Sunday 2 April 2023

What I've Been Reading Recently

Here's the round up of what's been cooking my eyeballs since the beginning of the year. Here's the previous edition.

A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge
The Story of a Nobody by Anton Chekhov
The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson
What a Carve Up! by Jonathan Coe
The Prestige by Christopher Priest
The Haunted Hotel by Wilkie Collins
The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton
Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier
Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle
Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Doblin
The Andromeda Evolution by Daniel H Wilson
The Raptures by Jan Carson
Sybil, or The Two Nations by Benjamin Disraeli
A Parisian Affair by Guy de Maupassant
Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
Washington Black by Esi Edugyan
A Canticle for Liebowitz by Walter M Miller Jr

This is probably the most blokey list I've ever produced. That said, this is an all-killer tally. I really enjoyed Washington Black which in equal parts is a quest for freedom and self-definition, a meditation on white saviour complexes from the ex-slave's point of view, and the brutalities of the "peculiar institution" as it was practised by British colonialism in Barbados. Having heard a lot about it but avoided the film because jump scares are not my thing, the cosmic horror of Annihilation tickled my fancy and, thankfully, paid off. There's something about slow burn crisis and agonising tension, married to utter weirdness that makes the book compelling. The other two in VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy are on the to read pile. Jamaica Inn was excellent as well. Du Maurier is able to capture the creeping but understated (and oft-unremarked) dread of the Brontes but allow for their violent explosion in quite grim - for the 1930s - scenes. I thought this was every bit the equal of Rebecca. Lastly, something would be amiss if Liebowitz did not merit a mention. It's been on the list for a long time, and this fall, rise, and fall of civilisation - for a book written in the 1950s - has the feel of something a touch more contemporary (save the twee mutations some walk-on characters have). The world building is consistent and faithful to the sociological rules, which is always a plus. Very much a recommend.

Now I'm settled in the new place (did I mention I've moved?), expect a few more social theory texts when this appears again three months from now.

What have you been reading recently?

Image Credit

1 comment:

Kriss said...

Good to see you reading fiction amongst the more weighty intellectual tomes. I don't have time to read fiction but do listen to a lot of audiobooks via Sounds. They re-broadcast a fantastic adaptation of Jamaica Inn recently - as you say a very threatening and creepy book, well written too. They've done some great adaptations of Dickens, an author I would never have gone back to after enduring multiple versions of A Christmas Carol as a child. I can understand now why he's so highly thought of.