It's a new year, so it's time to come up with all sorts of wacky personal improvement schemes to hold ourselves to (and optionally fail at). One of my schemes is that at the beginning of each month, I'll pick four books that I plan to read during the month.
I'm not committing to finishing all four books by the end of the month (though I'll make an effort), so rolling over to the next month is allowed. What I do hope is to start all of the books close to the beginning of the month. I've discovered lately that I do more total reading when I'm working on multiple books at once, since at any potential reading time I can choose the subject and format that suits me best right then. With three or four books on the go, maybe I'll end up getting to read a few more of the books on my nearly infinite list.
My to-be-read picks for January:
→ RED MARS by Kim Stanley Robinson - I started reading this book last month but am only 14% through (I'm reading the Kindle edition on my phone). Fascinating so far. The book is about the first human colony on Mars, and it was recommended by a couple of friends as being science fiction that focuses heavily on both the technology and the characters. I didn't even think about this before I started, but this book turns out to be an excellent follow-up to PACKING FOR MARS by Mary Roach, a hilarious and educational nonfiction book I read recently that discusses the unglamorous practicalities of putting people into space.
→ AURORARAMA by Jean-Christophe Valtat - I first heard about this book on the blog of Melville House, the publisher, and then it was mentioned on the Bookrageous podcast. The setting is "New Venice, the pearl of the Arctic," a city located close to the North Pole, and the era is Victorian. And notice that airship on the cover? Yup, this is steampunk (the Library of Congress subject heading on the copyright page even says so), or as I imagined everyone must be saying (but apparently few are), it's icepunk or snowpunk. I started reading yesterday and was drawn into the story right away. Plus I learned the excellent word "septentrional".
In further adventures of things I believe I don't like in books despite evidence to the contrary, when I learned from the front flap that AURORARAMA is "Episode One in an astonishing new series," I thought about not reading it after all. I have this idea that I don't like to read series. Astute readers will note that RED MARS is first in a series. Scarily psychic readers will note that this is in fact one of the qualities that drew me to Robinson's book. Really, my brain is a strange and confusing place. Please stay out.
→ THE CITY, NOT LONG AFTER by Pat Murphy - This is a post-apocalyptic story set in San Francisco, so I'd been planning to read it anyway. Then I found out that Pat Murphy will be one of the honored guests at the first FOGcon in March, so the book went to the top of the list. The Friends of Genre Convention (FOGcon) is a literary-themed science fiction and fantasy convention to be held March 11 through 13 in San Francisco. Will I see you there?
→ NEVER LET ME GO by Kazuo Ishiguro - This is a reread for me of a book that I first read in 2007 and then recommended to everybody. I maintain that this is a book you should know nothing about going in. In particular, avoid the Library of Congress subject headings on the copyright page, which spoiled me the first time. On my previous read, I found both the narrative style and the premise brilliant, and I'll be interested to see how they hold up on a second read. I'm rereading now because a movie based on the book came out this fall, and I want to enjoy the book on its own again before checking out the movie.
In other January book news, I'm looking forward to the January 20 release of THE WEIRD SISTERS by my blog buddy Eleanor Brown. "A winsome novel that explores sibling rivalry, the power of books, and the places we decide to call home" -- sounds like a book I'll be reading in February!
Good Stuff Out There:
→ Beck McDowell, guest posting at Pimp My Novel, is in a new reading threesome: "That’s right. From now on, it’ll be e-books, tree books, and me."
→ At Edittorrent, Theresa Stevens presents a rule for using coincidences in fiction: "If the coincidence creates a complication, it can remain in the plot. Otherwise, get rid of it."