Topic: Recommend some books

I'm looking for books to read this summer that are not Game of Thrones-related, because that's pretty much all I've read since last summer.

I don't really have a specific set of tastes, so throw whatever you've got at me.

"The Doctor is Submarining through our brains." --Teague

Twitter | Tumblr, for links to all my writing.

Re: Recommend some books

Snow Crash.



Also, Snow Crash.

Not the best book ever, but my favorite. The one I go back to the most.

At the beginning of the novel, the main character, Hiro Protagonist, discovers the name of a new pseudo-narcotic, "Snow Crash", being offered at an exclusive Metaverse [internet, this was published in 1992] nightclub. Hiro's friend and fellow hacker falls victim to Snow Crash's effects, which are apparently unique in that they are experienced in the Metaverse and also in the physical world. Hiro uses his computer hacking, sharp cognitive skills, and sword-fighting to uncover the mystery of "Snow Crash"; his pursuit takes the reader on a tour of the Sumerian culture, a fully instantiated anarcho-capitalist society, and a virtual meta-society patronized by financial, social, and intellectual elites.

Teague Chrystie

I have a tendency to fix your typos.

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Re: Recommend some books

Otherland series by Tad Williams. Really cool sci-fi/fantasy series
War of The Flowers by Tad Williams. Modernizing fairies. I really enjoyed it.
Wicked by Gregory Maguire.

And that pretty much sums up my reading I'd recommend from the last 3 years.

ZangrethorDigital.ca
youtube.com/bigdamnartist

Re: Recommend some books

The Lost City of Z, David Grann. Engaging nonfiction about the author researching the life of Percy Fawcett, a Victorian explorer who ultimately vanished in the Amazon, and ended up looking for information about the guy's fate himself.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Holmes is a classic for a reason, and the short stories are a lot of fun and easy to swallow. (There aren't any particularly bad collections of short stories, but if you want a Holmes novel, only The Hound of the Baskervilles is really worth it.)

The Sundering, Jacqueline Carey. Carey is more known for her Kushiel novels, which are all about geopolitical intrigue, romance, and sadists. They're great, but The Sundering—composed of Banewreaker and Godslayer—is much more accessible. It's a deconstruction of The Lord of the Rings which works by taking a similar situation making it morally complex.

The Magicians, Lev Grossman. Along the lines of the above, although this is a particularly brutal deconstruction of Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia. It's also a trilogy, with the third book still in production.

The Unwritten. Ongoing Vertigo comic that's being pretty thoroughly collected. It starts as a deconstruction of Harry Potter (guess what I like to read!) and has become a meditation of how we interact with stories and they interact with us. In three years of reading it, there's only been one issue that stumbled for me, and that was recently.

A Fire Upon the Deep, Vernor Vinge. Brilliant classic sci-fi. To tell you anything more would be a disservice, but it flirts with the epic. There's a sequel, The Children of the Sky.

The Secret History, Donna Tartt. A novel about classics students committing a murder. The first half can be slow, but the second half is so amazing it barely matters.

Tigana, Guy Gavriel Kay. The novel that marks Kay leaving his Tolkien riffing behind and striking out on his own; it's about the efforts of a band of rebels to save their country, whose very name has been erased by the two dictators that vie for control of their continent.

Good Omens, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. A buddy comedy about the apocalypse. If you've not read it, you've probably heard of it.

Wicked, Gregory Maguire. While the other novels in the series don't match it, this is a very interesting character study, and I really like Maguire's Oz. (Which I say as if I even know about the original one.)

Zombie Spaceship Wasteland, Patton Oswalt. This is pretty evenly split between some brutal comedy that didn't work for me on the page and a darkly brilliant memoir. It's worth it for the memoir portions.

The Magician's Book, Laura Miller. Nonfiction about how stories influence us and the power of story by way of examining the author's relationship with The Chronicles of Narnia, as well as examining the life of C. S. Lewis.

Manhood for Amateurs, Michael Chabon. Pretty much everything he writes is worth it, but this is a nice collection of essays ranging from dealing with his children to a love letter to Big Barda.

That's just a random sprinkling. If you (or anyone else!) is interested in exploring on your own, librarian Nancy Pearl has two books—Book Lust and More Book Lust—that offer a lot of recommendations grouped by theme or topic. It's how my own towering reading list (now 500+!) got started.

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Re: Recommend some books

Ha. I forgot Lito actually, you know, reviews books.

Listen to her.

Teague Chrystie

I have a tendency to fix your typos.

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Re: Recommend some books

/Adds to list of stuff to read.

ZangrethorDigital.ca
youtube.com/bigdamnartist

Re: Recommend some books

litomnivore wrote:

Good Omens, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. A buddy comedy about the apocalypse. If you've not read it, you've probably heard of it.

Wow. This is my favorite book of all time.

I'm going to take these recommendations very seriously. Thank you so much!

"The Doctor is Submarining through our brains." --Teague

Twitter | Tumblr, for links to all my writing.

Re: Recommend some books

litomnivore wrote:

Wicked, Gregory Maguire. While the other novels in the series don't match it, this is a very interesting character study, and I really like Maguire's Oz. (Which I say as if I even know about the original one.)

I'm going to extended the Greg Maguire reccomendation to his book Mirror, Mirror as well. It is not quite as great as Wicked, but is still a good read.  Most of what Maguire has written is pretty good, actually. He's just a lovely guy.

Adding onto that: Rant by Chuck Palahniuk, the His Dark Materials trilogy by Phillip Pullman, and Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer.

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Re: Recommend some books

Captain Horatio Hornblower, by C.S. Forester. Captain Kirk, when Trek wasn't being sold as Wagontrain to the stars, was defined as being a futuristic Hornblower (although, perhaps, Pike in the original pilot fit better).

Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan, by John L. Stephens. OK, picture this: it's 1839. An American adventurer convinces the President to send him to Guatemala to be the representative to the new United States of Central America. He's actually going, though, so he can muck around in the jungle with an artist friend and look for rumored Mayan cities, which nobody has seen since the conquest. Getting to Guatemala City, he finds a strongman in power, the various "states" at war with each other, and the whole central government falling apart. Over two volumes, our narrator runs ahead of and trails behind armies, describes for the first time Mayan ruins like Copan, asks the next reader to visit the town he just left to beat up the guy who gave him bum directions, tells us why a canal in Panama is a stupid idea and won't work, and much much more. Find it. Read it. A true classic.
(make sure it's a pre-1970 edition, as after that they started cutting out huge chunks with 1830's racism, leaving just the Mayan stuff)

I write stories! With words!
http://www.asstr.org/~Invid_Fan/

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Re: Recommend some books

Allison wrote:

I'm going to extended the Greg Maguire reccomendation to his book Mirror, Mirror as well.

That wouldn't happen to have any relation to a certain Julia Roberts movie that just came out, that no one knew about, would it?

ZangrethorDigital.ca
youtube.com/bigdamnartist

Re: Recommend some books

I tend to read more non-fiction than fiction (my recent marathon burn-through of all the Ice and Fire novels notwithstanding).   My preference is usually science or history... or science history.   In that zone, some recent reads that I recommend:

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks   Fascinating story of the first human cells successfully grown in culture, they are still being grown today even though the original (unintentional) donor has been dead for more than sixty years. If you could pile all of Henrietta's cells ever grown onto a scale, they’d weigh more than 50 million metric tons.    These cells have made millions for pharmaceutical companies... but until the author of the book set out to trace their history, her family never even knew it.   

The Eerie Silence deals with Fermi's Paradox - i.e. if life in the universe is supposedly so common... where the hell is everybody?    Examines many possible explanations of why decades of SETI hasn't turned up a darn thing - from maybe there really ISN'T other life in the universe, to maybe we're still not smart enough to even know what to look for.

And any of Mary Roach's books:  Spook (about the search for life after death), Bonk (about sex), Stiff (about all the weird things we do with cadavers) and Packing For Mars (about the issues involved in long-term space travel) are well worth a read.    All full of bizarre info and - the way Roach writes - funny as hell.

EDIT:  Meanwhile, Lit-o has reminded me Lost City of Z and Zombie Spaceship Wasteland have been on my "gotta get those" list for a while now.   I shall remedy this forthwith.

Re: Recommend some books

Trey, I strongly recommend snagging Zombie Spaceship Wasteland from Audible. Patton reads it, and it's the way to go if possible.

Teague Chrystie

I have a tendency to fix your typos.

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Re: Recommend some books

Gonna lay some Asimov on ya.

Namely, the Foundation series - Amazing sci-fi saga, continuously throwing cool concepts and twists at you.

The short version: Set in the super distant future, humanity is dispersed along a giant galactic empire, and a brilliant mathematician has come up with a new approach combining math and psychology which allows him to predict large-scale events into the future. From his formula's he realizes that the empire is about to collapse, and in an attempt to preserve human knowledge/culture, he establishes 2 hidden "foundations" at opposite ends of the galaxy. He's predicted the perfect sequence of events to minimize the damage from the collapse of the empire and help the galaxy recover as quickly as possible. What's cool is that the foundation is purposefully not given the knowledge of how to predict the future, because that will affect the predicted sequence of events and break this perfect sequence, so the residents there have to follow on faith that they're doing the right thing.

What's also cool about it is there is no central protagonist, the books basically follow different inhabitants living in the foundations through various crisis points when the Foundations are in danger of being destroyed, jumping ahead at intervals of 50-100s of years at a time.

Suffice it to say, the story goes to some pretty awesome places, and I find Asimov is particularly good at pulling twists on you that make complete sense in retrospect, but blind-side you in the moment.

Also, the series exists in vaguely the same universe as his robots books, so it's a good gateway into his universe of stories as a whole.

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Re: Recommend some books

BigDamnArtist wrote:
Allison wrote:

I'm going to extended the Greg Maguire reccomendation to his book Mirror, Mirror as well.

That wouldn't happen to have any relation to a certain Julia Roberts movie that just came out, that no one knew about, would it?

GOD NO
It's set in Italy and centers on Lucrezia and Cesare Boriga.

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Re: Recommend some books

As far as I have read in my life, The Sirens of Titan remains the best book.

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Re: Recommend some books

Like Trey, I'm primarily a non fiction reader outside of Comics.  With that said, I might mention a novel or two.

The Beautiful Struggle by Ta-Nehisi Coates.  One of the more lyrical modern memoirs I've ever read.  Coates, a Senior Editor at The Atlantic, tells the story of being raised by his Black Panther/Book Publisher father in a blended household in Baltimore during the height of the Crack Era.  At once compelling and meditative, the book acts as a series of ever expanding lenses focusing on family, then the black experience, then the modern American experience in a way that is relatable to all.

LAbryinth by Randall Sullivan.  One of the most comprehensive, and underrated, true crime books of the last 20 years is this meticulous analysis of the death of Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls.  Sullivan was one of the first to connect those murders with the LAPD Rampart scandal, and in the process examine the roots of gang violence, West Coast Hip Hop, and the city of LA itself, and where they all intersect.  Recently some of the theories proposed in the book have been disproven (it was 2002 when this was written), but its still a fascinating read that asks more questions then answers.

Hit and Run by Nancy Griffen and Kim Masters.  A must read for anyone wanting to get into this business we call show.  Its the now infamous story of how Jon Peters and Peter Guber nearly bankrupted Sony Pictures.

Disney War by James B. Stewart.  If you loved the Waking Sleeping Beauty doc, this is the much more thorough companion.  It charts the rise and fall of Michael Eisner as head of Disney. 

Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin.  Just fucking read it already.

The Men Who Stare at Goats by Jon Ronson.  Fuck the movie.  The real story is far more compelling.

Perv by Jerry Stahl.  Its a strange ....love?....story by the dude who brought you Permanent Midnight.  I actually prefer it when Stahl isn't writing from personal experience.

Hardcore Zen by Brad Warner.  How does a guy go from bass player for an Akron based Hardcore Punk band, to making Ultraman movies in Japan, to receiving Dharma Transmission from the head of the Soto Sect of Zen Buddhism, and become a layman Monk?  Roshi Brad Warner uses his unique autobiography as a way to explore Soto Zen Buddhism and draws the unlikely parallel between Punk Rock and Zen.

Eddie Doty

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Re: Recommend some books

I'll just do one for now, nothing else is really coming to mind. My all-time favorite sci-fi book is Ubik by Philip K. Dick. A very unique, very darkly funny story. Difficult to write a synopsis for without spoiling it, but I'll say that it starts with a private firm of psychic agents hired to protect a facility on the moon from a similar organization.

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Re: Recommend some books

I've mentioned them elsewhere, so I might as well mention them here: the Maurice Leblanc Arsene Lupin books are terrifically clever (and free).

Warning: I'm probably rewriting this post as you read it.

Zarban's House of Commentaries

Re: Recommend some books

Zarban wrote:

I've mentioned them elsewhere, so I might as well mention them here: the Maurice Leblanc Arsene Lupin books are terrifically clever (and free).

Then watch the unapproved Anime sequels, Lupin the 3rd (the Leblanc estate managed to get the Japanese to not use the Lupin name outside Japan for awhile, but that ban has ended)

I write stories! With words!
http://www.asstr.org/~Invid_Fan/

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Re: Recommend some books

Yeah that's right.  ESSENTIAL COMIC BOOKS:

Watchmen, Dark Knight Returns, Maus, American Splendor, Batman: Year One, The Killing Joke, Sin City by everybody.  I list these all together because every essential list starts with these anyway, and they are sort of a given, and I want to get to my real list.

Preacher: Until The End of The World by Garth Ennis.  Preacher is like Pizza, even when bad its good.  But the second trade paperback is stunning its storytelling and both Ennis and Dillon flex their story muscles here.

Chew: Tasters Choice by John Layman.  Want to be cooler than all your friends?  When the hit Showtime series debuts, you can be all like, "I read that comic long before the show, idiot."  This series has about 37 magic beans working at once and it is all brilliant.  In this world, chicken is outlawed because Bird Flu wiped out 1 billion people, and FDA Agent John Chew busts Chicken Speakeasy's.  Oh, and he gets psychic impressions off what he ears.  Oh, and there's an outer space plant that tastes exactly like chicken.  And his girlfriend is a food critic.  Art is brilliant and by this book they really hit their stride.

The Crow by James O'Barr.  This is less a graphic novel than grief made paper.  O'Barr was in a really dark place when he had to write this, and that pain is just as potent on every panel of this book.  Still haunting and relevant.

Daytripper by Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon.  One of my recent favorites, its a lyrical, oddly affecting treatise on life and death.  The artwork is part of a new trend Im seeing coming out of South America these days, and it is wholly original.

Green Lantern: Rebirth Geoff Johns pulled off one of the tougher editorial edicts ever in a book that elevated all the characters, established old and new villains, set the ground work for years of story arcs, and was still emotionally compelling at once.  And the asshole made it look easy.

Astonishing X-Men: Gifted by Joss Whedon.  Read everything after "by," and there you go.  Joss shows here just how much of his writing was influenced by characters, and how his screenwriting influences his comics.  More than that, he has such a grasp on these characters, and what makes them work, that he moves with an efficiency through his pages because of it.

Punisher: Up is Down and Black is White by Garth Ennis.  Ennis second run on Punisher was arguably the best the character ever saw.  I never thought it was possible to make the Punisher more pissed off.  But apparently its easy if you dig up the bones of his wife and children and piss on them on television

We3 by Grant Morrison.  I will say nothing of the plot.  One of the more oddly moving household-pets-become-cyborg-assassin books out there.

Global Frequency by Warren Ellis.  I was writing what I literally thought the best thing my brain would ever shit out, until I found out Warren Ellis had already done it, and way better.

Eddie Doty

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Re: Recommend some books

I give you permission to just read the first book from Sin City and just skip the rest. Or just watch the movie and you've essentially seen the first couple-three books... I'm still kinda pissed off at Frank Miller for getting all Frank Millery on The Spirit.

A couple more comics to check out, though these aren't single books...  these are series and you should start at the beginning:

Blade of the Immortal - Manga set during the Tokugawa period of Japan about a dude who becomes more or less immortal (less, actually) and a girl who's looking to get revenge on a guy who is one of the greatest swordsman alive. The series starts out in a very action-oriented sort of way, but the author keeps injecting all of these characters who all have conflicting philosophies into it. The series is coming to an end in the US now. I think book 25 will be the last... not sure. The artwork is really good at the beginning and in the current books it's fucking incredible.

Powers - What happens when you're a homicide detective living in a world where there are these guys who have super powers running around? How do you perform an autopsy on Superman, and how the hell are you supposed to arrest the guy that killed him? That's the basic premise of this book. I will not lie, the first couple books are a bit rough around the edges cause they weren't really sure how to handle the concept, I think. They hit their stride by the time they get to the third volume, tho, and the series overall is very compelling. One of the few comics I've ever read where I fucking HAVE TO KNOW what's going to happen next.

Word is they're about to shoot a pilot for a possible TV series based on Powers. That would be bad-ass.

Any of Brian Micheal Bendis' books are great, tho. He wrote a few graphic novels a while back called "Goldfish" and "Jinx" and a true-crime fiction comic called "Torso". Jinx is unarguably the best of the three.

Mr. Blank - If you can find a copy of it, get it. It's great. Action / comedy / sci-fi / fantasy that has a much larger scope by the end than it does at the beginning. Also has some of the funniest writing I've seen in a comic. I dare call it "Whedonesque". At least as far as the dialogue is concerned.

And as far as regular old book readin' goes, check out "Ten-Cent Plague" by David Hadju. It's about how the comicbook industry fell apart in the 50's in the US. If you look at today's culture, you could compare it to how senators and parent groups are out there arguing that violent games should be banned because they corrupt youth, etc. You can, through the history of comics, see what happened when that argument actually won.

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Re: Recommend some books

Powers is great.  Irredeemible is up there.  Digging Locke and Key.

Eddie Doty

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Re: Recommend some books

Usagi Yojimbo. The only furry animal comic you need to read, about a samurai rabbit in Japan. Stan Sakai uses such simple lines to convey so much emotion and detail...

I write stories! With words!
http://www.asstr.org/~Invid_Fan/

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Re: Recommend some books

Hollywood by Chuck Bukowski
It's a fictionalized account of the making of Barfly, and way better than Californication, the show that grapped the premise and ran with it.

Posted from my iPad
http://trek.fm

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Re: Recommend some books

Invid wrote:

Usagi Yojimbo. The only furry animal comic you need to read, about a samurai rabbit in Japan. Stan Sakai uses such simple lines to convey so much emotion and detail...

Seconded.

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