reading update

Reading update: Scalzi, Atwood, Leckie

It’s been a pretty good week in terms of reading. After deaccessioning some of my book collection, I once again picked up a pile of books at work because of the powerful bookstore mind control aura, and thus had to initiate a new phase of the ARC Pile Demolition Project.

I also realized that my job now includes a number of rather tedious solitary tasks that are perfect for listening to podcasts and short fiction. I have a notoriously bad history with audio books, but short fiction is just short enough to hold my attention. Clarkesworld is currently my favorite when it comes to short stories on audio.

Paper books were also consumed this week:

Lock In by John Scalzi. In my opinion, this is Scalzi’s best book so far. I’ve read most of his stuff, though I did not finish the Old Man’s War series (not because it wasn’t good, it just sort of went the way of all unfinished series, even good ones). I do not belong to either Scalzi super fan camp nor to his haters/detractors’ camp. I was not impressed with Redshirts, but I enjoy most of his books, and I definitely enjoyed Lock In. This one has great ideas and a setup that for the first 100 pages or so will make you feel like your brain is about to turn inside out.  As is with all Scalzi’s books, it’s fast-paced, dialogue-rich, and yet it’s much less funny than his other fare. It is very much social sci-fi, as it touches on health care legislation, minority group culture, and relations with Native Americans, among other things.

stonemattressStone Mattress by Margaret Atwood. Atwood is, as always, snarky, pithy, bold, and honest. This collection could almost have a subtitle of ‘people obsessed with sex’. Well, of course they are. In this case, most of these people are older, with a slew of marriages, divorces, children, and other assorted life experiences on their dance cards. The first three stories are interlinked, but the rest are standalones. Atwood is damn good whether she sticks to mostly realism, or wades into fantastical. This is out on September 16th (look! I read an ARC!)

My short story obsession continues with something like four anthologies and  collections in progress/rotation. I also rediscovered my long-dormant love of horror, so dark and disturbing tales will crop up in my post in the next few weeks. If short stories are your thing too, you can join Matt at Books, Brains and Beer for his Jagannath readalong, which is a fantastic little collection of stories.

I have also attempted to consume my bookgroup book for this month, Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice. This is my second attempt, and it is with great sadness that I announce my inability to get past page 50. This book is now officially the Ulysses of my genre reading. I really wanted to like it, and there are some interesting themes in it, but the prose seemed so bland that I felt my eyes just moving along the page without capturing any meaning.

Also, my laptop keyboard gave up the ghost and now types zeroes between every letter. Useful for my KGB missives, not so useful for blog posts. It’s going to be that kind of week.

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ARC decimation project update

Conversation at work:

Me: I’m off for the next week and a half. I’m going to work through some ARCs for books already out in paperback. Because let’s be honest, we all have those.

Coworker: Hey, I have ARCs for books already out of print.

 

I posted a couple of weeks ago about my feeble attempt to read through my ARC pile. You will all be shocked to find out that I’ve actually been rather successful. Let’s see what I was up against:

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And now let’s see what I actually finished (no photo because I actually gave most of these away to coworkers and other desperate book addicts):

1. Grady Hendrix, Horrorstor (out September 2014) – I feel like I should write a whole post on this one.

2. Eula Biss, On Immunity: An Innoculation (out September 2014)

3. Daryl Gregory, Afterparty (out now)

Then I was briefly interrupted by a re-read of Locke & Key

4. Stephen Collins, The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil (technically this was a finished book, but not yet published, so it counts)

5. Julia Elliott, The Wilds (out October 2014)

6. Alyson Foster, God Is An Astronaut (out this week)

7. Randall Munroe, What If: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions (out September 2014)

8. Susan Coll, The Stager (out this week)

So hey, pretty good! I had 11 books in my pile and read 8. But wait…  Upon closer inspection, it is revealed that only one of these was in the original TBR pile. I call this ‘the Nick Hornby effect’ — read any of his Believer columns and you will discover that his books acquired list rarely matches his list of books read.

It was a pretty good run in terms of quality. There were no abandoned ARCs. It was also a pretty good mix of regular fiction, speculative fiction, short stories, and non-fiction. Therefore, I declare my ARC decimation project a success. Commence phase 2: Further Decimation of ARC Pile. And while I’m off, maybe I’ll also do phase 3: Getting Rid of ARCs I Will Never Read But That Looked Good at the Time!