Since I started my Poly-Reader Notes posts, cataloguing the running list of “currently being read” books I have cycling at any given point, I’ve always intended to write summaries of the ones I’ve finished in a given month. Usually, I forget. So I’m going to start posting brief* End-Note summaries of any books I’ve finished this month, simply to force myself to make note of any take-aways.
The Castle of Llyr – Bug and I read this one before bedtime for most of this month, and it’s been great fun revisiting a childhood favorite of mine. Mostly, I was pleasantly surprised that it’s not just a wholly “rescue the princess” story. I mean, it is largely, but I hadn’t remembered how active Eilonwy is in her own rescue at the end (arguably, even, saving everyone, including herself, when the situation is the absolute most dire and the heroes are truly incapable of surmounting their enemy without her). And then, of course, there’s just Alexander’s tight middle-grade prose, delightful magical beings, and truly heartwarming characters. MAN, I love this book!
Work Clean – Read this one after hearing some high praise for it by a number of online creative friends, and I’ve got to say, this one was amazing. While I’m not certain it’s entirely the most applicable for creative work, it contains a lot of food for thought, and I gotta say, practicing the “clean as you go” method in the kitchen has seriously made my usually hideous pile of dishes vanish…FOR THREE WEEKS. It’s sustainable! WHAT?! I love having a clean kitchen! It’s a whole load of stress off my shoulders, and it’s not even HARD. This is what they talk about when they talk about “life hacking.” Seriously. It’s also a great read if you have any tendency towards ADD, I suspect. It offers some simple ways to focus your energies without getting distracted by the numerous other things you could be working on. I’ve found it very helpful so far, even as just a rough template, and plan on buying a copy of this book for myself to both annotate and lend out to friends I think could really benefit from it’s organizational ideas.
Barrayar – Oh, Vorkosigan Saga, how do I love thee? I cannot count the ways. This is my pick-me-up, bubblegum reading these days. If you know me at all, you know I tend to avoid series. I don’t know why, though I suspect it’s because I often feel overwhelmed by the sheer length and bulk of an extended series. I don’t know why it strikes me as a contract–thou shalt finish the series thou starteth–because I won’t keep reading a series I don’t like. *sigh* I don’t know. Call it a weird tick. I just don’t typically approach series. BUT ZOMG I’m so glad I picked up the audiobook of Shards of Honor this past year. Seriously, these stories have made my life better, simply by being so damned fun and charming and awesomely space-opera-y. LOVE. IT. This one is the book between the previous two I’ve read (SoH, and Warrior’s Apprentice), so now I’ve got all of Miles’ backstory. And I love Grover Gardener’s voice: he just…reads. And it reminds me so much of my mom or dad reading to me when I was a kid–slight voice shifts for gender, and tone, but subtle, never distracting. I’ve learned, however, that I cannot listen to one of these books prior to my day’s writing session, because then everything I reread or write starts to sound like Grover Gardener. Which is not bad, but not quite right for what I’m currently writing.
Quakeland – This one’s the latest in what I’m now calling my sci-adventure genre kick (see also: Blind Descent, One Breath, Into Thin Air, The Wave, Shadow Divers, and Heart of the Storm). (Although I link these to Amazon, I would highly recommend you check their availability on thriftbooks.com to get them used and cheap!) However, while I learned a fair bit about human-induced quakes and a bit about earthquakes in general (like the rupture of one can create shifts in pressure that make distant faults rupture, too), I don’t come away awed. Maybe I’d set my expectations too high after seeing Kathyrn Miles on The Daily Show, but I didn’t feel all that enlightened like I did after almost all of the above mentioned books. Maybe I already know a fair amount about earthquakes, but I’m no seismologist, so I think I just wanted a little…more. And it felt a bit more sensationalist than the others (even The Wave, which was where I learned quite a bit about tsunamis but also just the mechanics of wave science and rogue waves in general–fascinating). This one felt like: “Ooooo, earthquake! You’re all gonna die! OH NO! SCIENCE-ISH-NESS!” I don’t doubt Miles’ science or the facts presented in the book, I just felt like a lot of the tension in it was created more by speculated worst-case scenarios, which–while supported by a good deal of fact, is still just speculation (one of the points highlighted in Quakeland is, in fact, the unpredictability and odd behavior and how little we really know about how and when earthquakes strike, so…) I don’t know. I really wanted to love this one, and I wouldn’t quite say it was dull, just…a bit flat. Not *cough cough* earthshaking.
Damn Fine Story – Finally rolled through the last couple segments in this book yesterday, and I’ve got mixed feelings about it. It’s very functional, which I suspect will make it a book I do revisit a lot in the future for specific issues. I really enjoy Chuck Wendig’s philosophy on characters and plot, and this books breaks all that down in minute detail, which is great. Yet somehow…I don’t know, I struggled a bit to get through it. I don’t know if Wendig’s off-the-cuff style just gets old after a few chapters, though I found myself chuckling aloud more than a few times, or if the book is SO packed with information that it just feels heavy. It feels heavy. That’s kind of my take. It’s got so much information and good advice, I feel like I may not have processed it all: like the mindcup just filled to the brink after the first couple chapters, and after that, everything just kind of slops out. But is that a bad thing? I don’t think so? I gave it three stars on Goodreads, though info-wise, it probably should be a four, but then it was just such a chunk to chew through, so…? Your mileage may vary. I’m left feeling like I read this book too early–like my brain isn’t yet ready to absorb what’s being dealt–but I also feel like I may come back to this one in a couple years when I’ve developed a little more and be like OMG THIS BOOOOOOK GUYZ!!! So, yeah?
*HAHAHAHAHA–you thought I meant ACTUALLY BRIEF. Oh boy. *wipes tear*