Don Hosek - Recent reading

I tend to be a voracious reader, and I read widely. This list has its origins in an old signature file which I would update periodically with the current book that I was reading. That gradually transmogrified itself into the current massive archive with brief reviews.

What I've been reading lately
Number of books read and reviewed each year
1995* (28)
1996 (47)
1997 (74)
1998 (61)
1999 (62)
2000 (27)
2001 (51)
2002 (60)
2003 (37)
2004 (36)
2005 (32)
2006 (46)
2007 (109)
2008 (78)
2009 (65)
2010 (68)
2011 (98)
2012 (129)
2013 (114)
2014 (101)
2015 (88)
2016 (82)
2017 (76)
2018 (50)
* Partial year
The Walking Dead, Vol. 30: New World Order by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano and Cliff Rathburn
[Finished 27 September 2018] The challenge with an ongoing zombie series is keeping the narrative interesting. The zombies themselves have largely fallen away as a major threat and the new challenge is the rebuilding of civilization. In this volume, center stage is taken by the question of what sort of world order the new civilization should take. We have the contrast between the Alexandria communities which are largely egalitarian and the newly encountered commonwealth in which a rigid class structure has been established with people’s positions in the class hierarchy being determined by where they stood before the collapse of civilization.

The Redemers by Leo W. Schwarz
[Finished 25 September 2018] An early account of the experiences of the Jewish DPs after World War II. There’s a fair amount of myth-making on display here with the account largely being a “great men” perspective on events with very little about the every day experiences of the DPs in the camps and elsewhere and a narrative structure that makes the exodus to Israel the inevitable outcome of the situation.

I Can’t Date Jesus: Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I've Put My Faith in Beyoncé by Michael Arceneaux
[Finished 15 September 2018] I heard Arceneaux on Fresh Air and was intrigued to read about his experiences growing up as a gay black Catholic in Texas. Alas, the religious side of things was a small part of the book. Where Arceneaux got into religion, I was greatly impressed, but much of the book felt like Arceneaux as skating on the surface of his life and unwilling to get deep.

Shadow Show: Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury edited by Justin Eisinger and Alonzo Sitman
[Finished 2 September 2018] A subset of the stories from the anthology of the same name re-presented in graphic novel form. Some stories work better than others and in some cases, it seems like little or no effort was employed in making a graphic narrative (e.g., Harlan Ellison’s contribution). Those that did work, worked wonderfully at least.

Arbitrary Stupid Goal by Tamara Shopsin
[Finished 1 September 2018] I heard about this from kottke.org and he led me to expect a different book than Shopsin actually wrote. Rather than something about employing arbitrary stupid goals to achieve satisfaction in life, this is really a history of her father and the store/restaurant that her family has run since before she was born. Interesting, but not what I was looking for.

Testing in Scala by Daniel Hinojosa
[Finished 27 August 2018] A decent enough book, I think, paradoxically, it would have benefitted from less complete examples of the tests.

Contenders by Erika Krouse
[Finished 22 August 2018] An interesting enough premise: Nina makes her living by inducing men to attempt to assault them but then turns the tables on them and beats them up and steals their wallets. Then one of the men turns out to be a cop who becomes obsessed with Nina wanting his badge and his pride back. But the inclusion in the story of a deceased brother who has left behind a daughter that he expected Nina to raise even though the two of them had lost contact a decade earlier is the first of several missteps that keep the book in rather prosaic territory. The writing is solid, the characterization is decent but the plot just lost me.

Girl at War by Sara Nović
[Finished 18 August 2018] The first section starts a bit slow, but beginning with the death of Ana’s parents, the narrative ends up being heartbreaking and hard to put down.

Millard Salter’s Last Day by Jacob Appel
[Finished 15 August 2018] The big problem here is that Appel sets up an impossible-to-resolve-in-a-non-clichéd-fashion premise here. Too much time is devoted to the question of will he or won’t he kill himself when either ending would end up rather pedestrian. I think the secret to such a novel is to make the rest of the book flow in such a way that the reader doesn’t get any emotional commitment to one outcome or the other (or perhaps is committed to the suicide option), so the answer to will he or won’t he is largely irrelevant.

That complaint aside, the writing is well-executed and there are some great moments of pathos and humor alike here.

Report to the Men’s Club and Other Stories by Carol Emshwiller
[Finished 14 August 2018] Delightfully weird stuff. I’m finding that women writers of scifi are by far doing the most interesting work in the genre.