Just some of the reading pleasures discovered in June of the year 2010

I’ve once again broken the list of books I read into two posts – scientifically separated into ‘those I’ve typed up’ and ‘those I haven’t finished typing yet.’ Only 13 books read in June, and that’s including two audio books and two I did not finish. In my defense, I was on vacation for almost half that time, so I actually had a social life (but also time to read on airplanes. hmm)

Avram Davidson Treasury. I only read a few of the stories in this collection of horror stories (unsurprisingly recommended by Mr. Gaiman). Not bad, but not really my thing.

The Child that Books Built by Francis Spufford. Most definitely my thing. Spufford examines the books he read as a child – after confessing that he is a devourer of fiction and an addict. Narnia, Little House on the Prairie, most of the books he discusses are books I also loved as a child – and he looks at how they shaped and fed him as a human being and helped make him the person he is now – while never being boring once. Loved it. Need to own this one and read it all the way through in one shot, instead of reading the first half in one week and then the second half two weeks later after returning from vacation.

The Scar by China Miéville. The night before I left on a multi-city, 12-day vacation, I was horrified to discover that I had no books to take with me. And by ‘no books’, I mean only one or two that looked interesting. Unbelievable. I was so worried about making sure I didn’t get fines for overdue books while I was gone that I forgot to stock up!

And then I remembered another of the great things about living in Portland – the bookstore at the airport is POWELL’S! And knowing that, I was able to sleep peacefully. Going to the airport early, as recommended by TSA, is no hardship when you can spend that (unnecessary, in this case) time browsing a good bookstore – with practically a mandate to buy something, since you have exactly two books to cover three days of flying in your 12 day trip. The Scar is one of the two books I bought that morning (Dune being the other – no, I’ve never read it. Yes, I know they can yank my sci-fi card for that) and the one I decided would be good Portland-to-Chicago reading material. And it was. Science-Fi-Fantasy-Otherworld fiction at its finest. It was strange to find that – while I didn’t really like or dislike the main character, Bellis, I could  not stop reading it. A convoluted, elaborate world – that apparently resides in a few other novels by Miéville – full of well-drawn human-people and nonhuman-people – and some very NON-human-nonhumans as well. This book rekindled a desire to read more sci-fi that I have yet to really indulge. But every time I see The Scar on the bookshelf, I want to go to the store.

Everything is Illuminated by Jonathon Saffron Foer. This is the first novel by the fabulous JSF (who I heap praise on here, and who can be heard here) which I bought at the bookstore* closest to my big Sista’s house in New Hampshire – not realizing that I’d read it before (but thankfully did not actually own. Of course, if I’d owned it, I’d likely have remembered that I read it). Not as utterly fantastic as Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, but still crazy-good by any other standard.

This novel is the story of a girl in an old picture as imagined by JSFoer, and the story of someone, coincidentally, named JSFoer, who travels to Ukraine to do research on said girl, as told by the very-much-not-a-professional tour guide he employs while there. Amazing in its ability to fashion a beautiful story in such a strange way.

*Four books are still not enough, duh. And the Big Sista asked what we wanted to see/do, and I wanted to see and most definitely do the bookstore. It was a pretty good bookstore considering the very small population in the area. It had a big touristy focus that didn’t take away from the other sections, and even a small used-books section that I totally missed on our first trip there. (Second trip was because Little Sista had to return her broken booklight. For reals. Not my idea.)

Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg and Malcolm Jones, III. In the category of ‘the strangest way in which Gaiman has materialized in my life without my seeking him’, I present the appearance of the graphic novel, Preludes and Nocturnes.

After a significantly-less-than-pleasant and not-even-close-to-timely trip from Chicago to New Hampshire, I arrived with both Sistas and one niece at Big Sista’s house at something like 4:30am (scheduled arrival: 11pmish). We were variously tired and lagged and hungry and trying to ready ourselves mentally for sleeping. I wandered into the kitchen because hungry was something I could probably remove from the list rather easily – and what do I find sitting on a side table in the hall? Preludes and Nocturnes – the first eight books of Gaiman’s Sandman series. Belonged to Big Brutha-in-Law, bought for him by a co-worker not long before that day. Trust me, at 5am it was a freaky coincidence. As a bonus, it was a book I had not read (having confused it with Endless Nights, which I had read). People wonder why I’m a little strange on the subject of Neil Gaiman.

This book is the set-up of the character and world of the Sandman (also known as Dream, Morpheus and many other names in time and space). I think I went online and reserved Absolute Sandman 1 after reading it, but it may have been before that. This books is also the reason I was cranky (here) when I finally got AS 1, because I’d read the eight of the 20 stories already and had to wait forever again for AS 2.

The Lonely Polygamist by Barry Udall. Reviewed here.

Avram Davidson Treasury – I only read a few of the stories in this collection of horror stories (unsurprisingly recommended by Mr. Gaiman). Not bad, but not really my thing.

The Child that Books Built – Francis Spufford. Most definitely my thing. Spufford goes through the books he read as achild – after confessing that he is a devourer of fiction and an addict. Narnia, Little House on the Prairie, most of the books he discusses are books I also loved as a child – and he looks at how the shaped and fed his as a human being and help make him the person he is now. Loved it. Need to wont this one and read it all th way through in one shot, instead of reading the first half in one week and then the second have 2 weeks later after returning from vacation.

a random reading weekend

Ouch! I knew it had been awhile since I’d posted, but I didn’t realize it had been a month. I wrote a review for BookBrowse, and I went on vacation, and apparently did everything but hang out here for the last month. But I certainly did a lot of reading.

But today… I want to talk about random reading.

Sometimes you pick up a great book, and you can’t put it down. You read it every second you can – sitting at stop lights, while the guy pumps your gas (yay, Oregon!), waiting for your song to download. You stay up until 4am – with your eyes crossing and the words blurring on the page – even though you have a 9am meeting in which you must be dazzling. I love those books.

But sometimes – and not necessarily because the book isn’t fabulous – you don’t hunker down like that. For example, my random reading this weekend.

I am reading The Lonely Polygamist by Barry Udall. I’m also reading The Child That Books Built by Francis Spufford (which I’d left at home while on vacation). In addition, I’ve started Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky (purchased in N Hampshire and started on the plane home). And I started A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes, but I’m not sure I’m going to finish. I think those are the only books I’m currently reading.

Now, I often have a non-fiction book (or in this case, two) that I’m reading that doesn’t fulfill my need for narrative, so I have a fiction book I’m reading at the same time. I rarely have two novels I’m reading at the same time – in this case,  Jamaica wasn’t holding my attention, so I picked up Polygamist, which is a great book so far (halfway).

However, the internet has added a whole new dimension to my random reading. And twitter really feeds my desire for interesting things to read. Neil Gaiman, William Gibson, Amanda F. Palmer and Bitch magazine all post links to interesting things to read that I most likely would never have seen. Gaiman & Palmer have fascinating blogs, as does Lisa Snellings (fantastic artist), Michael Perry, Judy Krueger (about books), and the writers at The Box Car Kids (a laid-off mother of four, blogging to keep her sanity), Feministing (check the awesome logo) and Bitch Ph.D. (no relation).

As a result, my Sunday looked something like this:

sleep in
make tea
read Polygamist for 45 minutes (outside in the sun)
get hot & hungry, make lunch
check facebook/twitter while waiting for lunch to cook
find interesting link on twitter, click and read (stuff about library love, and Gaiman winning the Carnegie Award for The Graveyard Book)
wander over to page w/Gaiman’s blog (always open) and read another month’s worth of posts (currently in 2005 somewhere)
write in journal
pick up Polygamist again, read for 1.5 hours
vacuum, wash dishes and prep produce before it goes bad
twitter again w/cool links (watched a video with Katie Couric interviewing Gloria Steinem)
more Gaiman blog
watch movie (was going to watch The Lives of Other, ended up with Iron Man)
read Child That Books Built for 1.5 hours before bed

Some days, that kind of jumping around would make me crazy. But this weekend it was just what the doctor ordered (if there was a doctor smart enough to prescribe fiction and blogs).  I was happy all day long.

Even with the vacuuming.

(now, if you’ll excuse me, I must go catch up at Bitch Ph.D…)