The Book Queue

It’s been a while since I’ve posted one of these Book Queues, but since the TBR pile is getting larger, I figured it’s time. Back when blogs were a thing, posts like this were common enough even if they aren’t particularly useful, but I do find that posting it publicly does motivate me to actually read the books I have sitting on the shelf (as opposed to picking out something new and shiny and reading that instead). So let’s get to it:

  • Authority and Freedom, by Jed Perl – Subtitled: “A Defense of the Arts”, this looks to be an exploration for the enjoyment of the arts as art (as opposed to art as political statement, or personal confession, or whatever deeper meaning people insist on projecting into a lot of art). It’s a subject that I’ve been thinking about recently, and will hopefully provide some new avenues of exploration.
  • The Immediate Experience, by Robert Warshow – Subtitled: “Movies, Comics, Theatre and Other Aspects of Popular Culture”, this looks to be a variation on the theme of the previous book. Warshow was apparently annoyed by the critical establishment’s dismissal of popular culture (in favor of higher art, etc…)
  • A Culture of Fact, by Barbara J. Shapiro – In this age of practiced disinformation, fake news, and social media, taking a look at how we, as a species, came to respect facts in the first place, might be a good idea. I’ve had this on my list since Neal Stephenson kept name-checking it during his interviews promoting Fall and now Termination Shock, but I finally found a copy. It seems to be somewhat of a dry, academic tome, but certainly a worthwhile subject.
  • Reunion, by Christopher Farnsworth – Alright, that’s enough with the snooty non-fiction, how about some trashy fiction? I actually don’t know anything about this book other than that it’s written by Farnsworth, who I’ve enjoyed since discovering his President’s Vampire series, which were a whole boatload of fun. Not sure when he’ll get back to those vampire books, but in the meantime, he’s written several thrillers and other fun little stories.
  • The Kaiju Preservation Society, by John Scalzi – Another one based solely on the author. Scalzi has this habit of glomming onto some fun cultural meme and turning it into a book that I’m not in love with (see also: Redshirts), but his books are generally snappy and fun, so I always check them out.
  • Light from Uncommon Stars, by Ryka Aoki – The last of the Hugo novel finalists on my list, I’ve actually started reading this. It was probably my least anticipated of the nominees, but despite (or perhaps because of) that, I’m finding it surprisingly good. There’s a lot of stuff going on here, and it really shouldn’t work, but so far, it’s actually pulling off a decent balancing act. It’s still early and there’s plenty of room for a downturn, but still happy enough with this so far…
  • XX, by Rian Hughes – This feels something like a cultural heir to Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves. Lots of visual experimentation with typefaces, modern epistolary (i.e. story told partially through emails and wikipedia pages and the like), images, collages, and so on. It’s more based around alien signals from space than the haunted house of House of Leaves, but it sounds interesting (and oh, it’s, like, a thousand pages, great).
  • Upgrade, by Blake Crouch – I’ve enjoyed Crouch’s last few books, in part because the appear to be one-off stories rather than series. This one hasn’t been released yet, but it’s definitely on the list…
  • Heat 2, by Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner – Not sure what inspired Mann to revisit the characters from Heat in novel form, but I love that movie, so I’m certainly onboard (perhaps it was a pandemic project, like what Tarantino did…) This book is cowritten by Meg Gardiner, who has been writing police procedurals and serial killer novels for a while. I checked out Unsub, which was solid airport thriller fare, even if it isn’t doing anything particularly new. I might check out more from that series too… Heat 2 doesn’t come out until August, but I’m onboard.

I’m sure you’ll be seeing more about these in coming months, so stay tuned.

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