21 December 2011

A Reading Nightcap


  • Beijing Welcomes You, Tom Scocca
  • Scalzi on Writing, John Scalzi
  • The Search for WondLa, Tony DiTerlizzi
  • Cross My Heart, Katie Klein
  • Huntress, Malinda Lo
  • The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Gothgirl, Barry Lyga
  • The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, E.Lockhart
  • Boy Meets Boy, David Levithan
  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Seth Grahame-Smith
  • Behemoth, Scott Westerfeld
  • How to Start and Run a Commercial Art Gallery, Edward Winkleman
  • Fury of the Phoenix, Cindy Pon
  • School of Fear, Gitty Daneshvari
  • Dragon Rider, Cornelia Funke
  • Super Zero, Rhonda Stapleton
  • Bras and Broomsticks, Sarah Mlynowski
  • Moriboto: Guardian of the Spirit, Nahoko Uehashi
  • Beyond the Valley of the Thorns, Patrick Carman
  • Dragon's Blood, Jane Yolen
  • Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins
  • King of Ithaka, Tracy Barrett
  • Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson
After a three year layoff, Stuff I've Been Reading is back! Well it'll be back next month but since I'm reviving the long dead "what I just read" format, I thought I might as well cover this past year in reading.

I started 2011 off with The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Gothgirl and finished up with The Search for WondLa. In-between there was stuff like the surprisingly enjoyable Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and How to Start and Run a Commercial Art Gallery. The latter doesn't indicate any actual plans to start an art gallery, but it sure was interesting. If I had a spare hundred thousand dollars lying around, I'd like to throw together a combination book store, art space, and comic book store. We'd serve some sort of sweets too. Maybe ├ęclairs. Actually no, we'd serve shaved ice, of course.

The oldest book I read this year was from 1996, Clay's Ark by Octavia Butler, an author I'm ashamed to say I've never really read. I promised myself to, for years and years, but haven't actually gotten there. My friend Irene gave me a copy of Clay's Ark back in March and now that I'm over the initial hump, I need to read all of Butler's stuff so I can slowly work away my embarrassment. Perhaps I'll take a minor in Butler for fiftyfifty.me -- as a major would be probably impossible.

My biggest non-read in 2011 was A Visit From the Goon Squad, which was my very first Kindle purchase. I have no doubt it's amazing but for some reason I just keep it sitting there. That error will be rectified shortly.

Back in 2008, when I last did the Stuff I'm Reading thing, I was not yet an author who met other authors. Now I meet them, get to say hello, maybe hang out a little bit, and then when I head home, I look up their websites, check out their Wikipedias, and try to read their books.

As you can imagine, this order of operations changes how I take in their work. Oftentimes the authors I meet write amazing stuff I knew nothing about so when I'm hurtling through their book, I have to stop halfway through and try to wrap my head around the fact that I just interacted with this person in a previous life. I'm speaking of a previous life where I hadn't read their book and wasn't able to gush all about them.

I mean, it's probably better I met these authors before I read them, because then I wouldn't have to be that weirdo asking about things they wrote years ago. "So how did you come up with this, this and this? Can I just touch the hand that wrote this passage?" Or some such. I tend to turn fanboy pretty quickly given the proper provocation and who knows what I'm capable of when properly wowed.

Another way to describe this feeling is when you hear someone incredible sing. You are talking to them like a normal person -- work, weather, what's on television -- but then they get on stage or pick up a microphone and blow you away. Suddenly it's impossible to look at them without being aware of the massive talent inside.  And every conversation you have with them from there on out is tinged with "soooo amazing" echoing inside your head.

The "meet before fan" situation is very strange, as usually it's the other way around.

A highly recommended blog that features a lot of Stuff I've Been Reading type posts is Claire Light's. Her blog in general is a favorite of mine but I especially look forward to her reviews and views on books.  And may I again recommend Slightly Foxed, which is some of the best reading about reading one could ever hope for.