Book Recommendations

Sorry about the posting confusion this week. I'll be out on Monday here and on Critical Futures, but everything will be back to normal on Tuesday.

This is a post that I've been working on for a while, and I'm not sure that it's done but I'm fresh out of ideas for more book recommendations. But then, this is a blog, and there's a comment form for a reason, so if I've been remiss and forgotten something important, please do remind me. Enjoy!

I have perpetual fears about not being well read enough. I think this is mostly an existential problem, as I read a bunch, and I've read a lot of stuff in my day. But there's always more, particularly as I think about shifting my academic/intellectual specialty. In any case, I found myself a few weeks ago recommending a science fiction novel that I had read, [1] and I thought it might be good to post a list of recommendations. Not just "books I like," but "books I'd tell you to read if you were looking for something specific."

For people who like military SF and some people who like Heinlein, John Scalzi's Old Man's War is a great deal of fun.

For a great novella/tightly wound plot, Samuel R. Delany's Empire Star and for lingustic sf, the other half of the book, Babel-17. I'm a huge fan. For anyone interested in urban systems and community, Times Square Red/Times Square Blue Amazon is a great read, and is incidentally the most cited source of my college career.

For a very smart, but also very comforting and enjoyable space opera trilogy, Melissa Scott's Five-Twelfths of Heaven Trilogy can't be beat. Her Trouble and her Friends is also a great example of what cyberpunk can be when it's not trying too hard to be the next New Thing.

I don't find myself in a position to recommend mainstream fiction very much, but I am a big fan of Anne Lamott's All New People, and Barbara Kingsolver's Prodigal Summer, which are both clever and fun, and are unabashedly delightful.

Books about writing? Five or more years ago, I would have had a list of books about writing, but as a genre I'm not particularly convinced of their worth/utility or frankly interesting-ness. Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird, is simply amazing, though not particularly for the specific writing related hints. I've always thought that Stephen King's writing book is pompous and sort of unfocused, but admittedly I couldn't even force myself to finish it.

That's what come to mind, do you all have any good recommendations?

[1]I'm not above recommending a book on reputation alone, though I try to disclose this.
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