I am trying to get back into the habit of reading. I finally picked up a couple of books from the library: Codex Born by Jim Hines, and You Are Not So Dumb.
Codex Born is the sequel to Libriomancer. I did not love it so well as the first book in the series. The relationships are still handled well, but one of the other things I admired about Libriomancer was the way the climax played out, and this time the climax didn't feel as creative or interesting. It is worth noting here that this book is in the vein of ratcheting up the tension, risks, and consequences for the characters. This is a hugely popular trope for many people (enough so that plenty of writing advice columns will say you are a bad writer if you don't use it), and also one that I find increasingly less interesting. So people who find high stakes more engaging will enjoy it more than I did.
That said, I did still like it -- it's a solid 7 -- and it did many things well. The romantic relationships are drawn in a plausible, interesting, and intelligent way. The complexities among different factions are excellent: all the characters have their own motivations that compel them to work with or against others for different reasons. Worth reading, and I look forward to the sequel.
I just started You Are Not So Dumb, and it's interesting so far. It's a psychology book mostly about everyday self-delusion. I am hoping it has ways to use my own self-delusion to my advantage, because I think that would be a fun approach to the problem, instead of the usual "understand it so you can try to overcome it". We'll see. It is interesting to try to see where various self-delusions come up in my own life, because the author will use examples that don't apply to me. My status markers aren't clothing or cars. But I can see the same behavior writ small in my choices in Flight Rising, at times.
There's a section on how we invent after the fact reasons for why we did things, which then guide future behaviors. It reminds me of telling Kendra that I had enjoyed EverQuest because why else would I have played it for years. She commented at the time that this was unusual: that most people would look back on it as a waste of time that they never really liked. Now it strikes me that perhaps I played it for other reasons -- habit or an artificial sense of progress -- but am retroactively saying it was fun to justify my actions. But then wouldn't everyone say that? Huh.
Anyway, I will write more about it when I finish.
In the meantime, I need more books to put on hold at the library and justify the return trip. I still have some from the last time I asked, but I want fresh recommendations anyway. I'd love some 2014 sf&f recommendations -- I might go to Worldcon next year (since it's in Spokane) and it'd be cool to participate in Hugo nominations.