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What Are You Reading?

Although we're primarily a television and movie review site, we also love books. And there is no better time to love books than right now, when escaping into an entirely different, immersive world is not just a hobby, but a survival strategy.

For that reason, we're bringing back a long-lost feature here at Doux Reviews: the What Are You Reading? thread.

It's simple and fun! Just post what you're reading, thinking about reading, hate-reading, binge-reading, trying to get others to read, in the comments. And then check back regularly for recommendations.

I'll get the ball rolling:

Currently Reading: Jenny Odell's How to Do Nothing. Its title isn't quite as appropriate for our current moment as it sounds. Odell doesn't mean being lazy on the couch. Rather, she advocates for resisting the attention economy and culture of total work (24/7 availability, gigging, etc.) in favor of local, grounded attention to the world around us. The book is just erudite enough, and while its core message might not be life-changing--put down your phone!--Odell's writing is compelling and elegant.

Looking Forward to Reading: Robert Heinlein's The Pursuit of the Pankara. According to the blurb on Amazon, this book is an earlier, different version of The Number of the Beast--same characters, different plots: " [Heinlein] effectively wrote two parallel novels about parallel universes. The novels share the same start, but as soon as the Gay Deceiver is used to transport them to a parallel universe, each book transports them to a totally different parallel world." The Number of the Beast is a messy novel, so perhaps The Pursuit of the Pankara will be tidy enough for even Marie Kondo.

And now I'll turn it over to you: what are you reading?

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)


  1. I love reading! So I'm looking forward to seeing what people have to say. Thank you for writing this!

    I just finished Tiamat's Wrath by James S.A. Corey. It's book eight in The Expanse. It was really good!

    As for what I'm currently reading, for some light fun, is Ranger's Apprentice: The Royal Ranger (book 3) Duel at Araluen. It also is really good! The Ranger's Apprentice is a series of YA fantasy books by John Flanagan. They're set in medieval times, and they follow rangers who help protect their king and kingdom from plotters, invaders, and insurrectionists.

    As for what I plan to read next is the fourth book in the Harper Connelly Series, Grave Secret by Charlaine Harris. I've enjoyed the other books and am looking forward to seeing how the series concludes.

    Thanks again.

  2. Thanks, Josie!

    As a childhood fan of Robert A. Heinlein, I've been apprehensive about this alternate version of The Number of the Beast, which was never a favorite of mine, since it felt like senility was creeping up on him while he was writing it. My solution? I'll wait until Josie reads it and can tell me if I should read it, too. :)

    Anonymous, the fourth and final book of Charlaine Harris' Harper Connelly series is the best one. Heavy, too. Enjoy! I'm also planning to try The Expanse book series, as soon I finish watching season four.

    I'm re-reading the Outlander books again, and waiting for the ninth to be published. And thinking about re-reading Doctor Sleep. I'm also planning to read the new Michael Connelly not-Bosch book, whose title is eluding me at this moment.

  3. I just read China Mieville's The City & The City. The basic idea is that there are two city states occupying the same physical space and the inhabitants of the two states go through their lives studiously ignoring the existence of each other. A bit implausible, but intriguing as a metaphor.

    I also read Iain Banks, The Use of Weapons which was rather disturbing.

  4. I just finished Gideon the Ninth, by Tamsin Muir. The elevator pitch for this one goes something like 'Lesbian necromancers in space. With swords', but it turned out to be surprising and funny and heartbreaking. Can't wait for the next one.

    Now I'm busy with Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman.

  5. Thinking In Systems by Donella H. Meadows
    Trying to understand this unique moment in history in terms of Systems Theory. Sort of a "Systems Theory For Dummies". Lots of graphs but not too much math. Also in that context I may reread parts of Jared Diamond’s two books on how a civilization succeeds ("Gun, Germs, And Steel") or fails ("Collapse"). In this current time I’m not sure which one to pick up first.

    Surface Detail by Iain M. Banks
    My favorite Culture novel. In a future where one’s entire consciousness can be stored in some fancy computational substrate, a very conservative religious but scientifically advanced civilization invents a substrate virtual Hell and sentences people’s consciousness to it. And it’s the Hell of all Hells. A Culture Special Circumstances team tries to end this Hell. Also an interesting take on what it’s like to have your consciousness xferred into a sophisticated military fighting machine and going into battle while malfunctioning.

    Supernavigators by David Barrie
    My night time read-one-chapter-then-sleep book. It’s about how migratory animals navigate. Anecdotal and more about field work than theory, so it’s nice for reading a bit at a time.

  6. I'm working on the annotated Mansfield Park. I've obviously read Mansfield Park before, but I kind of hated it (apologies to Miss Austen). I'm hoping an expert's eye will help me appreciate Fanny Price more. I'm going to follow it up with Emma (the non-annotated version because I'm hoping to get through it quickly). I haven't seen the new movie yet but I thought I might catch up with my second favorite Austen heroine before I do.

    Looking forward to reading Little Weirds, which I got for Christmas. The way Jenny Slate communicates makes my mind explode (but in a good way).

  7. I'm full on Comfort reading at the moment. Almost through Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys for the second time. Then pivoting to The Ocean at the end of the Lane (also not for the first time)

    I've been debating if this is the time to finally get around to reading the whole Game of Thrones series, since I heard he might actually be getting around to finishing the sixth one soon and thus might not die with the series unfinished. I'm an uninitiate to both the books and the show. should I jump in to either, and if so which first?

  8. October, by China Miéville, a history of the Russian Revolution(s) of 1917. Reading it, one can't help but feel one is reliving the 20th century:-

    The war mobilisation drains Russia's land and industry of workers. Ammunition, equipment, food run short. Inflation soars, with a brutal impact on workers and the urban middle class. The public mood begins to turn. As soon as the summer of 1915, strikes and food riots shake Kostroma, Ivanovo-Vosnessensk, Moscow. The liberal opposition organises into a soi-disant ‘Progressive Bloc’, calling for rights for minorities, an amnesty for political prisoners, certain trade union rights, and so forth. The bloc is furious at incompetence from above, and absolutely opposed to power from below.

  9. I'm getting close to finally finishing off The Wheel of Time series which I've been reading on and off for the last few years. The last few books weren't as bad as I heard they were, but they could be incredibly frustrating at times, especially book 10 which was just 700 pages of "Let's see what this main character isn't doing right now".

  10. Billie, I'll report back!

    It's great to see some Mieville love here. I've tried to read a few of his books (The City and the City, Perdido Street Station) but always had the same problem with them that I do with Jeffrey Eugenides: too much focus on an academic, theoretical concept at the expense of relatability.

    However, I recently re-purchased Perdido Street Station and am determined to give it another go.

  11. I'm currently reading Stall, a Harry Styles fan fiction on Wattpad

  12. Mikey, that's such a controversial topic. I'd recommend reading the books and skipping the show altogether to be honest. Beware: book 5, A Dance with Dragons is a SLOG. Everyone's on a boat headed somewhere different. And that's like...all that happens. A character sees some pretty cool turtles at one point.

  13. Mikey, +1 to what Sunbunny said.

    (Although I've forgotten the turtles.)

  14. Back in 2004 I spent over a week reading in a hammock, I even slept there. I can t remember what books I read, not even how many, but it was one of the best times of my life. So thanks for this threat.

    Swetlana Alexievich: Second-hand Time (2013) about life in Russia after communism. It s hautingly beautiful, devastating and enchanting at the same time. The author has spoken to dozens of people who have lived through the world-altering change that was the end of communism, especially in it s native soil. She has collected their memories. By presenting the fates of a diverse range of personalities she is able to draw a picture of a lost world. It s fascinating, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in Russian and European culture.

  15. Great idea for a thread.

    I've been lucky to have enjoyed many good books recently:

    A Little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie
    Excellent grimdark fantasy. The first of a new trilogy set in his 'First Law' milieu.

    The Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
    Buffy meets Harry Potter meets The Magicians.
    Loved it.

    Full Throttle by Joe Hill
    The latest collection of Joe Hill's short stories.
    A great writer who has successfully stepped out from his father's long shadow.

    Just about to embark on Skin Game by Jim Butcher
    The Dresden books are my favourite series and I've been deliberately rationing myself as I work through them, knowing there hasn't been a new novel published for several years.
    However the next one (Peace Talks) is finally coming in July and just last week it was announced that there will be a surprise, additional novel (Battlegound) published in October!
    This makes me happy :-)


  16. I Finished Red Country by Joe Abercrombie last weekend. I think I'll take a break before A Little Hatred because I need to finish His Dark Materials, Amber Spyglass just arrived in post.

    I'm also super stoked for 2 Dresden File books this year. Hoppe I'll survive long enough to buy them.

  17. I'm currently on Dr. Bloodmoney, a post-apocalyptic novel by Philip K. Dick. It's alright so far. It's the second PKD novel I'm reading and I'm not sure if his voice/tone/style or what not is working for me. Pressing ahead with it, though.

    Looking forward to reading... well, I have several books that I got last year: Neuromancer, The Mistborn, Lord of Light, The Book of the New Sun, a book of short stories by Joe Hill. And I'm very eager to read the third installment in Richard K. Morgan's Altered Carbon trilogy. But with what's currently going on in the world right now, I think I might finally get around to reading The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein.

    I've also recovered my copy of Watchmen, so I'll definitely be reading that soon as well.

  18. I recently read House of Leaves, which is, well, not like any other book ever published, but quite an interesting read. I also went back and re-read The Hunt for Red October a magnificent adventure that's just as good the tenth time around as it was the first.

  19. @Logan, I'd never heard of Dr. Bloodmoney, which surprised me as I've read a number of PKD's novels, though I'm less familiar with his pre-1968 work. He's not an elegant prose stylist, but I still highly recommend Ubik if you haven't read it. It's safe if used as directed.

  20. I definitely want to read more of his stuff, magritte. Been trying to pick books I haven't heard of, since so much of what I know about PKD is what I've picked up from the movie adaptations of his works. The last one I read was Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said. But I will keep Ubik in mind for a future read. VALIS also sounds interesting to me.

  21. I've tried PKD a couple of times, but I seem to love his big, radical science fiction ideas more than his prose.

  22. Love this thread. Seeing titles I've never heard of. Thanks. Just wondering: did/would this site ever do a "What Are You Watching"? I'm especially interested in what "non-genre shows" people who come here like as well as Sci-fi, fantasy, et al.

  23. Milo, that's a good question.

    Yes, we did! Sort of!

    It took some hunting, but back in 2010 we did a "What Are You Screening?" thread. If I recall correctly, the thinking was that we didn't do many movie reviews back then, so that was the main goal. The thread was last active in 2017: https://www.douxreviews.com/2001/01/what-are-you-screening.html

    But I think it might be time for a new one...

  24. I'm currently reading The Blood Of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski, the first book in the Witcher "saga". I read the two collections of short stories not long after the first season of the Netflix series came out(and I LOVED it). I'm curious to see how long it takes me to get through the rest of the books.

    I also need to finish Dust at some point, the third book in Hugh Howey's Silo trilogy. The first book in the series, Wool, was incredible. Each novella that comprises it has a legit "Holy s--t!" reveal at the end. The second book, Shift, was also quite good if not as engrossing. Dust is moving more slowly, but I'm dying to know how the story ends.

    As for what I'm most looking forward to reading, like some others on here I'm super-pumped for not one but TWO new Dresden Files books this year - Peace Talks and Battle Front. From what I've been reading, Peace Talks was getting a bit large, and the publisher asked him to split it in two. He agreed on the condition that both books get released this year. I read the Christmas Eve microfiction set after Peace Talks and it has me terrified about what's going to happen. I'm also psyched because with Peace Talks done, next up for Jim is supposed to be the second Cinder Spires book. The Aeronaut's Windlass was incredible, and I'm chomping at the bit to see what happens next. Plus, the series has talking cats, and they're a--holes, how can you not love that? :)

  25. Patrick, I read Howey's Wool but not the books that follow. Should probably get around to those -- thank you for reminding me.

  26. Since the Amber Spyglass is stuck in my homemade coronavirus quarantine (better safe then sorry, never know who packages your books and who handles them during shipping) I decided to finally read Codex Alera by Jim Butcher.

  27. Anything Hugh Howey is awesome, yes.

    I would also recommend the NK Jemisin Broken Earth trilogy and Martha G Wells Murderbot series. Both are some of my favourite reads of the last couple of years.

    Found out about Iain M. Banks from this thread, looks interesting. Any other good (or bad) words about his Culture series?

  28. http://www.vavatch.co.uk/books/banks/cultnote.htm

    Kanye: A link to a text document with some background info on the Culture (non spoiler) written by Banks. May help you decide if you're interested or not.

  29. I reread the doc I linked above. Forgot how densely wonky his prose style can be sometimes. The books (mostly) are a better read. Maybe check out the Smile Monster's Preview pages of his novels to get a better feel of his style.

  30. I'm also hoping to read a it more Lovecraft. I've only read a few of the more well-known stories so far, but I want to dig deeper.

  31. Patrick, I don't love Lovecraft, but there are some cool Lovecraftian things out there!

    I recently read Sarah Monette's The Bone Key. It's a collection of short stories, all about one character, that draws on some of Lovecraft's ideas (not the racist ones) and especially his style; it's very periphrastic. I didn't expect to like the book at all, and now I find myself missing it, like an old friend.

    There's also a long-running series on Tor.com called "The Lovecraft Reread," about HP's original stories and the many, many other works that riff on them.

  32. There are so many unread books on my shelves or in my Kindle library, that it's hard to know what to pick, sometimes. The next book I will be reading, though, is the 11th(?) book in the Chronicles of St. Mary's series by Jodi Taylor. I can't even remember where/when I first discovered this series, but I love it! She describes it as "the story of a bunch of disaster-prone historians who investigate major historical events in contemporary time. Do NOT call it time travel!"

    I love the heroine and so many of the other characters. I think every book has had laugh out loud moments for me. They are action packed and read very fast. If you love time travel (sorry, St. Mary's) and history and some comedy in your books, I don't think you can go wrong with these. There are some accompanying novellas/short stories that take place between some of the books. I think around the 3rd, 4th book there were a few stumbles for me, but they were still good. I kept on reading and am so glad I did!!

  33. Katerina, I've read those Chronicles of St. Mary's books too, and loved them.

  34. Those are delightful books. I binged six or seven of them a few years ago and had to stop myself; it was like eating delicious Pringles for every meal.

  35. James Marsters as the narrator finally drew me to the Dresden Files series. Technically I’m not reading, but listening. The books are interesting but they’ve been out so long that they must’ve been mentioned here already. James Marsters narration is perfect.

  36. The Pendergast series by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child does not disappoint in the action/horror/mystery genres. These authors deliver to perfection meticulous research, compelling characters, blood-freezing (and sometimes heartbreaking) prose, and un-put-downable action sequences. I’ve just started reading the most recent installment, The Cabinet of Dr. Leng, and now, well, I can’t put it down.

    Question - is this the best place for this comment? This thread doesn’t seem to see much use.

  37. Anonymous, we've done threads like this a number of times, and comments are always welcome.

  38. I’ve never been a comic book reader (other than reading Uncle Scrooge to my grandkids.) Surprisingly, I’m becoming proficient, thanks to the Buffy extended canon. I read all the canon issues, and do recommend them except for most of season eight. I’ve always said I would not read the non cannon spin-offs, because they’re too unpredictable and, to me, too much like fan fiction.

    BUT, I picked up a copy of the recent “Buffy the Last Vampire Slayer”, and was amazed. Set when Buffy is in her 50’s, it’s definitely an AU, and does have some “voice” problems. But, to me the 4 issues in the series were so good, maybe because I’m older, too. And it helps that the series ended like I thought it should, ha. There’s a single issue coming out soon, and I’m looking forward to it!

    Brosferatu. Lol.

  39. I've been reading a lot of Octavia Butler lately and just finished John Irving's latest, the Last Chairlift. I've now started into the Peripheral by William Gibson.

  40. Magritte, I'd love to hear what you think of the Gibson book. I watched the show with the intention of reviewing it, but had absolutely nothing to say.

  41. Josie, Gibson is a writer I want to like because he's viewed as such a seminal writer in the genre but have struggled to get into. I am reading it partly because I wanted to give him another try and partly because I saw the show and was curious about the world. The book is quite different and I find it more difficult to follow. It alternates chapters between Flynn's perspective and Wilf's and despite being a POV character, Wilf is still a cipher to me.

  42. So much I want to read, so little time.

    Just finished: The Cabinet of Dr. Leng by Preston & Childs; Buffy the Last Vampire Slayer Special (comic;) Dresden Files Grave Peril by Jim Butcher (audio.)

    In progress: A Grief Observed by CS Lewis; Better Off Dead by Lee Child; Dresden Files Summer Knight by Jim Butcher (audio.)

    I need to concentrate on one at a time, but right now life’s too complex to settle like that. Gotta admit, the thing that gives me the most pleasure is listening to James Marsters read the Dresden Files. He reads in his own voice, with American accent, but dang, there’s so many words and phrases that come through as pure Spike. Makes me smile inside every single time. I wish I had more time to listen (and read, too) when I’m not so tired I fall asleep.


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