I don't usually go for the 'beach read' in the summer; I generally follow my typical reading pattern of ... okay, what the hell is my reading pattern? Hmmmm.... a little fiction, a little non-fiction, I always try to be reading something 'good for me', and I mix in YA reads and short stories whenever I feel myself getting jaded or overwhelmed with too much choice. And zombies.
But this summer I have actually been feeling a little distracted and unfocused in the reading department. Between all the driving and houseguests and baseball and dead air conditioners and medication withdrawal drama, I've let any sort of rigour fall by the wayside. I took Anthony Trollope's The Warden out of the library because I've been meaning to read him for years, partly because the character in this mystery series did his thesis on him (if I remember correctly) and partly because of this book, where Jane Juska's personal ad reads "Before I turn 67—next March—I would like to have a lot of sex with a man I like. If you want to talk first, Trollope works for me." Plus, come on, his name is Trollope, and it's fun to say Trollope.
Anyway. I consulted a few sources on which was a good Trollope book to start with, and the consensus was The Warden. So I took it out of the library. And I put it on my stack. And it came up for renewal and I hadn't cracked it yet. And it came up for renewal again and ditto. And again. So now I've had the cursed thing for nine weeks and have not read word one. And do I do what I usually do, which is to realize that the book in question is no longer available for renewal which suddenly renders it INFINITELY DESIRABLE, therefore I power-read it and return it two or three days late and consider the fine money well spent?
I do not. I return it bang on time in ignominious defeat and accept that I will have to live to read Trollope another day.
What HAVE I read? Some fairly crappy YA stuff: The Dark and Hollow Places - a tedious, formulaic love story with zombies; This is Not a Test - a tedious teen angst story with zombies that FREAKIN' EVERYBODY on Goodreads inexplicably loves; Fablehaven - a neat premise done in by mediocre writing and unendurably annoying characters; and Insurgent - an incredibly disappointing sequel to a really great first in a trilogy. Among Others, which I adored, although I find it hard to articulate precisely why. Mori's voice is note-perfect and engaging and I love how thoughtful and insightful and matter-of-fact she is about almost everything - growing up interacting with fairies, having an evil world-destroying witch for a mother, the ethics of using magic, coming of age sexually, the Dickensian cruelty and horror that is English boarding school. Plus the endless talk of books, of course. I like how it's just about her life, and the pitched magical battle is sort of incidental to everything else - part of it is in the past and only talked about fleetingly in retrospect, and the rest of it isn't this big loud climax of the book, it just sort of makes sense how it plays out. So I DON'T actually REQUIRE a bunch of supernatural crap to like a book, so THERE. Also, it prompted me to take short story collections by Tiptree, Leguin and Heinlein out of the library, and that has been marvellous. I want to print out April in Paris and paper my walls with it.
I also read the zombie book by the guy who wrote this really cool, different vampire book. The zombie book wasn't as good. I'm not sure if I hope he takes on werewolves or not.