Reading and More Reading

I’ve been consuming short story podcasts by the dozens, and that has cut into my novel-reading time. I’m nowhere near the three or four a month I’ve managed in the past. Here’s sixteen, still not too shabby for nine months.

  • The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker, 2012. The Earth’s rotation slows, and Julia’s life changes in many ways. A beautifully written debut novel.
  • Bannerless by Carrie Vaughn, 2017. In this post-apocalyptic world, you have to prove you’re responsible and capable before you have a baby. Can society rebuild, or will storms, greed, and murder reign? Winner of the Philip K. Dick award, 2018.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr, 2021. The 15th-century fall of Constantinople, the Korean War, an act of eco-terrorism, and a future interstellar voyage combine in this tribute to libraries and librarians.
  • The Country of the Blind by Andrew Leland, 2023. The author, losing his eyesight to retinitis pigmentosa, explores blind society, relations, and politics.
  • Doctor Sleep by Stephen King,2013. I read The Shining as a teen and loved Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation. In this sequel, an adult Danny Torrance battles alcoholism, horrific memories from his childhood, and the continued evil that feeds on the shining.
  • The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard, 1962. An overactive sun is responsible for global warming in this novel largely regarded as the godfather of climate fiction. A drowned and primitive London serves as backdrop for the alienation and disillusionment of Dr. Robert Kerans, who comes to view the radically altered earth as an opportunity to create a more harmonic and balanced existence. For more on Ballard, read my mini review of his books.
  • The History of Bees by Maja Lunde, 2015. In 1851, William dreams of designing a new beehive. In 2007, beekeeper George fights colony collapse disorder and the estrangement of his son. In 2098, Tao lives in a world where pollination is done by hand. This novel weaves the three stories together in a majestic tribute to the environment.
  • A House with Good Bones by T Kingfisher, 2023. Out-of-control roses, a prissy ghost, slug-like children who live underground, and the legacy of a long-dead sorcerer conspire to keep our protagonist from classifying photos of insects.
  • Light from Other Stars by Erika Swyler, 2019. In 1986, protagonist Nedda Papas watches the space shuttle Challenger blow up, and her physicist father finds a way to stop time. Cool premise, but I gave up halfway through.
  • The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules by Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg, 2012. Translated from Swedish by Rod Bradbury and narrated by Maria Johnson. In this witty and lighthearted story, disgruntled residents of an elder care facility grab their walkers and go on a crime spree. Better quality translation and audiobook narration would have made the story more enjoyable.
  • The Mountain in the Sea by Ray Naylor, 2022. A species of octopus develops language and culture, and a shady global corporation wants to keep the discovery for itself. This sci fi thriller won the Locus Award for best debut novel.
  • The Municipalists by Seth Fried, 2019. A milquetoast bureaucrat and his AI assistant uncover a terrorist plot in this witty and exciting novel. Strong themes of companionship and how we treat others.
  • Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick by Philip K. Dick, 2002. This collection of groundbreaking science fiction short stories includes Minority Report and We Can Remember It for You Wholesale.
  • The Sunset Years of Agnes Sharp by Leonie Swann, 2023. Someone’s killing old people. Agnes and her housemates might be able to find the killer, if they can overcome their hearing loss, dementia, and forgetfulness long enough to piece together the clues.
  • To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis, 1997. An amusing and lighthearted mystery/romance. In this second of Willis’s Oxford time travel novels, a future Coventry Cathedral reconstruction project sends students back in time to Victorian England on a hunt for clues about a missing vase. 
  • Vinegar Hill by A. Manette Ansay, 1994. A young catholic mother in 1972 struggles with a passive husband and dysfunctional in-laws. Great period piece about self-assertion in the early feminist era.

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