Just Finished, Reading, Want to Read

I tend to read a number of books at any given time, mostly because I prefer variety and because I’m often reading non-fiction for research in addition to whatever fiction I might be reading.  Or sometimes, if a novel just isn’t holding my interest, I’ll start reading something else while I decide whether or not I want to go back to it.  So what have I just finished, what am I reading, and what do I want to read?

Just Finished

The Martian by Andy Weir.  For the most part, as good as it’s cracked up to be, though if you’re not into hard science fiction then some of the math and engineering of Mark Watley’s survival on Mars might run a little long for you.  That said, Weir manages to take the very precise, grueling, often boring details about what life might be like for an astronaut stranded on Mars and turn them into an engaging fight for survival.  The fact that the main character’s a bit of a ham helps a lot as well, as there’s a lot of wry humor to break up the more technical bits.

Reading

Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson.  Book Two of the Stormlight Archive.  This one’s a doorstop, like all of Sanderson’s books these days, and as much as I enjoyed The Way of Kings I’m finding that this one tends to plod.  The problems are plot and pacing.  Plot-wise, it’s asking a lot of the reader that all of the main characters are still stuck in the Shattered Plains, with no signs of leaving any time soon (Shallan, in fact, has just shown up, and seems comfortably ensconced).  As far as the pacing, I’m about a third of the way through and, although a few important things have happened, there’s a very quotidian feel to the story-telling.  The characters feel like they’re going through the motions.  Perhaps it’s a matter of motivation: Kaladin lacks the anger and vengeance he relied on in his Bridge Four days in this book, while Shallan’s “I’m learning to be clever and saucy” storyline just feels hackneyed and boring.  Mild spoilers (highlight to read): There is a relatively major death that happens early on, but I didn’t feel invested enough in the character to really give a damn.  The character most affected by this death also seems to get over it fairly quickly, and ultimately it just hasn’t affected the plot very much so far.

Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence.  Finally got around to reading this, which I bought during a lull in Words of Radiance, and I’m loving it.  Gets you from the start.  It deserves its grimdark reputation, and though I’m not that far into it, it’s already managed to one-up Abercrombie in sheer nihilism.

The Basic Writings of Sigmund Freud by Sigmund Freud.  This is a collection of some of Freud’s most famous writing.  Because, you know, characterization and psychology, and stuff.

Want to Read

Theft of Swords, by Michael J. Sullivan.  I was recently told I needed to read me some Michael Sullivan over at reddit.com/r/fantasy, so I’m going to.

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