What are you reading these days?

So this was inspired by Sophia’s What are you listening to? thread.

There is a thread with the same topic on the site, but it was from 2016, and since it’s 2023 now (not quite a decade later, but we’re getting there, folks!), and times are different (supposedly), I thought maybe it’d be nice to start over with something brand new. However, if it turns out to be an issue with the moderators, I wouldn’t mind merging.

So to start off, I’ve been checking out Pushkin Press (a publisher) on my local library’s OverDrive site recently, mostly because after reading a couple of books published by them, I noticed they publish a lot of foreign (translated) works and I tend to like reading work by authors from other parts of the world very much, so. Today, the book I picked out from their collection was Soft in the Head from French author Marie-Sabine Roger. And I rather enjoyed it. You see, recently I’ve been trying to decouple from that unhealthy habit of identifying myself with the media I consume/judging myself by the content in them (don’t ever get into doing that, it can get pretty bad, and it’s also very exhausting — I’m a hypocrite but don’t spend too much time on the Internet, honestly) (which is also why I’m taking a break from interactive fiction, for now), and reading something in the kind of coarse tone like I did today was refreshing, honestly, and partly because the main character reminded me of myself (slight spoiler) — despite having and receiving the things he didn’t have, I’m not much more smarter than him, if at all (and he’s very smart, in many ways) (spoiler ends).

I wouldn’t recommend the book to everyone, because there are those who might find it boring (it’s very slice-of-life), but I liked reading about a guy’s life which, on the surface, seems so very different from mine’s. I like reading about people living their lives, in general. The author writes with a very personal style, and it brings the characters and events of the book close to the reader in a way that most other books (that I’ve found, at least) don’t. It’s a very happy and hopeful book, this one, and I’d urge anyone who’s interested in perhaps the heartwarming slice-of-life genre to check it out, give it a try.

And yeah, anyways, that’s my rant for the day! What are you guys reading these days? How’re you finding them? Do leave a reply because I’d love some new recommendations for books (or articles, or poetry, etc. … it doesn’t even have to be books). :cowboy_hat_face:


I’ve been re-reading Blindsight by Peter Watts. It’s a comfort book for me (though idk what that says about me lmao). I tend to re-read it multiple times a month, when things get really stressful.

Oftentimes, I’ll listen to the audiobook, which is narrated by T. Ryder Smith. I love the voice he has for Sarasti. If I’m really stressed, I also don’t have a lot of time for reading, so I really appreciate the audiobook.


I have a very ecclectical taste, both in music and in reading.

I like books written for youth (despite being 52 years old now). There are really cool books in that category: Like Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl, books by Michael Ende, 3 detectives, perhaps Percy Jackson.

I also read the “Case closed” manga (aka. Detective Conan).

Also I read poems, for example when I can’t sleep in the night.


I’ve reread most of John Berryman’s dream songs as research for my game. I’ll finish it even though the game is done.


I have a to-read pile that’s a mix of

  • Sci-fi (usually written in 2000 or earlier, as I buy them used en masse at book fairs). The last one I staggered through was Poul Anderson’s Harvest of Stars. I thought it was a massively impressive feat of writing, but kind of hard going. A lot of reviews have seen it as a libertarian treatise or something. I was hardly mindful of that while reading it – I couldn’t really identify what this fictional Fireball organisation stood for, and I was consciously trying.
  • “classics” (e.g. Charlotte Bronte’s doorstopper Villette, Jules Verne’s Five Weeks in a Balloon)
  • a few of Michael Crichton’s pulp thrillers written under the name John Lange

But sometimes I just run back to my favourite writer, Ruth Rendell, as I have plenty of Inspector Wexfords I haven’t read yet and other novels of hers I’ve forgotten.

I just read the 1994 Wexford book Simisola (crime & racism) which I thought was excellent. I five-starred it out of five.

After that, I had that feeling of, ‘I don’t wanna read anyone else again, yet,’ so started her 2001 standalone Adam and Eve and Pinch Me (crime and mental health). Which I have read before, probably in that year.



While looking through the English-language shelves of the public library for Discworld books I haven’t read yet, my eyes got caught on a thick blue-black hardcover with the enticing title To Sleep in a Sea of Stars. The author’s name seemed to ring a distant bell, but I couldn’t quite place it.

When I got home, I did a Wikipedia search for “Christopher Paolini”.

Urrk-ackk! It’s that guy from that ghastly derivative regurgitated fantasy-drivel of an overly ambitious middle-school writing assignment “Eragon” that everybody swooned over because “he was only 15 years old when he wrote it, you know.”

Yeah, and it shows. I could write a similar fantasy mash-up in a lot less pages when I was 15, wasting a lot less of my own and everyone else’s time and without the gall to assume I somehow had the right to press my immature unoriginal scribbling upon the world.

But look! We’re 20 years later and the man has learned to write! Still a bit heavy on the shades of purple and pink, and a bit forced/artificial when writing the romantic bits, but a very enjoyable SF tale.


I was wondering what happened to that guy the other day, but was sidetracked before I looked him up. I wonder how he feels about Eragon now.


I’m reading Hyperion. It’s really good.


Ow man! I love just about everything* by Dan Simmons, but Hyperion holds a special place in my heart.

Drood is probably the most surprising of his novels. The most literary and a change of tone compared to his SF works.

*except his early supernatural thrillers like Fires of Eden or Song of Kali which I found enjoyable middle-of-the-road entertainment.


Percy Jackson was one of my favorites from long ago, too. And same, there’s something about children’s books that still draws you in no matter how old you are. They don’t have the same convolutedness some YA or adult books have these days, and I really enjoy reading them from time to time for a breath of fresh air. One of my most loved books is The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke, has been ever since I read it as a child, and I reread it every now and then. It was one of my first introductions to works with a lot of emphasis/focus on atmosphere/setting, and the magic never fails to come back to me, even now.

Another one of my childhood favorites was The Keys to the Kingdom series by Garth Nix. A mix of high-low fantasy, it has personified weekdays and other, more crazy eldritch beings. Could read it if anyone here’s into that kind of fantasy.

And sorry, but since you mentioned “poems” and “night” in the sentence I just suddenly thought of Poems to Night, a collection of poetry and verse dedicated to exploring the theme of night by poet Rainer Maria Rilke. I haven’t read much of it, and I don’t know enough about Rilke’s other works to have a well-informed opinion of his writing, but from what I’ve seen, it’s very elegant and easy, if a bit verbose at times. Perhaps someone else here does read Rilke, though, I don’t know. Obviously check it out if you’d like.


I read Iain Banks’ The Wasp Factory earlier this year.

When it was published, most people were offended by the violence. Today, the book’s attempts to justify the violence through off-color gender politics are probably more offensive than the violence alone. (What’s more, it’s ultimately a shaggy dog story, so the particular offense it might cause is probably unnecessary to what I would consider its main goal.)

However, the book otherwise plays on expectations in an effective way.

There is a willfully or “criminally” violent main character and an incidentally or “patholically” violent secondary character. You would expect the “criminal” character to be unlikeable and the “pathological” character to be somewhat understandable. However, this is inverted. And it’s not inverted by making the “criminal” character a charming psychopath…it’s done by making him ignorant and sheltered to an absurd degree — literally a teenager who’s worldview is based on his dad’s fibs and a lack of outside information due to living on an actual island.

Neither character has any real motive; much of the book’s game involves swapping the criminal character’s supposed histories out from under him, while the pathological character’s “origins” simply involve breaking a character that was never portrayed during his supposed sanity. The characters don’t have motivations, just justifications for the way things were always going to be.

Basically, this is the thesis: most people get to believe they have control over their lives; those of us who are miserable fatalists try very hard to tell ourselves that we’re in control of our lives.

In the book, this idea is highlighted by violence, but in reality doesn’t matter if you’re breaking the rules or following them; the principle is the same. So the book will probably appeal to die-hard fatalists (guilty as charged).

Also: I’ve read a fair number of books in Banks’ Culture series years ago and though those books are similarly bleak in terms of events and fatalism, it’s sometimes easier to overlook that fact in the Culture because some characters that are served well by the society. This is not the case with the more isolated characters in The Wasp Factory, which makes the book seem a little more one-sided.


I actually loved reading Eragon when I was younger. Wasn’t much there for the action or the romance, mostly for the dragons, because younger me thought dragons were cool. Though I haven’t read it in a long while now, so I can’t remember enough of it to comment on the writing.

Didn’t even manage to get through the first few pages of To Sleep in a Sea of Stars. :sweat: I remember getting to the author’s first description of the protagonist and her fiancé’s relationship and thinking, this is what he thinks romance is? Blegh, no thank you.

It was just really stale.


Making a list of (most of) the books everyone’s mentioned on here. :nerd_face: Will get around to reading through it one day.


Been on a Sci-Fi binge recently. Mainly omnibus of short-stories (I’m eying the paperback volumes of Clarksworld rn as a treat myself thing). Just finished Babel-17. One of the best book I’ve read this year.


What have I read recently? Hmm…

Malka Older’s Mimicking of Known Successes, a… lesbian detective novella set on floating colonies above… Jupiter, I think?

Suzanne Palmer’s The Finder Chronicles trilogy, an “action-packed sci-fi caper featuring Fergus Fergusson, interstellar repo man and professional finder.”

The Never Too Old to Save the World anthology, a bunch of short-ish stories with protagonists who aren’t teenagers.

@sophia mentioned Frances Hardinge’s Fly By Night, a loong middle-grade fantasy novel with a young girl, the con-man she bums a ride with, and her pet attack goose Saracen. That was a lot of fun.

Oh, and I backed Small Wonders, an upcoming magazine for SF&F flash fiction and poetry (IF’s Stephen Granade is half of the founding team), and their zeroth issue is online so I’ve been doling those pieces out as little treats. (9 more days on the crowdfunding campaign, and they have a ways to go, so if you have cash to spare and that sounds like your jam…)


I’m about three fourths done with Project Hail Mary, and so far it’s the best book I’ve read in over a year. I’ve always loved the science fiction theme of exploring the implications of just one far-reaching change, The action is really engaging. I’m so eager to see where this is going!


You should also check out Infomocracy, when you get the chance!



@sophia mentioned Frances Hardinge’s Fly By Night , a loong middle-grade fantasy novel with a young girl, the con-man she bums a ride with, and her pet attack goose Saracen. That was a lot of fun.

Yay!!! Mosca is one of my favourite protagonists of all time, and I love her story to bits. I’ve literally read my paperback edition to the point of it crumbling- the cover pulp is showing and the front is patchy, the spine is broken and pages are waterlogged or creased and it’s been loved to death basically, like a grungy stuffed animal from childhood. I’m glad you enjoyed your romp around the Realm!


I’m on that Brothers Karamazov. I’ve been on it for like two years and I’m only just reaching the halfway point. Too easily distracted by videogames.

Very, very good book, though. I especially enjoyed the conversation about the Spanish Inquisition between Alyosha and Ivan. This feels like a Russian version of another very long book I’ve read, Les Miserables - both by authors who just really want to talk about every aspect of their culture and recent history in a way that really fascinates me.


Oh I love both those books! Dostoevsky actually really liked and was inspired by Hugo, and specifically Les Miserables, so that’s not a random association your brain is making I don’t think.