Moar Charts from Jenn
Paul challenged me to not only keep track generally (fiction, scifi/fantasy, nonfiction) of my reading for this year, but to slice & dice the genres as well! Here’s how the year is going, of the books I have finished in 2014. Some finetuning for you:
What We’re Reading This Week — Rebecca’s Picks
I didn’t set out to color-coordinate this week’s reads, but look at those pretty blue and white covers! A new Joshua Ferris book constitutes celebration in these quarters, and I dug To Rise Again at a Decent Hour(Little, Brown & Co, April)It’s a story about a dentist who is disillusioned with the modern world but can’t manage to disconnect from it. When a stranger starts impersonating him online—building a website for his practice, starting Facebook and Twitter profiles, commenting on news sites under his name—and spreading strange propaganda for a religion he’s never heard of, he’s pissed…and then totally intrigued. His emails with the man who is pretending to be him, and who claims to know him better than he knows himself, lead to some pretty weird situations and weirder thoughts, and it all makes for a wonderful (and oh so very Lit Fic-y) examination of how we connected (or not) and what we want from our connections. In Bookrageous parlance, this is most certainly a book about people in Brooklyn having thoughts, but it’s a good one and well worth a look if that’s the sort of thing that floats your boat.
My ginger lifemate and partner in crime Liberty has been raving about Elizabeth McCracken for ages, and now that I have devoured Thunderstruck & Other Stories (Dial Press, April 22) I GET IT SO HARD. McCracken’s short fiction does all the things I want short fiction to do. These are stories about loss and want and how the two intersect and shape each other, and there are some gobsmackingly incredible sentences in them. I am so, so sorry I waited this long to read McCracken’s work, and I can’t wait to dive into her backlist.
What We’re Reading This Week! — A Cautionary Tale from Jenn
I like to think I am made of pretty stern stuff — but Sara Gran and Rachel Klein have wrecked me this week. I’d been saving up Claire DeWitt and the Bohemian Highway for a time when I was desperate for a suspenseful read, and it just so happened to be the same week that I got my copy of therejectionist-recommended Moth Diaries, and between the two of them I feel like I can’t breathe. In a “OH MY GOD THESE BOOKS ARE SO GOOD” way! But still. Claire has gone off her rocker and is drowning in drugs and remorse, the narrator of Moth Diaries is also drug-addled and having supernatural visions, and my dreams are … well. Let’s just say that as soon as I get to work I’m going to read as many picture books as possible. And if you have any CHEERFUL NON-BREATH STEALING PREFERABLY NO ONE DIES book recommendations for me, I WILL TAKE THEM.
(Question mark goes here so you can answer: ?)
What We’re Reading This Week! — Preeti’s Picks
I’ve been meaning to pick up March for-pretty-much-ever. Geraldine Brooks won a Pulitzer for this novel, which is kind of Little Women fan fiction. The word fan fiction can sometimes have a negative connotation, but I find that to be ridiculous. Because you know what, there is a lot of really, really well written and engaging fan fiction. March is the story of the March patriarch, who is at war for most of the original Louisa May Alcott novel. Little Women was my absolute favorite book when I was 10 (until I got older and realized I hated Amy so much I couldn’t possibly go back and read it again). The original story planted the seeds for my love of historical fiction. March is just that, good historical fiction. It’s set just before and during the American Civil War, and spans both the north and south of the country. I’m really enjoying the read so far, and I’m excited to see where she takes Mr. March and what the March family looks like through his eyes.
I like to think of myself as pretty well-read in the YA realm. Especially in the YA-somewhat-fantastical-realm. But somehow, I missed Megan Whalen Turner’s Attolia series entirely. I read the first Newbery honor-winning book, The Thief earlier this week and have not been able to put the series down since. I’m now on number three, The King of Attolia. I’ll refrain from too much plot summary, because this series truly has one of the best unreliable narrators I’ve ever read. The Thief centers around Gen, a self-proclaimed master-thief and his release from the King of Soudis’ prison to steal a treasure from the Gods. The story has action and adventure, political intrigue, mythology, and some great twists and turns. I knew the narrator was unreliable going in and I was sure that nobody was pulling the wool over my eyes. No way no how. … They did. They did pull the wool over my eyes. And it was awesome.
I finally picked up a copy of David Peace’s Red or Dead (Melville House, 5/27/14). I’m especially excited about this read as I’m a big fan of EPL, and my club of choice is Liverpool. Red or Dead chronicles the history of Liverpool during Bill Shankly’s period as manager (1959-1974), and how he took them from an underachieving club to one of the most beloved and successful in just fifteen years. There’s been a lot of great buzz about this book from sports fans and non-sports fans alike (and from Bookrageous’ own Jenn to boot!).
Bookrageous Favorites Out Today!
At long last, The Martian by Andy Weir is on shelves! It’s smart and funny and surprising and suspenseful, and you should read it.
What We’re Reading This Week! — Rebecca’s Picks
I’ve been loooooving HBO’s new series True Detective, so I was over the moon when fellow Bookrageous-er Paul informed me that Nic Pizzolatto, who wrote all 8 of this season’s episodes, also had a novel out. Galveston was released in 2011, and from what I can tell, it didn’t get much play, but all the reviews were positive. And for good reason! It’s a gritty, atmospheric southern story told by a criminal about a really dark couple of weeks in his life. The writing is taut, the voices are terrific, and the characters are rendered so realistically that you feel like you’d recognize them if you passed them on the street. Plus, Pizzolatto tries out the guy-making-soldiers-out-of-beer-cans thing we just saw Matthew McConaughey’s character do on True Detective. Trope detective, amirite? I loved this read, and if you’re digging True Detective, you will too.
To round out the big ol’ nonfiction kick I’ve been on lately, reading books about how we think and how we work and (often) how our brains do weird, wrong things that we might not realize, is Daniel Kahneman’s incredible Thinking, Fast and Slow. If you’ve taken a cognitive psychology course in the last 20 years, you’ll recognize many of the principles that Kahneman, who won the Noble Prize for his groundbreaking work on biases and heuristics, and you’ll be blown away by how extensively one man’s work has shaped our contemporary understanding of how humans think. This is a big book (nearly 600 pages) packed with big ideas, so I’ve been reading it in small chunks for a while. Highly recommended.
What We’re Reading Now!
Jenn says: I managed to get two solid days of reading in, thanks to SO TIRED and also terrible weather. Yesterday I read M.R. Carey’s The Girl With All The Gifts in one sitting, and OOF. It is both excellent and heart-stabby. Comparisons to Justin Cronin’s The Passage are inevitable, because it is an apocalypse story centering around a young girl with (you guessed it) special gifts, but where Cronin turns right, Carey takes a hard left. No I won’t tell you exactly what that means but what I am saying is, they are different and you should read both. Also Carey’s is a stand-alone with a solid ending, one that takes a pretty big chance in terms of apocalypse stories. I tip my imaginary hat to him! (It’s not out until June of this year in the US, please don’t hate me.)
And as of this afternoon I’m 3/4 of the way through I Shall Be Near To You by Erin Lindsay McCabe. It’s a novel of the Civil War, narrated by a woman who follows her husband into battle (disguised as a man) as part of the Union Army. It’s based on historical records and the letters of the amazing women who did this, and you can tell; the voice is incredibly strong. Plus, there are cameos by historical figures like McClellan and Clara Barton, which means you get to play the “how much do I remember from American history” game! I love that game.
What We’re Reading Now!
Jenn says: I’m actually making good on my vow to read more diversely, despite some serious homefront craziness that has interrupted my reading time. HOW DARE IT. Paul recommended The Liminal People by Ayize Jama-Everett on the last show and I’m about 3/4 of the way through and GODDAMN. I just want to be doing nothing but reading it. It’s an urban fantasy, set in London, and revolves around a group of people who have unexpected, unexplained powers. Taggert, the main character, can manipulate bodies — both his own and those around him — for healing or hurting purposes. Jama-Everett does an amazing job both with building his backstory as well as the slightly-tweaked world around him, and with keeping the action moving. I call this a must-read for urban fantasy fans, with no reservations.
I grabbed Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky because … I can’t remember why, I think someone was talking about it on Twitter. Or I saw it on Oyster. WHO KNOWS. Regardless, it’s in the best tradition of bonkers Russian sci-fi. Discarded alien technology, social commentary, serious politics — and apparently there’s a movie?!
And tomorrow, Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill comes out! If you’re with Josh and Rebecca on the Lily Tuck I Married You For Happiness train, you reeeeallllly need to pick this one up. It’s an amazing portrait of a marriage, from the wife’s perspective — a woman who is struggling to figure out if she’s actually given up her creative dreams, if she can be a mother, a wife, or even just be herself. It’s funny, it’s thought-provoking, and it’s gorgeously written.