3 book recommendations for July, 2022
One of my favorite genres of conversation is exchanging deeply felt recommendations with friends—books, movies, music, food, places, ideas, etc.—the world has enough awful things in it, so seek out and share the beauty.
That’s why I send this newsletter.
And now, books I love that you might too:
Upgrade by Blake Crouch is a science-fiction thriller set in a near future where personal and public life has been revolutionized by genetic engineering, for better and for worse. While the novel glitters with deeply researched ideas, this speculative brain candy is woven through a story with enough ratcheting tension to make even the most stoic of hearts skip a beat. I enjoyed Upgrade so much that I interviewed Blake about writing it.
The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan is an epic history of Central Asia that follows the development and evolution of the trading network that ferried goods, people, and ideas between civilizations—anchoring the world even as it provided the cultural fascia progress required. Meticulously detailed and endlessly fascinating, Frankopan offers up a world to lose yourself in that will give you a new vantage on the world we inhabit.
The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe is a dark, weird, and deeply philosophical adventure about an apprentice torturer on a far-future Earth who is thrust onto a quest against his will and begins to notice cracks in the reality he appears to reside in. A literary M.C. Escher, part of the joy of reading Wolfe is trying to parse his multivariate stories.
Bonus recommendation: Over the past nine months, hundreds of volunteer scientists, artists, and writers from dozens of countries came together to produce The Carbon Almanac, a field guide to building a better climate future.
Things worth sharing:
After nine years on Blogger, I stealth launched a new website in May. Here are four lessons I learned along the way. Gargantuan thanks to Peter Nowell, the mastermind behind the redesign. Fun fact: Peter also created the concept art that evolved into Reap3r’s cover.
From my work in progress: “There's a special beauty that objects only acquire through regular, loving use—a patina of imperfections that describe a long arc of experience, maintenance, repair, intimacy, and appreciation.”
New blog post: Concept Art.
I never would have guessed that sharing standalone sentences of a pre-specified length would become a significant use case for the internet. "Twitter is like Haiku, but with networked computers!"
Works in Progress just published an essay version of Stewart Brand’s audio short, The Maintenance Race. If you’re curious about the creative process behind the story, I interviewed Stewart about writing it.
Ben Werdmüller's blog is always flush with useful resources and insights, so I was delighted to see Reap3r appear in his reading list.
The solarpunk future is already here—it’s just not evenly distributed.
We are born unfinished, ready to let the world pour into us, shaping us as we grow into shaping it, forever on the verge of becoming our next true selves.
From an interview with TechCrunch about the power of speculative fiction: "Current events are a painful reminder that unlike fiction, reality needn’t be plausible."
Thanks for reading. If you enjoy my writing and want to support it, invest in my creative process so I can do more of it. Oh, and tell your friends. We all find our next favorite book because someone we trust recommends it. Culture is a collective project in which we all have a stake and a voice.
Eliot Peper is the author of Reap3r, Veil, Breach, Borderless, Bandwidth, Neon Fever Dream, Cumulus, Exit Strategy, Power Play, and Version 1.0. He publishes a blog, consults on special projects, tweets more than he probably should, and lives in Oakland, CA.
“I couldn’t put it down! I wanted to cancel my plans and spend an entire day reading it from start to finish, but managed to do it in two.”
-Rebecca Hiscott, managing editor at Stripe Press, on Reap3r