Book Recommendations?

In other reading, I'm finishing up book two of Charlie Stross' Laundry Series. I'm seriously, seriously digging it. Stross describes it as a cross between Len Deighton Cold War espionage novel with Lovecraftian horror elements, but it also works as an Urban Fantasy with a very British twist. The hero (Bob Howard) is more of a geek than a spy or a detective. As he puts it: "I know all the POSIX options to the kill(l) command, doing it with my bare hands is beyond my sphere of competence."

After reading most of two Laundry novels, plus Halting State and Rule 34, I'm ready to catapult Stross near the top of my favorite genre writers list.

Oso wrote:

kill(l)

That's "kill(1)".

Stross is pretty good. I felt that the Laundry stuff tailed off a bit (although I haven't read the latest one, yet.) I wish he'd write a new book in the Eschaton universe—I thought those books were pretty excellent, and want to hear more about

Spoiler:

how the conflict between the Eschaton and the Unborn God develops. I guess the real danger is that a war involving causality violation could be... more than a little difficult to describe. But keep it to cloak and dagger stuff, and it could work.

What else. Hmm. I highly recommend [em]Glasshouse[/em]. I remember thinking it was quite good, although it's been longer since I've re-read it.

I finished his latest novel, The Apocalypse Codex, a couple of weeks ago and it's my favorite Laundry book yet. The plot is a bit more straightforward than the previous books, but it makes up for it by exploring the hidden heirarchy of the Laundry and moving the mythology of the series in some interesting directions.

El Taco, as a 17-year-old, I believe you are compelled to read, and love a little too much (though we wouldn't blame you) 1984 and Brave New World. Although I'd recommend We, by Evgeny Zamyatin.

tboon wrote:

The Name of the Rose is a great book, but it is intentionally hard to get into.

Umbert Eco wrote:

I wanted the reader to go through a penitential experience as he entered the book, just as a medieval monk went through strenuous tests when he entered the monastery.

So, be warned, that first bit is a doozy. But it does get so so good.

I'm almost finished The Name of the Rose, and yes it's fantastic. I rolled with all the history and the Latin (so much Latin) at the beginning (even typing it into Google Tanslate, though that fizzled out after a couple dozen pages ), just pronouncing it and hoping to recognize a word or two. It is, if nothing else, a pretty riveting murder mystery, in addition to being a plain entertaining read.

"But we never got the chance, as two nights later the most terrible thing occurred. But I should not get ahead of myself. For now..." or words to that effect, that guarantee that I can't read just one chapter at a time.

Have you read Ghost Radio by Leopoldo Gout? I just finished it a few days ago.
It has some Dead Kennedys going on, some underground radio, and a lot of weirdness. It's one of those books that I'm not sure I'd recommend, but I keep thinking about it.

Today I started The Remaining by DJ Molles. I loved the beginning, but I'm not too sure about the first time he steps outside; a week or two after an infectious disease hits, and... BAM! all of the sudden we have gangs of murderous inbred overweight gun-savvy bisexual pedophile rapists roaming the countryside. How about just a common thief or trespasser or two to start off, dewd?

I read 1984 a couple of years ago, liked it enough. Preferred Animal Farm though (knowing that the pigs were just stand-ins for political figures felt super-gratifying).

El-Taco-the-Rogue:

Some recommendations on reading, and some books as well:

I think it's important to understand that while most of the classics are classics for a reason, they're often mired in the politics, wordcrafting, and idioms of their time. Some of them have been translated later on in more more modern idiom and words, but that's not always the case, and the translations rarely capture the sense of the work perfectly. You may have to do some imagining of what the author may have meant or how it may have been worded originally.

Les Miserables is one of the best books I've ever read. I consider it a better read than anything by Dumas, or Dickens. That said, it's, er, "episodic," I guess. It's closer to a Korean telenovela in approach and pacing than it is to modern novel-writing or any other programming. Even then, the Korean telenovelas are probably better focused and faster paced.

You might think about DA2 as a point of comparison; many of the story arcs that appeared random and non-contributory eventually end up falling into the main plot one way or another; usually in important ways.

I'd recommend a complete reading of all the Sherlock Holmes stories. The setting is familiar, and Holmes is as odd to anyone as he ever was in any time period. Moreover, this basic material will allow you to more thoroughly enjoy mystery works that came after, as they often parody, refer to, or subvert Doyle materal at some point.

Dumas is a good writer; and he also supplies a good portion of the cultural lexicon in modern Western works. It's a good idea to read all his major books. Count of Monte Cristo is a classic piece to start off. Highly recommended.

Not too sure about Dickens. Full disclosure; I've never liked his works, and I don't like them any better as I've aged.

All that said, I wouldn't concern myself overmuch about "reading the good stuff," as it were. Those things that people now get snobby over used to be considered in a vein similar to comic books. You should ground yourself equally in the cultural touchstones of your time, so divide your reading time between classics and modern works of your liking, with an emphasis for works that are easy to read (like Hunger Games). I often have many books on tap once I got them on the ol' iPad, and I read them chapter to chapter.

I'd also like to break into the merits of reading works over and over again. I have favorite books whose turns of phrase and clever puns I like so much that I read them regularly for the experience. Like some of my classic games, they go on "The Rotation," so I have an easy pick-up-and-read book that I know will deliver me an experience I will enjoy. I often pick up nuances and meanings that I didn't catch the first time around, and this informs me and upgrades my own reading skill for reading new books down the line. "Pride and Prejudice" and "Return of Sherlock Holmes" are both on my rotation dock.

Has anyone read The Dog Stars by Peter Heller? I'm thinking of picking it up as I like the post-apocalyptic setting.

Oso wrote:

In other reading, I'm finishing up book two of Charlie Stross' Laundry Series. I'm seriously, seriously digging it. Stross describes it as a cross between Len Deighton Cold War espionage novel with Lovecraftian horror elements, but it also works as an Urban Fantasy with a very British twist. The hero (Bob Howard) is more of a geek than a spy or a detective. As he puts it: "I know all the POSIX options to the kill(l) command, doing it with my bare hands is beyond my sphere of competence."

After reading most of two Laundry novels, plus Halting State and Rule 34, I'm ready to catapult Stross near the top of my favorite genre writers list.

I totally need to move the Laundry Series higher up on my to-read pile after seeing that quote above.

I'm currently reading Libriomancer by Jim C Hines and it is easily the most fun I've had reading a book all summer.

I finished the last book of the Fionavar Trilogoy. Overall a great series. Kay doesn't have my favorite writing style, a little too much cheese for my taste, but there were plenty of strong emotional moments to balance it out. Also, some well realized and three dimensional characters.

I'm not sure if this will crack my top ten fantasy series list, but it is for sure worth reading. A Squee9 reccomendation.

A random spolier thought:

Spoiler:

Prince Diarmuid is a beast.

I like Kay fairly well — Tigana is one of my favorite fantasy novels — but didn't care for the Fionavar Trilogy. I feel like he had to get all that Tolkien out of his system before he could move on and find his own voice. Inevitable, probably, from spending all that time helping out with The Silmarillion.

If you haven't read Tigana, I highly recommend it. Many thumbs up.

I recently finished The Black Company series by Glen Cook. I really, really, really enjoyed it. It was a lot of fun from start to finish, and I've been recommending it to everyone I can get to listen to me (which is, honestly, 2 or 3 people).

The last 3 weeks, I've spent a ton of time in my car, so I listened to The Magician King by Lev Grossman. I immediately remembered why I simultaneously loved and hated The Magicians. It's an interesting combination of really liking the universe and style and realism(ish) of the characters, but hating those characters with the fire of a thousand burning suns.

Fortunately, the main character, Quentin, grows up quite a bit between the beginning of The Magicians and the end of The Magician King. In many ways, it's a much more realistic "coming of age" story than most I've read. Because he basically transitions from totally self-centered asshole to mostly self-centered asshole, a much more realistic transformation. It's a very good duology (don't know if there is a third in the works or not), but I have a hard time recommending to anyone.

Finally, I'm closing in on half way through The Android's Dream by John Scalzi. So far, I really, really enjoy it. It has a good mix of light sci-fi, comedy, action, and mystery-esque elements. I really enjoy his humor, and continue to want to listen. It's a very nice change of pace from The Magician King.

There is a third Magicians book coming out.

Just finished "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn. Perfect thriller/beach read with a couple of decent twists.

As a Neal Stephenson fan, I checked out Quicksilver from the library on a whim. Can anyone here speak to whether or not this thing (and its follow-ups) are worth the time?

<>

Sorry for double post.

lostlobster wrote:

I like Kay fairly well — Tigana is one of my favorite fantasy novels — but didn't care for the Fionavar Trilogy. I feel like he had to get all that Tolkien out of his system before he could move on and find his own voice. Inevitable, probably, from spending all that time helping out with The Silmarillion.

If you haven't read Tigana, I highly recommend it. Many thumbs up.

Maybe I'll hit up Tigana for my next car book. Is there a Scott Vance audiobook floating around?

Squee9 wrote:
lostlobster wrote:

I like Kay fairly well — Tigana is one of my favorite fantasy novels — but didn't care for the Fionavar Trilogy. I feel like he had to get all that Tolkien out of his system before he could move on and find his own voice. Inevitable, probably, from spending all that time helping out with The Silmarillion.

If you haven't read Tigana, I highly recommend it. Many thumbs up.

Maybe I'll hit up Tigana for my next car book. Is there a Scott Vance audiobook floating around?

Simon Vance, in fact

It's a good reading of the book, though the graphic sex scenes are a bit awkward if you carpool

ScurvyDog wrote:

As a Neal Stephenson fan, I checked out Quicksilver from the library on a whim. Can anyone here speak to whether or not this thing (and its follow-ups) are worth the time? :)

For me, those books were kind of work to get into. But I'm glad I went through them. Definitely an interesting type of "Science Fiction" that is based in the past vs the future.

So it depends on what you like and how deep you want to go into that kind of historical fiction.

ScurvyDog wrote:

As a Neal Stephenson fan, I checked out Quicksilver from the library on a whim. Can anyone here speak to whether or not this thing (and its follow-ups) are worth the time? :)

Stephenson's Baroque Cycle is a pretty divisive series. You'll find it mentioned in the
Books that people HATE thread and in the What's the Worst Book You've Ever Read? thread.

It is also has a TON of "I LOVE THIS SERIES" threads and posts.

I happen to think that the Baroque Cycle is Stephenson's best work and an amazing series that ties history, economics, adventure, and philosophy into a amazing tale. It is a science fiction story set in a historical fiction setting. I've read it and also listened to it on audio books and look forward to doing so again. I also think those that hate it probably have shortened attention spans, possibly from eating paint chips as children but I may not be completely objective on the subject.

Tanglebones wrote:
Squee9 wrote:
lostlobster wrote:

I like Kay fairly well — Tigana is one of my favorite fantasy novels — but didn't care for the Fionavar Trilogy. I feel like he had to get all that Tolkien out of his system before he could move on and find his own voice. Inevitable, probably, from spending all that time helping out with The Silmarillion.

If you haven't read Tigana, I highly recommend it. Many thumbs up.

Maybe I'll hit up Tigana for my next car book. Is there a Scott Vance audiobook floating around?

Simon Vance, in fact

It's a good reading of the book, though the graphic sex scenes are a bit awkward if you carpool

Bah, I was thinking Scott Lynch, the author of the other fantasy series I did as an audiobook. The guy who read those was awesome as well. Classy older Brits make good fantasy readers.

ScurvyDog wrote:

As a Neal Stephenson fan, I checked out Quicksilver from the library on a whim. Can anyone here speak to whether or not this thing (and its follow-ups) are worth the time? :)

Personally I love them. They're an investment but one that, I think, is worth it. As a creation, it's breathtaking in scope and imagination. I am gobsmacked that one man generated it. Long hand. With a fountain pen.

IMAGE(http://www.nealstephenson.com/img/photo_manEntire.gif)

Not taking anything away from Stephenson's accomplishment, but that is true of every single book written before 1867. And a great many since.

Want to bend your noodle - go look at the classics section and realize how many of them came out that way. Imagine drafting out War and Peace longhand, in Russian.

momgamer wrote:

Not taking anything away from Stephenson's accomplishment, but that is true of every single book written before 1867. And a great many since.

Want to bend your noodle - go look at the classics section and realize how many of them came out that way. Imagine drafting out War and Peace longhand, in Russian.

True, but in today's world, doing that for a roughly 2,700 page story is unusual.

MannishBoy wrote:
momgamer wrote:

Not taking anything away from Stephenson's accomplishment, but that is true of every single book written before 1867. And a great many since.

Want to bend your noodle - go look at the classics section and realize how many of them came out that way. Imagine drafting out War and Peace longhand, in Russian.

True, but in today's world, doing that for a roughly 2,700 page story is unusual.

Wasn't disputing that at all. And I'm mortally glad we have a choice nowadays. I do sometimes draft by hand for blog entries, diaries, and etc and that's enough of that for me.

It easy to write it by hand when you don't have to worry about editing. /baroque cycle snark

momgamer wrote:

Imagine drafting out War and Peace longhand, in Russian.

Bullsh*t, Tolstoy was a WordPerfect guy to the core.

ColdForged wrote:
momgamer wrote:

Imagine drafting out War and Peace longhand, in Russian.

Bullsh*t, Tolstoy was a WordPerfect guy to the core.

Combining this w/ the Stephenson conversation above, insert "Stephen King's Wang joke in 3, 2, 1 ..."

Just finished Talullla Rising, the sequel to The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan. Good read, if you liked The Last Werewolf you'll like this.

ScurvyDog wrote:

As a Neal Stephenson fan, I checked out Quicksilver from the library on a whim. Can anyone here speak to whether or not this thing (and its follow-ups) are worth the time? :)

Ha, I just found Quicksilver when backpacking through Europe in a cheap bookstore (€3.5) in Lausanne, so we could compare notes after you're done with it

Incidentally, that was a best cheap bookstore ever, with things like beautiful 1915 edition of Through the Looking Glass for €1 buried between this and heaps of self-help books. I also picked up some nice old Dickens hardcovers and Niall Ferguson's Empire for one Euro each. Then had to travel with it all on my back all over the Europe, but I'm not complaining ;]

NathanialG wrote:

There is a third Magicians book coming out.

what where when
Second book was kind of sh*te (fun but lacking in charm of the first one for me), though, so I'm not that excited for it.