Thoughts on my August 2021 reading

estimated 3 min read

It was the plan to write something witty and thoughtful for this intro to what I read last month. However, I’m exhausted from staying up long past my bedtime last night to keep up with weather updates as the remnants of Ida blew through the metro NYC area. Discussing the causes, issues, and impact of this type of weather event is something for me to write about on another day.

I’ll try a different format for this month. It is counter to most of the best practices for web content, but it’s how my brain is functioning today. I read 13 books last month. Here are some thoughts about a few of them.

Reread of a Fantasy Mega-Series

Last month I couldn’t stop reading a post-catastrophe series that’s quite the doorstop, The Secret World Chronicles, by Mercedes Lackey as well as Dennis Lee, Steve Martin, Cody Martin, and Veronica Giguere. All 2,688 pages of this braided novel mega-series. I listened to some of this as a podcast long ago, and it turns out I didn’t finish the story back then. There is a character in the last two books I’m convinced I would remember. I found it an interesting read for three reasons: first of what I remembered from listening over a decade ago to what I was reading. Second for the world building and the type of fantasy — the layering of the magic/metas over what I’d consider a very close reality of the Earth I know. Finally, for yet another apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic story set in and around Atlanta. Is that because as a transit hub many authors spent a lot of time thinking about the general area? I’m thinking specifically of Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series.

Two novellas

Two other books I read (and adored) are Psalm for The Wild-Built by Becky Chambers and Fugitive Telemetry by Martha Wells. Hmm. I spy a trend in character traits! Both are quick reads and enjoyable for different reasons beyond their featuring of non-human characters. Murderbot is back in Wells new novella and it’s a cozy mystery tech thriller, with spaceships. If you’ve not read other stories in this universe, it can stand alone. It’s set temporally between the first four novellas and the novel, Network Effect. Apparently, I’ve not written anything about my love of this series. I’ll have to reread it and work on fixing that. I relate strongly to Murderbot. Psalm for the Wild-Built is the first in a new series and there is much to unpack in this short work; first please take a moment to rest and think with a cup of tea.

Review of A Master of Djinn

I wrote one review last month, for the remarkable A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark. It is a novel that really does have it all: alternative history, urban fantasy, mystery/police procedure, and steam punk. In advance of my writing the review I reread Haunting of Tram Car 015 and “A Dead Djinn in Cairo“. If you haven’t yet read any of Clark’s work, I highly recommend all of it. I’m finally reading Ring Shout and it’s been hard to focus on writing this post, I’m only three chapters in and want to read more.

Another title worth reading

Last month I also read Animal, Vegetable, Junk by Mark Bittmann and while I recommend it, I don’t have much brain left today to coherently explain why. My longer-term plan is to tie together recent readings on nutrition, public health, climate change, and policy, but today is not that day.

September’s reading plan

As I can’t see the future with certainty, I’m not sure what I’ll read in September. There are several reviews I’d like to complete–Never Say You Can’t Survive, Invisible Sun, and a new edition of We top that list. I have many bookmarks scattered about and we’ll see what ultimately holds my attention.

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