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Books I’ve Enjoyed and Recommend to You

Pete Brown - 19 July 2011

At MADExpo, I had supper with James Ashley and Josh Blake. Eventually, the topic turned to books we've read and enjoyed. It turns out we have a number of books in common with each other, and likely with many of you.

Melissa and I read a ton of books, many of them throw-aways, but some are really good. She hits the freebie list pretty heavily and sends me anything she thinks would interest me. However, over the past few years, I've read a number of books that stood out for one reason or another. In the list below,  I've left out all the crap ones I've read, so everything in the list here is, in my opinion, worth reading. I won't bother repeating the book descriptions, as you can easily find that via the amazon links. So, here they are, in no particular order:

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Containment by Christian Cantrell

It's a twist! Seriously, just read it.

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Replay by Ken Grimwood

A great time travel story with a unique approach. In some ways, the main character fulfills a desire many of us have. What I really like is the story of how the character copes with the results, and what he does with his time. I also like the secondary characters, but I won't give that away.

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Spin and Axis by Robert Charles Wilson

This two-part series makes for some really interesting sci-fi reading. I loved the ideas, especially how they colonize another planet (I won't spoil it). After reading these, also check out Blind Lake by the same author; it has some other interesting, albeit lighter-weight, ideas.

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A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire) series by George R. R. Martin

Although the recently-released latest installment has gotten relatively poor reviews, the other books are especially enjoyable. Just don't expect to get to a conclusion; give in to the fact that GRR seems a little burnt out and seems unlikely to wrap up the series in a good way.

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Greatest Knight (and the follow-up books) by Elizabeth Chadwick

I'm not usually one for historical fiction, but I really did enjoy these books. The story of William Marshal is an interesting one, and Elizabeth's writing is very engaging.

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The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon

These are truly excellent books. I love the characters and the plotlines here. The stories touch the history of England, the US, and Scotland, but are definitely well-told fiction.

You get time travel, fantasy, and history all wrapped up in one excellent series.

Oh, and men in kilts.

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The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie

A lighter-weight but enjoyable fantasy book with great character development.

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Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution by Steven Levy (nonfiction)

This is the book to get if you want to learn about how the personal computer revolution really started. I enjoyed this romp through history and while I wish my beloved commodore had more representation, I think this was well written.

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All the Neal Stephenson books

Start with the Cryptonomicon then Snow Crash and Diamond Age. Save things like the Baroque cycle and Anathem for later, as they tend to be harder to get into. I still enjoyed them immensely, however. I'm not a fan of the ones he co-wrote. I suspect, for those, he simply contributed enough to lend his name to the cover.

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The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

I first heard about this book on NPR (Diane Rehm) and had to get it. I was not disappointed. The movie was a bit meh, but the book is excellent.

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The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman

This was an enjoyable story. The characters weren't that well developed, but I still found I enjoyed many aspects of it.

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Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

This is an interesting book I found in a small airport book store when (in my pre-Kindle days) I ran out of reading material before my return flight home. I enjoyed the somewhat depressing vision of the future this presents. The characters are well developed and the plot is interesting.

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The Android's Dream by John Scalzi

I find this book really hard to classify. It's sci-fi, humor, and a bunch of things all rolled into one. Just go read it.

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The Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks

Great dark fantasy series.

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The Warded Man (Trilogy) by Peter V. Brett

Another great dark fantasy series. This one has some unique plot points that will make you think twice about going outside at night :)

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Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space (Nonfiction) by Carl Sagan

I read this a few years ago, but wanted it to still be on this list. Great work by one of my favorite people.

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A Brief History of Time (Nonfiction) by Stephen Hawking

Another one that is an accessible deep-science book. I read this quite a while back, but felt it should be included here -- at least to make me look smart ;)

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The Farseer Trilogy, the Tawny Man trilogy, the Liveship Traders and The Rain Wilds Chronicles by Robin Hobb

Read in this order: the Farseer Trilogy, then the Tawny Man trilogy, then the Liveship Traders and finally the Rain Wilds Chronicles. Yes, this is a commitment, but they are all good books if you like fantasy. Robin is a great author, and has AMAZING character development. All these books are related and happen in the same world.

There are things that happen to the characters that will make you cringe, and others that will make you cry. Fantastic writing.

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The Soldier Son Trilogy by Robin Hobb

This is a very different type of book from Robin Hobb. I generally like her writing, and her character development in this one was great as well.

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En Route: A Paramedic's Stories of Life, Death, and Everything by Steven Grayson

A fun book written by a paramedic. These are all true (or mostly true, or at least allegedly true) stories of the different types of calls the ambulance made. I really enjoyed this, especially as a break from the usual fiction. Well told and very humorous.

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Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

No, I'm not a sicko! :) Ever wonder what happens with human bodies after we die? This is a great and funny book which goes into detail into the many things that our bodies are used for. It's not likely to raise your gorge as it is done very tastefully.

 

I know I've forgotten a ton of good books here, but I hope some of these are ones you haven't yet checked out, and that you will enjoy. Of course, if these look like books you'd like, and you have similar ones you'd recommend, please do!

     
posted by Pete Brown on Tuesday, July 19, 2011
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