28 February 2024

February 2024 reading

  • Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
  • Mostly Harmless by Douglas Adams
  • Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
  • Making Books by Simon Goode
  • Artemis by Andy Weir
  • Old Man’s War by John Scalzi
  • So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport
  • The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi
  • Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson
  • Starry Messenger by Neil deGrasse Tyson

Mid-Feb update

Time for a mid-month (ish) update on my reading. I’ve been on a sci-fi jag for a few weeks, taking a break from the non-fiction political type book that I often lean towards. I like to vary my reading and some sci-fi in the grey months of January and February is welcome.

It’s not too challenging to see how Old Man’s War is regarded as a classic - on Amazon UK it has nearly 25,000 reviews at an average of 4.4. You really don’t need me to tell you how good it is, but I will anyway. It’s one of those books that you slip into without any effort and, before you know it, you are absolutely immersed in the world. Perhaps the best quote is from Cory Doctorow: Gripping and surpassingly original. It’s Starship Troopers without the lectures. It’s The Forever War with better sex. It’s funny, it’s sad, and it’s true.” Genius quote, fabulous book.

Similarly, I picked up on Project Hail Mary from the absolutely staggering number of reviews - on Amazon UK it has nearly 114,000. Not every book works well as an audiobook and I do try to pick carefully for that reason. I did listen to this one and it is hard to imagine a book better suited to the medium.

For the rest of the month, I’m going to read the next one by Scalzi in the Old Man’s War series then I am going to re-read some Cal Newport°. His new book, Slow Productivity, is published on the 7th March (in the UK) and I want to re-visit some of his earlier work before then.

The Anti-Magnus Magnusson books

This is the section devoted to books that I have started and not managed to finish.° This is often down to me, it’s just the wrong book at the wrong time. Sometimes, stylistically, it doesn’t suit. As I’ve got older, I’ve become much more willing to give up on books, and not go back, but I will return to these three.

So far this month I’ve had three books that I have struggled to finish. More accurately, I’ve started but not managed to continue…

  • I am about 100 pages into Vernon Vinge’s A Fire Upon the Deep and I’ve had to put it down. It gets fantastic reviews but somehow I just can’t quite engage with it. This is one where I will try again.
  • Justice for Animals by Martha C. Nussbaum. I really want to read this and I planned to read the updated version of Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation after it. Nussbaum has a number of academic tics in her writing. She does that thing where academics tell you what they are going to say, say a single thing if you are lucky, and then tell you what they’ve said. It also seems to be a feature of American non-fiction. It makes for some extraordinarily tedious prose and makes my teeth itch.
  • Pharmanomics: How Big Pharma Destroys Global Health by Nick Dearden. I will certainly read this but, to be honest, it was making me too angry and I needed some escapist reading. Right book, wrong time.

UPDATE: End of Feb comments

I have updated the top list with all the books for February. Not much else to add at this point - though I thought Starry Messenger by Neil deGrasse Tyson was abject.


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March 2024 reading The Man With the Getaway Face was also available as a 24-page $2 graphic novel/comic by Darwyn Cooke. The Last Colony by John Scalzi Slow