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The Terraformers

A nice antidote to the book I read before it. Even though this book has its share of conflicts, it remains deeply hopeful about the way another world is possible, a world where anything sentient can be a person, a person who is accommodated, and is valued in a larger society. Kind of about, but also not about, terraforming in a universe way into the future where entire planets are owned and remade. It’s also about friendships, community and talking robot beavers who like playing video games. A lot of people point out the “moose romance” which I also liked but didn’t seem to be the central best relationship. A lot of plucky rebels and a satisfying story arc.


Michael Twitty is Black, Jewish, gay and fat (his own self-description) and a scholar of the foodways of his people. This book is an exploration of just who those people are, where the intersections are, and how those various cultures have informed one another. There are also recipes which are recognizable both as kosher and coming out of various Black traditions. I enjoyed this book a lot even though it took me a while to get into the rhythm of it since I was expecting a food exploration from the get-go and it’s a lot more than that.


This book was nearly 700 pages and ended with “To Be Continued” and I can’t even. It’s written by the same guy who wrote The Last Astronaut which I mostly liked. It was a deeply horrific space nightmare with a pretty interesting plot--there’s an infectious *thing* out there which is memetic and gets into your head and causes thought distortions that destroy communities, usually through mass die-offs or mayhem (like one makes people forget how to breathe, very spooky). A small cast of characters along with some sentient AIs with funny names. But there was just so much agony it was a pretty tough read. Will not read the sequel.

Messy Roots

I have a particular weird feeling about graphic memoirs written by young women (I have this “You haven’t even lived yet!” internal feeling) but this is a me problem, not a book problem. This is one of the better ones of the bunch, a woman who moves to the US at a young age, maybe doesn’t know she’s queer yet, controlling family, confusing school life. Like a lot of these graphic memoirs, there’s a lot of drawn out struggle with a “Wellp all good now” vibe towards the end. Well drawn, well-told.

Death Comes to Marlow

I enjoyed this second installment of the Marlow Murder Club books, it feels very much like the Richard Osman books only not quite as funny. It’s the same three friends who we mostly have gotten to know by now, so no major reveals in that arena. This one had a bit of a lengthy wrap-up that was all-tell-no-show which is never my fave, but I still enjoy the series and the quirky assortment of characters.


What would you do if you were the last living human on earth, “rescued” by an alien race and taken to their home planet and constantly, but politely, made an object of study? How would you feel, and how would you spend your time? This is a really nice moody novel that follows such a person. It’s a great example of incidental world-building while remaining character focused. There are some ups and downs but not much happens and you don’t really mind. I liked it a lot.


I went and visited my town’s waste water treatment facility the same week I was reading this book. It’s a book that looks into the various things you can do with human waste. How we treat it, how it can treat us, various different ways you can try to live more sustainably with the things we excrete (mostly poop). This book is chatty, upbeat, and interesting without being too pie in the sky about what we need to be doing. Nelson is a very capable science writer with a doctorate in microbiology and a decent sense of humor which is a must for a book like this.