1. 44

Yes, you.

What are you reading at the moment? Finished anything good recently?

    1. 15

      A week ago, I finished Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman after watching the first four episodes on Amazon and being shamed into reading the book first. I cheated and used an audiobook, but thankfully the deliver was really good. I highly recommend it.

      I just started listening to the audiobook for Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. Don’t know much about it other than that it was recommended to me by a fellow programmer and it has heavy references to hacker culture. The first chapter is subtle in its humor and not-so-subtle in its nihilism, and it’s an entertaining contrast. I’m pretty excited to read more.

      1. 6

        I really like both books. After you read Snow Crash, I really recommend “The Diamond Age” by Neal Stephenson. In my mind those two books should be read one after the other.

        1. 5

          My favorite Stephenson book after Snow Crash is Cryptonomicon. Prescient to write a book in 1999 about a crypto data haven.

          1. 3

            that is an amazing book :-)

      2. 3

        I read Good Omens years ago while I was in a book club. I’m really glad it wasn’t my first Gaiman book (I read American Gods and Stardust before) because I honestly didn’t really like it. It kinda fizzed and went no where. It’s hard to tell what’s Gaiman and Pratchett too, and I don’t feel like it’s a good mix of authors.

        The book club was in Australia too and it was kinda funny to hear people talk about the “bikies” which is how they say bikers. … Sounds too cute a work for people on motorcycles.

        1. 3

          I think it was my first Gaiman book, but not my first Pratchett book, and I really enjoyed it. But I read it a very long time ago, and I wonder if I would still enjoy it as much today.

        2. 3

          Yeah I was also somewhat disappointed by it. I was also thinking of trying American Gods though, so thanks for the rec!

          1. 3

            American Gods is good. I really liked it. Actually I’d recommend Stardust as a good Gaiman starter book. It’s shorter and the story is just really neat and fun.

            1. 3

              Ok, I’ll consider it as well 😄 I don’t have my hands on Stardust though, since I bought a bunch of Neil Gaiman books at a recent event of his and that wasn’t one of them. Hopefully the local library has a copy.

      3. 2

        I didn’t think Snow Crash was going to be my thing, but it’s great!

    2. 14

      Bullshit Jobs by David Graeber. Still going through it, but it nicely sheds some light on my nagging feeling that a lot of work being done every day is just a waste of time.

      1. 8

        Been meaning to pick this up recently - really liked Debt: The First 5000 Years.

        1. 4

          I loved Debt; one of my favourite non-fiction books of all times. I haven’t read Bullshit Jobs (well I read the article that inspired the book) but I’ve heard good things.

      2. 2

        Actually started that just two days ago. My partner had read it I think last year and generally liked it, though she said to feel free to skip ahead at times, as he seems to dwell quite a lot on some points.

    3. 12

      Just about finished:

      • Neoreaction, A Basilisk: A funny, dark, and informative collection of essays on and around the Alt-Right. The author is fantastic and the approach to the subject matter, while sometimes bleak, is refreshingly honest and direct. Really great read.
      • Walden I start reading this every year around July 4th, I rarely read it through at this point, just skim it a bit before bed. I like thinking about someday doing what Thoreau did, just going into the woods and trying to live ‘so simply and so spartan’. I doubt I ever will, the modern world doesn’t really admit that kind of thing in the same way he did, but I like to think about it.

      On the Docket:

      • The Conquest of Bread I’ve actually read this one before too, but I have an idea for a project that involves this, so I think it’s time to read it again.
      • There are a couple books on Metamodernism which I’ve been meaning to dig into.
      1. 4

        Thanks for the review of “Neoreaction, A Basilisk,” that’s been on my list for a while. “The Conquest of Bread” is classic and, funny enough, I’m also reading right now. Would love to peek your Metamodernism list.

        1. 3

          Haven’t put together a solid list yet, it’s more of a ‘I’d like to dig into this more’ thing atm. I’ve heard and read bits and bobs about it, and it seems to match up with some things I’ve been thinking for a while. I like the generally optimistic/non-cynical feel of the whole thing, and the idea of resolving the modernist/postmodernist divide by treating it as a dialectic and just, y’know, resolving it is both brilliant in it’s simplicity and it’s depth. I definitely land on the PM side of things more often than not, but this all strikes me as very much closer to my actual line of thinking. I currently plan on reading The Listening Society and then probably van den Akker et al’s Metamodernism. Figure I’ll branch out from there via the bibliographies. :D

      2. 4

        Sandifer is great, & I loved Neoreaction: A Basilisk for its deep dive into those figures, but the ending (where she uses Blake’s pantheon as an anti-basilisk) felt like a cop-out to me. (Maybe I’m just not enough of a Blake scholar.)

        1. 4

          I feel similar, like she was just running out of steam. It’s a long essay and the idea of a philosophical basilisk is kinda tricky to talk about. I definitely also felt the “This is a thing where your nerd-fu is greater than mine.” Blake is a bit esoteric.

          Overall I think I liked the Essay on David Icke much more, it was a much more straightforward summary of who he is.

          I’ve been on a bit of a ‘How do fascists fash?’ kick lately, I think from listening to Knowledge Fight while working; their deep dive into Alex Jones has sent me on a rabbit trail looking at other figures, which is how I landed on Neoreaction, I think (I don’t actually remember how I came upon it, I read pretty slow and didn’t write it down. :D)

          1. 3

            Have you listened to Robert Evans’ Behind the Bastards podcast? For obvious reasons, it spends a certain about of time on fascists & fascist-adjacent folks (moreso than the similar but more true-crime-focused Last Podcast on the Left), & Evans is the closest thing to a serious journalist to come out of Cracked Dot Com. (Like, they literally embedded him in various middle-eastern civil wars.)

            1. 3

              I love BtB (it’s how I found KF). The Cracked diaspora has been pretty good in terms of new content.

    4. 10

      Finished Anathem recently, and quickly followed it by Accelerando. Both were fantastic, although Anathem invents a lot of words for the sake of it, and as such I felt that Stross’ Accelerando was a better read.

      I’m starting Dragon’s Egg now.

      1. 2

        I could not get past half of Anathem. I did love the universe and all, but compared to snow crash it felt so uneventful…

        1. 2

          I seem to have a memory that this book was originally written as a script for graphic novel, which I think explains the pacing and style, as compared to Anathem (or probably any other book by the author).

          1. 2

            Snow Crash was originally the script for a VN, not a graphic novel. Stephenson dropped it when Apple suddenly changed the quickdraw API, breaking all the code he had already written (as discussed in In the Beginning… Was the Command Line).

            It’s a shame, because had Snow Crash come out as a VN in 1993, it might have drastically changed the video game landscape.

        2. 2

          That’s a reasonable reaction to it. A lot of it reads like a Socratic dialogue, and it’d be easy to get bored.

          I couldn’t get through Snow Crash. I’ve never been a fan of cyperpunk, and it comes across as a bit of a parody of it, which I couldn’t really appreciate.

        3. 2

          I found that it all started happening ~300 pages in, and never stopped. Interesting way to go about it.

      2. 1

        If you liked Accelerando, try also Rapture of the nerds.

    5. 9

      I recently finished Gomorra by Roberto Saviano, a very emotional, engaging and enraging testimonial of devastation and corruption happening right under our nose. Read it if you think organized crime is distant, with no direct impact on your life.

      Right now I’m going through The Art of Strategy.

      1. 4

        I’ve read Gomorroa a couple of years ago. It’s indeed quite terrifying.

    6. 8

      Currently reading The Goal by Eli Goldratt. I previously reread The Phoenix Project and The Goal was mentioned several times so I figured it was worth a read.

      1. 4

        With the exception of the technology involved, I find the Goal far superior to the Phoenix Project, to the point that I tell people, if you know what a FAX is, prefer to read the Goal.

      2. 4

        +1 for the Goal. You may also like reading Taiichi Ohno’s Toyota Production System, though it reads sometimes more like philosophy than industrial engineering.

    7. 7

      The Hobbit by Tolkien :)

    8. 6

      I most recently finished Metamorphosis by Kafka. I read it on my kindle whilst in the queue to go up the Church of our Savior in Copenhagen. I tend to read multiple books at once so to start and finish a book in a single sitting was pretty unusual but worth it.

      Just before that I finished Random Acts of Heroic Love, which I thought was beautifully written.

      I’m currently reading through Augustine’s Confessions, Wittgenstein by David Pears, Singer’s Animal Liberation, and Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

      I’m also working through K&R’s The C Programming Language. Next in my backlog is Jeeves in the Offing by Wodehouse and Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks.

      1. 4

        I read Birdsong a couple of years ago and would recommend it. I found the first part pretty hard going: it read like an over-wrought romance novel, but the rest of it was great, if somewhat haunting.

        1. 2

          Yeah, I got given it as a birthday present last year, but have had so much else to read I haven’t managed it yet. During high school we had to analyse part of it, and had the kind of English teacher who would encourage everyone to read it and then explain the whole plot, giving the majority of the class no reason to read it. Since then I’ve planned to, but never quite got around to it.

      2. 3

        Do read Kafka’s other work if you haven’t already. I really loved The Castle (pardon the ssl error): https://bensima.com/2018/01/the-castle-by-kafka/

        1. 2

          I definitely intend to, although I’ve got a significant backlog of physical books and epubs to read first. Unfortunately I just caused a bit of an issue for myself by accidentally sitting on my Kindle, so a lot of my epubs I won’t be able to read for a fair bit longer (no way am I reading a book on a backlit screen) - so if I can find a cheap physical copy, I might be reading it sooner!

          1. 2

            no way am I reading a book on a backlit screen

            I love my ebook reader and very strongly agree with this statement. Sorry to hear about your Kindle though D:

            1. 2

              Me too :( gonna have to takevto ebay rather than buy direct though, because I maintain that the models past the Kindle 4 (aka all the touchscreen ones) don’t feel right.

    9. 5

      Just finished Capitalist Realism by Mark Fisher and am about halfway through Culture by Terry Eagleton.

    10. 5

      Just finished:

      • Violent Borders by Reece Jones - talks about the cost of border enforcement but also more widely, the origins and costs of borders themselves. An interesting read.
      • The Performance of Open Source Applications - a collection of essays on performance challenges and how they are met in various pieces of software. This and others can be read online here and are well worth a look.

      Just started:

      1. 4

        Ooh, that McPhee book looks interesting…

        1. 5

          It’s a very good general history. He tries (maybe successfully) to rehabilitate Robespierre.

          1. 4

            Nice. I’ve read and enjoyed The Terror by Andress, and Mantel’s A Place of Greater Safety which although a novel does a good job capturing the tone of the period. Mantel also treats Robespierre somewhat sympathetically.

            1. 3

              Thanks - I will check those out.

          2. 4

            He did a good job doing this in his: https://www.amazon.com/Robespierre-Macphee-Peter/dp/9873919007 which I enjoyed reading… Fun fact: there are no memorials or monuments to him in France

    11. 5

      Children of the Fleet by Orson Scott Card. I’m listening through the whole Ender’s Game series. I wish I had read them years ago. This is #17 out of 18 released.

      1. 2

        I hadn’t realised there are that many in the series! And they’re all by him it seems.

    12. 5

      I just started Handmaid’s Tale last night.

      1. 2

        I bought the Nook version of this a few weeks ago, but haven’t started it yet. I plan to pick it up after I finish watching season 3 of the Hulu series.

    13. 4

      I’m reading The Cosmic Landscape By Leonard Susskind. It goes over advances in theoretical physics and cosmology over the last century and then goes on to cover string theory and quantum gravity.

    14. 4

      currently reading ‘Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World’s First Digital Weapon’ is an excellent retelling of the entire incredible (at that time at least) incident, and ofcourse some minor information on cyber-weapons at the disposal of nation states. highly recommended.

      1. 3

        Currently reading this as well, but I wish a condensed version existed that didn’t have to explain computing concepts I already understand

        1. 2

          a fleeting glance for such sections is what i do. but, honestly, i felt that these were few, and far between.

    15. 4

      Just finished reading Deep Work. I’ve been trying to minimise things in real life as well as online, so the timing of this book couldn’t have been better. Would recommend.

      At the moment I’m just finishing my Pocket queue until I find something else along similar lines to read. Recommendations welcome!

    16. 4
      1. 3

        That’s a great book if you want to improve your writing skills. I believe I got it when I had read that all new writers were given this book by a certain publisher (can’t remember which one) as required reading.

        1. 2

          Yeah. My research told me that this is a highly regarded book for this purpose. I don’t want to write the greatest hits, but better blog posts, articles and may be some mini books.

    17. 4

      Cryptonomicon, which I’ve read before. But I’m giving up on it 2/3s of the way through. I’ve run out of energy for wading through the rambling diversions. I’d forgotten that the section where Randy is in prison is super boring. Even after skipping the boring bits, I’m still bored.

    18. 3

      This essay called The Crane Wife hit me much harder than I expected.

      It’s a story about studying endangered whooping cranes in Texas—but also about the nature of needs in relationships.

      1. 2

        Thanks for linking this, that is an amazing piece of writing. I’m glad I read it.

    19. 3

      I have recently gotten obsessed with the Audley/Butler Cold War thrillers of Anthony Price. They are good, and short, and satisfy my unfulfilled need for more Smiley books, which will not, and should not, happen.

      1. 3

        If there’s a Smiley “reboot” we know we have entered the End Times.

        1. 3

          DARK ’N GRITTY

          ETA: That said, the recent Tinker Tailor was wonderful.

          1. 3

            I agree, but it went full-on into the dank and woolly 1970s London, which was a great look. And it was, significantly, directed by a Swede and had an American in the lead role. That said, the BBC series from the 1970s is also great.

            (Edit added commas)

            1. 3

              I’d love to see the same team do The Honourable Schoolboy and Smiley’s People, although a certain amount of violence would need to be done to those books to fit them in a movie’s runtime.

    20. 3

      The Children of the Sky, ending my re-reading of the Zones of Thoughts trilogy. Highly enjoyable!

    21. 3

      Very very old but I’m reading Don Quixote and it’s every bit the masterpiece they say it is. Funnier than I was expecting.

      The Project Gutenberg version has a translator’s preface which adds some context along with a small biography about Cervantes.

    22. 3

      I’m currently reading “fire in the valley” It’s a book from 1984 that tells the history of making of personal computer. It has a lot of details that may be interesting to anyone who is a tech enthusiast, let alone a programmer

      1. 3

        Fire in the Valley is a pretty interesting history, and it becomes a lot more interesting when you combine it with other sources. I usually recommend pairing it with Levy’s Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution, Markoff’s What the Dormouse Said, & Turner’s From Counterculture to Cyberculture.

    23. 3

      An Introduction to College Mathematics With APL

      It’s a survey of college-level mathematics using APL as a teaching vehicle. It’s pretty good.

      I have a dead tree version but it’s also available online: http://www.softwarepreservation.org/projects/apl/Books/CollegeMathematicswithAPL

    24. 3


      • Antecedents to Modern Rwanda by Jan Vansina. A surprisingly readable monograph about pre-colonial history in Rwanda. Fascinating. Very much about political economy, and thus, grim. Almost done.
      • Another Country by James Baldwin.
      • The usual Harpers backlog. Though this month’s cover story is by Bill Vollman, so it’s sure to be good. :-)

      I was also spending a lot of time on hierarchical models for count data (Poisson-gamma/negative binomial, Poisson-gamma), but thankfully that’s done for the moment – I got basic models running in stan last night and this AM.

    25. 3

      I’m in the middle of reading The Perfectionists a book about the gradual discovery of how to create precise machinery. I’m enjoying it so far.

    26. 3

      I’m currently reading Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. The writing is lively and enjoyable, and the experiences detailed are fairly crazy.

    27. 3

      This week, I’m reading Nate Silver’s The Signal and the Noise. I picked this up after finishing Oliver Sacks’ The Mind’s Eye last week – both are hauls from a library book sale a couple years ago.

      The Mind’s Eye is, like most of Sacks’ books, a series of compulsively readable case-studies with an autobiographical element – in this case, the overarching theme is the way people produce elaborate adaptations in order to remain functional when some of their faculties are removed, such as partial or total blindness late in life or the loss of the ability to speak or read.

      The Signal and the Noise is shaping up to be a sort of forgettable retread – Silver isn’t a poor writer, but he’s not enough of a stylist to make the book compelling (the way Christian Rudder did with similar material in Dataclysm), and meanwhile, aside from some specific details about topics I don’t care very much about (like the names of specific election forecasters), the material seems to be composed mostly of things I’ve already read elsewhere – Tetlock’s fox/hedgehog model of personality, some stats 101 best practices, warnings about apophenia, a quick rundown of bayesian logic. This almost certainly belongs in that second tier of popular science books, where neither the ideas nor the style are shiny enough to somebody with a casual interest in the subject to justify the price of the thing (but I spent a dollar on it, so I don’t mind so much).

      Next in my queue is a general-audience introduction to cognitive science from 2000 called Mindware, whose author I have forgotten.

      Over the course of my vacation (a few weeks ago), I managed to finish several books that I had previously started, and read a couple new ones all the way through:

      • C. S. Lewis’s That Hideous Strength combines some campus-politics satire with weird arthuriana in the style of The Dark is Rising and is political in ways that sometimes remind me of 1984, but the main appeal is how utterly alien Lewis’s political positions (which he takes to be obvious & universal) are to me. By the end of the book, it becomes clear that the previous books in the series are some kind of John Carter style sword & planet SF, & that this entry is a departure in genre.
      • Andrew Pickering’s The Cybernetic Brain is full of interesting technical & biographical detail I wasn’t aware of from a lifetime of being casually interested in cybernetics, & makes some interesting meta-philosophical points about cybernetics as a discipline being performance-oriented. He claims that the way that cyberneticians are interested in the performative aspects of processes as opposed to a focus on categorization & situated knowledge is to blame for how difficult it was for early cyberneticians to find permanent slots in academia & that it made a lot of people find cybernetics hard to understand (since cybernetics is not really concerned with how information is stored or formatted, but only with how past experience can be made to influence future action).
      • Many of the stories in The Best of Richard Matheson are familiar from adaptation, but adaptation gets rid of some of Matheson’s interesting tics (like extensive use of eye-dialect and unreliable narration). LaVaille’s introduction is fantastic & worth the price of admission alone.
      • Minae Mizumura’s A True Novel was a lot more compelling than I expected it to be – Mizumura’s style (as modulated by the translator) is quietly engaging, and she paints a vivid picture without ever resorting to the kinds of fireworks that I usually prefer in prose. I was not caught out by having not read Wuthering Heights. I feel like the localization was somewhat inconsistent: in some cases, the translator fails to make explicit things that would confuse somebody totally unfamiliar with the japanese language, culture, and recent history, while in other cases, translation choices are made that are unnecessary to such a person or that actually eliminate information that would be of interest to such a person. (A concrete example: the translator fails to explain that pampas grass is a signifier of a haunted place in japanese ghost stories, says that the name ‘Fuyue’ is unexpected without explaining that the sisters’ names refer to seasons, and yet eliminates all honorifics & uses the same english word for two different japanese translations of ‘maid’ while talking about the distinctions between them.) However, the translation is generally very good, & I would have liked to read the translator’s notes. I got quite engrossed in it, even though it covers material that I don’t generally find interesting (I’m not enough of a weeb to be interested in literally everything japanese).
      • Mark Fischer’s Ghosts of My Life hung together less than I expected it to – it’s an essay collection composed mostly of previously-published material – and I was already familiar with some of the material in it simply from being in the general ecosystem of extremely-online left-theory people. However, it reminded me that Fischer, in addition to having a lot to say about Theory, was a skilled cultural/music critic, and as a result, I have a bunch of stuff I need to check out (and a new frame for making stuff I had previously dismissed interesting).
    28. 3

      I’m reading The Dream Machine and really enjoying it. It’s a detailed historical account of the development of the computer industry, and it’s fascinating how all the key figures from Norbert Wiener to Alan Turing to Doug Engelbart to Alan Kay were part of the same academic network with very few degrees of separation. J. C. R. Licklider is in the title of the book and he was a very interesting and influential character too.

    29. 3

      non-fiction: the value of everything by Mariana Mazzucato is a really insightful book examining the history of value globally and, for instance, how financial services went from being accounted as value movers to value creators.

    30. 3

      I just finished up The Strange Death of Europe and am currently on Persepolis Rising (2nd to latest book in The Expanse series).

      I had a lot of trouble getting in The Strange Death of Europe. I felt like a lot of it was way out there. I’m still glad I continued reading and finished it. It’s a really interesting perspective and it’s important to read things and view perspectives one doesn’t completely agree with to keep growing and coming to grips with why people believe what they do. I think he does make a lot of good points and rational arguments.

      The Expanse is an okay series. The physics and believability are pretty high, but some of the dialogue and characters are kinda cheesy. It’s no Kim Stanley Robinson or RR Martin, but it’s good enough to keep me engaged and finish the series.

    31. 2

      On the second to last chapter of The Dream Machine, I loved what I’ve read in the book so far.
      Dropped the Getting Clojure book and switched to Clojure for the Brave and True because I saw many recommendations for the latter and found the formula for the former lacking conceptual teaching, just heres a function, here’s how to use it, how not to use it, summary. I’m currently fighting to get emacs to get cider setup in chapter two of Clojure for the Brave and True - M-x cider-jack-in is no longer available as an option for some reason (it stopped showing up without any system change)

    32. 2

      On the fiction side, I was recently recommended Nick Cole’s speculative fiction work and I’ve been tearing through it. Soda Pop Soldier was the first one of his I read, and it’s like if Ready Player One was better written, more believable, and removed 97% of the nostalgia wankery. The second book in the series was equally as entertaining, and I’m already a book into the Galaxy’s Edge series that he is writing with Jason Anspach; a page-turner of an intense military science fiction book. Looking forward to getting into the rest of it.

      I have a couple of non-fiction books going at the moment, as well:

      The Ecotechnic Future by John Michael Greer - extremely interesting perspective on current human ecology and the likely direction of it in the future as we transition from an industrial society to a post-industrial society. Definitely a book to take in slowly to appreciate.

      Estrogeneration by Anthony G. Jay - A well-researched overview of estrogenic sources in our food and environment that throw off our hormonal imbalance, summaries of the studies that back it up, and practical recommendations for avoiding them.

    33. 2

      Back in February, I discovered that the two-trilogy Thomas Covenant fantasy series (written 1977-1983), recently had a third trilogy added as well as a final book to wrap up the story (2014). I started re-reading the series from the start, and I just started book nine. It is a long haul but worth the read. The story is so complex (covers 10,000 years) that I’ve had to rely on Wikipedia and two forums to refresh my memory on certain characters and events.

      1. 2

        Wait, what? I read the original trilogies years ago, had no idea there were more.

        1. 2

          That was my reaction exactly. From Stephen R. Donaldson’s web site:

          …as a narrative exercise it would make the previous “Covenant” stories look like a stroll in the park.

          And he’s right - the 4 final books are a long haul, with lots of back-references to events in the distant past that had only been mentioned here and there in the earlier books. I’ve got 6 months invested in reading this series from start to finish so far, with 2 books to go - it will probably be winter by the time I’m finished. Book 8 was about 750 pages, where the others are more in the 450-650 page range. Fortunately, they are all available as ePub now, so it gave me a good reason to dust off my Nook.

          1. 3

            The “Covenant” series were the books that made me realize epic fantasy multi-logies weren’t for me. I’ve only managed to finish Erikson’s “Malazan” series since then.

            1. 2

              I hear you, it is definitely a long-term commitment.

    34. 2

      So refreshing to see people reading books other than the latest pop-science / pop-tech / pop-management books.

      Recently finished:

      Currently reading:

      • Fall; or, Dodge in Hell. I can’t not read a book by Neal Stephenson. Despite his inability to write endings, I always enjoy his novels.
      • Re-enchanting Humanity. Just started this one. I’m trying to figure out a framework that lets me see some hope for the future. I’m hoping this will help with that.
      • OAuth2 in Action. For work. Pretty good book. Unfortunately, due to bit-rot and node.js, the code samples no longer work, and I can’t be bothered to try and bring them up to date. I plan to re-implement the examples in Go or Python instead.
      1. 1

        the ‘just city’ sequels are worth reading too; i found the final wrap-up very satisfying.

        1. 1

          That’s good to know, I saw the second one at the public library last week and passed it over, but I’ll try and pick it up next time I’m there.

      2. 1

        I thought the endings of Anathem and REAMDE and Seveneves were pretty decent, no?

        1. 1

          I need to read Anathem again, it’s been quite a few years since I read it so I can’t say for sure. Seveneves felt to me like two novels jammed together; while the second part was technically an end to the first part, I’m not sure I could say it was satisfying. Admittedly, REAMDE was decent. Maybe I was a bit unfair :)

    35. 2

      Atlas of a lost world by Craig Childs was so great. Lovely writing and great info about our Native American ancestors, pairs nicely with the book 1491 (cant remember the author). I haven’t read Sapians but I imagine these two books cover the same ground (at least in the Western Hemisphere) without as much cult-like following.

      Now I’m reading “we are all completely beside ourselves” by Karen joy fowler, recommended by a friend with whom I drink wine and talk about life with. So I’m expecting this to be a good book.

    36. 2

      My most recently finished was Why We Sleep which is excellent but nightmare-inducing.

      I’m currently reading volume 2 of The Gulag Archipelago which is excellent, though in some ways harder to get through than Vol 1 was.

    37. 2

      I have read 184 books so far this year but gave only three of them 5 stars.

      1. 2

        How much time do you devote to reading? Is this a normal pace for you? What’s your recall like for books?

        1. 2

          I read for at least an hour and a half every weekday during my commute and dinner.
          I probably spend at least another 3 to 5 hours a week reading.
          It’s a normal pace for me.
          I have a good recall of most of what I read.

          1. 1

            You have very impressive throughput.

    38. 2

      “How to win friends and influence people” and Homo Deus.

      That last one is because I finished Sapiens last year and quite liked it.

    39. 2

      I have 2 books in progress in my book reader:

      • Young Men and Fire by Norman Maclean
      • The Path to Rome by Hilaire Belloc - this is a Gutenberg edition that I started reading because I stumbled upon Belloc’s life on Wikipedia and became interested in him.

      Both are slow going.

    40. 2

      Currently reading:

      • Light/Fiction:
      • Non-Fiction:
        • Figuring – Maria Popova, wonderfully discursive so far
      • Research/learning:
        • L’Étranger – Albert Camus, trying to read a book in French for the first time and this was recommended as a beginner’s book, but, really? At least it’s easier on Kindle with instant word lookup.
        • The Book of PoC||GTFO; progressing very slowly on this, reading a few sections at a time

      Good things I’ve recently finished are a bunch of Umberto Eco’s essays/lectures (Six Walks in the Fictional Woods, Experiences in Translation [on the same topic, 19 Ways of Looking at Wang Wei by Eliot Weinberger was a lot of fun—turned out he was the translator for Borges’ Selected Non-Fictions], Serendipities), Maggie Nelson’s Bluets was great (also read Kenya Hara’s White so I’m on a theme here), and Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse (I left this for far too long!).

      (DFW is now cancelled because he attributed apophatic theology to Aquinas in String Theory, truly the straw that broke the camel’s back.)

    41. 2

      I’m reading The Mastermind: Drugs. Empire. Murder. Betrayal. by Evan Ratliff. It’s an easy, entertaining read if you like good journalistic biographical true crime stories. It’s about the computer wiz who created what was a break through for personal encryption software, and later became a murdering drug kingpin, while also being thought of by many (not me) to perhaps be Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of bitcoin.

      1. 1

        I remember reading a long article about him that covered most of the same ground. It was an unbelievably strange story!

        1. 1

          I believe the book is actually originally extracted from a series of articles by the same author. Might be it.

    42. 2

      Starting Crime and Punishment today, as I officially enter vacations mode

    43. 2

      I am re-reading Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick, Astrotruckers by Mikael Niemi and Game Programming Patterns by Robert Nystrom.

      If you liked Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy you will like Astrotruckers, its similar in style.

    44. 2

      Metro 2033, the Greek translation. I proceed very slowly because I am unaccustomed to Russian names, both for people and places.

    45. 2

      Name of the Wind, Kingkiller Chronicles (I). A good read so far.

    46. 2

      Currently reading The Forgotten Island. It’s pretty good. I like to read before bed, usually 1 or 2 chapters, but I ended up reading 7 last night. Oops.

      Recently read:

      The Three-Body Problem - I liked it overall, but it dragged in places and the ending was very unsatisfying. I know there are 2 more books in the series, but I tried reading the 2nd immediately after and couldn’t get into it. I’ll revisit in the future.

      Terminal - It was ok. I don’t know if I’d recommend it or not. It was short and had some good parts, but it took a really long time to get started into the action. The ending wasn’t great.

      Kill River - I really liked this. It is a callback to 80s slashers. It sets up some relationship and identity early, then goes into full on action in the second half. I ended up reading this in two days because I was enjoying it so much.

      1. 3

        The second book of the Three-Body Problem is great, I encourage you to pick this up again in the future :-) But yeah, let the first one sink in.

        1. 1

          Agreed on both points. Cixin Liu’s books are never short on great/mindbending ideas, but I particularly love the Wallfacers in book two.

    47. 2
      • non-fiction: I’m in Germany working for a US company and am interacting with colleagues from all over the world on a daily basis. I am finally reading a book about cross cultural communication and I can recommend this whole-heartedly. It’s The Culture Map by Erin Meyer.
      • fiction: I recently finished “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy. It’s a great story. Also “The Man In The High Castle” by Phillip K. Dick, which was recommended widely but I found it only so-and-so.
    48. 2

      Thanks for asking, now there is a great list of books available that everyone can pick up :)

      Currently, I am reading books of Anton Pannekoek, and more precisely “Anthropogenesis: a study of the origin of man” which is great :)

    49. 2

      I’m currently reading Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon. It’s book two in a fascinating series but for some reason that I can’t put my finger on it lacks some of the magic of the first book, Outlander.

    50. 2

      I’m torn between a couple books. I’ve just finished The Rig by Roger Levy which I found reeeeaaalllly good. I’ve already started both Oathbreaker by Brandon Sanderson and A Darkling Plain by Philip Reeve. I don’t know if I should finish those two now or start some other novel. I’m keen to start Mort(e).

    51. 2


      • Tigerman: I initially put this one off since the blurb sounded like it would be a conventional “generation-gap bonding” story but, per typical Harkaway, by page 3 there’s already subtle hints that things are Not Normal.
      • Valerian Complete Collection #2: I’ve been trying to read more Valerian since both the movie came out and discovering the anime series.

      Recently finished:

      • The Ocean at the End of the Lane: I’d forgotten I had this in my bookshelf(a gift from a relative) and finally got around to reading it. It hit home pretty well, with its themes of childhood-to-adult, the fragility of memories, adult monsters, and typical Gaiman prose.
      1. 1

        I loved Gnomon from Harkaway but haven’t read any of his others, will have to get on that. Thanks for the reminder!

    52. 2

      I’ve been picking up Perry Rhodan Neo, a german hard scifi series. I was quite the fan of the original series, though as my sister is trying to get into it too, I realize how incredibly dated the first ones are. The Neo series is quite a well done refresh. If you love scifi, especially hard scifi, you’ll enjoy Rhodan, though German knowledge is basically required since I don’t think there are any up-to-date translations available. It’s a lot of politics, sci-fi science nerd-ery and 5D Spacechess (legitimately since they travel FTL in 5D space).

    53. 2

      I’m reading:

      • Dreams of My Russian Summers by Andreï Makine. Interesting book about soviet times
      • Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch. I really like the Gentleman Bastards series

      Recently finished:

      • The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. The first Gentleman Bastards book
      • The Player of Games by Iain M Banks. Recently started reading Culture series and like it a lot
      • Summerland by Hannu Rajaniemi. It was nice, but I liked his Le Flambeur series better
      • Declare by Tim Powers. Took a while to get up to speed but was nice once in did.
      • The Books of Babel series by Joshiah Bancroft. Really liked this steampunk series
      1. 1

        The Books of Babel series are fantastic (but no spoilers for the Hod King, please, I have it in the pile to read!).

    54. 2

      I just finished Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone’s This Is How You Lose the Time War, and I’ve been reading some short story collections: Ted Chiang’s Exhalation and Stories of Your Life and Others and Lauren Beukes’ Slipping.

    55. 2

      Recently read Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. Graphic novel about growing up in revolutionary Iran. Personal, heartfelt, funny. Before that, I read most of the Baburnama, the autobiography of the king who started the Mughal Dynasty. So many interesting anecdotes. Amazing that such a lover of nature and poetry could be extremely brutal too.

      Currently reading The Hindus by Wendy Doniger. She gives us a history of set of religious practices from the Rig Veda (1500 BC) onward. It’s fascinating to see how ideas that people often say are core to Hinduism aren’t attested until much later. For example, reincarnation and moksha (like nirvana) don’t arise until the last few centures of the first millennium BC. She looks for clues about women, animals, and marginal groups by their treatment in scripture and stories. Illuminating.

    56. 2

      Company of One. Good read for entrepreneurs and startup people, especially indie hackers or micro ISVs. Contrarian viewpoint on growth-at-all-costs Silicon Valley mindset. Could be viewed as the “opposite” of books like “High Growth Handbook” and “Blitzscaling”. Good complementary read to books like “Rework” and “It Doesn’t Have To Be Crazy at Work”.

    57. 2

      How to Lie with Statistics: Fun little book. The drawings remind me of the Fallout series.

      Principles of Compiler Design: Picked this up at a thrift store. Not sure if I am doing any damage by reading a compiler book from the 70’s. Probably should be reading the successor book from 2006.

    58. 2

      Lost Enlightenment: Central Asia’s Golden Age from the Arab Conquest to Tamerlane https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00F8MIJMQ/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

    59. 2

      Junky by William Burroughs. I’d forgotten how funny I find his writing, and that it actually be possible to follow sometimes. Just a bit of joy for me as a treat.

    60. 2

      Most recently finished Brian Sanderson’s Oathbringer, as a 55+ hours audio production from Audible. Highly recommended. All three (plus the Edgedancer novella) have been great! This is shaping up to be one Epic series. Too bad I’ll have to wait a decade or more for it to finish :-)

      Currently trying to start Meeting Design, but haven’t managed to crack the spine yet…

      1. 3

        Journey before destination. At least you know that Brandon Sanderson knows how to end a story. All of his books have great endings. He has been putting out books like a clockwork, unlike George R R Martin, who has no idea…

    61. 2

      Rosewater! It’s great.

    62. 2

      I’m six chapters into The Targeter. It’s a great first-person account of the Iraq War from the perspective of a female CIA analyst who eventually took on the task of getting Zawquari. I’d recommend it for anyone interested in geopolitics, the Middle East, or war/intel stories.

      1. 2

        Got any more of these kinds of books? I love reading books but have an affinity for espionage/thriller/crime/true-crime/war shows, and this book looks like just what I’m looking for, and would like to shift more of that time to reading books filling that need.

        1. 2

          Let me see if I pull a list together from my Amazon orders and bookshelf.

          1. 2

            Sounds great!

            1. 1

              Recovering from surgery so have a lot of my list, but I might update this more later.

              War on Terror reading

              The Looming Tower (Lawrence Wright)

              Great introduction to islamic fundamentalism and events leading up to 9/11. I think there is a series on TV outlining the events covered in the book.

              Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden from 9/11 to Abbottabad (Peter Bergen) Holy War, Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden (Peter Bergen) The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict between America and Al-Qaeda (Peter Bergen)

              Peter is someone I’ve seen on TV since the mid-nineties and his analyses always caught my attention. Having met Bin Laden and tracked the Al-Qaeda he has some deep insights into the people and places involved.

              First In: An Insider’s Account of How the CIA Spearheaded the War on Terror in Afghanistan (Gary Schroen) Jawbreaker: The Attack on Bin Laden and Al Qaeda: A Personal Account by the CIA’s Key Field Commander (Gary Berntsen)

              Early, first-hand accounts of on the war on terror. I want to read these again sometime now that I have more context and can decode some of the writing.

              The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda (Ali Soufan)

              FBI interrogator’s perspective on the war on terror.

              The Triple Agent: The al-Qaeda Mole who Infiltrated the CIA (Joby Warrick)

              IIRC this is in the movie Zero Dark Thirty, but it doesn’t go into the background.

              Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS (Joby Warrick)

              More recent happenings after the failures in Iraq.

              General Middle East reading

              The Persian Sphinx: Amir Abbas Hoveyda and the Riddle of the Iranian Revolution (Abbas Milani) The Shah (Abbas Milani) Our Man in Tehran (Robert Wright)

              Understanding Persian influence on the middle east is important. Many people only know the history from the revolution onwards, if they know anything at all.

              Motoring with Mohammed: Journeys to Yemen and the Red Sea

              Fabulous travel story through Yemen. It makes me so sad to see and hear what is happening there now. I’ve forgotten which books I read about British involvement in Aden (which appears in many SAS histories), but this book gives a greater insight into the country and culture.

              Escape from Dubai (Herve Jaubert)

              Interesting read on culture and business in one of the smaller nations in the Middle East.

              General Intel reading

              Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency (James Bamford) The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America (James Bamford) Blind Man’s Bluff: The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage (Sherry Sontag) Lockheed Blackbird: Beyond the Secret Missions (Paul Crickmore)

              International law reading

              The Internationalists: How a Radical Plan to Outlaw War Remade the World (Oona A. Hathaway)

              I read this from the perspective of a historian, but others may read it as it relates to the legal matters. There is a lot of good stuff in here that I had never read in-depth about. It’s a pretty tough read compared to many of the other books on this list.

              1. 2

                That’s really kind of you to compile that list! Thanks a ton, the titles sounds really interesting, I will add them to my reading list pronto! Thanks a lot, and godspeed!

    63. 2

      rereading lynn flewelling’s nightrunner series. somewhat darker than i remembered, but great fantasy that follows a lot of the standard tropes but does so with really good writing.

    64. 2

      Стрела познания. Мамардашвили

      1. 2

        I really like this one, especially the end when Стрела marry познания and they lived happily ever after :3

    65. [Comment removed by author]

    66. 2

      Native American Myths by Rosalind Kerven Wanted to see if there were any in there from where I grew up, or that I would recognize from growing up in Northern Canada. Some of them sound familiar, but the way they’ve been written, it’s hard for my brain to reconcile, because the stories I vaguely remember were very basic, they were good, it was just the language and grammar used was more basic (at least in my memory), whereas these are sort of written in a more modern literary style and it’s like my brain can’t reconcile it.

    67. 2

      I’ve just finished Elena Ferrante’s Napolitean novels (My Brilliant Friend, etc…). It’s a rollicking 1200 pages about a lifelong friendship between two women who’ve grown up in the same neighborhood. There is a lot of characters who reappear along the 4 books. You also learn about Naples, poverty and domestic violence, political strife in 70’s Italy, feminism, etc…

    68. 2

      Right now:

      Reading slowly over many months:

      Just finished:

      1. 1

        hm, that reminds me to re-read GEB. I loved it to bits!

    69. 2

      The Definitive Book of Body Language, I find it absolutely fascinating, and you can immediately use it in practice (both by observing people and using it to improve your own nonverbal communication).

    70. [Comment removed by author]