Have you read any good books lately?

When I am not playing with robots, I teach English in a small high school. They are incredibly supportive in many ways, and one of those is through budgeting for classroom library books.

I am wondering if anyone has any recommendations for books I should add to my library. I recieved some incredible recommendations from CD in previous years.

So, any thoughts?

If you are looking for a book to read, lately, I have been loving Andy Weir’s new book, Project Hail Mary.

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I’ve gone through quite a list of books over the last year+ while spending more time at home. Some of my favorites (and note that I’ve been trying to read books by authors with diverse voices that differ from my own experience):

  • “The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett
  • “Year of Wonders” by Geraldine Brooks
  • “The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane” by Lisa See
  • “His Only Wife” by Peace Adzo Medie
  • “The Island of Sea Women” by Lisa See
  • “The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig
  • “A Woman is No Man” by Etaf Rum
  • “The Last Year of the War” by Susan Meissner
  • “Tweet Cute” by Emma Lord
  • “Washington Black” by Esi Edugyan
  • “The Power” by Naomi Alderman
  • “A Fall of Marigolds” by Susan Meissner

Hope that helps!

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My Friday RPG group started playing Shadowrun again (Fantasy Cyberpunk RPG) so I decided I wanted to get into some classic Cyberpunk Fiction, so I picked up, and have just about finished, William Gibson’s “Neuromancer”, and have really enjoyed it. I also grabbed copies of the other two in the trilogy, “Count Zero”, and “Mona Lisa Overdrive”, as well as the short story collection in the same setting “Burning Chrome” (which includes Johnny Mnemonic, which the 1995 movie was based on).

Haven’t read it yet of course, but I’m also planning on buying a copy of “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by Philip K. Dick (which the Bladerunner movie is based on).

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@kronner that is an incredible list. Thank you. @gixxy I love those books. I actually teach Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep in my film class (another incredible thing about this school is we can design elective courses ourselves).

If you are looking into some more cyberpunk, Neal Stephenson is kind of amazing. Snow Crash is a good entry point. It is about a computer virus that spreads to people. There is some overlap with Neromancer, but it is different. There is some adult content in Snow Crash though.

Some of his other books get heavily into gaming.

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I haven’t read too many books lately, but I enjoyed the following back when I read them:

Code Name Ginger by Steve Kemper (story of Dean Kamen and the Segway)
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
iWoz by Steve Wozniak

The most recent I’ve read is Revolution in the Valley by Andy Hertzfeld. It’s all online at https://www.folklore.org/. Once I got into it, I couldn’t let go of it.

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My favorite books from last year were:

  • Dark Matter by Blake Crouch (sci fi)
  • The Memory Police by Yōko Ogawa (dystopian sci fi)

Hope this helps.

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I personally love stories with a deeper meaning. Some of my favorites include:
As I lay dying by William Faulkner
All the pretty horses by Cormac McCarthy

And we always need a great engineering book so I would recommend “Every Book is a hammer” by Adam Savage

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I just finished “A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor” by Hank Green which is the sequel to “An Absolutely Remarkable Thing”, both of which I thing would be good for you if you like Andy Weir’s books. They have a similar how do we solve this crazy problem vibe.

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Every year my English teacher tells her incoming Sophomore class to read the English@Purdue Big Read of the year. This year it’s “Binti” by Nnedi Okorafor. She gave me a copy and I absolutely loved it.

“Spinning Silver” and “Uprooted” are both good books by Naomi Novik.

“The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” is great for science/nonfiction lovers. Also just a very interesting story.

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The Rithmatist - Brandon Sanderson
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
Redwall - Brian Jacques (21 books in the entire seires)
The Giver - Lois Lowry
Mr. Popper Penguins - Florence Atwater and Richard Atwater
Killing Regan - Bill O’Reilley
Going Bovine - Libba Bray

Haven’t read this one, but it looked interesting from the description:

We are Liars - E. Lockhart

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

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Loved all these suggestions, especially The Vanishing Half, Dark Matter, The Midnight Library, and Hank Green’s books.

Some of the my most recent favorites for fantasy/science fiction lovers would be:

  • Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
  • Recursion by Blake Crouch
  • The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab
  • The Humans by Matt Haig
  • The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

And I would always recommend anything John Green has written, especially his new book The Anthropocene Reviewed.

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The best book I’ve read lately would have to be “Midnight and Indigo”, edited by Ianna Small. It’s a really beautiful & fascinating collection of short stories by black women. Genres vary but most of the stories are some flavor of sci-fi, fantasy, or magical realism.

Other good books I’ve read lately, that I think high school kids would probably like:

  • Machine of Death, edited by Ryan North, Matthew Bennardo, & David Malki
  • Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman
  • There There by Tommy Orange

And a couple enduring favorites I loved when I was in high school, that I still enjoy:

  • The Uglies/Pretties/Specials trilogy by Scott Westerfeld
  • Earthborn by Paul Collins (I didn’t love the sequels as much, but YMMV)
  • All of John Green’s books, but especially Paper Towns
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My favorite book I read that I actually bought myself is called “Eight Amazing Engineering Stories: Using the Elements to Create Extraordinary Technologies” by Nick Ziech, Patrick Ryan, and William S. Hammack.

Its a great little Engineering read.

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Here’s what comes to mind from the past couple years:

The Name of the Rose and Foucault’s Pendulum are both fantastic and worth reading. The latter is almost topical, despite being several decades old.

A Wild Sheep Chase is unlike anything else I’ve ever read. It’s quick, it’s gripping, and it has layers. Lots of subtext - I’m sure there’s a lot I’m missing, still, but even so it’s one of my favorite novels.

Half of a Yellow Sun was one of the most painful things I’ve ever read - up there with Night. There’s a sort of tough optimism throughout, but it’s still a gut punch of a novel.

Devil on the Cross was a great read. Incisive satire and social commentary throughout.

Ignition! was recently reprinted. It’s good.

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My most recent book was Liftoff: Elon Musk and the Desperate Early Days That Launched SpaceX by Eric Berger. It’s a quick read with interesting insights from early SpaceX employees.

David

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Oh man… I’d almost forgotten about those books. Man they were a great YA read!

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Thank you all. These are wonderful recommendations. Many of them I have read and loved, many are on my shelves, and some I teach. I also teach The Hitchhiker’s Guide in my film class (I know, the film is not so good). There are also many that I had not heard of before, or forgot (like Hank Greene’s books).

I also forgot to share one of my new favorite authors.
Mary Robinette Kowal has many series, but I am hooked on her Lady Astronaut Chronicles.
Her first book is The Calculating Stars, and it as well as the whole series got me through some rough times over the past year. I am not sure I am qualified to determine hard science fiction from the run-of-the-mill, but in my opinion, her work falls into this category wholeheartedly.

Here is the synopsis from Powells...

On a cold spring night in 1952, a huge meteorite fell to earth and obliterated much of the east coast of the United States, including Washington D.C. The ensuing climate cataclysm will soon render the earth inhospitable for humanity, as the last such meteorite did for the dinosaurs. This looming threat calls for a radically accelerated effort to colonize space, and requires a much larger share of humanity to take part in the process.

Elma York’s experience as a WASP pilot and mathematician earns her a place in the International Aerospace Coalition’s attempts to put man on the moon, as a calculator. But with so many skilled and experienced women pilots and scientists involved with the program, it doesn’t take long before Elma begins to wonder why they can’t go into space, too.

Elma’s drive to become the first Lady Astronaut is so strong that even the most dearly held conventions of society may not stand a chance against her.
/Powells’ description…

How it helped me

The way the Polio epidemic was handled had some stark similarities to COVID (this mostly comes out in later the second book), and when you add an instant catastrophic event at the dawn of the 60s, the state of the world had many similarities to present-day that you would initially think would be true.

The main character’s voice is very similar to my own, and it was helpful to be with her on her journey.

Anyone who loves Dark Matter, I second Recursion.
There is also a neat anthology called Forward that is free (for Prime Members) on Amazon that has many excellent scifi shorts in it. Edit: Many of the authors mentioned here are in it, Blake Crouch, Andy Weir, and others.

@UnofficialForth I have not read We Were Liars either, but many of my students adore it. Also, thank you for mentioning Redwall, I always forget about it, and it is amazing.

I love these recommendations. Thank you all. I will post my list when I finish this weekend.

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I love the Steve Jobs biography and Woz’s autobiography. Consider reading the Elon Musk biography by Ashlee Vance if you’re interested in SpaceX, Tesla, etc.

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I loved the Uglies series as well! And Westerfeld has come out with a sequel series set ~20 years later: so far it’s Impostors/Shatter City/Mirror’s Edge, and they’re possibly even better than the original trilogy.

A few other recs:

  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (very thoughtful and beautifully written contemporary YA with a queer Hispanic protagonist)
  • The 13½ Lives of Captain Bluebear by Walter Moers (a delightful, very atypical fantasy world)
  • Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries by Kory Stamper (hilarious memoir of her time working as an editor at Merriam-Webster with a lot of wonderful information about language, history, etc.)
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Have not read the books yet myself but am a fan of the syfy / amazon series The Expanse. Have heard nothing but great things about the book, think they have 8 of the planned 9 novels out and 10ish short stories.

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