January 2024 Reads

Books I read in January 2024.

January began with a week-long holiday, so it was an excellent reading month. I loved Hugh Howey’s Silo series (even better than the TV show), read Simon de Beauvoir’s fiction (The Woman Destroyed) for the first time, discovered a great new sci-fi author in Becky Chambers (To Be Taught, if Fortunate), caught up on a couple of modern classics (The Great Gatsby and The Bell Jar), and continued my love affair with Kawabata and Hesse.

1. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

— Philip K Dick
Written in 1968, Dick’s dystopian science fiction inspired the 1982 Blade Runner movie. A short book, at only 224 pages, it was a pretty entertaining read.

2. To Be Taught, if Fortunate

— Becky Chambers
An entirely different vibe from any space sci-fi I’ve ever read. I’m still trying to figure out how to describe its peculiar charm. Anyway, I loved it and will read more Becky Chambers, beginning with the first in her Wayfarers series, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet.

3. Wool

— Hugh Howey
One of the very best sci-fi stories I’ve ever read. If you want to read a sci-fi series that you can really get lost in, read Silo.

4. Shift

— Hugh Howey
A prequel to the first book, Wool tells the story of how the silos came to be. Howey’s world-building and character-building are first-class.

5. Dust

— Hugh Howey
Authors sometimes run out of steam a little by the end of a series. Howey, however, has alien stamina, and Dust, the third and final book of the Silo trilogy, is my favorite.

6. The Left Hand of Darkness

— Ursula K Leguin
The first half did little for me, and I even contemplated not finishing it. The latter half, however, was phenomenal.

7. The Leopard

— Giuseppe Di Lampedusa
A spellbinding end-of-an-era historical novel of a decadent and fading Sicilian aristocracy during the Risorgimento, or reunification of Italy. This was fun. Loved the subtle humor and the main character, Don Fabrizio.

8. The Bell Jar

— Sylvia Plath
Plath’s roman à clef, a tragic tale beautifully told.

9. Novelist as a Vocation

— Haruki Murakami
An interesting book that reads like an abridged autobiography. If you’re looking for writing tips, then you won’t find any here, but it’s a good read nonetheless.

10. Journey to the East

— Hermann Hesse
A slow starter, but typical Hesse. A transparently disguised allegory of (religious) faith. I especially enjoyed the ending.

11. The Woman Destroyed

— Simone de Beauvoir
I didn’t get on well with her non-fiction. Loved this collection of three short stories. Will read All Men Are Mortal, next.

12. The Great Gatsby

— F Scott Fitzgerald
Part of my catch-up-with-modern-classics goal. Didn’t enjoy it at first, but then got hooked.

13. The Rainbow

— Yasunara Kawabata
‘A searing, melancholy work from one of Japan’s greatest writers.’ Kawabata is one of my favorite Japanese authors, alongside Soseki, Endo, and Tanizaki.

14. World Engines: Destroyer

— Stephen Baxter
It could have been 100 pages shorter. Not my favorite Baxter, but will read the sequel, World Engines: Creator.

15. Thérèse Raquin

— Émile Zola
My first Zola, I believe. If you enjoyed Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, you’ll like this. Which Zola should I read next? La Bête Humaine?