Notes from a Poly-Reader #6

As it’s already midway through September (where did the month go?!), I thought it was time to do a quick reading check-in. This month has been better, reading-wise, than last month, and I’m hoping to keep the momentum up rounding the bend into October. Crossed a few books off the list this past couple weeks, and picked up a few more because…you know…that’s what I do. (I even checked out a couple from the library, despite already having one out and another on hold… I need to work on my impulse control.)

Current reading list includes:

Status Update

The Beck Diet Solution – pg. 204 of 284 – I’m cruising through this one currently, and enjoying it’s thought-hacking both in terms of general/minor food intake and how the Response Cards for common sabotaging thoughts could be utilized in other arenas, such as: 1) But I just don’t want to write!, 2) I already bought two things I wasn’t intending to, so what’s a few more things?, 3) They probably think I’m a complete loser. It’s interesting to think about carrying around physical index cards that you can whip out when you have a well-worn and unhelpful thought pop into mind. I’m pretty confident I’ll be done with this by the end of the month.

The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror 2014 – pg. 222 of 569 – I haven’t been devoting a lot of focused time to this one, but I’m really jonesing for more short fiction, so I may jump into it again soon, once Chiller is done (that one is a LIBRARY-NoRenew, so it has to take priority). But I’ve enjoyed quite a few of the stories I’ve read so far, and I can only imagine reading a bunch will help me isolate what I need to improve in my own work.

Selected Stories by O.Henry – Yeah, still just one story into this, but I’ve kind of put it on hold until TYBDF&H is done. Learned my mistake about scratching the same itch with too many books at once! At least it’s been coming to mind lately, which means I’m probably getting ready to peek into it again.

Style – pg. 62 of 240 – !@(#&$( @!#($% @!# V$@!($% $@!(%& (*)((*(!@#$!@#$! (*deep breath*) I am going to read this one again, I am going to read this one again, I am going to read this one again. I’ve finished the most recent How To Write book, and I’ve promised myself I will not allow any others until this one is done. It’s practical and straight-forward, and I know I can learn a lot from it regarding sentence and argumentative structure but GEEZ…

Osama – 52% – Eh, didn’t make much progress on this one yet. I keep wanting to, but when opportunities to dip into it come up, I find myself gravitating to other things. I think I’m just hitting a wall on the whole P.I.-angst thing, but the language is lovely, and I have this sneaking suspicion that the underlying ideas is surreally-AWESOME, but it’s all still very vague, shrouded in more vague, hinted at by things between the dust in the air. I’m just hoping the puzzle pieces will start connecting a weeeeeee bit faster than they are right now. There’s a lot of pondering, wanting a drink, getting beaten up and left but recovering, getting a drink, smoking a cigarette, pondering, wondering, huh–I’ve seen that before, haven’t I? But where?, getting another drink, going to bed, pondering. It’s not precisely boring–the language and thoughts are interesting, the disorientation is interesting, the subject matter is interesting–it’s just…well, at the moment, it’s just a bit easy to set down.

The Soul of an Octopus – Chapter 2 – Still haven’t figured out whether to check this out in hard copy, or find a way to purchase the audiobook. I’d thought I wouldn’t ever have time for audiobooks, since my evening routine of cleaning has been streamlined, but I picked up Authority by Jeff VanderMeer recently on audiobook, and damn, I love listening to books. And I really like the author’s voice for this book, so I’d really prefer to keep listening to it if I can… I’ll figure something out…

Albedo One #45 – 2 out of 7 stories – I’ve been gradually making my way through this one, as it’s a market I’ve come pretty close to a couple of times, but keep missing the mark. Figured it was time to review the kinds of things published, and am enjoying it. Though it’s definitely made me consider the complexities of male writers investigating female issues (like giving birth, etc.), and how that can either work or not work. I do think it’s perfectly possible for men to write female issues well (my word, “Stories of Your Life” by Ted Chiang being one of them, OMG I cried reading that one…), but it’s also very easy for them to do it horribly wrong, simply by relying on assumptions common in culture. It’s interesting, and it’s given me a lot to think about in terms of diverse/non-US/cisgendered/non-straight narratives, and how (and whether) one outside of those realms should approach them. Lots of food for thought, and some great interviews in here which have added some books to my ever-growing to-read list.

Authority – Chapter 1 – Oh, VanderMeer, I couldn’t stay away. I saw this one available on my preferred audiobook library app and just. YES. And so far, I am in love with this book. It’s following so well on the mood and tone Annihilation set, that it’s pretty much a home run so far. That, of course, can always change, but damn, I’m enjoying it so far.

Chiller – pg. 166 of 485 – Plowing through this one in the hopes of finishing it before it’s due back at the library, since I can’t renew it again. This is one I’m reading for background on freezing people, immortality, and the future! It’s actually a lot of fun, though it does that soulless-voice thing most thrillers seem to do, where the author sounds like every other author who’s written a thriller. That said, I do enjoy the genre, and this one’s been fun so far. George, especially, is a fascinating character, and the author’s handling of detail is superb. I could learn a lot. I’m pretty sure it wipes out a novel idea I had a while back, but better to know now and revise the concept. Interesting stuff, though. Helps me to think through some of the concepts in my own work-in-progress.

On the Docket:
(These are books I haven’t started yet, but which I will probably start in the next few weeks, once Chiller’s done.)

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – I had barely, barely started this one a few months ago, and really liked it, but had too many library books out and not enough renewals to go around, so it got short-changed. This time, however, I’m going to try to tackle it.

The Girls – I’ve been hearing about this one on various internet places, and saw it on the New Fiction shelf, so thought I’d go for it. I haven’t read anything like it in a while, so a change of subject might be good for me.

So there it is, the complete list! I’m probably overcompensating due to the lackluster numbers of July/August, but I feel like I’m making progress, at least. :)

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