The Sick-In-Bed Reading List

I’ve been laid up with a bug for the past few days. This, coupled with my recent vacation, has allowed me to catch up on my reading list. Here’s what I’ve been reading recently. Cory Doctorow, Someone Comes To Town, Someone Leaves Town. Yeah, yeah, I know. Doctorow is a sanctimonious prick on his weblog, but this was actually pretty good. It would have been better if he had just eliminated all the chapters on wireless internet, though. I was probably more inclined to enjoy this book simply because it takes place in my favorite city.

Orson Scott Card, Magic Street. I found the first half of this to be absolutely compelling, and then about midway through, the wind went out of my sails. In the afterword, the author discusses how when he started writing, he didn’t know who various mysterious characters “were,” in the mythological sense, and then midway through he realized who the archetypes could be, and from that point on writing them got a lot easier. That’s the part where I got bored. For a long time, this sort of thing has been underlying my belief that, all things being equal, sequels are bad, because a fictional world is always better when you haven’t killed it dead with overexploration. Despite this, Card understands that the underlying essence of fiction is character, and not narrative, and thus this is still worth reading.

Tracy Kidder, The Soul of a New Machine. Some random blogger recommended this, but reading it was too much like work.

Scott Westerfeld, Peeps. There’s this webcomic about a library called Unshelved. Every Sunday, he recommends a book. His tastes trend towards sci-fi and fantasy, which is really a shame. Peeps is a take on vampires, with lots of icky description of parasites. The writing was fairly tepid, which was not the case with another Unshelved recommendation…

Lois McMaster Bujold, The Warrior’s Apprentice. Yes, it’s cheesy sci-fi, but enjoyably tart nonetheless.

John Ledyard, The Last Voyage of Captain Cook. Ledyard was a rake and a roustabout who travelled with Captain James Cook on his ill-fated final voyage. This memoir – parts of which were plagiarized from other works – made for interesting reading, especially paired with Google Earth.