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What Shall I Read?

One of the larger downsides to nursing is pumping. Not one of my favorite things, and you really need something else to do while you’re doing that, because otherwise you spend thirty minutes meditating on what you’re actually doing, which is distressing. Believe me, if I could boil my forebrain to get the visual out of my head, I would.

Only 153 days to go until she’s cut off. But who’s counting? :-)

But I digress. I usually watch TV while I’m pumping if I’m home, or read if I’m not. (Or fall asleep sitting up and drooling. But that’s a personal problem.) The reading is the part that I need help with. I’ve been methodically re-reading my way through my library. Amongst other things I’ve re-read through the entire Darkover series (in publication order,) all of the David Brin I’ve cared to accumulate, and I’m currently working on Tom Holt (in no particular order.) I had decided to read through all of my Asimov, but I quickly discovered that at some point I loaned out Foundation and Empire and Second Foundation and they never came home (conjugate the verb "lend:" I lend, I lent, I have lost.) So until I can get to a bookstore to replace them, Asimov is on hold. I’m having a grand old time revisiting books that I haven’t read in years, but something new would be lovely. I’m here trolling for recommendations. What have you all read that you would recommend to someone else? Here are the requirements:

* Don’t worry about what kind of books I like. I’m looking for something new. Surprise me with something you loved. If I’ve already read it, we can talk about it. If I haven’t, I can read it and then we can talk about it.

* It doesn’t need to be "meaningful." I read trash joyously – as long as it’s entertaining, well-written trash.

* It needs to be accessible in thirty minute bites, because I’m doing all of my reading in thirty minute intervals. Ludlum probably wouldn’t work, for example. I need to concentrate on him.

* The spine should be no thicker than 1-3/4". That’s the thickest book I can fit into the back pocket of the pump bag. This is why I’m not getting anywhere on the Cryptonomicron. It’s too thick to fit in the pocket.

So. What shall I read?




( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 20th, 2009 08:49 pm (UTC)
Fancy the Napoleonic Wars? The Sharpe Series by Bernard Cornwell is pretty good. Lots of real history mixed into the story, and that attention to detail which makes it easy to get into them.

I've been borrowing them from the library, in hardback but they're not huge. For me they're brain candy reading.

If you can stand reading on a PDA, the Baen Free Library has lots of good SF. They also have cheap downloadable books.
Apr. 20th, 2009 10:39 pm (UTC)
I could do Napoleonic, and I've heard good things about the Sharpe series. Which reminds me that I never finished Horatio Hornblower. I was enjoying them, but I was having trouble getting my hands on them.
Apr. 20th, 2009 11:50 pm (UTC)
Hornblower and Sharpe are fun. For twists on Napoleonic Wars fic, I strongly recommend David Weber's Honor Harrington series (*strong* analog to Hornblower set as space opera), and Naomi Novik's Temeraire novels - Napoleonic Wars in an alternate reality where dragons provide WWI caliber aerial warfare opportunities.
Apr. 21st, 2009 01:29 am (UTC)
He beat me to the punch!
The very first thing I was going to recommend is Naomi Novik's Temeraire series. The first book is _His Majesty's Dragon_. They're simply wonderful. They are neither fantasy nor alternate history, but rather alternate reality--an earth with dragons! Excellent writing and world-building, light enough reading but with some serious themes running through to keep it adult and interesting.

Hey Kris, trust the librarian...

Edited at 2009-04-21 01:30 am (UTC)
Apr. 21st, 2009 01:54 am (UTC)
Re: He beat me to the punch!
Which one? There are four on my flist (of various types,) unless some of the rest of you are librarians also and I just don't know it... :-)
Apr. 21st, 2009 01:53 am (UTC)
I've read most of Honor Harrington, although they were loaned to me and therefore not at my fingertips. I liked them, and want to pick them up for the collection someday.
Apr. 20th, 2009 08:53 pm (UTC)
Lois McMaster Bujold, her Miles Vorkosigan series. You can safely start anywhere, but if it's opportune I would start with Shards of Honor (now part of the omnibus Cordelia's Honor). Or start with The Warrior's Apprentice (which has also been reissued in some omnibus but I forget the title).

Tamora Pierce, her Protector of the Small series. Squire, Page, Knight, and so on. Yes, they're written for youth.
Apr. 20th, 2009 10:36 pm (UTC)
Aha! I knew there was something else that I'd been reading. I worked my way through all of the Vorkosigan that I have - I think I'm up to "A Civil Campaign" - I need to go pick that one up. Although honestly I find Miles' parents much more interesting than I find him...
Apr. 20th, 2009 11:02 pm (UTC)
Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire series. Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden Series. Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson series.

Edited at 2009-04-20 11:03 pm (UTC)
Apr. 21st, 2009 01:56 am (UTC)
All unfamiliar. Cool!
Apr. 20th, 2009 11:10 pm (UTC)
Anything by Tanya Huff. If you like fantasy, try her Quarter novels starting with Sing the Four Quarters. If you like vampire novels, try her Blood series (I haven't read them yet, so don't know the order.) If you like space opera, try her Valor series. The main character kicks butt and takes names. I like that in a woman.
Apr. 21st, 2009 01:59 am (UTC)
You know, I've read a lot of science fiction and more fantasy, and managed to miss her so far. I'm feeling a trip to Barnes and Noble in the future...
Apr. 21st, 2009 01:07 am (UTC)
More martial SF fic - Vatta's War series by Elizabeth Moon.
Have you read much Steven Brust? I can read the Vlad Taltos novels whenever I'm hard up for a good read. - only problem is the only paper editions of the earlier books is the trade omnibus edition. - possibly too big for your bag.
If you enjoy Dumas, Brust's The Phoenix Guard, Five Hundred Years after and the Viscount of Adrilankha trilogy (Lord of Castle Black, Paths of the Dead, and Sethra Lavode) do a marvelous job of paralleling Dumas's Three Musketeers, Twenty Years After and the Viscount de Bragelonne
Apr. 21st, 2009 02:01 am (UTC)
I've read almost all of Brust. I'm not up to date on the Viscount of Adrilankha because I wanted to go back to the beginning, and first I need to get them back from my dad.

I don't know that one by Moon, but I've liked other things of hers.
Apr. 21st, 2009 02:56 pm (UTC)
For fun, I like Pratchett. And Mercedes Lackey's urban fantasy is entertaining, too...I like the SERRAted Edge series and the Bedlam's Bard/Bardic Voices series (two names for the same series of books). I prefer the books featuring Tannim, of the SERRAted Edge books...so Chrome Borne, which contains two short novels, Born to Run and The Chrome Circle.)

This requires you to be able to accept the idea of modern(ish), race-car driving elves. (Sidhe...NOT traditional Sidhe...definitely the author's own version.)

And of course my maaaaaaajor love is Skip Beat, the manga, which is absolutely hilarious and also surprisingly realistic (in ways you don't expect) for a shoujo manga. It's got everything...comedy, drama, romance, deeply developed characters that are so detailed that they feel like real people. (Sure, real people don't have 'mini grudge' spirits, and they don't sparkle when they smile, etc...but that's what makes it extra fun!) It takes a while to REEEEEALLY get into because it develops page by page, revealing more and more about the characters as the situation develops, but it has been the major obsession of my life for the past year. Seriously, all-consuming obsession. I'm only starting to be able to think about anything else and I still think about it a couple of times an hour at LEAST.

I also love the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn trilogy (it's really four books though) by Tad Williams but I think the last two books would be over 1.5 inches thick. Dragonbone Chair would work, though, and probably The Stone of Farewell. (1st and 2nd books.)

I have no idea what your taste is so I'm just telling you some things I've enjoyed intensely. I like stuff that is FUN...I read as an escape. So I don't like depressing crap or anything about war/other realistic horrible situations that are actually happening in the real world. Huge points for comedy thrown in (Memory, Sorrow and Thorn is not funny, but it's beautifully complicated and fantastical.) I'm always thinking so I don't need books to compel me to deep thought, either. (Though tbh, anything I really love does that automatically, sooner or later. Deep thoughts come from strange places.)

Well...dunno if that'll help or what. But there you go. :)
Apr. 21st, 2009 03:04 pm (UTC)
Oh, here is a very long and detailed intro to Skip Beat...I like it but I'd probably only read until I felt interested as it doesn't reveal much in the way of major plot development but does give away a few other things. But if you need more info...http://grimorie.livejournal.com/173968.html
Apr. 21st, 2009 05:27 pm (UTC)
Interesting. I thought that I didn't like Pratchett, but more than a few people have told me to hunt around because he's got a few themes going and I might like the other ones. I started the SERRAted Edge when it first came out, and then wandered off. I was more interested in race-car driving elves, and at the time she was delving more into the Bardic Voices end. Time to revisit, methinks.

I tried "Tailchaser's Song" by Tad Williams, but wasn't able to get into it. I'll have to give "Dragonbone Chair" a shot.

Not sure about Skip Beat - the way you and Meri are addicted it seems a bit dangerous... :-)

I'm with you on fun. Right now I'm looking for brain candy, as Hugh put it. Tom Holt is huge fun right now, as I'm in the mood for comedy and he almost always comes through ("Little People" being a HUGE example of when he doesn't. Yech.)
Apr. 21st, 2009 05:40 pm (UTC)

Starting at the beginning (The Colour of Magic...and as he is British is IS spelled 'Colour', at least in the version I have) is actually a bit of a detriment to most people who try Pratchett but can't get into it. A lot of the Discworld novels are stand-alone...in the same universe and giving cameos to established characters but totally indpendent of any linear plot...but there are books that run on a specific set of characters/typical setting. There are the Witches books, the Guards books, the Rincewind books...oh, and the Wizards in general. Oh, and Susan Death (Death's granddaughter.) And the Moist Von LipWig stuff, now, too.

The most popular (and I prefer them too) are the Guards (starring Sam Vimes, Carrot Ironfounderson, Angua, Nobby, etc...the police force of Anhk-Morpork) and the Witches (Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, Agnes Nitt, Magrat) and...

Um, just here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discworld The only ones I haven't read on that list are Unseen Academicals (not released yet) and Maurice and his amazing rodents or whatever it is.

Will continue in another comment...
Apr. 21st, 2009 05:46 pm (UTC)
The SERRAted Edge runs thus:

* Born To Run (1992) with Larry Dixon
* Wheels of Fire (1992) with Mark Shepherd
* When the Bough Breaks (1993) with Holly Lisle
* Chrome Circle (1994) with Larry Dixon
* Elvendude (1994) by Mark Shepherd (Not particularly good, perhaps because Lackey didn't help write it.)
* Spiritride (1997) by Mark Shepherd (Same as above)
* Lazerwarz (1999) by Mark Shepherd (Didn't bother reading because of above)
* Stoned Souls with Sarah Hoyt (This doesn't seem to be published yet but I do really want to read it)

* This Scepter'd Isle (2004) with Roberta Gellis (prequel) (Elizabethan mock-historical sort of thing, own it, not bad, NOT as good as the modern stuff)
* Ill Met by Moonlight (2005) with Roberta Gellis (prequel) (same)
* By Slanderous Tongues (2007) with Roberta Gellis (prequel) (same)
* And Less Than Kind (2008) with Roberta Gellis (prequel) (same)

The two in italics were reprinted in one volume called The Otherworld. The two in bold were printed in one volume called The Chrome Borne, my favourite, as they feature Tannim out at Fairgrove.

Okay, that's the SERRAted Edge bit...

Edited at 2009-04-21 05:47 pm (UTC)
Apr. 21st, 2009 05:54 pm (UTC)
I've never LOVED anything of Tad Williams' except the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series. I read War of the Flowers and Shadowmarch or...I think that's what they were called...and thought they were okay, but they didn't compel me. Once I finished Dragonbone Chair (first book of the MST series) I was in love. I actually bought a limited edition lithograph from the Glass Onion (signed) of the cover of To Green Angel Tower (last book, actually two volumes) and it has been on the wall of my bedroom for about about eight years, now.

I really dislike books about animals. Watership Down, Black Beauty, Petter Cottontail...if a book has animal characters, it's an absolute NO for me.

As for Skip Beat...well, it ate me all up. I'm thrilled, of course, but it does occupy a lot of my time, as I never stop thinking about it, and often I can't get things done because I'd rather spend more time with Ren and Kyoko and everyone by writing fics for SB (or rereading all 17 so-far-released volumes) than do anything else. I've heard of a few people who read it and didn't like it (most of those stopped reading too early, but I have heard of one or two who read far enough and STILL didn't get into it...SB is one of VERY few shoujo mangas that a huge portion of boys and even men actually like as well as the female audience it is aimed at, which I think is awesome, though it still surprises me.) but there don't seem to be very many. And I can understand the desire not to become obsessed. Obsession is a little painful and certainly not a productive behaviour.

I have no regrets!
Apr. 21st, 2009 11:25 pm (UTC)
And if you're going for Lackey, her re-telling of fairy tales with the Elemental Masters series is fun. If you need the names, let me know.
Apr. 22nd, 2009 12:38 pm (UTC)
The Sandman graphic novel series by Neil Gaiman. Especially good for those late nights.

I also have on-hold at the library Pride_and_Prejudice_and_Zombies, which just came out and got great reviews.
Apr. 22nd, 2009 12:50 pm (UTC)
If you've got any sort of MP3 player check into librivox.org/ for free audiobooks --as long as it's in the public domain's it might be there. And if it's not there it can be requested.

Rob says this one's a hoot, the recording was done as a group production with different people (over)acting the various roles:

For a good fun read, here's a new favorite -- Patricia Briggs. Modern day setting with werewolves, vampires, fae...all mixed in with mystery & romance and a sense of humor. It falls into my "alternate Buffyverse" category -- and it does it well.

I've got copies I can pass to you now, but since we haven't managed to get together for months&months, here's some names. These are all about a mechanic who just happens to be a native american shapeshifter raised by werewolves: Moon Called, Blood Bound, Iron Kissed. More about her foster family in Cry Wolf. Also a shortstory in "On the Prowl".
Apr. 22nd, 2009 12:57 pm (UTC)
Oh and how could I forget... have you read the Dresden Files books by Jim Butcher? If you've only seen the short-lived sci-fi channel series, there's more & better in print. Technically they *can* be read out of sequence because Butcher fills in backstory where needed...but that translates to "spoilers" for me so I don't recommend it.
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )