James’s 2018 reading list

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Viewing 13 posts - 16 through 28 (of 28 total)
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  • #258284
    jameskearl
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    • Topics - 17
    • Replies - 416

    16. Michael Ondaatje – The Cat’s Table (2011)

    In the early 1950s in Ceylon an eleven-year-old boy is put alone aboard a ship bound for England. At mealtimes he is seated at the insignificant “cat’s table”–as far from the Captain’s table as can be–with two other lone boys and a small group of strange fellow passengers: one appears to be a shadowy figure from the British Secret Service; another a mysterious thief, another seems all too familiar with the dangerous ways of women and crime. On the long sea voyage across the Indian Ocean and through the Suez Canal, the three boys rush from one wild adventure and startling discovery to another: experiencing the first stirrings of desire, spying at night on a notorious shackled prisoner, moving easily between the decks and holds of the ship. As the secretive adult world is slowly revealed, they begin to realize that a drama is unfolding on board, and the prisoner’s crime and fate will be a galvanizing mystery that will haunt them and link them forever.

    #258285
    jameskearl
    Participant
    • Topics - 17
    • Replies - 416

    17. Neal Stephenson – Seveneves (2015)

    From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Anathem, Reamde, and Cryptonomicon comes an exciting and thought-provoking science fiction epic—a grand story of annihilation and survival spanning five thousand years.

    What would happen if the world were ending?

    A catastrophic event renders the earth a ticking time bomb. In a feverish race against the inevitable, nations around the globe band together to devise an ambitious plan to ensure the survival of humanity far beyond our atmosphere, in outer space.

    But the complexities and unpredictability of human nature coupled with unforeseen challenges and dangers threaten the intrepid pioneers, until only a handful of survivors remain…

    Five thousand years later, their progeny—seven distinct races now three billion strong—embark on yet another audacious journey into the unknown… to an alien world utterly transformed by cataclysm and time: Earth.

    A writer of dazzling genius and imaginative vision, Neal Stephenson combines science, philosophy, technology, psychology, and literature in a magnificent work of speculative fiction that offers a portrait of a future that is both extraordinary and eerily recognizable. As he did in Anathem, Cryptonomicon, the Baroque Cycle, and Reamde, Stephenson explores some of our biggest ideas and perplexing challenges in a breathtaking saga that is daring, engrossing, and altogether brilliant.

    #258286
    jameskearl
    Participant
    • Topics - 17
    • Replies - 416

    18. Cormac McCarthy – Outer Dark (1968)

    Outer Dark is a novel at once fabular and starkly evocative, set is an unspecified place in Appalachia, sometime around the turn of the century. A woman bears her brother’s child, a boy; he leaves the baby in the woods and tells her he died of natural causes. Discovering her brother’s lie, she sets forth alone to find her son. Both brother and sister wander separately through a countryside being scourged by three terrifying and elusive strangers, headlong toward an eerie, apocalyptic resolution.

    #258287
    jameskearl
    Participant
    • Topics - 17
    • Replies - 416

    19. Voltaire – Candide (1759)

    Evergreen in its appeal, Candide makes us laugh at human folly and marvel at our reluctance to face reality and the truth. Voltaire’s brilliant satire, first published in Paris in 1759, is relentless and unsparing. Virtue and vice, religion and romance, philosophy and science — all are fair game.

    Through the adventures of young Candide, his love Cunégonde, and his mentor Dr. Pangloss, we experience life’s most crushing misfortunes. And we see the redeeming wisdom those misfortunes can bring — all the while enjoying Voltaire’s witty burlesque of human excess.

    #258288
    jameskearl
    Participant
    • Topics - 17
    • Replies - 416

    20. Margaret Atwood – The Heart Goes Last (2015)

    Imagining a world where citizens take turns as prisoners and jailers, the prophetic Margaret Atwood delivers a hilarious yet harrowing tale about liberty, power, and the irrepressibility of the human appetite.

    Several years after the world’s brutal economic collapse, Stan and Charmaine, a married couple struggling to stay afloat, hear about the Positron Project in the town of Consilience, an experiment in cooperative living that appears to be the answer to their problems – to living in their car, to the lousy jobs, to the vandalism and the gangs, to their piled-up debt. There’s just one drawback: once inside Consilience, you don’t get out. After weighing their limited options, Stan and Charmaine sign up, and soon they find themselves involved in the town’s strategy for economic stability: a pervasive prison system, whereby each citizen lives a double life, as a prisoner one month, and a guard or town functionary the next. At first, Stan and Charmaine enjoy their newfound prosperity. But when Charmaine becomes romantically involved with the man who shares her civilian house, her actions set off an unexpected chain of events that leave Stan running for his life. Brilliant, dark, and provocative, The Heart Goes Last is a compelling futuristic vision that will drive readers to the edge of their seats.

    #258289
    jameskearl
    Participant
    • Topics - 17
    • Replies - 416

    21. Jeff VanderMeer – Annihilation (2014)

    Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization, and the government is involved in sending secret missions to explore Area X. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another; the members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer.

    Annihilation opens with the twelfth expedition. The group is composed of four women, including our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain and collect specimens; to record all of their observations, scientific and otherwise; and, above all, to avoid succumbing to the unpredictable effects of Area X itself.

    What they discover shocks them: first, a massive topographic anomaly that does not appear on any map; and second, life forms beyond anything they’re equipped to understand. But it’s the surprises that came across the border with them that change everything—the secrets of the expedition members themselves, including our narrator. What do they really know about Area X—and each other?

    #258290
    jameskearl
    Participant
    • Topics - 17
    • Replies - 416

    22. Jeff VanderMeer – Authority (2014)

    The much anticipated second instalment in VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy

    In Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer introduced the mysteries of Area X-a remote and lush terrain mysteriously sequestered from civilization. It was the first volume of a projected trilogy; well in advance of publication, translation rights had sold all around the world, and a major movie deal had been struck. Just months later, the second volume is here.

    For thirty years, the only human engagement with Area X has taken the form of a series of expeditions monitored by a secret agency called the Southern Reach. After the disastrous twelfth expedition chronicled in Annihilation, the Southern Reach is in disarray, and John Rodriguez (a.k.a. “Control”) is the team’s newly appointed head. From a series of interrogations, a cache of hidden notes and hours of profoundly troubling video footage, the secrets of Area X begin to reveal themselves-and what they expose pushes Control to confront disturbing truths about both himself and the agency he’s promised to serve. And the consequences will reach much farther than that.

    #258291
    jameskearl
    Participant
    • Topics - 17
    • Replies - 416

    23. Jeff VanderMeer – Acceptance (2014)

    The third and final book in VanderMeer’s acclaimed Southern Reach Trilogy.

    It is winter in Area X. A new team embarks across the border, on a mission to find a member of a previous expedition who may have been left behind. As they press deeper into the unknown-navigating new terrain and new challenges-the threat to the outside world becomes only more daunting. In this last installment of the Southern Reach Trilogy, the mysteries of Area X may have been solved, but their consequences and implications are no less profound-or terrifying.

    #258269
    jameskearl
    Participant
    • Topics - 17
    • Replies - 416

    24. John Crowley – Little, Big (1981)

    John Crowley’s masterful Little, Big is the epic story of Smoky Barnable, an anonymous young man who travels by foot from the City to a place called Edgewood—not found on any map—to marry Daily Alice Drinkwater, as was prophesied. It is the story of four generations of a singular family, living in a house that is many houses on the magical border of an otherworld. It is a story of fantastic love and heartrending loss; of impossible things and unshakable destinies; and of the great Tale that envelops us all. It is a wonder.

    #258292
    jameskearl
    Participant
    • Topics - 17
    • Replies - 416

    25. Hermann Hesse – Siddhartha (1951)

    Here the spirituality of the East and the West have met in a novel that enfigures deep human wisdom with a rich and colorful imagination.

    Written in a prose of almost biblical simplicity and beauty, it is the story of a soul’s long quest in search of he ultimate answer to the enigma of man’s role on this earth. As a youth, the young Indian Siddhartha meets the Buddha but cannot be content with a disciple’s role: he must work out his own destiny and solve his own doubt – a tortuous road that carries him through the sensuality of a love affair with the beautiful courtesan Kamala, the temptation of success and riches, the heartache of struggle with his own son, to final renunciation and self-knowledge.

    The name Siddhartha” is one often given to the Buddha himself – perhaps a clue to Hesse’s aims in contrasting the traditional legendary figure with his own conception, as a European (Hesse was Swiss), of a spiritual explorer. “

    #258293
    jameskearl
    Participant
    • Topics - 17
    • Replies - 416

    26. Stephen King – The Outsider (2018)

    An unspeakable crime. A confounding investigation. At a time when the King brand has never been stronger, he has delivered one of his most unsettling and compulsively readable stories.

    An eleven-year-old boy’s violated corpse is found in a town park. Eyewitnesses and fingerprints point unmistakably to one of Flint City’s most popular citizens. He is Terry Maitland, Little League coach, English teacher, husband, and father of two girls. Detective Ralph Anderson, whose son Maitland once coached, orders a quick and very public arrest. Maitland has an alibi, but Anderson and the district attorney soon add DNA evidence to go with the fingerprints and witnesses. Their case seems ironclad.

    As the investigation expands and horrifying answers begin to emerge, King’s propulsive story kicks into high gear, generating strong tension and almost unbearable suspense. Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy, but is he wearing another face? When the answer comes, it will shock you as only Stephen King can.

    #258294
    jameskearl
    Participant
    • Topics - 17
    • Replies - 416

    27. Paige Cooper – Zolitude (2018)

    WINNER OF THE 2018 QUEBEC WRITERS’ FEDERATION CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY FIRST BOOK PRIZE

    LONGLISTED FOR THE 2018 SCOTIABANK GILLER PRIZE

    FINALIST FOR THE 2018 GOVERNOR GENERAL’S LITERARY AWARD FOR FICTION

    A GLOBE AND MAIL BEST BOOK OF 2018

    A QUILL & QUIRE BOOK OF THE YEAR

    Fantastical, magnetic, and harsh—these are the women in Paige Cooper’s debut short story collection Zolitude. They are women who built time machines when they were nine, who buy plane tickets for lovers who won’t arrive. They are sisters writhing with dreams, blasé about sex but beggared by love—while the police horses have talons and vengeance is wrought by eagles the size of airplanes. Broken-down motorbikes and housebroken tyrannosaurs, cheap cigarettes and mail bombs—Cooper finds the beautiful and the disturbing in both the surreal and the everyday. Troubling, carnal, and haunting, these stories are otherworldly travelogues through banal, eco-fabulist dystopias. Zolitude is a gorgeous, sad, and sexy work of slipstream and an atlas of fantastic isolation. The monstrous is human here, and tender.

    #258295
    jameskearl
    Participant
    • Topics - 17
    • Replies - 416

    28. Dav Pilkey – Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants (2000)

    New York Times bestselling author Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants soars to greater heights with the breakthrough fourth book-now in full color!

    George and Harold are fourth-grade buddies with a penchant for practical jokes. When the boys’ latest prank drives their science teacher over the edge, their clueless principal, Mr. Krupp, quickly hires a replacement: Professor Pippy P. Poopypants. Of course, George and Harold can’t resist making fun of the Professor’s silly name. But then the Professor retaliates by forcing everyone in town to change their own names to be equally silly, with colossal consequences!

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