Friday, December 30, 2016

maybe I will, maybe I won't

Let's see what happens if I try something new.

Books completed this week: 
  • Ranma 1/2 Vols. 3-4 by Rumiko Takahashi (graphic novel, reread, very enjoyable)

Books I'm currently reading:
  • if on a winter's night a traveller by Italo Calvino, trans. William Weaver (fiction, I'm enjoying it, but it's not going as fast as I thought it might when I started)
  • Difficult Conversations by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patten, and Sheila Heen (nonfiction, professional development, very useful)
  • Ranma 1/2 Vols. 5-6 by Rumiko Takahashi

Books that made it into the house this week:
  • Ghost Month by Ed Lin (this is one of those books I was super excited to get and as soon as I held it in my hand I wasn't sure I wanted to read it right now... such is the curse of the librarian)
  • The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben (this was the Christmas gift of choice in the family - there were four separate copies, including mine, given to immediate family members)
  • A Field Guide to Lies: Critical Thinking in the Information Age by Daniel Levitin (given to fishy, not me, but it's on my to-read list so I'll probably do that sometime too.)

So the Calvino. I'm enjoying it, and it delighted me especially in the first seven to ten pages. A book written in the second person that can delight me is a rare beast indeed. But for whatever reason it's not grabbing me, in that I'm not desperate to get back to it, which I find I have to be these days in order to read at any speed. There are so many other things calling for my attention that I have to be hooked by a book, really hooked, in order to finish it within the three week library lending period. I need to want to read that book to the exclusion of everything else, and that alone seems to give me the kind of focus I need. The exception to this is nonfiction, which can generally be picked up and put down whenever, as long as it's non-narrative, so a few minutes here and there can be stolen out of a day to make a little progress.

The Calvino has a narrative. I'm just not as wrapped up in it yet as I need to be. 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Long Awaited Reads Month

So, I did this, or my own version of it. I have so much to choose from, with books that I own that I want to read. I have a shelf full of them. I need to weed it. I'm in a weeding mood. I've historically been extremely reluctant to weed my own shelves, though, so we'll see how that goes.

But the thing is, on those shelves are a number of things that I keep putting off because for whatever reason, something else always seems more pressing. January, as Long Awaited Reads Month (thanks to Ana and Iris) was the perfect time to forget more pressing and just go with what I knew I could love.

Here's how I did:

Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett
A Sand County Almanac and Essays from Round River by Aldo Leopold
Disco for the Departed by Colin Cotterill
Terrier by Tamora Peirce

That doesn't count me starting Wilkie Collins' The Woman in White, which I abandoned around page 70 for the third time in my life because ffs, Walter Hartright. And I also read Susan Dennard's Truthwitch, which can't be a LAR because it was released this month, except that it kind of felt like the book I've been waiting for so I'm going to count it for a half point.

That's 4.5 books. In one month. That's amazing for me these days. It turns out reading books that fit like a comfortable pair of jeans helps me read more. And when I read more, I feel better about myself. So even though I have been as sick as possible without hospitalization this month - still coughing up goo and feeling exhausted five weeks in - I can't count this month as a total wash; I read some wonderful, wonderful books.

I'll do little mini reviews because that's as much as I'm up to at this moment, but I may have more to say about each of these books as time goes on.

Men at Arms: It's been a long time since I read a Discworld book. Too long, really. Plus it's a Night Watch novel, and I love the Night Watch. I read it in two days and it was the perfect way to start my reading year. Amazing how relevant Pratchett seems to be, no matter when he wrote the book.

A Sand County Almanac: Putting my thoughts together on this one is going to be hard. Good thing I took notes. It was brilliant, the best thing I've read this month, and that's saying something. It was also the longest awaited of the long awaited books. I think I first heard of it when I was doing my undergrad and that is longer ago than I care to admit. It's surprisingly easy to read, given how dense it gets sometimes; the Almanac section is beautiful but regrettably short, the essays from Round River are deep and thought-provoking. Another book that is startlingly, and sadly, as relevant now as it was when it was written... which was the 1940s.

Disco for the Departed: I can't believe how long it took me to get to this. I've had it home from the library at least four or five times, and never made it past the first couple of pages before it was due, entirely because of reading other things. Wonderful to be back in 1970s Laos with Dr. Siri. I'll go anywhere with Dr. Siri. One of my favourite characters of all time. Cotterill's writing remains just stellar and the characterization excellent.

Terrier: Oh Tamora Pierce. If Robin McKinley started my life-long love of fantasy, Tamora Pierce's Alanna cemented it. But I haven't read much of her since that series, and Terrier has kind of called to me, since it was published. The first time I tried to read it I stumbled on some of the formatting stuff - different fonts for different prologue journals and I didn't like the fonts, which is a stupid reason not to read a book - but once I got past that this time I was in for good. Beka Cooper is fantastic and Pierce's sense of place, and use of language (oh my stars the slang) is everything I love. This is essentially a police procedural set in a fantasy world, exactly my catnip, and all tangled up in a coming-of-age story. Will be reading Bloodhound, hopefully won't take me until next January to get to it.

I'll save ranting about how much I loved Truthwitch for later. I hope. I had meant to write up my thoughts on Almanac two weeks ago, which is not a great sign. I'll get to it! And this is technically the end of Long Awaited Reads Month for me, but... that's not going to stop me from sticking to things that will feel good to read. I need it right now, at least until my lungs stop pretending they belong to my grandfather.