the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for the ‘for the love of reading’ Category

I am out of  bookshelves, and there are now stacks of books next to the shelves, stacks that grow taller by the week and are threatening to fall over. I may have to start hiding books under the bed. There is a book cull in my future, that is for sure.

So of course I couldn’t help myself, and bought some more books!

At book club last week, instead of having the whole group read the same book, the club’s organizer put a stack of Hugo award winning authors on the table and told us each to pick something that looked interesting.  I grabbed The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Leguin. I may have read this when I was a kid? But if I did I was too young to understand it.

Over the weekend, I went to one of Michigan’s largest used bookstores (not the largest, but it’s pretty big!!) with a friend, and although I wanted to buy everything, I came home with just a few items. And yes, I got lost in the bookstore.

from the non-fiction rooms

Maximum City is about Mumbai, and the Carl Sagan book is, I’m not 100% sure what it covers but it is sure to be enlightening.  I hope that while I read it I hear Sagan’s comforting voice.

 

And now for the scifi!

Connie Willis is one of those authors I keep meaning to read more from, as I recommend her Doomsday Book novel to anyone who will listen.  I’ve been meaning to read Blackout forever. As for Venus on the Halfshell, I’ve been a Vonnegut since high school. If the book is as entertaining as the opening biographical sketch of Trout, you’ll be hearing me laughing from miles away. For those of you not familiar with Kilgore Trout, I’ll just leave this here.

 

Happy Reading!

 

The three volumes of Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach trilogy are strewn about my house, like a path of breadcrumbs. Annihilation, the shortest of the three, sits on the coffee table in the living room, positioned in such a way that if you sit on the smushy sofa, you can easily pick it up. There is a still a ring on the coffee table where my coffee mug sat this morning, dark liquid cooling as I slowly read the last few pages of the book. Everyone talks about the tower, the crawler, the border, the colonization. I do too, as those are the physical stars of the book, the things everyone talks about, the things you can point a finger at and be relatively sure that you experienced them in a similar fashion as others. For me, the star of this show is the Biologist. How her relationship with society is the same as her relationship with her tide pools and environs – to observe but not to interfere. That she doesn’t really care what other people do. She is aggressively self sufficient. That she and her husband loved each other, but that their struggles to understand each and meet each other half way was damaging to their relationship. His extrovertedness versus her introverted self sufficiency. Through the lens of his gregariousness, he saw her as walled off and uninterested in sharing her inner self. His experience in Area X allowed him to gain a deeper understanding of her, and she of him. I like that she found something that she was looking for. And maybe her husband did too. The entire story is tense but comforting at the same time. It’s like a giant tide pool or terrarium, where every rock you turn over shows you more you don’t know, which is why you came to explore in the first place. To realize how much you don’t know.

Authority sits on the kitchen table, where I was reading it over coffee this morning. I’ve read this novel before, and I’m only a few pages into it now. What a different feel from Annihilation! The first novel is soft moss, swaying ferns, chirping birds, clouds that come and go in the breeze. Like the biologist, I wonder why everyone is so afraid of what happens in Annihilation. Authority, on the other hand, feels all sharp angles, florescent lights, clicky shoes clattering on metal staircases, knowing everyone is biting their nails. There is plenty of the unknown here too, but no quiet contemplation, no comfort. The tenseness feels like staring at a phone, willing it to ring, but not wanting it to ring. Authority feels like Finch, like you are just waiting for the other shoe to drop. From what I recall from my first read, Ghost Bird makes an appearance. Maybe her calmness will comfort me, maybe not.

Acceptance sits on the other end of the kitchen table, opened, but unread. What a terrible fan I am, that I have not yet read Acceptance! I think it because I am not ready, mentally, for this story to end. I do not want Area X to cease being. I want to continue to pick up rocks, turn over starfish, find new tadpoles and thistles. I want there to always be things I don’t know. The idea that every question answered means I have ten more questions is comforting to me, not annoying or frustrating.

It sure is nice to have all three books here, that I can just binge read them right through. The weather is perfect for reading outside.

We opened that bottle of champagne last week. After an anxiety filled three months of unemployment, I am scheduled to start a new full time job next week. It’s been eight years since I had a traditional office job, it’ll be nice to have an office gig again. I’m even looking forward to dealing with rush hour traffic.

It’s time to read Acceptance.  Let’s see where the breadcrumb path leads.

 

Book Reviews coming soon to a review blog near you!

and by “a review blog near you”, I mean this one.

Some books I recently finished, and am working on reviews for:

The friendly folks at Subterranean Press sent me Final Girls by Mira Grand, and The Dispatcher by John Scalzi.  Both are novellas, and can be enjoyed over the course of an afternoon. Reviews coming soon!

I am ever so slowly working my way through Kage Baker’s company novels. Gods and Pawns is a collection of short stories. Lots of Lewis (Yay!!!), some Joseph, and a smidgen of Mendoza.  Every time I see Lewis, I can’t help but picture Cyril Figgis from Archer.  I’d had this book sitting on the kitchen table next to some cookbooks, and hubs said at first glance he thought it said “Gods and Prawns”.  that would be a weird but probably good cookbook?

 

My book I’m reading right now is Turbulence, by Samit Basu.  I’d been interested in his superhero novel since interviewing him for SFSignal way back when, so I was excited to come across a copy of this book. It’s hilarious! And engaging! And the characters snark at each other!  much fun is being had.  Husband said the cover art made him dizzy, I told him that’s what you get for wearing lineless trifocals. Looking at the cover art makes me think I need some red and blue 3-D glasses.

I’ve been getting plenty of reading done lately, now I just need to actually write the reviews!

 

I find I write best in the morning.  My husband thinks I’m crazy, but I love the time of day between 4am and 8am.   I get to hear the city wake up around me – the early city buses, delivery trucks, first shifters scraping ice and snow off their cars in the neighborhood, the apartment building creaking as the air temperature changes.  My apartment is up on a hill, so this time of year when the trees haven’t budded out yet I can see pretty far. I can watch the sun rise over the city and change the colors of the clouds. I can  watch the businesses across the street get ready to open for the day. I can watch the college kids run across the street to catch the city bus for their 8am classes at the campus.  I can watch the traffic on the hill go from a trickle to what passes for rush hour around here. It’s a nice time of morning.  Any those of you lucky enough to have received e-mails from me time stamped at 5am know I do some crazy stuff before the sun comes up.

 

But anyways, we were talking about books I need to review!

novellas

Kelley Armstrong’s Lost Souls is a forthcoming novella that takes place in her Cainsville series. I’ve not ready any of the books in that series, but this was a quite fun little mystery story.  I wish more authors would write short stories and/or novellas within their series, they are often very nice entry points. review is coming soon!

 

Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor.  When I bought this novella about a month ago, I told myself i was going to read the first novella, Binti, again, so I could read them back to back. Did that happen? Of course it didn’t.  I zipped through Binti: Home without digging out my copy of the precursor. So before I review this book, I’m going to reread the two novellas back to back, because that will mean I get to spend more time with Binti and her family.

 

arkwright

I’m nearly done with Arkwright, by Allen Steele,  which means very soon I’ll have another book I need to write a review of. While I really like the overarching plot of this book, as a whole it’s not really working for me.  There is a lot to enjoy in this book, but a lot that frustrated me too. This is the March book for my local book club, so it’ll be interesting to see what everyone else things.

 

Because no week is complete without a stop at my local bookstore,  these beauties came home with me:

osc-blish

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The big mega-grocery store near us sells live lobsters at the fish counter. I’ve never bought one, I don’t know if they knock it out before you take it home, or what.  But they always have live lobsters in an aquarium, and I am fascinated/terrified of them.  A few times a year, I get brave enough to wander up to the tank, maybe tap on it a few times, and watch the writhing mass of articulated legs, eye stalks, and rubber-banded snapping claws crawl over and around itself.  To the amusement of the folks working at the fish counter  I last about 10 seconds before running away like a scared little girl. Those lobster critters really creep me out!!  But every time we go to that store, a little voice inside me says “let’s go  look at the lobsters!”.  because although they creep me out, I still want to go look at them.   see if maybe I can last more than 10 seconds.

(East coasters forgive me! I am a midwesterner!)

Sheri S. Tepper’s Sideshow is one of my all time favorite novels.  the 3rd book in a very loose series, you can read the books as stand alones and in any order, but if you read them in somewhat chronological order, you’ll want to read them GrassRaising the Stones, and then finally Sideshow.  It’s a very loose  series, the books take place on different planets in the same universe, but there are some behind the scenes things that make more sense if you read the books in the order they were published.  I’ve read Raising the Stones a handful of times, and Sideshow probably six or seven times, but I’ve only read Grass once.  All I remember about Grass was something about horses that were not horses, and that the book scared the shit out of me.

But, I wanted to reread this trilogy in the order in which it was published, so I took Grass down from the shelf on Saturday morning. By Sunday night, I’d read about half of it.

I remembered this book scaring me.  I remember being disturbed by it.  I didn’t remember how viscerally terrifying it was.  But I can’t put it down.  Every time I’ve put it down, I keep coming back, touching the cover, thinking to myself “I’ll just read a few pages, then I’ll go do something else”, and suddenly I’ve read 40 pages and an hour has gone by.

This book is a lobster. It scares the shit out of me and makes me feel all creepy crawly and I’m afraid of the nightmares it might give me, but a little voice inside me keeps saying “let’s go read that book!”.

 

 

 

Remember when you were a kid, and someone read you a story? Didn’t matter if you liked the story or not, but I bet you enjoyed being read to.

If you’re a parent, I’m sure you read or have read to your kids.  Didn’t matter if you liked the story, but I bet you enjoy the experience of reading to someone.

Ever notice how the feel of the story changes when you read it out loud? When you’re reading out loud, you can control the pace of the words, where the pauses between phrases are,  you can use inflection how and when you want. The words on the page take on entirely new dimensions when they become sounds in the air, and if you are one doing the reading, you can connect with those words in an entirely new way.

I picked up an anthology the other day, and flipped right to a story by one of my favorite authors. One of the many reasons I love her work is because much of it is a combination of organic and cyber, and metaphors that shouldn’t make sense but work perfectly. This is a lady who speaks my language through her words.   This particular story was especially gorgeous, with the words practically making music on the page.  While chatting with my husband that evening, I wouldn’t shut up about how much I loved this story, and that this story was such a perfect example of why I love this author’s work.

I told him This is why I love her work, and I read out loud to him the first few sentences.

That’s really good writing, he said.

So I read a few more sentences.

he said he liked it.

And the entire story is more of that, I told him.

As beautiful as this story is to read to myself, I do wonder how much prettier it would get if I read the entire thing out loud. Would I find a metered pattern in the metaphors? Would a rhythm rise from the words and the pacing of the action?  Would my pace of speaking speed up right at the end, or slow down? During the dialog, would I pause a long time between the lines, as if the characters were thinking about what they wanted to say next? Would I play certain lines for laughs, for sarcasm, or seriously?  So many different ways to experience this (and any) story!

I’m sure plenty of you are thinking “duh, I listen to audiobooks! it’s the same thing that Andrea is talking about!”. That’s *nearly* the same thing, but not quite.  When you listen to an audiobook you are on the listener side of the equation.  What’s I’m getting at is being on the speaker side of the equation.  I do listen to the occassional audiobook, but I often get so distracted by the narrator’s voice that I tend to lose track of what they are saying (yes, i’m weird, but you guys knew that already!)

 

By the way, the story is Synecdoche Oracles by Benjanun Sriduangkaew, out of Upgraded, edited by Neil Clarke.

Seems like every time I sit down and chat with my book buddies, the following phrase comes up over and over again:

“That was such a good book. I should really reread that sometime”

As a book blogger, once I’ve read something and posted a review, what’s the point of reading it again? I’ve already reviewed it,right? Shouldn’t I move on to bigger, better, and brand newer things? Netgalley is all about reading the newest stuff,  we all brag about ARCs we’ve received, and all that jazz.  Isn’t that what being a book blogger is all about?

there is a huge chunk of my brain that is saying “screw that” right now.

I *want* to reread stuff I enjoyed last year, or two years or five years or ten years ago. I want to see if it’s still as good if it still gives me chills if it still scares me shitless if i still have an emotional reaction to it if it still blows my mind and shows me that words are magic. All these books that I keep telling people how good they are, I want to experience again how good they are, damnit!

Books I’d like to reread this year and experience again include:

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Grass/Raising the Stones/Sideshow by Sheri S Tepper

Jeff Vandermeer’s Ambergris books

The Scar/Iron Council by China Mieville

Scale-bright by Benjanun Sriduangkaew

Just about anything by Iain. M. Banks

Defenders by Will McIntosh – will it scare me as much the 2nd time around? I want to know!

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell – I’ve read this I don’t know, five times? Even though I know what’s going to happen the book is a shot to the heart every single time

Faith by John Love

Habitation of the Blessed / The Folded World by Catherynne Valente

I’m sure there are more, but these were at the top of my mind as books that made me fall in love with reading, and made me want to share that love with everyone I meet. I’d like to experience them again.  And this isn’t to say I won’t be reading new and new-to-me books in 2017. In January alone I bought 5 books that are new-to-me, and some of them are brand spanking new.

So who knows? Maybe 2017 will be the year of the reread. It’s certainly going to be the year of not feeling guilty about not reading new stuff all the time.

what books would you like to reread, if you had time?

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.