vandermeer

All the books: August and early September releases

End of August and beginning of September is an amazing time. September in general is heavy on great new releases, and this year it’s almost overwhelming with the number of books I have either read and liked or look forward to reading. Here’s an incomplete list of amazing stuff for your perusal:

1) David Mitchell, The Bone Clocks (out 9/2). I read it way back in April, and now I need to reread it because I swallowed it in two sittings, filed it under ‘really liked, but had issue X (specifically, what I called ‘the scouring of the Shire’ ending’), and then promptly forgot all the fine details. A couple of my friends who read it a bit later tried to engage me in conversation about it, and I realized I could not form coherent thoughts. On reread pile it goes. Oh, and if you are anywhere DC on September 17th, Politics & Prose is having an event with Mitchell, details and tickets here (shameless employment place self-promotion). I’ll be there, attempting not to look like an idiot or drool on the author.

mirrorempire2) Kameron Hurley, The Mirror Empire. This is out on 8/26. I did not get a chance to read the ARC, but I’m quite excited to read the final product. This promises a complex world, gender politics, and a multi-layered story. It’s already been reviewed by a bunch of intelligent and articulate people, if you want to take a look: Alex Ristea at Ristea’s Reads, Justin Landon at Staffer’s Book Review, Nathan at Fantasy Review Barn, or Neth at Neth Space. I feel that I should leave this one for when I feel I have enough mental capacity for it, but it seems like an essential book if you are a genre reader.

3) Robert Jackson Bennett, City of Stairs (out 9/9). I had so much fun with this one. Bennett is among one of my favorite writers. I am yet to read anything by him I did not enjoy (incidentally, David Mitchell is in the same category).

4) Jeff Vandermeer, Acceptance (out 9/2), the conclusion to the Southern Reach trilogy. This will firmly solidify your fear of natural world and prevent you from leaving the house or visiting any nature preserves, possibly forever. And once more with the shameless self-promotion: Jeff Vandermeer will be at P&P on September 27th at 6 pm. Of course I’ll be there. If I can leave the house.

hieroglyphThere are many more shiny new books, like Lauren Beukes’s Broken Monsters, or this collection of stories called Hieroglyph (I am still on a short story kick, so this is very exciting). Really, I need to stop here and go read now.

Happy fall. Have all the books.

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Reading update: book juxtaposition

I am finishing up my review of Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone (while eyeing his Two Serpents Rise on my nightstand), but in the meantime, here’s some reading news that is not news about me reading short stories:

wonderbookI’m still making my way through Wonderbook, and I am still mightily impressed. If you are a creative type of any variety, you should get this. It’s incredibly useful if you like to put words down on a page, but if painting or music or some other thing is more your speed, the art itself is worth it just for inspiration. I’ve been writing and drawing again, mostly thanks to Jeff VanderMeer.

I am also re-reading The Drowning Girl: A Memoir by Caitlín R. Kiernan. It’s probably my favorite Kiernan book, but it invariably gives me very strange dreams (stranger than usual), disturbs me, unsettles me, and, going with the theme in the book, haunts me. Also, there is a transgender character. It is amazing, and I am savoring each sentence.

In a rather odd juxtaposition to The Drowning Girl, I am also reading Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett. I have mentioned my conflicted relationship with humorous genre fiction before, and that I only read Pratchett when I really feel like it. Maybe I just needed funny this week to counteract all the shitty things that are happening (see #Ferguson in your latest Twitter feed). There is a delightful Discworld reading chart on io9, and I am sort of using it to re-read or fill my gaps in different story arcs.  I like the witches, but I am pretty sure I have only read Wyrd Sisters and Carpe Jugulum in that storyline.

Perhaps it is also time to do an ‘upcoming releases’ post. We’re heading into a pretty busy fall, and there are some truly cool things about to be released into the reading wilds.

Reading update: short fiction and Wonderbook by Jeff Vandermeer

This week, spurred by either a work-induced existential crisis or a well-meaning attempt to de-clutter both my space and my brain, I got rid of approximately 20 books (while proofreading this post, I realized I typed ‘I got read of 20 books’. Sort of true.). That’s 20 more than usual. I shoved a couple into my local tiny library. The rest went to the staff break room. I also decided I wasn’t going to bring books home. That resolution lasted exactly until I laid my eyes on this:

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Oh, it was so pretty. Look at what was under the dust jacket:

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Could you resist? I could not. I adopted it and brought it home. I had read it already (and here’s what I thought), but I wanted to own the book.

My only other acquisition was a collection of short stories by Atwood, with whose writing I have a conflicted and tempestuous relationship:

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I am on some kind of mad and inexplicable short fiction kick at the moment, so I think this time we’ll hit it off.

The aforementioned short fiction obsession has so far resulted in a diligent reading of The Best Science Fiction And Fantasy Of The Year, volume 6, edited by Jonathan Strahan. I am normally quite bad at reading anthologies and short fiction in general. I like the fact that someone has already combed through various short stories of the year and picked what they thought were the best, but I never really read them. And yet here I am on story #22, with no sign of stopping. In fact, I have gathered a few other anthologies to feed my new-found short story love. I want to try and figure out who my favorite editor might be.

My other obsession in the past couple of days has been Wonderbook by Jeff VanderMeer. Commence incoherent gushing (which is ironic, seeing how it’s a book about writing). It is indeed quite wondrous and delightful. I love everything about it: writing advice, asides, examples, extras by some really great contributors, weird art.

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So that’s what I’m doing with my tomorrow.

The photos in this post might lead you to believe I live in a lightless cave. This is not entirely wrong.

May reading tally: ‘Too Early to Talk About’ edition

May was extremely satisfying reading-wise, but entirely frustrating when it came to reviewing. I read a few really, really good books, and I can’t tell you about them. Because it is too early. Basically, this month, I read 80% of all my ‘Can’t Wait Till Release Date” books for the entire year. These books are the ones that go immediately to the top of the reading pile, and I will, in fact, drop any other book I’m reading to read these.

What this means is that this month, my books acquired should be pretty similar to books read. Fingers crossed.

Books acquired (including borrowed) – and this time I was pretty good about photo documentation:

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A couple of bookgroup books (Sabriel and Blindsight), plus The Bees, which I reviewed here.

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Guys, guys, it’s the xkcd book! The only reason I’m not done with it yet is because I got it yesterday. Also, Sally Ride!

Continuing with non-fiction theme:

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Plutopia is supposed to be great.

I then acquired this odd hardcover edition of Dune (pictured here melding with the table):

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All these were satisfying acquisitions, but the true highlights were these babies:

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Really, how can you not drop everything and read these? I binged on Vandermeer all last Saturday, finished Mitchell in two days, and Murakami in a day and a half. The only thing I can say is that you will want to get these as soon as they are released.

And now, on to books read:

1. Chester Brown, Louis Riel

2. Joseph Boyden, The Orenda

3. Yuka Igarashi, ed. Granta # 127: Japan

4. David Mitchell, Bone Clocks

5. Jo Walton, My Real Children

6. Rivka Galchen, American Innovations

7. Douglas Coupland, Worst. Person. Ever. (this is obviously Canadian Content month)

8. Lydia Davis, Can’t and Won’t

9. Laline Paull, The Bees

10. Jon Skovron, Man Made Boy

11. Jeff Vandermeer, Annihilation

12. Jeff Vandermeer, Authority

13. Jeff Vandermeer, Acceptance

14. Lish McBride, Hold Me Closer, Necromancer

15. Michael Deforge, Ant Colony

16. Haruki Murakami, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

The Best: this is really hard. Vandermeer is a wizard. So is David Mitchell. Murakami is in his own category. But to be honest, the book that took over my mind for days after I was done was The Orenda.

The Worst: nothing was truly terrible. I was disappointed in My Real Children, but I think that’s because I had really high expectations, and the book just didn’t seem to match what was in my head. Also, I’m in the minority here.

I honestly have no idea why I read Douglas Coupland’s book. I needed something truly out of my reading range. I read him before, but during an entirely different phase of my life. Worst. Person. Ever. was crass and disgusting and really made me feel like I was watching a train wreck. It wasn’t terrible (in a sense of ‘boring, can’t go on’ book terrible).

The Weird: only two graphic novels! But they are both by Canadian artists (Canadian Content month continues). Ant Colony is truly weird, but really awesome. Also, I’m never touching Sweet’n Low.

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Yes, they are all ants.

Saturday done right

I have two excellent reasons for not writing any book reviews today and for skipping Short Story Sunday tomorrow.

The weather:

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This morning involved a nice 6.5-mile run and then lounging on the grass for five hours, doing nothing but reading and snacking. Yes, I ran with snacks and books in my backpack. Thankfully, the books were small paperbacks:

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By the way, I do and do not recommend reading these while in close contact with nature (e.g. on the grass in a wooded area). Also, I’m not sure I can interact with human beings anymore. I reread Annihilation and I’m well into Authority. The Vandermeer marathon (or, as someone on Instagram called it, Vandermeerathon) will continue tomorrow. Unless Area X that is my backyard devours me in my sleep. Something like that. Possible future scenario depicted here:

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