April 2024 Reads

Books I read in April 2024.

A month of discovering new authors and catching up on modern classics. And two more candidates for Book of the Year. I was also much stricter in monitoring my social media use — this freed up more time to read.

1. The Book of Strange New Things

— Michel Faber
I don’t believe I’ve ever consumed a 600-page book as quickly. Loved the idea of a Christian missionary proselytizing to aliens lightyears away. A wonderful read.

Book cover: I Who Have never Known Men

2. Stoner

— John Williams
An absolute gem. Human, all too human. Why is this not better known? Candidate for my book of the year.

3. Dune

— Frank Herbert
Solid page-turning sci-fi, but not great.

4. Dune Messiah

— Frank Herbert
Half the length of Dune, and half as good.

5. Children of Dune

— Frank Herbert
Not good enough that I want to read the next three in the series. Too much intrigue and pseudo-philosophy and too little action — for me.

6. Let Me Tell You What I Mean

— Joan Didion
Every generation is better off with a Joan Didion. Good review in The Guardian. I have Didion’s first novel, Play It as It Lays, on order.

7. My Death

— Lisa Tuttle
Loved this novella. On the look-out for more by this author.

8. The Belly of Paris

— Émile Zola
Simply great storytelling. Zola plonks you down in the middle of nineteenth-century Paris, right in the muck and pungent odors and scrapping and gossip and cruelty and wit and desperation. This is part of Zola’s Les Rougon-Macquart cycle of 20 novels. I plan to read them all.

9. Slaughterhouse-Five

— Kurt Vonnegut
The writing was good enough for me to not abandon it, but why this is still considered a classic is beyond me. Great cover, though.

10. The Membranes

— Ta-wei Chi
Not terribly compelling for me, although the ending of this novella was pretty good.

11. Severance

— Ling Ma
Liked the flashback scenes and main character — the rest, not so much.

12. Inverted World

— Christopher Priest
Great concept for a novel. Loved this. Will find more Priest to read.

13. Non-Stop

— Brian Aldiss
A pleasant surprise. Great story concept and some nice plot twists. Classic sci-fi.

14. Pnin

— Vladimir Nabokov
In the back-cover blurb, John Updike describes Nabokov’s prose as ‘ecstatic’, and that’s precisely why I don’t enjoy reading him. Only my second but likely my last Nabokov.

15. Coming Up for Air

— George Orwell
Epitomizes what we mean by ‘Orwellian’. Bleak, authentic and insightful. The annotations in this Alma edition are pretty useful too.

April 2024 reading stats