Books, Music, And Other Smiles Part II

More good stuff that I want to share with you.

I don’t have a copy editor for this personal blog. Please send all typos and corrections to othomas@sfchronicle.com. Thanks! - A

Liza and I are going to put together a bunch of pictures from the wedding pretty soon that we’ll share here or somewhere else. It’s coming, I promise.

Today, though, I wanted to reprise something I wrote a few months ago. What follows are notes on some books and music that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about. I will bore you with my Books Read 2019 list at some point in the future, but for now, just a few recommendations.

Books

Becoming, Michelle Obama.

Since finishing this book I’ve tried to get a bunch of people to read it. Obama’s memoir is brilliant. It’s well-written, with beautiful story-telling giving the reader sufficient detail on the people from her life to feel wrapped-up inside her memories.

It’s also frank, honest, and clear. It would be easy to look at the Obamas and presume that everything they ever did was perfect. That two people that brilliant and accomplished never struggled. But both Barack and Michelle are people like you and I, and Becoming draws a fuller picture of their lives apart, and life together.

Finally, the book’s later chapters trace a political story that we know. It’s innervating to watch Michelle manage so much change for so long with so much clear-minded thinking and prioritization.

I won’t spoil the details by spilling them here. Just read it. And then call me for lunch so that we can talk about it.

Children of Time, Adrian Tchaikovsky.

I read too much science-fiction mostly because the genre is amazing and I have good taste. Inside of science-fiction, however, there’s hard science-fiction. This sub-genre is akin to Moby Dick. Sure, there’s a whaling story, but we’re also going to spend a lot of time talking about harpoon design.

Hard science-fiction spends lots of time on details. How space drives work. How language changes. What it means to be conscious. That sort of thing. In the hands of the right author, the added information can be welcome. KSR’s Aurora is a good example of hard science-fiction that flows like any other book.

Children of Time is similar in that it includes lots of detail, but is an even easier book to read, compared to Aurora. In fact, I think I nearly killed the whole thing in a few days. And, Cullen has already picked up it since I read it and is loving it.

Read it if you need to leave Earth for a bit, and spend time asking yourself how arachnophobic you really are.

Ninefox Gambit, Yoon Ha Lee.

Look, if you are into fantasy and science-fiction, you’ll love it. If you aren’t, I also recently read Cod, which was great, and Exhalation, which was good.

If you are into fantasy and sci-fi, however, and have not read Ninefox Gambit, you are an ascetic.

Music

This post is running long, so I’ll revert to bullet points. What follows are bits of music that I have had on repeat lately. Text me your own favorites, I’m hunting for new tunes to fall in love with.

If you need more new tracks, our wedding picnic playlist is here for your use.

And that’s that, have a lovely weekend and don’t work too much.