Reading

What have I been reading? Sometimes I forget. Goodreads can only get me so far. I want to meditate on books, essays, and stories. Starting from 2021, I will make an effort to consciously reflect on every book I read. There will be summaries, ideas, thoughts, and side-stories.

The lathe of heaven

Ursula's affinity with the Tao really shines through in this story. When everything about the world is changing constantly, how do we practice feeling at peace with it?

★★★★★

By Ursula K. Le Guin

Finished on 2024-06-01

I hear you're rich

Picked it up purely because of the cover quote by The Paris Review: The godmother of flash fiction. Its stories dance somewhere between poetry and short fiction.

★★★★

By Diane Williams

Finished on 2024-05-11

Notes on grief

A short but powerful collage of emotions mixed up in the death of her father.

★★★★★

By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Finished on 2024-05-06

Blockchain chicken farm

A beautiful collection of essays that gives an intuition for the stark contrasts in China's society between the countryside and the metropoles.

★★★★★

By Xiaowei Wang

Finished on 2024-04-21

Dune Messiah

It's frustrating but at the same time inspiring for its willfull dismantling of the hero's journey.

★★★★

By Frank Herbert

Finished on 2024-03-24

Kitchen

A tender story on grief and loss of one's guardian. Refreshingly honest about the unstereotypical mundanity of real life.

★★★

By Banana Yoshimoto

Finished on 2024-02-26

Never let me go

Simple and precise prose that paints one of the most human stories I've ever read. The characters are so tender, even more so as we start to fathom the true reason for their existence.

★★★★★

By Kazuo Ishiguro

Finished on 2024-01-31

Winnie-the-Pooh

Cute and silly adventures that have aged pretty well, to be honest. Though there is something odd about this book.

★★★

By A.A. Milne

Finished on 2024-01-08

System collapse

Half of the time was spent in some mildly-engaging action sequences and it made me realize that I like the Murderbot Diaries more for its worldbuilding of a weirdly hopeful dystopian spacefaring future.

★★★

By Martha Wells

Finished on 2024-01-05

The empress of salt and fortune

A cute little (fairy)-tale in a surprisingly fleshed out world.

★★★

By Nghi Vo

Finished on 2023-12-07

Bloodchild and other stories

Amazing and somber short stories by a unique writer. The grit and persistence of Octavia can be felt throughout her work. And it's admirable.

★★★★★

By Octavia E. Butler

Finished on 2023-11-01

The mountain in the sea

A tender and well-researched story, but lacking in its climactic conclusiveness.

★★★

By Ray Nayler

Finished on 2023-10-07

Talking to my daughter about the economy, or, how capitalism works—and how it fails

Accessible and honestly pragmatic introduction to key institutions in modern economies.

★★★★

By Yanis Varoufakis

Finished on 2023-09-15

The Other Wind

The concluding story of Earthsea. A culmination of Ursula's beautiful prose and thoughtful fantasy. We go along with events that mend the world by breaking the world.

★★★★★

By Ursula K. Le Guin

Finished on 2023-09-11

Tales from Earthsea

Five tales that explore the fascinating Earthsea world. Loved them all for their quiet tone, beautiful prose, and inspiring voice.

★★★★★

By Ursula K. Le Guin

Finished on 2023-08-20

Yumi and the Nightmare Painter

A funny book that feels shallow on all other emotional themes at the same time. I have the feeling that I cannot enjoy Sanderson's books blissfully anymore ever since reading that profile in Wired.

★★★

By Brandon Sanderson

Finished on 2023-08-03

The Wandering Earth

Many inspiring stories and explorations of "first-contact" type plots, and other grand ideas. Cixin Liu crafts these into exceptionally insightful reflections on what our human society actually entails.

★★★★★

By Cixin Liu

Finished on 2023-07-21

The Overstory

An amazing exercise in experiencing time and earth more like trees. It is a beautiful critique of humanity's collective blindness to the damage we're bringing to the natural world.

★★★★

By Richard Powers

Finished on 2023-07-10

The graveyard book

A delightful children's book that trods along enjoyably and by the end had me more emotionally invested than I anticipated.

★★★★

By Neil Gaiman

Finished on 2023-05-06

Quiet pine trees

There are truly inspiring gems of microfiction in here, but reading them in book form is a shallow exercise. They are clearly meant for microblogging platforms, where they intersperse one's other countless number of toots and tweets as welcome nuggets of fantasy.

★★

By T.R. Darling

Finished on 2023-03-08

How to live

Its subtitle is "27 conflicting answers and one weird conclusion". And these life lessons truly are conflicting, but that makes them all the more real.

★★★★★

By Derek Sivers

Finished on 2023-03-02

Tress of the Emerald Sea

Lovely tale, where my normal critique of YA novels is internalized as Hoid's voice. Namely, that emotions and feelings tend to be described more directly. Kind of like prescribing the reader how they should feel.

★★★★

By Brandon Sanderson

Finished on 2023-02-03

The player of games

A space opera-esque allegory with chess-vibes. It is interesting to finally read serious utopian worlds (i.e., The Culture). Except that even utopian worlds are not always so utopian; where AI minds rule with calculated shrewdness.

★★★★

By Ian Banks

Finished on 2023-01-13

Seven brief lessons on physics

As it says about itself, this book is truly written for an audience that knows little about modern science. In that context, it does a reasonable job at invoking the wonder that science can bring.

★★★

By Carlo Rovelli

Finished on 2022-12-23

Legends and Lattes

I had gotten the impression that many people around the internet really loved this book to the point that they put it in their top books of the year. But honestly, I didn't find it to live up to those expectations.

★★★

By Travis Baldree

Finished on 2022-12-11

Kindred

This story made me get a feel for slavery in the antebellum South of the United States in a way that nothing else has ever done before. It is an incredibly powerful tale, filled with expertly written tension.

★★★★★

By Octavia E. Butler

Finished on 2022-11-27

De dikke bende van De Korenwolf

De bende van De Korenwolf is a classic Dutch children's book series. But I had never read any of the stories when I was child myself. Noemi told me how she loved these when she was little, so I figured I'd pick up a book to read through it.

★★★★

By Jacques Vriens

Finished on 2022-11-21

Exhalation

His second collection of short stories is equally surgical, but more touching. Ted has always been very strong in his imaginative science-fiction, and this bundle again contains many interesting concepts worked out in ways that truly made me ponder them in more depth.

★★★★

By Ted Chiang

Finished on 2022-11-09

Land of Big Numbers

Te-Ping's stories convey the normalcy of humanity exceptionally well, most of all. Otherwise, they inspire little will to be exceptional, and gave me more of a creeping feeling that the individual differences between people are all relatively minute.

★★★

By Te-Ping Chen

Finished on 2022-10-19

Red Seas Under Red Skies

The plot of this second book in the series is kind of all over the place, and I did not entirely enjoy that.

★★★

By Scott Lynch

Finished on 2022-08-06

The Lies of Locke Lamora

Very satisfying grand fantasy that has strong dialogue and plot that kept me engaged.

★★★★

By Scott Lynch

Finished on 2022-07-17

Tehanu

A beautiful perspective on Earthsea from the unheroes, ordinary people---our people. This book tells a wonderfully tender and loving story. It is rich for the woman's wisdom.

★★★★★

By Ursula K. Le Guin

Finished on 2022-07-07

The Dawn of Everything

This genre-bending doorstopper is amazing. It shifted my perspective and worldview through which I interpret and understand humanity's past, all the way to its current and future challenges.

★★★★★

By David Graeber and David Wengrow

Finished on 2022-06-22

A psalm for the wild-built

A subtle and peaceful perspective on the future, where humans and robots live apart. In Becky Chambers's fashion: mostly character and worldbuilding, little plot.

★★★

By Becky Chambers

Finished on 2022-05-28

The word for world is forest

An incredibly beautiful denunciation of the Vietnam war, through Hainish analogy. Subtly but unambiguously captures raw human brutality.

★★★★★

By Ursula K. Le Guin

Finished on 2022-03-27

Stories of your life and others

Ted writes surgically precise sci-fi, and he does it by blending credible science and deeply human emotional beats. Its effects did inspire less imagination in me than JLB's work, however.

★★★★

By Ted Chiang

Finished on 2022-03-18

The Aleph and other stories

These short stories are beautifully efficient metaphysical explorations coated in deliciously erudite magical realism.

★★★★★

By Jorge Luis Borges

Finished on 2022-02-12

Raybearer

A fast-paced and enjoyable story in West African environments fresh to the fantasy genre.

★★★★

By Jordan Ifueko

Finished on 2022-01-29

Man's search for meaning

I found this book to be a beautiful journey towards grasping human meaning. Victor offers a truly insightful and utterly human account of his experiences in concentration camps.

★★★★

By Victor E. Frankl

Finished on 2022-01-10

The Fellowship of the Ring

The original English editions are beautifully and eloquently written, to a degree that is rare in current works of fantasy, partly because it signifies a more formal bygone time of the previous century.

★★★★★

By J.R.R. Tolkien

Finished on 2021-12-31

How long 'til black future month?

Jemisin does not mess around and writes short stories that pack a punch and hit their story beats very efficiently.

★★★

By N.K. Jemisin

Finished on 2021-11-30

Lao Tzu Tao Te Ching

This translation is beautiful. Ursula's prose and poetry are a vessel of unbeknownst resonance for this subject matter.

★★★★★

By Ursula K. Le Guin

Finished on 2021-10-31

Dune

This classic story is sublimely epic in scope and you feel this every beautiful section of prose that hints at worlds, cultures, religions, and motives.

★★★★

By Frank Herbert

Finished on 2021-10-28

To be taught, if fortunate

This novella is an amazingly humane glance at what science fiction also has to offer. It blesses the reader with hope, inspiration, and empathy for human exploration of space and the big Why.

★★★★★

By Becky Chambers

Finished on 2021-09-25

A ruin of shadows

This is a nice little short story, in which we experience the ethical transformation of the ruthless general Daynja Édo who is employed by the Boorhian Empire.

★★★

By L.D. Lewis

Finished on 2021-09-18

Out of your mind

The cosmic game of hide and seek; a brilliant introduction to parts of human philosophy grossly under-represented in Western society.

★★★★★

By Alan Watts

Finished on 2021-09-11

Do androids dream of electric sheep?

It is actually a concrete story and not just this daunting monument of classic science fiction that I had envisioned in my mind.

★★★★

By Philip K. Dick

Finished on 2021-08-30

City of bones

This book delivers a satisfying story in a post-apocalyptic fantasy world with imaginative worldbuilding, but nothing blazing-your-pants-off epic.

★★★

By Martha Wells

Finished on 2021-08-20

Fugitive telemetry

The Murderbot Diaries has become my most beloved series in recent years. This sixth entry lives up to the level of comfort reads I've come to expect of it.

★★★★★

By Martha Wells

Finished on 2021-07-20

The conquest of happiness

Bertrand's position on happiness reads straightforwardly, but it actually takes quite some introspection to formulate it as such.

★★★

By Bertrand Russell

Finished on 2021-07-14

Letter to my daughter

It's a beautiful collection of short but powerfully brimming texts, on racism, but really, on humanity itself.

★★★★

By Maya Angelou

Finished on 2021-06-12

Orsinian Tales

Ursula's stories are magical. Though this bundle was a little harder to get through.

★★

By Ursula K. Le Guin

Finished on 2021-06-08

Snow Crash

Snow Crash is a fascinating cyberpunk classic with great world building but a plot that does not live up to the same enthusiasticism.

★★★

By Neal Stephenson

Finished on 2021-05-30

Africanfuturism An Anthology

A bit dull. The futurism in the stories did little resonating with me. This should not be an issue in itself, but sadly most stories were not very engaging either. They lacked significant progress or character progression.

★★

By Wole Talabi (anthologist) and contributors

Finished on 2021-04-19

Kiss me twice

A great novella that pulls you in for an engaging ride where you won't even notice that you are just reading a novella.

★★★★★

By Mary Robinette Kowal

Finished on 2021-04-13

The House in the Cerulean Sea

T.J.'s wholesome story that ignites (if it wasn't there yet) a sense of wonder about our world.

★★★★

By T.J. Klune

Finished on 2021-04-04

Numbers don't lie

An amazing exercise in developing wordly intuition based on realism.

★★★

By Vaclav Smil

Finished on 2021-03-26

Agency

Essays on the ability to take action that I found to be leaning heavily towards the introspection side, while still conveying surprisingly concrete points.

★★★★

By Michael Smith, Scott Alexander, Eliezer Yudowsky, Kaj Sotala, Raymond Arnold

Finished on 2021-03-14

Glass and Gardens Solarpunk Summers

The solarpunk genre is a promising new sound, and I enjoy the generally upbeat worlds, characters, and stories. However, some of these explorations forget to include much story.

★★

By Sarena Ulibarri (anthologist) and contributors

Finished on 2021-03-05

Epistemology

After introducing me to the word epistemology, the essays in this book gave me exceptionally well-crafted ideas on thinking, argumentation, and communication.

★★★★

By Ben Pace, Alkjash, Elizer Yudkowsky, Patrick LaVictoire, Scott Alexander, Sarah Constantin, Abraham Demski

Finished on 2021-03-03

On Love

An amazingly well written narration with enviable depth of thought.

★★★

By Alain de Botton

Finished on 2021-02-17

Notes of a native son

James Baldwin's collection of essays has been powerful, in both message and prose.

★★★

By James Baldwin

Finished on 2021-02-08