Lexington and Concord: The Beginning of the War of the American Revolution by Arthur B. Tourtellot - I'm torn about it. On the one hand, it does have new facts about the setup, midnight rides, influence of Samual Adams, John Hancock, and Pastor Jonas Clarke; on the other hand, it does a good job of discrediting the efforts of John Parker, the minutemen, and the integrity of the entire command of British troops as incompetent. He only mentions Menotomy in passing, and justifies the flanking regulars' actions as that of soldiers trying to eliminate "snipers".
How does beating two unarmed bar partons's brains out (literally) and smearing them all over Cooper's Tavern's walls have anything to do with snipers?
I just finished K.A. Bedford's Orbital Burn. It's an okay SF pulp piece, but has a very strong, laconic voice which seems at times a little too cutting and/or out of place. But it had been on my shelf for years and I'd never read it, so at least I can tick that one off now. Not Impressed. Yann Mantel's Life of Pi. I'd heard so much about this book. Very readable, I knocked it over in a couple of days last week. Unfortunately I think I'd heard too much about it, because I had to do a double-take at the end when I realised what the story was really about (which had been telegraphed repeatedly from the beginning, but I'd missed it). Or maybe that's the intention. Not (to me) as moving a story as a couple of others I read last year, but still highly Recommended.
Currently reading Novel Ideas, edited by Brain M Thomsen. A collection of short stories that went on to become notable novels, series and/or franchises, I'm just about finished this and I have to say it's been brilliant. It's been very interesting to read the originals by Orson Scott Card, Anne McCaffery, Greag Bear, David Brin and others and consider how they compare with the novelisations (or in some cases, make me want to go out and read the novels). Recommended.
The Boneman’s Daughters by Ted Dekker is a good read but could have been better. A serial killer challenged by a captive’s father makes an interesting plot. Dekker writes well but can’t seem to let go of salient points. He tends to dwell on them too long and revisits what we’ve already learned. Posts: 147 | Registered: Mar 2007
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quote:I'm reading Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. I got it as an audiobook so I could cover some of the big classics on my commute. I am thoroughly enjoying it. The descriptions are wonderful and paint a very vivid picture without going into excessive detail. It's the things he chooses to describe that create the image.
And the character portrayal is fantastic too.
I'm about four hours in to a twenty-five hour book and I have high hopes that it maintains this level of interest for me until the end.
I loved Crime and Punishment. It is in my list of the best ten books of all time, amazing characters.
I just finished Catching Fire which is the sequel to Hunger Games. I really enjoyed it.
I am fascinated with Collin's writing style. I think she does a lot of telling with flashes of intense, emotional showing. I really like the effect; it fits the story.
I just finished Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson. I don't know whether to love it or hate it: The writing was vivid, painting detailed pictures that occasionally took my breath away (Wow, you can do that with prose?), and what I took away as the moral of the story, while subtle, was well supported. On the other hand, the 'present day' elements of the story were told in a very well written present tense first person that I nevertheless found hard to get my head around, the past-tense backstory was occasionally (deliberately) told out of sequence and caused me to get a little lost at times, and the pace was very slow, which while deliberate also made the book feel a little like a chore here and there.
In the end, it all made sense and I can sit back and say, Huh, yeah, that was really something. But due to the difficulty getting to that point I'd have to - for me - say this sits somewhere between Recommended and Not Impressed.
Somewhat delayed-by-a-bad-cold from my usual first-of-the-month posting, but I was reading Americans in Paris: Life & Death Under Nazi Occupation, by Charles Glass, a saga of what happened to those who stayed behind when the Nazis overran France, and with it an enlightening look on how trying to get along could lead to collaboration and treason. Some of these people I have encountered in other books, at other parts of their careers...others where wholly new to me.
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I recently finished THE HALLOWED HUNT by Lois McMaster Bujold. I'd rate it Good, but not in the same class as the first two books in the series. (The second, PALLADIN OF SOULS, won a Hugo and a Nebula, so that's a pretty high class.) So, I reread it to try to figure out why. What worked so well in the first two and failed to work in this one? I have a few theories.
I'm now reading THE DRAGON BOOK, an anthology of short stories about dragons. As with any anthology, some stories are better than others. So far, I think I like Naomi Novik's new take on Julius Ceasar, Marc Antony, and a dragon named "Vici" best. Although Kage Baker's story about the rewards and perils of exterminating "wyrmin" is a close second.
Having just finished a semester of college with three heavy reading courses, I took a little break from books. Over the course of this last week I've read: (all by Phillip Pullman)
Once Upon a Time in the North The Golden Compass/Northern Lights The Subtle Knife The Amber Spyglass Lyra's Oxford
I am still digesting, but I'm landing somewhere between Recommend and Good. Obviously there are certain themes and views that may bother some people. I also watched the film, The Golden Compass after reading the books, but somethings were different, and that was disappointing. I do wish they were making the other films so long as they could stay a little closer to the text.
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Just finished Spirit of the Stone by Maggie Furey Good, but not amazing. I'm now reading The Name of the Wind by Rothfuss, and in non-fiction, Manuscript Makeover: Revision Techniques No Fiction Writer Can Afford to Ignore by Elizabeth Lyon. If interested, you can also check my list at http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/1891667?shelf=read
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I believe anyone can look at reviews of books on goodreads.com, simply by looking up the book itself and scrolling down through the various reviews that have been posted.
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quote:I believe anyone can look at reviews of books on goodreads.com, simply by looking up the book itself and scrolling down through the various reviews that have been posted.
That is true. Just type the name of the book in the search box there and hit enter and you will get a list of books that match that title. If you click on the individual title you can see all the ratings and reviews of any particular book.
Just finished The Cruel Sea by Nicholas Monserrat. Fantastic. It may not be spec fic, but nevertheless, worldbuilding abounds. The only caveat for me was the style of English took some getting used to (long sentences, antiquated spellings like connexion and rôle) but by a little way in it read naturally and no longer distracted. RecommendedPosts: 921 | Registered: Nov 2008
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So I'm reading Spycraft: The Secret History of the CIA's Spytechs, from Communism to Al-Qaeda, and there's an anecdote of the CIA bugging a Soviet diplomat's residence while he was out of town. Guys working on the inside to install the microphones, and guys on the outside digging up the flowerbed for the wires (this was 1963). All work had to be done at night.
So the guys digging up the flowerbeds had to use bayonets to dig a trench for the wires, and then carefully and meticulously recover all the loose soil so it would appear that nothing untoward was going on in the garden.
During the day, the CIA was watching the diplomat's house to ensure he didn't come back early, but...they noticed the gardener would spend a lot of time looking at the flowerbed. This went on for a couple of days, and the CIA guys were getting nervous. Was the gardener hip to what was going on? Yeah, the CIA covered their tracks and everything looked good to them, but here was a professional gardener who noticed something was amiss. The gardener would spend more and more time looking at the garden where the CIA techs were doing the clandestine work, and shaking his head about something. Maybe the gardener was waiting for the diplomat to come back to town before he spilled the beans?
The CIA finally decided they couldn't take much more of the gardener scrutinizing their work. Panic set in. So they approached him, and he agreed to enter into a covert relationship with the CIA. Much to the gardener's own relief: "'Every morning for the last week,' he said, 'I come to work and the red flower would be where the yellow one used to be, the blue one was over here.'"
The CIA techs couldn't see the colors of the flowers because of the darkness. And here was this gardener who thought he was losing his mind.
Just finished Robert A. Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, which came highly recommended. However, I'm just not sure it's my thing... nor that I could explain why in a short post. I found it almost headed the same direction as how I remember The Cat Who Walks Through Walls - digressing from the initial story opening almost to the point of gratuitous self absorption; unlike that other work though, at least this one does tie itself up with some sort of ending. However, next time a book's going to go making a point of sex and religion I hope it'll confess its intention up front. Meh, not for everyone I guess. Maybe I'm just a prude. I'd put it somewhere between Good and Not Impressed. It did have redeeming qualities despite pushing a few of my buttons in the wrong way.
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Thinking about reading Stranger in a Strange Land brings up quite a few memories...it was among the boxed-set of paperbacks that were the third Heinlein I talked my parents into buying for me (come to think of it, it was a Christmas gift). I liked it, but not as much as some other Heinlein, more than others in the set (like Farnham's Freehold, say).
Later, I reread it, and it was better...still much later, I re-reread it, in a new edition that restored what Heinlein had edited out just to shorten it for publication, and that edition was way better and the book was much more interesting than before. (That, or I had grown enough to appreciate it.)
If you're devoted to Heinlein, you've already read it...but if you haven't got the expanded edition, get that.
(Addendum: I wouldn't want people thinking I read the book once, then once again, than once yet again...in my early days I'd be reading them every few weeks, later every few months or years, and occasionally right to this day. True of practically all Heinlein---come to think of it, I'm rereading one right now.)
I finally finished Crime and Punishment. I say finally only because I was listening to it on my commute and it is 25 hours long, unabridged. But I loved every minute of it. It never lagged and the tension-release ratio was masterfully played. Even when I knew what was going to happen because it was completely foreshadowed I was still on the edge of my seat waiting to see how it happened.
I recommend this book to everyone. It is absolutely brilliant and extremely satisfying. If you get the audiobook, get the one narrated by George Guidall - he is fantastic and the character voices are quite clear.
The cultural A.D.D. shift that brought us rapid fire video hits like MTV and 24 has reached the book world. This is my first time reading a Dan Brown novel and I must admit that I like the continuous timeline plot style and short chapters. The rapid POV switches are needed with this style but they do not detract from the story in any way. His fiction wrapped around truth plotting is intriguing and several times during the book I found myself running to Google or Wiki when I was shocked to learn about American art or history that I did not even know existed (see George Washington Zeus).
Though I would be interested to see if (Robert Langdon) really could connect points on the streets of downtown Detroit to make a pentagram. I am about halfway through but the book--which I started to read to guage his voice and writing style--has not disappointed. I hope the ending is as good as the beginning....and I hear that his first two were written even better.
I agree, Dark Warrior. Dan Brown's novels may not be everyone's cup of tea, but he moves the pacing around and manipulates the reader's heart rate in a precise manner. I think there's something to learn from there. (I feel the same about the Twilight books. As much as writers complain about the writing, the author is onto something. I think pacing is the key. Pacing and emotional stakes in Twilight. Pacing and public/external stakes in Brown's work.) Though I do start to groan after Langdon manages to miraculously get himself out of yet another scrape in his books, it's eye-rolling at times, but because the pacing and stakes are high, it's easy to keep reading.
I've been reading the Maximum Ride series by James Patterson, another good example of pacing. It's a YA/mid-grade fiction series, protag is 14 yrs old. I'm on the fifth book (the last, though I wouldn't be surprised to find there is another in development.) It's a great set of books - near-term earth-set sci-fi where scientists have grafted avian dna onto human embryos and created "bird-kids." The first book, first few chapters, are an excellent read in particular because it shows you how to put a character in the middle of the action, then, as the action unfolds or with a small amount of flashback, the other characters and details of setting, situation, are played out. Very neat stuff, I have a lot to learn from it. Recommend.
The best and the worst of King; a great plot with believable characters fleeing from zombies created by cell phones gone bad. An intriguing page turner that fails because (as usually happens in King novels) he either runs out of gas or becomes distracted and begins to ramble. At first I began skipping sentences, then paragraphs then entire pages. Finally I reached a conclusion with a few decent tidbits along the way...but then it ended with a thud. NOT RECOMMENDED
My monthly comments on what I've been reading recently:
Yalta: The Price of Peace, S. M. Plokhy. Gives a thorough account and a detailed examination of the events of the "Big Three" conference at Yalta---Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin---what led up to it, what happened at it, and what happened afterwards. Maybe too "academic" in tone, but hardly a downcheck for someone interested in the period.
Also: He Crashed Me So I Crashed Him Back, Mark Bechtel. Covers the tumultuous year of 1979 in NASCAR history, where they first got gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Daytona 500, and attracted a lot of attention by putting on what's often considered the best NASCAR race ever. You may have gathered I'm a NASCAR fan...not as extreme as some in my family but more than the Average Joe.
An Older Book:
The Candy Bombers: The Untold Story of the Berlin Airlift and America's Finest Hour, Andrei Cherney. I dug this one out because I read another book on the subject, which has a different spin on the matter (and a few additional facts)---but this books focuses on the story of Hal Halvorsen, who flew the Airlift and decided to do something that just may have changed the course of history. The story packs an emotional impact.
Am I Reading Any Science Fiction?
Yeah, I picked up a reprint, a combo edition of two Robert A. Heinlein collections: The Green Hills of Earth and The Menace From Earth. It may have been (re)printed in 2009 but I just picked it up last week. It's like greeting old friends...I still remember trying to trace out on a road map the route the main characters of "The Year of the Jackpot" took out of Los Angeles.
Not all was perfect, as I remember it. I realize, now, that Bob Wilson, the lead character of "By His Bootstraps" is, really, pretty unlikeable. (Also Heinlein would do this time-travel-paradox story much better in "All You Zombies," not present in these collections.) I got to thinking...in a lot of his first bunch of stories (the ones that made such a strong impression on the SF readers when they were published in Astounding in the late thirties and early forties), the characters aren't particularly likeable. Some grow and change (Bob Wilson goes through quite a number of extremely interesting experiences), but others remain the way they were. Heinlein seems to have solved this problem by the late forties and further work.
Also there's an interesting introduction (giving details of Heinlein's writing life that are new to me) and afterword (speaking of how Heinlein put his stories together that might have been a good guide for writers if it hadn't been written in such a smarmy style).
Heinlein hasn't gotten the "corrected text" academic treatment---yet. There were some volumes of Robert E. Howard "Conan" stories a few years back that managed to be condescending about their origins and publishing history---Heinlein's work hasn't reached that state of publication yet, but, I would like to see some improved texts. (The famous "Heinlein Timeline" has typos in it---I'd like to see a reprint of the original version (if extant) and any alterations.)
Meanwhile, the afterword makes mention of a prediction Heinlein made that I am just not going to rest easy until I track it down...
I read Stephen R. Donaldson's, "The Gap Into Conflict:The Real Story" this morning. Although, I don't typically enjoy such a distant style of narration, I really enjoyed the arrangement of his storytelling and the story itself. It was enough to keep me reading the Series. I will likely read, "Forbidden Knowledge" tomorrow.
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I really enjoyed reading that series when it came out, BT, much more than his Thomas Covenants; Angus Thermopyle and Morn Hyland are etched in my mind. I wonder how much I'd enjoy it now though. One of these days I'll have to re-read it.
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This is the first I have read of his work. I picked up a crate of his novels at a yard sale to add to my 1400+ bookshelves. Have you read any of his other novels besides this series and the Thomas Covenant series?
Aside from Thomas Covenant and the Gap series, I have his Mordant's Need series and a book of short stories. They're both okay (Mordant's Need is a lot lighter fare, and has some uniquely memorable characters), but I think it's largely subjective - the three series might appeal most to different audiences.
On the reading front, just read Ursula Le Guins' The Tombs of Atuan, which I enjoyed much more than A Wizard of Earthsea for some reason. Perhaps because it set up a couple of (to me) very interesting mysteries early and played them out well. I'm aware it didn't work as well for some other readers I asked. Good
Also just re-read Terry Pratchett's Small Gods, a satire on (among others) the subjects of blind dogma and philosophy; I found this much more profound the first time around, this time it was good, but not quite as amusing. And maybe a little darker than I remember. Good
Just finished "Diary," by Chuck Palahniuk, and WOW, it was such a weird read. I can't really decide how I feel about it. The present-tense rambling style that he uses is actually very intriguing. I love the way he goes about his writing, but the actual plot is SO FREAKING WEIRD. I can't really explain it.
I would say Good, but I wouldn't Reccomend because the read is such a specific cup of tea. You'll either dig it or you'll hate it ---- I actually think there's a chance some will quit the book in midread, while others won't be able to put it down.
I'm sure I'll get blasted for this, but I just finished reading The Princess Bride by William Goldman. I would not recommend it. And yes, I watched the movie first. I grew up on that movie. I've been meaning to get around to the book for about ten or fifteen years now and I finally did this weekend.
It's not that I thought the book and movie didn't match up. In fact, having watched the film had no bearing on the way I felt about the book. I just didn't enjoy the writing style. I'm not a fan of third person omniscient, and I didn't appreciate the "abridgment notes" or the style. Goldman used run on sentences as a tool to create mood and pacing and I thought he went a little over-the-top. Sometimes he'd flip back and forth between two different people's thoughts in a single sentence. (I didn't like it when Virginia Woolf did it, either, so it isn't a prejudice against Mr. Goldman.)
I'm not saying don't read it. (I'm probably the only person who didn't enjoy it.) But I don't recommend it.
Next up, The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (or possibly Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane). I want to read the books before seeing the movies. (I guess this is book-turned-movie month.)
Updated: Just got Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore and that has been bumped to the top of the "READ NOW" list.
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I'm reading Digital Fortress by Dan Brown but I really am not far enough along to comment on it. I am also re-reading Bio of a Space Tyrant: Refugee and Mercenary by Piers Anthony.
I have veered away from reading books I enjoy towards books that pertain to the novel I am working on (though I am enjoying some of those too).
My MC works with and eventually becomes an Intel Officer (in space) so I have been reading Intelligence Community based books or books of similiar milieu to my space station.
Update: I previously mentioned I was reading The Lost Symbol and I hoped the ending was as good as the beginning. Well i did, in fact, like the ending but without spoiling anything, part of the climax in the mansion really went over the top and caused me to 'suspend belief' so the book wouldnt be one of my all time favorites but I would still Recommend
[This message has been edited by Dark Warrior (edited March 14, 2010).]
In adition to my short a day prescription,I read three novels this week so far, which is why I have been getting no writing done. "Fallen Angels" Nivell-Pournelle, " "The Worthing Saga" by OSC (Both of which are classics so I shall not comment on) The third was "Userper of the Sun" a translation by Housuke Nojiri, which is one you can find on the shelves at your favorite mass print conglomerate. I will say that as a translated story, it retained much of its readability and offered a very unique story from a class of stories that I am starting to get more interested in; that is SF that deals in near Earth possibilities.
The Hard SF element was very creative and I enjoyed the story alot although it was a little bit mainstream in its design. I give it a solid 4 out of five.
I'm reading The Sword-Edged Blonde by Alex Bledsoe. Nice lightweight story, enjoyable. Except his choice of names gets downright grating at times. Names like Maxwell and Phil and Terry and Cathy, in a medieval-type setting. Ugh! Jars me right out of the story.
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I just realize in reading that post that I haven't read any Jeff Vandermeer. It seems funny since I take so much of his writing advice to heart. Besides the one you are reading now, what are his best? I would like to try him out.
I read alot of shorts this week. I got all three of the new issues in the mail and I read all of them in a few days...well I skipped over a few in F&SF because they were a little dull. I also read "Absolution Gap" Alastair Reynolds... Great stuff Quite the wordsmith and amazing milieu building. He is definately on to stock on your shelves. I consider him one of the modern greats.
I read "Monkey Sonatas" OSC the day before yesterday. Good, but not my favorite by far. It did help me see the range Card has though. I also picked up a few things in regard to effective prose that seemed to come through in a Card style I don't often read, so that was refreshing.
I also read a "Star Wars" book this week. "Dark Apprentice" I love them all. Anderson and Wolverton are both great technical writers, but Michael Stackpole is my Favorite. His voice always comes through in the prose even in the vast Star Wars Universe which is rare.
Ian McEwan's Atonement. Mixed feelings about this one. The slow first part I felt nevertheless pulled it's weight, and the later sections were page turners. The ending was both a little surprising and yet wholly inevitable. Perhaps it was more surprising that McEwan decided to play the unreliable narrator card and risk a reader labeling the story futile rather than fulfilling. For its verisimilitude, or for playing conflicting points of view against each other in an interesting way, I think this was still a very good read. I'd have to rate it Good.Posts: 921 | Registered: Nov 2008
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Resisting the urge to make a comment about how that is an interesting combination, and not doing a very good job. (Yes, I see that the "and" isn't italicized, but my mind is kind of quirky sometimes.)
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Reading the STONEHEART series (STONEHEART, IRONHAND, and SILVERTONGUE) by Charlie Fletcher.
Middle-grade contemporary fantasy. Premise - boy falls into an "un-London" where statues are real, and either spits (human-like and good/kind to him) or taints (monster-like and out to get him.) The writer has an incredible talent at description, at putting two ideas together that don't seem to go together at first but, in retrospect, give you a new appreciation for each idea. Fascinating turn of phrases he uses, and just a beautiful language use. Highly recommend. and not just for those of us who read children's literature.
The book has Disney as part of it's publisher mark, so I anticipate big things for this book, suspect we'll see a movie before long and all that jazz. But the characterization is on, the pacing good, lots of peril, interesting situations, a really unique magic/fantasy system, etc. And the language...it's not just that he's English, there's really something to how the author puts words together. Very rich and enjoyable experience.
Finally finished Ursula Le Guin's original Earthsea Trilogy with The Farthest Shore (reading the next book in the series - Tehanu - now). I enjoyed the series and thought that using a young MC in each case was an interesting way to keep a series with scope still relevant to a YA audience. I still think I like the second book more - I found style (mythic?) in the other books to be somehow too distancing. Or maybe I didn't care about their characters enough, or didn't feel the MCs had enough at stake.
Also finished Dwight Swain's Techniques of the Selling Writer. I found it slow going, as I had to stop and think about it a lot (sort of like reading a textbook). I felt it interesting to see how many approaches presented therein reflect 60's fiction, though I can see how a lot remains relevant also. Most appreciated was the final sections dealing with attitude and approach, which I also had my wife read so she can give a little supporting nudge in the right direction once in a while.
Just finished reading "Hunger Games" and "Catching Fire" by Suzanne Collins. Highly Recommend it. The kicker is that this is a trilogy and from what I gather on her website, she's working on the third one. It's very easy to get emotionally attached to the MC and feel the struggle she goes through. It's the kind of reading where you think there's no way out of a bad situation for the MC - you really feel it. Can't wait for the third one.
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So I'm taking my usual first-of-the-month posting on what-the-hell-I've-been-reading...
I've started a book, Tommy Gun: How General Thompson's Submachine Gun Wrote History, Bill Yenne. I like it, and, so far, it tells me a lot of stuff I didn't know and revisits a lot of stuff I did know. But, on "writing history"...there are a lot of books out there, interesting though they are, that make me think I could write one of my own better...and the style of this makes me think so.
Better, and better written, is another book I've been rereading: Rendezvous with Destiny: Ronald Reagan and the Campaign That Changed America, Craig Shirley. This covers the 1980 presidential campaign. I lived through it, and remembered a lot of what happened...this fills in details I didn't know, puts events and people in context, and, despite my knowing the outcome, keeps the suspense going.
I tried to read another book, The Ground Truth: The Untold Story of America Under Attack on 9 / 11, John Farmer. Frederik Pohl recommended it on his website...I had a copy but hadn't gotten around to reading it before. Right from the introduction I realized the writer has an axe to grind---a political axe, at that. I poked around a little here and there in the rest of the book after that...I don't know if I'll finish it.
(Also I spent a lot of time reading Robert Service's biography of Josef Stalin...it's very dense, and I only made it three fourths through---but I skipped ahead to the end and read that.)
Science fiction? Well, most of what I read was Heinlein. As I mentioned a prediction Heinlein supposedly made, that I learned about from the afterword of a collection I read last month. I acquired brand new copies of all but one of the books his early stuff was reprinted in from Amazon-dot-com---one is currently out of print and unavailable---but I still haven't tracked the prediction down. (Okay...according to that afterword, in 1939 Heinlein predicted an attack on New York City in 2001 from the Third World with two airplanes...found something close to it in For Us, the Living but not quite that exactly.)
Also I thumbed through the Barnes & Noble public-domain volume of H. P. Lovecraft. And, since I went searching through Niven and Pournelle's Inferno due to a discussion elsewhere, I also read some of that.
I just finished HOW NOT TO WRITE A NOVEL, Mittelmark and Newman. Recommend. Not only may you find something of which you have been guilty--hopefully in the past--but it's a fun read, too.
I just started SOULLESS, by Gail Carriger. Too soon to tell, but it feels like it's going to be pretty good. That's in spite of the fact that the author made a couple of unsignaled POV jumps in the first chapter that left me longing for a seatbelt.