We’ve recommended a lot of fiction over the years, but we’re also giant nerds who read non-fiction for funsies. Here’s some stuff we’ve enjoyed…
One of Us: Anders Breivik and the Massacre in Norway by Åsne Seierstad, Sarah Death (Translator)
This is thoughtful and fascinating, and also kind of harrowing. I wouldn’t say that I enjoyed it, but it was well worth reading. It was also very depressing, in that Breivik’s fringe alt-right beliefs are now increasingly mainstream.
A Burglar’s Guide to the City by Geoff Manaugh
We thought this book was going to be about one amazing criminal architect, but it turns out the review we read was misleading. HOWEVER, this is still an interesting and entertaining look at the intersection between crime and infrastructure, even though the author gives way too much time and attention to himself.
A City Lost and Found: Whelan the Wrecker’s Melbourne by Robyn Annear
SPEAKING OF INFRASTRUCTURE, this is both a history of a small, iconic business, and of Melbourne itself. Thoroughly readable; the only thing it’s missing is a walking tour. (It does have maps, though!)
Beyond the Ladies’ Lounge: Australian Women Publicans by Clare Wright
This was originally a thesis, and you can often tell, but it’s a good read nonetheless, examining the role of women in managing and developing that most masculine of Australian institutions, the pub.
Midnight in Peking by Paul French
This was so terribly an example of white people prioritisation in Beijing that I literally couldn’t finish it. It was boringly written and, despite being about the murder of a lady, was so much about men that it was positively unbearable. Plus the obligatory exotification “allowed” cos they’d all spent so much time in Beijing. Pass.
[Liz: I also attempted to read this, and came to the same conclusions. It was terrible, don’t read it.]
Beijing Confidential: A Tale of Comrades Lost and Found by Jan Wong
I read this whilst I was in Frankfurt on my first ever visit to the ancestral home of the white person, and I finished it the same day I was learning about “degenerate art” under the Third Reich, and it was all surprisingly poignant! The book itself is fine, a sort of research memoir that twines the author’s moral crimes complicit under the Chinese Communist Party of the early 80s, her 20 years of guilt and search for the person she wronged, and the ways in which everyone was complicit and the CCP encouraged that business. An interesting read but too much memoir and not enough research.
Scatter, Adapt, and Remember by Annalee Newitz
This is a really accessible popular science piece speculating on ways the world will end, with an emphasis on looking at existing science and historical ways in which the world nearly ended or humanity nearly lost its shit. Kind of hopeful, and I actually think it’s a nice intro text for any SFF people who want to try writing dystopias more with a science focus.