let’s geek out: books and brighton and more books

This is my to-read pile. It has gotten a little out of control. Particularly when you consider the fact that I have another to-read shelf that isn’t included. This is just my to-read-first pile. The most interesting. The titles I wish I could get into right now, all at once.

I worried that when Baby Pickles arrived, I wouldn’t have as much time to read. The opposite has been true. First there were the months when I was stuck under a sleeping and/or nursing baby pretty much all day. Perfect time to read. Now I read a lot because it is such a clear priority, as a lover of words and a writer myself. And I need the escape more then ever. Pickles has been getting new teeth and feeling cranky lately. It is hard and makes me cranky. Reading is therapy.

I set myself a high goal this year: I will, so help me cod, read 100 books. I usually manage around 60, but I am currently in the middle of reading numbers 68, 69, and 70. (As well as 71 and 72, but those are two books I have been trying to finish for years, so they might not count as current reads anymore, persay.)  Sure, some of them have been short, written for young adults or kids.  But some of them have been 1000-page monsters.  It all evens out in the end.

So many amazing titles have crossed my path so far this year that I can barely pick out favorites without regurgitating the entire list.  (Hey, book people!  Don’t forget to keep track of what you’ve been reading for the “the year in books” blog hop at the end of the year.)  I adored Patrick Rothfuss’ debut novel The Name of the Wind, Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, and Boating for Beginners by Jeanette Winterson.  I read the Twilight series.  I’m re-reading all of Roald Dahl. I read my first Iain Banks (The Wasp Factory—his first novel) and Kelly Link (Magic for Beginners).  It has been a lot of fun, and by the looks of my to-read shelf, it is just going to keep getting better.

In order to take it all to a whole new level (and to see China fucking Mieville), I am going to the World Fantasy Convention in Brighton, England at the end of October.  It will be four days of bliss.  I have never been away from Pickles for that long, and I have never been to a convention.  I can’t fucking wait.  And!  Vacation!  Beach and used book stores and shit!  I have put a ban on all book buying until that day arrives.  Unless those books have been written by China, in the name of trying to read all of his novels before I leave.  Brian Aldiss, who will also be in attendance, gets a free pass as well, though I barely enjoyed my first dive into his work (Hothouse).

Oh and did I mention I have a to-read list of e-books something like 70 books long? Let’s pretend that doesn’t exist.  So many excellent books, so little time…

What are you reading right now?  See anything in my to-read piles that you loved or hated?

Can’t read all the titles in the photo? Well, here:

Wastelands edited by John Joseph Adams
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by NK Jemison
The Broken Kingdoms by NK Jemison
The Kingdom of Gods by NK Jemison
The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
Left Behind by Lahane and Jenkins
Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler
Black Wine by Candas Dorsey
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Reise ins Glück by the print is too small and I don’t feel like looking it up
Tunnel People by Teun Voeten
Mignight in the Garden of Good and Evil
Non-Stop by Brian Aldiss
Railsea by China Mieville
Embassytown by China Mieville
Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks
Tintenherz by Cornelia Funke
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingels Wilder
The Lore of the Unicorn
Moranthology by Caitlan Moran
Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban
The Selected Writings of Fernando Pessoa
The World Without Us
The Little Book of Big Visions by Sharon Dodua Otoo
Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
The Defense by Nabokov
Angsterhaltende Maßnahmen by Jan Off
Bend Sinister by Nabokov
Selected Works of Annie Dillard
Zone One by Colson Whitehead
Dark Eden by Chris Beckett
Norwegian Wood by Murakami
Der Speigel im Spiegel by Michael Ende
Ich und Kaminski by Danile Kehlmann
Rant by Chuck Palahnuik
Revolt in 2010 by Robert Heinlein
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung by Lester Bangs
Always Coming Home by Ursula Le Guin
The Traveler by John Twelve Hawks
the things i am thinking while smiling politely by Sharon Dodua Otoo
Wolf Moon by Charles De Lint
The Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins

0 Comments on “let’s geek out: books and brighton and more books

  1. Mean, very mean. I’m “only” at my 34th or 35th book this year, “Kill Decision” from Daniel Suarez, and also know more books I want to read than I probably can read. Altough I already know some of your list. Ok, no list from me, but two from all 3 options:

    * Encouragement for Rothfuss and John Twelve Hawks (but only the first traveler book, the second is a rip off, the third boring)
    * Missing: Cory Doctorow and Jeff Noon – or did you already all?
    * Save the time for Kehlmann and “Norwegian Wood” from Murakami (other from Murakami are great)

    And China Mieville? Outstanding and still underrated, as a lot of people do think his writing is to complicate. Well, in a way it is, he’ll put more in a novela than we’ll see in George R. R. Martin in his whole “Land of Ice and Fire”-series. I do envy you for this trip. But I hope you’ll post some word for the people at their homely feedreaders.

  2. gegenglueck: Woo 34! Interested to see your list at the end of this year. Glad to hear some encouragement for John Twelve Hawks. That one I found at an Oxfam shop and took a chance on since it was only a euro. It sounds like it could be awesome or totally cheesey. So thanks for the encouragement there.

    As for Jeff Noon: don’t know him. Will check out immediately. Your recs are usually pretty right on. I still think of you and send thanks your way when I see The Scar on the shelf (which the Beard just read and loved, so the joy just keeps spreading with that). Anyway, Doctorow. I just finished Makers actually, but the others of his that I have on the to-read list in my head are all in epub format. Thus not in the picture.

    So you’ve read Kehlmann though? I keep reading things about him that make me think I will love him. Found that one at the Oxfam shop too. Read Kafka on the Shore this year too, should have mentioned that in my drooling above. God that book was good. Excited to read Norwegian Wood and everything else he’s ever written (which is also waiting in epub on my telephone). What of his have you read?

    Mieville. Oh Mieville! He is so frickin great. Oh my god. Anyway.

    So have you read the Martin series then? I have such mixed feelings about them. They were really interesting and addictive, but sometimes I just felt like so much could have just been cut. I haven’t been following the show because I can’t bear to watch characters that I hate on the screen. But I might check it out in a few years once I’ve forgotten when happens–my other issue was that I had just read the books when it came out and it bored me, knowing what was going to happen.

    And you better believe I’ll be posting about World Con. I have a feeling I am going to have a lot to say about it. Huzzah.

  3. I have totally failed to keep a list but even if I had managed it, it would pale so very embarrassingly and utterly pitifully in comparison to yours that I’d probably keep quiet about it haha. BUT things are improving, woo hoo! I am of course totally envious that you’re going to Brighton but not just because of the books – please sit on the beach and have some fish and chips and a pint of cider (and a couple of crabs and a scotch egg and a roast beef sandwich) for me whilst you’re there, would you?

  4. Fun fact: When I was running out of reading material in the middle of nowhere in Canada I found “The Traveller” between a lot of romantic novels in a supermarket for 2 dollars and bought it. Seems to be this kind of book. It turned out to be a nice read. Back home I awaited the sequels, but the second is thin and basically a repetition of the first book and a preview on the third. The third has content, but it didn’t move me.

    Doctorow = ebooks – should have guessed it.

    Kehlmann: Yes, I’ve read it, but it’s boring, meaningless and I’ve no idea why you should read it with all that awesome stuff in your pile of books.

    Martin: I’ve got the german translation as ebooks from the liberary and read it while before/in/after hospital more or less all in a row. It was good for that, but in the end I don’t really wanted to know who was betraying whom or inherited what. Who wants dragons if you can have Mieville’s kraaken? One of the few interesting parts is the north behind the wall, but that’s hardly filling a third of book until now. (And for the series: I quit somewhen in the third part of the first season. Boring.)

    Murakami has ups and downs: I like “Wilde Schafsjagd”, “Hardboiled Wonderland”, “198Q” and “Mr. Aufziehvogel” (although a reread was a bit disappointing), his shortstories, but didn’t like “Kafka on the Beach”, the Sheephunt sequel, “Norwegian Wood” and probably some I forgot.

    Jeff Noon: Read “Vurt” / “Pollen” for the amazing world/setup and “Needle in the groove” for having an great, addictive musical and druggish flow.

    2 more recommendations, can’t help it: “Infinite Jest” by David Foster Wallace and “Gravities Rainbow” by Pynchon. (You’re American after all.)

    I better stop and go enjoy Krakow’s sun now.

  5. Frau Dietz: Holy shit do you happen to know anyone who lives there? I need a place to stay while I am there and I think I totally blanked on asking you. Anyway, large list or small list fuck it, it’s all about geeking out. I hope you will note that you gave me one of the books on that pile.

    gegenglueck: So the Traveler is just that book one accidentally finds in the best seller total shit shelf and takes home assuming it will probably be bad…interesting. Wonder if anyone else has had the same experience with that book.

    Really, didn’t like Kafka on the Shore? Wow. I LOVED it. Thanks for the other recs.

  6. I am super impressed with the number of books you’re able to read! I loooove books, but I seem to be going through books pretty slowly these days. I’m in the middle of Tenth of December by George Saunders and Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, but I just finished Zen Under Fire by Marianne Elliott — about her time working for the UN in Afghanistan and how her yoga and meditation practice kept her sane. SO good. In any case, have fun on vacation and happy reading! I look forward to comparing book lists at the end of the year. 🙂

  7. I haven’t been able to get into reading this year at all. My list is going to be much, much shorter this year than last. I keep starting books and getting bored, moving on to something else in the hopes of getting enthusiastic and ending up with six or seven books on the go all the time. I haven’t even been able to get interested in Moab is my Washpot (the first part of Stephen Fry’s memoirs) even though I loved the second part. I did remember that someone gave me a USB stick with hundreds of ebooks on it a year or so ago. Just had a look and there are a few China Mieville books on it (Iron Council, Kraken, Perdido Street Station, The City & The City, The Scar) so maybe I should give them a go. Have to make my way through Iain Banks’ Transition first – that’s book club for this month and I can’t turn up to another one without having finished the book. (German book club never got going again, by the way, I picked up Die Grosse Liebe again this week to at least try finishing it, though.)
    Brighton sounds like it will be fantastic – I’d probably make sure to wrap up very well for a UK beach in October though. Fish & chips on the beach sounds like heaven no matter what the weather though. 🙂
    On GoT: I read the first one years ago and only rediscovered it a while back. I read parts 2 and 3 after that and then had to wait for 4 and then again for 5. The long waits are very frustrating. I’ve said I won’t watch the series until I’ve finished all the books. I hate getting other people’s visions of what the characters look and sound like into my head. I did enjoy the youtube videos posted of reactions to the Red Wedding scene from people who had never read the books. Totally over the top, some of them, but amusing all the same. 🙂

  8. Mandi: Thanks! Happy reading to you too!

    Moonwaves: That has been happening to me more often lately, and I am getting better at just deciding to put something aside for much later or never.

    My first Mieville was Perdido Street. Highly recommend. A lot of folks say to start with The Scar, which is also awesome, though I am partial to Perdido. Interested to hear if you like it.

    I am waiting on the Game of Thrones series maybe forever…since word on the street is that HBO is going to finish it (with Martin’s help) before he’s finished writing all the books…then again, at that point the watchers will know more than the readers, which will totally bug me haha.

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  10. Moranthology, Wastelands, Zone One, Railsea and Embassytown are also in my to-read pile! Which is actually a bookcase – the towering pile became too dangerous and I had to give up and get the things a whole bloody bookcase of their own.

    I’m so jealous you get to go to Brighton! I bet it will be amazing. I was actually supposed to interview China Mieville last year but the article fell through in the end because his books didn’t sell enough in Finland (the fuck?!!!). But we e-mailed back and forth a bit while trying to set up the interview and I nearly died when I got a mail from him, starting with “Dear Oona”. Come to think of it, I should print that e-mail out and hang it on the wall, preferably in a golden frame…

    Oh yeah and I really, really recommend Needle in the groove by Jeff Noon. The language and its rhythm in that book are just too beautiful for words.

  11. Oona: ON MY FUCKING GOD. I know I would totally put that email in a golden frame. Daaamn. And his books didn’t sell enough in Finland? What the hell are people reading? Heh. Then again, I can imagine there are a lot of people that he might be a little too weird for. But oh my god it is just so fucking good. He has the sexiest brain of all. Getting him to sign something at Brighton is going to be so…weird. What can you even say that means something at one of those mass signings? Probably nothing.

    I am going to need a bookcase for my to-reads soon too. I was all, “I won’t buy any more books until Brighton,” and then I keep finding awesome shit I want to read for a euro at the fleamarket or wherever. The pile has just added a whole new column. Ah well.

  12. I triple LOVED the writings of ANNIE DILLARD. “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek” was my favorite. As a self taught naturalist and wildlife advocate of many species myself, it was nothing but pure pleasure at every turn of the page. I hope you enjoy her as much as I did.

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