Books! Essays!: A Blog Post About The Reading List, Thus Far

The recorded reading list is rather puny. I keep making the goal to read fifty books per year, and I keep failing. Oh well. Soldier on. Here’s a brief summary of what I have read, thus far:

Elizabeth Gilbert can narrate the socks off a story. And that, in my opinion, is the only notable attribute of The Signature of All Things.

Lucky Us, by Amy Bloom is another with a fabulous narrator — in the beginning. Then with little to no warning, the narration changes to another character, then another, and the timeline scatters. I really wish the protagonist would have remained the only storyteller, because she created a terrific sense of belonging, whereas I felt the other characters’ POVs were disruptive, at best.

Afterworlds, by Scott Westerfield has two narrators, and in this particular case such a tactic makes total sense. The dual storylines are imaginative, informative, and at times, very suspenseful. One storyline leans toward disturbing and stops just short of horrific, the other frightened me with the early promise of being sticky sweet but thankfully didn’t fulfill that promise. I am interested in giving this novel a second read.

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands, by Chris Bohjalian was incredibly emotional. In fact, I haven’t experienced such an emotionally evocative read since Wild, by Cheryl Strayed. This piece of fiction follows a teen protagonist through unimaginable tragedies in the aftermath of a nuclear disaster. Her backstory is filled in with a series of heart-wrenching flashbacks, most of which begin or end with references to her single literary obsession, Emily Dickinson. Close Your Eyes is one of those tales that will inspire you to go hug someone.

Above Us Only Sky, by Michele Young-Stone is lovely. Family lineage, a dash of European history, magical realism, ornithology, and all manner of incredible human relationships are woven into this compact little novel. This tale is truly a successful employment of multiple narrators — the various points of view bring the story together like a beautiful patchwork quilt. I am definitely a fan of Michele Young-Stone, and will be on the look out for more of her work.

I have read only one poetry chapbook this year and it was a pleasure — If Your Matter Could Reform, by Robert Okaji. Discovering his work on WordPress (thanks to a dear writerly friend!) inspired me to seek the author out and beg for a copy of his work as well as a series of interviews for Brigit’s Flame. My review can be accessed here. (Yes, I do have a penchant for brief reviews.)

That same dear writerly friend mentioned above also wrote a series for Brigit’s Flame — on humor. In one particular article the talented t.s. wright mentions the off-handed sarcasm of the wizard Harry Dresden, narrator and (sometimes bungling) hero of a lengthy series by Jim Butcher. Oh my gosh! I am loving these books. Eclectic tastes much? Yeah, that’s me.

Besides more of Harry’s antics stacked up on the bookshelf, I also have a copy of Barbara Kingsolver’s essay collection, Small Wonder (I loved her novel, The Bean Trees), a great long list of online reading to tackle, and I am midway through a second reading of To Kill A Mockingbird. 

What have y’all been reading?

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6 thoughts on “Books! Essays!: A Blog Post About The Reading List, Thus Far

  1. This week I have listened to Moonheart by Charles de Lint. I’m a long-time fan of de Lint and Moonheart was always one of my favorite stories. I bought the audiobook version to listen to in the car for my daily commute (good audiobooks prevent me from killing my fellow drivers). I am disappointed with the audiobook reader who performed this book. His voice acting leans to all women sounding whiny or whimpering, scholarly men sounding old and wheezy, and my favorite character, Puckwudji, sounding like a weenie jester whose every line is a taunt or wheedle.
    So I switched to that book I told you about earlier, Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente. The book is decadent and surreal and the reader does all of her voices well. Within the larger story, there is a small tale retold one character to another that is whispered in Russian accented English. The speaker in that moment is a rusalka and not only does the reader portray her accent well, she manages to make her voice sound wet.

    I’m glad you’re enjoying the Dresden Files. If you decide to reread Afterworlds, give me a heads-up and I’ll grab a copy to read with you. That’s the sci-fi fantasyish one, right?
    Very well done. I’m loving the story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your description of Palimpsest makes me want to go grab a copy right now! When I finish the current stack, I’ll definitely go on a hunt to borrow a copy of Afterworlds again. It’s definitely fantasy-ish — one of the protags is the writer of the other storyline, she’s a young novelist who gets a dreamboat book deal after pitching her NaNo project. So, yeah, very interesting! Plan on three weeks or so? Will that work?

      Liked by 1 person

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