Books, 2012

Jan. 1st, 2013 07:30 pm
kitchen_kink: (words)
[personal profile] kitchen_kink
I'm going to try to do better this year than I did the last at reading books. 14, or whatever it was, is a rather pathetic number for an entire year.

1. Fudoki (started in 2011), by Kij Johnson. This, like all of her work, was a jewel of a thing. Every detail beautifully and simply crafted; emotional moments touched with the lightest of brushes. Lovely.

2. Jitterbug Perfume, by Tom Robbins. I really enjoyed this book, but it kind of feels like Robbins was careless in places, here. Like the speech of Pan and his nymphs wasn't correct usage of archaic second person familiars in English, which kind of drove me nuts. Overall it was as delightful as he always is even when he's not at his best.

3. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John LeCarre. I think I've finally decided that however much [ profile] imlad loves this story, I do not. At first I thought it was just that I find spy stories confusing, which is true. But no; I think it's just boring. The miniseries from the 70s, in spite of starring Alec Guinness, also isn't doing a hell of a lot for me.

4. Sandman, Volume 1: Preludes and Nocturnes, by Neil Gaiman. How wonderful. It's so exciting to read this for so many reasons, not least of which is watching Gaiman be young and epically emo and getting his feet wet with this character, and knowing how much better it's going to get.

5. Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell. Fantastic. I've been recommending this to everyone, as its insights are fabulous.

6. Motherless Brooklyn, by Jonathan Lethem (reread, aloud to [ profile] imlad). I loved this book the first time around, and I still really enjoyed it; reading it aloud was especially fun. But after a second go through I see its deep flaws; it really is a bit too clever for its own good.

7. A Game of Thrones, Book One of A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R. R. Martin. Yes, I could no longer resist, since my entire freaking household is reading these, and the TV series is so, so, so good. However, so far I'm finding that the writing isn't quite where I need it to be to keep my interest. I think Martin is a television writer for a reason: he's great at world creation and character arc, but he needs great actors to flesh it out. Finished it, finally; while I'm tempted to keep reading, I'm told that the books get even more drawn out, and the show is doing some fabulous condensing that really works. Also recognizing that I want to be reading only extraordinary things.

8. Magic For Beginners, by Kelly Link. Speaking of extraordinary things. I loved this so, so much. Just one strange, mysteriously touching, gem of a thing after another.

9. The Fortunate Fall, by Raphael Carter. [ profile] rhya lent this to me; it's little-known and I think out of print, but it's his favorite, and I see why. Reminds me of The Sparrow in many ways: a spec fic written by a scientist who'd never written a novel before, yet came up with brilliance. Finished it and had my heart stomped a bit; it's a difficult one, oy. But so worth it.

10. Sandman, Volume 2: A Doll's House, by Neil Gaiman. The creeptacularity continues. It's neat to see how each one gives a sense of what's to come and how good it's going to get.

11. House of Leaves, by Mark Danielewski. I've been wanting to read this since [ profile] imlad did a few years back, but I've been kind of avoiding it at the same time because of its ambitious appearance. Infinite Jest took a long time to get me to read it, too. But [ profile] rhya brought it up as a favorite and called it one of the most terrifying books he's ever read, and he's a horror fan. So I finally picked it up (and was shocked by how heavy it was). I'm about halfway through and it's...phenomenal. Literally. It feels less like something I'm reading and more like something that's happening to me...which is kind of the point. ETA: Finally finished this and still sort of processing. The ending felt...inconclusive, like the book is meant to keep going even after it feels like you're done. Which I think is also part of the point. Also wow.

12. Bird By Bird, by Anne Lamott. I borrowed this from [ profile] quinnclub ages ago, and never gave it back. (There's a single word in Russian for doing exactly this: borrowing a book with no intention of returning it. Of course this word is only ever used by the person who has irrevocably lost the book, not by the person borrowing it.) Anyway, it is a magnificent little volume which took me only a few hours to read, about writing and how to do it. It has given me a little kick in the pants to get some writing discipline on again, and it also made me laugh out loud, a lot.

13. In The Night Garden - Part 1 of The Orphan's Tales, by Cathrynne M. Valente. I loved this pretty unreservedly. Such a delicious twisty thing; reading it felt like savoring a great feast over many hours.

14. In The Cities of Coin and Spice - Part 2 of The Orphan's Tales, by Cathrynne M. Valente. I loved this less unreservedly. The beginning was extremely dark and creepy and difficult, in a way that felt a bit like a slog rather than like a horror I couldn't look away from. It got better as it went along, but it feels a bit to me like the second book is lacking something the first book has; I can't say exactly what. I was pretty satisfied with how it all wrapped up, and really appreciated the return of many characters from the whole of the series in unexpected ways. The way she plays with perspective, and how we as readers decide what and who is important, and who is the good guy or the bad guy, and so on, is very, very nice indeed.

15. Gate of Ivrel, by C.J. Cheryyh (in process). I started this when I was way too tired, and found it unbelievably boring. I returned to it when I was less tired and started to get interested. I'll see if it holds my interest; it's short (unlike her Cyteen which I tried to read for a class years ago and simply could not get into at all), and is a book [ profile] rhya likes a lot.

Date: 2012-07-30 09:20 pm (UTC)
ext_36698: Red-haired woman with flare, fantasy-art style, labeled "Ayelle" (Default)
From: [identity profile]
Just randomly flipping back through people's journals and saw this. Yes to your reactions to Magic For Beginners and House of Leaves! I really need to reread the latter... It's been a decade. As for Kelly Link, I finally recently finished Stranger Things Happen, which was almost as good a collection and also had some extraordinary stories in it.


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