For some reason, I receive requests for reading recommendations from followers of TBTP. It may be because I’m in the book trade, who knows why. Anyway, I thought that I would share a short list of books that I have read recently—or I’m still slogging through. My lazy reading habits include having three or four books “going” simultaneously. Literary tastes are subjective, so I’m including some titles that I found to be meh, or at least disappointing.
Autumn by Ali Smith : A poignant, heartbreaking, but beautiful exploration of the subjective human experience of time and the fragility of relationships. Smith’s latest novel is the first in a four-part series, with each book named for a season.
Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu : This head-spinning, sci-fi epic meditation on humanity, technology, morality, and progress will test your endurance and reading stamina, but the trilogy is well worth the commitment. And for those of us in the West, it’s an eye-opening introduction to contemporary Chinese literature.
October: The Story of the Russian Revolution by China Miéville : This chronicle of one of the pivotal events of the 20th century is educational and entertaining without the usual academic pretensions. And, yes, it’s written by the master of post-modern sci-fi/fantasy China Miéville. If history sounds to dry for summer reading, get lost in his extraordinary novel The City and the City.
Seven Brief Lessons On Physics by Carlo Rovelli : I’m one of those folks who reveres science, but struggles with the complexity of the subject. This book makes mind-bending topics such as quantum mechanics, relativity, and elementary particles surprisingly understandable and even fun. Rovelli’s language is accessible, clear, even poetic.
Leaving Berlin by Joseph Kanon : A compelling story of espionage set in post-war Germany during the Berlin Airlift that manages to incorporate political ambiguity, car chases, celebrity intellectuals, gun fights, and tragic romance. My only quibble is that the novel at times seems to reach for too many Cold War cliches.
A Gambler’s Anatomy by Jonathan Lethem : I am usually a huge fan of anything that Lethem writes, but this is a big meh.
Theft By Finding Diaries 1977-2002 by David Sedaris : It seems like he left out all of the funny stuff.