The Nerds on Earth crew has varied backgrounds and interests, so our reading list might surprise you. Take a quick glance at our nightstands and you’ll see a mixture of sci-fi, fantasy, leadership, theology, and even some technical titles.
So, we wanted to take a moment to share what we’ve been reading lately, because it’s always helpful to get some reading recommendations for nerds.
The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
Late last year @earthnerdadkins did a social media post where the first five people to respond would receive a book of his choice. I jumped in, and he ended up sending me The Way of Kings, the first book in Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive.
My first blush upon receiving it: “This is big.” Seriously, it’s like 1300 pages. But I dove into it.
About three weeks in (and about an inch into the book…), I still wasn’t convinced. The story sets up four or five major storylines, and very slowly begins to weave them together.
- Kaladin – the surgeon turned soldier turned slave, trying desperately to save those around him.
- Shallan – the daughter of a minor nobleman who must seek out a great scholar in order to save her family.
- Jasnah – the great scholar and heretic who is delving deep into the world’s past to find information that might save its future.
- Dalinar – the uncle to the king whose attention is more and more focused on the strange visions he has been having during the highstorms, leading him to seemingly question the war to avenge his brother’s murder.
The next two months/inches of the book were more intriguing to me, as I could clearly see the the storylines converging, albeit in some ways that I did not expect. At this point I was committed to the book, because I could see some real potential in where things were headed.
But it was still slow going for me. As the resident Prodigal Nerd, I just didn’t have the time or bandwidth to dedicate to getting through a book this dense quickly.
The final inch or so of the book changed that. Holy cow…there were one or two totally unexpected things for me that changed my opinion of The Way of Kings from, “That’s a lot of pretty intense world building and political machinations…” to, “This is big. Like, this could easily become an all-time favorite series for me if it keeps up at this rate. I need to get the next book immediately.”
So I did. I’m currently about 20% through the second book in the series, Words of Radiance. I highly recommend this series!
The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
CURVEBALL! The youth pastor is reading a book by a leading atheist all about how God (or a god/gods) is at best highly improbable and unnecessary and at worst a dangerous and harmful belief. But I saw it at a book sale for $1, and thought, “Why not?”
I picked this up in part because I think it is good mental exercise to read works that offer different perspectives than your own. In this particular case, Dawkins collates not only arguments for the existence of God/god/gods (from here forward just God for simplicity’s sake) and the institution of religion, but also develops their counter arguments.
This works for me as I’m exposed to a few angles on both fronts that give me food for thought. And here’s possibly the craziest bit: I actually agree with a lot of what Dawkins posits. I mean, we obviously arrive at different conclusions, but the book is not wholesale “wrong.”
The God Delusion is a challenging but stimulating read that appeals to my love of argumentation and begs me to think critically about what I believe, how I came to believe it, and why I still do.
Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton
I’m currently reading Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton.
Yes, that one, the one that’s 50 years old.
Even though I consider myself a fan of Crichton, this book–the first one published under his real name–was one I hadn’t picked up. While I’m actually reading it in preparation for an upcoming sequel written in cooperation with the late Crichton’s family (shameless self-promotion alert), I’m glad I took the opportunity to do so.
I’m sure the technology that’s so central to the book’s action is outdated, but I have very little scientific knowledge, so it holds up well for me.
The plot, centered around a group of scientists who are tasked with identifying and containing a biological threat that has extraterrestrial origins, is a compelling one, and it’s written to be a fast-paced, easy read that pretends to be a non-fiction account of real events. I’d recommend it to anyone who hasn’t already read it!
The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane by Robert E. Howard
As the resident Conan the Barbarian buff, I’m pretty much always in the process of reading Robert E. Howard in some shape or fashion. I consider myself a purist when it comes to the characters by the 20th Century pulp writer from Texas. But I’m eschewing my Conan bromance for the time being by rereading the stories of Solomon Kane.
The Puritan with a sword and flintlock pistols has always been just as striking a character for me as Conan. He’s brooding, religious, and mysterious. What better character traits could one have?
Beyond the stories themselves, the Del Rey Howard reprints from the mid-2000s are excellent reads for the bonus material included. There’s plenty of essays and analysis attached to the book, giving a thorough look at Howard’s writing process and the history behind the character, along with the publication history (or non-publication history, as it is) of the various Kane stories.
Howard’s prose is always a treat, but the extras in this volume are great for the amateur historians out there like me.
We’ve got a direct link to the Del Rey release for you right here!
There you have it, some reading recommendations from us at Nerds on Earth. Feel free to join us on Facebook or Twitter and let us know what you’re reading! We take recommendations just as readily as we give them out!