A reading update (5.)

Well, drat, I didn’t get to post yesterday so now I’m further behind on NaBloPoMo than I should be. I’m pretty sure soon you’ll be hearing about my preferred way to eat eggs and my favorite shiraz, but I think we’re a little ways away from such navel gazing. I haven’t written much about the reading I’ve been doing for my own fall challenge. In case you don’t remember, my autumn challenge is to NOT BUY ANY BOOKS, but instead focus on books already in my stacks or, if worse comes to worse, checking some out from the library. I have a bad habit of buying books and then ignoring them for, say, years and I thought I could save a little money this way.  I’ve made it, with one exception.  I haven’t, however, been a very good reader this fall.  Work is keeping me extremely busy and when I’m not working I’m trying to write my novel, work on my short story collection, and pitch stories to magazines, so unfortunately my reading has fallen by the proverbial wayside.  I’m also playing around with the idea of changing jobs, as mine seems to fuel a decidedly unsettling number of angry blog posts, which really are just the tip of an angry iceburg.  More often than not my job upsets me and I’m not sure it’s any way to live.  So, without further adieu, Courtney’s reading update:

Twelve Sharp, Janet Evanovich – I think Evanovich has officially fallen into that successful writer’s trap where her publishing company insists she push out so many books that the quality of her writing is sacrificed. In the latest adventures of Stephanie Plum, Evanovich relies on old love triangles and old gags and I found myself skipping pages, searching for the end.  The first EIGHT of this series all had me laughing out loud through most of the books, but nine through twelve have been remarkably disappointing. I’m nothing if not loyal, though, so I’m sure I’ll read as many as she turns out, until Stephanie settles on a man or dies of stupidity.

The Cell, Stephen King – Ugh. The first few chapters ignited my interest, but I couldn’t help but compare this end-of-the-world saga to The Stand, and I found this book sorely lacking. I started doing a lot of English-majory stuff while reading it, like assuming the book represented its authors views on the world, and comparing his views now to his views when he wrote The Stand, and thinking in the stand he at least believed in good triumphing over evil (however momentarily) and security and goodness found in groups of survivors, while in The Cell much of his optimism is gone and free will is destroyed and humanity is nothing but a vague conglomeration of brainless zombies…I wouldn’t recommend this book.

Paper Lion, George Plimpton – I like football, and as both a Detroit girl and creative nonfiction writer, I loved Plimpton’s immersion journalism. This text is structured in classic nonfiction style, with Plimpton’s training serving as the overall narrative and each chapter exploring one specific aspect of the team. If I ever teach creative nonfiction while I live in MI I would teach this book first as representative of classic technique, and then move to more recent works that complicate and expand definitions.

Hard Truth, Nevada Barr – Brainless fun with one of my favorite park ranger/detectives, Anna Pigeon. This one takes place in the Rocky Mountains and features a paripalegic heroine – I like Pigeon because she tries so hard to be good but her nature is naughty.

Empire Falls, Richard Russo – Ah, have already written about this one. \

Ellen Foster, Kaye Gibbons – And I believe I’ve written about this one as well. Charming narrative voice that pulls you along, telling the story mostly in flashback, but sorely lacking in plot.

A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson – And I’ve definitely written about this deceptive piece of nonfiction. I grow more and more appreciative of my graduate education every day.

A Room with a View, E.M.Forster – This text was recommended by Litlove, Bloglily and numerous other litbloggers before I left for my Italy vacation and oh, how I loved it! It does such a remarkable job of lifting you right out of your life! I found myself increasingly invested in Lucy’s happiness and couldn’t believe as I neared the end she might actually marry her fiance. I did feel a little confused by the ending though, and will be rereading this within the year, when I’m a little less tired and can focus better on the things that are not said.

Currently reading – Friday Night Lights, which I plan to post on soon, and Lisey’s Story. Updates as appropriate!

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12 Responses to A reading update (5.)

  1. Kerryn says:

    I went for nearly five months without buying a book . I have a library in close proximity and dozens of books at home, either unread or begging for a reread. And then I started reading lit- and book-blogs. My credit card hates me.

    Just quietly, I hope that Stephanie is blown up (along with her car) in a near future book. Grandma Mazur can create havoc at the funeral home by trying to lift the lid of the coffin and Ranger and Joe can console each other (or argue over who loved her best) over pot roast at the Plum’s family dinner. Very paint-by-numbers stuff these days and yes, I agree that it’s probably due to publisher pressure (and possibly due to the fact that she has a ready audience, invested in what Stephanie does next).

    Frankly, I’m surprised you have any time for reading but I find that I read most when I’m busiest (or angriest).

  2. Emily says:

    I have to go back and re-read A Room with a View, which I haven’t read since college and don’t remember at all. I’m eager to hear what you have to say about Friday Night Lights. We recently watched the movie (having enjoyed the television show), and I didn’t like it. To me, it’s everything that’s wrong with football (a sport I loved when I was in my teens and twenties but don’t care for much anymore. I think the book Our Guys by Bernard Lefkowitz had an awful lot to with my change of heart).

  3. Emily, oh, I still enjoy football…I’m interested to read the book you mention but at the same time don’t want to lose my enjoyment of the sport, LOL. I’m digging Friday Night Lights but then again, I did enjoy the movie too.

  4. Kerryn – LOL. Oh my gosh, I’m in total agreement with you – Stephanie’s death is the only thing that will save those books. Except maybe for a pregnancy, which would be an okay placeholder too…

  5. litlove says:

    I’m so glad you enjoyed the Forster; it’s such a happy book, I think. And it’s nice to know your response to the Gibbons was similar to mine. Great minds and all!! I haven’t read the Bill Bryson, though, and I generally love his prose, so must try to find a slot for it (now booking for 2007….).

  6. Dorothy W. says:

    I read Howards End last summer and enjoyed it a lot; I should try Room with a View.

  7. Litlove – A Room with a View IS a happy book – that’s a perfect way to put it. And I actually wouldn’t recommend this particular Bryson – like you I’ve always enjoyed him but this book I didn’t like.

    Dorothy – it’s really a lovely book. I have Howard’s End on my TBR pile right now…

  8. LK says:

    Hey, Courtney, I have to catch up on my blog reading. but for now, if you want me to email you the name of the pub with my story, can you send me your email? I couldn’t find it. Ta, for now!

  9. Carl V. says:

    Room With a View is a great book…I also recommend the movie with Helena Bonham Carter and Julian Sands. Great film. Be warned that there is some innocent and funny full frontal male nudity in it…in case you don’t want to shock the kids.

  10. bloglily says:

    I’m so glad to hear you liked Room with a View. There should be a list someplace of Happy Books. I want a few of those for my autumn reading.

  11. Aphra Behn says:

    >> my preferred way to eat eggs and my favorite shiraz

    My votes are for “lightly poached” in the case of eggs, and “sparkling Australian” in the case of shiraz.



  12. rubyresearcharms says:

    checking books out from the library is a good thing… although I’m in Ohio not Michigan so I guess it doesn’t have much effect…. or does it?

    -library workers without boundries

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