tbr pile

ARC pile demolition project, part 2

It is time for another ARC demolition project! I did one a couple of months ago with great success, and I am due for a repeated because this is how much my pile has increased just this week:


This is insane, although I do not feel particularly bad in this case, as on Monday I reorganized all my giant stacks of books and got rid of three giant boxes of literature that will either never be read or has been read and will not be reread.

We’ll see how it goes this time.

Summer releases create exponential TBR pile growth

I can’t seem to settle down long enough to finish a book these days, so all I can do is read lists of books I will be reading once I am able to do said settling down. There is a nice list of summer releases over at io9 (although can we please stop sending people to buy books only from Amazon?), and there are a few I am really looking forward to:

causalangel1) Causal Angel by Hannu Rajaniemi. I love The Quantum Thief. It’s so strange, and yet I love it so much. I have The Fractal Prince on my shelf too, and the completion of this trilogy would be the perfect excuse to read all three at once.

2) Authority by Jeff Vandermeer. Oh hell yes. Reading now (I mean, keep picking it up, getting excited about having picked it up, and running around in glee for hours without actually reading it).

3) My Real Children by Jo Walton. Same situation as with Authority. Honestly, Jo Walton can write a phone book or rental advertisements, and I’ll still read them.

4) Skin Game by Jim Butcher. The new Harry (the other Harry)! Enough gemmafilessaid.

5) Half a King by Joe Abercrombie, already very briefly reviewed here.

6) And lastly, the unexpected find: We Will All Go Down Together by Gemma Files.  It’s a) published by ChiZine and b) set in Toronto.  My home city remains one of the best settings for speculative fiction! (Maybe because they have a really amazing sci-fi/fantasy bookstore?)


March reading tally: the snowed in edition

March was hectic. Part of it was the new job (old place, but new things to do), which included learning a bunch of stuff and also a giant project. Nevertheless, the brain proceeded with the directive ‘read all the books’. Here’s your March tally.

Books acquired (mostly borrowed, received, stolen from coworkers, you know, the usual):


I was pretty impressed with God’s War, so now I can move on to Infidel. More bug-based tech for everyone.

I know what you’re thinking. You are thinking: ‘Is that really something called Reagan at Reykjavik in that pile?’ Um, yes it is. I like my Cold War histories, shush. The one below it is about MacArthur in Japan. I’m an old man, I like my military histories too.

Testo Junkie is an intense gender studies volume. The way I can describe is that it’s really very readable while being nigh-incomprehensible in places.

James A. Corey and Gene Wolfe are long overdue for a read.


Once again, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: ‘Is that seriously Gray’s Anatomy there?’ Yes, yes it is.

Also, look, Rapture is there too, for when I’m done with Infidel. And also the best book of essays on trans* issues I’ve ever read.


I do not have words to describe how good this is.


Three Scenarios in Which Hana Sasaki Grows a Tail by Kelly Luce is published by a tiny publisher called A Strange Object. My friend and I are quite excited about them. Unfortunately, I will have read all their output when I finish this collection. They seem to have good taste in short stories and I hope they publish more stuff (plus, their books are pretty).

There is also Charles Yu’s collection of short stories that I have never seen before and an Asimov’s under it.

While all this book pr0n is great, let’s see the actual Books Read list:

1. Karl Ove Knausgaard, My Struggle: Book 2 (I finally found someone at work who shares my obsession with Knausgaard, so now we can have conversations like ‘what about that scene where he goes to the grocery store to buy some milk? That was amazing!’ Seriously though, the man is a master when it comes to psychological insights.)

2. Robert Jackson Bennett, American Elsewhere

3. Adam Sternbergh, Shovel Ready

4. Knut Hamsun, Growth of the Soil (this was about to become Depressing Scandinavian Literature Month for a moment)

5. Joe Abercrombie, Half a King

6. Kameron Hurley, God’s War

7. S. Bear Bergman, The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You

8. C. J. Cherryh, Downbelow Station

9. Nicholas Grider, Misadventure (this is the other book published by A Strange Object)

10. Warren Ellis, Darick Robertson, Rodney Ramos, Transmetropolitan Vol 3: Year of the Bastard (reread)

11. Warren Ellis, Darick Robertson, Rodney Ramos, Transmetropolitan Vol 4: The New Scum (reread)

12. Brian Vaughan, Fiona Staples, Saga Vol. 1

13. Brian Vaughan, Fiona Staples, Saga Vol. 2

14. Robert Jackson Bennett, City of Stairs. Review of this will be forthcoming, errr, some time in the summer. The book is not out till September, and publishers frown upon extremely early reviewing. All I am going to say is that I am really tempted to use all caps now to describe how damn good this book was. I sat down and read to the point when I was sick of words.

So yeah, never got to that Reagan book.

Agonizing reading decisions: book pr0n edition

I sometimes feel that book bloggers like posting reading updates and TBR pile pictures because it helps keep madness in check. Writing about what I’m reading allows my mind to see books as concrete units, rather than as an endless sea of pages that is my living room floor. So here’s what occupies my hours when I’m not sleeping or associating with other humans:

0311141232No, I did not find it abandoned on the bench on the National Mall. I brought it with me. It was 70 degrees outside, which means it was actually possible to sit outside with a book and a sandwich (not pictured). Bookgroup reading for this Thursday, classic, etc., etc. Great stuff.

0311141907Halfway through (see what I did there) Joe Abercrombie’s Half a King. People tell me it’s marketed as YA. I think in Abercrombie’s world that means everyone is still stabbing (or backstabbing, rather) each other with pointy ends, but without swearing quite as much.

0311141908New Jo Walton! New Daryl Gregory! Apologies to the third author, whose name on the cover is written in scattered points in tiny font and therefore not visible here. Her name is Claire North, and her book sounds good. The Shining Girls is mentioned on the back, as is Life After Life. Sign me up.

0311141908aI’ll be honest, I don’t really read poetry in English (though I read it in Russian, and it’s interesting to ponder reasons why it works for me in one language but not the other). But I dearly, dearly need to know what poems make the following people cry (from the table of contents): Stephen Fry, Patrick Stewart (!), Daniel Radcliffe, Andrew Solomon, J.J. Abrams, Colin Firth, and Tom Hiddleston (!!), among others.

January reading tally (with book pr0n)

Nick Hornby used to write a monthly column for the Believer magazine, where he would list books purchased, books read, and various notes and observations on that month’s reading. All those columns, by the way, are now available in one volume, Ten Years In the Tub. They are  funny and very honest about the author’s reading habits. One quick look at books bought and books read lists will tell you that those two are usually drastically different. I personally know (maybe) one person who reads books bought right away. To me, this seems amazing. I never do that. I mean, if I read everything I brought home immediately, I would have never created this Mt. Everest of advanced copies of stuff that is already out in paperback.

Anyway, below are the results of this month’s reading efforts.

Books acquired

These are divided into two categories: books borrowed (i.e. the ones I don’t get to keep), and books bought/received as gifts/wheedled out of gullible sales reps/etc (i.e. the ones I get to keep).

Borrowed this month:

If you think I only took 5 books out of the library this month, rest assured that this is not a complete stack. I excluded obscure non-fiction, depressing Scandinavian literature, odd Japanese literature, and other areas of my reading interest. I will be happy to include those in the future posts if you would like to see them.

Adopted this month (click to embiggen):


It’s leaning ever so slightly, threatening to collapse and kill me as I walk by.

This actually does not look so bad, and that’s because it doesn’t include non-speculative books that also somehow ended up in my house.

And now, a list of books read (sans photos, since some of the books have gone on to bigger and better things), but with links if I reviewed or blurbed a particular book:

1. Jeff Smith, RASL

2. Robert Sibley, The Way of 88 Temples: Journeys on the Shikoku Pilgrimage (aka the book that allowed me to show my coworkers where I actually used to live)

3. Margaret Atwood, In Other Worlds

4. Jack Vance, The Dying Earth

5. Various, Buffy The Vampire Slayer Omnibus # 4

6. Nicola Griffith, Hild

7. Will McIntosh, Love Minus Eighty

8. Jo Walton, What Makes This Book So Great

9. Robert Pohl, Urban Legends and Historic Lore of Washington, DC

10. Wesley Chu, Lives of Tao

11. George Saunders, The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil

12. Elizabeth A. Lynn, A Different Light

13. Takashi Hiraide, The Guest Cat

14. Ray Jayawardhana, Neutrino Hunters: The Thrilling Chase for a Ghostly Particle to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe

15. Warren Ellis, Darick Robertson, Transmetropolitan, Vol 1: Back on the Street (re-read)

16. Lara Vapnyar, Scent of Pine

17. Chuck Wendig, The Blue Blazes

As is usually the case, the borrowed books got a quicker read than the ones bought. Reading of borrowed stuff is largely motivated by the fact that I have to return these volumes to avoid being chased by angry librarians and to allow some other person to have their history knowledge tested by something like Hild.

Unsurprisingly, I almost entirely failed to read from the bought pile, with Chu being the obvious exception. Well, there is always next month.

So, thoughts? Anything from my to-read stacks that I shouldn’t have put off till next month? Anything on my list you’ve read or want to read?

New pile of old books

Yesterday I had a few hours in NYC, and I chose to use them wisely, to wit, by taking the F train down to Brooklyn and buying some old sci-fi from Singularity and Co. January is Vintage Sci-fi month, after all. It is probably just as well I no longer live in New York. I used to work one subway stop away from their store, and I have a feeling every day would have been an opportunity to ‘stop by and browse’, meaning ‘spend a lot of money on books instead of groceries and rent’.

Here’s a picture of the haul for your book porn enjoyment:


And here’s the list:

Harlan Ellison, Deathbird Stories
C. J. Cherryh, Foreigner
Gregory Benford, Timescape
Roger Zelazny, Creatures of Light And Darkness
Robert Silverberg, Dying Inside
Thomas M. Disch, Fundamental Disch

A few notes: my purchases were heavily influenced by my recent reread of Jo Walton’s Among Others (here’s my post about it and her work in general). It remains one of my favorite SF books, and, being meta-fictional, it comes with an added bonus of book lists (real books, mind you).  In fact, there is a list of all books mentioned in Among Others on Walton’s blog. Silverberg and Zelazny were bought expressly with that book list in mind.

Foreigner is also a Jo Walton-related purchase. I confess I read it about 10 years ago, and I did not like it. Looking back, however, I realize it was just the wrong book at the wrong time — I was in Japan, going on some silly school trip with a bus of teens to Kochi city, and I was quite starved for books in English (e-readers not being ubiquitous then). I grabbed the first book I saw on my boyfriend’s shelf and took it with me. I didn’t even have that much time to read in Kochi, and so my experience of Foreigner was very fragmented and haphazard. A few years later I read Walton’s review of it on tor.com. The review is by no means glowing, and it does confirm my own feelings about Foreigner, but it did make me want to read the series, which means giving the first book a second chance.

Disch has been on my to-read list for a while, and I grabbed the comfortably-titled Fundamental Disch. Besides, look at the cover, how could I not?


The cherry on top here, however, is Ellison. It was entirely an impulse purchase based on title, cover, and the fact that it was on the staff picks shelf (based on personal experience, staff picks are the way to go when in doubt). It also turned out to be 1st edition and therefore more expensive, but hey, I’ll pay a bit more for Ellison. I’ll be honest: every time I read him, it disturbs and unsettles me to no end. I also feel slightly stupid and clueless, as if there is some hidden message in his stories that I am just not getting and unlikely to get. So we’ll see how this one goes. It does come with a disclaimer:


Oh dear.

While not a review, this is a post for Vintage Science Fiction Month. Follow the link to the Little Red Reviewer’s blog for more vintage goodness.