Mea Culpa: Geting this book roundup written has taken way too long. I’ve read a lot of books since the last installment, but haven’t had the discipline to jot down my notes, so these are only a few of the books that have scrolled across my Kindle.
Most of my energies have gone toward my Swedish-language podcast about America. Turns out blogging and podcasting scratch the same itch, but podcasting is way more labor-intensive. And fun! Podcasting is a lot of fun!
I believe this is what’s called foreshadowing.
Nevertheless, I have scolded myself appropriately, and will take better notes going forward.
A beautifully written memoir of growing up in a dysfunctional family of, not to put to fine a point on it, white trash, Hillbilly Elegy does a great job of showing the human cost of an honor culture out of touch with modern society.
Hillbilly Elegy is honest and raw, drenched in existential despair and hopelessness.
Mary Roach has made her writing career by being utterly non-squeamish and having a breezy and approachable writing style. In Gulp, she manages to make your digestive tract both very interesting and not all that gross.
She also found a very plausible theory for the myths about dragons you’ll have to read the book to learn.
But above all, Gulp really brings home how our digestive tracts really are us:
The great irony is that in the beginning, the gut was all there was. “We’re basically a highly evolved earthworm surrounding the intestinal tract,” Khoruts commented as we drove away from his clinic the last day I was there. Eventually, the food processor had to have a brain attached to help it look for food, and limbs to reach that food. That increased its size, so it needed a circulatory system to distribute the fuel that powered the limbs. And so on. Even now, the digestive tract has its own immune system and its own primitive brain, the so-called enteric nervous system. I recalled what Ton van Vliet had said at one point in our conversation: “People are surprised to learn: They are a big pipe with a little bit around it.”
The Stars are Legion turns space opera on its head by instead of imagining vast metallic space ships, it’s squishy and nightmarish, with generation ships designed as organic worlds. Which makes a lot of sense when you think about it.
The Stars are Legion takes place ages after the generation ships’ creation, long after most knowledge of how they function has been lost into myth. Hurley thrusts the reader straight into the action and does a fantastic job of letting the world building unfold organically—as it were—and there are times when you go, “Oh, of course that’s why things are this particular way!”
Like Hurley’s previous works, The Belle Dame Apocrypha and World Breaker, Legion is populated by strong women with agency. As a matter of fact, only women, which is one of those details that makes a lot of sense later on in the book.
It’s an engrossing take on space opera, but suffers a bit from a draggy middle where a trek flounders much too long and, as is par for the course for Hurley, you have to be in the mood for terrible, self-centered characters.
If you enjoy gritty novels or space opera, The Stars are Legion belongs in your reading list.
I am a huge fan of the Sandman Slim series—it’s one of the freshest, most irreverent gothic-slash-noir-slash-tattoos-everywhere series out there, but unfortunately this ninth installment just didn’t do it for me.
It feels like Kadrey is struggling with where to take our beloved Sandman next and The Kill Society kind of flounders around, searching. But—spoiler horn—there is a bit of a reset at the end, so the next installment could be great. Fingers crossed.
Note: The links are Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase through them I get a tiny kickback, which motivates me to keep writing these reviews. It’s appreciated.
Includes The Storm Before the Storm, White Trash, Calypso, Tell the Machine Goodnight, Prince of Fools, and Provenance.
Mostly excellent non-fiction in this installment. Includes Fantasyland, The Miracle of Dunkirk, Das Reich, The Undoing Project, Waiting for the Punch, Vacationland and Points of Impact.
Lots of sci-fi in this installment. Includes Retribution, Boomerang, The Collapsing Empire, All Systems Red, and Ninefox Gambit.
A worthy inclusion to the Malazan canon and great high fantasy to disappear into in troubled times.
Includes a mea culpa, Hillbilly Elegy, Gulp, The Stars are Legion, and The Kill Society.
Lots of fiction series in this one. Includes Grunt, 1177 B.C., Louder Than Hell, Smarter Faster Better, The Hanging Tree, Death’s End, Chains of Command, and Who Killed Sherlock Holmes?.
Hey kids, you like epic fantasy? ’Cause I've got some epic fantasy for you.
This installment features grimdark fantasy, peppy astronauts and the Roman Empire. Includes SPQR, And On That Bombshell, The Code Book, Schiit Happened, Beyond Redemption, The Severed Streets, The Martian and Veiled.
Includes The Antidote, One Nation, Under Gods, Losing the Signal, The Todd Glass Situation, The Last Policeman, The Three-Body Problem, The Dark Forest, Beacon 23, Killing Pretty and Queen of Fire.
Lots of fantasy and sci-fi in this installment plus a book about sports! Includes Boy on Ice, Difficult Men, Restaurant Man, The Red Line, Cunning Plans, Seveneves, Nemesis Games, Bitter Seeds, The Mechanical, Angles of Attack, and City of Stairs.
Nic is sad about Terry Pratchett's passing. Includes No Land’s Man, Idiot America, Something Coming Through, The Burning Room, Foxglove Summer, and The Dark Defiles.
Things go dark and magical in this installment. Includes So, Anyway…, Yes Please, The Mirror Empire, London Falling, Broken Homes, Perfidia, The Peripheral, Burning Chrome, and the Bel Dame Apocrypha Omnibus.
Lots of good reads in this installment. Includes All Hell Let Loose, Metallica: This Monster Lives, 10% Happier, Onward, Echopraxia, Cibola Burn, The Getaway God, Lock In, The Red: First Light, Terms of Enlistment, and Lines of Departure.
Solid reads abound in this installment of the roundup. Includes Console Wars, Your Inner Fish, Flash Boys, Digital Wars, The Perfect Storm, Tower Lord, By Blood We Live, I am Pilgrim and Lexicon.
Some great reads and a huge disappointment in this installment. Includes The Loudest Voice in the Room, Hatching Twitter, Dogfight, Ancillary Justice, KOP Killer, The Circle, Working God’s Mischief and Where Eagles Dare.
Some solid reading awaits you in this installment. Includes The Outpost, Masters of Doom, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, The Everything Store, Bomber Command, Gods of Guilt, and Low Town.
A slimmer-than-usual book roundup is heavy on the non-fiction, including several must-read titles.
Another book roundup, including some stellar athletes and soldiers, what might be the most jaded, soul-weary protagonist ever, and some grimdark fantasy.
The Core Dump is back! Books were read during the hiatus. Includes The Coldest Winter, Oh, Myyy!, Tough Sh*t, The Revolution Was Televised, The Rook, Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, Gun Machine, Fortress Frontier, Standing in Another Man’s Grave, and The Memory of Light.
From a true patriot to a world-weary detective, a dead god, and a civilization about to sublime from the galaxy, this book roundup spans the gamut. Includes Where Men Win Glory, Wild, Inside the Box, The Black Box, Three Parts Dead, Red Country, and The Hydrogen Sonata.
From the heights of athletic excellence to the depths of depravity, this roundup includes The First 20 Minutes, Double Cross, The Heroin Diaries, Tattoos and Tequila, Dodger, Farthing, and Devil Said Bang.
Includes Wabi-Sabi, Making Things Happen, D-Day, Tallula Rising, Blood Song, The Americans and Amped. All in all, a happy romp through the meadows of literature.
Includes Search Inside Yourself, The Information Diet, Redshirts, The Gone-Away World, Wool, Leviathan Wakes, and Prince of Thorns. One of these may very well change your life.
Includes Shadow Ops: Control Point, The Night Circus, The Hunger Games, Quiet, The Science of Yoga, and Kitchen Confidential. Lots of good stuff in this one.
Includes Angelmaker, The Magicians, Magician King, Iron Council, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Distrust That Particular Flavor, and Talking to Girls About Duran Duran. One of these is the most important book of 2011.
Includes The Drop, Ready Player One, Moon Called, Among Others, Excession, Inferno, The Paleo Solution and I am Ozzy.
Includes Sandman Slim, Snuff, The Cold Commands, Reamde, Goodbye Darkness, Steve Jobs and The Psychopath Test.
Some books you might enjoy reading.