Monday, August 20, 2012

Mondays on the Margins: Summer Reading

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.









7 comments:

StephLove said...

If this was the summer you failed to read Trollope it was the summer I failed to read War and Peace. I'm in the this book club that read it before I joined and no matter what we read everyone is already referring back to W&P, so I once said idly to a friend in the club, "I should really read W&P someday" and then a few days later she's at my house, unannounced, with her copy to loan me. That was months ago and I haven't cracked it open. I'm wondering how long I should keep it.

Sandra said...

Oh Honey, at least you read! I always say that I'll read tons in the summer between university sessions, and honestly, I got through 123 pages of Christopher Moore's book Lamb, which I'm sure is hilarious, but then I think if I'm going to be reading a humouristic take on Jesus, I might as well try and get through the real shit in the Bible, and well, after a few verses, I'm yawning because all the "thou" and "Ye" confuses me. TMI?

Mom of the Perpetually Grounded said...

I usually try to read something 'good for me' too. Which is why I've spent 3 weeks picking up Faust, reading a page, thinking "that is really deep and beautiful," and then putting it down again : )It's due back...meh.

Julia said...

I was so stoked for Shadow of Night to come out this summer. It is a sequel to A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. I bought it the first week (for cheap at Chapters) and it has been sitting on my bedside table ever since. I think I am afraid it will be one of those disappointing second books and I don't want to ruin the good feelings I had after reading the first book. Because I want to/should be reading Shadow of Night I haven't read anything else all summer.... I have substituted crochet for reading instead ;-)

Maggie said...

I have become so disillusioned with everything being part of a trilogy these days primarily because the second books after first good books have been almost universally disappointing (see Insurgent, Magic Study, etc). At this point in the summer, I am refusing to even start anything that I'm aware is part of a trilogy. Am just too annoyed.

I applaud you even thinking about reading literature. I read serious things all day at work and consequently seem only to be able to read fluff, YA, and fantasy/post-apocalyptic stuff at home. Somewhere my HS English teacher feels a sense of disappointment.

Sasha said...

Besides, then you also get to SAY Trollope another day, too :).

I need to throw some YA into my mix. Suggestions? Hint: the last YA I read was Harry Potter. (Does that count?)

clara said...

I've never even heard of Anthony Trollope. Is he related to Joanna Trollope? I always thought her books would be smuttier than they were, simply because her name was Trollope.

Yay for reading.