What Do You Read?

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by JD, Sep 10, 2021.

  1. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I was just curious to see what different kinds of book, comic, or other things my fellow posters like to read. I think I did a thread like this a while back, but we've gotten a lot of new posters since then, so I thought it might be fun to do it again.
    I, of course, read quite a bit of Trek, but when I'm not reading tha I've mostly been reading other tie-ins, especially Star Wars, and original sci-fi and fantasy, some thrillesr, and making of.... books for movies, and TV shows. I've also been thinking about trying some more non-fiction, mostly science and animal books, and possibly some mysteries. For a long time I didn't read much beyond Trek, and so the last few years I've been trying to expand my reading horizons. This pretty much all applies to comics too, although I also read a lot of superhero comics.
     
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  2. dupersuper

    dupersuper Commodore Commodore

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    At the moment: comics. I really want to get back to some novels, but I'm so very behind on comics.
     
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  3. Klingolaus

    Klingolaus Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Aside from Trek:

    Stephen King

    Other kind of thrillers

    History Novels about 16th century England/France

    And I own many books left from my childhood about horses, girl/teenager books etc
     
  4. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

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  5. mastadge

    mastadge Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I read broadly and across genres. I was recently impressed by Veronica Schanoes's collection Burning Girls and Other Stories and am currently enjoying Deesha Philyaw's The Secret Lives of Church Ladies. Some of the best American books of the last decade are Kiese Laymon's Heavy and Robin Wall Kimmerer's Braiding Sweetgrass. I read a lot of popular nonfiction in the fields of public health and ecology and academic nonfiction in my fields when I have the time and bandwidth. I try to keep up with the Best American Essays and Science Writing series each year. In the last few years I've also been reading a lot of books by autistic authors. I'm always torn because I love "projects" such as reading my way through a writer's oeuvre or through a movement but I also love exploring new stuff and as life gets busier and I get older I enjoy comfort reads more too so there's never enough time to get to everything I want to get through.

    Some of my personal favorite writers in the SFF genre are Matthew Woodring Stover and Kage Baker, Graham Joyce and Jeffrey Ford, Becky Chambers and Naomi Kritzer. I think Octavia Butler's vision of future America was better than Cormac McCarthy's. I consider Samuel R. Delany one of the great living American novelists and Frances Hardinge is one of the great YA fantasists. W.E. Bowman is one of the funniest I've ever read. I love the way Eviatar Zerubavel thinks.
     
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  6. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Yes, this is my problem too!

    Some good stuff! I read most of Kage Baker's Company books as they came out, but lost track of it when I went to college; I think either Graveyard Game or The Life of the World to Come was my last. I keep meaning to go back and read it from beginning to end. And yeah, Frances Hardinge is great; The Lie Tree and especially A Skinful of Shadows really knocked me over.
     
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  7. Brendan Moody

    Brendan Moody Vice Admiral Admiral

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    You read at least through The Children of the Company, actually, though you were unimpressed enough by it that I’m not surprised you don’t remember. I don’t see any evidence that you read The Machine’s Child, but no one at the message board where we used to talk about the series seems to have said much about that one so maybe it just never came up.

    Another Kage Baker fan here. She doesn’t get enough love from SF audiences; oddly enough, most of the people I know who read her are also TrekLit fans.
     
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  8. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Haha, I am glad you can tell me this. This made me realize I could just check my reading list, and yeah, it was Children of the Company back in May 2006.

    I think Baker got some love from the hardcore Worldcon-adjacent crowd—she got a lot of Hugo Award and Locus Award nominations—but yeah, that more widespread awareness never really materialized. I never see her mentioned on r/printSF, for example.
     
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  9. Bryan Levy

    Bryan Levy Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    It sounds trite, but I read “everything”. I spent most of the year before quarantine through now reading nothing but Star Trek. If it wasn’t a comic book, I literally only read books that had Star Trek on the cover. And I read a ton of it. I was working at a failing comic book store and could sit around and read for the vast majority of my day, and I was putting away 2-3 a week. Recently, I’ve taken a slight break from Trek and have been reading James Ellory’s LA Quartet and Underworld USA trilogy. Ellroy wrote LA Confidential and Black Dahlia, and if you’re into some really messed up noir, I highly recommend it. Before my Star Trek binge, though, I was reading a ton of Westerns. You can read a Louis Lamour a week for the rest of your life and die without reading all of them, I’m pretty sure. I spent some time reading all the Fletch books, and I read Lord of the Rings every couple of years. I also really like Michael Moorcock, but can generally leave most fantasy behind. Another favorite is Tony Hillerman. He wrote mysteries that take place on an Indian reservation, and while I’m not sure what the optics are of a white man writing those characters these days is, he did a ton of research and lived in the area and had an obvious love for the land and the people. I also read a ton of comics, I’ve recently been reading the first Starman compendium, and was able to pick up some out of print Xenozoic Tales (Caddilacs and Dinosaurs!) trades that I can’t wait to bite in to. I also like cozy mysteries where the lady detective doesn’t know whether she wants to hit the smug liaison to whatever agency or sleep with him.
     
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  10. seigezunt

    seigezunt Vice Admiral Admiral

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    What I read is often based on just what I find cheap or free, or what strikes my fancy at the moment. I usually am reading some classic fiction that's available in Project Gutenberg and Librivox, and am currently trying to read the works of Herman Melville, as well as other obscure works from the 19th Century.

    I often will get fixated on a topic and just try to give myself a college course on it, even going as far as looking at the syllabi to courses at college's online. Last year I read a bunch of books about Native American history in this fashion.

    While I enjoy classics, I don't tend to read much contemporary fiction. There have been exceptions, again, based on me finding a free audiobook (Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is an example). Availability as an ebook or audiobook often plays a role. My "to read" list looks a little bonkers because of that.

    I tend to enjoy nonfiction, especially history and biography. I also read a lot of esoteric stuff. In particular, I find cryptozoology amusing, and I've read an embarrassing amount about the tarot, one of my hobbies.

    And there's whatever I may be reading to my kid at bedtime. Right now that's how I'm getting a number of Trek novels read.

    Also, I will often re-read Stephen King and Tolkien.
     
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  11. Commander Troi

    Commander Troi Adult of Dubious Maturity Premium Member

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    I almost want to shoot a little video of my overflowing library... and the others rooms it's flowed over to! :biggrin:

    For some reason, I had trouble focusing during The Plague, so I haven't been reading as much as usual. I'm working my way through a biography of one of my teenage heroes - Redemption Song: The Ballad of Joe Strummer. This year, I read:
    • Uprooted by Naomi Novik, a terrific stand-alone fantasy novel.
    • Men Explain Things to Me, essays by Rebecca Solnit.
    • Mythmakers and Lawbreakers: Anarchist Writers on Fiction, interviews and edited by Margaret Killjoy
    My comics pull list:
    • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    • Angel & Spike
    • Firefly
    • Legion of Superheroes (if it comes back!)
    • Batman/Catwoman (miniseries)
    I know there are 1 or 2 more, but my memory blanked.
     
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  12. Desert Kris

    Desert Kris Captain Captain

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    I sometimes follows lines of possible influence, out of curiosity. And then sometimes I'll follow the trail back up the line.

    Doctor Who novels have led me to HP Lovecraft, which led to trying other Weird Tales authors such as Robert E. Howard and Clark Ashton Smith. It also led me to dabble in historical fiction. A Doctor Who spin-off, Faction Paradox, led me to a comic called The Invisibles, which was suggested as a possible influence. I also plan to try Ben Aaronavitch's Rivers of London series, and Andrew Cartmel's Vinyl Detective books.

    I read Dunsany because IIRC Tolkien and Lovecraft where interested.

    I read about Lovecraft having an influence on Stephen King; combine with a happy experience reading King's On Writing book means that I now have been reading Stephen King books.

    I've tried the original Ian Flemming books because I like the movies...and plan to try John Le Carre as a comparison of two very different approaches to the spy fiction genre.

    Because I really like Star Wars, I snagged the Valerian comic, and would like to try Galactic Patrol and the Lensman series, and John Carter of Mars, which I've seen cited as influences. I also read Asimov's Foudation trilogy and Frank Herbert's Dune novels, partly because they are classic Sci-fi, and partly because of their influence. Following up the chain I've read some of the Saga comic series given how Brian K. Vaughn indicated that it was his partial response to the prequel movies (rather that gripe about being disappointed, he let inspiration guide him to write the SW story he wanted, in spirit).

    Dungeon and Dragon's Appendix N or E would have eventually led me to Robert E. Howard, but I tried Elric, and would like to try The Dying Earth, as well as Fritz Leiber's series, and the Earthsea books.

    I read tried the first Hornblower novel, because of the Star Trek influence (but it was also to bond with my dad over something he had read and liked).

    This is how I look for the next thing I'm curious to try reading.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2021
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  13. Commander Troi

    Commander Troi Adult of Dubious Maturity Premium Member

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    I've done that, and it can be really fun! I've also done that with bands/music.

    How did you feel about the Bond movies after reading some of the books? My husband loves the books, but I haven't read them, just seen the movies.
     
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  14. mastadge

    mastadge Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I do this too. Sometimes following trails of influences -- who did writers I read cite as great influences and great authors? But also I've found some really interesting books by bibliography delving.
     
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  15. Desert Kris

    Desert Kris Captain Captain

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    I have so many thoughts about this question! The short answer is that my experience of Bond as a franchise is enriched significantly by the experience, back and forth, between the movies and the books. The long answer I hope isn’t too much!

    The most basic shock of the books is the sense of Bond as a police man or detective, just operating on an international scope. It only comes up in the movie Dr. No, with a couple lines describing Bond as a kind of police man. Book Bond’s adventures are cases, like a detective or private eye’s cases, whereas the movie Bond goes on missions (with something of a para-militaristic, special/black-ops flavor, more and more as the movies go on). I’m speaking in broad terms, keep in mind. The books, especially the early books, kind of have a hard-boiled crime/noir quality to them, with an eye on what is legal or illegal, corruption/infiltration, vice, and betrayal.

    I appreciate all the actors who have played Bond in the films, for those moments where they capture an aspect of the original literary Bond. I’m not going to play favorites, all the actors have had their moments where their image/voice fit a moment that I read in one of the Bond books.

    As someone interested in the process of storytelling, and constructing stories, the books are an endless source of fascination to compare with the movies. I was amazed to see how thoroughly the movie Live and Let Die was re-worked and adapted from the book. And it was amazing to read the book, LaLD, and see how cannibalized parts of it became movie LaLD, or a really exciting action set piece in the movie For Your Eyes Only, and yet another component became the inciting incident of Licence to Kill. And then consider movie For Your Eyes Only, which is kind of “cobbled together” from the previously mention bit from LaLD, the short story FYEO and another short story call Risico.

    I never understood something about the nature of the movie From Russia With Love, and much to my surprise I successfully predicted that reading the novel would help me to finally understand the movie. I was right, but that’s the tip of the iceberg. Watching movie FRWL after reading the novel was one of the highlight moments for me as a James Bond fan. Now I finally do understand the movie, but I was in awe with how the innovations of the movie-making process result in taking the story line to new levels of greatness. And yet there are still aspects of the book I prefer. I like the book version being about Smersh, which Bond had something of a grudge against (because of the books’ version of the Vesper tragedy). I was never a fan of Spectre, so that’s not a win for the movie, but the movie makes the plot about capturing the coding machine more cunning and intricate. And the cinematic desire to include the involvement of the actor playing Red Grant, so he wasn’t neglected as an actor/character, resulted in having him added into scenes later on in production. That improvisation with the character gives the film/story a whole new layer of sneaking subterfuge throughout the film that was sublimely satisfying to experience.

    The first five books I read with an eye towards the possible outcome that there might originally have only been five novels, ending with FRWL. James Bond was suppose to die at the end. It would be interesting if the Daniel Craig movies played it out that way as a parallel to the first five novels: James Bond has five major stories of note, and then the character dies. Given that Ian Flemming originally intended it that way (much like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle tried to do with Sherlock Holmes), I played a little bit of make-believe in my mind, to honor that intention. I didn’t treat it as a cliffhanger, because that wasn’t the original intention. I would read the next one, Doctor No, with the question in my mind “Does James Bond actually come back to life, in a spiritual sense? Will he be the same character, or will he be different, changed in some way?”

    I was surprised by how thrilling Doctor No was. I can’t remember the last book that I read where I literally had the thought, “This book is so thrilling, it is literally a Thriller novel.” I really was on the edge of my seat. I can’t believe how over-the-top it gets, and yet was still a great, coherent, exciting read. A thing happens near the end that I can never imagine in a JB movie, and so many JB movies have been over-the-top in ways that the books never were...yet I can’t imagine the movies ever adapting this thing that happens in the novel version of Doctor No. I have no idea why this is, how come I can’t explain why I feel this way. It makes every kind of sense that they picked that one for the first JB movie...yet, I think it could have been adapted into a better movie at a later time.

    Underwater adventures in the books are awesome! Some of the best stuff. And it's easy to not be confused, as a reader it's simple because we stay in Bond's head. Many underwater sequences in the movies are confusing, both before and after reading the books, especially if all the characters are wearing scuba gear and it's hard to tell who is who. The movie's underwater sequences in that vein improve mainly through re-watching enough times.

    One aspect that I do not enjoy about the books is the torture aspect. There’s a scene in book Casino Royale, which made the movie adaptation fit in with the films of the time, when cinema seemed to go through a torture-porn phase. None of the books after CR goes to that extreme, but Bond is always roughed up pretty badly in just about all the books. I actually have been enjoying the For Your Eyes Only anthology (eighth book in the series, I think), because there isn’t time for it, so Bond gets a break from serious pain. The books actually clarify that one of Bond’s personnel files specifically mentions he has a high tolerance for pain (I think that might be Smersh’s file on him). I am hugely glad that this aspect isn’t emphasized in the movies.

    I love the feeling of having the books as a distinctive version of JB continuity, along with roughly two cinematic continuities (Dr. No through Die Another Day as one, and the Daniel Craig films as the other). To some extent I’m a film fan first and the books are a look into the source material. The books seem like a good baseline for the movies that do the whole “back to basics” approach, or make Bond more grounded. The movies periodically goes crazy and then dial things back. They go crazy with the movie You Only Live Twice...and back to basics with On Her Majesty’s. Moonraker is too crazy, so here’s FYEO to ground things in gritty reality. DAD went nuts, so then we get Casino Royale to re-calibrate. My favorite Bond movies are those ones that go back to basics, and that’s seems to be when they go back to the source to anchor or re-anchor the movies.

    It’s neat to go to the source material, read the books and let them be more than just source material for the movies, but having their own identity. And then compare and see the movies and reflect on how they have developed their own identity beyond the inspiration of the source material.

    There are small details from the books that I sometimes wonder about if they inform the movies’ character. The Moonraker novel is a very, very grounded book that shows what James Bond’s everyday life might look like, between missions/cases. He works in an office most of the time, and 2 or 3 times a year might get tapped for a mission. He reads or skims boring paperwork for in-the-field information (methods for uses and types of poison in a particular country, for example) and sometimes signs off on them without reading. He spends money, even big money winnings rapidly, because he figures there is no point in saving money, because he won’t live long enough to spend it later: he honestly doesn’t believe he will retire in good health. Think about that. His office is shared between three people, himself and two other double-O’s, and they have their own secretary (not Moneypenny). And that’s all the double-O section is, in the books. FRWL novel shows him go a year without assignment and going stir-crazy. The Goldfinger book shows him stuck on night duty in the office. And Moonraker ends by evoking for me, in spirit, the image that opens so many of the movies: Bond is aware that even though (in the books) he’s an international law enforcement officer, outsiders find the profession mysterious, and consequently regard him as mysterious. In an unselfish moment, he doesn’t try and charm a nice girl away from her fiance, chooses to scare her away from himself, and embraces that cold quality of being an unknowable, dangerous man of mystery, nothing more than a silhouette...framed in the circle of a gun barrel.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2021
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  16. Frisco Del Rosario

    Frisco Del Rosario Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    I read DS9 and TNG novels.

    I also read sports (baseball, basketball) history and biographies, and lots and lots of chess literature, which I have to re-read repeatedly if it's helpful for me or other chess students.

    Last book I read was Bad Blood, the Theranos story by Wall Street Journal reporter whose newspaper work was the beginning of the end for Theranos.
     
  17. Steve Roby

    Steve Roby Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    Because of a number of developments over the last couple of years, I just haven't had the concentration for much real reading. Sure, it'd be nice to finally finish Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey and Maturin books, beginning with a reread of the ones I read twenty years ago, or to reread Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun or Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast books or James Ellroy's LA Quartet, but it's just been easier to binge watch Netflix or whatever. So, a fair amount of Doctor Who and Star Trek books, the occasional pulp crime novel, a bit of Lovecraftian stuff, and a few music books. Lately I've been trying to put a dent in my Big Finish audio backlog, which means less reading time.
     
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  18. flandry84

    flandry84 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Ditto the Aubrey/Maturin books.
    I read a lot of crime fiction,hard-boiled stuff or police procedurals but not so called domestic noir.
    I would like to say that I read a lot of sci-fi but I don’t anymore.
    All that said I would read a lot more if I sometimes left this pad aside.
     
  19. DrBeverly

    DrBeverly Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    I normally read a lot of literary fiction - both contemporary British/American fiction (I'm currently reading Delia Owens' Where The Crawdads Sing and recently finished Shuggie Bain, by Douglas Stuart) and translated fiction from across the world, largely Central/Eastern Europe and Latin America at the moment, with a bit of French, German, Spanish and Far East in there. The latter is often quite challenging, so Star Trek novels are generally my 'switch-off' fiction for when I need to relax between more difficult reads!
     
  20. USS Firefly

    USS Firefly Commodore Commodore

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    Mapping Smallville critical essays on the series and its characters