Jeez, I haven’t done this in awhile. And I suspect, as is always my undoing with this sort of thing, I’ve forgotten to record some books.
This has been a very weird year for reading. I was actually shocked to discover I’m relatively on track for the 75, because I’ve been reading a lot less than normal this year. (And WAY less fiction and WAY more rereading.) Vast sections of this year have just been in too much upheaval to do much in the way of reading. And at the moment, I have several books going at once, which is highly unusual for me.
Tonight, by way of beginning to clean and sorting out books to try and sell and donate to the library to make much-needed shelf space, I actually sorted out the Really Really TBRs from the TBR pile. Managing to get it down to about a dozen books I’d like to read right away. You know, after the four or so I have going. This feeling drives me nuts. I prefer a more serendipitous way of choosing books, and am even curious as to whether having sorted out this pile will make me avoid it. Anyway, the reading life feels like it’s settling back into a more comfortable groove. I hope, hope, hope. (And the LBC going to fewer books per round in future will help immensely.) Also, I only have research books out from the library; must remedy that immediately.
So here’s an attempt at some thumbnails to catch things up. I’ll try not to go this long without doing this again, for it makes me very sad to give short shrift to books I really enjoyed. Please forgive any repeat squibbing.
10. Lulu Dark Can See Through Walls, Bennett Madison – An excellent, fun, zippy YA girl detective series begins. Highly recommended, and Colleen says the next one is even better. Plus, check out Bennett’s charming blog.
11. Louise Brooks: Lulu in Hollywood (expanded edition) – This was one of the aforementioned rereads and, damn, if it wasn’t just as great as always. Brooks is always a pleasure.
12. The Aztecs, Richard Townsend – Slightly academic and dry, but it’s the Aztecs so there’s lots of fully weird stuff anyway.
13. Magic Lessons, Justine Larbalestier – LOVED IT. Justine blew me away with this one. See here.
14. The Brief History of the Dead, Kevin Brockmeier – The Truth About Celia is still my favorite Brockmeier, but this is also very, very good. Surprisingly, it was the survival narrative that most captured me, perhaps because I’d read the first chapter when it was in The New Yorker and so the city felt very familiar. The ending didn’t quite work for me, but I highly recommend this anyway. I find myself coming back and back to it. This is a not a writer who is boring or safe, which is what makes his work always worth a shot. Plus, I interviewed him for the PW piece and he said lots of smart stuff (only some of which I was able to use, sadly).
15. Familiar Strangers: Gypsy Life in America, Marlene Sway – A wonderful little thesis book that’s a bit out of date, but still full of excellent detail and analysis of American Rom culture, something that’s not easy to find.
16. Aztecs: An Interpretation, Inga Clindennen – The best book about the Aztecs I’ve yet come across. And compulsively readable to boot. (Thanks to Justine for the rec.)
17. Televison, Jean-Phillipe Toussaint – LBC Read This! pick for last round. Eh.
18. Here They Come, Yannick Murphy – Carrie has excellent taste. What more to be said?
19. The Girl in the Glass, Jeffrey Ford – Another reread and if you’re reading this, you know how much I love this book. But just in case you missed the LBC week…
20. Ticknor, Sheila Heti – LBC book. Boo, hiss. But brief.
21. My Sister’s Continent, Gina Frangello – Kassia also has the taste of wonder. See LBC.
22. Bury Me Standing, Isabell Fonseca – If you’re only going to read one book about Gypsies, go for this one. Lovely.
23. The World’s Wife, Carol Ann Duffy – One of my favorite poetry collections from recent memory. Poems from the POV or about different heroines (or villainesses) from mythology and such. No Medea though. But I can read her between the lines.
24. Mohr, Frederick Reuss – See here for a bit more. Another lovely book from Unbridled Books.
25. Little Money Street: In Search of Gypsies and Their Music in the South of France, Fernanda Eberstadt – Love this, see sidebar to the left.
26. Her Majesty’s Dragon, Naomi Novik – See above. These are wonderful novels.
27. Throne of Jade, Naomi Novik – Ditto.
28. Black Powder War, Naomi Novik – Ditto.
29. An Abundance of Katherines, John Green – Oh my, how wonderful this book is. I feel I will reread it and post a real review of it nearer the pub date. But suffice to say: you will want it. You will need it. Such great fun and so beautifully done. Plus, John Green is the only writer I can think of off the top of my head who manages to capture the south I grew up in, warts and nonwarts.
30. Talk Talk, T.C. Boyle – Some of us are in dialogue-icals over at Ed’s place this week on this one. I liked it well enough; it’s certainly a page turner. But ultimately, I think I’m left with more issues than love. The writing has so much energy though, I do recommend it, especially if you like thrillers.
31. Kiki Strike, Kirsten Miller – Just a fabulous girl spy in the undercity novel that I grabbed at BEA. More on this one as well. Read it!
32. Nick & Nora’s Infinite Playlist, Rachel Cohn and David Levithan – See top of left column sidebar. This is a wonderful book. Highly recommended.
33. Skinny Dipping in the Lake of the Dead, Alan DeNiro – I plan to do a proper review of this, because Alan’s stories are drop-dead wonderful. So I won’t say too much now. But buy this one. Love this one.
34. The Ladies of Grace Adieu, Susanna Clarke – I found myself reading these fabulous stories in between books, as palate cleansers. I’d read most of them before, and they hold up extremely well. Whatever you thought about Jonathan Strange, Clarke is a masterful short story writer and you should give this slender little collection a shot. Plus, it’s just aesthetically pleasing that the first book was so big and this one is so petite.
35. 36. 37. 38. This round’s LBC books, which I will point to future comment about over there. (Yes, I’ve now gotten too lazy to type in the titles. Sue me.)
39. Living Next Door to the God of Love, Justina Robson – This book kicked me out of a reading slump, but for some reason I forgot to add it to the sidebar so it’s turning up last. And Dave Itzkoff has further redeemed himself by praising it highly. Highly recommended for those of you who like The Sci-Fi.
(And now I’m all caught up, if only I just answered email and wrote my appreciation of John’s story for the ED SF project — up next!)