June reading

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I realized as I was looking at my books read list that I’ve already written about two of the books I read in June - Priestdaddy and No One is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood. I can’t say enough how much I enjoyed those two; they’re so weird and sharp and funny and moving, and I highly recommend them.

Here’s the full list:

All Systems Red by Martha Wells (The Murderbot Diaries #1)
Artificial Condition by Martha Wells (The Murderbot Diaries #2)
No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood
Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood
Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells (The Murderbot Diaries #3)

And I didn’t write them down for some reason, but somewhere in there I read like ten of the Ice Planet Barbarian books by Ruby Dixon.

It was a great reading month, all things considered. The Murderbot Diaries follow Murderbot, a security robot who has hacked its own system to the point that it has will and sentience, and only wants to use its newfound freedom to watch TV and be left alone. While protecting a group of scientists it uncovers a corporate conspiracy that put its’ charges lives in danger. The series of novellas follow Murderbot’s efforts to uncover the truth as it makes its way across the universe.

They’re tremendously fun books, and the series overall has won a bunch of well-deserved awards. Murderbot’s tone is dry and cutting, and the cast of human characters it comes into contact with is diverse and multifaceted. Tremendous, tremendous fun.

One book that isn’t on the list but that I was reading all month is Realm Breaker by Victoria Aveyard. I had bounced off of her first series of tremendously best-selling YA fantasy novels (the Red Queen series) but this was a lot of fun - basically, what if the only people available to defeat Sauron weren’t the Fellowship of the Ring, but, like, the randos and hangers-on the Fellowship brought to Rivendell?

It’s not as romantic as I was expecting it to be, but it’s propulsive and engaging, and the world building is fun. So if you’re into big YA fantasy epics, give it a go! I will say, however, that I brought it with me to Tennessee because I had 150 pages left, and that sucker is big. In the 500+ page realm. So if you’re traveling, maybe consider buying the ebook instead of carrying a tome like this idiot over here.


I am on vacation! I’m at a beautiful cabin in Tennessee surrounded by woods and mountains and apparently a few bears, which I plan on avoiding. I’ve got a stack of books with me and absolutely no plans. This newsletter will be taking a break next week but will return the week after!

If you missed my #FirstLineFrenzy with Rebecca Faith Heyman last week, do not fret! You can check it out on her instagram here, here, and here. She also did a very interesting hourlong Q&A on editing - how to edit your own work and how to be an editor, which you can watch here.

Have a question? Want me to talk about something related to reading, writing, books, publishing, etc? Leave it in the comments or in a reply to the newsletter!


The Stanley Cup Finals are upon us, with the long-beleaguered Montreal Canadiens battling the joylessly talented Tampa Bay Lightning. So far the Bolts are up 3-0, so I have the feeling that unless Montreal can pull a miracle we are in for another year of Tampa Bay Stanley Cup Champions. It gives me no joy to contemplate this. In other sports news, despite the fact that cannabis companies are projected to make $700 billion for people who already had money this year, Sha’Carri Richardson was suspended from running the 100-meter race at the Olympics because she smoked some weed. Pot always makes me sleepy, so if the fastest woman on earth wants to partake and can still run 100 meters in under 11 seconds, I say let her do it!


Let Sha’Carri Richardson Run by Ashley Reese (Jezebel)
The idea that someone is a bad role model because they smoke a joint sounds more like drug war fear-mongering than anything. Even worse, the job of “role model” tends to be particularly loaded for Black women. It’s bad enough for the dominant culture to force average Black people to act as representatives for their entire race whenever they step foot outside the house, and the pressure increases tenfold for Black people in the public eye. Famous Black women, in particular, are constantly derided for not being good role models. 

Breaking News: NCAA Accepts Making the Smallest Possible Change When It’s Clear They Have No Other Option by Natalie Wiener (Fanbyte)
It’s a huge shift in the college sports landscape, one that could make watching them feel less baldly exploitative. But allowing athletes to profit off their names, images and likenesses — and very explicitly NOT off their athletic performance — is still less than the bare minimum. It only allows college athletes to move through the world the exact same way the rest of us do, free to sell our handiwork on Etsy or whatever. The shift only looks liberating because before it was so incredibly unfair: athletes would be penalized for, say, monetizing their YouTube channel or…working anywhere, period. The part that’s getting overlooked is that it still is.

Everyone is Beautiful and No One is Horny by RS Benedict (Blood Knife)
When Paul Verhoeven adapted Starship Troopers in the late 1990s, did he know he was predicting the future? The endless desert war, the ubiquity of military propaganda, a cheerful face shouting victory as more and more bodies pile up? But the scene that left perhaps the greatest impact on the minds of Nineties kids—and the scene that anticipated our current cinematic age the best—does not feature bugs or guns. It is, of course, the shower scene, in which our heroic servicemen and -women enjoy a communal grooming ritual. On the surface, it is idyllic: racial harmony, gender equality, unity behind a common goal—and firm, perky asses and tits. And then the characters speak. The topic of conversation? Military service, of course. One joined for the sake of her political career. Another joined in the hopes of receiving her breeding license. Another talks about how badly he wants to kill the enemy. No one looks at each other. No one flirts. A room full of beautiful, bare bodies, and everyone is only horny for war.


Why agents weren’t faster during the panini | How Twitter can ruin a life | Gwen Goldman becomes Yankees bat girl for a day, 60 years after being turned away | An interview with JT Brown, color commentator for the Seattle Kraken | Britney Spears’ Conservatorship Nightmare

READING: Blockchain Chicken Farm: and Other Stories of Tech in China’s Countryside by Xiaowei Wang
“He’s Fine” by the Secret Sisters
this view

This has been A Faster No, a dispatch on publishing, writing, books, and beyond. Is there something you’d like me to talk about? Leave it in the comments or reply to the email! You can support the newsletter here. If you purchase a book from any of the links to Bookshop.org I get a small commission at no cost to you. I am available for developmental editing and editorial assessment services via Reedsy.