book lists

Blizzard reading, snowstorm Jonas edition

We are about to get hit by what is purportedly going to be the Snowstorm of the Century. Everybody in DC is in a tizzy, grocery store is a scene of carnage, snow predictions increase hourly, the workers are going home (see what I did there) at noon most places, and one of the images on the weather channel this morning simply said ‘MOISTURE’ in giant letters over the area. Last time something similar occurred was in 2010. We lived in Bethesda near the Beltway, and that night a car pulled up by our mailbox and sat there for a good while. Eventually we walked up to it to inquire, and found a woman who simply could not get back home to Virginia because there were no roads. She stayed with us overnight. Two years ago we also had a snowmageddon, albeit of smaller proportions. You may remember it from such blog posts as Bookselling in Extreme Conditions. There might be a repeat of that this weekend, stay tuned.

The important concerns of course are as follows: 1) do we have wine and 2) what am I going to read. Wine has been procured, along with other necessities like chocolate and Swedish fish, and here is your snowstorm Jonas reading list:


It’s heavy on snow and weird: year’s best weird stories edited by Kathe Koja and Michael Kelly; Schubert’s Winter Journey by Ian Bostridge, which seems like the book written specifically for a snowstorm; ditto for Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen. And new Sjón!

Those of you living in places like Boston and Toronto are probably enjoying this ‘here’s our once-a-year snowstorm, batten down the hatches’ post (I used to live in Moscow, I have a heightened sense of my own snow mastery), so here’s a music video for you so this song can also get stuck in your head every time you turn on the weather channel:




Lists of books!

For those of you who like Lists of Things, I did some blog maintenance thing yesterday and updated my ‘Read in 2014‘ list and created ‘Read in 2015‘. Go see! They are sort of terrifying, aren’t they? How much free time do I really have?

If you want to know why I keep lists of things I read, it’s because I am one of those People Who Like Lists, because it’s fun, and because I tend to remember events in my life through books. A book can remind me where I was or what I was doing when I was reading it. I read Anthony Marra’s The Tsar Of Love and Techno while camping this summer. I read Benjamin Black’s Christine Falls while waiting for a plane to Toronto in January. I obviously went through some period this summer when I wanted to read only emotionally wrenching books, judging by this lineup:

  • Lidia Yuknavitch, The Small Backs Of Children
  • J. M. Ledgard, Submergence
  • Lyudmila Ulitskaya, The Big Green Tent
  • Hanya Yanagihara, A Little Life

All of these are very good, by the way. But not light.

Other reading trends:

1) There are some graphic novels I read and reread in a span of a few weeks. I am a dedicated comics rereader. A) they don’t take a long time and B) I like to binge on series in comics. I have my annual reread of Warren Ellis’s Transmetropolitan whenever I start feeling too good about people.

2) There is way more poetry in 2015. Me reading poetry is something relatively new. There was an entire period in my life when I was convinced I could only read poetry in my native language. Now it’s more or less a staple of my reading diet.

3) More plays in 2015, also a new phenomenon.

4) There is way less speculative fiction in 2015. I had what I call ‘genre-fatigue’ for a few months (one of the reasons I stopped writing here). I could only take my sci-fi/fantasy in comics form.

5) Apparently I read Alex + Ada volume two, but not one? Doesn’t seem right.

6) I don’t list single-issue comics. It’s a personal preference.

7) I’ve read 192 books in 2014. Didn’t quite make it to 200. TOTAL FAILURE. Kidding.

So there you go. Lists. Now onwards to read 200 books this year!

Best books (so far) of 2014

I’m following in the steps of In the Forest of Stories to present you my Halfway There list of best books (so far) of 2014. I’m not limiting myself to books published only this year, but if you’d like to see lists of just the newest stuff, see this Mind Meld at SF Signal.

So here are my top picks from the books I’ve read this year. I’m not including rereads and I’m not limiting the lists to ‘top x’ number of books:

whatmakesthisbook1) Books published in the first half of 2014:

Jo Walton, What Makes This Book So Great

Marcel Theroux, Strange Bodies

Joseph Boyden, The Orenda

Jeff Vandermeer, Annihilation and Authority

Michael Deforge, Ant Colony

Jalphaomegaoe Hill, Gabriel Rodriguez, Locke & Key: Alpha and Omega

Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples, Saga #3


2) Books published before 2014:

Will McIntosh, Love Minus Eighty.

Robert Jackson Bennett, American Elsewhere

S. Bear Bergman, The Nearest Exit orendaMay Be Behind You. Possibly my favorite book of essays on trans* and gender issues.


3) And now, the tricky one: books published in the second half of 2014. Not out yet, but you should put them on the list now.

Robert Jackson Bennett, City of Stairs

David Mitchell, Bone Clockswhatif

Haruki Murakami, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

Randall Munroe, What If: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

Jeff Vandermeer, Acceptance (but you will want to pick this one up anyway, because you have already finished Annihilation and Authority and can barely wait, right?)

June reading tally: re-reading edition

I was terrible at documenting what I brought home this month. There were many and varied stacks of library books that kept getting shuffled back to the library, then back to my house. I was looking forward to reading a lot of books on my vacation, but when said vacation actually arrived, I found myself paralyzed by the multitude of books. First world problem, indeed.

June was a month of re-reads and ARCs, and here’s the list:

1. Jim Butcher, Storm Front

2. Geoff Dyer, The Colour of Memory

3. Andrew Kaufman, Give War and Peace a Chance: Tolstoyan Wisdom for Troubled Times

4. Grady Hendrix, Horrorstör

5. Jim Butcher, Fool Moon

6. Eula Biss, On Immunity: An Inoculation

7. Jim Butcher, Grave Peril

8. Garth Nix, Sabriel

9. Daryl Gregory, Afterparty

10. Joe Hill, Gabriel Rodriguez, Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft

11. Joe Hill, Gabriel Rodriguez, Locke & Key: Head Games

12. Joe Hill, Gabriel Rodriguez, Locke & Key: Crown of Shadows

13. Joe Hill, Gabriel Rodriguez, Locke & Key: Keys to the Kingdom

14. Joe Hill, Gabriel Rodriguez, Locke & Key: Clockworks

15. Joe Hill, Gabriel Rodriguez, Locke & Key: Alpha and Omega

16. Stephen Collins, The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil

17. Julia Elliott, The Wilds

18. Alyson Foster, God Is an Astronaut

19. Randall Munroe, What If: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

20. Matt Kailey, Just Add Hormones

21. Apostolos Doxiadis, Christos Papadimitriou, Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth

22. Jim Butcher, Summer Knight

23. Susan Coll, The Stager

24. Jim Butcher, Death Masks


Twenty four books, which seems impressive, except eight of them were graphic novels. I started my re-read of the Dresden Files, which proceeds apace (on Blood Rites at the moment).

The Best: What If wins hands down for non-fiction. The Colour of Memory takes the fiction prize. It’s an odd novel. I loved it to bits, and yet it has absolutely no plot.

The Meh: There’s been some excitement around God Is An Astronaut, but it seemed entirely non-memorable to me.

The WeirdHorrorstör. What the what. Actually, it was delightful ‘what the what’.