August 9 is National Book Lovers Day — But of course, every day is national book lovers day around here! Since we haven’t talked What’s Rachel Reading for a while, I figured today’s “holiday” provides the perfect excuse for a short round-up of just a few of the books I’ve read and enjoyed recently. I’d love to hear about your faves, too.
Book lovers are library lovers… and I’ve been working my way through the Library Lover’s Mystery series by Jenn McKinlay, from Books Can Be Deceiving through Better Late than Never. These are fun cozy mystery reads featuring librarian Lindsey Norris, with a heavy dash of romance and a fun glimpse into the day-to-day workings of a small town library. As with most cozies, book one shows potential but the series matures and becomes better over time as you get to know the characters — and, as with many cozies, you’ll need to take in some of the events with a heavy suspension of disbelief and an acceptance that such a smart, capable, protagonist can… well… be so stupid. 🙂
Who doesn’t like a good mashup? Here’s one for you: John Kessel’s Pride and Prometheus. Yes, he went there — Pride and Prejudice meets Frankenstein, as Mary Bennett falls for Victor Frankenstein and ends up befriending his creature. Gothic horror? Check. Regency romance? Check. One could wish for a bit more character development here, but, while uneven in spots, Pride and Prometheus is a thoroughly engaging read and a fun twist on both classics.
Feeling locked in? Head On: A Novel of the Near Future is a follow-up to John Scalzi’s earlier novel Lock In. Head On continues the story of a near-future world where a number of people are affected by Haden’s Syndrome, which leaves its victims “locked in” to their bodies, unable to speak or move, but able to participate fully in a virtual environment and control virtual bodies called “threeps.” This gives rise to a future sport where the actual game is played by robot threep bodies controlled virtually by Haden players — until one drops dead on the field. Combining police procedural with believable SF, Head On is as compelling as such previous Scalzi classics as Old Man’s War.
How about some urban fantasy? The short stories in Jim Butcher’s Brief Cases feature professional Chicago wizard Harry Dresden and other characters from the Dresden Files series (and I’d highly recommend starting at the beginning of the series to get all of the background and world building, rather than jumping in with this title). Butcher fans will appreciate the author thought processes outlined in the story intros, plus the additional insight and background on into favorite (and less central) characters. Just as Head On merges SF and police procedural, Brief Cases skillfully combines fantasy and noir.
And as you ironically read this on your screen.. Bored and Brilliant by Manoush Zomorodi explores the premise outlined in the book’s subtitle: “How spacing out can unlock your most productive and creative self.” This isn’t a “put down your phone forever” screed, rather, it combines neuroscience, psychological research, and practical exercises that walk readers through building space for boredom into their lives — in order to give their minds the freedom to unlock creativity, focus, and productivity. Bored and Brilliant builds on an experiment Zomorodi ran with tens of thousands of listeners on her popular “Note to Self” podcast & radio show, and explores ways to reduce the endless busy-ness our gadgets build into our lives. I appreciated the realistic focus on building a balance with the technology in our lives, rather than simply dismissing its potential and throwing away the good along with the bad.
What are you reading this week?
What have you been reading lately? Tell us all about it! And, you can browse all of the What’s Rachel Reading? book reviews here.