Thursday, May 31, 2012

Reading Now! The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin

This is a very short read, only 175 pages.  I picked it for my first novel in my Project 10 Book - I need to read 10 books of my large queue before I'm allowed to buy anything!  I admit it was a cheap move, but I wanted to get moving!

I read The Left Hand of Darkness as my first Le Guin book, the ending left me feeling a bit (or a lot) crushed, and I was hesitant to read anything else of hers.  I'm very affected by emotion in books/movies/etc, and a depressing book can have me off-kilter for several days.  And what I consider depressing probably isn't according to the rest of the world.  Other than that, I really enjoyed the book, she develops characters very well and that's a quality that can be lacking with a lot of science fiction.  

Anyway, I digress.  That was a while ago, probably five+ years.  I decided to read The Dispossessed sometime this year, and am happy to report that was much less soul-crushing!  I enjoyed it, but it was a little political for my preferences.  But I do enjoy her writing so it encouraged me to read something else.  I don't even remember buying The Lathe of Heaven but I imagine I picked it up at the same time as The Dispossessed.

The Lathe of Heaven sucked me in from page 1.  I started this on the train into work, and I was so focused I didn't look up until I was almost to my stop - usually I check periodically to see where we are.  I read for an hour through lunch, and again home from the train.  And the real clincher, I was reading it even while standing for the bus!  I never do that.  I wanted to get this post up quickly since I was tearing through this book, but alas I failed.  I finished it today at lunch, enjoyed it start to finish.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Project 10 Book - Completed!

In the beauty world there's this idea of a Project 10 Pan - meaning you restrict yourself from buying anything until you "hit pan" on 10 products you already own.  Hitting pan comes from the idea of hitting the metal pan in a pressed powder product indicating you're getting close to finishing it.  Fascinating, I know!

So, I have a shamefully embarrassing long list of unread books in my queue some of which have been in the bucket for 5-10 years and put off for one reason or another.  So I need to get myself in gear, stop getting wrapped up in a new series and shop the stash!  Hence the challenge set for myself, read 10 books in the queue before buying anything new.  I don't think it will be difficult, and it is certainly faster than going through 10 makeup products.  I can keep myself honest with reporting back to the blog. :)

I've read ten books in my queue without purchasing anything new, but due to some bad counting I hadn't realized it until I updated my post! I'm currently reading Ringworld by Larry Niven, so it'll be Project 11-Accidentally Book. ;)

The Lathe of Heaven - Ursula K. Le Guin  read 5/31/12 - review with spoilers
The Man in the High Castle  - Philip K. Dick - read 6/5/12
dhalgren - Samuel R. Delany - read 6/28/12 - review with spoilers 
Spook Country - William Gibson read 7/4/12 - review with spoilers
Iron Sunrise - Charles Stross - read 7/13/12
Axis - Robert Charles Wilson - read 7/23/12
Vortex - Robert Charles Wilson - read 7/30/12
Moneyball - Michael Lewis - read 8/7/12
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress - Robert A. Heinlein - read 9/7/12 - review with spoilers
The Ophiuchi Hotline - John Varley - read 9/18/12

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Books in the Queue

This will be a list of my books waiting to be read, I have a tendency to buy several books at a time and stashing away to read later.  Makes it much easier when you're getting through them at a decent pace, there's always several to choose from before you need to make another trip to the store.  I should really go the library route at some point, but I just haven't (that's what I did as a kid, but we had an awesome library where I could pick up 3-5 books every week or two during the summer).  When I was in my early-mid 20s (aka 7+ years ago) I had a habit of buying a big chunk of books once I read one or two books by an author that I liked.  So while I may have several unread by an author, most cases I have read 3+ by that author that I enjoyed.  Or someone recommended an author, but it turned out I wasn't interested in their writing.

Note: this is my personal queue, the boyfriend also has a bunch I have not yet read but I consider those to be a when I'm in the mood for something else I'll think about it maybe. :)

Another note: my memory for books I've read is awful so it may turn out that I have read some of these and won't realize it until I'm 50 pages in.  Some of these books I've probably had 5+ years.  I will read them, eventually.

So here it is in no particular order.

Titan - Stephen Baxter
Superluminal - Tony Daniel
The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
Trouble on Triton - Samuel R. Delany (thought I had read this but it doesn't seem familiar)
Hammerfall - C. J. Cherryh (technically it's the boyfriend's but I was given it to read when I moved to Minneapolis two years ago and still haven't read it)
Gravity's Rainbow - Thomas Pynchon (tried to start this some years ago - made it to p20, not sure I'll ever get all the way through it, but I'll try again eventually)
Eon - Greg Bear
Distraction - Bruce Sterling (bought because I was in a heavy cyberpunk phase and I knew he was an important author in the genre, but his stories are a little too close to current times and I usually pick to read something else)
Ring - Stephen Baxter (there's a phrase, "Riding the Superstrings to the end of the Universe" on the cover that makes me giggle)
The Cyberiad - Stanislaw Lem
Ringworld - Larry Niven (started years ago, stalled at p84)
Zeitgeist - Bruce Sterling (see above)
Century Rain - Alastair Reynolds (stalled p62 - sorry Alastair, I love most of your work but I don't like alternate history)
The Digital Dead - Bruce Balfour
nova - Samuel R. Delany (I'm 88% sure I have read this, but...)
Factoring Humanity - Robert J. Sawyer
The End of Eternity - Isaac Asimov (stalled p102 10+ years ago)
Memoirs Found in a Bathtub - Stanislaw Lem
Time Out of Joint - Philip K. Dick (love his books but the back cover of this one didn't grab me [it says a character thinks it's 1959 after all])
The Caves of Steel - Isaac Asimov (stalled p104 5+ years ago)
The Naked Sun, The Robots of Dawn - Isaac Asimov
Transcendent - Stephen Baxter
Shikasta - Doris Lessing (and I have two copies, what??)
The Forever War - Joe Haldeman (stalled p54)
Hidden Empire - Kevin J. Anderson
Rainbow's End - Vernor Vinge
His Master's Voice - Stanislaw Lem (stalled p11, pitiful)
The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four and Five - Doris Lessing
A Scanner Darkly - Philip K. Dick
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - Philip K. Dick
The Lord of the Rings - J. R. R. Tolkien (I really wanted to get through this at the time but the wordiness tired me out, but it's been 5-7 years and I have a feeling it would be different now)
Following are not technically mine but in consideration to read before buying more!
A Song of Ice and Fire - George R. R. Martin (enjoying the Game of Thrones HBO series and the boyfriend is also a big fan of the books)
Polity Agent, Line War - Neal Asher (I have read the prior Gridlinked/Cormac books)
The Culture novels - Iain M. Banks (read The Player of Games and liked it, would be interested in others in the series he has)

Books I've Now Read!

The Lathe of Heaven - Ursula K. Le Guin (enjoyed The Left Hand of Darkness but found it terribly depressing, put me off Le Guin a while, but did enjoy The Dispossessed without the ripping depression) - read 5/31/12 - review with spoilers
The Man in the High Castle  - Philip K. Dick - read 6/5/12
dhalgren - Samuel R. Delany (started years ago, stalled after p65) - read 6/28/12 - review with spoilers 
Spook Country - William Gibson (I had read everything through All Tomorrow's Parties but lost interest with Pattern Recognition and haven't read anything of his since) read 7/4/12 - review with spoilers
Iron Sunrise - Charles Stross (didn't like his first book that much, been stalling on this one but I should give it a try) - read 7/13/12
Axis - Robert Charles Wilson - read 7/23/12
Vortex - Robert Charles Wilson - read 7/30/12
Moneyball - Michael Lewis (boyfriend really wants me to read it, so I'll add it to the list to make him happy :) )  - read 8/7/12
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress - Robert A. Heinlein (stopped because life got busy at one point, never picked back up, but was enjoying it) - read 9/7/12 - review with spoilers
The Ophiuchi Hotline - John Varley - read 9/18/12

The list is bigger than I realized and is slightly shameful, I need to get cracking on my stash here.  And to think I started three separate series recently that I need to attend to.  I think I will start a Project 10 Book similar to in the beauty world Project 10 Pan (where you can't buy any products until finishing 10) - no new books until I read 10 in my stash!

What Next? Too Many Series Started

Found myself in a bit of an unusual (for me) position.  Normally when I read the first book in a series, I am compelled to read the rest of the books directly after.  I don't follow authors or new releases for the most part, so I have the luxury of starting a series and tearing through the rest.

I have had a lapse!  And now I'm in the middle of three.  Started out with reading Spin by Robert Charles Wilson, another one I didn't realize that had books after it.  Maybe that is what started all this, I was unprepared!  So I didn't have the next book lined up, started something else.  That may have been when I started The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe - not sure.  And yet again, unprepared!  Did not realize there was a sequel in The Urth of the New Sun, when I tried to buy it in store it was out of stock.  And of course, the logical thing to do once in this situation was to start another series.  So I picked up The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.

I always have a pretty good sized queue of books waiting for me, now to decide.  I do have the two other books in the Spin series, Axis and Vortex.  I recently picked up in my "let's try something not-scifi" moment, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath but I'm not sure I'm ready for something taxing emotionally.

I think I'll write up a list of books in the queue as a separate post so I can keep track!  Maybe that will help me make a decision as well.  I had two driving days this week (shocker, hadn't started the car in over a month!) and am at a Microsoft training so I'm busy all day; don't need to pick up a book until next Tuesday (due to Monday holiday).

Reading Now! The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Actually, I'm way behind on this.  I finished The Book of the New Sun and had wanted to pick up the sequel but they didn't have it in stock (though they said they did!) so I started The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo instead the Monday before last (14th).

Well, I just finished The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo today.  I should say that I saw the movie first, and that the book is a very fast/easy read.  Especially compared to Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun.  I liked it.  It was definitely interesting to get Lisbeth's voice narrating, made her more fleshed out as a character and could understand her behavior a bit more.  Not sure I want to spend the time to "review" this as such any more than this paragraph.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Review: The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe (spoilers)

I'm labeling this a review, but I'm not really into anything too structured here - just post-reading thoughts, feelings, that type of thing.

Like I mentioned in my Reading Now! I was sold this was science fiction, based on the many quotes exclaiming its awesomeness on the cover of the first volume (part 1 and 2).  The first time I started reading it, probably around 2008 - I got 50-60 pages in and put it down.  This was sure feeling like fantasy, and I want some science in my scifi.  I wanted to read something "different" after all of the Peter F Hamilton so I picked this back up.

First off, there's some confusion (or at least, I was a little confused) on how this is presented (outside of the genre).  It's sold now as 2 volumes, but was originally 4 separate novels published at different times.  The Shadow of the Torturer, The Claw of the Conciliator, The Sword of the Lictor, The Citadel of the Autarch.  Come to think of it, there's many things that are confusing about this series.

Spoilers ahead.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Reading Now! The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe

Someone recommended The Book of the New Sun to me back in 2008 or so, I bought it online (handy that I could look up the order information).  I got maybe 50 pages into it at the time, but I was put off by the fact that I was sold on this being science fiction but it felt strongly of fantasy.  The main character is in a torturer's guild, yet another thing that didn't sit well with me.

After the brute of Night's Dawn Trilogy (spoilers) I was willing to try something that wasn't wholly science fiction.  I am into the first part of the second book, it's four novels with two per book.  I understand the scifi connection a bit more as I go, but it's still kind of reaching.  I am quite interested to see where this all goes.  The writing style is more intense than I'm used to, it's a denser read.  I do think I'm probably missing some of the more intellectual aspects, but maybe once I read reviews and explanations after the series is over I'll get it.  After Hamilton's cast of hundreds, it sure is nice to follow a protagonist page in and out.  I will report back once I'm finished!