Reading Diaries: Joe Hill, Ember in the Ashes and Unlimited Audiobooks
Once a month the members of Women Write About Comics get together to chat about what they’ve been reading. Here’s what we liked (and what we didn’t).
Christa: I have read some excellent books these past few weeks. Starting with Fragile Bones by Lorna Schultz Nicholson, the first book from the new Canadian publishing house Clockwise Press. I feel like I really learned a lot about autism and how it can affect a child’s daily life from this book. It was extremely eye-opening and I can’t wait to see what this publisher comes out with next. Then I moved on to V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic. Her book are amazing and this latest one was no exception. I was hooked from the first line. I wrapped up the month with Kimberly McCreight’s Where They Found Her and Gwenda Bond’s novel about a teenage Lois Lane. It was extremely difficult to put either one down. There were a few mediocre books sprinkled throughout the month but nothing really terrible. Let’s hope I can continue the streak in May.
Amanda Vail: If I can make it through one novel per month, I’m pretty proud. I’ve been reading a ton of manga for reviews, so I take breaks by snagging whatever novel I’m currently in the middle of. This month, I did indeed make it through one novel! I finished Mindee Arnett’s YA space pirate novel Avalon. Sadly, and I can’t exactly pinpoint why, I lost interest about ¾ of the way through. The deus ex machina was a bit too strong, I think; the fact that everything came together so neatly and coincidentally just disappointed me. I skimmed the last seventy or so pages just to put it to rest, but it felt more like a chore than a pleasure. Sad.
So now I’m reading two books: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir and Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. An Ember in the Ashes is just for me–although I may write a review after the fact, as it’s been in the news quite a bit of late. So far, it’s good, but I’m barely into it yet. I’m reading Parable of the Sower for my #SFFLove (sci-fi and fantasy) book group. Basically, we’re a bunch of editors who read science fiction and fantasy books then get together to nerd out about story structure, character development, voice, pacing, and other developmental editor things. For our inaugural read, we chose Octavia Butler’s 1993 hit because its timeline will shortly become our own timeline, and we’re all intrigued to find out how much she accurately predicted. I’ve got a busy month of reading ahead of me!
Al Rosenberg: I’ve starting reviewing books once a month on the Lesbrary.com, so I’m super excited about reading more books about and by queer women. Also, I am making my way through a lot of books that I picked up months (or years) ago and never finished. So, I just finally got through The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible by A.J. Jacobs. It was given to me by an old boss and I’m not sure why I put it down for so long. It was an easy, fast read, and pretty entertaining at times. I already know most of what he shared about the Hebrew bible, but found his conversations with fundamentalist sects to be worth the read. As a whole it was mostly just fluff.
Now I’m reading Women in Clothes by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, Leanne Shapton & 639 Others. IT IS AMAZING. I cannot recommend this book enough. I’m halfway through and I love, love, love it. It has such a diverse range of women and women’s opinions and it’s really helping me develop my own opinions on clothing and presentation.
Vernieda: I had a slow reading month, which is unusual for me. Guess I wasn’t in the mood. I did read An Ember in the Ashes. It was the kind of book where I admired the way it was put together, but ultimately can’t get too excited about due to the characterization and execution of certain plot points. The ending also left me with mixed feelings, because there’s clearly more story to tell but from what I’ve heard it’s not a series. So I ended up feeling dissatisfied because I’m supposed to treat it like a complete story, but it doesn’t actually read like one.
Romona: This was a Joe Hill heavy month. I read the Locke & Key series, which I thoroughly enjoyed, followed by NOS4A2, which I also loved. I momentarily gave it an overzealous five star rating on Goodreads until remembering the problematic multiple rape scenes and downgraded it to a 4 star rating. I also read Jane, The Fox, and Me by Fanny Britt. It was a great exploration of the social dynamics of elementary school. Wait, maybe it was meant to be middle school. But it rang true to my experience of 4th grade, so it screams elementary school to me. I also made it through Tommy Wallach’s We All Looked Up, which was wildly unimpressive. I was bored reading that. BORED I tell you. And there was Sex Criminals: One Weird Trick by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky, which won me over with the Kegel exercise gag. Oh, and I finished A Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas, which was a lovely, heart-wrenching memoir that I highly recommend.
KM: I’m with Amanda: A novel each month is a win for me. This month I finished Evensong, a near-future scifi about cyborgs and international conspiracies. I have mixed feelings about it, so keep an eye on the site for a review. After that I read Strange Library by Haruki Murakami in one sitting, which has been waiting beside my bed waiting to be read for a couple months now. Honestly, it’s closer in length to a short story, and the only reason why it’s long enough to be published on its own is the wicked book design by Chip Kidd. It’s eerie and creepy and strange, which is all pretty typical for Murakami. I still have no idea what it means or what I’m supposed to take away from it, but I enjoyed it. I have since started Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri. I still have a couple of writing books I’m working my way through as well, (Reading Like a Writer, 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write) but have only been reading those in small chunks.
I also started taking advantage of my work commute and started listening to audiobooks through my Scribd account. Right now I’m listening to Gaiman’s American Gods. I love fables and fairytales, and have always loved the idea that all our separate mythologies stem from the same narrative. I’ll admit I was a little disappointed to learn that this version was a full cast recording, if only because I was looking forward to listening to Neil Gaiman talk for an hour each day. In graphic novels I read In Real Life, which is a coming-of-age story about MMORPGs and worker’s unions. I enjoyed it, but it felt rushed and oversimplified. I also finished Bodies from Vertigo, which is a limited series that takes place over about two hundred years. It’s a neat concept, but I can’t shake the feeling that I’m missing part of it. It’s very grandiose, perhaps too much so for only eight issues, and I feel like a reread is in order. Next on my list is the first volume of Brian Azzarello’s Wonder Woman and Princeless.