Reporting from Mount TBR

Another year, another reading challenge! This year, I’ve decided once again to tackle my massive backlog of To Be Read titles. The two bookshelves housing my TBR pile have begun sneaking books onto the floor, and the piles from the floor have migrated to my dresser, nightstand, and desk. The approximate number of unread books in the house is close to 400—which is only about half the number of unread titles lurking in my digital libraries.

My plan is simple. Every month, I will sort the books in my digital libraries to the earliest date and send one to my e-reader. Then read it. Or make an attempt to. If I like it, I’ll mention it here, on my blog. If I don’t like it, I’ll delete it. Same goes for the physical books. I’ll pick one from the shelf and read it. If I like it, I’ll blog about it. If I don’t like it, I’ll tuck it into the library donation box.

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What I’ve Been Reading

The #WritersRead prompt for November was: a book debut author. Bryan Washington isn’t a debut author, but Memorial is his first novel, so I’ve decided it counts. Also, I really want to talk about it.

Memorial was my November Book of the Month Club selection, and I picked it because it reminded me of the beautiful movie, Lilting. I also really enjoy stories about people who wouldn’t choose to spend time together. This is that, twice over.

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What I’ve Been Reading

The #WritersRead prompt for September was: a book I wished I’d read in school. I’ve written before about books I’d like to see on high school reading lists. It’s a subject I’m passionate about, so I was determined to read something I really, really wished had been recommended back when I was in school.

When I researched current high school reading recommendations, I was pleasantly surprised to find a more diverse list than what I’d expected. Although there were titles I’d replace (ugh, Nathaniel Hawthorne, I both love and hate you), there were several exciting choices. I’d just about settled on The Underdogs by Mariano Azuela when a title farther down caught my eye—A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute.

I was born in Australia but attended high school in the United States. My knowledge of Australian history and culture, therefore, has gaps. I grabbed a copy of Alice from the Free Library of Philadelphia and started to read. Half an hour later, the app I use to read library books posted an alert: The Bridge by Bill Konigsberg was ready for me to borrow.

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What I’ve Been Reading

The #WritersRead theme for May was a book on writing. I decided against reading a craft book as I thought it might distract me from the more important task of drafting The City Without End.  The theme for June was a graphic novel. I always read plenty of those, so for this update, I’m going to feature Star Wars: Darth Vader – Dark Lord of the Sith, Vol. 1: Imperial Machine.

Darth VaderI adore Star Wars comics. I find them much more compelling than the movies, probably because each series tends to focus on a single character or a small group. The humor that I loved from the original three movies is nearly always present, though sometimes dry and subtle–especially in the case of Darth Vader. He can be a funny guy. No, really!

Imperial Machine starts right at the beginning. Vader has just become Vader and Darth Sidious has sent him on a mission to get his legendary red lightsaber. There were twists and turns enough to keep me guessing, even though I might have been the only one. See, the thing is, I’ve always felt a kernel of good continued to exist inside Vader’s mostly machine body. That he hasn’t forgotten *everything.* So when I read these comics, I’m always looking for the glint, for the tiny bit of Anakin Skywalker from before he, well, lost his way. I think the writers (in this instance, Charles Soule, look for it too because every now and then a question will pop up and you really do have to wonder how Vader will answer it.

Not going to say more, just going to recommend this series, and the one that follows it subtitled Vader. If you’re a fan, it’s great stuff, even when Triple Zero (Dr. Aphra’s murderous friend) is stealing the show.

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Writing Short

I love short things. My favourite aunt is a tiny and compact ball of energy. She’s like a rogue asteroid that actually makes everything she bumps into better. My co-writer, Jenn, is short. I always forget how short she is until we meet up. I need a longer word to do her justice, though. Jenn is awesome.

I always order the shorti hoagie from Wawa because believe it or not, there is too much of a good thing. Too much egg salad is not a good thing.

A short stack of pancakes is the perfect stack.

I’m not here to tell you about all the short things I like, though. I’m here to talk about short stories. I love short stories. I like reading them and I like writing them. Continue reading “Writing Short”