October 2nd, 2016

Moose With Mug

2016 Stuff Read, #s 26(c)-30

I'm actually starting to believe that I'll make it to 40 books this year. At least, I will if I just maintain the pace I've set for the past nine months. I have already made good headway on numbers 31 & 32, and once I've finished those two books, I will have equaled my number from 2014, which is the year I've with the highest number of books read since I started tracking this back in 2010. If I actually finish 40 by the end of the year, I plan on rewarding myself with one of the unread mega-anthologies currently sitting on my shelves -- the type of book that would typically take my well over a month to complete. But, I'm getting a little ahead of myself...

26(c). Binti, by Nnedi Okorafor (ebook)
Not much I can say that hasn't already been said by others. Highly entertaining story, that also taught me about the Himba -- a people I previously knew nothing about. Highly deserving of the Nebula Award it won earlier this year.

27. The Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis (dead tree/eBook)
This is the third time I've read the book, but my last reading was roughly 20 years ago. I remember being enthralled with this novel the first couple readings, and while I did enjoy it again, I didn't experience the amount of joy I thought I would. I thought the story dragged at times, and the fact that Willis didn't anticipate the rise of mobile phones has made the present-era plot of the novel creak with dated age -- something she should be forgiven for as William Gibson's Neuromancer suffers from the same defect. I'm certain I'll read The Doomsday Book again at some point in the future, but this reading has disconcertedly reminded me of how the overwhelming majority of science fiction eventually begins to show its age, no matter how well it's written.

28. Acceptance, by Jeff Vandermeer (audiobook)
As much as I loved the first book of the trilogy and enjoyed the second to a lesser extent, I found myself slightly struggling to complete the story. I don't read much literary fiction -- even when that fiction is SF -- mostly because I read primarily for plot and ideas and far less for in-depth examinations of character and motivations. As I result, I tend to become mentally exhausted when engaging with literary fiction for too long, and I think this might have started happening by the middle of this book. I think if the series had been any longer I would have needed to space out the installments a bit rather than listen to all three consecutively. Interestingly, the combined length of the three books in the series was approximately 2/3 that of The Stand, which I finished earlier this year.

29. The Magazine of SF&F, July/Aug. 2016 (dead tree)
After the disappointment of the seeing how the Rabid Puppies managed to game the Hugo Awards again this year, I've found it hard to engage with new short fiction in the manner that I did last year. By that, I mean reading with the same frequency and attention to detail that I did last year. This was the first installment of 2016 fiction I read this year, and because I spread this issue of SF&F out over a few months and didn't take note of which stories I thought might be award-worthy next year, I can't at this moment state which of the stories I should consider for next year's Hugo nominations. (as I write this, I'm at my in-laws house and don't have the issue at hand.) I'm making it a point to skim through the issue again soon to figure out which ones deserve that honor.

30. English in America: A Linguistic History, by Prof. Natalie Schilling (audio lecture series)
I've enjoyed all The Great Courses series on grammar and linguistics I've ever listened to, but while listening to this series I realized that I have limits when it comes to getting into extreme detail about some aspects of linguistics.  I was happy with the general overviews and learning about the influences and drivers of linguistic change, but there were times when, for my taste, Prof. Schilling went into just a little too much excruciating detail regarding minute differences in some of the strains of American English. However, I'm certain that my complaint is probably something that appeals to the rest of the target audience for this subject.