Summer reads: three novels where the internet is the star

Following on from last night’s post asking for summer reading picks, here are some recommendations for you, with an internet theme.

A return to music and music fandom as a central theme finds Hornby on his best form in  some time. This a rather melancholy love story, centred on a series of connections that emerge from an online fan community. As such it’s about fandom and belonging, about the way fans construct meaning and myth from records and pop stars, and about being lonely and heading towards middle age in a declining British seaside town. Large passages of this book are written as emails or postings to a fan site. I was worried about that when I started the book but Hornby gets the tone of these sections bang on, and in many ways they are the funniest and truest parts of the book.

This book also tries to recreate a sense of characters being “online”, but is less successful than Hornby’s book in capturing that feeling. Past Mortem is a murder mystery that plays out through a series of connections in a website that’s supposed to stand in for Friends Reunited, but which works just as well as Facebook. Elton does pacey comedy thrillers well – this is not as good as Dead Famous or Popcorn, but worth a few afternoons if you like his style. Elton also tried to take a wider look at digital culture in the dystopian fantasy Blind Faith – not a bad book, but a lot of people who normally like his work struggled with it. Much better to try my next recommendation.

This is a glorious post-modern romp, a road trip through a media saturated world where everyone wants to know the answer to just one question: who’d win in a fight between a bear and a shark?

if none of these float your boat try 253, which I’ve written a bit about in the past

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Jon Hickman

Hi, I'm Jon. I teach and research digital culture, social media and new media practice at Birmingham City University. Find out more about me with this lovely CV: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/jonhickman Find out about my work at the Birmingham Centre for Media & Cultural Research: http://interactivecultures.org