What I’ve Been Reading: August Reviews

This month, I’ve been making good use of the staff discount at the bookstore I’m working in and the pile of books I want to read just keeps growing. As I make my way slowly through the pile, here are the books and graphic novels I’ve been reading this month.

The Nerdist Way by Chris Hardwick

The Nerdist Way.jpg

This was a book that I really wanted to love. I wanted to love it like I loved Felicia Day’s You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) and like I love Hardwick’s creation of Nerdist.com. But I couldn’t.

The Nerdist Way is at its core, a self-help book. It aims to help readers to use their “nerdy” qualities to push their own boundaries, to get to where they want to be, and to be happy. Hardwick, creator of Nerdist.com, often described as “King of the Nerds”, does this in three sections: managing your mind, looking after your body, and making the best use of your time. Unfortunately, a couple of flaws turn the book’s incredible potential into a disappointment (at least for me).

For me, the self-help itself was very hit and miss, and Hardwick’s no expert, as he admits himself. This made the advice feel dubious, and the exercises in the book felt like a lot of work, a lot of extra analysis that I would need to obsess over for a long time before seeing any benefits. This kind of heavy investment was very hard for me to get into, particularly in a book which I expected to be a little bit lighter.

That said, there were some gems hidden amongst the pages, and the pop culture references made me feel like I was part of a super cool exclusive nerd club. I can see how this book could help people to feel proud of their nerdiness. Hardwick has some valuable advice about how you can utilise your nerdiness to grow as a person, and how to push your boundaries.

One of the biggest disappointments in this book is the humour. It simply doesn’t reflect the funny, smart version of Chris Hardwick we’re used to seeing onscreen. A lot of the humour feels cheap and immature: it’s rife with dick jokes and references to how this book is going to help you “score” women, see some boobs, and get laid. The Nerdist Way simply wasn’t written with female readers in mind.

Despite this, I’m glad Hardwick wrote this book. From other reviews, I can see that the advice in the book has helped people, and has helped them to unlock the secret power of being a nerd. I just wish I could say it had the same effect on me.

Overall, it was a bit of a rollercoaster-read, with some great sections of advice, but which the persistent “getting laid” comments have permanently tarnished.

Rating: 2.5/5

 

Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey

Leviathan Wakes James S A Corey

This is probably my favourite novel I have read so far this year. This is the first science fiction novel I’ve read in a little while, and I can’t think of anything that could have done a better job at getting me back into the genre.

The problem with science fiction is that sometimes it can come across as a little heavy: writers sometimes focus too much on new technologies, space wars, and exploration, and forget about the characters. James S. A. Corey (the pen-name for the book’s two writers) is an exception to this.

The story takes place in a future in which humans have spread across the universe, colonising Mars, and even the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and centres around two main characters: Jim Holden, the XO of an ice-mining spaceship, and Miller, a detective living on the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Whilst Holden and his crew stumble across a derelict ship, Miller finds himself investigating a missing woman, and both find themselves drawn into a mysterious and dangerous political battle which stretches across the solar system.

My favourite thing about Leviathan Wakes is the intricate world the writers have created, in particular the political dynamics between and within the various colonies throughout space. Another success of the novel is that despite all the time and effort that must have been invested into creating the setting, the writers have also managed to create strong, diverse and believable characters I really cared about. In short, it’s not a one-trick pony.

I enjoyed learning about the differences between the humans who’ve grown up on the Inner Planets, and those from the Outer Planets. Not only do the different colonies look different, but they hold different values, and different attitudes.

Overall, this was an imaginative, exciting, and intriguing adventure set in an incredible and plausible world, which I only wish I could see for myself (from the outside, at least). I would highly recommend this to anyone who wants to read some modern sci-fi and doesn’t know where to begin.

Rating: 4.5/5

The Guild, Written by Felicia Day, Illustrated by Jim Rugg

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From the moment I found whilst tidying up the graphic novels section at the
bookstore I work in, I knew I would love The Guild in graphic novel format.
Despite only recently getting into the web series (how many years late?!), I’m hooked on the characters Felicia Day has created in The Guild.

In this graphic novel prequel, Day tells the story of how her character, Cyd, became Codex, and how the Knights of Good were formed. We get to find out how a character like Bladezz ended up in the same guild as characters like Codex and Vork, and gain an insight into Cyd’s real life, her therapy sessions with the passive-aggressive therapist who later “dumps” her, and her ex-boyfriend, Trevor.

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All of the passion and ingenuity and honesty of the web series is echoed within the pages of this graphic novel. Right down to Cyd’s facial expressions and Zaboo’s speech, the graphic novel reflects the series perfectly. The story is masterfully written, and Cyd’s character is equally as identifiable on paper as it is onscreen.

As a prequel to the web series, The Guild #1 is at once hilarious, touching and engrossing and answers all the little questions about just how the Knights of Good came together. As with Day’s memoir and the web series itself, The Guild #1 is wonderfully written, and much more nuanced than it appears at first glance. It may be a comedy about a group of gamers, but it’s also about friendship, problem-solving, and being yourself.

My only complaint, as ever with graphic novels, is that I wish it had been longer.

Rating: 5/5

 

Previous month: Metal Made Flesh by Jeremy Biggs and Simeon Aston, The Mirror of her Dreams by Stephen Donaldson, and Saga Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples.

Next month: The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie, The Chimp Paradox by Steve Peters, and Intercept: The Secret History of Computers and Spies by Gordon Corera.

To keep up with what I’m reading, make me a recommendation, or read more reviews, add me on Goodreads, follow me on WordPress using the button in the right-hand navigation panel, or follow me on Twitter.

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9 thoughts on “What I’ve Been Reading: August Reviews

    1. That’s really cool! I just followed the blog 🙂 I really want to join a book club, but the problem is that I’m too set on the books I want to read next (my to-read bookshelf in my cupboard is calling me).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My problem is that I keep getting books from the library on a whim, instead of reading all the ones on my to-read shelf! I guess I need more of your discipline haha

        Like

      2. I have that problem too! I’ve got a pile of 4 non-fiction books I took out yesterday, but I have no idea when I’ll have time to read them. Plus, working at a bookshop over the summer means that I keep buying books from there too. I have no willpower when it comes to buying books.

        Liked by 1 person

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