just some notes.

My recent fiction reading list

June 21, 2021

I’ve been reading. Not just books of the non-fiction kind, like those Economics and Finance books I’ve been writing about, but actually more so books of the fictional variety. I don’t think I dedicated a single word to them on this blog. So here goes: my recently read fiction.

The Song of Achilles - Madeline Miller

Last year I played Hades for a while. It’s a game where you take on the role of Zagreus, the son of the underworld king the game is named after. Zagreus, displeased with his father, wants to make a run for it; out of the depths of hell towards Mount Olympus. And on his journey, naturally a bunch of Gods and mortals make their appearance.

As I was not too well-versed in the world of Greek Mythology I tragically missed many of the jokes and references the game offers. I probably still would today, but recently I read The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller and through it, did brush up some of my knowledge about the old Greeks.

The novel, which I just found out is from 2011, is an adaptation of Homer’s Iliad as told from the perspective of Patroclus. It’s a great read that constantly got me like: “ah, so that’s Diomedes” and “I see why they tried to take Troy”.

If you’ve never read any Greek Mythology it’s thus a great whose who that will introduce you to incredible amounts of needless pettiness and over-the-top theatrics. But it’s also a very sweet telling of the story of Patroculus and Achilles and the loving relationship they had with each other.

Piranesi - Susanna Clarke

This book I originally picked based on its cover. It just looks so damn beautiful. I didn’t immediately read it when I got it though; instead I stared at it for a long time while it idled on my desk. It might have colored my expectations of it.

Coming off of the Song of Achilles, I was still very much in the epic: the larger-than-life. I was expecting myths, ancient lore and complex characters. I had The Legend of Zelda-like labyrinths in mind.

And to be fair, there was some of that in Piranesi. In fact, after warming up to the writing, I thoroughly enjoyed the carefully constructed world and its potentially many mysteries. I very much learned to appreciate Piranesi’s outer worldly, yet very earthy logic.

The fact that the real-world came calling eventually was not necessarily unexpected, but the way that it made the spell wear off from Halls and Vestibules was a little too harsh for my taste.

Still, Piranesi was a lovely read.

A ​Sky Beyond the Storm - Saaba Tahir

I also finished Saaba Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes-quartet. I do enjoy my fantasy books on occasion. They are a perfect way for me to wind down and not activate my brain too much. Luckily, An Ember in the Ashes is not only a great Fantasy series, it’s also incredibly fun and rich in all the right ways.

Thankfully there are no Orcs or Elves, but instead we meet Djinn, Augurs and a Reaper. The books also feature lots of very passionate young people who happen to have to navigate an extremely violent world.

The final book of the quartet mostly follows the vibe of the third book which took on a bit of a more cynical darkish direction. As if the evil of the world had smashed any joy out of the characters lives, turning them into their hardest selves.

While I enjoyed the first two books more, I still had a great time with the third and fourth. A great fantasy series if you’re not necessarily into fantasy.

The Three-Body Problem - Liu Cixin

My, where to start with this one. I’m not really a sci-fi person, but I do love me some galactic-level philosophizing. And really, that’s what this series is all about. The stakes couldn’t be higher, the scope couldn’t be grander.

I can imagine that any of these three books will garner any type of response possible, and how could they not. They are ambitious idea-centric endeavours, which require you to buy into to truly enjoy.

And to be honest, my biggest takeaway from all this space fantasizing is just to really cherish our lovely earth and the people around you.

Rhythm of War - Brian Sanderson

So I mentioned how I love my fantasy books every now and then. Well, my biggest indulgence are probably Brian Sanderson books. They are long, expansive, meticulous and for the most part very… vanilla. And I mean that in a good way, I love vanilla.

Sanderson takes his world building very seriously, as well as his magic system. That means that as a reader you get a lot of information. And personally, I find it soothing to read all about that stuff; it almost never gets too complicated or extremely boring. So it ends up being a relaxed ride.

That’s not to say it never gets exciting or dark. It does, but it does so restrained and within bounds. And sometimes, that just what you need.