Book recommendation thread

I’ll give you this, it’s an attention grabber for sure, but I still think that,


Also, thanks, @darthdomo
I just ordered it off of Amazon, which is weird, cause that’s what Amazon is really for, but I usually just get crazy project stuff there.

About the time I got to read the The Martian, I was super into Kerbal Space Program. It’s amazing how well the two go together.

If you don’t know what KSP is, then imagine a flight sim, with little green(ish) men, who build rockets that Wiley Coyote would be proud of.
And fly them.
I hear it’s big at JPL.


Not really a story, but the beginning of my strange, f*ed up favourite book…

God grant that the reader, emboldened and having become at present as fierce as what he is reading, find, without loss of bearings, his way, his wild and treacherous passage through the desolate swamps of these sombre, poison-soaked pages; for, unless he should bring to his reading a rigorous logic and a sustained mental effort at least as strong as his distrust, the lethal fumes of this book shall dissolve his soul as water does sugar

(Comte de Lautréamont - Les Chants de Maldoror)

Okay, it’s from 1869 and translated from French, but I just love the strange images it evokes.


Anyone who has not read The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy is missing out big time.

Also, Diana Wynne Jone’s Howl’s Moving Castle (which was turned into a movie by Hayao Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli) and The Ogre Downstairs are fantastic. Definitely more kid-oriented, they hold up to adult readers.

I just finished Good Omens and American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Also fantastic.


I received, and read, this book today. I can thoroughly recommend it. Maybe not quite as good as The Martian, but way better than Artemis.

Also, I really liked the book’s antaganist, I’d never have expected a biologic that well thought out.

My only complaint is that My bedtime is 8pm, I have stuff to do tommorrow, and it’s currently 2am having just finished the book.

Yeah, I had to really force myself to ration it out, and not to read it all it one session. It was super tempting, it really drew me in. The characters were just so likable, and it was really fun trying to guess where the story was going next.

Also, to respond to your earlier reply…

Yeah, I’ve been playing KSP for a few years, on and off (bought it before it was on Steam, when you had to buy it through their site). Absolutely love it. I’m curious if it would be possible to quickly write up a mod to add the aforementioned “antagonist” into the game. Not sure how easy mods are to make for it, but given the quantity that are available, I’d assume not too bad. I think it’s possible already to build the Hail Mary itself (including the centrifuge element) using a few popular mods, aside from the required energy source.

EDIT: I was curious about the date, logged into my old account on their store.


Can’t believe it’s been almost 9 years. Apparently that was at alpha v0.17. The game’s changed a lot since then.

I almost died laughing after one of the updates to KSP included the following warning on the TEG (thermo electric generator),

Fans of The Martian will get it!

Just found out the other day, there’s gonna be a KSP 2

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Just to add to this list of fine books, I enter my all-time hard scifi favorite story: The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu.

It starts in 1960s in China, when the first contact is made with aliens, secretly. The aliens live on Alpha Centaury, 4 light years away from the earth. And they decide to attack the earth.

This starts a technology race between the two species. The story starts in the past, then it follows people to 200 years in the future, then ends in millions of years from now.

For me it had all elements of a good story. Unexpected twists, developed characters, scientific facts, logical and believable picture of the near future, steady pace of technology advancements, etc.


I highly recommend reading Stars Uncharted by S. K. Dunstall. Its a two book space opera featuring a captain of a simple cargo runner, a renowned bodymod artist, and megga corporations that are after them for a piece of salvage they happened upon. I thoroughly enjoyed the books and I think some of you good peoples probably will to.

short story but “the egg” by andy weir

they both die in the end
farenheit 451

The case of the silver egg by Desmond Skirrow.

Principia Discordia or How I found Goddess and what I did to her when I found her by Malaclypse the Younger and Lord Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst

Venus on the half shell by Kilgore Trout

Zen without zen masters by Camden Benares

The life and opinions of Tristan Shandy, gentleman by Laurence Sterne

For fun books, I recommend Interview with the Vampire (Anne Rice). I like the whole Vampire Chronicles series but the first three books are the only “good” ones.

If anyone’s interested in learning about animal training, I’d suggest Lads Before the Wind, or anything else by Karen Pryor, for background on how positive reinforcement training came to be.

I don’t know if it’s been posted already, but I loved “Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes.

I thought I would throw a bit of a double post in here, with one of them being dubiously on-topic…

I recently read The Langoliers by Stephen King, and it was a lot better than I had expected. I had only experienced it from the awful TV mini-series from decades ago, and thought it was going to be really boring and cheesy.

The “science” of it is incredibly mystical and it’s more supernatural than anything, but it was still interesting. It’s one of the only sci-fi horror books I’ve read that caused me genuine discomfort at parts. The antagonists are hard to portray with special effects, but their literary descriptions are horrific.

It’s a shorter read at ~270 pages, it’s a novella, so it doesn’t take much time.

Now, for the slightly less on-topic part. I’ve been reading a lot more lately, so, I bought a new e-reader (thanks to some unexpected cashback rewards earned from my trip :slight_smile:), and given that this is the book recommendation thread, it seemed like the most fitting place for a review, besides the anti-derailment thread. I figured that chances are, anyone thinking about getting an e-reader might look at this thread. Warning: just like all of my posts, it’s going to be needlessly in-depth and long-winded :wink: So, I’ll throw it behind an expansion.

Kobo Libra H2O review

I had a few different kindles a few years ago, the 4th gen one and the 3rd gen (with free 3G). I got the 4th gen for christmas when I was 11. It was my first e-reader, and I enjoyed it, but the overall experience wasn’t great looking back on it. The device wasn’t super comfortable to hold, the interface was pretty slow, and it had the Amazon subsidized ads when you turned it off. A year or two after I got it, I saved up money and upgraded to the Kindle 3, despite it being a bit older. It had a full keyboard, and free unlimited 3G for downloading books on the go. I really enjoyed this one, and used it a ton, but it was equally slow, and the build quality left something to be desired. It was all hard plastic, but the plastic they used absorbed any kind of dirt that got on it. Over time, my white kindle turned a bit yellow :frowning:

As the battery began to die, and the screen began to fail, I stopped using it. Both of those kindles had a fundamental flaw, and that was the lack of an optional backlight. E-ink without a backlight is fantastic in daylight, it’s one of the main advantages, but it makes it no fun to read at night. I do a lot of reading in bed, so this was a major issue. I used a reading light, but unlike normal books, the kindle screens were slightly glossy, resulting in annoying glare.

Over the years, Amazon released quite a few new Kindle models, starting with the Kindle Paperwhite. This added the backlight that I had desired, but I had heard iffy things about the build quality. By this point I was also growing a bit tired of Amazon, and didn’t really want to support them any longer if I could avoid it. They also annoyingly could only use side-loaded books in the mobi format, rather than the standard ePub. This meant that all of my collected e-books had to be converted to mobi with calibre, which worked, but often led to formatting issues. This felt like Amazon was punishing me for not buying through their store, and not using their format.

I heard about Kobo a while back, but hadn’t looked too much into their readers. As I got into reading more, I started to do some research, and it looked like just what I wanted. Modern, fast readers, with a backlight, using open formats. They’re a bit more pricy, but this is because they aren’t ad subsidized, and they don’t expect to necessarily make their money back through their e-book store. Amazon has said in the past that they sell kindle devices at-cost, or even at a slight loss.

I ended up buying the Libra H2O. It’s not their cheapest model, but I really like having physical page turn buttons, the waterproofing is a nice addition, and it’s also not as expensive as the Forma model. The Forma is also a bit older, and had a few issues that were fixed in the Libra H2O (mainly issues with the power button. The primary difference it storage size, and screen size. The Forma is therefore a bit better for PDFs, which weren’t a major use-case for me.

I ordered it from Walmart, as Kobo readers can only be ordered via Walmart or their own site. The shipping on their site apparently takes 7-10 days, and I’m impatient. I also ordered an official sleep cover, which I’ll cover in a moment.

The overall feel is really nice. The finish feels decent, and the device feels sturdy. The buttons are satisfyingly clicky. The screen is sharp, and it feels overall quite responsive compared to other e-readers I’ve used.

For putting books on, you can either buy them from Kobo’s store, connect to to your local library if they support Overdrive, or you can connect it up to a PC. When connected to a PC, you can either manually drag on epubs, or use Calibre for library management. Calibre is great, and I’m glad I can use open-source software to manage my reader. I simply imported all of my books, installed the KoboTouchExtended plugin, and everything worked perfectly.

For the library, linking it to my library card took less than 5 minutes, and I can browse and borrow books directly on the reader. Super super simple, and I’m happy to be able to easily utilize library resources. The reader even knows now to show my library’s catalog by default, rather than Kobo’s store, since that’s what I used last. I don’t feel like they’re constantly pandering to my wallet.

The reading experience is very nice. The backlight is super adjustable, and can be turned off completely, to act as a “normal” e-reader. While reading you can quickly adjust brightness by swiping up and down the left side. You can use either the touch screen or the physical buttons to page turn, and the touch buttons can be disabled completely if you like, or their shape changed. Auto-rotation can be turned on or off, and the reader can be used in any orientation. Font and font size are both adjustable as well.

The backlight also allows you to change the color temperature, which is really nice for nighttime reading. It can also do automatic adjustment, by supplying your bedtime.

One of the coolest things is that while reading, you can hold a word to see the definition, but you can also search it on Google or wikipedia. I’m currently reading the Three Body Problem, and since it’s originally a Chinese novel, I’ve had to look several things up on Wikipedia. It’s a fantastic feature to have. It also lets you highlight and annotate to your heart’s content, but that’s not really something I do.

The page turn buttons are angled, along with the whole side of the reader, which I really like. It makes it really easy to hold without obscuring the screen. Overall, I like the bezels. I can hold it from any angle without issues.

Now, the sleep cover. It’s one of those iPad-esque covers with magnets. It automatically sleeps and wakes the reader, which is really convenient. The power button is on the back, and the case has a cutout, but if the cover is open, you have to reach through the flap.

The flap is firmly held when in use, using magnets on the other side. I haven’t had it come loose during reading, which was a worry of mine.

The case does an origami fold thing with the magnets, allowing it to stand on a table in landscape mode. This is nice, and I can see myself using it while sitting at my desk.

The cover also protects the screen (E-ink can be a bit fragile). Since I plan on throwing it in my bag, it’s pretty necessary. The material is nice and thick, and it’s not fragile leather. It’s some kind of plastic, but it feels nice in the hand. The cover is normally $50, but at Walmart, I got the black one for $35. A little pricy for what you get, but it’s a really nice addition, and feels like a complete package,

The weight is a little on the heavy side for an e-reader when the case is on, but it’s easy to hold thanks to the angled-handle portion.

If you’re thinking about buying an e-reader, I would highly recommend the Libra H2O, or any modern Kobo reader. The software is great, and it’s a good experience all around.


Highly recommend Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez. Excellent read.

Data is fundamental to the modern world. From economic development, to healthcare, to education and public policy, we rely on numbers to allocate resources and make crucial decisions. But because so much data fails to take into account gender, because it treats men as the default and women as atypical, bias and discrimination are baked into our systems. And women pay tremendous costs for this bias, in time, money, and often with their lives.


Another book review! I actually read a new book since my last post. My second this week! Glad to be reading again :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

It took me 4.5 hours to read, according to my Kobo.

The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin

This was a really interesting read. It’s the first translated novel I’ve ever read, as it was originally a Chinese novel. The translation itself was a little rough, but pure, if that makes sense. The dialog felt very stiff and robotic, but I believe this is due to the translator doing a very faithful translation, without any cultural or tone adaptation. This is perfectly okay, but it did lead to parts of it feeling like a bit of a slog. I tend to lean toward sci-fi with brighter and more lively dialogue (such as The Martian), and so it was a bit different than I was used to.

The concept of the novel itself is rather interesting. It’s a first contact novel, but it explores an alien race unlike any other I’ve seen in media before. It focuses much more on the Earth society side of things, rather than the alien species themselves. The method and circumstances of first contact is also very interesting and unique (not gonna spoil).

The novel publication was very well put together, both the e-book and the physical copy. I bought a paperback of it while I was in Portland, but I decided to try out my new e-reader with it (since it’s been in my backlog for ages). I often like to read a book digitally, but own a physical copy as well. Both versions had tons of footnotes explaining everything from cultural references to puns in the original language. It really helped make things understandable for a clueless westerner. On the e-book, they were embedded as clickable pop-ups which was very convenient.

Regarding scientific accuracy, it sits in a weird place. It’s not hard sci-fi, but it’s also not magic/paranormal levels. It sits just above hard sci-fi, adding some plot twisting to existing scientific concepts. It also attempts to provide explanations behind any of the more “magical” things that happen in the book.

The characters are interesting, and you can get a sense of each of their motivations and personalities.

One of the more interesting aspects for me was the involvement of the Cultural Revolution, which spanned from 1966 to 1976 in China. The book gives a very bloody account, showing the more horrific portions of what happened at the time. This is an event that I haven’t really heard talked about much in the US education system, and it was shocking to read. It also explores intricacies of the Communist Party at the time, and the inner-workings of the government and bureaucracy.

The ending is a little unsatisfying, likely due to the novel being the first in a trilogy. Because of that, it isn’t very self contained, and I will likely be reading the second and maybe third novel soon (to give me a sense of satisfaction).

If you’re into first contact/alien type sci-fi, and you’re looking for something different, I would definitely recommend it. I’m glad I read it, and it was one of the more interesting books I’ve read in a while.



I also recommended this book some posts higher. You definitely have to read the second and third books. They are all related, and it’s fantastic!
Oh and thanks for mentioning footnotes. I have the paperback books, but I have only listened to their audible version. I should read the books too, to get more details.

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How do we feel about the rest of the Hitch Hikers guide to the galaxy books? Worth a read? I’ve considered picking up a whole set but if the rest aren’t good then I’d rather not :smile:


I enjoyed the entire trilogy, but did feel that the sixth book wasn’t quite up to Adam’s levels, Colfer did good, just not as good as it could have been in my opinion

It has also been years since I read it though, so take it with a grain of salt

Still worth a read for sure


As it turns out, this got me thinking about it just enough for me to set aside my other books and give the guide another read-through

I’ve learned two things so far:

This is a much better series than I remembered, and I remembered it being quite a good couple of books

And the books are a fair bit shorter than I thought too

So, thanks for that


I don’t read as often as I should, but a recent book I read that I enjoyed was Biohazard by Ken Alibek.
Ken Alibek was a Russian bioweapons developer that talks about the biological weapons program he ran.