Listopia: One to go, eight left

Whazzup folks? It’s almost the end of 2017! This year has been a great one, I think, with quite a few surprising turn of events. Currently, I am one book short of my Goodreads book challenge. I am pretty confident in my capabilities to finish the challenge 🙂

So the question remains, which of the nine books that I’m currently reading is going to be the last one for 2017? My guess is that there will be time to finish two more books during 2017.

In statistical terms, 2017 comes down to the following facts:

  • 29 books
  • 8973 pages
  • Shortest book read: 144 pages
  • Longest book read: 560 pages
  • Average length: 309 pages
  • Average rating for a book: 3.6 / 5
  • My most popular book: Neuromancer by William Gibson read by 325,803
    persons in the Goodreads community
  • Highest rated on Goodreads: 4.0 / 5 for A Rumor of War by Philip Caputo

My recommendations are based on the feeling I have of the book, without having finished any of them as of yet.

Here mini recommendations on the books that I’m currently reading:

Frank Herbert: Dune (1965)

This is a classic which doesn’t need much of an introduction. Dune is like a mix of the Foundation series by Asimov and the kinda nice person version of Hard To Be a God by the Strugatsky brothers. So, in short, science fiction goes medieval and plot thickens around power issues.

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” ~Frank Herbert

Stanisław Lem: Fiasco (1986)

Lem is absolutely among the most sympathetic writers of all time. His characters are very lovable. With Fiasco, I only got started so I cannot say much about the book. It had an intriguing start, though. The bigger-than-life-character Pirx the Pilot appears but is lost. So am waiting to hear – and hoping – that he is alright. Let’s see if he located in the book and can continue his mischievous adventures in the wide spheres of the galaxy.

And common sense? It is that which is understood by an intelligence using senses no different from those of a baboon. Such an intelligence wishes to know the world in terms that apply to its terrestrial, biological niche. But the world—outside that niche, that incubator of sapient apes—has properties that one cannot take in hand, see, sniff, gnaw, listen to, and in this way appropriate.”~Stanisław Lem

J.G. Ballard: The Complete Short Stories (2001)

I am looking into a silent world.” ~J.G. Ballard

The Complete Short Stories is true to its title: a megalomanic collection of short stories in about 1200 pages. I’ll always love Ballard. There’s the guy who went his own ways, cared shit for what others thought and provocatively had a unique style. He gave us glimpses of what it is to be human without being condescending or hypocritical. After all, there is no denying it – we are twisted creatures.

He had a crazy childhood in China, maybe one would be a non-mainstream writer as well if one underwent a shit-crazy phase in life. And many of us did or do have interesting phases of life that are stranger than any work of fiction could have come up with.

Gary Shteyngart: The Russian Debutante’s Handbook (2002)

I prepared for my meal in the usual fashion: fork in my left hand; my dominant right clenched into a fist on my lap, ready to punch anyone who dared take away my food.” ~Gary Shteyngart

This novel is the 2017 equivalent of Omon Ra by Pelevin, incorporating absurd mechanisms and crazy characters with serious tendencies to get in all kinds of trouble and accidents. There’s not much I can say about this book in this early phase of reading, but the start is promising. I’m looking forward to the whole ride.

Stephen Webb: If the Universe Is Teeming with Aliens … Where Is Everybody?: Fifty Solutions to the Fermi Paradox and the Problem of Extraterrestrial Life (2002)

Believing the world is calm because we have never seen it otherwise is like taking the attitude of a man who jumps off the top of a tall building and figures that, since 29 of the 30 floors have passed without incident, he is going to be okay.” ~Stephen Webb

If you’re interested in W questions – why, where, what, who etc. – look no further. Also, if you love speculation and various outcomes to the same dilemma, also do proceed.

I almost cannot sit straight as I’m so excited about this book. The Fermi Paradox is a wonderful opportunity for a thought experiment. What do you think is the most feasible option for why there has not been an alien invasion or a simpler visit by extraterrestrials?

Karen Thompson Walker: The Age of Miracles (2012)

How much sweeter life would be if it all happened in reverse, if, after decades of disappointments, you finally arrived at an age when you had conceded nothing, when everything was possible.” ~Karen Thompson Walker

I’m having mixed emotions about The Age of Miracles. The content is okay but nothing special I hate to say. In the audiobook version, I’m not so fond of the reader’s voice and this seems to affect the listening. It is too naivistic in style for my liking.

Karen Lord: The Best of All Possible Worlds (2013)

Ever wonder if you’ve done the right thing?” I asked him finally.
“Frequently,” he replied. “Legalities notwithstanding, to not wonder indicates a dangerous lack of awareness of the near-infinite array of choices presented by life. More tea?” ~Karen Lord

This novel seems to be the one I am able to say to least in terms of content at this point. So far the book is promising. And it’s refreshing to read books by female authors within speculative fiction.

In case you’d like to know more about peculiar habits of aliens in how to find a wife, do proceed. I’m sure much more will be revealed once more pages get turned.

Emmi Itäranta: The City of Woven Streets (2015)

Sometimes it is necessary to step into darkness alone and find your way back. To carry something with you into light you could not have found anywhere else.” ~Emmi Itäranta

Strong female characters and dangerous fairy tales. And a fear of how things might turn out. Itäranta has a style to make the story seem hazy and razor-sharp at the same time. The reader receives a view on an alternate dimension, something we could never imagine in this world.

Chuck Klosterman: But What If We’re Wrong? Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past (2016)

We’re starting to behave as if we’ve reached the end of human knowledge. And while that notion is undoubtedly false, the sensation of certitude it generates is paralyzing.” ~Chuck Klosterman

Klosterman‘s book offers insightful ideas to expand one’s thinking. Why do we think certain things and in a certain way? What basis does our thinking have and how could we look at the same object from a different perspective? Entertaining and informative in the same package.

Happy reading to everyone and have a great winter season!

StockSnap / Pixabay, CC0 Creative Commons
StockSnap / Pixabay, CC0 Creative Commons

Cover photo: Comfreak / Pixabay, CC0 Creative Commons


Author: fictivestina

Hey, I'm a native Helsinkian but a cosmopolitan at heart :) Outdoors, reading, writing and cultural attractions are my passion. Hiking in Lapland cannot be competed with!

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