Two thumbs up for The Jinn-Bot of Shantiport by Samit Basu. Science fiction.
“Aladdin” meets Snow Crash, with a brother and sister as the leads—a cyborg monkey and a beautiful human travel guide—narrated by a friendly piece of alien intelligence who is trying so very hard. Among all the books I read this year, this one brought me the most pure joy.… >> Read more
Two thumbs up for Free Time: The History of an Elusive Ideal by Gary S. Cross. Nonfiction.
A history of the Western world’s relationship with non-work time, up until the present. Shockingly interesting—the kind of book you keep thinking about. I don’t think I would have read it had it been from an economist’s, a philosopher’s, or a psychologist’s perspective; but the thing that historians have which so often those in other disciplines do not is a much-needed sense of perspective.… >> Read more
Two thumbs up for How God Becomes Real: Kindling the Presence of Invisible Others by T. M. Luhrmann. Anthropology.
It’s really nice to be astonished by something different. This book is—stay with me here—an anthropologist’s analysis of the cross-cultural human ability to make the supernatural or spiritual feel present in our lives by using certain practices (for example: ritual, prayer, meditation, spiritual reading); and about how this is an actual skill, which some people struggle with, and some people do quite naturally, and which can be improved with practice.… >> Read more
Two thumbs up for The City Inside by Samit Basu. Science fiction.
A very-near-future science fiction novella set in Delhi, in which a Reality Manager (read: celebrity social media producer) and a rich family’s black sheep get pulled into multiple conspiracies. Reading this reminded me of Snow Crash more than any other book: it is dense with invention, utterly plausible in its view of the future, and bleakly hilarious due to that very plausibility.… >> Read more
Two thumbs up for Half a Soul by Olivia Atwater. Fantasy historical romance.
In Regency England, a young lady with only half a soul is drawn into faerie magic as well a romance with the ill-tempered Lord Sorcier. Witty, surprisingly thoughtful, a little bit dark (as books with proper fairies in them have to be), and delightfully clever. I read it in one delicious sitting.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for When I’m Gone, Look for Me in the East by Quan Barry. Literature.
A young monk-to-be is sent on a quest across Mongolia to look for the reincarnation of a previous religious master. With him is his twin brother, who was himself named as a reincarnated master as a child, but dropped out of religious life in favor of women and cigarettes.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for The Belle of Belgrave Square by Mimi Matthews. Historical romance.
The ostensible one-line description: A young lady with severe social anxiety and a military hero with a secret enter into a marriage of convenience. The thing is, though, this book is not just better than most other historical romances, it is better than most other books regardless of genre.… >> Read more
Two thumbs up for Matrix by Lauren Groff. Historical fiction.
A fictionalized biography of Marie de France—king’s bastard daughter, abbess, mystic, writer. (She may have been two different Maries in actuality, a fact which I think would amuse the character.) Marie is a badass. A physical giant among women, with an ambition to match. She loves, she fights, she builds, she prays, she outwits her enemies, she plots and plans and often succeeds.… >> Read more