Book thread 2018 📚


My old boss got me really excited about reading the Culture novels.

I’ve got a fair whack through Consider Phlebas, but I don’t really have any great feelings about it other than it being fast and fun. Can the books be read in any order?


Yes, but my advice would be to move onto Player of Games next. I’m 90% through a Phlebas re-read (open in front of me right now!) and it’s really interesting coming back to it having read everything else. It’s not the strongest, IMO, but an important scene-setter for The Culture seen from the outside. When you’re looking from the inside as in most of the books, it lets Banks’s incredible imagination run wild. Ecxession is probably the DiS favourite but arguably benefits from reading 2 or 3 others first even though the stories are all standalone.


That’s a good point. My preference was more bc I’m shit at reading to a deadline.


I will happily report. You might be waiting a while, though…


Read the first few stories in 10th of December by George Saunders, really fantastic stuff so far.


I really struggled with Lilith’s Brood, even though I understood the allegory and stuff. But I’m glad I read it and want to try Kindred at some point.

Finished La Belle Sauvage (The Book Of Dust). Have very mixed feelings on it which I can’t quite articulate.


Felt similar about La Belle Sauvage. Really loved the first half to 2/3rds but was very equivocal on it by the end.


Similar. Got a bit annoyed by all the silly bits with faeries and that. All just seemed to be very arbitrary and frankly without purpose. Then it sort of came good again right at the end. Thought everything between them rescueing the baby from the nuns to reaching London was shit. Can’t remember if the original trilogy was like this, but feel like it wasn’t.

I am flying through the books this year, in addition to this I’ve finished Who Shot the Water Buffalo by Ken Babbs, Drown by Junot Diaz and that graphic novel thing about Nick Cave that came out last year. First two very worthwhile, last one a bit less so. I buy books approximately twice as fast as I am able to read them these days so I have quite a lot to choose from to select what’s next.


(Cw for sexual assault) (lol at my autocorrect)
Yeah, I’m glad it wasn’t just me. Also I felt that Bonneville raping Alice was so unnecessary, even in a book as bleak as that, and the fact that there wasn’t even time for her or Malcolm to process it before the end of the book speaks volumes really. Rape (of an underage girl!) is not a convenient plot device esp as we all know that this dude is Pure Evil Incarnate already ffs.

Apparently book 2 is set 20 years in the future which means it’ll be post HDM, so it’s doubtful many of the loose ends will be mentioned let alone tied up. Hope we at least get more Dr Hannah Relf.


And don’t even get me started on that weird fairie milk shit


Absolutely agree with you about Alice’s experience. It felt very badly dealt with and primarily included to provide Malcolm’s reaction. Very unnecessary. (I’ve been vague because I don’t know how to do the blurry text)

The next one is indeed set twenty years in the future, according to the gospel of wikipedia, so you are probably right about the loose ends too.


Despite having armoured bears, witches, daemons etc the original trilogy (and the first half of LBS) always felt grounded in a world I recognised. So when fairy queens are introduced, it felt there was a sudden suspension of disbelief that was completely at odds with what I was expecting.


Oh you do [ spoiler] and [ /spoiler] next to the text you wanna blur (without the spaces) :slight_smile:

Re: Alice, I do wonder if Malcolm’s broken paddle is supposed to be a metaphor but fucking hell, that would be cheap and tawdry. Especially for an author like Phillip Pullman.


Has anyone read Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer?

It’s cheap on the kindle and looks like it could be good but I have so many books on there that I’ve bought cheap and never read. I dunno.



I’m unsure on your theory about the broken paddle, I think I would need to reread it to make a decision, and that’s unlikely at least until the second book comes out!

I am pretty sure if they had cut out all the faerie stuff and added some armoured polar bears I would have been much much happier overall.


SO far this year I have read:

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Talent – pretty bleak but engrossing, and had me enthralled. Not quite “this years A Little Life” as the some review stated – think that comparison is drawn from it being generally quite disturbing – but it is well written with decent characters. I enjoyed the setting and nature side to things a lot.

Cats Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut – love me a bit of Kurt so this was a joy. Somehow never got round to reading this and it didn’t disappoint. A quick entertaining read – although I do think I enjoyed Mothers Night and Slaughterhouse 5 more.

Currently reading Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki by Haruki Murakami. Not expecting great things, but again, always seem to have a guaranteed base level of enjoyment from Murakami and this novel is moving along nicely. Not yet gripped me but I’m invested enough and want to know whats happening. The usual talk of records, a mundane life and a bit of sexiness has all been covered so far so its all very familiar (in a comforting way).

Can’t remember my list at the moment at the moment but know I have Japrock Sampler by Julian Cope, and the Brett Hart Autobiography to get going on this year and they will probably be next.


Reading a few short story collections, only one I’ve finished so far is Homesick for Another World by Ottessa Moshfegh

I liked how the last story’s voice was different to the rest but more obviously related to the title than any other, and that it pulled the collection together a bit. There wasn’t really any warmth or optimism in it which was a bit overwhelming, but it felt like very personal writing. Seemed like all the disgust towards the characters was more about self loathing and the fear that probably most people have that deep down they’re a bad person, and the voyeurism or whatever of reading about and watching people who you can tell yourself are worse than you, you and them doing bad/disgusting/compulsive things to try to better yourself and your life but failing repeatedly to reach or regain your perfect self or perfect world, which I prefer to it being pure relentless misanthropy tbh. Don’t feel like my opinion on it’s really important tho tbh.

Also reading What is not Yours is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi. I like it and I like her, she reminds me of Jeanette Winterson.


gonna try to read molloy, or maybe all 3 novels if pos, by samuel beckett as part of my TRY HARDER 2018. got about 15 pages in when i last tried 8 years ago or so but sacked it off in favour of something less intensive.

only really posting this as a gee up to myself… or for advice really. how do you read difficult stuff? i don’t know whether to be googling every reference to dante’s inferno/classical legends and going back through the same paragraph a dozen times to figure it out, or to enjoy the gist and the language. should have paid more attention at school so i’d know how to be better at this stuff.

oh shush man.


Anyone read any Kenzaburo Oe? Any good starting places?


I haven’t, but I’ll be keeping my eye on any responses to this post as I’m similarly interested.