Books and book-a-likes thread for 2020 ⬇

1/ The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone by Steven Sloman. Useful discussion of knowledge scope and storage: We think in groups, and we store information in our surroundings and in others. Changed how I think about information and about grief.

2/ Lord Peter Views the Body by Dorothy L. Sayers. Good collection of Lord Peter Wimsey short stories, including some very intense ones, and one that is hilariously playful.

3/ The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. Alien life is discovered, and the Jesuits make First Contact because they have their shit together. Well-told with strong characters. Humanoid aliens πŸ™„ and anything re:sexuality was predictably disappointing.

4/ Strong Poison by Dorothy L. Sayers. Another Lord Peter Wimsey mystery. As always, meh plot, but brilliant character writing. This one introduces Harriet, leading up to several books of fun.

5/ HTTP/3 explained by Daniel Stenberg. An overview over HTTP/3 by the developer of curl. Fairly short and informative, and includes a helpful amount of history and reasoning. A good way to find out if and where you want to dive deeper into the topic.

6/ Clouds Cannot Cover Us by Jay Hulme. A collection of modern poems. Some were not for me at all, but one or two dropkicked me in the feelings. Imo the best possible outcome of reading a selection of poems.


7/ The Five Red Herrings by Dorothy L. Sayers. The tedious Lord Peter mystery – focused on a very boring plot, little in terms of dialogue and characters. Only people fishing and painting, forever.

8/ Have His Carcase by Dorothy L. Sayers. I went on a bit of a mystery streak here. This one is mostly character building for Peter and Harriet and their interactions. Good to read through a historian's lens, because holy gender role batman.

9/ The Songs of Distant Earth by Arthur C. Clarke. A calm, optimistic story of the last humans leaving Earth, visiting another human settlement. Infuriatingly it left out everything I wanted to hear more about, and was lovely nevertheless.

10/ Bloodchild by Octavia E. Butler. Short story that could not be more Octavia Butler: Aliens and humans being wildly different, but cohabitating, in a functional yet gross way.

11/ Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. Excellent dystopian storytelling. Not loud, not ostentatious, not yelling "THIS IS A DYSTOPIA, GETIT?!". Strong narration, slow burn. Didn't feel depressing despite the bleak theme.

12/ Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire. I want to like the Wayward Children series more than I actually like them. This one felt just a bit too formulaic, too quippy, too designed to be quotable.

13/ Clockwork Boys by T. Kingfisher. Excuse me, a ninja assassin and an anti-stereotype paladin? Light cost, but fun, with good dialogue and more than decent characters in a well-rounded world and an extremely over-the-top plot.

14/ How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell. I didn't finish this book. Extreme tech pessimism ("kids these days don't talk to each other" basically) is not something I'm ever in the mood for.

15/ Hangman's Holiday: A Collection of Short Mysteries by Dorothy L. Sayers. Short story collection. Very mixed bag, rather skippable.

16/ SSH Mastery: OpenSSH, PuTTY, Tunnels and Keys by Michael W. Lucas. Teaches both implicit cultural knowledge and exciting obscure details about OpenSSH in a concise and fun way. I rewrote many configs after reading this.

17/ Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers. Objectively, this book is around 3.5-4 stars, but the romance broke my heart and the banter moved me to tears. 5/5, and I probably won't shut up about this one for a while.

18/ Tiamat's Wrath by James S.A. Corey. Another easy 5/5 rating. There's no way I can describe this book without spoilers, so I'll just say that despite all odds and fears, the Expanse series just keeps improving.

19/ Busman's Honeymoon by Dorothy L. Sayers. At some point, Dorothy Sayers figured out that her forte was characters and dialogue, not plot, and this book delivers. It's a honeymoon with a murder, and who even cares about plot beyond that.

20/ A Time to Reap by Lynne M. Thomas. Very solid time travel short story, probably even better for people from the rural US. Extremely strong on the atmosphere.

21/ For He Can Creep by Siobhan Carroll. This short story is for the cat lovers. Lovingly combining stereotypes and then going just a bit beyond.

22/ I (28M) created a deepfake girlfriend and now my parents think we’re getting married by Fonda Lee. Exactly what's on the tin.

23/ Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir. Hm. The first third was slow and muddled, and while it got MUCH better, it feels like Grimdark Flippant Protagonist no 23 has been done to death. It's a good setting, but setting isn't everything.

24/ Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving by Pete Walker. Says a lot of true things. Not immediately useful for me, but still recommended if you want to learn about cPTSD/PTSD/trauma.

25/ Don We Now Our Gay Apparel: Gay Men's Dress in the Twentieth Century by Shaun Cole. This book is a treasure. It explores gay history and culture by following clothing trends from Oscar Wilde to the 90s. Easy to read, well-sourced, incredibly in-depth.

26/ The Warlock in Spite of Himself by Christopher Stasheff. Really good setting. That's it, that was the good part. Apart from that, strong 60s sexism, blatant propaganda, self-insert hero. Not my kind of thing.

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@rixx Good news! There's a second edition now! Even comes in a fantastic hardcover edition. :flan_book:​

@rixx Still on my list 😞 At this point I'm even considering re-reading all the previous books simply because I've completely lost track of what happened when, where, why, and how πŸ€ͺ

@zerok Huh, I found Expanse one of the series that was really easy to keep track of. Some more generic series I completely forget and then just play guessing games, but the Expanse characters and plot felt unique and real enough that I never really let go of them.

@rixx Absolutely, if only there weren't always like 2 years between me reading the entries πŸ˜…

@zerok I don't think I've managed 2 years. I had gaps of 8 months earlier in the series, and then a full year before reading Tiamat's Wrath. I don't think I could've kept away from it much longer tbh.

@rixx I get distracted quite easily by simply putting far too much on my to-read list too easily πŸ€ͺ That and I'm really, really bad at remembering names and therefore normally have to write them down even for short books πŸ˜…

@zerok To-read list:

I'm the same for names. The Expanse names mostly stuck now after 8 books, but on the other hand, names don't really matter in a book with strong characters like that – as long as you remember the characters, you can just re-attach the names.

@rixx I should really move my to-read list also onto my website and off of goodreads πŸ™ƒ

@zerok I used goodreads up until a month ago, and you do get all teh good metadata. I see no real reason against goodreads, as long as you do your backups to prevent data loss.

If you're in the market for a different site, is really promising and their recommendation system is very good, provided you want to read more fiction than nonfiction.

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