Currently-Reading Update [October 2017]

Gosh, time flies when you lie (courtesy Youtuber Nat Tran). So much for a post a week. Couldn’t even do a post a month. Anyways.

I need to come up with snappier titles (and also dates) for these things. Between classes, listening to Alice Isn’t Dead and blind auditions of The Voice (god knows why), tests, and test results, I haven’t had much time to read. I’ve kind of been casually doing it anyway (autopilot?) and here are some I’ve been getting through this month. I’ve actually already finished most of these, but I’ve done the currently reading posts before, so I figured I’d put it all in one neat basket.

Wyrd Sisters (Terry Pratchett)
I’ve read this before, but since I’ve been microexamining Macbeth, I figured I’d give it a reread (something I very very rarely do with books). I’m enjoying the experience (imagine that). I have a goldfish memory so for the most part it felt like I was reading something new, and it was as amusing as I expected it to be. I find Pratchett’s novels difficult to dissect in the way I would other novels, occasionally I find myself thinking something’s going over my head, even if it isn’t. But this time it felt like a clearer road; I enjoyed the jumble of witches, murderous kings, fools and general humour. Whether or not you’re well versed with Shakespeare’s shortest tragedy, if Pratchett can usually get a laugh out of you, this is worth it. I’m not sure this book would make the greatest introduction to Discworld though (if you’re unfamiliar with his work), but to be honest I haven’t read enough of them to know. Anyways I think it’s easily enjoyable overall, and the witches feature prominently, which is always a plus. Apart from a few problematic exceptions, this is fun, funny, and clever.

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Image (c) goodreads.com

Averno (Louise Glück)
I also read Faithful and Virtuous Night but figured I’d just mention one here to be concise. I kind of rushed through this which I know one really shouldn’t do with poetry. I look forward to rereading it (really?) at some point in the future. For the present moment, ‘Averno’ (the titular poem) remains my favourite. I’d recommend it, actually – just that one poem, if you have the time. It’s beautiful.

The Books of Imirillia (Beth Brower)
This is actually a trilogy (what isn’t these days), the first one being The Queen’s Gambit. Followed by The Ruby Prince and The Wanderer’s Mark. This YA fantasy series is pretty much a poor man’s The Queen’s Thief series. The latter I’ve read and very much enjoyed (I won’t get into the details here) so when I read Brower’s books on a lazy weekend (yes, I’ve had free time and I haven’t blogged, I’m awful) I was pretty much able to join the dots. This is a mediocre series at best with a heavy-handed romance as the series progresses; it might strike you as slightly more impressive if you actually haven’t read Turner’s series. I felt it had a great deal of potential but ultimately fell short; Brower’s focus on romance inhibited the political sharpness she seemed to be aiming for, and it just wasn’t really as clever or impressive as it could’ve been. Instead it became unrealistic, with strange dialogue and somewhat stale characters. It’s kind of better than a lot of YA fantasy making the rounds these days, but it’s nowhere near the best.

Intimacy and Other Stories (Jean-Paul Sartre)
I also recently reread No Exit (honestly, all this rereading is the most I’ve ever done) and I may just prefer that to this, although I’ve only read 2 stories out of 5 so far. Actually, scratch that, I found ‘The Wall’ quite interesting (‘Intimacy’, the titular story, less so) – a political prisoner’s musings on death. I’m looking forward to reading the rest at my own pace, and with more time to savour it, and not rush through. The prose-style is unique, particularly when we’re in the characters’ heads.

Tower of Dawn (Sarah J Maas)
On the same lazy weekend…yeah. I’ve no particular interest in Maas’ books; I know they’re beloved by many but also harshly criticised by some, and for the most part I agree with those criticisms. I think I skimmed the previous book and I’ve (kind of) read the first five (ish?) with varying degrees of commitment as they’ve released over the years. There’s nothing impressive about this one, it’s full of clichés, warrior nursed back to health by magical healer, love story, evil things lurking, etc etc etc. I think (as many do) that Maas would probably strengthen her plots and characters more if they weren’t all inhumanely attractive and attracted to each other all the time with a ridiculously enforced gender binary sketched through awful love scenes, but I’m not going to waste much time deriding her when so many have done it already (I did like Manon for say a few seconds before she turned out like everyone else). If you like her, I guess you could read this (or you already have). If you don’t, well, it’s just more of the same. Only a few of the old characters feature (the others get mentions). I’m guessing this is something of a filler book as she works on the actual series.

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Image (c) goodreads.com

To The Lighthouse (Virginia Woolf)
So far I’ve only read Woolf’s essays, and I’ve really fallen in love with a few. This book was so beautiful in its prose, her brilliant ability to capture such specific human feelings in words is almost overwhelming. So while I was totally enamoured of the prose, I knew (and I’d expected) that the action in the book was minimal. At times this got a little boring. I want to reread it again at some point (I really don’t know why I’m going on and on about that today), slower, so I can appreciate it more. But before that I want to read pretty much everything else she’s ever written. (In case you’re interested, some of them do get to the lighthouse. But it takes a while. It takes most of the book, actually.)

Slade House (David Mitchell)
This has been a longer list than I normally do. I didn’t list everything, but I do plan to review this one sometime (hopefully soon). This is the first I’ve read of Mitchell (I’ve obviously heard of Cloud Atlas and I own The Bone Clocks but I’ve read neither, yet) and I’m definitely open to reading more. I actually just finished this last night. It’s somewhere between horror and fantasy, or both. I won’t spend too much time talking about it here, but this book definitely had its moments. In a nutshell, something very strange happens every nine years in Slade House.
(Was that good? Should they hire me to write trailer openers for thriller movies? I thought not.)

That’s been my literary October so far. If you’ve been reading anything interesting let me know!

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