In 2017 I’m going to read more books. I haven’t set myself a monthly or total goal of reading x number of books, but I’ll always have one on the go. I travel over 2 hours a day on the train for work so finding the time is not an issue for me. Where previously I’d watch any old thing on Netflix, this year I’m going to use that valuable time reading, and writing. To make sure I keep my reading habit up, I’m going to post what I read every month, and a few thoughts on each book. So, without further ado, the books I read in January…
Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
This was a Christmas present from my fiancé and I had been looking forward to reading it ever since I saw the quote on the front cover in the bookstore – “Willy Wonka meets The Matrix” – what’s not to love?! A couple chapters in and I was feeling a little underwhelmed. The conversations between the young characters seemed a bit forced, like an older person trying to think of how the youth speak these days but once I got past that the story took hold and I was gripped. I ended up getting through it in about 4 days (a quick pace for me). It did seem quite YA – think Hunger Games, Maze Runner etc.- but at the same time was jam packed with lots of geeky references to 70s and 80s video games and movies. Overall I’d recommend this book as a fun, light read for fans of sci fi and the 80s.
The City of Mirrors – Justin Cronin
The 3rd book in the Passage trilogy from Justin Cronin about a dystopian future world taken over by vampire like creatures. The 1st book in the series, The Passage, is one of my favourite books of all time – and reignited my passion for reading. I really couldn’t recommend this series enough. They are all pretty meaty reads (700+ pages each), but if you give your time to them, you will not be disappointed.
It’s Only a Movie – Mark Kermode
I’m a huge fan of the Kermode & Mayo film review podcast, especially Mark’s epic rants on films he hasn’t enjoyed (listen to his reviews of The Entourage movie and Sex and The City 2). As one of the most well-known film critics in the country he has some great stories to tell, and this book- part biography, part cinema history lesson – is full of them. I found it in the clearance section at Smiths for £1 (not sure I would have paid the original £10 asking price) so a real bargain for me. If you’re a fan of the podcast, or enjoy cinema then I think you would enjoy it.
Everything That Remains – The Minimalists
The Minimalists opened my eyes to minimalism. I have been listening to their podcast for nearly a year now and get a lot of value out of their message. Before Christmas, they were giving this book away in PDF format for free on their website. I’m not sure if it is still on there, but if you are interested in reading this, then get in touch and I will send it to you. This is the 2nd book written by them (following ‘Minimalism: Lead a Meaningful Life), and is described as a memoir. If Minimalism is the ‘how to’, then this is the ‘why to’ and describes Joshua’s life, and the events that led him to change his life and discover intentional living. If you have read Minimalism, or have listened to their podcast then there isn’t anything new here, but if you are new to the movement, or are just interested to know more then I would recommend.
Neuromancer – William Gibson
Neuromancer is often described as one of the most important Sci Fi books of all time. Gibson pretty much spawed ‘cyberpunk’, the film The Matrix probably wouldn’t exist without this, and there is even a feeling that this book influenced the internet’s development. This book had been on my list for a very long time, but for some reason I just hadn’t got around to reading it, and so the anticipation was high for me. Unfortunately I just never managed to get into it, despite my best efforts. It is written in a way that is very hard to follow. I often found myself having to re-read chapters, or refer back to earlier in the book to catch myself up on what was going on. From speaking to a work colleague who loved this book (but had read it when originally published in 1984), he felt that added something to the experience, like having to really work for it made it somehow more rewarding. I would struggle to recommend this book, but appreciate the influence it has had on the genre.
A Brief History of Time – Stephen Hawking
If you have an interest in physics, or space then there is a reasonable chance you have read this book. The subject matter (the universe, black holes, The Big Bang) is incredibly complicated, but Hawking does a great job of making it more understandable for the non-scientist, although some of it is still pretty hard to follow. I’m not sure this book could be described as entertaining, but it’s certainly informative, and an important work that I would encourage everyone to read.
That’s it for January, have you read any of these books? It would be great to hear from you about what you’re reading. While I clearly have an interest in sci fi, I’m looking to expand my horizons, so if you have any recommendations in any genre please get in touch.