Books Fer a Friday: What’ve You Been Reading?

I’m off the intertubes until Monday, but talk amongst yourselves in the meantime. Here are books I’ve received recently.

Read or heard anything about them?

If not, what’ve you been reading?

I may check in from the road during the weekend.


  1. says

    I am rereading Shriek, as a matter of fact, and finding all sorts of details I’d forgotten about. I’m also remembering what a slow reader of fiction I am — I pause and reread stuff over and over again, like I’m taking in a room in a museum before moving on to the next one.

    I’m also reading a big book of Kipling’s supernatural tales, and eking very, very slowly through Kavalier & Clay.

  2. says

    Well, I have six of the books you have pictured above and I plan on reading the Wolfe one first, likely this weekend, with the others to follow in the next few weeks.

    Currently reading The Sandman: Worlds’ End, which is an interesting take on the Boccaccio/Chaucer storytelling frame story. Also am about halfway into Daniel Goldhagen’s 2002 book on the complicity of the Catholic Church in the Holocaust, A Moral Reckoning. Probably will have quite a few criticisms to post about this work, although I wanted to be sympathetic to his argument.

    Just received a copy of Michael Moorcock’s Byzantium Endures that will be read tomorrow or Saturday, as I’m feeling an urge to read/review much of his work.

    Oh, and I might start on one of my more ambitious projects – re-reading/reviewing Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 in Spanish, although I might relent and have an English translation prepared as well. That’ll be a few months from now, though.

  3. Hank says

    I am on the third and final book of 2666. The middle book was a bit of a chore…still enjoyable though…if you can call, that enjoyable.

    The third book is starting off very well.

  4. says

    I’m still reading Neal Stephenson’s Anathem (three weeks!)which I have to admit I’m finding a difficult read. He’s verbose at the best of times but in this the story doesn’t really start moving until after page 200 or so. Its about 900 pages and only now (about halfway through) it is becoming interesting (for me, at least). Definitely not as good as Snow Crash (imho) I just hope my perseverance pays off and its worth it in the end. I hate not finishing a book, especially when its a writer with the credentials that he has.

  5. says

    For the past week, I’ve been reading two or three stories a day from Ray Bradbury’s “The October Country.” I’ve never read it before, and I’ve finding some of the stories to be wonderful, others quaint and severely dated.

    Also, I just started Kris Saknussemm’s “Private Midnight,” a very dark, brutal, surreal supernatural noir. So far, so good.

  6. Jeff Pert says

    I am close to finishing William Gay’s Twilight, and enjoying it immensely. It’s Southern Gothic on steroids.

    Of the books you show, I’m really only familiar w/ the Alex Irvine. From what I’ve read of it, it sounds interesting.

  7. says

    Filaria is not a great book, but it is a solidly good book that’s gotten little notice due to being the first book from a new small press that seems to have minimal distribution. It is a science fiction/horror hybrid — the base story is SF, but I thought some elements worked better when read as horror. It actually reminded me of Veniss Underground in that and other ways: it features an enclosed, tiered future where things have broken down to the extent that the world starts to feel like, and be experienced as, a sort of fantasy grotesque; and while it has a very different structure than Veniss, the interplay of structure and character is very important to its workings.

    There’s some discussion of the book, including comments by the author, here.

    Meanwhile, I’m currently reading John Crowley’s The Translator.

  8. says

    I’ve read one of the above books, Dalquist’s The Dark Volume. It’s a follow up to his book The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters. You really need to read the first book to understand what’s going on. If you liked that previous book then you’ll enjoy this one. It’s a Victorian, steampunk, mad scientist sort of thing.

    Currently reading Gun with Occasional Music by Jonathan Lethem. It’s the start of a Fantasy Noir binge I’m about to embark on. Also plan to read The Manual of Detection, The City and The City and Finch when it’s released.

  9. says

    I recently read Drood, which left me flat. It has a great concept, and there’s a lot of good in it, but it’s really slack. I’ve tried, but I just don’t quite feel the love for Simmons that others seem to.

    Also of recent note: In the United States of Africa by Abdourahman A. Waberi (love that clarifying middle initial) which I realize only this minute qualifies as spec fic, set in an alternate reality where Europe is the Third World and Africa the First; Bonsai by Alejandro Zambra, a seemingly slight novella of young love that I think might sneak back up on me; Lush Life by Richard Price, who’s really firing on all style cylinders these days; and Ghosts by Cesar Aira, which I think may be his best yet (in English, anyway).

    Still turning pages on The Way Through Doors by Jesse Ball, a crazy contemporary Kafka-meets-1001 Nights kind of thing that I’m really enjoying so far. Next up, maybe Nick Harkaway’s Gone Away World, Pasha Malla’s Withdrawal Method or Valente’s Palimpsest.

  10. says

    Larry, I forgot to mention that if you do put your 2666 review into English, you’ll have at least one eager reader.

  11. says

    On the subject of Wolfe: I’ve just started ‘Severian of the Guild’ (collected ‘Book of the New Sun). It’s not really drawing me in so far, but I’ll give it time.

    Just finished ‘Gears of the City’ by Felix Gilman. Hard to decide what’s better: Gears or Thunderer. Both great. One of the most interesting writers of Fantasy these days, there’s all kinds of cool stuff going on. Although (I know, I mention this quite a lot) everyone says New Weird is apparently dead, I’m glad there’re still things going on in the genre that interest me – really disinterested in High/Epic/Urban Fantasy…

    Really tempted to buy a book called ‘Where Were You Last Pluterday?’ by Paul Van Herck. It’s an old, pulpy-looking Sci-Fi(?) novel, and it looks pretty crazy – in a good way. I’ve recently discovered an amazing SFF-specialising bookshop in my city and it’s full of strange little gems.

  12. says

    I’m a short-attention-span-theatre (3-4 chapters here, then 2 shorts, then back to a novel…) so it’s Cordwainer Smith’s The Rediscovery of Man, Ted Chiang’s Seventy-Two Letters in the Steampunk anthology, finishing Borges’ Ficciones collection, just finished Leigh Brackett’s The Hounds of Skaith and now Whitchapel Gods by S.M. Peters is staring at me now because I’ve gotten myself into a steampunk mood. But I’m gonna get that The Best of Gene Wolfe, if it’s at the B&N this afternoon.

    Anyone have any favorite steampunk suggestions?

  13. says

    I’m perilously close to finishing James Enge’s “Blood of Ambrose”, a witty tale of swords and sorcery reminiscent of Fritz Leiber. I’ve enjoyed it so much that I hate to finish it.

  14. says

    I’m reading Frei’s The Stranger at the moment–true to name very strange!

    James–I really liked Jesse Ball’s previous book “Samedi The Deafness” — will have to track down the one you mentioned.

  15. says


    I’ll see what I can do, but it’ll have to be at least two months from now, as doing this will take at least a week of my almost undivided attention, since the book is over 1100 pages in my Spanish hardcover edition and then I’d have to decide which quotes to use, then how best to translate them (since I don’t feel the need to buy the English translation, regardless of its fine reputation) after I’ve jotted down ideas to convert from English to Spanish and then back to English.

    I would have just saved myself the trouble and have written my thoughts solely in English, but I have a friend from El Salvador challenging me to review more in Spanish, so I thought I’d aim high before falling flat :P

  16. David Kirkpatrick says

    Recent reads – ‘A is for Alien’ by Caitlin Kiernan and ‘Seven for a Secret’ by Elizabeth Bear. I’ve also been reading some pulps – Nostalgia Ventures has been releasing reprints of Doc Savage, The Shadow, and other pulps, in which two pulp stories are contained in one volume, complete with the original artwork. Fun stuff to cram into your head quickly…

  17. says

    Thanks Alex – I’ll check Diamond Age out. I read Snow Crash and years ago Sterling & Gibson’s Difference Engine too. Maybe I should re-read ’em but there’s so much and so little time. I should see if Neal and I are related lol.

  18. Transfiguring Roar says

    Currently reading ‘Cugel’s Saga’, and loving it. This is in preparation for the Dying Earth anthology.

  19. says

    Currently reading ‘Predator: South China Sea’ by this guy you might have heard of. If, like me, you’ve ever thought “What I really want to read is a book where a rhino explodes in chapter three”, then this is the book for you. After that, either Steven King’s Cell, Keri Hulme’s The Bone People or a reread of Garth Ennis’ Preacher.

  20. says

    It’s a great book, more Cyberpunk or Post-Cyberpunk with added Neo-Victoriana than Steampunk. John Percival Hackworth is a character that’s stayed with me after reading for all the best reasons.

  21. says

    Just finished Joe R. Lansdale’s Sunset and Sawdust. Great, pulpy read with terrific southern-gothic noir dialogue and atmosphere.

    Sill reading Brock Clarke’s An Arsonist’s Guide to Writer’s Homes in New England, which is a far more thoughtful and introspective examination of literature than I had expected. Also, very funny.

    Going to start Patrick McGrath’s Trauma.

  22. says

    Alex, I agree with you about Thunderer – Gillman does seem to have a magic touch. I’m looking forward to Gears of the City.

    Oh, and I must add . . . the New Weird cannot die, for it thrives and morphs eternally in the realm of Mind’s Ink.

  23. jeff vandermeer says

    I am rereading Derek Raymond’s He Died With His Eyes Open. Sad, humane, bravely written, both utterly without hope and yet suffused with it. An outstanding character study, meditation on mortality and the yearning to connect and to be truthful because in the end that’s all we have. Bracing stuff. But brilliant writing is never truly depressing.

  24. Zach says

    Another one here who’s currently reading Bolano’s 2666. So far it’s everything I expected: a dense, dialogue-sparse narrative style that very effectively creates an atmosphere of psychological and interpersonal unease as it relates to the study and creation of art.

    Also pecking away at Tor’s new Gene Wolfe best of collection pictured above. Just finished a reread of Fifth Head of Cerberus. As is usual with Wolfe, more than a couple of times here I had to retrace my steps in order to fully savor stretches of his magnificent prose.

    Finally, to top it off I found myself craving some old school/nostalgic hack-and-slash, so I dug out an older R.A. Salvatore omnibus and am several chapters into The Fallen Fortress.

  25. says

    I’m reading nanotech science fiction. After rereading Kathleen Ann Goonan’s “Queen City Jazz” which I liked better the second time around, I’ve just finished the prequel “Crescent City Rhapsody”. In between I read “Fairyland” by Paul Mcauley – nanontech meets cyberpunk – excellent! Wondering where my reading will lead me next.

  26. Samuel S says

    Right now I’m reading The Urth of the New Sun, the coda to Wolfe’s New Sun series. I’m actually enjoying it more than the first four books, no doubt because it’s more direct and less convoluted than it’s predecessors. I’ll probably finish it in a couple of days after which I’m planning on finally taking on Moorcock’s writing, starting with the Von Bek Omibus. By the way, do any of you know if there are any plans on reprinting the Moorcock Omnibuses that are out of print (most of them as I’ve understood)?

  27. Martin says

    I just finished Anathem. Thought it was one of the most interesting books I’ve read in some time and just could not put it down. Cyberabad Days got devoured pretty quickly too… while not quite as marvelously epic as River of Gods, it did absorb me into the culture. I’ve returned to India with The Hungry Tide, by Amitav Ghosh. I’m not yet sure where it’s going, but it has made enough of an impression that I dreamed last night of a muddy river delta.

    BTW Strongly second the recommendations on Diamond Age (which would have TOTALLY fit in with Jeff and Anne’s Steampunk anthology) and Difference Engine.

  28. says

    I’m re-reading ‘Homunculus’ by James Blaylock, in Subterranean’s collected ‘Adventures of Langdon St Ives’. It is pretty impressive on second reading, which I’m glad about as I didn’t like ‘Knights of the Cornerstone’ that much. Also, I picked up an anthology by Frank Muir on English Humourous Prose which has some fabulous stuff in it – it’s huge, starting with Caxton (!) and ending with Wodehouse. I’m not familiar with much of your selection, but I would dearly like to get my hands on the ‘Best of Gene Wolfe’ volume.