What I’ve read – update

June 11th, 2021Posted by Nancy

I managed a lot of reading over the last three months, some of it frothy, some of it scientific, some of it unexpected. I know, I should have been writing, but c’est la vie.

Here are some of the memorable ones.

A fine selection of rock memoirs, including LAST CHANCE TEXACO by Rickie Lee Jones (who had a very … eventful … early life), BEESWING by Richard Thompson (wry and funny), and MY ROCK ‘N’ ROLL FRIEND by Tracy Thorn (a memoir of a friendship, a fellow musician, and the struggles of women musicians).

FICTION

The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson. This features one of the most horrific opening chapters I’ve ever read but, despite that, manages to be hopeful that we do indeed have a future on this planet.

The Hearing Trumpet by Leonora Carrington. Funny, mordant, and unpredictable. I’m glad I’m catching up with surrealist Carrington’s work.

The Fisherman by John Langan. I finally got around to reading this much-recommended horror/dark fantasy novel. It wasn’t at all what I expected but I liked it quite a bit. I don’t read much horror anymore but am slowing dipping my toes back into the genre.

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke. Clarke is not prolific but everything she publishes is a gem.

The Weekend by Charlotte Wood. One of those books I couldn’t remember putting on my “wish list” and then being completely blown away by. The plot is simple: three older women go to clear out the cabin of a recently deceased friend. None of them seem terribly likeable – they’re spiky, snide, secretive, and often cruel to each other. Wood deftly reveals their characters and histories together and by the end I felt kinship, in some way, to all of them.

NON-FICTION

Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard and the Golden Age of Science Fiction, Alec Nevala-Lee. I did not know a good deal of this and found it fascinating.

The Storm before the Storm: The Beginning of the End of the Roman Republic by Mike Duncan. I listen to his Revolutions podcast and enjoyed this history of Rome before the big three (Julius, Pompey, Antony) start in on warring.

Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patrick Radden Keefe. The Sacklers make me wish there was a Hell they could go to in death, because in life, they’ll likely stay rich off the destruction of other people’s lives.

KIndred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art by Becky Wragg Sykes. Detailed but understandable book about our growing understanding of the complex life of our early relatives.

Uncanny Valley by Anna Wiener. A memoir about being a woman (and a literary type) working in Silicon Valley during the tech boom. A nice tonic to the general worship of tech bros.

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. The book that inspired the musical (will that be it’s big claim to fame?) Naturally, AH is a more complicated, annoying, wrong-headed, brilliant character than can be accommodated in a play.

A Libertarian Walks into A Bear by Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling. A fascinating look at what happens when a group of libertarians move to a small, poor New Hampshire town to create their dream world of freedom. Turns out the bears don’t care about your politics.

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