Many Reading Updates

No, it’s not your imagination, I’m not checking off my goal books particularly fast. However, I am making progress. I think one reason I like having goal books is because it provides handy reading material when I want to read but am not in the mood for any particular book. Also, it’s working well as a way to scout new books and audio books for Calvin. We recently finished listening to The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs, mentioned in my previous reading goal post, and Calvin seemed to like it.

At the beginning of the year I didn’t have any book goals but now I seem to be acquiring new ones monthly. I’ve recently decided to listen to all of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books. Up to this point, I’ve listened to about half of the Discworld books. There are some, such as Monstrous Regiment that I seem to listen to at least once a year. I decided to make sure that I haven’t missed other equally good Discworld books by listening to them all in published order. This is a bit tricky because most of the unabridged1 Discworld audio books appear to be out of print or are really, really expensive2. However, Interlibrary Loan is coming to my rescue. I searched and it appears I should be able to get the whole series one ILL at a time.

So far I’ve listened to The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic. When we went to London, many years ago, we took public transportation for everything. This was before the days of the Kindle and I quickly ran out of books to read while transiting to and from places. As a result, Jaeger and I expanded our must-see attractions to include a bookstore. I was aghast at how much the books cost (like everything else, it helped to pretend I was paying in dollars) but picked up UK editions of The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic. Unfortunately, they didn’t speak to me. At all. After listening to them, they’re still not my favorites in the series but I like them a lot better. I’d give them a solid 3 stars. I’m not sure why I have such different reaction to reading versus listening. As a side note, I also watched The Color of Magic miniseries. It’s not the highest quality but gives a very good flavor of the Discworld series in terms of laughing at stereotypes, etc. What I found weird though was that even though the miniseries was called The Color of Magic, it contained a lot more plot elements from The Light Fantastic. It obviously was meant to cover both books but I felt a lot more of the second book ended up in it.

Listening to the Discworld series is more of an unofficial goal. However, I do have one other official goal I’ll be working on: the 2014 Hugo Nominations. This year Jaeger and I decided we really, really should take part in the Hugo nominations instead of just watching from the sidelines so we both bought “supporting memberships”3. I only submitted nominations for “Best Novel” as that’s the form that I’m most familiar with. However, I’m going to try to commit to reading all nominations for Best Novel, Best Novella, Best Novelette, Best Short Story, Best Graphic Story, Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form, and the nominated authors for John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

Committing to read all the nominations for Best Novel seemed relatively easy until I saw that the entire Wheel of Time series has been nominated. I hadn’t even realized entire series could be nominated but apparently there’s a clause in the WSFS constitution that makes this possible. I’m not sure what I’m going to do about that. I think I’ve read the first three books in the series and then gave up with plans to reconsider if it was ever finished. Well, Robert Jordan died before he finished the series. However, Brandon Sanderson, working from Jordan’s notes, has finished it. That being said, I don’t think I’m willing to commit to reading 15 books in one series in the next couple of months. So, I’m contemplating reading the last three that Brandon Sanderson wrote. I’ve liked every Sanderson book I’ve read so hopefully I can get through these three. I imagine ardent fans will say I can’t possible get the scope of the series with just reading the last three books. That’s probably fair but being a long-time library user, I’m pretty good and figuring out what happens in prior books without reading them. Also, given I gave up after the first three books implies I wasn’t invested enough to be interested in voting for it anyway.

My nomination for Best Novel was Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie. It’s an excellent book but I’m worried it’s against really tough competition this year. However, it’s nice that there are worthwhile books to be nominated this year. I was really not impressed with the options a couple of years ago. I suppose it’s better to have too many good choices than no good choices.

And at long last, my progress on my children’s books . . .

Children’s Goal Books I’ve Read Since the Last Update

Shakespeare’s Secret, by Elise Broach (Shakespeare, new school, friends)

Hero, named after Hero in Much Ado About Nothing, is having to adapt to yet another school. Hero is hoping that her new classmates will ignore her but she ends up the butt of a joke her very first day and it goes downhill from there. Fortunately, an elderly lady next door provides a mystery that helps Hero forget her socialization troubles.

Good juvenile book. I always like reading interesting female characters.

Bearwalker, by Joseph Bruchac (contemporary Native American, stereotypes, adventure, life lessons, new school, horror)

Baron has moved to yet another new school and has been dealing with bullies. His class goes on the annual eighth-grade bonding experience to “Camp Chuckamuck.” Baron senses that something is wrong at Camp Chuckamuck. Things get particularly strange when it seems like a Native American folk tale is coming to life.

This is a book that I would have never picked up on my own. After all, it has a male protagonist. However, it was really good. It’s way too old for Calvin at this point but I’ll put it on my list to introduce it to him when Calvin is older.

The Dark Pond, by Joseph Bruchac (contemporary Native American, loner, adventure, horror)

There are a lot of similarities between this book and Bearwalker. Both deal with boys that are having a hard time making friends and both deal with nature and Native American legends. However, in this one Armie, the protogonist, is going to school in an area surrounded by nature instead of just taking a trip there.

Again, another really good book that I’ll keep in mind for Calvin later.

The Fairy Tale Detectives, by Michael Buckley (fairy tales, sisters, self-reliance)

Two sisters are shipped of to live with a woman claiming to be their grandmother after their parents mysteriously disappear. The girls have always been told their grandmother is dead so they are deeply suspicious of the old women. The old women is very strange, has a strange man that appears to live with her, and lives in a strange house. However, eventually the girls realize that they come from a long line of Grimms whose job it is to protect normal people from real fairy-tale characters.

I expected to love this book. I usually adore fairy tale retellings and similar stories. However, I never really got into this one. I don’t know if it’s because it was too young an audience or something else. I won’t bother saving this one for Calvin. However, if I happen to end up with a girl at some point, I might introduce it to her. Maybe she’ll like it better than I did.

Keeper of the Doves, by Betsy Byars (girls, words, prejudice)

Amen McBee is the youngest of five sisters. She loves words and writes poetry. Her older twin sisters are both her mentors and tormentors. The twins willfully misunderstand Mr. Tominski, an old recluse who lives on their lands, which ends in tragedy.

This was a short book which also felt very reflective. Amen spends a lot of time thinking and trying to figure out things which is in stark contrast to her twin sisters who appear to enjoy jumping to conclusions. It’s a good book. I might request the audio book for Calvin to listen to. It deals with some heavy situations but I think it could provide some good conversations about judging people without understanding them.

Reading Goal: 23 of 180

  1. And who would condescend to listen to abridged audio books (though I sometimes make an exception for non-fiction).
  2. Audio books are naturally more expensive than printed books due to the narrator, who can make or break an audio book, and all the additional production requirements audio requires. I understand why audio books are expensive. I’m just personally unwilling to spend more than $40 for any audio book.
  3. We contemplated actually going to Loncon 3. I’ve never been to a Worldcon before and would really like to try the experience. However, the timing was really bad. We might try to hit the 2015 “Sasquan” which will be located in Spokane Washington(state).