March 1, 2011

February Reading Recap

This was my second month of choosing a list of books to read at the beginning of the month. I continued to make time for reading just about every day, though I've been more busy with writing, which leaves less time for everything else. I continued with my new habit of reading multiple books at once. And I continued to remind myself that the idea behind these book lists is to keep myself reading, not to feel pressured to cross everything off each month.

The February list worked out like this:

RED MARS by Kim Stanley Robinson - Still working on it. The Kindle application tells me I'm at 67%. As I mentioned last month, I've been getting a bit fed up with reading this book digitally, and I just bought a paperback. I've neglected RED MARS for the past week or two in favor of other things, but I'm eager to return to it and finish.

AURORARAMA by Jean-Christophe Valtat - Finished. The Arctic city of New Venice comes to life with an impressive amount of world-building, but it took a while for the story to get going, so I was reading slowly until things started snowballing (ahem) about halfway through.

THE CITY, NOT LONG AFTER by Pat Murphy - Finished. The story takes place in San Francisco 16 years after a plague has wiped out most of the world. The city's remaining inhabitants have created a new society focused on art. The artists are living quite happily together, along with the occasional ghost produced by the city itself, when they learn that they may have to defend against war-minded attackers.

Murphy will be one of the honored guests at FOGcon in a couple of weeks, and I'm looking forward to hearing her talk about this book, among other topics.

INVINCIBLE SUMMER by Hannah Moskowitz - Just started reading the e-galley, and I'm excited to see the book take physical form when it's released in April. It's a young adult novel about a big family who spends the summers at a beach house, where they've grown up together with the family across the street. Hannah's blog has an illustrated version of the first chapter that got me hooked on the book. The writing and characters appeal to some specific reading appetite of mine that I'm so far unable to articulate.

THREE BAGS FULL by Leonie Swann - About a third of the way in. A flock of sheep attempt to solve the mystery of their shepherd's murder. Some of the sheep are fairly smart, but they're still sheep, with a limited understanding of the human world, so they often misunderstand the clues they gather, which means the reader gets to stay ahead in solving the mystery. It's very clever and entertaining.

I'll post about some of these books in more detail over the course of this month. I read one more book that wasn't on the list:

ACTUAL AIR by David Berman - The wonderful Bookrageous podcast did an episode on poetry. The podcasters read poetry collections in an effort to broaden their reading horizons. I decided I'd do the same, and I picked this book as the one that sounded most likely to match my tastes. The results were mixed: I liked some of the poems in the collection very much, while others seemed kind of meaningless to me. I'll definitely write more about my poetry reading experience soon.

Good Stuff Out There:

→ Kelly Coyle at The Millions struggles with how to write a sentence to begin a review of a book about how to write a sentence.

→ Sean Ohlenkamp and Lisa Blonder Ohlenkamp present a beautiful stop-motion video of their book reorganization. (Thanks, Steph!)


mamagotcha said...

Maybe you've already discussed this, but I'd like to hear more about your experiences with digital v. dead tree media. I got a Kindle and I find myself just not picking it up, and I wonder if it's just a conditioning thing I need to push through, or something else.

That sheep mystery book sounds like a giggle!

Anna Scott Graham said...

Has Red Mars been the only book you've felt at odds with in digital format? Just curious...

Lisa Eckstein said...

Gotcha and Anna, thanks for asking and making me think more about this. I believe ebooks are a good idea, though I hope they never entirely replace paper books. Overall I've enjoyed the experience of reading digitally, especially when it means I have a book in my pocket at a time that I'd otherwise be without reading material. I still have a preference for turning physical pages, but much of the reason is that I've only read half a dozen ebooks, versus thousands of paper books in my lifetime, and I'm used to paper.

My usual reading habit is to do a lot of flipping back to look at earlier pages, which turns out to be a little more cumbersome with an ebook. Part of my frustration with reading RED MARS digitally may have to do with the amount of flipping back I've wanted to do. But some of it actually has nothing to do with the ebook -- I'm a slow reader, and I tend to get impatient with how long it takes me to read a long book such as this one. So this isn't that typical of my general (limited) ebook reading experience.

Gotcha, do you think you aren't using your new Kindle because you aren't yet in the habit of turning to it for literary entertainment? I suggest buying the Kindle edition of a book you expect to be an absorbing read (not anything you only feel like you *should* read, if you ever have that feeling). Probably if you get caught up in one book that makes it hard to put your Kindle down, you'll be more likely to keep using it for further reading.

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