2015 reading update 2: the return of the academic hero

It’s been too long since my first update, but hey I’m also working again. I’ve got some more highlights to share. Lately there are so many exciting books coming out… I need more money and more free time!

Books Read So Far This Year: 45


I’ve accidentally been on a roll at Book Club—folks keep nominating books I’ve already read! It’s given me a couple of fun re-reads, notably The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde and Perfume by Patrick Süskind. Earnest I hope needs no introduction. If you don’t like reading plays then get yourself the Colin Firth/Rupert Everett movie and enjoy.

Perfume got mixed reactions at my Book Club but oh man I have such a fondness for its insanity. So it’s about a serial killer with the most perfect sense of smell in the world! The writing is so evocative of the senses, and the story goes in such a bizarre direction, I can’t help but enjoy it. It sweeps along like a horrific fairy tale and you prooobably won’t predict how it ends. This one also has a movie (with Alan Rickman!!) and bless them, they upped the ante on the crazy ending.

New Books By Authors I Already Read:

A whole lot of Catherynne M. Valente! Just go look at my 2015 Readings tab and assume I recommend every single one. I’ve also been finding short stories of hers in online publications, and I’m the worst at keeping up with short stories. Her style is so vivid, her prose so precise, she can make up every other word and still suck me into a compelling narrative. I don’t understand how she does it. This author goes on my list of books that I want to throw at the wall in jealousy as soon as I finish reading them.

I read some more N.K. Jemisin and Nalo Hopkinson, other authors on my “slowly acquire everything” list. And I found a book of short stories, At the Mouth of the River of Bees by Kij Johnson. I had only read her novel, The Fox Woman (which is FANTASTIC), and like Valente she is now renewing my appreciation of the short format.

Books by New Authors:

Like I said, there is some good shit coming out all the time right now. I can’t keep up!

I read The Martian by Andy Weir and got myself all excited for the movie coming out this winter. Let’s go save Matt Damon in space again, because this story not only had a great voice but a plot composed of a really rollicking series of disasters solved by legit science.

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison was an enjoyable tale of court intrigue full of elves and goblins and airships. This is a difficult subgenre to master in my opinion because you have to juggle a lot of characters and a lot of really minute worldbuilding or else the court system seems shallow. But you also have to make all of those characters distinguishable and keep the plot moving, and Addison did that well.

Finally, I wanted to highlight City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett. I picked this up solely due to a recommendation on the great fan blog by Aidan Moher, A Dribble of Ink. And it was great! More great worldbuilding (Russian and Indian vibes + spy novel + a backstory about dead gods and colonialism that made me super jealous!), as well as a main character duo that I loved. Shara and Sigrud forever. I had just posted here about my love of academic action heroes, but I only used movie examples, figuring they’d be most accessible. Shara is now on my list of awesome academics in literature, and I ought to make that its own post at some point because she’s in great company.

I can’t help it, I just love seeing nerds thrust into a world full of monsters and explosions, in which their many readings save the day. You can’t possibly read anything into that!