I like to read books

One of the things I’ve been meaning to do for decades (or perhaps merely months) is to get into the habit of frequent reading again. And by that, I mean frequent reading of new books. Anyone who knows me is probably aware that lack of frequent reading is not the problem. My father likes to joke that my first words (shortly after the birthing process) were, “Hi. Where are my books?” I don’t believe him. I did have a reputation for reading a LOT when I was younger. In fact, I have actually gotten in trouble in school for reading.

I was sneaking my mother’s Victoria Holt when I was eight & my father’s Stephen King when I was eleven (he told me not to read any of his Stephen King books, so I started by checking them out of the library – because those weren’t his books, so I wasn’t really breaking the rules, right?). I then moved on to my mother’s more *ahem* prurient library books by age twelve (mom, I totally lied when I said I didn’t read them, even when you asked me to my face about Janet Dailey’s “Heiress” and the sex scene).

I read “The Hobbit” when I was eleven, and the next year for Christmas, my parents gave me the “Lord of the Rings” boxed set. The bindings are still holding together…barely.

When I was 17 or so, I went through a very long fantasy/Sci-Fi phase. Seriously. Almost ten years. My bookshelves were almost entirely Mercedes Lackey & David Eddings. (Why do they all write such long series? It’s hard on the bookshelf space, not to mention the pocketbook.)

There were other writers discovered and loved during that phase (Tom Robbins, Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett). I majored in English in college, and discovered other writers there.

Then, about 18 months ago, I realized that I wanted something new & different. I started checking out random books from the library. And then, the truths I’d been hiding from myself reared their ugly heads. 

  • I suck at being a library patron. I am not good at returning books. I spend a lot of money at the library because of that silly “overdue” thing. They should rethink that. Blockbuster eventually did, and look at how well they’re doing now!
  • I am incredibly unworthy to talk about books in the 21st century. Most of my favorite authors are dead. And male. And white. In addition, while all of my favorite authors do not fall into every category, they invariably hit at least two of those categories.

So, I discovered (via an ad on Rock Star Mommy) Books Free which is very Net Flix-like, except without the lightning-fast delivery.

Due to a lovely survey I conducted last January, I now have 30 books in my queue, recommended by other, fun people who like books.

The first four arrived on the 19th of June.  I have finished all four books, and am going to review them here for your pleasure.  Because I am a giver like that.

Those four are:

  1. Kushiel’s Chosen; Jacqueline Carey (I will also review Kushiel’s Dart, the first in the trilogy – I I read that in the spring, and paid $4.25 in overdue fees)
  2. Love Me to Death; Steve Jackson (blurb – the disturbing true account of William Lee “Cody” Neal, a.k.a. “Wild Bill Cody,” a seductive charmer who used his townhouse in Denver, Colorado, to rape, torture, and murder three women, and who, due to the testimony of a victim who survived, is now on death row.)
  3. Reservation Blues; Sherman Alexie (which was fucking amazing, in my opinion)
  4. Beloved; Toni Morrison (I had never previously read this book, and I know that I deserve death for that omission/admission, but it’s all true.)

So, first things first: mini-reviews (like on TWoP). 

Kushiel’s Chosen: I enjoyed both “Dart” and “Chosen,” but must say I enjoyed the first one more. Both were, although quite long, well written and engaging. The stories were easy to follow, although the “cast of characters” listed at the beginning was daunting for a first-time reader. That would be a better appendix. The sex scenes were not as overt as I had expected (I was anticipating something more along the lines of Anne Rice’s “Beauty” trilogy) and I thought she did a great job of exploring the world of pain & sex without squicking out those of us who don’t quite get there mentally or emotionally. I am looking forward to reading “Avatar.”

Love Me to Death: It wasn’t incredibly well written, but I didn’t expect “The true story blah blah blah” to be well written. It gave an interesting account of the time leading up to the killer’s spree, and did a decent job of looking back into his past, although one might wish that they’d spent more time on his childhood, but whatever. It helped that the author did get to interview the killer in jail. Overall, a decent read, that seemed to try to stick to the facts when they were available.

Reservation Blues: Sherman Alexie wrote a beautiful and haunting story. As the title suggests, the story mostly takes place on a reservation (the Spokane, if you’re interested), and although I’m not personally Indian, and haven’t spent much time on reservations, the language & speech patterns were still familiar. The tale is of an enchanted guitar, the woman who might be God’s wife, and the ill-fated all-Indian band that tried to make it big. But it’s more than that. It is a story of hope, the absence of hope and what reservation life does to one’s capacity to hope.

Beloved: Initially, I wasn’t as taken with this book as I’d expected to be (it’s won prizes!), but I kept going, because it was well crafted. The narrative reminded me a little of Faulkner’s short stories, and even when I thought I knew what was going on (and when I felt a little too smug about that), there were surprises. I didn’t think it was as good as “Reservation Blues” but maybe that’s because I grew up closer to the rez than the remnants of slavery.

I have sent them all back, and am now awaiting:

  • The Once & Future King; TH White (I read this about 5 years ago, and remember loving it. I wanted to make sure that I remembered that love correctly before I bought it)
  • On Writing; Stephen King
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude; Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • The Black Dahlia; James Ellroy (Yes, I do have a thing for serial killers & grisly murders.  I’ll admit it.)

If you are so inclined, let me know your favorite books, (it’s okay if it was written by a dead white guy), and I’ll add them to my queue.  I have several from a LJ survey I did in January, but if there’s anything recently that’s knocked your socks off, or an old favorite that you return to over & over, let me know, and if Books Free has it, I will totally get it, read it & review it.

 

Comments:

Stories About Wolves

The Kite Runner and Middlesex are the “it” books of last year that are worth the hype.  Lolita is always fan-fucking-tastic.  I’m reading The Heart is a Lonely Hunter right now and it’s great.  Every word Edith Wharton ever wrote is amazing.  Reginald Hill is a great contemporary British white-guy mystery writer.  Sarah Vowell is much better on paper than on TV and Assassination Vacation is an interesting slice of history.  In Cold Blood is a good killing account.  The Collector by John Fowles is a creepy story in that same vein, as is The Killer Inside Me (I forget by who).  Oh, and Sherman Alexie’s The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven is the short story collection the movie Smoke Signals was based on, also good.  And I re-read Great Expectations once a year because its sort of like home and I like to be there pretty often, too.  Oh, and Real Girl’s book Pick Me Up is available on Amazon and very good as well, if very chick-litty.  And don’t read The Devil Wears Prada; it made me frantic.

I like books.  I’ve been thinking about Books Free, too, but I have so many on my shelf I need to get through.  Maybe when the Boy and I get a place together that can be a shared expense J

(And if all my HTML has closing tags, it’s a miracle*)

Oh, and I LOVE your category tag.  Clever!

 

Tara said,

I just finished “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan” by Lisa See.  It was interesting, and it’s a quick read.  Some of my favorite books are written by Nick Hornby- High Fidelity is my fave, but I also just read A Long Way Down (loved it).  About a Boy is great, too.  Shopgirl by Steve Martin is beautiful, and I need to read more of his stuff.  Love in the Time of Cholera is loved by just about everyone I know (but not necessarily by me), and I see that you have another of Garcia Marquez’s books on your list so you may want to add that.  If you’re looking for a good cry, try My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult.  It’s so sad it’s kind of ridiculous.  A Hearbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers is one of my all-time favorite books.  It’s witty and captivating.

When I taught 8th grade, I had to read a lot of things my students were reading, and I was surprised by how amazing some of the young adult literature is.  My favorite is The Giver by Lowry; Holes is great; so is The Chosen, the author of which escapes me.  I love Make Lemonade and True Beliver by Virginia Euwer Wolff.  Again, these are all young adult lit, but they are truly enjoyable, quick reads.

Ditto on the Devil Wears Prada comment.  It was poop.  Pure garbage. I’m humiliated to admit that I read it.  Oh and one last book, the Time Traveler’s Wife.  Sad, but pretty good. 

Stories About Wolves

I forgot also & who knows how: Margaret Atwood.  I love her.  The Blind Assassin is, shockingly, my favorite book ever J

Can you recommend a good starter Terry Pratchett book for me?  I feel that I should read him.  It sort of all came over me at once, must read Terry Pratchett.  It’s very odd. 

 

Book is real to the people said,

To whomever has read love me to death. Take into account the people who lived that and the children who will grow up knowing that is a part of there every day life and history as for history of William trust me it is not what you think it was what he did and what he left behind for others to live with daily never having a piece of mind reliving that moment in everything it is not stephen king but it is far more than blah blah it is a horrible thing to live through and with for life

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