ChrisG regains his mojo in 23

Discussão75 Books Challenge for 2023

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ChrisG regains his mojo in 23

Fev 8, 7:07 pm

I'm back after dropping off last summer. Went into a reading slump & stopped posting. Still finished the year having read 100 books, but 80% of that was thru July.

Got rolling again in the New Year. I'll be returning to reading more sci fi - my first reading love, along with a smattering of classics & modern lit fic, mysteries, history/biography & miscellany.

Here's the list read to date:

1. Dynasty by Tom Holland
2. When the Light Goes by Larry McMurtry
3. The Revolutionary: Samuel Adams by Stacy Schiff
4. It's a Wonderful Woof by Spencer Quinn
5. Rhino Ranch by Larry McMurtry
6. Ghosts ofGuatamala by Collin Glavac
7. The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller
8. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula LeGuin
9. Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny
10. Bradbury Speaks by Ray Bradbury
11. A Case of Conscience by James Blish
12. The Dying Earth by Jack Vance
13. Ketocontinuum by Annette Bosworth, M.D.

With such a reporting dump, I'm not bothering with my summation, but will return to that with further books. Currently working on The Palace of Eternity by Bob Shaw, and Play Winning Cribbage by Delynn Colvert.

Fev 8, 7:56 pm

Great to see you back Chris.

Fev 9, 2:38 pm

Welcome back, Chris! Glad the slump seems to have passed.

Fev 9, 4:15 pm

Welcome back, Chris, you started the year started well.

Fev 12, 11:24 pm

Just returned (to Oregon) from Daytonal Beach, FL, where my barbershop quartet participated in the International Senior Quartet Championships. A great time was had by all.

I finished 2 books since the last entry:

14. The Palace of Eternity by Bob Shaw - a 1969 Science Fiction novel that is a good reflection of that time, with strong anti-military/establishment themes. Well written & an enjoyable read.

15. Blood Music by Greg Bear - a 1985 Science Fiction novel about a cataclysmic plague striking North America, the result of biotech experimentation. I know what you're thinking - but it's much, much worse than COVID. I don't do spoilers, but will simply recommend the book - unique in conception & well executed.

Editado: Fev 21, 7:22 pm

16. The Dream Master by Roger Zelazny - continuing through some older science fiction. I primarily knew Zelazny for his Amber series, one of my favorites in the fantasy genre. His stories tend to involve tricksters and dreams/visions/altered reality. But it was the 60's, so....

Enjoyable read, with thought-provoking trips into the nature of reality. Recommended.

Editado: Fev 21, 7:22 pm

17. City by Clifford D. Simak - Another older sci-fi book. Getting to ones long on my "been meaning to get around to it" list. Definitely a creature of it's time - a bit sad & pessimistic about humanity, whimsical about future developments on Earth as man fades away. I give it a 3 star - I liked, but didn't love it.

Editado: Fev 21, 7:23 pm

18. Play Winning Cribbage by DeLynn Colvert - one of my pasttimes is playing cribbage. My children have picked it up & we often play when we get together. But I also play in a club that plays tournament style - we put money in a pot & divide it among the top finishers for the night. Occasionally, I'll play in a much larger tournament - in fact, I did so a few weeks ago and....well, it didn't go well. Thought I'd study up & be able to bring my A game to these situation. This book was written by a man who is the most successful tournament player of all time. Only about half of the book deals with strategy & tactics, the rest is general information. But it was a good reminder for me & I hope it'll improve my play. I'm going to follow that with another such book soon.

Fev 22, 2:07 pm

19. Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel. My first 5-star review of the year. I picked this one up because it had won the Goodreads Choice Award for Science Fiction - basically a popularity award, but it made me curious. It takes a fresh twist on both time-travel and "is life a simulation" ideas. Beautifully written, with empathy & thoughtfulness. Can't recommend it strongly enough.

Fev 24, 9:21 pm

20. Solaris by Stanislaw Lem. A Sci-Fi classic from 1961 & quite a unique & weird (in a good way) story. It's a story of alien contact - and the most unusual one I've ever read. Recommended.

Fev 24, 10:13 pm

Just wanted to say I'm starring your thread, I love sci-fi and am already seeing a few intriguing books. :)

Fev 24, 11:30 pm

>11 sisyphus_happy: Glad to meet you - I'll check yours out too!

Fev 24, 11:34 pm

Nice to see you posting, Chris.
>10 ChrisG1: I recently added that one and hope to get to it soon.

>9 ChrisG1: Bumped that up my list too!

Have a great weekend.

Fev 25, 9:40 am

>13 PaulCranswick: I'm eager to see how you like them, Paul - my 2 faves of the year so far.

Fev 26, 7:14 pm

21. The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K. LeGuin - I'm rereading the original trilogy in the Folio Society reprints that I bought last year. Beautiful editions, by the way, if you're into that sort of thing. I originally read these in high school - and loved them - and am delighted to find they still hold up well for me. The first 1/3 of this volume is fairly grim. A young girl is determined to be the rebirth of the High Priestess of The Nameless Ones & taken from her home to be trained to "continue" her duties. Things become interesting when the mage Sparrowhawk is caught sneaking through the tombs, apparently trying to steal from the treasures of the gods. Excellent storytelling, as always from Le Guin.

Fev 28, 10:54 am

February Reading Summary:

Books read: 12

Pages read: 2898

Longest book: Ketocontinuum by Annette Bosworth M.D. - 489 pages

Shortest book: The Dying Earth by Jack Vance - 154 pages

Average book length: 241.5 pages - these old sci-fi classics tended to be shorter

Book of the Month: Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel

Dud of the month: No duds to speak of this month - always a good thing.

Fev 28, 11:03 am

March Reading Plan:

Neuromancer - William Gibson
The Three Body Problem - Cixin Liu
The King of Elfland’s Daughter - Lord Dunsany
The Iron Dream - Norman Spinrad
Winning Cribbage TIps - Dan Barlow
Cage of Souls - Adrian Tchaikovsky
Childhood’s End - Arthur C. Clarke
Just One Damned Thing After Another - Jodi Taylor
All Systems Red (Murderbot Diaries #1) - Martha Wells
The Color of Magic - Terry Pratchett

March being my busiest business month (I'm a CPA with a small tax practice), I'll limit the list to this. Winning Cribbage Tips and Neuromancer are in progress. I think I'm most looking forward to The Color of Magic, simply because so many sci-fi readers love Pratchett's Discworld books & I've held off so long.

Mar 2, 12:18 pm

22. Winning Cribbage Tips by Dan Barlow. OK, I realize this is a very niche non-fiction book, but hey, if you like to play cribbage, it's good to learn to up your game a bit & this book does a great job of helping you play a more thoughtful game.

Mar 3, 12:37 pm

23. Neuromancer by William Gibson. This one was a struggle for me to get through. I found the author's prose style difficult to follow & confusing. It was perhaps by design, the story being a constant alternation between physical and virtual reality. But in the end, there was very little for me to like. The characters didn't interest me. I know the cyberpunk element was new & fresh at the time, but it's well worn territory now, so I'd say it doesn't hold up well. Moving on to an old school Arthur C. Clark novel - Childhood's End.

Mar 6, 8:42 pm

24. Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke. A sci-fi classic from 1953. A bit dated, but Clarke could always present interesting ideas. Earth has been quietly subdued by a race of aliens, to what purpose, nobody knows. They are benign overlords, leading humanity into a period of unprecendented peace & prosperity. Yet there is a hidden agenda, eventually revealed & totally unexpected...

Mar 6, 8:49 pm

Very focused reading Chris!

Good luck on your busy month ahead.

Mar 8, 10:52 am

25. The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett. The first volume of Pratchett's immensely popular Discworld series, but I'm sorry to say I'm not a fan. I can see what appeals to the fans, but it's just not my cup of tea. Ah well...on to Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor.

Mar 8, 5:20 pm

>22 ChrisG1: I would agree that they are very much an acquired taste, Chris. I too see their appeal but it isn't quite my cup of tea either.

Mar 11, 12:53 pm

>22 ChrisG1: The Color of Magic is not really representative of later Discworld books, many fans suggest that you skip it and start with another. If you are willing to try again, I would check out Small Gods. It's set on Discworld but is more of a stand-alone; it gets the "flavor" of Discworld and doesn't indulge in as much silliness as The Color of Magic. The first few books almost remind me of the Monty Python style of British humor, which was never my cup of tea either.

Editado: Mar 11, 5:28 pm

>24 sisyphus_happy: I'm hearing this sort of thing from several people ( I also participate in the SF group). I certainly enjoy humor mixed with a story, but I still want a compelling story. For me, in The Color of Magic, the silliness seemed like the main point. I'm making note of the suggested Discworld books & will one a try before too long...

Mar 11, 8:12 pm

26. Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor. This one was a whole lot of fun. A creative take on time travel, humorous dialogue & narration, bad guys, romance. Very entertaining!

Mar 12, 12:38 pm

>26 ChrisG1: That series is a lot of fun even while coping with some hard topics. I just finished Doing Time which is the first of her spin-off series about the Time Police, it's also great fun.

Mar 12, 4:52 pm

>27 catseyegreen: Yes, I expect I'll be delving further into Taylor's works in the coming months....

Mar 12, 4:55 pm

27. All Systems Red by Martha Wells - first of the popular Murderbot series. It's a quick read, both from a page count standpoint, and the pacing.Plenty of action, and the perspective of a bot telling the story was unique. Well told & I'm sure I'll be continuing the series, probably in my one-installment per 1-2 months pace.

Mar 17, 11:48 pm

28. The King of Elfland's Daughter by Lord Dunsany. A fantasy classic and understandably so. Dunsany's poetic prose sets the sleepy, magical mood of the fairy tale, where the desire of the villagers for a little magic to distinguish their humble valley becomes more than they wished...

Mar 19, 10:37 am

29. Artificial Condition by Martha Wells. #2 in the Murderbot series of novellas. It makes for a nice, light snack.

Mar 23, 1:31 pm

30. Dogs of War by Adrian Tchaikovsky. A near future sci fi novel which depicts biotech advancements enabling the creation of super soldiers from animals, particularly dogs. The main character is Rex, who just wants to be a Good Dog. At the beginning, that's defined by whatever Master says. But he becomes decoupled from his connection with Master and must begin making choices for himself. Tchaikovsky explores these implications and more, with other related biotech developments. Recommended.

Editado: Mar 26, 10:09 pm

31. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. I had read her most recent book Sea of Tranquility last month and it made quite an impression. Station Eleven was her breakout novel & I'll say I liked it even more, getting my first 5 star rating of the year. There are similar elements in the books - multiple characters who intersect at different points. No time travel here, but she shifts to different periods over a roughly 40 year period, slowly revealing what ties them together. Highly recommended.

Mar 27, 9:57 am

32. All the Trouble in the World by P.J. O'Rourke. This would have been a better read closer to it's publication date. Much of O'Rourke's humor is topical, hence it was a bit dated reading it now. Still, many of his points remain valid - a great deal of catastrophizing is wrong-headed and, quite frankly, ideologically driven manipulation.

Mar 28, 11:28 pm

33. Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells. Installment #3 in her "Murderbot" series of SF novellas. A good, entertaining, light read. Had started a heftier Alastair Reynolds book, but my work-adled brain was having none of it. So I resorted back to good old Murderbot.

Abr 1, 9:41 am

March Reading Summary:

Books read: 12

Pages read: 2973

Longest book: Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor - 480 pages

Shortest book: Winning Cribbage Tips by Dan Barlow

Average book length: 248 pages

Book of the Month: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel - 2nd straight month for this author!

Dud of the month: Neuromancer by William Gibson. Yes, I know this is supposed to be a classic. But I found the prose to be extremely difficult to follow.

Abr 1, 9:45 am

April Reading Plan:

Nightfall - Asimov & Silverberg
Ready Player One - Ernest Cline
Eye of the Heron - Ursula LeGuin
The Power - Naomi Alderman
Gateway - Frederick Pohl
Ancillary Justice - Ann Leckie (Kindle)
Parable of the Sower - Octavia Butler
A Scanner Darkly - Philip K Dick
The Stars My Destination - Alfred Bester
Blindsight - Peter Watts
Beholder’s Eye - Julie e. Czerneda

Basically an all-sci-fi list. We'll see how much I stick to it - squirrel!!!

Abr 4, 6:21 pm

34. Beholder's Eye by Julie E. Czerneda. A light sci-fi adventure featuring a shape-shifting energy being. It took awhile to warm up to, but in the end I liked it enough that I may try the next one in the series.

Abr 6, 10:22 pm

35. A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick. Nominally science fiction, but really a hazy depiction of drug addiction. It wasn't really my cup of tea.

Abr 8, 2:30 pm

36. Blindsight by Peter Watts. A fine example of hard science fiction. It's a novel of First Contact in which the aliens are...truly alien. Blindsight takes place in the late 21st Century, when most humans are genetically engineered before birth and almost all maladies are correctable afterward. Many in the human race are abandoning their analog lives for digital ones - permanently plugging themselves into "Heaven." Expect to explore issues of the philosophy of consciousness and what it means to be human in an increasingly digitized and biologically engineered world. It's a dense read, yet I was surprised how quickly I flew through it, as Watts definitely pulled me in.

Abr 10, 8:57 am

37. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. I'll confess that YA fiction is not my thing, but Ready Player One was a kick in the pants & I enjoyed it quite a bit. It appeals to the nerd in me. If you like vintage video games, 80's pop culture (my teen years were in the 70's, but I got enough of it to enjoy it), and clear cut good guys vs. bad guys story lines, you'll enjoy this book.

Abr 12, 3:09 pm

38. The Eye of the Heron by Ursula K. LeGuin. Loved this book. While the setting is science-fictional, the story could just as easily have taken place in Australia or the American West. Two groups of exiles, sent 50 years apart to a planet being used as a penal colony, find their differing values and ideas coming to a head. LeGuin's prose is excellent, her exploration of the interaction of differing cultures is thoughtful and insightful. Highly recommended.

Abr 17, 9:27 am

39. Nightfall by Isaac Asimov & Robert Silverberg. A story of a worldwide apocalypse - not on Earth, but on another planet. It shows the prelude, event & result on a group of characters, mostly university professors. Decent story, but I found the characters rather two-dimensional - a frequent criticism of Asimov's writing.

Abr 19, 3:23 am

I am a fan of Wells, Taylor, Asimov, Silverberg, Cline, Mandel and LeGuin. And I live in Portland!! Starred your thread. : )

Abr 19, 12:08 pm

>44 Berly: Welcome aboard! I've starred you back.

Abr 20, 10:28 am

40. Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. My first by this author & I can see why she's highly regarded. Dystopian novels are not my favorite, but the writing & characterization engaged me. Written in 1993, the "near-future" is nearly the present - from 2024-27. Global warming is the cause of a breakdown of the economy & society in general. The main character is a black teenage girl whose resilience & resourcefullness is constantly put to the test as her world crumbles around her. Highly recommended.

Abr 21, 3:29 pm

41. Exit Strategy by Martha Wells. 4th installment in her popular Murderbot series of novellas. Makes for a good light read, which I needed between a couple of heavier reads.

Abr 21, 4:26 pm

>46 ChrisG1: Such a good book! And if you're up for it, she wrote a sequel called "Parable of the Talents".

Abr 21, 6:21 pm

>48 ocgreg34: I've definitely added it to my TBR list!

Abr 22, 12:22 am

I'm ahead of you on Butler and behind you on Wells! LOL. Happy weekend.

Abr 23, 10:35 am

42. The Power by Naomi Alderman. This was a mixed bag for me. The premise was...too improbable, rather like in comic books, how Peter Parker got his powers by being bitten by a radioactive spider. Not a fatal flaw - many sci-fi books require a suspension of disbelief to enjoy. The main characters are not admirable or easily identified with. It's mostly about power & how the new powers gained by women change power dynamics - I'll confess a dislike for power-dynamics based analysis - and taking it in an ultimately nihlistic direction. On the other hand, it's extremely well written. I can see why it's gotten a lot of positive attention.

Abr 25, 10:09 am

43. Gateway by Frederik Pohl. The narrative alternates between a tale of exploration and the journey inward after the fact. Pohl considers this his favorite novel he wrote. Recommended.

Abr 28, 8:54 pm

44. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. This one took me awhile to warm up to, mainly due to alternating timelines. But I knew it was a popular book & I trusted it was for good reason & it came together for me. Now I expect I'll continue the trilogy down the road.

Abr 30, 9:37 am

45. The Stars My Destination by Alfren Bester. Rather a weird one. A revenge tale in a future where teleportation becomes not only possible, but commonplace. Considered a sci-fi classic, but only so-so for me.

Abr 30, 9:09 pm

>52 ChrisG1: That one caught my eye, Chris. I need to read me some Pohl!

Editado: Maio 5, 3:39 pm

Oops - just realized I hadn't gotten around to the April monthly summary, so here it is:

Books read: 12

Pages read: 3801

Longest book: Ancillary Justice - Ann Leckie - 416 pages

Shortest book: Exit Strategy - Martha Wells - 176 pages

Average book length: 317 pages

Book of the Month: Blindsight by Peter Watts

Dud of the month: A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick - just not my cup of tea

Editado: Maio 5, 3:40 pm

May 2023 Reaing Plan:

Dune Messiah - Frank Herbert
Hyperion - Dan Simmons
Embassytown - China Mieville
The Sheep Look Up - John Brunner
Lagoon - Nnedi Okorafor
River of Gods - Ian McDonald
The Obelisk Gate - N.K. Jemisin
Recursion - Blake Crouch
Have Space Suit Will Travel - Robert Heinlein

Maio 5, 4:04 pm

46. Hyperion by Dan Simmons. I've seen this book on just about everybody's Top 10 Sci-Fi books of All Time lists & never got around to it. Well, I got around to it. Did it live up to the hype? For me, I must say it did. Conceptually brilliant, lovely prose, the individual tales of the main characters are by turns tense, tragic, horrific, mysterious, romantic. Be warned, the "ending" is a cliffhanger, as the story continues in The Fall of Hyperion. I had to be amused by the manner in which he ended it - I won't reveal it, as I don't do spoilers, but if you've read it, you know what I mean. Since my May reading schedule is full, I'll have to put Fall on my June schedule - don't want to wait long to close this one out. Hyperion is only my second five star rating of the year to date - highly recommended!

Maio 7, 12:08 am

47. Recursion by Blake Crouch. Quite a roller coaster of a story - a "rippin' yarn" if you will. I'd say it's the most effective use of time travel - and the most original form of it - I've come across. Highly recommended.

Maio 9, 11:41 pm

48. Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert. Sequel to Dune, continues the saga of Paul Atreides, who feels swept away by powers beyond his control, in spite of his prescient powers. Definitely worth reading & I'm glad I finally got around to it. I expect to read Children of Dune in the next month or two.

Maio 14, 11:05 am

49. Network Effect by Martha Wells. Installment #5 in her popular Murderbot series & the first at a full novel length (350 pgs). While I think I prefer these stories at novella length, it was still a good read & advanced the saga of our beloved rogue SecUnit.

Maio 15, 9:56 am

50. Have Space Suit, Will Travel by Robert HeinLein. A classic old Heinlein juvenile, it was a fun little read. I like how he always managed to slip a few interesting ideas to chew on. It was written in 1958 - the year I was born & it shows. I discovered Heinlein juvies in my Jr. High library & flew through several of them, so this was a trip back in time.

Maio 20, 6:31 pm

51. River of Gods by Ian McDonald. How much did I like this book? I changed my mind several times as I went along. Initially, I was aggravated by having 10 different POV characters - that's a lot of introductory ground to lay. I stuck with it due to the reputation of the book & author & it paid off. He makes you work for it, but I found it to be one of the better novels I've read in the cyberpunk sub-genre.

Maio 24, 10:33 am

52. Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor. As they used to say on Monty Python: "And now for something completely different!" I'm not really sure how to describe this novel. I'd say, don't come to this expecting a coherent story - it's a bit of a mish-mash. Part sci-fi alient invasion, part super hero, part african mythology, part commentary on modern Lagos, Nigeria. If you can manage to just go with it, you can be fairly entertained.

Maio 28, 6:20 pm

53. The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin. This is the second installment of Jemisin's highly awarded "The Broken Earth" saga. Highly original & well told science-fantasy. Lots of turns & twists - highly recommended. I'll be certain to arrange my reading schedule to get the last installment read in July.

Editado: Maio 31, 10:02 am

May reading summary:

Books read: 8

Pages read: 3237

Longest book: River of Gods - Ian McDonald - 597 pages

Shortest book: Have Space Suit, Will Travel - Robert Heinlein - 276 pages

Average book length: 409 pages

Book of the Month: Hyperion - Dan Simmons

Dud of the month: Embassytown - China Mieville

Editado: Maio 31, 3:14 pm

June 2023 Reading Plan

The War of the End of the World - Mario Vargas Llosa
The Fall of Hyperion - Dan Simmons
The Farthest Shore - Ursula K. Le Guin
Children of Dune - Frank Herbert
Red Rising - Pierce Brown
Bark to the Future - Spencer Quinn
Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
Dying Inside - Robert Silverberg
Fiasco - Stanislaw Lem