What Are You Reading?

Arilynn

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 25, 2018
Messages
108
I should have copy-and-pasted from the SLU thread, but what are you reading? From fluff to dense tones, we want to know!

....

I’ve not had a lot of uninterrupted reading time, and this always results in me having too many partially completed books awaiting a long stretch of quiet time. Here’s what I am working through:

Everything Trump Touches Dies, by Rick Wilson
Hilarious but also thoughtful and highly informed. And correct: Everything Trump touches is the worse for having been exposed to him.

Barkskins, by Annie Proux
By god, one day I will finish this book. It is interesting and an easier read than most Proux books. It is also really long and had a tremendous scope of 300 years+, with protagonists rising up, dying off, and being replaced.

Fear, by Bob Woodward

The Rule of One, by Ashley and Leslie Saunders
I think I got this free from Amazon*; I doubt I would have bought it. It’s YA and doesn’t suck as badly as it could, but it makes me wish it were better. Dystopian US with a strict one-child policy. The protagonists are twins, which are illegal.

*Yes, it is free right now in Kindle Unlimited, but I think I got it free through Amazon’s free Kindle book deal at the start of each month.

Severance, by Ling Mae
At last, a post-apocalyptic scenario I can identify with. A bunch of survivors of a plague who have to google “how to survive in the wild”. They aren’t bad asses or survivalists. They are brand managers, property lawyers, HR professionals, and others whose pre-plague skills are worthless in getting through a world without wi-fi or lattes. My Kindle indicates I finished it. I have zero memory of this, so it must have been late at night. Thinking about it more, it seemed to just end abruptly. It’s satire about modern society more than a rollicking adventure tale.
 

Maggy Hazelnut

Cat Herder
Joined
Sep 20, 2018
Messages
69
Location
N. Cascade Mtns
Joined SLU
March 2009
SLU Posts
1332
October is Horror Book Month for me! So I've started it off with "Heart-Shaped Box" by Joe Hill. OMG it's so surprisingly good! He certainly inherited his Dad's writing skills (Stephen King if you didn't know). :) In fact I'm loving this book so much that I'm following it up with "N0S4A2", also by Joe Hill. When those two books are read I'll read "Shadowshow" by Brad Strickland because it looks very creepy. Followup book to those will be "The Ghost Mine" by Ben Wolf. If by some chance October isn't over by the time I finish those books I have 283 more Horror books in my Kindle (one of 25 folders for 3000 books in my Kindle PW). It's NOT hoarding if it's books! :)
 

Beebo Brink

Resident Grouch
VVO Supporter 🍦🎈👾❤
Joined
Sep 20, 2018
Messages
756
Warning: this is a pedantic rant about the mechanics of writing.

I was homebound and fighting off pneumonia for close to 10 days, which called for some low-key entertainment that kept me from going insane from boredom but didn't require too much thought.

So I read the entire Harry Potter series.

Mind you, it wasn't my first exposure. Many years ago I'd been gifted the first four or five books by a friend, and I'd lightly skimmed a few of them. But this time I actually read them... well, at least that was the plan. I started off solid, but once I hit the last three books in the series, I just couldn't force my way through the endless expositions of largely irrelevant side stories or the aimless wanderings of Harry & Co as they camped their way through half of the Deathly Hallows.

I dearly wish JK Rowling was a better writer. There's no question that she's brilliant when it comes to tapping emotional themes of childhood or building an incredibly detailed off-kilter world that enchants so many people, but it wouldn't hurt if she could also WRITE. As in build a coherent, focused narrative structure that was supported by moderately skillful execution. Rowling manages adequately in the early books, but as Harry and his friends grow older, and the world they're navigating grows wider, she falls apart technically.

The challenge she failed at most miserably was handling the narrative perspective. The series starts with a single POV closely tied to Harry, which makes perfect sense for the kind of story she was telling. The advantage of a restricted POV is a strong emotional intimacy with the main character, but the disadvantage is that it is extremely narrow; the reader can only be given information experienced by the main character. That's the bargain you make as a writer, when you make that choice. You have to ruthlessly prune away "good stuff" you want the user to know, that isn't essential, and you have to find clever ways to inform the protagonist of essential things that happened without him.

Rowling cheats instead. She's a world-builder and there's so much about the Magical World that she wants to tell her readers that she just can't stop herself from pouring it all out, but in the most painfully awkward ways. She tries to keep Harry's POV, but almost randomly interjects some other perspectives here and there. Never enough to transition the books to a true multi-character POV, just enough to plug gaps. But her biggest crutch is simply making characters tell Harry what they've been doing. Not a snippet of dialogue, not a paragraph summarizing their adventures, but PAGES and PAGES of detailed "and then I did this." And then Harry has to go tell Hermione and Ron, and it's a good thing I read this on a Kindle or I would have been tearing pages out of the book by this time.

When people aren't sitting around talking for hours, Rowling drags out newspapers articles in which more pages of information are provided in excruciating detail.

And finally, the ultimate cheat: magical items. When all else fails, Harry (and the reader) gets information by turning invisible and watching other characters or he uses the Pensieve to get huge downloads of background information that Rowling wants readers to know.

Given Rowling's financial success, being a better writer wouldn't provide any substantial difference to her income. And it probably wouldn't have any greater effect on the popularity of her characters and the world they live in. But if you're going to eat cotton candy, it's always a more pleasant experience when it's actually well made.
 

Free

I am your polar opposite opposite
VVO Supporter 🍦🎈👾❤
Joined
Sep 22, 2018
Messages
3,927
Location
Earth-90214
SL Rez
2008
Joined SLU
May 2009
SLU Posts
55565
I dearly wish JK Rowling was a better writer. There's no question that she's brilliant when it comes to tapping emotional themes of childhood or building an incredibly detailed off-kilter world that enchants so many people, but it wouldn't hurt if she could also WRITE. As in build a coherent, focused narrative structure that was supported by moderately skillful execution. Rowling manages adequately in the early books, but as Harry and his friends grow older, and the world they're navigating grows wider, she falls apart technically.
Sounds like we may be dealing with the old story (heh) of the writer who, as they gain in success, fame and accolades, becomes too important for the editorial guidance their publisher provides them. See: King, Stephen.
 

Isabeau

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 20, 2018
Messages
270
Yes, as Free said, when a writer brings in a lot of money, he/she doesn't need to listen to the publisher anymore.


I also thought the last couple of books were long for nothing. I only read the series in spurts, the first two or three in English, and some parts here and there to my nieces in French (me in the top bunk with them leaning in on either side... good memories) and also the first movies. Then, a few years ago, I decided to go through the whole series just for fun since I never saw the last three movies. Anyway, I read them in Spanish thinking it would add a little challenge. Just like in English, there were different versions of the languages depending where they had been published (Eur/Amer) so it was all a little confusing, but probably because of that, I kind of liked that the story rambled on and on. I was learning synonyms...

AAAaanyways, you are right. The last books weren't the best.
 
  • 2Like
Reactions: Seawitch and Pamela

Beebo Brink

Resident Grouch
VVO Supporter 🍦🎈👾❤
Joined
Sep 20, 2018
Messages
756
Sounds like we may be dealing with the old story (heh) of the writer who, as they gain in success, fame and accolades, becomes too important for the editorial guidance their publisher provides them. See: King, Stephen.
I definitely agree that was a factor, but there's only so far an editor can go. They can point out flaws, but they can't write the better version, and I don't know where you'd even start with requesting a re-write of Deathly Hallows. It's such a hot mess.

I just don't think JK Rowling's talent/skill was strong enough to grow up along with Harry. I didn't see any sign that she got better with each new book. The scope of them changed -- they grew darker and more complex -- but Rowling couldn't rise to the scenarios that she herself set up. She stayed focused on spinning world-building details without improving her craft. I wanted to enjoy the last three novels as much as the first four, because they do have a charming premise, but getting to the end of the Potter story became a chore rather than a pleasure. Color me disappointed.
 
  • 2Like
Reactions: Seawitch and Pamela

Pamela

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 7, 2018
Messages
538
Location
Austin
SL Rez
2007
Joined SLU
2009
She is not a very good writer. But I read the first one aloud to a fourth grade class, when it was relatively new and none of us had read it — and it was just MAGIC. We were all positively besotted. I have never been able to articulate what it is she does.

And as a bonus, I saw kids who were confirmed non readers of even the thinnest picture books, plow through several of the Harry Potter books..
 

Pamela

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 7, 2018
Messages
538
Location
Austin
SL Rez
2007
Joined SLU
2009
I should have copy-and-pasted from the SLU thread, but what are you reading? From fluff to dense tones, we want to know!

....

I’ve not had a lot of uninterrupted reading time, and this always results in me having too many partially completed books awaiting a long stretch of quiet time. Here’s what I am working through:

Everything Trump Touches Dies, by Rick Wilson
Hilarious but also thoughtful and highly informed. And correct: Everything Trump touches is the worse for having been exposed to him.

Barkskins, by Annie Proux
By god, one day I will finish this book. It is interesting and an easier read than most Proux books. It is also really long and had a tremendous scope of 300 years+, with protagonists rising up, dying off, and being replaced.

Fear, by Bob Woodward

The Rule of One, by Ashley and Leslie Saunders
I think I got this free from Amazon*; I doubt I would have bought it. It’s YA and doesn’t suck as badly as it could, but it makes me wish it were better. Dystopian US with a strict one-child policy. The protagonists are twins, which are illegal.

*Yes, it is free right now in Kindle Unlimited, but I think I got it free through Amazon’s free Kindle book deal at the start of each month.

Severance, by Ling Mae
At last, a post-apocalyptic scenario I can identify with. A bunch of survivors of a plague who have to google “how to survive in the wild”. They aren’t bad asses or survivalists. They are brand managers, property lawyers, HR professionals, and others whose pre-plague skills are worthless in getting through a world without wi-fi or lattes. My Kindle indicates I finished it. I have zero memory of this, so it must have been late at night. Thinking about it more, it seemed to just end abruptly. It’s satire about modern society more than a rollicking adventure tale.
I have read Fear, was good. Thanks for the Barkskins mention, I just now checked it out from the library. I am familiar with her books but never read one. I am cursed with extreme pickiness about writing quality so I am excited about discovering a new quality writer. I recently started reading Anne Tyler, whose writing is nearly perfect, plus she has written a ton of stuff.
 
  • 1Agree
Reactions: Kaimi Kyomoon

Isabeau

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 20, 2018
Messages
270
I've just begun Silk and Song by Dana Stabenow

I'll come back when I finish to report!




Sixteen-year-old Wu Johanna is the granddaughter of the legendary trader Marco Polo. In the wake of her father's death, however, Johanna finds that lineage counts for little amid the disintegrating court of the Khan. Dynastic loyalties are shifting, petty jealousies lead to cold-blooded murders, and the long knives are coming out. Johanna's destiny – if she has one – lies with her grandfather, in Venice, at the very edge of the known world.

So, with a small band of companions, she takes to the Road – the Silk Road – that storied collection of routes that link the silks of Cathay, the spices of the Indies and the jewels of the Indus to the markets of the west. But first she must cross the roof the world, survive treachery, betrayal, and a Road beset by thieves, fanatics and warlords emboldened by the deterioration of the once all-powerful Mongol Empire.
 

Salome

Vermicious Knid
Joined
Oct 21, 2018
Messages
100
Location
Carmen Sandiego's Pocket
SL Rez
2004
Joined SLU
Fuck I don't remember
It’s October, so I am reading Roger Zelazny’s A Night In the Lonesome October, one chapter per day, as I do every year.

As everyone should be.



If you’re not lucky enough to have a copy (it goes in and out of print a lot) you can listen to the author read it here:

Or, for a truly terrifying experience, I read it for friends in some old recordings, too:
 

Rose Karuna

Old and Cranky Xherdan
VVO Supporter 🍦🎈👾❤
Joined
Sep 24, 2018
Messages
308
Location
Someplace new soon
SL Rez
2005
Joined SLU
2007
Anna Kronberg Thriller Series by Annelie Wendeberg
by Annelie Wendeberg

I love this series of books. Anna is a doctor (Dr. Anton Kronberg) who has to hide the fact that she's a woman. Women are not allowed to be doctors. She also meets Sherlock Holmes and he of course, deduces that she is not a man. A nice read for a rainy day with a hot cup of tea.
 

Rose Karuna

Old and Cranky Xherdan
VVO Supporter 🍦🎈👾❤
Joined
Sep 24, 2018
Messages
308
Location
Someplace new soon
SL Rez
2005
Joined SLU
2007
I should have copy-and-pasted from the SLU thread, but what are you reading? From fluff to dense tones, we want to know!


Severance, by Ling Mae
At last, a post-apocalyptic scenario I can identify with. A bunch of survivors of a plague who have to google “how to survive in the wild”. They aren’t bad asses or survivalists. They are brand managers, property lawyers, HR professionals, and others whose pre-plague skills are worthless in getting through a world without wi-fi or lattes. My Kindle indicates I finished it. I have zero memory of this, so it must have been late at night. Thinking about it more, it seemed to just end abruptly. It’s satire about modern society more than a rollicking adventure tale.
Just got Severance for my Kindle, I love this kind of story, particularly when they are wrought with dark humor.
 

Roxanne Blue

Una Mujer Fantastica
Joined
Sep 21, 2018
Messages
80
Location
Edge of the Earth
SL Rez
2009
Joined SLU
June 2009
SLU Posts
6577
It's history, science, and the short-sighted acts of humans.
 
  • 1Thanks
  • 1Like
Reactions: Khamon and Isabeau

Fauve Aeon

🌽🐍Mostly Jellicle...🐍🌽
Joined
Oct 29, 2018
Messages
225
Location
SL, Kitely, IMVU
SL Rez
2008
Joined SLU
Not sure of date/postcount
La Dame aux Camélias, with my Ballet Guild book club. The KC Ballet will mount the production of Lady of the Camellias next year Feb 15-24. We meet for a dressy luncheon after we read. Much fun.
La dame aux camélias by Alexandre Dumas
 
Last edited:

Kaimi Kyomoon

Persistent Participant
VVO Supporter 🍦🎈👾❤
Joined
Oct 12, 2018
Messages
429
Location
San Diego, California
SL Rez
2004
Joined SLU
2007
I'm so glad I discovered this thread. I just finished Sacred Games . I enjoyed i!

I felt immersed in a culture very different to what I knew and I feel that I learned a lot about it. Here's the glossary of words I didn't know and still don't because it seemed too cumbersome to look up word two or three times on each page. But I managed to get the gist and I imagined that it was quite authentic.

The story takes place largely in and around Mumbai but other places as well. There are two main protagonists, a successful gang boss and a policeman who investigates him.

There are fascinating back stories for them and also many of the others. I only stopped reading when I started to fall asleep each night and I always was eager to read what would happen next.
 

Kaimi Kyomoon

Persistent Participant
VVO Supporter 🍦🎈👾❤
Joined
Oct 12, 2018
Messages
429
Location
San Diego, California
SL Rez
2004
Joined SLU
2007
Which of my many ebooks to read next?
 

Val

n00b!1
Joined
Sep 21, 2018
Messages
72
Location
Glasgow
Joined SLU
03/07/2017
SLU Posts
138
My reading energy is almost zilch recently but at the moment am on "The Third Parent" by Elias Witherow which is about random creepy bloke popping up on some suburbian street and bullying all families to let him raise their kids. Horror-bullying. For no reason whatsoever. At least that was what happened in short stories which came before this book and at the moment it is following them. I do recommend it if someone is into psychological horror ramped up to over 9 thousand ... or at least the stories (same title).