Book Recommendations?

babakotia wrote:

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

I'm about 3/4 of the way through it, and I just bought it yesterday. Buy it.

Serengeti wrote:
babakotia wrote:

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

I'm about 3/4 of the way through it, and I just bought it yesterday. Buy it.

I'm looking for good post-apocalyptic settings as well. Anyone read Colson Whitehead's Zone One? I'm really intrigued by this since Whitehead isn't a genre author and his The Intuitionist was a damn fine book.

Dirty skimmer here

I just finished the Game of Thrones series and all the Dresdan books and need something new for all my travelling this fall (solar panel conferences). Thought I'd look into Codex of Aleria since I loved Dresdan so much, but I don't know anyone who's read them.

Also thinking about Discworld... although I don't know where to start in the series or if it holds up... some of the older fantasy/ sci fi stuff just doesn't keep me engaged. Basically I am looking for classic fantasy/ scifi books I need to read... have gone through some of the Forgotten realms stuff with Drizzit and a few dragonlance. They are ok, but not as engaging as something like Dresdan. Read Harry Potter, LoTR/ The Hobbit, The Inheritance books (loved the magic system but hated the ending), and most of the Shannara series.

I'm looking for entertainment as opposed to depth...

Codex of Aleria is fun and a good read. Butcher's always wanted to do fantasy, and when he got the chance, he dived into it wholeheartedly.

Thanks for the Quicksilver thoughts. It continues to sit, un-opened on the desk for now thanks to the rigors of work/kids and the not-rigors of Guild Wars 2, but I'm going to dip the toes in this weekend and see if it grabs me.

manta173:

The Black Company Books — Cooke (at least books 1-3, although I like 'em all)
The First Law Trilogy — Abercrombie
Lies of Locke Lamora (and Red Seas Under Red Skies) — Scott Lynch
Tigana — Kay (like mentioned above)

lostlobster wrote:

manta173:

The Black Company Books — Cooke (at least books 1-3, although I like 'em all)
The First Law Trilogy — Abercrombie
Lies of Locke Lamora (and Red Seas Under Red Skies) — Scott Lynch
Tigana — Kay (like mentioned above)

+1 to the bolded, and I'll add:

The seven Fafhrd and the Gray Mouse (aka Lankhmar) books by Fritz Leiber are classic, seminal entertaining sword-and-sorcery adventure.

The original Conan stories by Robert E. Howard. Del Ray has published them in North America in three volumes as The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian, The Bloody Crown of Conan, and the The Conquering Sword of Conan.

I'll add a +1 to the Codex Alera. Solid, workmanly (not a bad thing, Butcher has good technique and works hard, no laziness or cut corners) novels with good character development arcs and interesting villains. Also, it has a nice tie into the lost roman legion genre of fantasy/sci-fi.

If you like the urban fantasy setting of Dresden, consider Charlie Stross' Laundry novels. Butcher draws on noire detective fiction and celtic faire folklore to build set his novels, Stross draws on cold-war espianage novels and Lovecraftian horror tales, with a bit of IT geekery thrown in. They are also very British to balance Dresden's Chicago.

If you want something similar-ish to ASoIaF, consider Daniel Abraham's Dagger & Coin novels, Rothfuss' Name of the Wind et. al. (Rothfuss' hero is a smug self-satisfied twit, but I somehow keep wanting to read about his smug, self-satisfied twit adventures.), or best yet: Brandon Sanderson's The Way of Kings. Sanderson knows how to keep readers turning pages. Way of Kings is really good stuff. It will have you ignoring the fact that he's learned all of Robert Jordan's secrets of tight plot exposition.

Oso wrote:

smug self-satisfied twit

How could I have forgotten to mention the Cugel books by Jack Vance! (Though Cugel is far from a twit, he is smug, self-satisfied, and completely and utterly deplorable.) The Eyes of the Overworld, and Cugel's Saga; or get them together with The Dying Earth, and Rhialto the Marvellous in the Tales of the Dying Earth omnibus.

I will absolutely second Jack Vance. Pretty much anything he has written (dude is still alive, blind now, turned 96 yesterday) is fantastic. And he's a self-taught writer. Incredibly good. Three of his stories are available online for free.

A sample, a teaser...

Through the dim forest came Liane the Wayfarer, passing along the shadowed glades with a prancing light-footed gait. He whistled, he caroled, he was plainly in high spirits. Around his finger he twirled a bit of wrought bronze—a circlet graved with angular crabbed characters, now stained black.

By excellent chance he had found it, banded around the root of an ancient yew. Hacking it free, he had seen the characters on the inner surface—rude forceful symbols, doubtless the cast of a powerful antique rune . . . Best take it to a magician and have it tested for sorcery.

Liane made a wry mouth. There were objections to the course. Sometimes it seemed as if all living creatures conspired to exasperate him. Only this morning, the spice merchant—what a tumult he had made dying! How carelessly he had spewed blood on Liane's c*ck comb sandals! Still, thought Liane, every unpleasantness carried with it compensation. While digging the grave he had found the bronze ring.

And Liane's spirits soared; he laughed in pure joy. He bounded, he leapt. His green cape flapped behind him, the red feather in his cap winked and blinked . . . But still—Liane slowed his step—he was no whit closer to the mystery of the magic, if magic the ring possessed.

Experiment, that was the word!

He stopped where the ruby sunlight slanted down without hindrance from the high foliage, examined the ring, traced the glyphs with his fingernail. He peered through. A faint film, a flicker? He held it at arm's length. It was clearly a coronet. He whipped off his cap, set the band on his brow, rolled his great golden eyes, preened himself . . . Odd. It slipped down on his ears. It tipped across his eyes. Darkness. Frantically Liane clawed it off . . . A bronze ring, a hand's-breadth in diameter. Queer.

He tried again. It slipped down over his head, his shoulders. His head was in the darkness of a strange separate space. Looking down, he saw the level of the outside light dropping as he dropped the ring.

Slowly down . . . Now it was around his ankles—and in sudden panic, Liane snatched the ring up over his body, emerged blinking into the maroon light of the forest.

He saw a blue-white, green-white flicker against the foliage. It was a Twk-man, mounted on a dragon-fly, and light glinted from the dragon-fly's wings.

Liane called sharply, "Here, sir! Here, sir!"

The Twk-man perched his mount on a twig. "Well, Liane, what do you wish?"

"Watch now, and remember what you see." Liane pulled the ring over his head, dropped it to his feet, lifted it back. He looked up to the Twk-man, who was chewing a leaf. "And what did you see?"

"I saw Liane vanish from mortal sight—except for the red curled toes of his sandals. All else was as air."

"Ha!" cried Liane. "Think of it! Have you ever seen the like?"

The Twk-man asked carelessly, "Do you have salt? I would have salt."

Liane cut his exultation short, eyed the Twk-man closely.

"What news do you bring me?"

"Three erbs killed Florejin the Dream-builder, and burst all his bubbles. The air above the manse was colored for many minutes with the flitting fragments."

"A gram."

"Lord Kandive the Golden has built a barge of carven mo-wood ten lengths high, and it floats on the River Scaum for the Regatta, full of treasure."

"Two grams."

"A golden witch named Lith has come to live on Thamber Meadow. She is quiet and very beautiful."

"Three grams."

"Enough," said the Twk-man, and leaned forward to watch while Liane weighed out the salt in a tiny balance. He packed it in small panniers hanging on each side of the ribbed thorax, then twitched the insect into the air and flicked off through the forest vaults.

Once more Liane tried the bronze ring, and this time brought it entirely past his feet, stepped out of it and brought the ring up into the darkness beside him. What a wonderful sanctuary! A hole whose opening could be hidden inside the hole itself! Down with the ring to his feet, step through, bring it up his slender frame and over his shoulders, out into the forest with a small bronze ring in his hand.

Ho! and off to Thamber Meadow to see the beautiful golden witch.

I've been reading Gladwell's "Blink." It's an interesting read with a bunch of references to presumably scientific studies. It's an interesting read.

This quote about Gladwell that stuck with me.

Big Idea tomes typically pull promiscuously from behavioral economics, cognitive science, and evolutionary psychology. They coin phrases the way Zimbabwe prints bills. They relish upending conventional wisdom: Not thinking becomes thinking, everything bad turns out to be good, and the world is—go figure—flat. (With Gladwell’s Blink, this mania for the counterintuitive runs top-speed into a wall, crumples to the ground, and stares dizzily at the little birds circling overhead. This is, let me remind you, a best-selling book about the counterintuitive importance of thinking intuitively.)

He's a good storyteller. His scientific expertise is best described by igon values debacle (I guess only mathematicians will get the importance of it, but do look up Steven Pinker's article in NYT on that) - it's not there so you shouldn't trust him to actually teach you anything.

Yeah, my thoughts on him exactly.

Gladwell is neither a scientist nor an educator. He's a book writer - his economic interest is in selling his books. So between the commonplace but accurate and the sensationalistic but somewhat made-up, he's more inclined to the latter. His ideas about how the world works, I think, ought to be given the weight of hard sci fi - very interesting, but not altogether reliable.

The way he intersperses his anecdotes with "studies" offers an interesting insight into the generation of urban mythology.

I was going to correct "igon values" until I decided to google "gladwell eigenvalue". Quite a surprise...

There's a "young adult" book I've been hearing about a lot lately that I believe is called "Insurgence." ...or something to that effect... Anyone familiar with it and if so, is it any good?

Deadpixel wrote:

There's a "young adult" book I've been hearing about a lot lately that I believe is called "Insurgence." ...or something to that effect... Anyone familiar with it and if so, is it any good?

I haven't read it yet, but assuming you meant Insurgent by Veronica Roth my 12 year old had mentioned that she liked it almost as much as The Hunger Games. Which may or may not help you depending on what kind of opinion you were looking for.

Staked wrote:
Deadpixel wrote:

There's a "young adult" book I've been hearing about a lot lately that I believe is called "Insurgence." ...or something to that effect... Anyone familiar with it and if so, is it any good?

I haven't read it yet, but assuming you meant Insurgent by Veronica Roth my 12 year old had mentioned that she liked it almost as much as The Hunger Games. Which may or may not help you depending on what kind of opinion you were looking for.

Insurgent is the second book of the series, the first is Divergent. One of my friends read it hoping it would be like the Hunger Games. She didn't have anything nice to say about the book.

Hmm... Maybe I'll pass... Wasn't a big fan of Hunger Games...

Robear wrote:

I will absolutely second Jack Vance. Pretty much anything he has written (dude is still alive, blind now, turned 96 yesterday) is fantastic. And he's a self-taught writer. Incredibly good. Three of his stories are available online for free.

I've got the "Dying Earth" collection on my to-read pile. I've been thinking of jumping in as soon as I'm caught up on "A Song of Ice and Fire"

Robear wrote:

I was going to correct "igon values" until I decided to google "gladwell eigenvalue". Quite a surprise...

Yeah. Here's Pinker's article from NYT if anyone's interested. Gladwell wasn't really magnanimous in his reaction: he admitted the mistake, but said it was just a matter of misspelling.

LarryC wrote:

Gladwell is neither a scientist nor an educator. He's a book writer - his economic interest is in selling his books. So between the commonplace but accurate and the sensationalistic but somewhat made-up, he's more inclined to the latter. His ideas about how the world works, I think, ought to be given the weight of hard sci fi - very interesting, but not altogether reliable.

The way he intersperses his anecdotes with "studies" offers an interesting insight into the generation of urban mythology.

Worse than just selling books, his business model is based around corporate speaking fees. This article has a table reporting that Gladwell gets $80K for a one-hour lecture. Easy to imagine that the book money is chump change compared to that; to him a book is more like a promotional pamphlet for the speaking engagements.

Gladwell is represented for speaking engagements by the Leigh Bureau, which has a ton of high-rent clients. You can go to their website to see what their deal is. Check out their big front-page splash for Cass Sunstein, "former business-friendly Regulatory Czar," which helps give a feel for their audience and their pitch. (Nothing against Cass Sunstein, who is a good scholar and a good teacher -- he has probably decided that this is one of the more harmless ways to get rich off his government service and professional eminence.)

I knocked out Insignia by Kincaid over the weekend for my mother. It's an above average young adult sci-fi/thriller type book. The premise contains a vision of the near future that actually scares me. Wars for resources in space are fought by proxy with robots that are controlled video game style by children of each nation. These nations are also proxies for the corporations that are vying for the resources. BLEH!

Fun and easy to read. 3 out of 5 stars. Great beach book or waiting room novel for those of you who do that sort of thing.

I'm appreciating Michael Chabon's Manhood for Amateurs more than I expected to. After Wonderboys, I always had a sneaking suspicion that Chabon was exactly the kind of self-aware manchild that his MarySue was. For whatever reason, I put Chabon in a category w/ Nick Hornby and John Irving as male writers who are just self-aware enough to write psuedo-intellectual crowd pleasers that make dudes feel better about themselves without actually having to confront anything unpleasant about themselves. This is probably unfair and more likely to be uninformed and reflecting something troubling in myself, but there you go. Recently, I've let Chabon and Hornby out of the dude-fic doghouse. (Irving can suck it.)

Anyway, this is just to say that Manhood for Amateurs is a very interesting set of autobiographical essays and reflections on being a guy. Highly recommended.

Oso — couldn't agree more about Chabon. The man's a magician with prose and I think has a lot to offer. I've yet to come to your conclusion with Hornby, myself. I liked Manhood for Amateurs as well, and can't wait for his next book. While I appreciate his work on behalf of genre writing and his essays, where he really shines is in a longer narrative. Have you read Kavalier & Clay?

LostLobster: Kavalier and Klay was amazing. Career making sort of stuff. I also really liked Gentlemen of the Road. I put down the Yiddish Policeman's Union for reasons unrelated to it or its quality. I should pick that up again.

Here are my arguments for Hornby: his stuff gets better as he ages and whatever sparks of brilliance he showed in his early stuff are still there, but are tempered and quieted by being a grown-up. I read A Long Way Down on a whim and was impressed by his restraint. What pushed me over the edge was reading Juliet, Naked this summer. If you haven't read it, I recommend it as a short novel that has the possibility of rehabilitating Hornby. He's no longer writing apologies for asshole guys who are charming and smart. Now, at least in Juliet, he's examining the consequences of being a charming genius asshole and he's honest and stark in the consequences of that lifestyle.

grobstein wrote:

Worse than just selling books, his business model is based around corporate speaking fees. This article has a table reporting that Gladwell gets $80K for a one-hour lecture. Easy to imagine that the book money is chump change compared to that; to him a book is more like a promotional pamphlet for the speaking engagements

That reminds me of a fun fact: Lehman Brothers president Joseph Gregory was a huge fan of 'Blink' and hired him to lecture employees "on trusting their instincts when making difficult decisions" back in 2005.

File under: dramatic irony.

Oso wrote:

LostLobster: Kavalier and Klay was amazing. Career making sort of stuff. I also really liked Gentlemen of the Road. I put down the Yiddish Policeman's Union for reasons unrelated to it or its quality. I should pick that up again.

Here are my arguments for Hornby: his stuff gets better as he ages and whatever sparks of brilliance he showed in his early stuff are still there, but are tempered and quieted by being a grown-up. I read A Long Way Down on a whim and was impressed by his restraint. What pushed me over the edge was reading Juliet, Naked this summer. If you haven't read it, I recommend it as a short novel that has the possibility of rehabilitating Hornby. He's no longer writing apologies for asshole guys who are charming and smart. Now, at least in Juliet, he's examining the consequences of being a charming genius asshole and he's honest and stark in the consequences of that lifestyle.

If you liked gentleman of the road, I hope you read some Fritz Lieber!

You seem to have misquoted me!

NathanialG wrote:

If you liked gentleman of the road, I hope you read some Fritz Lieber!

Not yet, but it goes on the list.