final book would make me better about it. .

    Another series that’s good are the Ann Leckie Ancillary Justice series.

    Then there’s John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War series and all of the books that are part of that universe. The Human Division, when you get to it, is outstanding.

  14. 14

    I read the first book in the Jemisin trilogy but haven’t read the other two yet. Thanks for the reminder.

    I’m reading the Mueller report, which I find slow going. I also joined a book club for the first time in my life and am reading Melinda Gates’s Moment of Lift for that. It’s about the work the Gates foundation is doing to empower women and girls around the world, but she also shares some personal stuff. I have BJ’s own Joyce Harmon’s Mary Bennet and the Bingley Codex lined up on my kindle to read next. Also, I’m reading my current draft and thinking about how to kill my darlings.

  15. 15
    Mike in NC says:

    A few chapters into “Indianapolis: The True Story of the Worst Sea Disaster in U.S. Naval History and the Fifty-Year Fight to Exonerate an Innocent Man” by Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic.

  16. 16

    @opiejeanne: I just read Ancillary Justice! The ending was a little hard to follow but I don’t know how avoidable that was.

    The Human Division was pretty good, but IMO that series starts to slowly fall apart after the second book. He didn’t know what to write, and it increasingly shows. He’s contracted to write one last book in the universe and says he has no idea what to put in it.

  17. 17
    MattF says:

    I read the Broken Earth trilogy last year, and liked it a lot. Interesting, complex, empowered characters, and a lot of world-building, a terrific story. That said, one should note that the protagonist(s) do enormous amounts of damage to the world and the society they inhabit– so the long story the trilogy tells has a lot of death and destruction. Not what one would call a happy course of events.

    Jemisin also has two earlier series of novels, both worth reading

  18. 18
    MomSense says:

    @PsiFighter37:

    When is the estimated arrival date? It’s exciting that both you and Suzanne are bringing new jackal pups to the pack.

    Read all the things and then remember you will make a million mistakes. We all do. Parenting is awesome and miserable and often minute by minute. I’m rooting for you and mama psifighter.

    I’m taking a short break from listening to the Mueller Report and rage weeding. I’m so fucking furious I don’t know what to do. I’m going to name my screamo band “Redacted. Harm to ongoing matter.”

    Motherfucking traitors need to hang for this.

  19. 19
    NotMax says:

    Nicholas Ostler, Empires of the Word.

    @Baud

    Hemiate.

    ;)

  20. 20
    MattF says:

    But my recent absolute favorite is Martha Wells’ set of four novellas, ‘The Murderbot Diaries’. Read them! Now!

  21. 21
    Baud says:

    @NotMax:

    Much better. Consider yourself the official cunning linguist of Baud! 2020!

  22. 22
    Comrade Colette Collaboratrice says:

    Other Minds, by Peter Godfrey-Smith. Cephalopod consciousness – real alternate reality.

    I also just finished listening to “How to Be Black” by Baratunde Thurston, read by the author. A lot of it was pretty funny, and some of it made me laugh out loud while walking down the street. It also made me viscerally miss Obama again (it was published in 2012).

  23. 23
    cleek says:

    Hyperion. working on book 2

  24. 24
    laura says:

    I’m reading the gossipiest 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret (what a colossal pain in the ass she was), a series of gardening articles by Vita Sackville West, some scandahoovy crime fiction series by Helene Turston, Jill Lapore’s These Truths, Regarding the Pain of Others by Susan Sontag, Robert Caro’s new book on writing and barely keeping up with the New Yorker. Howard Stern Comes Again is awaiting (his long form interviews are really enjoyable). Then there’s the audibles – heavy into Kate Atkinson…..
    I could use more free time and a good chair.

  25. 25
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    Just finished Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us (2013) by Michael Moss. It might just scare/outrage you into binge-reading every label in the supermarket & then cooking every meal from scratch. Picked it up in (of all places) a Dollar Tree & will be on the lookout for more cheap copies to pass along to friends.

  26. 26
    NotMax says:

    @Baud

    Still gently pushing for Baud! MMXX!

    ;)

  27. 27

    Has anyone read David Reich’s book, Who we are and how we got here, and what did you think of it?

  28. 28
    Baud says:

    @NotMax:

    Somewhat on topic, I started watching Diablero now that I’m waiting for season 4 of El Ministerio. I don’t like it as much, but the episodes and season are short so I’ll probably finish it.

  29. 29

    @schrodingers_cat: my husband liked it, as I recall.

  30. 30
    Jim Parish says:

    @schrodingers_cat: I enjoyed it a great deal. He does say, though, that every conclusion in the book is tentative – things in the field are changing rapidly. (His thoughts on a possible connection between the Yamnaya invasion of Europe and the coming of plague have been undone by events: plague reached Europe long before the Yamnaya did.)

  31. 31
    Starfish says:

    @opiejeanne: Skip the third book. There was a lot about the inner lives of the stone eaters if I recall correctly, and I just could not care about them.

    I am reading The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

  32. 32
    Starfish says:

    @MattF: I read those and enjoyed them.

  33. 33

    @Starfish:

    There was a lot about the inner lives of the stone eaters if I recall correctly, and I just could not care about them.

    Given that their origins and feelings are critical to the plot, if you don’t care about the stone eaters, I would also recommend skipping the end of the series I guess.

  34. 34
    Starfish says:

    @Major Major Major Major: Their chapters moved so strangely.

    I had the same problem when I started The Book Thief. The narrator is Death, and I could not relate to the reaper of souls. I am glad that I stuck with it though.

  35. 35

    @Starfish: I really liked both those books. I keep meaning to get Thomas’s new book. I read Zusak’s Bridge of Clay a couple of months ago. He’s so good.

  36. 36
    NotMax says:

    @Baud

    May not turn out to be your cup of sangria, but take a peek at Grand Hotel. If it hooks you, you’ll gobble it up with gusto.

    I’m currently on a kick of watching shows about polar exploration. Maybe brought on by temps here in the mid-90s.

  37. 37

    @Starfish: to each their own! The chapters are certainly a departure.

  38. 38
    ScottS says:

    I just finished re-reading Ellen Raskin’s impossibly glorious “The Westing Game,” which I read for the first time in elementary school and which still holds up beautifully.

  39. 39
    Starfish says:

    @Dorothy A. Winsor: Reading The Book Thief right now is so hard. Here are Germans living in Nazi Germany going to their Hitler Youth classes, and I do not want to like them; but Zusak’s makes them likable.

  40. 40
    grandmaBear says:

    I’m on the 2nd book in Cixin Liu’s Remembrance of Earth’s Past, and just finished the Cambridge History of China – prepping for a trip to China in October. Also working on refining my knowledge of digital photography beyond simple point and shoot.

  41. 41
    Fair Economist says:

    @Uncle Cosmo: Does Moss discuss the other aspects of processed food used to hook us? Not to discount salt, sugar and fat, but there is a lot more going on with the research to make processed food more addictive. There’s mouth feel, flavor mixing, crispiness, and I suspect intentional nutritional imbalance, and undoubtedly other things I am not aware of. These may be even more important than salt, sugar, and fat, because anybody can use those effectively but the other things are often technically difficult, plus the knowledge of what to do is not accessible to laymen. Even the best home cook can’t duplicate the research to make the Doritos spice blend (the first famous non-satiating flavor combination).

  42. 42

    @Starfish: Exactly. Another book I like is Ruta Sepetys’s Between Shades of Gray, which is about Soviets removing Lithuanians to Siberia. What and who is evil is sometimes hard to decide. (I think that book has been retitled. Too many people were confusing it with Shades of Gray, which is about something else entirely!)

  43. 43

    @grandmaBear: I finished that a couple of weeks ago and am onto the third. The second one gets so grim, I was ready to chuck it towards the end, but didn’t, Because Spoilers.

  44. 44
    PsiFighter37 says:

    @MomSense: End of August! Lot of cleaning and furniture / equipment acquisition to do between now and then…

  45. 45
    Burnspbesq says:

    “Nullification and Secession in American Constitutional Thought,” edited by Jack Balkin and Sandy Levinson. Just for giggles. Yes, I’m that fucked up.

  46. 46
    karen marie says:

    @debbie: What I don’t understand about sci-fi, and what frustrates me about it, is that it seems it’s always dystopian. I suppose there’s not a lot of tension in happy times but … maybe someone could point me to some sci-fi/speculative fiction that is not completely dystopian?

  47. 47
    MattF says:

    Somewhat OT. ‘The Good Place’ showrunner Michael Schur has announced that the fourth season will be the last.

  48. 48
    Jeffro says:

    @Starfish:

    I am reading The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

    I read THYG last year, in an effort to bond with my teenager a bit. I read it and loved it…she still hasn’t touched it(!) However, I did read one of the books she was assigned this past year in her English class, “The Things They Carried”, and at least we were able to talk a bit about that one.

    “Book Thief” was assigned to my son in his English class this year, and so that’s coming up next on my list. (He raved about it).

    Currently I’m slogging through “SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome” by Mary Beard. It’s pretty good but I’m skimming occasionally…it’s made it past my 50- and 100-page “are we in or out, here?” checkpoints but that’s at least partially due to the skimming. =)

  49. 49
    grandmaBear says:

    @Major Major Major Major: thanks. I like to be surprised.

  50. 50
    karen marie says:

    As for what I’m reading, I have just started The Hills is Lonely: Tales from the Hebrides by Lillian Beckwith. It is really lovely writing.

    @MattF: I was delighted to hear that, although I love the show. Better to go out leaving everyone wanting more than to have it just drag on and on, milking the concept past any sense.

  51. 51
    Jeffro says:

    @grandmaBear:

    I’m on the 2nd book in Cixin Liu’s Remembrance of Earth’s Past, and just finished the Cambridge History of China – prepping for a trip to China in October. Also working on refining my knowledge of digital photography beyond simple point and shoot.

    I read “Everything Under the Heavens: How The Past Helps Shape China’s Push for Global Power” by Howard French last year, and that was superb. Really helped me understand the worldview behind China’s recent (80s-now) actions in the world.

  52. 52
    Florida Frog says:

    Just starting The Fifth Season. I had been resisting reading it but my quasi-daughter in Phnom Penh insisted. The writing is wonderful though I fear it will get awfully dark.

  53. 53
    artem1s says:

    I’m nearly finished with The Three Body Problem. the concept of stable climate having an impact on human development reminds me of The Mote in God’s Eye. One small thing which we take so for granted – could impact the whole of human history and whether we can continue to inhabit this planet or expand our egg basket to other worlds.

  54. 54
    NotMax says:

    @Dorothy A. Winsor

    which is about something else entirely

    One reason I stuck with World of Warcraft for so long was touches like this one which comes up during a search of a necromancer’s tent.

    :)

    For those not used to the sometimes frenetic visual clutter of WoW, just listen.

  55. 55

    @karen marie:

    What I don’t understand about sci-fi, and what frustrates me about it, is that it seems it’s always dystopian. I suppose there’s not a lot of tension in happy times but … maybe someone could point me to some sci-fi/speculative fiction that is not completely dystopian?

    Off the top of my head…

    The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
    Most Peter Hamilton series (recommend Pandora’s Star/Judas Unchained pairing)
    A Fire Upon the Deep/A Deepness in the Sky
    The Riverworld series
    Scalzi is working on one right now, the Interdependency series

    Most of those are in the space opera subgenre.

  56. 56
    gene108 says:

    As far as speculative fiction goes, I wonder, if anyone can write about humanity 50 million years in the future, when plate tectonics starts to really rearrange the continents. This would have serious changes to the climate. Probably some level of mass extinction would occur. Maybe not as major as the Permian-Triassic or Cretaceous-Paleocene, but significant.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hos7w8xrcEs

  57. 57

    @karen marie: You could try Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkorsigan saga. You can start either with The Warrior’s Apprentice, which is about young Miles, or with the book about his mother, Shards of Honor. I prefer the Miles books because I like the humor in them, but there are folks here who will fight me to the death about the relative merits.

  58. 58

    @grandmaBear: I cried out “holy shit!” in a restaurant, my husband was mortified.

  59. 59
  60. 60
    NotMax says:

    @Jeffro

    Several mighty entertaining programs on Prime with Mary Beard walking us through some of the history of those pesky Romans.

  61. 61
    geg6 says:

    I am reading “Spying on the South” by Tony Horwitz. I am liking it so much that I’ve ordered his earlier book, “Confederates in the Attic.” Both books are about the journeys Frederick Olmsted took through the South pre-Civil War, about which he wrote his own books. Horwitz tells his own story of the trips he took retracing Olmsted’s paths in addition to Olmsted’s own recountings. “Confederates” is his first trip and focuses on the Atlantic South. “Spying” starts in West Virginia to the Mississippi and Deep South, Louisiana, and Texas. Fascinating to see what has changed and what hasn’t, especially the people. I highly recommend.

  62. 62
    grandmaBear says:

    @Jeffro: thanks for the recommendation. That sounds good. I was pretty impressed with the Cambridge history – she contrasts world views too – how we tend to look at civilizations rising & falling and being replaced by another rising elsewhere, whereas the Chinese view is more of fluctuation but continuity.

  63. 63
    Tom Levenson says:

    Got hooked on Jemison and the Broken Earth trilogy in particular (which was then just the first book) via Annalee Newitz (formerly of io9). Can endorse all the endorsements. Liked the Inheritance trilogy as well.

    I’m reading Neal Stephenson’s newest right now — Fall, or Dodge in Hell. It’s smart and interesting, but like a lot of his more recent stuff it is, for me, in need of one more pass with a red pencil; at ~900 pages it seems (at least at ~pg. 500 right now) to be slower than it needs to be. Worth reading anyway, AFAIK.

    Also — just finished Regeneration, by Pat Barker, the first of her WW I trilogy, and can really recommend it, and a short memoir/essay on writing and memory by the South African/British writer Deborah Levy: “Things I Don’t Want to Know.”

  64. 64
    MomSense says:

    @PsiFighter37:

    So exciting! I had a Labor Day baby- well every day is Labor Day for someone I suppose.

    I had a co-sleeper and it was really helpful. It attached to my bed so I could just attend to baby right there. Lots of stuff you can wait to purchase but the co-sleeper is key for those exhausting first months.

  65. 65
    Ruckus says:

    @japa21:
    @Major Major Major Major:
    I’d bet there are white males capable of at least thinking of the themes, if not the actual words. Of course he’d probably be considered rather weird by most of the rest of the white males. You like the books for their themes and they were written by a human being. Her experiences and thought process is different than others but the process allows for at least the possibility of thinking outside one’s own experiences, knowledge and preferences. Isn’t that what makes a great writer in the first place? OTOH prime examples of someone with the capabilities to do this are rarer than………

  66. 66
    JR says:

    Thomas Paine, believe it or not

    Men who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent; selected from the rest of mankind their minds are early poisoned by importance; and the world they act in differs so materially from the world at large, that they have but little opportunity of knowing its true interests, and when they succeed to the government are frequently the most ignorant and unfit of any throughout the dominions.

    I know he was writing about monarchy but it fits white supremacy just as well

  67. 67
    NotMax says:

    @Major Major Major Major

    Two more immediately come to mind.

    From the Golden Age: Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy.
    From the Silver Age: John Varley’s Gaea trilogy.

  68. 68
    Chacal Charles Calthrop says:

    I always was into old books, and the way everyone’s been putting out-of-copyright works into e-reading format for free or only a few bucks has gotten me re-hooked.

    Most recent wonder is Alexander Dumas’ “The she-wolves of Marchecoul,” one of his few works set in his own century. And I have to say I liked it a lot, not least because it figures two men living together for decades as a family (& raising the daughters of one of them) in addition to a cross-dressing aristocrat. The past was never as straight-laced as current politicians would have us believe.

  69. 69
    zhena gogolia says:

    I really don’t fit on this thread. I’m well into my nth reading of Kristin Lavransdatter. Fourteenth-century Norway FTW!

    Trying to mix it in with the Mueller Report, which isn’t such a page-turner, if only because it’s so enraging that I have to stop and fume for a half hour after every few pages. It is fascinating but terrifying.

  70. 70
    NotMax says:

    @zhena gogolia

    Lapp dancing?

    :)

  71. 71

    @Ruckus: I think it’s entirely reasonable to say that a highly talented black woman would write this story better than an equally-talented white man. That’s not a slam on white men, just that a black woman is better equipped to tell a story about prejudice, motherhood, and slavery.

  72. 72
    Ruckus says:

    @Uncle Cosmo:
    Haven’t read it, still read labels because of all the salt, sugar and fats. Sometimes I don’t seem to care but it is important to understand that slowly poisoning us to sell more is not actually good business. It’s wide spread, obviously, all one has to do is look around at most of your fellow humans. And of course some of those humans overcompensate so much that they are frail in the opposite direction. How many humans think that if you aren’t going to do things in excess, why bother to do them at all.

  73. 73

    @zhena gogolia: I read that. At a writer’s workshop, I wound up riding with Connie Willis to lunch and she said she consulted that for some details when she was writing The Doomsday Book.

  74. 74
    Ruckus says:

    @Major Major Major Major:
    Oh I agree fully. It is far easier to build worlds based upon hate, prejudice and greed by someone who has suffered from them more but it’s not impossible to see and maybe even understand them if you are someone who hasn’t anywhere near the same.

  75. 75
    debbie says:

    @Tom Levenson:

    Loved Regeneration, both the book and the film. Birdsong is another very good WWI novel.

  76. 76
    NotMax says:

    @Ruckus

    so much that they are frail in the opposite direction

    Yes to this, after more than once witnessing gaunt, reed-thin shoppers at the health food store* resorting to using both arms to drag their handheld shopping baskets across the floor.

    *Not somewhere I often venture except for a time was the only place sure to have vital wheat gluten (use it for some bread making) in stock.

  77. 77
    Citizen Alan says:

    Would it be churlish to recommend the novel I just published on Amazon? The 5 people reviews it all seemed to like it.

  78. 78
    Emerald says:

    I’m doing Dickens right now. Almost two-thirds into Dombey and Son. Kind of about feminism, or the need for it. As usual, Dickens was ahead of his times.

    Not being snobbish here. I’m friends with a real Dickens scholar (one of the founders of Dickens Universe annual conference) and he’s 88. He gives me great insight into these books, and plus I adore the guy. I’ve got four to go: David Copperfield is next, then Great Expectations, Little Dorrit and Our Mutual Friend. Yeah, I never read those! Have been reading them in order of publication, skipping the ones I’ve already read, which is quite a few.

    Absolutely loving the language, the imagination, the power of description, and of course, the characters, especially the bad guys. Dickens is needed today. He knew all of these bastards down to their souls.

    After that I’m getting back to some light mysteries, fantasy, maybe some sci fi and lots of history and contemporary literary fiction. For the first time since high school I have TIME TO READ. I am enjoying it.

    Doubt I’ll ever stop with Dickens, though. Haven’t touched the short story collections or Pictures From Italy (but I did do American Notes, which is still fairly relevant today, I think). I’ll get to the those later when I need a Dickens fix.

    Highly recommended, if you haven’t done your Dickens. He’s still necessary.

  79. 79

    @Ruckus: for sure!

    One of the iffy pieces of activism in left-writer-twitter right now is the idea that white men shouldn’t be allowed to write about other cultures, which is… let’s go with misguided… so I hope it’s clear I’m not saying that.

    @Citizen Alan: what’s it called? Link to it! See if TaMara will do a post about it??

  80. 80
    Ruckus says:

    @Chacal Charles Calthrop:

    The past was never as straight-laced as current politicians would have us believe.

    Was it even the past?
    How many politicians want the world to be something it’s never been, and not in a good way either? I’d say all conservatives at the very least. Think about prohibition. Throw out all the booze because some should not consume alcohol at all and there is really no way to know which of us until it’s almost too late? Or the religionists, whose worlds are perfect, except for all the living humans who aren’t, which of course is all of them.

  81. 81
    NotMax says:

    @Emerald

    You might enjoy Dickensian, available on Prime. Characters from the entirety of Dickens all in the same story (which should have been titled Who Killed Jacob Marley?). While not entirely successful, still a clever idea done with obvious affection for Charley D.

  82. 82
    H.E.Wolf says:

    @karen marie:

    I suppose there’s not a lot of tension in happy times but … maybe someone could point me to some sci-fi/speculative fiction that is not completely dystopian?

    Yes! The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison (pseudonym of Sarah Monette). It was, in my opinion, unjustly done out of a Hugo for Best Novel in 2015, the year that the far-right wackos gamed the system. It’s the opposite of dystopian, the opposite of saccharine, the opposite of quest fantasy. I loved it.

    Foreign Policy magazine just gave it a shout-out!
    https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/05/19/what-to-read-if-game-of-thrones-let-you-down-political-fantasy-ending/

    ETA: fixed a typo.

  83. 83
    Ruckus says:

    @NotMax:
    When I lived in Pasadena I used to see people like this all the time. But there was the one lady I saw who had taken this past ridiculousness. She was about 5’2″ and I doubt she weighted 80 lbs. She was so thin that looking at her from the front or back really wasn’t any different than from either side. And she was shopping for FOOD in the supermarket, pushing her basket. The disconnect was palpable.

  84. 84

    @H.E.Wolf: Oh yes! The Goblin Emperor.

  85. 85
    Emerald says:

    @NotMax: Yes! I’m waiting to watch that until I’ve finished the books!

  86. 86
  87. 87
    LuciaMia says:

    Born With Teeth by Kate Mulgrew. The lady has led an interesting life.

  88. 88
    H.E.Wolf says:

    @zhena gogolia:

    I really don’t fit on this thread. I’m well into my nth reading of Kristin Lavransdatter. Fourteenth-century Norway FTW!

    1. I stan the Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett (six-book series, written in the 1960s, set in sixteenth-century Europe), though there are some aspects that may be problematic nowadays.

    2. Have a good time away from the internet! It’ll be good to see your ‘nym when you return.

  89. 89
    Emerald says:

    @zhena gogolia: Fourteenth Century Norway!! Zowie!

    Just sent a sample to my Kindle.

    You and Mayor Pete! Wonder if those are the books he learned Norwegian for.

  90. 90
    NotMax says:

    @Dorothy A. Winsor

    Oh my. If we’re tossing fantasy into the mix, for sheer escapist giggles and grins, Robert Aspirin’s MythAdventures.

    “Look, a Pervert!”

    “That’s Pervect!”

  91. 91
    Jim Parish says:

    @karen marie: I will second the nomination of The Goblin Emperor. Word is a sequel is in the works. (Pedantry alert: “second” literally means “following”. In this context, any number of people may second the same suggestion. “Thirding” is an abomination.)

  92. 92
    Jim Parish says:

    @zhena gogolia: I read that, a long time ago, and enjoyed it. Likewise Master of Hestviken.

  93. 93
    LuciaMia says:

    As for what I’m reading, I have just started The Hills is Lonely: Tales from the Hebrides by Lillian Beckwith. It is really lovely writing.

    Oh My! I love those books. Was so sad when I got to the end of the series.

  94. 94
    Jay Noble says:

    @karen marie: Foundation Series – Asimov. Honor Harrington Series – David Weber. Dorsai Series – Gordan R. Dickson. Dune Triology – Herbert.

  95. 95
    RSA says:

    @Ruckus:

    I’d say all conservatives at the very least. Think about prohibition. Throw out all the booze because some should not consume alcohol at all and there is really no way to know which of us until it’s almost too late?

    In my experience conservative vs. liberal views aren’t always a factor. I’ve come across people online (techno-utopian liberals) who argue that once autonomous vehicles get good enough, human-controlled cars should be outlawed. In person, I’ve argued with gun-owning friends about gun control; sometimes the discussion sounds very similar to alcohol prohibition, and the main position I take is that people with guns can cause greater harm than alcoholics. Maybe there’s something stronger than that, but it seems to come down to where one draws the line between benefit and harm.

  96. 96
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Emerald:

    You and Mayor Pete! Wonder if those are the books he learned Norwegian for.

    No, the book that was translated was Naive, Super. The author is Erland Loe.

  97. 97
    billcinsd says:

    @karen marie: I would add Jodi Taylor’s St. Mary’s series. They investigate major historical events in contemporary time, ie travel through time figuring out what happened. Lots of funny and weird stuff happens, some movies get made, a little romance, but not particularly dystopian.

    I’d put in Scalzi’s “The Android’s Dream” and “Agent to the Stars” are good, easy reads.

  98. 98
    Citizen Alan says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    Sure. It’s called Strangers In Boston. It’s urban fantasy, which is probably not everyone’s cup of tea, and I’m mildly embarrassed to mention it in light of the more serious works discussed in this thread. That said, it’s a sort of “Lovecraftian American Harry Potter” thing if anyone’s interested. T.S. Mann is my pen name, as I’ve been writing fanfic as “The Sinister Man” for a while.

    Mods, if this not appropriate for a recommended reading post, please delete this. If been waiting for a Writers Among Us post, but haven’t seen one in a while.

  99. 99
    NotMax says:

    @NotMax

    Extra doses of cheap laffs if you can find the MythAdventures graphic novels. Phil Foglio was the ideal artistic choice for the tales.

  100. 100
    LuciaMia says:

    Anne McCaffrey’s sci-fi are generally non-dystopian.

  101. 101
    LuciaMia says:

    Great thread. I just maxed out my eLibrary’s online book limit.

  102. 102
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    @Fair Economist:

    Does Moss discuss the other aspects of processed food used to hook us?

    He discusses mouthfeel among other things. He concentrates on salt, sugar & fat as 3 ingredients present in almost all processed food that when consumed in quantities present in the typical USAn diet are demonstrably (i) addictive and (II) hazardous to health. AFAICT spices & spice mixes don’t generally satisfy (ii).

    One thing interesting in the book is that salt cravings, which I suffer from, appear to be reversible by means of a low-salt diet: when adhered to over a period of weeks, test subjects became so much more sensitive to salt that when given the go-ahead to add as much as they wanted back into their diets, they added only 20% of the amount that had been taken out. They still liked salt, they just didn’t need as much of it.

    Another interesting observation is that we are not born liking salt – it has to be conditioned into infants, which most parents do more or less by accident.

  103. 103

    @Citizen Alan:

    Mods, if this not appropriate for a recommended reading post, please delete this.

    Speaking as the moderator for my own post who asked for this information….. 😁

  104. 104
  105. 105
    zhena gogolia says:

    @NotMax:

    Sami — this is the newer translation.

  106. 106
    zhena gogolia says:

    @Emerald:

    I don’t think Kristin Lavransdatter is his style! But it’s still amazing me as it did when I was 13 or so. Very rich psychological portrait of a woman from toddlerhood to, well, to the end.

    I envy you your Dickens immersion. I’ve been trying to make my way through Trollope, but I find Dickens needs total concentration these days, not as easy as when I was younger.

  107. 107
    zhena gogolia says:

    @H.E.Wolf:

    Thank you — taking off in a couple of hours.

  108. 108
    NotMax says:

    @zhena gogolia

    More of a pun-ishment challenge, but –

    What Makes Sami Run?

    ;)

    (reference)

  109. 109
    Chacal Charles Calthrop says:

    @Emerald: could not agree more! And whenever the sentimentality gets to you (and I’ll admit Dickens gets extremely sentimental) notice that Dickens tends to use sentimentality to bookend his most disturbing scenes. He knew perfectly well nobody read his books unless they wanted to, and the way in which he introduced readers just looking to be entertained to questions of social justice was to package the message with lots of sugar.

    I loved Dombey & Son, especially the chapters about the parallel tales of Edith and Alice.

  110. 110
    Chacal Charles Calthrop says:

    @NotMax: If you like Phil Foglio, you should like Girl Genius, available online: http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/newreaders.php

  111. 111
    Ruckus says:

    @Major Major Major Major:
    That motherhood thing though. Everything else has some possibility of understanding. Because everything else can be experienced, even if not from the same perspective. I can see how a woman could understand fatherhood. How different is it for either in the case of adoption? I can see how a man could see that motherhood is tough. But the experience? Just not possible in any degree. I’m reminded of the Seinfeld episode where Elaine tells Jerry and George, “I don’t know how you guys walk around with those things.”

  112. 112
    Emerald says:

    @zhena gogolia: True. You do have to just slow down and savor it. The books are 200 years old now.

    Highly worth the time though! Go and read just the description of the fog at the beginning of Bleak House. Head spinning stuff!

  113. 113
    Bill Arnold says:

    Still slowly poking through Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “The Demons”. It is not a world I know, and is very richly and brilliantly drawn.
    Of sci-fi, “The Dog Said Bow-Wow”, Michael Swanwick, (Stories). Not finished yet; very heady.
    Also Re-reading “The Rapture of the Nerds”, reasons, and Good Omens.

  114. 114
    Chacal Charles Calthrop says:

    @Ruckus: yes, which is why so many of the writers who have endured have been liberal. Conservatives need a simple world, but a simple world makes for a dull book.

  115. 115
    Emerald says:

    @Chacal Charles Calthrop: I’ve only met Alice recently. Been wondering what he’s going to do with her, because clearly he’s introducing a significant character in her.

    I’m noticing the similarities between Edith and Irene in The Forsyte Saga. Gallsworthy certainly would have read Dombey and Son. (As would James Barrie—Cap’n Cuttle has a hook hand!)

  116. 116
    J R in WV says:

    @Comrade Colette Collaboratrice:

    Other Minds, by Peter Godfrey-Smith. Cephalopod consciousness – real alternate reality.

    I read that, V interesting. If they just lived longer, and weren’t underwater, they might surpass us. Or replace us.

    Have just finished Neal Stephenson’s latest huge novel. Very interesting, there are two plots that intertwine in the middle of the book, the first one is modern Hi-tech, followed by the introduction of a strange fantasy plot. I was a little disappointed by the ending of the book, it seemed a little flat.

    It was as if he just decided, Well, I’m done with this after 800 pages. So now I’m gonna wrap it up in the last 30 pages. No matter what or how. It isn’t nearly as bad as I’ve made it sound, but still not at good as the first 800 pages. A lot of really complex plots appear to be like that, though. I have liked most of his big novels in the past, tho.

    I have more Eric Flint (1632++) to read, and keep hoping for Weber to figure out how to wind up his war with the theocratic manipulators satisfactorily.

  117. 117

    @J R in WV:

    It was as if he just decided, Well, I’m done with this after 800 pages. So now I’m gonna wrap it up in the last 30 pages. No matter what or how

    So it was a Neal Stephenson book, is what you’re saying.

  118. 118
    Comrade Colette Collaboratrice says:

    @H.E.Wolf:

    I stan the Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett (six-book series, written in the 1960s, set in sixteenth-century Europe), though there are some aspects that may be problematic nowadays.

    Come stan by me. Dunnett is a banquet that will serve you all your days.

  119. 119
    Jim Parish says:

    If you’re up for some sfnal short stories, Ted Chiang’s collection “Stories of Your Life and Others” is excellent and thought-provoking. He also has another collection out, “Exhalation”, which I’ve downloaded but haven’t read.

  120. 120
    AM in NC says:

    @ScottS: Love, love, love that book. I found it the summer before 6th grade and reread it every decade or so.

    Currently rereading Steinbeck’s East of Eden. Just damn fine writing. And a lot of wisdom too.

  121. 121
    NotMax says:

    @Chacal Charles Calthrop

    Long familiar with it. Met him a couple of times. Ebullient chap. Have an original drawing he was kind enough to present me of Skeeve from MythAdventures riding on a surfboard.

  122. 122

    @Jim Parish: I just heard a book discussion about Tony Joseph’s Early Indians which uses Reich’s research among other things to draw some conclusions about early India.

  123. 123
  124. 124
    karen marie says:

    @Major Major Major Major: Of course, I’ve read all the Hitchhiker’s books and own the first three seasons of the radio show as well as the original TV series (the movie made with Douglas Adams’ participation but released after he died is horrendous – I can’t imagine how he approved any of it). I’ll take a look at the others you mention. I haven’t read any Scalzi, although I follow him on twitter. My anxiety and depression make it difficult for me to read words on a page, so I mostly listen to audiobooks (the Lillian Beckwith I mentioned above being an exception, because I started it when I was sitting in a waiting room), but Scalzi’s books seem to all be read by Wil Wheaton who I absolutely hate as a reader. He has an incredibly irritating, droning voice that makes me want to break things.

    This prompted me to look at my Audible history. I completely forgot about The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, Wayfarers series, Book 1, by Becky Chambers. Pretty entertaining, not heavily dystopian, and — importantly – NOT read by Wil Wheaton..

  125. 125
    clay says:

    @J R in WV:

    Have just finished Neal Stephenson’s latest huge novel. Very interesting, there are two plots that intertwine in the middle of the book, the first one is modern Hi-tech, followed by the introduction of a strange fantasy plot. I was a little disappointed by the ending of the book, it seemed a little flat.

    It was as if he just decided, Well, I’m done with this after 800 pages. So now I’m gonna wrap it up in the last 30 pages. No matter what or how.

    This literally describes almost every one of Stephenson’s novels. I love his stuff, but he doesn’t write endings, he writes stoppings.

    I’ve read The Broken Earth. It lives up to the hype. I’m currently reading A Game of Thrones, since I had always planned to once the show ended.

  126. 126
    Mary G says:

    @Tom Levenson: I’ve started Stephenson “Fall, or Dodge in Hell” on audiobook. It clicks in at more than 41 hours, which is a record by about six hours of all the books I’ve listened to.

    It was said to be a sequel to “Reamde,” but except for characters, it’s completely different . There’s a lot of philosophy and tech, no hijinks.

  127. 127
    J R in WV says:

    @Citizen Alan:

    Would it be churlish to recommend the novel I just published on Amazon? The 5 people reviews it all seemed to like it.

    Of course not, all the Jackal authors do that. But you gotta post a link, or the title, or somefing!!!

    SEE:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    @Citizen Alan: what’s it called? Link to it! See if TaMara will do a post about it??

  128. 128

    @karen marie: have you read the Dirk Gently books? Douglas Adams did his own audiobooks.

  129. 129
    pika says:

    @opiejeanne: Oh, I hope you do return to the third book! Jemisin leavens with some humor, but the big reveal is about love and storytelling.

  130. 130
    Jim Parish says:

    @H.E.Wolf: There’s also the eight-book prequel series, “The House of Niccolo”.

  131. 131
    Gemina13 says:

    Because it’s never just one book at a time: Wolf’s Blood, by Jane Lindskold; A Secret History: The Book of Ash #1, by Mary Gentle, and The Summer of the Danes, by Ellis Peters.

    I have N.K. Jemisin’s first trilogy, and I love her work. I’ve been putting off getting the Broken Earth trilogy until my to-be-read pile diminishes somewhat, though.

    Also, if anyone can recommend good sources on Etruscan history, culture, and religion, especially during the final century of the Roman Republic, I’d be very grateful. I have some research to do.

  132. 132
    Ruckus says:

    @RSA:
    Don’t think we are actually saying anything different, just from different directions.
    Example. Some shouldn’t drink alcohol. Should all alcohol be banned? No. And I don’t drink, stopped about 15 yrs ago, and I’m not actually an abuser, I just find my life is better without it. Doesn’t mean everyone is the same.
    Guns. They have a use. That use is less as time goes on and as there are far more of us. Which from the must have guns perspective means that everyone should have one. But that means that the people who can’t use them successfully would be able to have them, as we see regularly.
    The problem with both is that the effects affect more than just the people who shouldn’t have them do. We can’t rid ourselves of most anything that can harm us, most of those things have some use to us. Guns and alcohol are just two that are at the forefront of the use/harm conundrum, primarily because they are so accessible. Lots of medications are like this, methamphetamines have a legitiment use, although there are other products which might be better, with less side effects.

  133. 133
    The Lodger says:

    @Major Major Major Major: Becky Chambers is another non-dystopian writer. I’ve only read of her books though. (This comment is really for Karen Marie.)

  134. 134
    zhena gogolia says:

    @Bill Arnold:

    “The Demons” (or I prefer the Michael Katz translation, Devils) is the best!

  135. 135
    Manyakitty says:

    @Emerald: I always entertained the idea of a Bleak House scarf. Pick a color for each of the four winds, cast on will all of them, knit the first stitch with all of them, then back and forth with whatever direction came up, in order. It would be Doctor Who length, and definitely a conversation piece.

  136. 136
    zhena gogolia says:

    @NotMax:

    You don’t have to tell me!

  137. 137
    Ruckus says:

    @Chacal Charles Calthrop:
    Exactly why I didn’t like the “She Jane Run Into Dick” books when I was a kid.

    Maybe that wasn’t the exact title……..

  138. 138
    Ruckus says:

    @J R in WV:

    If they just lived longer, and weren’t underwater, they might surpass us. Or replace us.

    And of course there is the concept that we did evolve from sea animals at some long, long ago time. Many not all that evolved mind you…….

  139. 139
    NotMax says:

    @zhena gogolia

    It was really intended for the less – um – annually challenged.

    :)

  140. 140
    J R in WV says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    “So it was a Neal Stephenson book, is what you’re saying.”

    Well, they aren’t all wholly like that are they? Really?

    He does tend to go there a little, sometimes… like he gets impatient to be done, or is looking at missing a contract deadline… Scalzi does that sometimes, goes away to make it happen on time…

    ETA> I read pretty fast so giant SF or fantasy books are highly preferred, I feel like I get my money’s worth out of them…

  141. 141
    PapuJones says:

    @Emerald: I have Bleak House on my on deck reading circle. Every so often my brain craves 19th Century English fiction…

  142. 142

    @J R in WV: I would say Stephenson is up there with Stephen King (who I immensely respect!) in terms of inability to end a book *most of the time*.

  143. 143
    J R in WV says:

    @J R in WV:

    “Doesn’t end, just stops…”

    That’s great, and he does tend to do that more than most. But you get SO many words~!!~

  144. 144
    geg6 says:

    @J R in WV:

    In regards to your ETA, that’s why I love histories, biographies, JK Rowling (and her pseudonym) and Diana Gabaldon so much. Huge, honking tomes make me happy. Unless they are sci-fi or Neal Stephenson books. Yuk! ;-)

  145. 145
    RSA says:

    @Ruckus: No disagreement on my end.

  146. 146
    prostratedragon says:

    The Art of Data Science by Roger Peng and Elizabeth Matsui. Enjoyable reading that deals not with methods, but with how to approach a data project through its various stages of development. Could be useful even to non-data scientists.

  147. 147
    H.E.Wolf says:

    @Comrade Colette Collaboratrice:

    @H.E.Wolf:

    I stan the Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett (six-book series, written in the 1960s, set in sixteenth-century Europe), though there are some aspects that may be problematic nowadays.

    Come stan by me. Dunnett is a banquet that will serve you all your days.

    Wonderful pun; and I agree with you. Do you have a favourite in the Johnson Johson series? I enjoy all the books, but Beltanno Douglas MacRannoch (“I can’t help it if it sounds like a war chant”) edges the rest at the post.

  148. 148
    H.E.Wolf says:

    @Jim Parish:

    @H.E.Wolf: There’s also the eight-book prequel series, “The House of Niccolo”.

    I read them as they first came out (and also King Hereafter). They have many staunch fans, although I’m not one of them. I’m Team Lymond all the way. :)

    I’m glad you mentioned them, though! They may hit the historical-fiction bullseye for other folks on this thread.

  149. 149
    Chacal Charles Calthrop says:

    @NotMax: glad to hear it! Girl Genius was my introduction to his work.

  150. 150
    H.E.Wolf says:

    Ruthanna Emrys has a two-book series: Winter Tide and Deep Roots.

    I’m not sure how to classify them. They’re set in the USA, shortly after WWII. In this world, Lovecraft’s monsters are the protagonists, rather than the antagonists. They were interned during WWII, in the same camps as citizens of Japanese descent, and at the beginning of the 1st novel (1950s) are almost extinct.

    The plot follows a sister and brother as they return to their hometown on the East Coast and search for documents relating to their family and community history.

    The writer’s style will work for some readers and not for others. It’s an interesting lens through which to view racism, other-ing, and both birth families and chosen families. I’d say it falls on the optimistic rather than pessimistic part of the spectrum.

  151. 151
    NotMax says:

    @Chacal Charles Calthrop

    Someplace in this cottage have a stuffed animal version (around 3/4 size) of The Winslow from Foglio’s Buck Godot which one talented member of our gaming group made in bulk as holiday presents for us one year long ago.

  152. 152

    Going through the Merchant Wars series by Charlie Stross right now

    Just returned Tinker by Wen Spencer to the library. I like how it has become a “thing” that my 10 year daughter and I will head to the library for an hour or two most Sundays now. The first 10-15 minutes are us going our separate ways to find a book or five, and then the rest of the afternoon we are in chairs side by side reading and occasionally giggling. There may be coffee and cookies involved.

  153. 153
    karen marie says:

    @Chacal Charles Calthrop: Have I got the book for you! I thought I knew everything about 19th C English literature but Librivox has disabused me of that notion but good. I am about halfway through That Unfortunate Marriage by Frances Eleanor Trollope – sister-in-law to Anthony Trollope. It is absolutely wonderful.

  154. 154
    Corey says:

    @Jerzy Russian: That is some ooooold-school shit. Get up to date with Statistical Rethinking by Richard McElreath. (I should really get around to reading it myself.)

  155. 155
    karen marie says:

    @Emerald: Have you experienced Mil Nicholson reading Dickens for Librivox? She is my favorite reader of all time. She does amazing voices, and maintains them all the way through. Let her read Dombey and Son to you.

  156. 156
    J R in WV says:

    Can’t believe data analysis and statistics are in recommended reading.

    Not that those aren’t interesting topics… but I’m looking for escapism, not more details on how bad things really are.

  157. 157
    Enzymer says:

    Just finished re-reading the Iskryne series by Sarah Monette & Elizabeth Bear.

  158. 158
    scav says:

    @J R in WV:
    A) if it absorbs the mind, it’s escapist (although not necessarily for all escapees) and
    B) no reason to give up English because the current front page has bad news. Some statistical,analyses are just the messanger.

  159. 159
    Gwangung says:

    A) I was lucky enough to get. Mr. Foglio to do the posters for the trilogy of steampunk stage plays I produced. We had a couple fanboys before we began; by the third play, we were ALL fanboys/girls.

    B) I don’t discourage white writers from handling POC-centric stories. I just remind them that if they do it poorly, they’ll get critiqued like hell. Because a lot of them really DON’t know what the hell they’re writing, and folks will remind them of that, with chapter and verse.

  160. 160
    J R in WV says:

    I’m sorry I’m so late to this, but a fellow Jackal wrote a British Regency novel with a magic twist, and talked about it here on B-J a few days ago.

    “Mary Bennet and the Bingley Codex” is the name of the novel, and I’ve finished it, and gave it all five [ 5 ] stars on my Amazon review. I’m not at all fond of Pride and Prejudice, or British novels of that era. But the addition of the protagonist’s discovery of a strange book in her brother-in-law’s library and her gradual discovery that she can indeed master magic makes this much more interesting.

    Highly recommended. Her B-J ‘nym is JoyceH so maybe she’s out now…

    Sorry JoyceH! Hope you don’t mind compiiments to your pen name. Once the novel is published, you were doomed anyway!!

  161. 161
    sempronia says:

    The Invisible Library series by Genevieve Cogman: pure escapist novels about Irene, an agent of the Library, which seeks to establish order among the worlds by acquiring rare books (this stabilizes the world by connecting it to the Library), sometimes by very flashy, swashbuckling means. Irene is named for Irene Adler, the only woman to outsmart Sherlock Holmes. The author clearly loves libraries. I’ve never seen anyone recommend the series here, but these books are really fun.

  162. 162
    RSA says:

    @sempronia: I just finished the first novel in the series a few weeks ago–yes, quite fun! Cogman does a thoughtful job of integrating different fantastical influences into her universe-building.

  163. 163
    Tehanu says:

    I had read Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and disliked it, but my daughter-in-law kept pushing The Broken Earth trilogy on me. I finally gave in and read it — and I admired it so much that I went back to the 100,000 (it’s a trilogy too) and found out I’d totally misread it the first time, and couldn’t wait to get through the whole thing! Really wonderful books, so imaginative and different from the usual quasi-medieval-quest-Tolkien-knockoffs. And karen marie, if you get down this far in the thread, you must try Daniel Abraham’s incredible Long Price Quartet: A Shadow in Summer, A Betrayal in Winter, An Autumn War, and The Price of Spring. You’ll thank me!

  164. 164
    RSA says:

    Oh, and to connect a couple of threads, Cogman mentions in her bio that she has an MSc in statistics. :-)

  165. 165
    sempronia says:

    @RSA: Glad to find that someone else is enjoying them too! You may also like the two Magnus Flyte books – City of Dark Magic and City of Lost Dreams. Similarly fast-paced, with a strong, competent, witty female protagonist. These are set in Prague.

  166. 166
    edward markham says:

    I mistakenly read the third book first, but then i had to read it again, after reading the first two. Amazing. the last one is the author said she was dealing with her mother’s death, and it shows in the mother daughter book relationship.

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