Books that you've read lately



Read Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood recently. Both top drawer, for very different though sometimes intersecting reasons. Rated Handmaid’s Tale higher than I had expected to given I haven’t been super enamoured with Atwood’s prose in the past. This was very tightly written—little room for florid language or unnecessary flourishes.

Now reading Brian Catling’s The Vorrh. Really excellent so far. Fantasy about a potentially infinite forest named the Vorrh which contains many strange things, a re-imagining colonialism smashing together countless myths—he’s created some very interesting characters so far, though I’m worried they’ll remain kind of abstract. Looking forward to him hopefully fleshing some of these out further now I’m breaking into it. Some tremendous flights of fancy in here, and a lot of sharp writing. A few clunky and/or overblown sections, but I’m more than willing to forgive the author given the imagination he’s displaying. Haven’t been this absorbed by a book’s ‘world’ in a long time.


Oh and Left Hand of Darkness is a fucking belter. I’d say anybody with an even vague interest in sci-fi/fantasy should read it, but that makes it sound like it’s restricted by genre, which it isn’t at all. I really believe there’s something of value in there for absolutely anybody. Beautifully composed, with some interesting things to say about gender, societal roles, etc.


Holy shit, trying not to snigger in bed and wake my wife, now


Perfectly fine criticism. This is also why soap operas are rubbish.


Thanks for the reminder- saw the sequel was out a few weeks back but forgot to order it, so going to fix that now :slightly_smiling_face:


Misjudged that recommendation, sorry pal!


Absolutely furious with you right now. Furious.


This was recommended to me at book club last week - is it good? The way my friend described it made it sound trashy as fuck. But also quite good.


It’s mental. Get it.


Gave up on Blind Assassin as life is too short isn’t it?

Holiday read some murakami - Dance Dance Dance and Norwegian Wood . They might be my favourite of his, though at times NW felt like a big old wank fantasy of his so could have done with less of that. The actual stories themselves were brilliant, and DDD was a good sequel to A Wild Sheep Chase without the reader having to rely on too much knowledge of it.


try the IRC channel #bookz, as explained here:

Soulseek is also good for getting MOBI and EPUB files :slight_smile:


However I have started and am 10% through Hard-boiled Wonderland… and can safely say I haven’t a fucking clue what’s going on. Does it stay so surreal throughout? Can’t be dealing…


october: the story of the russian revolution by china mieville

very good, three thumbs up. struggle reading a lot of history cause i’m a bit thick/lazy but this was really propulsive & fascinating. exciting to read about a time where the thought leaders were often playing catch up to the man on the street. crushing to get to the epilogue and see the fates of my favourite characters though, i’m not so ignorant that i expected them all to go and live happily on a farm, but still… horrible.

spirodonova - jailed, moved to a mental asylum, released, gulaged, executed.
kronstadt garrison - crushed in a revolt against growing authoritarianism and decried as anti revolutionary.
etc. etc.

stalin was almost completely absent.


I’m re-reading Dance, Dance, Dance and nearly finished. Kind of an appropriate fit with the new Twin Peaks in a way (thinking mainly the whole weirdness of advanced capitalism, which is making me think of our old pal Dougie).

Trying to think of what to read next. I might buy a book tomorrow, but it’ll partly depend on the weather tomorrow what I actually feel like reading. One Hundred Years of Solitude has been on my to-read list for a while, and I remembered recently that I’ve been curious about the works of Umberto Eco (Name of the Rose and Foucault’s Pendulum mainly) for a while.

Anyone got wicked recommends???


Have you read Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball 1973? I’ve really liked reading A Wild Sheep Chase and Dance Dance Dance in the light of having read the first two of the (kind of four-part) ‘Trilogy of the Rat’.

Like you mention with DDD, they have this strong connection but aren’t reliant on one another. I wrote a blog post about 'em actually, when I was trying to revive my blog and then just didn’t (maybe I will again some day, I quite like posting incredibly sporadically).


Yeah, read 'em last year. Really liked them :slight_smile:

Will give your blog a read this week!


I’ve had a couple of goes at that and can’t get past the first chapter or so.


Bit worried that The Vorrh might be a bit shite. The sexy bits are really, really bad—hopefully the bulk of that element is out of the way now. It’s a shame, 'cause the guy obviously has an incredibly vivid imagination, but the writing has become (or I’ve suddenly realised that it has always been) both overwrought and weirdly simplistic in that sixth-form creative writing way of combining very on the nose character study (“x was feeling [emotion] when…”) with turgid thesaurus-mining.

The weirdness and fantastical settings, etc. are going to be enough for me to keep on with it, and hopefully it’ll rally in the second half.

Anyone got any suggestions for similar novels I could give a try after this? Got nothing specific lined up.


I’m persevering. Chapter 8 now and it’s starting to click a bit. Just a bit underwhelming after the last two STOPMERS of his I’ve read.


Ah I totally get this. I felt like my favourite book ever was buried inside ‘The Vorrh’ but it just couldn’t struggle to the surface. Felt a weird ‘I love this book’, ‘I’m so fed up with this book’ thing, often both at once. That said, I’d rather read an ambitious failure (which is what I think it is) than something just ‘meh’.

If you want a properly developed fantasy, yet somehow real world by someone who can actually write consistently brilliantly I’d definitely give Mervyn Peake’s ‘Gormenghast’ books a go, or ‘100 Years of Solitude’ by yr man Marquez.