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I searched the forums to see if there was already a topic dedicated to books we've read, or are reading, that made an impression, and came up with no pertinent results.  So I'm starting a topic dedicated to good books, graphic novels, etc  that was interesting for one reason or another and worth sharing.

To kick it off, I'm currently reading Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr.  I'm only about a fifth of the way into it, but I'm finding it to be one of those reads that's both easy yet compelling. It's essentially a series of narratives set in three time periods- one in the mid fifteenth century Constantinople, one in 2020 Idaho, and one in a future period on a colony ship in space, all revolving around a central theme of Antonius Diogenes' eponymous utopian myth.  The primary characters are all very well developed, and Diogenes' tale, the constant thread that ties all three narratives together, is itself a fun story as it's told little by little as the overarching narratives continue. I enjoy a read like this; there are usually esoteric bits of knowledge to be gleaned from such works if the author has done his or her due diligence, the interweaving of a constant thread amidst separate tales skillfully done is deeply gratifying, and an easily navigable prose unassailed by numerous tangents or difficult abstractions makes for a relaxing and absorbing read.

The history of Diogenes' writings is itself interesting, as he wrote a series of tales, each beginning with one of the 24 letters in the Greek alphabet. Unfortunately, the original volume is lost to us, and what remains to us of this extensive work is a synopsis by another Greek writer named Photios in his own tome called Myriobiblos.  With any luck, the original volume in its entirety will be discovered some day. For all the ancient writings we have, it's sad to think of the untold volumes of stories and knowledge lost to us through time by nature or the hand of man.

Edited by M'Kyuun
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No-No Boy by John Okada.

I may be an American-born Filipino, but this novel about a Japanese American and his friends, dealing with issues in post-WWII America, still resonates with me.  A young guy and his family gets forcibly sent to a "camp," and one day, someone asks if he's willing to fight for the US.  He says, "No," is sent to prison, gets released after the war, and now has to deal with the repercussions of that decision.  The novel starts from there and hits this situation from many different angles.

One of the earliest Asian American novels written, it's a beautifully written story.  I did read this when I was relatively young.  But now that I'm older with more life experiences, I picked up on more things I didn't notice during previous readings.

 

Animal Farm and 1984 by George Orwell.

My personal favorite dystopian writer. 

Are animals are equal. . .

A satire and fable, Animal Farm is a relatively quick read that has an ending that will stick with you for a long time.

Ignorance is Strength

I love the fact that 1984 can be used against either side of the political spectrum.  But it saddens me that a lot of the stuff in 1984 can easily be found in our current world, even though it's been almost 75 years since it was first published.

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2 hours ago, Alphahorizon said:

Drizzt Series. All 32 if them. Some are better then others but overall a good series that'll keep you busy for a while. 

That's what I'm reading, too!  Actually, re-reading, sorta.  I'd stopped reading after the Neverwinter books, but it's more because I got busy with stuff like grad school and having a kid.  I'm kind of aware of some of the stuff that happened after, but with the new trilogy coming out and more free time on my hands I decided to read/re-read the whole bunch (and it's actually 37, now, assuming you're not counting the Cleric Quintet).  I'm on The Last Threshold right now, then I'll be getting into stuff I haven't really read yet.

After I get through Drizzt, I kind of want to re-read Margret Weiss & Tracy Hickman's Dragonlance novels, as I heard they settled with Wizards and are going to be releasing a new trilogy.  I've got Andy Weir's new(ish) book queued up, too.

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For fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender, I recently read a pair of novels by F.C. Yee titled The Rise of Kyoshi and The Shadow of Kyoshi. Kyoshi was an Avatar several Avatars removed in the past before Aang.  While there are moments of humor, the overt humor of the TLA and Korra is absent, but the story of how Kyoshi became Avatar and the challenges she faces very early on in her Avatar-hood make for interesting reading. I enjoyed both books, and hope Mr. Yee along with Michael DiMartino work together to bring us more early Avatar stories.

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11 minutes ago, mikeszekely said:

  I've got Andy Weir's new(ish) book queued up, too.

Hail Mary, I presume.  I got it for Christmas, and I'll start it once I finish Cloud Cuckoo Land.  I love Weir's sense of humor, and his approach to writing sci-fi. I'm not sure he'll ever eclipse The Martian, but I enjoyed Artemis, and look forward to diving into Hail Mary.

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Currently reading War and Peace.  I'm at the start so it is a constant round of who said what at which party and who committed which atrocious social faux pas.

Before that it was the last book in the Expanse series.  Before that I'm near the end of the Man Kzin Wars series. 

History wise my favorites are the Civil War trilogy by Foote and the WW2 in the Pacific series by Ian W Toll.

I'm partial to military scif but not jingoistic crap (as I call it) so I have to thread a needle when it comes to what I like.  Early Honor Harrington (before the books became 75% conference drama and 20% cookbooks), The Expanse, Man Kzin Wars (amazing how many of the stories are not really about war too), Star Carrier, and The Trafalgar Gambit series being the main ones.

I read two to four books a month depending on length.

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Anything Brent Weeks: Nightangel trilogy or his latest Lightbringer Series. Nightangel is a great Assassin series involving some magic. Character build-up is excellent and Weeks gets the nod for best Assassin name ever. 

Lightbringer Series, is a great world building series. The magic system is unique and integral to the politics and religion of the world. Again character building is superb, plenty of action both magical and martial. 

John Marco's Inhumans Series. An Arthurian tale where an idealistic King seeks to bring prosperity to the Commoners and ruins a kingdom in the process. Magic, betrayal, world journeys, wars, etc. Great read from a lesser known author.

 

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10 hours ago, M'Kyuun said:

Hail Mary, I presume.

That'd be it.

Oh, it's been a little while since I read them, but voice actor Joe Zieja (who played Bumblebee on Netflix's Transformers: War for Cybertron trilogy) wrote a few sci fi books that are more Spaceballs than Star Wars.  I'd highly recommend them.  They are, in order, Mechanical Failure, Communication Failure, and System Failure.

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14 hours ago, mikeszekely said:

That's what I'm reading, too!  Actually, re-reading, sorta.  I'd stopped reading after the Neverwinter books, but it's more because I got busy with stuff like grad school and having a kid.  I'm kind of aware of some of the stuff that happened after, but with the new trilogy coming out and more free time on my hands I decided to read/re-read the whole bunch (and it's actually 37, now, assuming you're not counting the Cleric Quintet).  I'm on The Last Threshold right now, then I'll be getting into stuff I haven't really read yet.

After I get through Drizzt, I kind of want to re-read Margret Weiss & Tracy Hickman's Dragonlance novels, as I heard they settled with Wizards and are going to be releasing a new trilogy.  I've got Andy Weir's new(ish) book queued up, too.

I just re read Dragon Lance Chronicles as well as the Twin series. Very good books. Finished Starlight Enclave and awaiting the next in that Drizzt series. I also decided to read the first 6 Dune books. Great series

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For those interested in music/music history, I found a rather good documentary... Spike Jones Off the Record: the Man Who Murdered Music.

He was basically the Weird Al Yankovic of the 40's and 50's. 

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16 minutes ago, Seto Kaiba said:

For those interested in music/music history, I found a rather good documentary... Spike Jones Off the Record: the Man Who Murdered Music.

He was basically the Weird Al Yankovic of the 40's and 50's. 

I'm not interested in music history but Spike Jones is a genius!  I plan to get this one.

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Mistborn series, Brandon Sanderson

Stormlight Archive, Brandon Sanderson (the best modern fantasy epic)

Wheel of Time, Robert Jordan (the original modern fantasy epic 15 books)

Dresden Files, Jim Butcher (Soooooo much fun)

Ender's Game Saga, Orson Scott Card

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2 hours ago, levzloi said:

Mistborn series, Brandon Sanderson

Stormlight Archive, Brandon Sanderson (the best modern fantasy epic)

Wheel of Time, Robert Jordan (the original modern fantasy epic 15 books)

Dresden Files, Jim Butcher (Soooooo much fun)

Ender's Game Saga, Orson Scott Card

Mistborn is fantastic.

Dresden files, LOL! Man those books had me cracking up. When he dressed up as a "Dracula" to attend the vampire party I almost fell off the couch!:rofl:

I haven'r read Ener's Game since high school. May be time to give that a re-read.

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8 minutes ago, sqidd said:

Mistborn is fantastic.

Dresden files, LOL! Man those books had me cracking up. When he dressed up as a "Dracula" to attend the vampire party I almost fell off the couch!:rofl:

I’m a details and rules guy, so I love how Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere books all interconnect and share characters.  Totally geek out on that.  
 

And the cheesy Vampire costume was so great, Soooo much happened at the party, Harry’s still paying for that one.  
 

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Currently reading Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway by Johnathon Parshall and Anthony Tully who are two of the people behind the combinedfleet website which is probably the best most extensive collection of data on the Japanese Navy in WWII that you can find in english.

 

The book itself is fascinating as focuses on the Japanese side during the battle of Midway contain newer primary sources that up until recently hadn't been translated to english. It really drives home the foolhardy arrogance, utter contempt for their opponents, strict adherence to hierarchy/plans, and pointless infighting with the IJN and the IJA over war policies directly led to the defeat at Midway setting the course of the war for the next three years.

 

Just a word of warning, don't go into this book expecting to hear a lot about code breaking, station hypo, or an American perspective of the battle out side of how the events directly impacted the Japanese like the Doolittle Raid being seen as an insult and an attempt on the life of the Showa Emperor himself and thus demanding a direct response and a complete change of war policy.

 

There's a misconception with this book that it's supposed to supplant other works like Gordon Prange's Miracle At Midway as the premier source for the battle, but the fore word it states the opposite. Parshall & Tully state Shattered Sword is meant to support and compliment Miracle At Midway and should be read together as they represent literally two sides to the same coin.

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This is a no-brainer for us over on this side of the Pond, but anything by the late, great Terry Pratchett - his co-operation with Neil Gaiman (AS SEEN ON TV!), "Good Omens", is perhaps the best single volume entry point for his style but any of the "Guards" series starting with "Guards, Guards!".

Also sadly departed, Iain M. Banks [1] and his "Culture" series of novels for which "The Player of Games" is a good introduction but the one that everyone will jump up and down to recommend is "Use of Weapons". 

[1] Not to be confused with the equally no-longer-with-us Iain Banks, who was most definitely not the same person what with being a PROPER CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED AUTHOR who would never ever dabble in that childish Sci-Fi nonsense... 😉

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One of the Fantasy series I would recommend is the Stephen Donaldson Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever. Read it back in the eighties, before a lot of unoriginal DnD/LOTR high- fantasy-generic-quest type clones started swamping the genre.

Here we see an awesome character from book 5 The One Tree, Nom the Sandgorgon.

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"Sandgorgons answer their release swiftly. Distance has no meaning to such power. Behold!" His voice sharpened. "Though the Doom lies more than a score of leagues hence, already the answer draws nigh." 
And out from under the virga came a plume of sand among the dunes, arrowing toward the Sandhold. It varied as the terrain varied, raising a long serpentine cloud; but its direction was unmistakable. It was aimed at the spot where Ceer and Hergrom stood against the Sandwall. Even from that distance, Linden felt the radiations of raw and hostile power. Then the beast itself appeared. Bleached to an albino whiteness by ages of sun, it was difficult to see against the pale desert. But it ran forward with staggering speed and became clear. It was larger than the Haruchai awaiting it, but it hardly had size enough to contain so much might. For an instant, Linden was struck by the strangeness of its gait. Its knees were back-bent like a bird's, and its feet were wide pads, giving it the ability to traverse sand with immense celerity and force. Then the Sandgorgon was almost upon Hergrom and Ceer; and she perceived other details. It had arms, but no hands. Its forearms ended in flat flexible stumps like prehensile battering rams-arms formed to contend with sand, to break stone. And it had no face. Its head was featureless except for the faint ridges of its skull beneath its hide and two covered slits like gills on either side. It appeared as violent and absolute as a force of nature. Watching it, Linden was no longer conscious of breathing, Her heart might have stopped. Even Covenant with all his wild magic could not have equaled this feral beast. Together, Hergrom and Ceer stepped out from the Sand-wall, then separated so that the Sandgorgon could not attack them both at once. The creature shifted its impetus slightly. In a flash of white hide and fury, it charged straight at Hergrom. At the last instant, he spun out of its way. Unable to stop, the Sandgorgon crashed headlong into the wall. Linden felt the impact as if the entire Sandhold had shifted. Cracks leaped through the stone; chunks recoiled outward and thudded to the ground.

I'm currently reading  Catfantastic, a lighthearted anthalogy by Andre Norton.

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20 minutes ago, Valkyrie Hunter D said:

I highly recommend Snow Crash for anyone looking for a good cyberpunk book.  It'll also give one some insight on what inspired Google Earth. :)

Definitely a good read with sure fantastic sci-fi elements.

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On 12/31/2021 at 4:11 PM, Alphahorizon said:

I just re read Dragon Lance Chronicles as well as the Twin series. Very good books. Finished Starlight Enclave and awaiting the next in that Drizzt series. I also decided to read the first 6 Dune books. Great series

Dude, Dragon Lance was my gateway drug to fantasy! Loved that series. A great intro to elves, dwarves, dragons and kender. Though, if I had my way, it would have stopped with the initial series. I feel it got played out. The last I read of that universe was a YA series, with like half a dozen authors competing with different story lines and main characters, Was not good to end with. If I was to reread it, it would just be the initial story.

Another one I'll be rereading is the Belgariad, by David Eddings.

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On 1/6/2022 at 5:02 PM, Thom said:

Another one I'll be rereading is the Belgariad, by David Eddings.

That was good. I still have to find time to read the Mallorean, I never got further than Guardians of the West 

As for Dragonlance, other than Chronicles and Legends there were few gems. I enjoyed the books by Douglas Niles and Richard Knaak though.

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One I've been getting back to recently is The King in Yellow, by Robert W. Chambers.

It was one of the main inspirations for H.P. Lovecraft's particular style of "cosmic horror", and it has the great virtue of being in the public domain and available for free from many of the usual ebook services.

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