Not quite done talking about the coming year’s reading challenges, no! I could be typing up reviews of some recent reads, but I’m in post cheesecake exhaustion mode. They’ll come. Sooner or later. I want to say something about doing Bookriot’s Read Harder challenge, instead. Mainly that I’m doing it.
Most of the tasks aren’t going to be problematic for me, except… the poetry collection? I’ll need to figure out something. The “guilty pleasure” is also tricksy, really, but maybe I’ll just pick up a novelization of something Star Trek or Warcraft. I won’t feel terribly guilty, but it’ll do. A “self improvement” book can be interpreted very liberally, but I am intrigued by one I have wishlisted because of the title How to stubbornly refuse to make yourself miserable about anything – Yes, anything! Well, you can see why. It’s likely I’ll pick a book about some skill to improve upon instead, though.
It’s just a couple of days left of 2014. It’s weird. Time is weird. Everything is. Except peanut butter fudge. Peanut butter fudge is yummy. Do you do party things for new year’s eve, or do you, like me, hide indoors like a neurotic cat? Hiss, fireworks.
I’ve just chugged a mug (a mug with a santa on it) of spiced Christmas tea, I’ve had a glass of Christmas soda (traditional basically champagne-flavoured stuff – sugar-free for me), and I’m contemplating a breakfast of pork rib leftovers from the holiday dinner last night. And cheese cake. And cookies.
The 24th is the, uh, main event in these parts – today, the 25th, is all about leftovers (and hangovers, for some). So I’ve already unwrapped stuff; clothing for the flesh vehicle, a promise of books-on-the-way-in-the-mail-oops-sorry. Oh, and a secret santa (from a GR group!) gave me a kindle copy of A madman dreams of Turing machines, which I’m looking forward to. A lot.
“It’s always books or crayons with you”, they say, and yes, that’s true. (And I got coloured pencils too, which is basically crayons! Yay, me.)
Norway actually has a lot of holiday-related reading, first and foremost the phenomenon of Easter crime, but also: Christmas comics. They’re printed in a recogniseable rectangular format, featuring some new things, but mostly they’re devoted to the old, old favourites, like the Katzenjammer kids, Beetle Bailey, Blondie, Snooty Smith, and so on. Dozens! As a kid I used to whine until I got all of them (and read and re-read for months, of course) – but now I just pick up my own favourite; Bringing up father.
Some other holiday fiction highlights have been two ongoing things: First, BBC4’s audio production of Gaiman/Pratchett’s Good Omens. You should go check it out. Second, Mur Lafferty’s podcast reading of her second Shambling Guide novel; Ghost train to New Orleans. I think it probably works even if you haven’t read The shambling guide to New York, but I encourage you to read that one too, because they’re funny and clever urban fantasy books. (There should be a link here, but you’ll find it if you search for Mur Lafferty in whatever podcast app/device you use.)
I got a few bookish gifts for myself. Michael Faber’s The book of strange new things (which I have coming up as a GR group read for January, and am excited about). By accident, I swear, I suddenly saw amazon’s discount on the deluxe hardcover edition of Saga, the best graphic novel experience I had in 2014, so… so I ordered it. It may have been an act of self pity as I couldn’t quite concentrate on my Robin Hobb book while politely remaining in the room with the family discussing local family things. (I’m not local, I’m just here to visit and will flee again tomorrow, so I think I’m forgiven for tuning out during a 30 minute debate about the flooring in a house I’ve never seen.)
It’s always books and crayons with me. And leprosy. How about you? Please tell me in loving detail about your book hauls!
Today’s task for the read-a-thon is… to post my TBR for the rest of the year.
Well – easy bits: I will finish Seanan McGuire’s Velveteen vs. The junior super patriots and Jo Walton’s The just city, for a total of about 400 pages.
Then, I think, almost definitely, I’ll read Gone girl (I haven’t, yet!) and Veronica Mars: Mr. Kiss and tell.
Then I have no idea. New shiny fantasy (City of stairs) or long-postponed sequel fantasy (Robin Hobb or Patrick Rothfuss) OR I change my mind entirely. I’m going to shoot for 8 books including the already-started ones, and probably only leave this couch to change into PJs and eat fistfuls of hazelnuts…
It’s the end of 2014 read-a-thon runs from December 20th to the 31st. I’ll be spending the holidays with family for most of those days, but that usually does give me a lot of good reading time – possibly except the one day I will be travelling for hours by car, because I am not built to cope with reading in cars. I have developed a preference for fantasy for the season – probably because of the lingering sense memory of getting up early every morning during the school vacation to watch the old BBC-produced Narnia series. Or just because fantasy settings often feel cozier than science fiction ones, even if the fantasy is pretty grim. (One year I spent the holidays with Abercrombie’s The first law-trilogy.)
That goal of reading at least 2000 pages? Doable. Re-read a 2014 favourite? Not sure about that one. My own, personal goal? Hm – reduce the number of pages of titles stored on my kindle by 1, at least. (8 titles fit on one page, and I have… 20 pages. Of unreads. 160 unread books just on there. Minus a handful of monthly subscription magazines, I guess.)
I probably want to read Robin Hobb, or Patrick Rothfuss, or Diana Wynne Jones, or all of them. Maybe get around to Gone girl, too.
2014 has been an awesome year in books. I’ve made a lot of very fortunate choices in reading, and it’s kind of hard to narrow down to ten favourites. I’ll try to mention ten in no particular order and see how that turns out.
- Saga 1-3 by Brian K. Vaughan / Fiona Staples (graphic novel series). Beautifully illustrated space opera romance with robots and ghost babysitters and stuff. The 4th volume will be out on the 23rd of December, at which point I will be visiting not-so-urban places and far away from both my mailbox and a graphic novel supplier – so for me, that pleasure will likely have to wait until January. (If I’m lucky, my box set of Lock & Key will arrive in time for a new year’s read, though!)
- Ancillary justice by Ann Leckie. I’m currently reading Ancillary sword, the follow-up, and it promises to be as good or even better. Smart space opera.
- Anathem by Neal Stephenson. It’s hard to find the words for how much I loved this. I don’t often wish for a 1000+ page book to be three times as long.
- We are all completely beside ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler. I’m glad this was nominated for interesting awards, because it might not have come to my attention, otherwise.
- Cibola burn, by James S. A. Corey. Part of the brilliant series the Expanse, every volume of which is a reading highlight for me. It’s hard not to have too-high-hopes for the coming TV adaption.
- The Rhesus chart by Charles Stross. Also a part-of-a-series thing. This one has magic as a kind of applied mathematics, where programmers may accidentally summon… things.
- Blindsight by Peter Watts, and…
- Echopraxia by Peter Watts. Both of these had me rambling, still rambling, and it’s been months. Beautifully dense SF/horror.
- The three-body problem by Cixin Liu. This gave me a lot of the same joy as the Peter Watts titles did. It’s brilliant.
- Symbiont by Mira Grant. I’m such a fangirl. It has a lot of tapeworms.
…And that’s just cherrypicking out of a year of good stuff. Maybe a more useful thing would have been a top ten of standalone-novels or at least first-of-series? Then again – the ongoing series I find myself keeping current with probably bring me the books I get the most joy out of. (Makes sense, because they’ve already levelled up past the barrier “would you be inclined to read a few hundred pages more of this stuff?” )