Been upping my reading over the last year or so, trying to skew a little more toward learning/improvement in addition to fun & light. Some of my recent reads:
The Big Picture: On the Origin of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself by Sean Carroll. I'm a physics/cosmology junky along with getting more into philosophy. This book ticks all those boxes. Sean Carroll is one of my favorite physicists to listen to, and his minor in philosophy definitely comes through when you hear him give a lecture or debate. All of this comes through even more in this book where he melds his philosophy with all of the current evidence of a universe that is devoid of any meaning other than that which we give it. One of my favorite books on the subject.
The Greatest Story Ever Told (So Far) by Lawrence Krauss. Another highly recommended book on the fundamental make-up of the universe, going through the history of our understanding of the theories of quantum mechanics. By far Krauss' best book unless you are a total Trekkie, in which case you'll probably like "The Science of Star Trek".
A Universe from Nothing, also by Krauss. A little dated now, but goes into detail on the energy in empty space and the mounting evidence that that energy can manifest into the creation of a universe from what would otherwise be "nothing".
I've always liked Krauss, especially since he's a fairly hard atheist like myself. Too bad he got caught up the the #metoo BS. I've not delved too deeply into the accusations he faced, but from what I understand it's now basically illegal to find a female attractive that does not find you attractive. But I'm open to changing that opinion of him based on evidence.
Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle by Chris Hedges. One of his older books, dating to just after the financial meltdown of 2008. Hedges goes into the increasing slip into a fantasy world of mass-market media, influencers, fantasy, and illusion that Americans increasingly retreat into rather than face the hard questions of economic, environmental, and social rot affecting our culture. He basically predicts Trump (or a similar demagogue) in this book with scary accuracy. The wife and I got to see Chris give a talk on his latest book, America: The Farewell Tour earlier this year at the Atlanta History Center. This earlier work on the same basic subject is a great jumping in point if you want a little better insight into well thought out progressive liberal ideas without the usual hyper SJW sour taste of much of the current left. The chapter on the pornography industry made me completely rethink my relationship with the 'net and the porn that pops up even on sites like IGx.
Conscious: A Brief Guide to the Fundamental Mystery of the Mind by Annaka Harris. This is a short book or long essay on our current understanding of theory of mind, and how consciousness arrises out of a collection of non-conscious matter. More of an accumulation of thinking by scientists working on the issue and some opinions by Annaka rather than research done by the author, it covers many of the modern hypotheses, including the more esoteric ones like Panpsycism (various ideas that consciousness could be a fundamental property of the Universe rather than some result of brute information processing power of a brain). Picked it up because I have a huge existential crisis going on about why I'm here and what not, and because she's Sam Harris' wife. Was pleasantly surprised, and it's good to hear the top minds in the field all admit that we currently have no idea why our collection of particles can feel like something to be itself.
The Fifth Science by exurb1a. I've followed Alex's youtube channel for quite a while. On his channel he deals with philosophical and existential issues in some of the most humorous and thoughtful prose I've ever heard. He also writes SciFi that incorporates his philosophy into the story. This book is a collection of short stories that follow humanity from the beginning of our move to a galactic empire to the eventual fall of the empire. The arc of the empire is a very loose background canvas to the stories that dive deep into the philosophy of our relationship with technology and the idea that Consciousness could end up being a fifth fundamental force in our universe alongside the Strong and Weak nuclear forces, Electromagnetism, and Gravity. The story "Water for Lunch" is a near spot on critique of our modern meme and "influencer" driven society.
The Prince of Milk, also by exurb1a. A full length novel that again deals with consciousness but this time in the form of a story of "gods" (Arbiters of various fundamental properties in this book) who regulate the cosmos who fall into a love triangle played out over the history of the human race and coming to a head in a small English village. If you like Douglass Adams, you'll enjoy this book.
If unfamiliar with exurb1a, this is one of my favorite short films of all time and showcases his writing as well as anything:
Buddhism Without Belief: A Contemporary Guide to Awakening by Stephen Batchelor. In order to deal with my ever growing existential crisis I'm having, I've been diving deeper into philosophy, which has in turn drawn me toward Eastern philosophy. Since I've taken up a regular Theravada meditation practice I've been learning more and forming my own conclusions. But I still find myself unable to accept any form of higher power guiding this existence. I simply cannot believe anything on insufficient or zero evidence. Much like Sam Harris, Batchelor distills the practice of mindfulness as a way to recognize the root of our suffering is our desire to either obtain things we do not have that we think and hope will make us happy, or avoid those things we fear or find unpleasant. He removes any dogmatic underpinnings and gets to the core of the idea that focusing on the present moment can break us free from the constant worry/fear of the future and the analyzing/regretting of the past that contribute so much to our distracted state in the present.
The Demon Crown by James Rollins. This one is a basic summer action/adventure read. If you like Clive Cussler, you'll like Rollins. This is the latest in his series of Sigma Force novels. Sigma Force is an elite arm of DARPA that seems to constantly find itself involved in world-hopping dustups of a science and history bent. Think Indiana Jones written by Dan Brown. I like a good adventure story based loosely on obscure historical theories mixed with some science.
I don't have a lot of experience with vampires, but I have hunted werewolves. I shot one once, but by the time I got to it, it had turned back into my neighbor's dog.