And… these are the books I read this year. As a note, I think I’ve read more books in the past three weeks than I did in the rest of the year.
Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic
Better than any book about zoonotic diseases should be. Not that books about emerging diseases can’t be interesting. I’ve read a few that have been fascinating. It’s just this one is written in a remarkable style that manages to be both authoritative and accessible. There are truly funny turns of phrases sprinkled throughout this book. It’s a nice balanced to have some humanity interspersed with the scary science stuff.
This Book Does Not Exist
I enjoyed this book. It’s got a bit of House of Leaves in it, which puts it squarely in the “book I’m going to like” category.
Sandman Slim: A Novel
I blame William Gibson. He tweeted about these books and I bought this one and read the hell out of it and it was awesome.
Seriously, I wish I’d written this book because it’s an ass-kicking pile of oh-hell-yes. AND THERE ARE MORE OF THEM.
I also blame William Gibson for my career. So he’s +2, at least.
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel
With the grand exception of the scene in the middle where a woman plays a bunch of programmers like an orchestra and all of the computers at Google try to break a code for 3 seconds (all of them) this book was great. That scene made me want to scream at the page.
I actually went back and forth with the writer on Twitter a little bit and even he recognized it was over the top. Since it’s what I do I have a limited threshold for over-the-top technology scenes. This scene went so far past my threshold I was practically crying.
Other than that, this is a great book. It’s a clever page turner.
Some Remarks: Essays and Other Writing
I try to read everything Neil Stephenson writes. The best piece in this was about transatlantic cable. It was from Wired and ran back when I was too poor to subscribe so it was new to me.
I talked about his walking desk in a job interview a couple of weeks ago.
I had a very difficult relationship with this book. I get it. Trust me, I got a lot out of this book and was was happy to go through the nearly 1000 page length of this thing. That said, I didn’t do it with unblinking devotion. At the end of the day there’s actually a story to track against here and the bones of it could be told in a ninety minute movie. That makes it a tough book to work through at times. It’s wonderful, weird and occasionally ponderous.
Oh William Gibson, you sell books. You sell your own books and then you sell other people’s books because I am a sucker.
This was a good book. William Gibson is +3 today.
Did I love this Neil Stephenson book? No. Did I like it? Yes. Was it better than Anathem? In the clear light of I-read-this-a-year-ago and I-read-Anathem-whenever-it-came-out… yes. Still, I’m still staring back at the Baroque Cycle and thinking… can I go back an read those for the first time again?
The Malazan Book of the Fallen
The following represents something like 7500 pages of massively epic serial fantasy. I started reading them and then finished reading them. If you like massively epic, world destroying fantasy novels where people kill gods for breakfast and entire civilizations fight it out to the death every twenty minutes, you should probably read these.