PERSONAL: Reading Update June 2014

I gave a reading update last month. Since then… I’ve been reading quite a bit.

Books I’ve Finished: Since last month, I’ve finished eight books: John Green‘s The Fault in Our StarsMarisha Pessl‘s Night Film (finally), Ginn Hale‘s Lord of the White Hell Books 1 & 2, Emma Jane Unsworth‘s AnimalsAlex London‘s Proxy,  Khaled Hosseini‘s And the Mountains Echoed and Ian Tregillis‘ Something More Than Night. Bringing me to a total of 20 books in 6 months, a number that’s frankly astounding considering years past.

That’s more books than I read in 2011, 2012 and 2013 combined. 

Thus, I’ve increased my 2014 Reading Challenge from 30 books to 40 books, and I’m currently 2 books ahead of schedule. Not bad at all.

Happily, I enjoyed all eight books I polished off in the past month. How would I rank them?

  1. Lord of the White Hell
  2. Night Film
  3. And the Mountains Echoed
  4. Something More Than Night
  5. The Fault in Our Stars
  6. Proxy
  7. Animals

Lord of the White Hell, with its rough-around-the-edges Harry Potter-esque charms and striking gay love story, gave me something I never realised I needed. Despite the occasional explicit sexual scene (or perhaps because of it), I wish someone had given it to me when I was a teenager. Night Film was fascinating and tonally brilliant. I wouldn’t say I loved the main character, but it cultivated a feeling and kept me within it throughout the book. And the Mountains Echoed almost made me cry three times in the first half of the book – a rarity for me, definitely. The voice and world of Something More Than Night was intoxicating, with a well-crafted mystery and fantastic ending. The Fault in Our Stars was deeply charming and pretty moving. Proxy was anchored by a really strong central relationship between its two leads and a strongly-imagined dystopian world. And Animals was fun, a well-written exploration of what it’s like to be a creative but lost adult with a little sense, but not too much. Three of these – And the Mountains Echoed, The Fault in Our Stars and Proxy – I read in a day each. Fault and Mountains were impulse buys at the local Shoppers Drug Mart that caught my attention and didn’t let go.

Books I’ve Abandoned: Tempus by Holly Lauren, which I will neglect to comment on, except to say that I found the writing poor and the dialogue worse. I haven’t decided whether it will be a prank gift for my cousin (a novelist, who will throw it at the back of my head in a rage after a few pages) or to throw it away and shrug at the money wasted. Hey, they can’t all be winners.

Next Up: I’m partway through a few books at the moment, any (or all!) of which I could finish in the next month:

  • 34% of the way through Guardian, Alex London‘s follow-up to ProxyGuardian has been a bit of a disappointment, if I’m honest. The strong worldbuilding and thematic work is still present in this sequel, but (SPOILERS FOR PROXYthe absence of Knox, the character who really brought life to the narrative, the book is much the duller for it. Syd is dour, and Liam doesn’t have the spirit to replace Knox, giving the book thus far a glacial pace and moody sensibility. It should only take an aftermoon to blow through the rest of the book… once I can work up the desire to.
  • 32% of the way through The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters, which I’m a bit stalled in. Not because it’s not a good book or because I don’t like it, but because it’s not the most exciting read. The world is vivid and I want to see what happens with the lead, but tonally and pace-wise, it feels somewhat like a procedural crime show. That’s part of its charm – telling that sort of story against this pre-apocalyptic milieu – but it also means it’s not always the first book I grab off my pile.
  • 28% of the way through China Miéville‘s intimidating, but beautifully-written, Perdido Street Station. This is one I typically pick up every day or two, savour  a couple chapters, and put down. After a slow start, I honestly love this book, but it’s dense. I’d say the best comparison, experience-wise, is rich, expensive chocolates: wonderful taste, but too heavy to eat more than a couple at a time.

These are my current books that I’m actively making my way through. Having just polished off Something More Than Night, it’s time to choose one to take its place. The books waiting to fill that space are The Martian by Andy Weir, which had a fantastic opening chapter or two so far; The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North, which has a premise that I’m fascinated by; and The Hungry Ghosts by Shyam Seldavurai, which I think will scratch the taste for international family-centric lit that And the Mountains Echoed started for me.

And after those? The many products of both a healthy appetite for online book-buying and digging through boxes of books I bought forever ago and never read. The full list – fiction, that is, as nonfiction would double its length…

  • Pierce Brown‘s Red Rising
  • Rainbow Rowell‘s Eleanor & Park
  • Jeff Vandermeer‘s Annihilation and Authority
  • James Smythe‘s The Machine
  • Peter Cawdron‘s Feedback
  • Richard Powers’ Orfeo
  • Ginn Hale‘s The Rifter trilogy: The Shattered Gates, The Holy RoadHis Sacred Bones
  • Will McIntosh‘s Defenders
  • Daryl Gregory‘s Afterparty
  • Christopher Priest‘s The Adjacent
  • China Miéville’s Railsea
  • John Green‘s Paper Towns
  • Alaya Johnson‘s Moonshine
  • Rob Thomas‘s Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line (I still have to watch the movie that comes before this.)
  • Fyodor Dostoevsky‘s Demons (translated by Richard Pevear & Larissa Volokhonsky)
  • Sergio de la Pava‘s A Naked Singularity
  • Ken Follett‘s The Pillars of the Earth
  • Jonathan Franzen‘s Freedom
  • George Pelecanos‘ A Firing Offense
  • Sergei Lukyanenko‘s Night Watch and Day Watch
  • Scott Lynch‘s The Lies of Locke Lamora

So. Lots to read. And this doesn’t even include the many nonfition books I have littered around my room, or the 85 books sitting on my Amazon ‘to-buy’ list.

I’m very glad I started reading again. I’ve got a lot to catch up on.

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2 responses to “PERSONAL: Reading Update June 2014

  1. TAWilliams June 16, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    I’m so jealous right now!
    Before we had our son I was reading a book a week EASY. Now as soon as I get a moment of silence I crash into a blissful sleep that only lasts as long as he’s asleep (which is never long).
    I look forward to one day doing what you do again!

    • R. Lackie June 16, 2014 at 6:28 pm

      Ha! I feel the same way, though my Noble Occupation wasn’t raising a child, but completing university – both easier and shorter than the journey you have ahead of you. 🙂 I’ve been blessed with a rent-free summer at my parents’ house, which has reawakened my dormant literary spirit bludgeoned by eight years of highschool, and then university, English courses.

      Thankfully, the great thing about books (unlike TV, my other love) is that they are eternally patient. When life opens up a little, you can read great books to your heart’s content. And when you do – friend me on GoodReads!

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