This post was due in April. Turns out the April is the cruellest month (who knew!), so we're all going to have to settle for a mid-May post.
I hear that middle-aged men are the least likely to read books. Certainly my own reading has gone down in the last few months. A lot of the time I would have spent reading has been spent Netflix binging on anime, so I don't count that as a total loss.
In any case, there's very little left of me at the end of a day, and I haven't had the steady stream of reliably entertaining novels that I've had at other times. There are a couple of non-fiction books on my list that I feel I ought to read first, and I fear I've been avoiding those.
Excuses aside, here's what I've been reading.
The Spirit Ring, Lois McMaster Bujold
The last Bujold book I hadn't read. It's set in a magical renaissance Italy. I quite enjoyed it, but less than most of her other works. I think that might be because the character who would most interest her doesn't last very long in the narrative.
River of Stars, Guy Gavriel Kay
I put off reading this one for ages and I don't know why. I thought it would be beautiful and thematic and poignant (as all of Kay's fiction is) but not very interesting. I was wrong. River of Stars is a page turner set in magical China about bandits saving the kingdom from foreign barbarians and corrupt bureaucrats. Lots of fun.
The Corporation Wars: Emergence, Ken MacLeod
As usual, if you're into fast-paced action thickly spread over a delicious sourdough of politics, economics, and transhumanism, then you should read Ken MacLeod.
There's a side snark in here about "cold war at home, hot war in the colonies" that I think about every time I see the news.
An Unkindness of Ghosts, Rivers Solomon
What if we took Gormenghast, but instead of a castle, it was a spaceship? What if instead of following a privileged heir, we followed an autistic genius trying to eke out a life in a brutal poverty? What if that poverty was part of a system of racism and sexism imposed by religious zealots who do not understand anything about the ship they live in? At least in this case, we end up with a really good read with a good story and moments of genuine humour.
Space Opera, Catherynne M. Valente
Eurovision in space! When I started reading this book my assessment was that it was solid attempt at doing what Douglas Adams did so many years before. And while that didn't change exactly, I found myself enjoying the book more and more as I went on. Part of the fun is indulging with Valente in her absurd music genres and crazy lists of consequences, but there's also some great situational humour which she's more free to get into once the exposition is out of the way.
The Manager's Path, Camille Fournier
This is a book about how to be a technical manager, starting from how to be managed well moving step by step to how to be a CTO. Unlike many business books, its tone is calm and rational, and its advice nuanced. Mercifully, there are no anecdotes about Winston Churchill or Abraham Lincoln.
I'm struggling with newfound management responsibilities, so I need help from a book like this. It offers something of a structure about what I can and should be doing, and also what I can reasonably expect from others.
The downside is that after reading it, I felt overwhelmed. There are so many things a manager could do, but knowing which do first is the real problem. I already had 99 problems before reading this book, and now I'm better educated, I'm aware of 99 more.
33 Artists in 3 Acts, Sarah Thornton
Life in the world of modern art, split into three sections: politics, community, and craft. I am not a very visual person and don't have a particular interest in the visual arts, but I really enjoyed exploring this strange, parallel universe. In fact, if that's what you like about science fiction, you might well like this.
Women & Power, Mary Beard
Short and insightful pair of essays on women and power by Mary Beard. She ends the book with an afterword saying how she might develop the ideas given more time, and the knowledge of more recent events. I hope she goes on to do so.
Haven't been tracking this. I'm subscribed to The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl which gives me my monthly dose of pure fun.