Thursday, March 26, 2009

You must read these. NOW.

Twiddling my thumbs, waiting for code to build and automated unit tests to run. Time to issue a decree to all denizens of Limboland!

And it is thus: read more.

I read. A lot. Not as much as The Wife, granted, who can sit down and polish off a decent-sized book (200-300 pages, say) in a single day if she has the time (new Taltos books from Brust seems to garner this attention, in particular), but I'd say I go through, on average, 2-3 books of fiction a month. Sometimes it's more, sometimes less - it all depends on the books currently in the queue.

My bent, naturally (as I am the Viscount of Nerd), is toward the more speculative of the fictive arts. F&SF, as the kids call it. Though I've been known to read other genre fiction - I will happily gobble up anything and everything from Stephen King, for example, and have a soft spot for Ludlum and even Clancy, Jebus save me - and have even occasionally dabbled in what is often referred to as "literature", or as I like to call it (in my head, where no one else can here, except for that one guy) "fiction with a high-falutin' accent", speculative fiction is my one true fictive love.

(Wow. Now that, friends, is a tortured sentence. I was going to edit it, but I thought I'd leave it up there as a shining example of how, exactly, not to write with the English. Also: lazy.)

Anyway: I am a reader. I wish for you would be too. Please to have some of my tasty recommendations from recently-read pile!

Anathem by Neal Stephenson - or as I privately refer to it, The Geeks Shall (Maybe) Inherit the (Not) Earth. You wouldn't know it from the first 150 pages or so, but this is probably one of NS's most "straightforward" science fiction books. Though "straightforward" means something totally different when NS is involved, I'll grant you that. This book is dense and large and intimidating, but it's well worth the effort. You'll find the first third or so a tough slog, and may even want to chuck the fucking thing across the room at points, but stick with it. If, for nothing else, the sheer beauty of world building done right.

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger - I read this about 6 months ago, so it's not really in my recently-read pile any more, but damn if this book didn't stick with me. It's one of the strangest, human, touching and tragic love stories I've ever read. Extremely well-written, to boot. Read it. Read it now!

Ghostwritten by David Mitchell - more a series of interconnected short stories than a proper novel, this is still an engrossing read. Mitchell pulls off the nifty trick of telling all of the stories in the first person and somehow giving each narrator, reliable or otherwise, their own distinct voices. It ends a little unsatisfactorily, but that's my only beef. Heh. Beef.

The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett - first-timer Brett has come up with a unique take on the classic high/epic fantasy milieu: what if demons rose from the ground every night, all night, and the only way to not get killed was to be behind a series of protective wards, sigils of a lost magic, and that even those wards might fail and you're toast? What would that world be like? This is actually my current read, and I'm about halfway through. Thoroughly enjoying it. Brutal in just the right amount, with characters that I actually kind of care about (my main beef with most epic fantasy). Suckiness: it's brand new, and book 1 of a series. So there's that.

Okay: unit tests done. Time to check in. And check out! Ha!

Go: read, dammit.

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