The Books I Read in January

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.

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9 thoughts on “The Books I Read in January

    • I enjoyed reading Ready Player One the most, closely followed by City of Mirrors. The Passage trilogy is probably my favourite book series ever.
      Have you got any recommendations?

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      • Sounds well!
        Unfortunately for me, the past year was not a great reading year.
        I shall share with you some of my all time favourites:
        Wuthering Heights
        Lolita
        Anna Karenina
        The Great Gatsby
        William Shakespeare’s Plays
        The Diary of Anne Frank

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  1. That’s great that you are finding time to enjoy reading James. I am not a sci-fi fan but I’m an avid reader. I always have one or two books on the go as well. Recently I finished reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. The content was not relevant to me, as it’s aimed at serious creative types who are struggling to have their art/books/work noticed, but I liked her informal and intimate writing style and really enjoyed Gilbert’s narration of the text (since I listened to the audiobook version). She’s American, and I always prefer British narrators, but WOW her voice is just so relaxing, no kidding.

    Earlier this year I also read Spark Joy by Marie Kondo (minimalist bliss, although I am not into all the folding techniques etc…) after reading her super famous Magic of Tidying Up book last year, as well as a memoir called We’ll Always Have Paris, which was a candid and surprisingly dark take on the emotional intricacies of the expat life. I also always have some Tudor historical fiction on the go, which I can never get enough of since I am really fascinated by that time period.

    Currently I am reading Mercy by Jodi Picoult. Not sure about this one as I’m not really into proper chick lit (Jodi Picoult = pure emotional manipulation), but I really enjoyed one of her novels called Leaving Time a few years back so I thought I might give this one a go.

    Congrats on your upcoming wedding, by the way, James! When is the big – or not so big 🙂 – day? Ours is in July 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sounds good Lisa, I might check out some Marie Kondo then. Sounds like ‘Magic of Tidying Up’ would be a good starting point?
      Mine is in November so you’re a little ahead of me on the wedding front 🙂

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      • Yep, that would be the best one to start with. It’s a short read so if you don’t end up being all that into it you won’t have wasted a lifetime!

        Ooh November, how exciting – an autumn wedding! Hope the planning is going well if it’s going. Currently our approach to planning is not planning…we’ll see how that goes…may have to get in gear soon 😛

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  2. I too have just started blogging about what I am reading each month. I love reading but can easily get stuck on my screen rather than reading a book. I’m blogging about what I’m reading, in part, to see if I’ll read more. Not really into sci-fi but read all sorts of books. Currently reading “Who will I be when I die?” by Christine Bryden; who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at 46 and this is her story from the point of view of someone with the disease.

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    • Hi Jillian. Hopefully by blogging about what you’re reading it will help to reinforce that habit.
      I’ve found that I barely want to watch TV lately – and I always reach for my book instead of the remote these days. Do you read paper books or are you an ebooker? I prefer reading on my kindle as it’s easier to carry on my commute but lately have been browsing the books in charity shops. They are dirt cheap, the money goes to a good cause, and it encourages you to try something you might not otherwise have gone for.
      Good luck with your reading & blogging, I hope you can keep it up.

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      • I’m still a paper book reader. I think I read more that way. Though I know a Kindle would be good for when we go away as books take up a lot of room & can be heavy. I like the idea of buying books from charity shops. 2nd hand book sales can be dangerous in terms of ending up with so many books & needing to store them.

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