Summer is back, and so is Nuketown’s sun-drenched reading list! The 15th iteration of our annual tradition features 17 books (12 novels, 5 non-fiction books), 5 novellas, and 5 graphic novels. You can follow my reading list progress on GoodReads.
Unlike in 2020, where I struggled to complete my summer reading list in the actual summer, in 2021, I read all of the books between May and September. That effort was bolstered by our 14 days backpacking at Philmont, where I was able to read three books between my time on the trail and in base camp.
- Print is for books in paper or e-book format.
- Audio is for the novels I’ll listen to in audiobook format, rather than read the traditional way.
- Island books are the ones I intend to read during my family’s annual summer vacation at Lake Champlain.
Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny – (Amazon) – Print – This book is frequently cited as one of Zelazny’s best, and I contemplated reading it for years (in fact, it first appeared on my summer reading list in 2010). I finally picked it up after David Moore and I interviewed Jerry Grayson for his Godsend Agenda Kickstarter. The book – about advanced humans who take on the form of gods on an alien planet – heavily inspired the game. I started reading this in the spring, but didn’t get very far; I’ll redouble my efforts this summer.
Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi – (Amazon) – Print, Island – A stand-alone novel about carrying for giant monsters in an alternative reality. Oh, and preventing a catastrophe on Earth that could kill millions.
The Empire’s Ruin (Ashes of the Unhewn Throne, Book 1) by Brian Staveley – (Amazon) – Audio – I enjoyed the world-building – and world-destroying – in Staveley’s Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne, in which gods walk the earth, an Empire struggles to survive against an ancient conspiracy, and the Kettral – elite, giant-bird riding warriors – try to stay alive through it all. This book picks up five years later … and things haven’t gone well for the Empire. The Kettral are all but wiped out and rebellion against the Empire is widespread. I wasn’t in the right head space to read this book – which starts off dark and gets darker – in the spring, but I’m back into it now.
Shards of Earth (The Final Architecture, Book 1) by Adrian Tchaikovsky – (Amazon) – Print – I loved Tchaikovsky’s Children of Time/Children of Ruin, so I figured I’d pick up this book. It’s about an engineered race of warrior humans trying to find their place 50 years after the end of the war they were designed to fight. It’s supposed to be a big, sprawling space opera, complete with alien artifacts – it sounds like just the sort of thing I love to read in the summer.
Inhibitor Phase by Alastair Reynolds – (Amazon) – Print, Island – A new novel set in the Revelation Space universe. I’m a big fan of the series, but I admit its been years since I read anything at the leading edge of the timeline. I’ll need to read a few wiki articles to remind myself of what the heck is going on, but at the very least I know the galaxy is being overrun by technology-destroying “Inhibitors”. In this novel, a handful of humans on a remote colony are hiding from their life-terminating enemies while trying to figure out how to strike back.
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers, Book 1) by Becky Chambers – (Amazon) – Print, Island – I’m giving into friendly peer pressure and reading this book. Just about everyone I know who enjoys science fiction has read the novels in this series, so I figured I’d better get with the program.
Machine (White Space, Book 2) by Elizabeth Bear – (Amazon) – Print – The follow-up to Ancestral Night, which I read as part of the 2021 Summer Reading List. The first book revolved around Haimey, leader of a small crew of salvagers, and the discovery of an ancient secret. The follow up continues in the same space opera vein, only this time it follows Dr. Jens, a doctor dedicated to healing sick aliens.
Resolute (The Lost Fleet: Outlands, Book 2) by Jack Campbell – (Amazon) – Print, Island – Jack Campbell’s great military SF series continues as Admiral “Black Jack” Geary – a legendary hero who lives up to the legend – deals with political scheming from a government who respects and fears him while confronting the powerful – and alien – Enigma species. Release Date: June 28, 2022.
Matter (The Culture, Book 7) by Iain M. Banks – (Amazon) – Print – My slow progression through Iain Bank’s The Culture series continues with Matter. The seventh book in the series deals with an agent of Special Circumstances and her complex family history. Special Circumstances is the intelligence arm of The Culture, a post-scarcity, galactic human utopia. The exact setup doesn’t matter; The Culture books have been consistently good, and I’m looking forward to reading the next novel in the series (even know that I only have two books left after this one)
Star Wars: Lesser Evil (Thrawn Ascendency, Book 3) by Timothy Zahn – (Amazon) – Print – Star Wars books are my go-to beach read, so it’s good that we’ve got a new Zahn novel out. The Thrawn Ascendency books are prequels taking place between the prequel trilogy and the original trilogy, and detail everyone’s favorite blue-skinned, red-eyed admiral’s rise to power.
Cytonic (The Skyward Series Book 3) by Brandon Sanderson – (Amazon) – Audio – Sanderson’s Young Adult space opera continues. Spensa, the series’s protagonist proved herself to be the best starfighter on Defiant, her home world by helping to defeat alien invaders. She then infiltrated those invaders – an galactic civilization known as the Superiority – and discovered their plan to launch an interstellar war using horrific alien creatures known as the Delvers. In this book, Spensa needs to figure out how to save the galaxy from this seemingly unstoppable threat.
The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth, Book 2) by J.K. Jemisin – (Amazon) – Audio – I won’t lie. I had a hard time getting into Book 1 on this series. Jemisin does an incredible job of world-building, but the pacing of the first book threw me off. I pushed through, and I’m glad I did. Now I’m back for more with Book 2, in which we find out what the heck happened to a certain celestial body…
101 Essays That Will Change The Way You Think by Brianna Wiest – (Amazon) – Print – A collection of self-improvement essays recommended by a friend.
Thinking with Data by Max Shron – (Amazon) – Print – Data analytics is a growing part of my day job; my goal in reading this slender tome is to better understand the discipline.
Data Science for Business: What You Need to Know About Data Mining and Data-Analytic Thinking by Foster Provost and Tom Fawcett -– (Amazon – Print – Another introductory book about data analytics and data science.
The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures by Dan Roam – (Amazon – Print – Another book for another book club from a few years ago. I ended up not participating in the club, but bought the book anyway. It fits with the overall theme of my “data analytics summer”.
What if I Say the Wrong Thing? 25 Habits for Culturally Effective People by Verna A. Meyers – (Amazon – Print – I’m reading this as part of a book club for work. It’s about understanding, supporting, and fostering diversity in your organization.
Artificial Condition (The Murderbot Diaries, Book 2) by Martha Wells – (Amazon) – Print – I started this series in 2021, and enjoyed it enough to continue it in 2022. It features a sentient robot (aka Murderbot) who’s disabled its killer programming and now undertakes all manner of helpful missions … while resenting her meatbag employers.
Skyward Series Novellas: I discovered these three Skyward Flight novellas while Christmas shopping for my son. He’s read them; I haven’t; it’s time to remedy that.
- Sunreach (Novella 1, Skyward Series) by Brandon Sanderson and Janci Patterson – (Amazon) – Print
- ReDawn (Novella 2, Skyward Series) by Brandon Sanderson and Janci Patterson – (Amazon) – Print
- Evershore (Novella 3, Skyward Series) by Brandon Sanderson and Janci Patterson – (Amazon) – Print
The Sins of Our Fathers (The Expanse) by James S.A. Corey – (Amazon) – Print – The final novella for The Expanse series. This one’s bittersweet – I’ve been reading Expanse novel and novellas as part of my summer reading list for a decade … and now it’s over.
I love reading horror graphic novels by the campfire. For more than a decade, Hellboy and B.P.R.D. – with the occasional Alien or Predator collection thrown in – filled that niche. Unfortunately, I’ve reached the end of the line with Mike Mignola’s universe. I finally caught up, and while new books are occasionally being released, they’re not enough to scratch that itch. As a result, I’m looking to branch out into other horror comics. Got suggestions? Leave a comment!
Hellboy Universe: The Secret Histories – (Amazon) – A collection of three stories set in the Hellboy universe. Collects Rasputin: The Voice of the Dragon, Sledgehammer 44, and The Visitor: How and Why He Stayed.
The Rise of the Black Flame – (Amazon) – A story about one of the B.P.R.D.’s signature enemies. It’s extremely difficult to get this one in print for less than $90, so I’ll be getting the digital copy.
Something is Killing the Children Vol. 1 by James Tynion IV – (Amazon) – From the book blurb:
When the children of Archer’s Peak begin to go missing, everything seems hopeless. The few children that return alive have terrible stories — impossible details of terrifying creatures that live in the shadows. Their only hope is the arrival of a mysterious stranger, one who believes the children and claims to be the only adult who sees what they can see. Her name is Erica Slaughter. She kills monsters. That is all she does, and she bears the cost because it must be done.
The Swamp Thing by Ram V – (Amazon) – From the book blurb:
Swamp Thing returns in a new series that stars Levi Kamei as the next Guardian of the Green! Unable to control his transformation into the monstrous Swamp Thing, Levi is thrust into the harsh, unforgiving mystery of grisly murders committed by a supernatural desert legend. Levi must revisit past events in his homeland of India and face the deadly reality of a ravenous new villain in order to comprehend what he is truly, and horrifyingly, becoming.
The Me You Love In The Dark, Volume 1 by Skottie Young – (Amazon) – From the book blurb:
An artist named Ro retreats from the grind of the city to an old house in a small town to find solace and inspiration without realizing the muse she finds within is not what she expected. Fans of STEPHEN KING and NEIL GAIMAN will enjoy this beautiful, dark and disturbing story of discovery, love and terror.
Previous Summer Reading Lists
- 2022: 17 books, 5 novellas, 5 graphic novels
- 2021: 14 books, 2 novellas, 8 graphic novels
- 2020: 10 books, 1 novella, 5 graphic novels
- 2019: 19 books, 5 graphic novels
- 2018: 15 books, 7 graphic novels
- 2017: 17 books, 1 novella, 8 graphic novels
- 2016: 16 books, 1 novella, 8 graphic novels
- 2015: 15 books, 9 graphic novels
- 2014: 13 books, 5 graphic novels
- 2013: 11 books, 5 graphic novels
- 2012: 11 books, 1 graphic novels
- 2011: 11 books, 0 graphic novels
- 2010: 7 books, 0 graphic novels
- 2009: 9 books, 0 graphic novels
- 2008: 8 books, 8 graphic novels
- 1993: 26 books