Thought it was going to be a slow month...made my sort of unofficial goal of 10 books after all!
1. The Fire of the Dark, 2. The Walls of Air, and 3. The Armies of Daylight, Barbara Hambly - Some time ago I purchased these when iBooks was running a book bundle special on fantasy books. I'd only ever read Hambly once before (Dragonsbane, an excellent book), but given how much I enjoyed it I thought I would take a chance. After I purchased the bundle - The Darwath Trilogy - it popped up on a couple of recommendation lists for fantasy series, which is always a good sign. So here's the thing....while yes, there are parts that made me happy, I actually struggled to get through this series because it was so very derivative. (Cardboard characters, plot that's been done to death, etc.) I felt like I'd read it a million times before, and there was nothing interesting about it. The fact of the matter is that I stopped reading this particular type of high adventure fantasy years and years ago for a reason...they read as either pretty childish and or they cater largely to a teenage male audience. Back when I read Dragonsbane, the friend who recommended it flat out told me not to bother with the rest of the series because Hambly bungled it so badly after that first brilliant book. I'm thinking she's not that great of a writer.... Anyway, about 1/4 of the way into the final book I lost all interest in what actually happened to any of the characters, so I skimmed the rest. Sigh. Wish I had found something better to start the month with, or that I had given up earlier....
4. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler - This book is certainly making the rounds on award nomination lists, and it's very much deserved. I don't know that I want to say too much about it, because I don't want to spoil it. I will say that I absolutely adore the unconventional storytelling method that Fowler uses - starting in the middle, and then working back to fill things in as she goes. (She tells you that she's going to do this right up front, so it's not spilling a big secret for me to say that.) I was very emotionally invested in the characters - to the point that they've lingered with me long after I put the book down. May go on my list of bests for this year!
5. The Paying Guests, Sarah Waters - About 100 pages in, I stopped and went to look and see what else Waters had written on a hunch. Sure enough...I'd read two of her books before. One was ok, but slow, the other I didn't finish. In theory, I should love these books. The blurbs that describe them are right up my alley, the time periods she uses are favorites, and they get lots of attention from critics I trust. In reality, I don't actually like the way Waters writes. It tends to fall into the category for me of being stylistic for the sake of being stylistic. I've said a it a million times....you can have the most beautiful language in the world, but if you don't make me care about the characters or plot that's for nothing. (Note to self, no matter how many book recommendations lists she shows up on, this is not an author I enjoy...so stop trying!)
6. Tiny Beautiful Things, Cheryl Strayed (audio, read by author) - This is a reread of a favorite book of mine. Brilliant. Probably shouldn't have listened to it in public...many tears! I soooo wish she was still doing her Dear Sugar column!
7. In A Glass Grimmly, Adam Gidwitz - I needed an actual book to read in the tub. (True story) So I grabbed this off of my shelf. It's the sequel/companion to A Take Dark and Grimm, which I enjoyed very much. In fact, I'm not sure why it took me so long to get to this! Back when I was in college, fractured fairy tales became all of the rage...and these books follow in that tradition, only they do it a whole heck of a lot better than most. In addition to telling his mixed up fairy tales, Gidwitz also does some pretty entertaining winks and nudges directly at the reader. Super fun!
8. Out of This World (Wildings, book 3) Charles De Lint - Any day with a new De Lint is a good day! If I'd had more time, I actually would have read through the entire series. While De Lint has populated many of his books with familiar characters and locations, this is the first time he's actually written an intended trilogy. Truthfully, the books are very De Lint - filled with concepts and ideas that he frequently touches on - and so there weren't that many surprises. Having said that, I love what makes De Lint books be so very De Lint. This time, I'm left with a few ideas I need to ponder quietly for a while!
9.The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Barbara Robinson - I've loved this book for my entire life. In fact, I honestly don't remember when I first read it (which is a tad unusual). I don't read it every single year...but I do read it most years. It always gets me in the mood for the holidays!
10. I have started a year long Bible reading plan, just because. Ordinarily it's the sort of thing that prescribes 15 or so minutes/day...a little bit of Old Testament, a little bit of New, a Psalm and some Proverbs...but I found it difficult to read that way because it felt too disjointed. Plain and simple, I was loosing the narrative. So...what I do is I read big chunks at a time of the books, marking them off in the reading plan as I go. As I'm reading the New Oxford Annotated Bible, New Revised Standard Version, I'm also carefully reading all chapter headers and notes...which are quite fascinating, I might add. This is the translation of the Bible that our church recognizes as having the most diligent scholarship in the translation, trying to return it to the closest intent of the original language while taking cultural context into consideration....and yet, it hasn't dumped the poetry. As this will be an ongoing project that will eat up a lot of my reading time, I'm going to start including the books that I read here. This month I read Genesis, Exodus and Matthew.