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What Are You Reading?

It’s been almost two (long, impossible) years since our last What Are You Reading? thread, which means...a new one!

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:

Just Finished

Namwali Serpell's The Old Drift, a century-spanning story of Zambia from the nineteenth-century to the near future. It's a brilliant book with an interesting structure: each chapter focuses on one character as we move through the generations of three interlinked families.

I've encountered a few books with this type of structure in the past year: Yaa Gyasi's Homegoing; Bernadine Evaristo's Girl, Woman, Other (set entirely in the present day, but with each chapter focused on one character); and Louise Erdrich's Love Medicine (although there is more recursivity in that book, which also predates the others by a couple decades).

Part of me absolutely love these big, generational novels, but they sometimes become a game between reader and writer--I want to return to the character who just fascinated me, but I can only catch glimpses of them in another character's chapters. I’m under the impression that Erdrich tends to write about the same extended family in many of her works, so I do look forward to exploring that extended universe in more detail.

Currently Reading

Eugene McCarraher's Enchantments of Mammon: How Capitalism Became the Religion of Modernity. I first wrote about this book in June 2020, shortly after I’d given up on it. It was dense. It was literally quite heavy. (I had to prop it on a pillow.) It was really, really, really long. And while I enjoyed what I read, it felt like more of a mental (and attentional) challenge than I was prepared for at the time: an intellectual history of ways of thinking about capitalism that draws extensively on secondary sources to explore the nuances of misplaced sacramentalism.

Thus: Audiobook! I finally broke down and used an Audible credit to buy the audiobook, which I’ve been listening to for weeks. The book is so dense that I know I’m missing some nuance by listening rather than reading, but the book is so dense that even if I miss some stuff I still get a lot. I only have one hour and 54 minutes left, with a long walk planned for tomorrow.

About to Start

Neal Stephenson's Diamond Age. I’ve tried so many Stephenson books and been unable to get into them. Maybe this will be the one that works for me!

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 just finished all nine books of The Expanse, and it is one of my favorite sci-fi series ever. The last three books in particular were exceptional. I'm a "hard sci-fi" person and the whole series is my cup of tea. I even like the book series more than the TV series. (I had promised myself not to try the books until the TV series was over, and now I'm kicking myself for waiting.)

  2. Oh, and I finally tried Audible and after a few chapters of something, I just stopped. But I'm not taking long walks these days. Maybe that would change the situation.

  3. Josie, I'll start The Austere Academy (book 5) from A Series of Unfortunate Events today! I read The Miserable Mill (book 4) and it was the best so far.

    Billie, I think I have to put The Expanse on my list. I only hear good things about it.

    1. I started rereading The Series of Unfortunate Events books because I wanted to introduce them to my nephew, but I sputtered out after The Austere Academy. (Just because I got distracted, not because of the books themselves.) I would also highly recommend the other Lemony Snicket series All the Wrong Questions. I liked them even more than the books about the Baudelaires.

  4. I am bouncing among three right now. The Other Alcott because I will read anything to do with that family even if it is fiction. Where the Lost Wander I am reading for my book club but am loving. Finally, I am listening to Chernow's Alexander Hamilton, the book on which the musical is based. It is taking me forever as it is dense and wanders off on tangents that are even more so. However, I am nearly finished, so I power on.

  5. For what it's worth, on Twitter yesterday Stephen King highly recommended Ken Follett's latest, called Never. And I started it today.

  6. I just started "Babylon's Ashes" (Book 6 of the expanse) and just finished "Use of Weapons" by Iain Banks.

  7. I'm in the middle of a really fantastic biography of Ada Lovelace called Ada's Algorithm by James Essinger that I can't recommend enough

    I only know who Ada Lovelace was thanks to Doctor Who, thanks to the failure of the American school system, but I'm really loving the biography

  8. I have been reading a lot of YA lately. I started a job as a school librarian for a middle school and high school this school year. (I added on my degree last December and finally got a job in rural SC.) I just finished Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer because I really liked her Cursebreaker series. I also just read Fallout by Steve Sheinkin because I am trying to make sure that I read in different genres for the kids. I have a new Bosch book by Michael Connelly in my "to be read" pile. Maybe next weekend, when we have an extra day for President's Day . . .

  9. I like The Diamond Age. Recently I read the Graphic novel: Sunstone by Stjepan Šejić and enjoyed it a lot.

  10. I read Seveneves a few years ago, but I haven't read The Diamond Age. In Seveneves, I felt like the writing got bogged down in the technical details.

  11. I'm bouncing back and forth between "Station Eleven" the book, and the TV series. I bought the book a few years ago but it got shelf locked until I watched the show. Then I read the book. Now rereading and rewatching. How novels get adapted, for better or worse, to the screen fascinates me. My brain has a tendency to lock in the first read or seen version of something as "Definitive", but this time I really do think the TV show is better. They are both good and recommended. I love stories about what happens after a civilization's shit hits the fan. Would mention recently discovered series "Sweet Tooth", another post apoc series, but I'll wait for "What Are You Watching" while I search for the "Sweet Tooth" comic.

    Also reading (again!) "The Order Of Time'' by Carlo Rovelli, about the physics of time.
    Next up: "Under A White Sky" by Elizabeth Kolbert, who thinks we're already living in the post apoc!

  12. The movie has got me rereading Dune, which is the first time ever I have read a book twice. Also reading Fantastic Four and Doctor Strange from the very beginning.

  13. Lamounier, I'm so happy the Series of Unfortunate Events is working for you! You've got some great, depressing stuff coming up.

    Milostanfield, I read Station Eleven when it came out and have weirdly mixed feelings about it. I think I was expecting something more sci-fi, but it's really very "literary fiction" with an apocalyptic gloss. I keep thinking about returning to it with that understanding in mind, but I'm waiting for the end of Covid.

    (I have been waiting a while.)

  14. This thread has conjured McCarrarher's "Enchantments" from my wish list to reality, weight warning taken.

    I think the heaviest book ever published has to be the two volume set of Gary Larson's complete cartoons. EACH book is 12x15x4 inches and weighs 10 pounds! Put one of these in your lap without a crane nearby and you'll never get up again.

    This just in: didn't realize Expanse Book 9 was out. Got it yesterday. I'm over half finished already and I'm a slow reader! Great end to a great space opera. Too bad how they lopped off an "ending" to the TV series. It deserved better.

  15. Milostandfield, hooray! I'd love to hear your thoughts in it. I don't know anyone else who even owns it.


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