This was a really great month for books largely because I got really into the Themis Files series. Price’s book on breaking up with your phone also encouraged me to pick up my Kindle more than I refreshed Twitter, and honestly, so far that’s been a positive experience.
Noumenon — Marina J. Lostetter
Ah! Another great multi-generational space exploration story. I don't really get why so many sci-fi books are doing this sort of thing lately, but I'm into it. What happens when a ship heads into deep space to explore a distant star? This book. It rules.
Exit Strategy — Martha Wells
A delightful end to this quadrilogy. I hope we get more Murderbot stories, but even if not, I've thoroughly enjoyed it.
Rogue Protocol — Martha Wells
I’m really loving this series. Murderbot meets a new pal on this romp on a research station.
Hatching Twitter — Nick Bilton
This was a tour of betrayal, man-children, and absurd amounts of money. I’d love to see an Armando Ianucci adaptation of this book—especially the incredibly awkward visits with Zuckerberg. Well-written, and easy to read, this kept me very entertained on my flight.
Artificial Condition — Martha wells
It’s really nice to dive back into the series, and the MurderBot continues to be a funny narrator a distant space-bound future. I still think it’s a little odd that these were all published as novellas instead of a full-length, but the episodic quality does give me an easy place to pause and get more to drink. I hope we see more of the new ComfortBot.
Only Human — Sylvain Neuvel
A solid conclusion to an excellent series. It’s too bad there’s not any more to read, but on the upside, it never dipped into uninteresting territory. The tone of this book is a little post-apocalyptic, and I’m a sucker for that kinda thing.
Waking Gods — Sylvain Neuvel
This is a series that seems to amp up the excitement with each installation. The first book set the stage, and this is the play. There is quite a bit of action, and a lot of fallout from the first book. A great sequel.
Sleeping Giants — Sylvain Neuvel
Told through a series of interview transcripts, de-briefings, and diary entries, this rad giant robot story managed to suck me in fast. I burned through this book in a couple of days, and loved every minute. I grew up on Robotech, so some of this plot felt familiar, except without all the singing. If you like giant robots, and somewhat mysterious non-governmental entities, this is a series to check out.
The Traveling Cat Chronicles — Hiro Arikawa
This book was an emotional rollercoaster. I should’ve be surprised, since it’s about a cat—one of the few things that makes me feel all of the emotions, but wow. This book was very, very good from start to finish. I picked it up on a whim, and it’s perhaps my favorite of the year.
How to Break Up With Your Phone — Catherine Price
A pretty solid book on establishing more thoughtful ways of dealing with our devices. The advice to think about why you’re reaching for your phone when you do is extremely good, and deceptively simple. I’ve found myself trying to just be in a place without immediately flipping though phone screens to kill time, and maybe it’s helping? I’m going to keep on following the advice of this book for a while, and see how it helps or doesn’t. There’s good advice on email and other types of organization in here as well.
Killing Commentadore — Haruki Murakami
This novel feels like a return to form, and yet also building on themes and ideas Murakami laid down in earlier books. His obsessions with pits, cats, WW2 history, jazz, and simple lunches are all here. I'm a little tired of the downtrodden male narrator, but despite being first-person, generally our painter guide moved the story along, interspersed with interesting observations. If you enjoy Murakami, there's much joy here. I hope this author is with us for quite some time to come.
This is the second-highest grossing film in Chinese cinematic history. I’ve heard about this book for a while, and conceptually it’s interesting to think about the Earth moving instead of colony ships leaving, but it’s frustrating that Chinese censors meant that the themes of the film are somewhat limited. The end result felt more like The Core than Star Wars, and overall it was rather disappointing.
John Wick 3
Ridiculous from start to finish. The fights were fun, the plot moved forward at a fast clip, and this is one of my favorite silly action franchise.
Lego Movie: Part 2
Fun, but didn’t match up to the sheer weird joy of the first movie.
Hilarious and so, so fun. This was definitely a kids movie, but aimed solidly at kids who’re 28-35 now—my generation has the funds to relive our childhoods in cinema. I played a few Pokémon games, and watched the cartoon for a little while in middle school, and seeing all of the Pokémon I know flitting around the screen was a hoot. Ryan Reynolds did some fantastic Pikachu voice acting, matched by the incredible CGI of his fur. One of the sillier, funnier movies I’ve seen in a minute. “My clues!”
It’s been years since I read the story that this movie was inspired by, so I barely remember it. The pacing of Burning was slow, but each shot was artful, and each scene a strange delight. Also, the ambling, slightly clueless protagonist seemed to fit right in to Murakami world.
This was in a really intense movie about how fucking cold it can get in the Arctic, and how scary it is to be crashed there. I like to think that this is somehow an extension of the Hannibal universe, and that in order to escape capture he became a pilot.
Ghost in the Shell SAC
I finally finished this series! I stole my haircut (sorta) from the protagonist from Ghost in the Shell, but I’d never made it through the early 2000s anime series. It’s very episodic, and uneven, but there are so many highlights and breathtaking scenes. It’s definitely a classic.
It’s funny that this show and Patriot exist at the same time, since both tackle duty, and the idea that someone who mostly kills people and carries out clandestine tasks has a fun side. Bill Hader hasn’t ever been a favorite of mine, but I seriously love this goofy show. Everyone, from Henry Winkler, to Stephen Root, to the guy who plays the extremely friendly mafioso is giving their all.