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What Books Are You Reading?

OldschoolJohto

Never not editing
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solrock
I work at a library, so even outside of the fanfic world I read a lot, especially now that work from home has started. Most of what I read is YA, since I work with teenagers, but some of it has been surprisingly good! I wanted to share a few books I've enjoyed lately and to hear whether anyone has been reading anything they're excited about that isn't fic. (Fic recommendations live here.)

The Raven Boys - Honestly, it's peak "paranormal teen romance" trash, but I got really sucked into it back in February. Like, could not, would not put it down until I knew the babies would be okay. It's ultimately about 5 teenagers hanging out, being friends, and doing vaguely magical-ish things, so it's slow-paced but worthwhile if you like character-driven things. Also! Surprise LGBT representation! The last 50 pages of the last book dropped the ball really hard. I almost want to write a fix-it fic to make it better ... but this world doesn't have that sandbox feel that draws me to pokemon, so I probably won't. I liked these guys so much I'll rec it anyawy.

Patron Saints of Nothing - This one made me teary, in a good way. Twice. It's about a teenager grappling with the very political murder of his cousin, who was also a teenager. The author doesn't pull any punches when talking about privilege, race, micro-aggressions, and police brutality. At the same time, he avoided writing cookie-cutter characters--they're complicated and capable of change.

I Wish You All the Best - I was surprised how invested I became in this book! I binged it in one day. Non-binary kid gets kicked out of their house, goes to live with their sister, and then finds a way to feel okay again. Parts of it were hard and other parts were much-needed fluff. This kiddo is so shy and self-conscious, and it was gratifying to see them learn to spread their wings and love themself. <3

Ink - Where a lot of teen's dystopian novels fail, this one manages to be really captivating. It's got lots of juicy lore and fictional religion and an interesting premise. I haven't finished it yet, so it's still possible the ending could crash and burn. Right now I'm biting my nails waiting for the protagonist's naivete to bite her in the ass and for her to rise up and rebel against the government. Yay!


What are you reading???


See also: the book club that was briefly happening and (!) could happen again sometime.
 

Starlight Aurate

Verso L'Alto
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Route 123
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mightyena
Oooh I love this! Thanks so much for starting this thread!

I work for a church, so I also read a lot but it's mostly liturgical documents and spiritual writings. From those, I think one I would universally recommend is The Power of Silence by Robert Cardinal Sarah. He sugarcoats nothing and talks about difficult subjects like death and suffering. It gave me a lot to think about and has also brought me a lot of comfort when dealing with those in my own life and for those around me.

My favorite author is Robert Louise Stevenson and I just started The Master of Ballantrae. It's a bit tough and I haven't read much so I can't quite say yet that I recommend it (but I love his works so I probably will).

I love Treasure Island the most. It starts out with a young boy in Scotland getting caught up in the mutiny aboard a seaship and the plot for the mutineers to find treasure in the titular island. It's a great story that does exactly what it intends to. The setting is gorgeous and the characters (good and bad alike) are so wonderful that I'm always itching for more.

After that, I really enjoy Kidnapped. A Scottish seventeen-year-old boy goes to live with his aggressive uncle. The boy escapes but is kidnapped and stowed aboard a ship to be sold as a slave in America. His journey of making it back to civilization is full of action, danger, and is a wonderful adventure.

I just finished The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. You all know the plot: horrible misdeeds are being committed by a dastardly Mr. Hyde. The story's protagonist, the lawyer Mr. Utterson, is shocked to find that Dr. Jekyll is leaving everything in his will to Mr. Hyde despite no one knowing any other connection between the two. Utterson sets out to discover why the esteemed Dr. Jekyll would do so and is horrified to learn that Jekyll and Hyde are one and the same. The story is short but full of suspense. It does a wonderful job at looking at what it means to accept responsibility for one's actions--and what happens when someone refuses to acknowledge when something is their fault. Even though the twist and ending are known by everyone today, I still warmly recommend!

Before I picked up Jekyll and Hyde, I read Johnny Tremain. The story takes place during the beginning of the American Revolutionary War. A young silversmith apprentice named Johnny permanently injures his hand, making him unfit for smithing and he needs to find a new profession. He winds up delivering papers for The Boston Observer, a pro-independence newspaper. He winds up present at meetings planning for wartime and soon finds himself caught up in war itself. The end left me desiring more, as it leaves off in the midst of the war and without tying up the potential relationship Johnny had with his ex-fiance. But I think it nicely depicts his growth from an arrogant, stubborn child into a man who's willing to give his life for the people he cares about.

I realize this is mostly a "Robert Louis Stevenson recommendation" post lol.
 

Negrek

Ground Zero
Staff
Great time for this thread, since the library's finally loaning books again for me over here! Some very interesting mentions here already.

I'm actually re-reading (with Dragonfree!) an old favorite of mine, my extremely water-damaged copy of Kraken. This was the first novel I read by China Miéville and will probably always remain my favorite, although The City & The City comes perilously close to the top spot. This book is a thriller of sorts, kicking off with the theft of a giant squid from a British museum that somehow manages to set in motion at least one apocalypse. One of the museum's curators ends up dragged into a side of London he's never encountered before, a supernatural city crammed with everything from ancient Egyptian labor organizers to gunfarmers to "collectors" of weird cults to extreme origami. This is a propulsive read that doesn't let up the whole way through, and I love all the bizarre worldbuilding and the way its wildly disparate pieces somehow manage to hang together. Kraken's one of those books where it feels like the author was having a great time writing it. If you put all my favorite tropes in a blender and added a heavy dose of weirdness, this book is pretty much what you'd get!

Being a fan of a book that prominently features a cephalopod cult occasionally makes canisaries' talk of helixian lore a bit weird and occasionally hilarious. The object of worship here is not even a little bit bara, though.
 

Equitia

Pokémon Trainer
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he/him
Partner
espurr
Current Novel

Right now I'm doing a re-read of my favorite series, The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson. The Stormlight Archive is an epic fantasy that takes place on Roshar, where emotions and concepts take physical form as spirits called 'spren' and everything is built to survive vicious storms which scour the planet on a regular basis.

One of the things I love the most about this series is its portrayal of mental health. The series begins when characters start developing the abilities of the Knights Radiant, a group of people who used to protect the planet until they suddenly betrayed humanity centuries ago. The conceit of the Knight Radiants is that they are all "broken". All the main characters who become Radiants have experienced trauma and/or are mentally ill. The focus character of the first book, Kaladin, has one of the best and more relatable depictions of depression I have ever encountered. Another main character has what we would call dissociative identity disorder, which I ever never seen in a heroic character, let alone realistically portrayed.

I finished the second book a few days ago and went directly into the third. The second actually felt a little underwhelming on the second read-through. It lacked focus for a lot of the plot and, compared to the first book (which I read about a month and a half ago and which did meet expectations), didn't have as many impactful moments. Not to say it was boring -- it still has some of my favorite sequences in the series -- but I felt like it could have used more direction.

I started the third book the other day and am about 15% through. I'm already loving it. The reveal of the backstory of this book's focus character wrecked me when I first read it, and this book was the first book to make me cry since I was twelve. I full-out sobbed. I can't wait to experience it all again.

(Btw, these books are looong. 1000+ pages.)

Short Stories

While I reread The Stormlight Archive, I'm also reading short stories! I really got into short fiction toward the end of last year when I started reading anthologies by various authors and gained an appreciation for the medium. There are a lot of online magazines which offer short stories for free, including Clarkesworld, which mostly publishes sci-fi, and The Dark Magazine, which publishes horror. I read through the current issues of both magazines this past week or so. The stories were all pretty solid, but my favorite was One Time, a Reluctant Traveler by A T Greenblatt. I recommend you give it a read; it's a beautiful piece about grief, stories, and memories set in a post-apocalyptic world.
 

OldschoolJohto

Never not editing
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solrock
Finished “It’s Not Like it’s a Secret” by Misa Sugiura. It was genuinely stressful watching this girl fail to tell the truth, but the racial commentary was excellent and complex and the gay romance was extremely cute.

Now I’m reading “How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents” by Julia Alvarez. I’m still very early in the book so most of what I can say is that the prose slaps.

Anybody else reading anything good?
 

cynsh

full-time quilava
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he/him
I've just started Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson. It's the sixth book in the Mistborn series, the last in the 'second trilogy', and also currently the most up to date (there are plans for a third trilogy in a sci-fi setting :quag:). The books resolve around a unique magic system, where different metals can, when consumed and then 'burned', give different abilities. The catch is that most people either can't burn any metals, or only one... only the 'mistborn' can use all of them.

The second trilogy is set several hundred years on from the first, in a slightly Western-esque setting. I love urban settings in fantasy (I mean I'm writing one right now :LOL:) so it's right up my alley. They're not too heavy reading, but have a good deal of complexity all the same, and the characters are excellent!

I also recently read A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, the Hunger Games prequel that came out recently. Wasn't a big fan of it though. The tone was pretty depressing throughout... I guess I like my stories with a decent amount of hope in them.
 

Keleri

I Like Cats
Staff
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They/Them
I'm actually re-reading (with Dragonfree!) an old favorite of mine, my extremely water-damaged copy of Kraken. This was the first novel I read by China Miéville and will probably always remain my favorite, although The City & The City comes perilously close to the top spot.
oh fun! I should do a Mieville reread, I really enjoyed his Bas-Lag novels for worldbuilding on steroids.

I most recently blazed through my Ursula Vernon backlog and read Swordheart, Paladin's Grace, A Wizard's Guide to Defensive Baking, and The Twisted Ones. Swordheart and Paladin's Grace are both fantasy romances and tended to hit a lot of the same broad romance beats as a previous novel by the same author, The Clockwork Boys (she knows what she likes! it's fine!) but the overarching plots are all different, and the characters and worldbuilding are wonderful and fascinating.

Defensive Baking is YA and I think in the same universe as Swordheart/Paladin/Clockwork and utterly delightful. You'll never look at bread the same way.

The Twisted Ones is horror set in the modern world and utterly spooky. All recommended.
 

DeliriousAbsol

*Crazy Absol Noises*
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Behind a laptop, most likely with tea
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She/Her
I'm trying to do more reading, and set myself a goal of 10 books this year. Currently at 15! My more recent ones are through Voracious Readers Only. Glorious Dawn by Kathryn Brown about a world inhabited by gryphon, alicorn and other creatures - absolutely fantastic and strongly recommended. And I've also finished Dream Defenders by Neal DenHartog which was good fun. Both have sequels, although Glorious Dawn 2 isn't out yet.

I've set VRO aside for a bit to read my backlog of physical books, and I'm currently reading the first light novel in the Bungo Stray Dogs series. I'm enjoying it a lot =D Next on my list will be either a Redwall book or Animals of Farthing Wood.
 

Tyler the Goodra

Youngster
Location
Wisconsin, USA
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He/Him
Been absolutely hooked on the graphic novel Nimona by Noelle Stevenson. It’s a webcomic turned physical book, and you can really tell based on the shift in art style as you read on. It’s essentially about the titular Nimona, an “impulsive young shapeshifter,” becoming the sidekick of Lord Ballister Blackheart, a supervillain who wishes to prove to the masses that the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the good guys they make themselves out to be. What wins me over when I read this is the combination of humor, likable characters, plot, and storytelling. Probably my favorite thing to read as of right now.
 

AmericanPi

Write on
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Bay Area, California, United States
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she/her/they/them
I'm a really weird English Major because while I adore stories and analyzing them, I find it very difficult to actually read anything without losing focus. Blame my autism and other mental health issues lol. Maybe I just do better with non-written media.

Anyways, I'm not sure if non-written media counts as something I'm reading, but I've been enjoying everything Homestuck lately. I know, Homestuck in 2020, but I just adore it. The Expanded Universe content is a mixed bag, I'd say, but some of the latest Homestuck^2 updates are genuinely enjoyable and promising. Fair warning, the good stuff is mixed with some pretty bad stuff, but I really like a lot about Homestuck^2, especially Harry Anderson Egbert and the way he radiates Maid of Void energy.
 

Equitia

Pokémon Trainer
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espurr
Meh, I've been in a reading slump -- at least when it comes to full books - for the past few months. I've read about half a book last month, but I've decided to put it down. The book -- The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E Harrow -- isn't bad and has some pretty writing, but the plot is slow. About halfway through a bunch of plot points got settled and I realized I wasn't compelled enough to move on.

I consumed a lot of short fiction though (had a big binge for about a week lol.) I thought I'd share my favorites! In rough order:

5 - Redemption by Mary Soon Lee

This is flash fiction, only 750 words. Flash fiction is hit or miss for me (usually miss) but when it's good it's good. A person in some kind of futuristic prison lives in complete isolation and is forced to accept what they have. Reading it takes only a few minutes. Highly recommend.

4 - The Nine Scents of Sorrow by Jordon Taylor

Wierd sci-fi/fantasy set in historical fantasy. We follow a not-quite-human perfume-maker called Sorrow and their upbringing and their relationship to a queen. Wierd and lush and very queer. I particularly connected to the handling of gender here.

3 - Bring the Bones that Sing by Merc Fenn Wolfmoor

Actually Merc Fenn Wolfmoor is my absolute favorite short fiction writer and I want to recommend everything they have ever written. However, this is their newest (free) release, and it has a lot of what I like about their stories. The protagonist is a little autistic girl who is staying with her grandma, who has told her to never touch the bird bones that mysteriously appear on her porch every morning. Weird, vivid, sometimes dark writing.

2 - The End of the World in Values of N by Adam Troy-Castro

A relatively short story, less than 2000 words. It's basically a thought experiment of what would happen if it were known the world would end in an hour, a week, a year, etc. I've read a lot of this author's works and I've noticed he has a knack for endings. This one was a punch.

Pretty dark and I would not recommend if you're not in the mood for that.

1 - Alone by Emma Törzs

This one is lightly sci-fi, more like a character study. This story relies on deep emotion and introspection and it's hard to summarize, but, um, I came close to tears. Very recommend.


As for what I'm reading now, I've been unofficially going through the series of Transcendent anthologies. Most of the stories there can be found online for free, so that's what I've been doing. (Caused me to reread old favorites Where Monsters Dance and This Is Not a Wardrobe Door, both by Merc Fenn Wolfmoor. Ugh, I love their writing).

In terms of full books, I've started reading We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson by audiobook. (Haunting of Hill House was one of my favorite reads of last year, btw.) I also plan to start reading How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi.
 
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OldschoolJohto

Never not editing
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solrock
I love seeing what everyone is reading!! Such a wide spread of interests!

I just finished Dread Nation and I’m on to the sequel. It’s semi-historical fiction, set shortly after the US Civil War ... but also with zombies. It’s a scathing look at race and racism bundled up with a captivating, ass-kicking protagonist, action, a light scattering of romantic intrigue, and Old West antics. It’s heavy in places, but the characters and their banter carry you through it.

BTW, the link routes to the online shop of my local black-owned book store. See if you can find one near you before you buy it from someplace like Amazon. I was listening to the audiobook in my library’s digital collections. The audiobook is really high quality.
 

DeliriousAbsol

*Crazy Absol Noises*
Staff
Location
Behind a laptop, most likely with tea
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She/Her
I'm enjoying reading more this year! Currently I'm reading Frostheart: Escape from Aurora, and it is absolutely fantastic! Well worth the wait, as it only came out at the start of the month. I read the first earlier this year... twice! I couldn't help but pre-order the sequel! I love the premise of a world covered in snow and ice, with crews of Pathfinders that travel around on sleighs powered by 'enjins'. Waging war with huge monsters called Leviathans that come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, and more often than not, living in fear of them. The main character discovers he has a special power called 'song weaving' that allows him to understand leviathians and results in his exile from his stronghold home, although I wont say anymore than that.

If anyone hasn't read the Frostheart series by Jamie Littler, I strongly recommend it! It reminds me of Monster Hunter for kids (and they are also recommended for fans of How to Train Your Dragon, if you like those films/books). He's created a fantastic snowy world with memorable characters and incredible leviathans. The author also illustrates his own books, and they're done in such a way that they interweave with the text somewhat and really add to the experience. He has two books out so far, with a third planned to end the trilogy.

Also, the covers are lush.
 

love

Memento mori
Pronouns
he/him/it
Reading "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley right now. I felt very interested in the concept of "Soma"---a highly pleasing drug with no negative side-effects. I think the author's view on his own fictional society may differ from my view, but I want to see how he portrays it, and if I decide that it really is a dystopia after all.
 

OldschoolJohto

Never not editing
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solrock
Reading "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley right now. I felt very interested in the concept of "Soma"---a highly pleasing drug with no negative side-effects. I think the author's view on his own fictional society may differ from my view, but I want to see how he portrays it, and if I decide that it really is a dystopia after all.
Oh, is this your first read of Brave New World? I liked that one pretty well! It goes down easier than 1984, for sure. The ending goes real, uh ... Buckle up! 🙃
 
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