Blurt!Sben

books

Finished reading The Tainted Cup by Robert Jackson Bennett, another murder mystery, though not quite so noir-y as Cahokia Jazz. This one is set in an odd fantasy world, and we’re left with a clear path to more stories starring the protagonist and his brash boss.

Thinking back on it, the book feels somewhat similar to Bridge of Birds.

Fri., Apr. 12, 2024, 8:21:42am PDT

Finished reading Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. This was a harrowing book, written in the early ’90s, about a teenager growing up as the United States is collapsing in 2024. It ended on a slightly hopeful note, and the book’s society is more collapsed than ours, so I guess there’s that.

Content warning: nothing on-screen, but there are plenty of references to rape.

Thu., Apr. 4, 2024, 10:32:04pm PDT

Finished reading You Deserve a Tech Union by Ethan Marcotte. I’ve needed to pace myself with this, because I keep getting mad about my job and the industry as a whole. Even though the point of the book is to inspire and mobilize unionizing, I’ve ended up disheartened. (This will pass.)

Sun., Mar. 24, 2024, 10:41:05am PDT

Finished reading Cahokia Jazz by Francis Spufford, a noir set in the city of Cahokia in an alternate 1922. The story ends up being a bit like one of Le Guin’s (explicitly so), ending up asking whether a utopia is worth the price; in the meantime, it explores cultural identity, racism, and economics, with all the elements of noir (a corrupt establishment, dirty police, a femme fatale, etc.). I loved this, another candidate for book of the year.

Sat., Mar. 23, 2024, 3:22:06pm PDT

Finished reading The Mountain in the Sea by Ray Nayler. This was a wild ride — I couldn’t put it down — about labor and sentience and connection. Very briefly: a woman and the only possibly-sentient android explore the possibility of an octopus civilization, while a man is enslaved on a fishing trawler run by an AI and a savant tries to hack into a more sophisticated AI. This will be sticking with me for a while, a candidate for book of the year.

Rhymes with Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Children of Ruin and, unexpectedly, Pink Floyd’s “Echoes” which I’ve already been listening to quite a bit lately.

Mar. 14, 2024, 9:27pm

Finished reading Witch King by Martha Wells, whose protagonist is the demon a bunch of fools tried to bind in the first chapter. Turns out he’s mostly a nice guy, or at least trying, as he tries to (in one arc of the story) overthrow an evil empire and (in the other) prevent a new empire from taking its place. Quite good.

Mar. 9, 2024, 8:28pm

The neighborhood bookstore was crowded on its opening day!

Mar. 9, 2024, 5:16pm

Finished reading Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree, a short fantasy novel about an orc who retires from the adventuring life to open a coffee shop in a city where nobody has ever heard of coffee. This was completely ridiculous and cozy and charming, and the kids would probably describe it as “so gay (affectionate)”.

Mar. 5, 2024, 5:05pm

Finished reading Emily Wilde’s Map of the Otherlands by Heather Fawcett, followup to Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries. I guess I didn’t mention that the first book was a romance novel in addition to all the other stuff it had going on. This book continues right along the same path, and was equally charming.

Mar. 3, 2024, 3:36pm

Finished reading The Eighth Detective by Alex Pavesi. Several short murder mysteries linked by an explicit exploration of the form, the overarching story doesn’t play fair but nevertheless is clever and ends on a satisfying note.

Feb. 27, 2024, 8:01am (edited)

I’m now in the rare-for-me situation of reading two books at once: The first gets me so mad that I can’t read it at bedtime, so I had to start a second.

Feb. 17, 2024, 10:59am

Finished reading Kafka on the Shore (海辺のカフカ) by Haruki Murakami. I’m not quite certain what I’ve read, and it’ll take me a bit to digest. There were parts I really loved and parts which let’s say I found problematic; I don’t know if the problematic parts are a Murakami theme or unique to this book.

Feb. 8, 2024, 7:38am
Pages 112 and 113. Pages 18 and 19.

Finished reading “The Walking Man” by Jiro Taniguchi (歩くひと by 谷口 ジロー). This manga is mostly vignettes of a man walking in a small city, maybe eight to ten pages each, often with a final page as he gets home. It’s very peaceful, essentially no story, just a mellow vibe as he encounters interesting people or things and returns to his life.

Jan. 20, 2024, 2:11pm

Finished reading Menewood by Nicola Griffith, which picks up where Hild left off. This was another great book, with through-lines of trauma, grief, and becoming true to oneself, and perhaps a secondary theme of disability. Like Hild, I will reread this at some point; I hope she’s able to write the next one in less than ten years.

Jan. 17, 2024, 8:57am

The annual reading report.

Jan. 1, 2024, 9:26am