James’s 2020 reading list

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  • #302899
    jameskearl
    Participant
    • Topics - 17
    • Replies - 416

    I’m aiming for 25 books this year.

    #302916
    MarFisk
    Moderator
    • Topics - 558
    • Replies - 15,536

    Good luck and enjoy.

    She remakes mechanical devices, and he dreams of becoming a steamship captain in The Steamship Chronicles. Book 1 is free in eBook.
    https://margaretmcgaffeyfisk.com/the-steamship-chronicles/

    #303204
    jameskearl
    Participant
    • Topics - 17
    • Replies - 416

    1. William Gibson – Agency (2020)

    “ONE OF THE MOST VISIONARY, ORIGINAL, AND QUIETLY INFLUENTIAL WRITERS CURRENTLY WORKING”* returns with a sharply imagined follow-up to the New York Times bestselling novel The Peripheral.

    William Gibson has trained his eye on the future for decades, ever since coining the term “cyberspace” and then popularizing it in his classic speculative novel Neuromancer in the early 1980s. Cory Doctorow raved that The Peripheral is “spectacular, a piece of trenchant, far-future speculation that features all the eyeball kicks of Neuromancer.” Now Gibson is back with Agency—a science fiction thriller heavily influenced by our most current events.

    Verity Jane, gifted app whisperer, takes a job as the beta tester for a new product: a digital assistant, accessed through a pair of ordinary-looking glasses. “Eunice,” the disarmingly human AI in the glasses, manifests a face, a fragmentary past, and a canny grasp of combat strategy. Realizing that her cryptic new employers don’t yet know how powerful and valuable Eunice is, Verity instinctively decides that it’s best they don’t.

    Meanwhile, a century ahead in London, in a different time line entirely, Wilf Netherton works amid plutocrats and plunderers, survivors of the slow and steady apocalypse known as the jackpot. His boss, the enigmatic Ainsley Lowbeer, can look into alternate pasts and nudge their ultimate directions. Verity and Eunice are her current project. Wilf can see what Verity and Eunice can’t: their own version of the jackpot, just around the corner, and the roles they both may play in it.

    #303306
    jameskearl
    Participant
    • Topics - 17
    • Replies - 416

    2. David Mitchell – The Bone Clocks (2014)

    “The novelist who’s been showing us the future of fiction” (The Washington Post), David Mitchell delivers a kaleidoscopic, serpentine masterpiece that navigates between characters, eras, and realms of possibility to weave its astonishing spell.

    An eloquent conjurer of intricate, interconnected tales, a genre-bending daredevil, and a master prose stylist—David Mitchell has outdone himself. The Bone Clocks is a hypnotic Rubik’s cube of a novel that begs to be taken apart and put back together long after the final piece is fit into place.

    Following a scalding row with her mother, fifteen year-old Holly Sykes slams the door on her old life. But Holly is no typical teenage runaway: a sensitive child once contacted by voices she knew only as “the radio people,” Holly is a lightning rod for psychic phenomena. Now, as she wanders deeper into the English countryside, visions and coincidences reorder her reality until they assume the aura of a nightmare brought to life.

    For Holly has caught the attention of a cabal of dangerous mystics—and their enemies. But her lost weekend is merely the prelude to a shocking disappearance that leaves her family irrevocably scarred. This unsolved mystery will echo through every decade of Holly’s life, affecting all the people Holly loves—even the ones who are not yet born.

    A Cambridge scholarship boy grooming himself for wealth and influence; a conflicted father who feels alive only while reporting from Occupied Iraq; a middle-aged writer mourning his exile from the bestseller list: all have a part to play in this surreal, invisible war on the margins of our world. From the medieval Swiss Alps to the nineteenth century Australian bush, from a hotel in Shanghai to a Manhattan townhouse in the near future, their stories come together in moments of everyday grace and extraordinary wonder.

    #303433
    jameskearl
    Participant
    • Topics - 17
    • Replies - 416

    3. Mikhail Bulgakov – The Master and Margarita (1966)

    Nothing in the whole of literature compares with The Master and Margarita. One spring afternoon, the Devil, trailing fire and chaos in his wake, weaves himself out of the shadows and into Moscow. Mikhail Bulgakov’s fantastical, funny, and devastating satire of Soviet life combines two distinct yet interwoven parts, one set in contemporary Moscow, the other in ancient Jerusalem, each brimming with historical, imaginary, frightful, and wonderful characters. Written during the darkest days of Stalin’s reign, and finally published in 1966 and 1967, The Master and Margarita became a literary phenomenon, signaling artistic and spiritual freedom for Russians everywhere.

    #303525
    jameskearl
    Participant
    • Topics - 17
    • Replies - 416

    4. Alexandre Dumas – The Count of Monte Cristo (1844)

    Set against the turbulent years of the Napoleonic era, Alexandre Dumas’s thrilling adventure story is one of the most widely read romantic novels of all time. In it the dashing young hero, Edmond Dantes, is betrayed by his enemies and thrown into a secret dungeon in the Chateau d’If — doomed to spend his life in a dank prison cell. The story of his long, intolerable years in captivity, his miraculous escape, and his carefully wrought revenge creates a dramatic tale of mystery and intrigue and paints a vision of France — a dazzling, dueling, exuberant France — that has become immortal.

    #304007
    jameskearl
    Participant
    • Topics - 17
    • Replies - 416

    5. Hilary Mantel – Wolf Hall (2009)

    England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years, and marry Anne Boleyn. The pope and most of Europe oppose him. The quest for the king’s freedom destroys his adviser, the brilliant Cardinal Wolsey, and leaves a power vacuum and a deadlock.

    Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell. The son of a brutal blacksmith, a political genius, a briber, a bully and a charmer, Cromwell has broken all the rules of a rigid society in his rise to power, and is preparing to break some more. Rising from personal disaster – the loss of his young family and of Wolsey, his beloved patron – he picks his way deftly through a court where ‘man is wolf to man.’ Pitting himself against parliament, the political establishment and the papacy, he is prepared to reshape England to his own and Henry’s desires.

    In inimitable style, Hilary Mantel presents a picture of a half-made society on the cusp of change, where individuals fight or embrace their fate with passion and courage. With a vast array of characters, overflowing with incident, Wolf Hall re-creates an era when the personal and political are separated by a hairbreadth, where success brings unlimited power but a single failure means death.

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