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Reading Recs: All time recommends list - Part 1

by Amelia Greenhall

The Water Knife

Paolo Bacigalupi

Near future thriller set in the west where Vegas, Phoenix and LA are sorta fragmented city states... the main story is following a "water knife" (assassin/spy type guy who steals water rights), and a journalist. Lots of violence and sex. If you like this one, his other book The Windup Girl is also really good.

The Peripheral

William Gibson

Another one I had to read a second time... a bit hard to describe... parallel stories between North Carolina and "post Jackpot" London, lots of future tech and very thriller-page-turner-y mixed with fun speculative fiction. A bit similar to Pattern Recognition, if you've read that one.

Oryx and Crake trilogy

Margaret Atwood

Oh man, these are so fun. Goes back and forth between following a crew of people in a post-disease-wipes-out-most-of-humanity time, and before when they lived in a near-future-ish time of corporations running walled compounds and lots of wild genetic engineering stuff, climate change in the background, hacking, cults. The 2nd and third books are probably my favorites, unlike most trilogies.

Ancillary Justice

Anne Leckie
Won all the sci fi awards (hugo, nebula, etc) when it came out a few years ago (2015?). Set in a universe that's mostly run by a galaxy spanning empire, follows a ship's AI who's relegated to just one human body after the ship was destroyed. It's not like a lot of other books. It's a trilogy if you like the first one.

God's War

Kameron Hurley

Sci fi set on a desert planet with bug-based tech, magicians, lots of boxing and violent women. Story starts when the main character, a government assassin on the run, sells her womb to get money for her escape. There are also gene pirates.

The Sixth Extinction

Elizabeth Kolbert
One of my favorite science journalists goes and studies what we know about extinctions, spends time with a bunch of scientists around the world talking about bats, amphibians, fossils, coral reefs, etc. Depressing but fascinating. Ed Yong's I Contain Multitudes (about all the weird/cool stuff that's recently been discovered about the microbes in us) and The Gene (Siddhartha Mukherjee) are also excellent recent science books.

Geek Love

Katherine Dunn
Really weird book, set in 70s/80's Portland/PNW. A family that runs a traveling carnival sees business declining and decided to breed their own 'freak show' by using various drugs and radioactive materials to alter their children's genes. Mostly the story of the children as they grow up and are adults, involves cults and nuns, completely absurdist and highly enjoyable. If you like this one, you might want to follow it up with The Brothers K or The River Why from David James Duncan (also PNW family sagas).

The Power of Now or A New Earth

Eckhart Tolle
Strange but nice take on mindfulness/being present. Very soothing and practical, kinda meandery. Similar vein to Thich Nhat Hanh etc, but not particularly religious.

White Teeth or Swing Time

Zadie Smith
Everything by her is extremely great, but these are two good places to start.

The Windup Bird Chronicles

Haruki Murakami
Another one of those authors who I've read everything they've written... this one is my favorite. Weird story, contemporary times Japan plus flashbacks to the Japanese invasion of Mongolia. People get stuck in a well, lots of secrets.

— Amelia Greenhall

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