Tag Archives: books

Nov 2018 What Are You Reading?

I really slowed down on my reading this month because I wanted to really focus on the story I’m working on for the Make Your Way anthology (with the hopes of getting it written and submitted as soon as I can because it’s been two months since I decided to work on it).  So here’s what I did read:

Nonfiction books:

  • None this month!

Fiction books:

  • Rhubarb by H. Allen Smith
  • I, Death by Mark Leslie

I wasn’t a huge fan of either book, but of the two I’d say my favourite was Rhubarb.  It was kind of ridiculous and silly but I still found it to be a lot more fun than I, Death.  I read Rhubarb right before I, Death and between the two of them I kind of lost interest in reading for a bit.  Oh well, hopefully the next book I read is more my thing!

So what have you read over the last month?  What was your favourite book?

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Oct 2018 What Are You Reading?

Oooh, it’s Gate Night; Happy Halloween everyone! Are you going out tomorrow at all?  Are you dressing up?  I’m going to be working, so I’m going to just be wearing a hat of some sort (probably my blue cat ears that I got from Yunalicia last year at ThunderCon)

After reading The Millionaire Teacher last month, I was feeling a bit burnt out of reading nonfiction (although there’s still lots I want to read).  I guess that sort of translated into being a bit burnt out of reading because I only read three books this month:

Nonfiction books:

  • Don’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change by George Marshall
  • Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City by Tanya Talaga

Fiction books:

  • Cocktail Time by P.G. Wodehouse

My favourite book this month was definitely Cocktail Time.  My mom recommended I read some Wodehouse because they’re fun and light-hearted reads, which was exactly what I needed after reading Don’t Even Think About It and Seven Fallen Feathers.  My brother brought me both Cocktail Time and Carry On, Jeeves; I opted for Cocktail Time because it’s the one my mom liked more.

So what have you read over the last month?  What was your favourite book?

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Sept 2018 What Are You Reading?

This month I continued my trend of reading mostly nonfiction books.  I did manage to squeeze in a few fiction reads as well (but they were shorter novellas rather than full novels; even though there were three books, the page count was way less than the nonfiction).

Nonfiction books:

  • Bolt and Keel by Kayleen VanderRee & Danielle Gumbley (this is more of a book that you flip through rather than read)
  • Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time by Jeff Speck
  • The Wealthy Barber: The Common Sense Guide to Successful Financial Planning by David Chilton
  • The Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School by Andrew Hallam

Fiction books:

  • Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
  • Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor
  • Binti: The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor

My favourite book was definitely The Millionaire Teacher; even though I’ve read a fair number of books on finance over the last few months, I found Hallam’s advice superb (and the book really is rather like an updated version of Chilton’s The Wealthy Barber).  I also really liked Walkable City (which I review on Sustainably North if you’re interested); ever since finishing it I’ve been looking at the streets of Thunder Bay with totally new eyes.

So what have you read over the last month?  What was your favourite book?

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Aug 28 What are you Reading?

After reading Austin Kleon‘s Show Your Work! 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered on Monday, I thought I’d share some of what I’ve read over the last month.  I don’t want to be making posts like this too often, so I’m going to give it a try once a month, on the last Tuesday (I’m going to repurpose the Tuesday Talk category for this!) 😉

This year I’ve been reading a lot of nonfiction books, and August continued that trend.  I read 5 nonfiction books:

  • The Librarian’s Guide to Homelessness by Ryan Dowd
  • The Anti 9 to 5 Guide by Michelle Goodman
  • I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You by David Charandy
  • The Golden Boy by Grant Matheson
  • Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon

I did manage to fit in a few fiction books too:

  • How to Walk Away by Katherine Center
  • Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety by Ann Y.K. Choi

I think my favourite nonfiction book was The Librarian’s Guide to Homelessness; Dowd has some fantastic insights to the world of homeless people.  My favourite fiction book was How to Walk Away.  I was looking for a light and fast read and Center definitely delivered; I also really enjoyed the crazy dynamics of her main character’s family.

So what have you read over the last month?  What was your favourite book?

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Tuesday Talk – My Favourite Quotes from Books

I had a notebook where I wrote down quotes, mainly from books, that I really liked.  Unfortunately I seem to have lost it somewhere when I moved a year and a half ago.  I sort of stopped using it before that anyway; instead I started keeping track of quotes I liked in a Google Doc.

When I started thinking about this prompt, I realized that I haven’t come across a quote from a book that’s spoken to me in a long time.  The most recent one I can think of is from Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light, which I read almost a year ago:

“Those two? We are not that different. We are not that changed. Though ages slip away, there are some things within one’s being which do not change, which do not alter, no matter how many bodies one puts upon oneself, no matter how many lovers one takes, no matter how many things of beauty and ugliness one looks upon or does, no matter how many thoughts one thinks or feelings one feels. One’s self stands at the centre of all this and watches.” -Kali, pg 178

Here, Kali was speaking to Sam (aka Mahasamatman).  She is trying to convince him to join with her once again.  In ages past, they were a couple and a team.  But over time (and we’re talking a great long passage of time in this book with these people), they drifted apart to the point that they are basically on opposing sides of the coming conflict.  Kali was speaking to Sam in an effort to remind him of who he was; she did not believe that he was fundamentally different now from who he was in the past.

Part of the reason that this quote spoke to me so much is that it has, in my opinion, so much story potential.  I found it last year when I was trying to reinvigorate Apocalypse Madness.  But even if I wasn’t looking for stuff for Apocalypse Madness, I still think this quote has amazing story potential. It makes me think of stories that speak to reincarnation (like Cloud Atlas).  Or stories that deal with gods and other supernatural or immortal forces.  But it also speaks to everyday people trying to convince a lost love that they still need to be together. If you’re interested, here’s the story I wrote for this quote, which speaks a bit more to that latter idea.

So what are your favourite quotes from books?  What sorts of quotes speak to you?

This Tuesday’s Talk topic came from the Tuesday Talks Goodreads group.

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Tuesday Talk – What is the Longest Series You Have Read?

Over the years, I’ve read many books.  As I mentioned last time, I tend to read a lot of fantasy.  And fantasy tends to have long series that never seem to end (I’m looking at you, Wheel of Time).  But as I also mentioned last time, I prefer shorter stories made up of standalone novels or trilogies (for the record, I have not read through the entire Wheel of Time series; I only read book one).  But does that mean I have never read longer, multi-book series?  No it does not.  I’ve read several over the years, with some ongoing to this day.

When I was first contemplating what the longest series I have read is, Everworld  by KA Applegate came to mind.  Everworld is a twelve-volume juvenile/young adult story about five teenagers who are transported to a magical land half the time, and have to live their normal lives during the other half.  While twelve books sounds like a lot, in actuality it really isn’t; the books are around the 150-200 page mark each.  And as I mentioned, they’re written for a younger audience, which makes them super easy to read quickly (there are less words per page than on something like any of the books in George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series).  And honestly, twelve books of this size is nothing, even within my personal reading history.  I made it through about 25 of the Animorphs books when I was younger (at a quick guesstimate, I think they averaged about 150 pages each).  And about 30 of the Baby-Sitter’s Little Sister books before that (which averaged about 100 pages each).  I stopped reading both series when I realized I could polish one off in an hour.

Also, to put those books into context, even though 30 books sounds impressive, at a rough guesstimate we’re talking about 3000 very easy to read pages in the case of the Baby-Sitter’s Little Sister books.  If you look at something like George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, the first two books total about 1,802 pages.  The Song of Ice and Fire pages are also much denser, with many more words per page.  A Game of Thrones took me about a month to get through.  While I can’t give an accurate estimate of how many hours it took, I know it was more than thirty between the two books.  So even though I read more books in the Animorphs and Baby-Sitter’s Little Sister series, A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings together were a bigger series based on sheer size.

So obviously, something more adult is going to be the longest series I’ve ever read.  The six books of Kevin Hearn’s Iron Druid Chronicles would be the next obvious contender.  But at approximately 320 pages each, these total only 100 words more than the two volumes of A Song of Ice and Fire that I read in their entirety.  So that’s not as impressive.

Oh yeah, and the books in the Iron Druid Chronicles took me on average a day or two to read.  So we’re talking about half a month to read six books, vs one month to read one.  Once again, A Song of Ice and Fire seems to be in the lead.

So what other contenders can challenge the combined might that is A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings? Only the books of my favourite two authors of course!  First up is Terry Brooks’ Shannara series.  This is a loose series which spans generations of mainly the Ohmsford and Leah families.  I say mostly because Brooks also linked the Word and Void series into Shannara, which took place long before the Shannara family line existed, never mind split off into the Ohmsfords.  That series is currently made up of 27 books with one forthcoming this summer; I’ve read 22 of those (and have the remaining five ready to go when I get around to it).

The other serious contender is Mercedes Lackey’s Heralds of Valdemar series.  Like the Shannara series, the Heralds of Valdemar series is made up of mainly smaller trilogies that all take place in the same world; like the Shannara series, these smaller trilogies take place over a large time scale. The Heralds of Valdemar series is currently made up of 34 books (plus 9 anthologies); I’ve read 26 of those (plus 1.5 anthologies).

So how do these compare to A Song of Ice and Fire?  The Shannara series is a bit harder to guesstimate page numbers because the original books were much longer than his newer books.  At a guess, after The Wishsong of Shannara, his books tend to be approximately 350-450 pages each.  Lackey’s books  are a little more standard, approximately 350-400 pages each.  So at a very rough estimate, I’ve read 9,300 pages worth of Shannara and 9,750 pages worth of Valdemar.  Even if my guesstimates are off, that puts both of these series well ahead of the 1,802 pages of A Song of Ice and Fire.

It also means that in theory I’ve read more Valdemar books than Shannara.  But my math on those two was really sketchy, so I’m not sure which one is the clear winner.  But I do know that even if Valdemar is currently winning, I’ve got a Shannara trilogy I’m planning on reading in the very near future, so Shannara will either be tied or ahead of Valdemar soon!

This Tuesday’s Talk topic came from the Tuesday Talks Goodreads group.

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Tuesday Talk – What Do You Think About Really Long Series?

I am a big fan of standalone novels.  I love being able to read a self-contained story, where I don’t have to know or remember events that happened previously or characters who I met in passing several books ago.  But more and more, it’s getting harder to find good standalones, especially in genre fiction like fantasy (my usual go-to for pleasure reading).  For awhile it was always trilogies, which aren’t so bad when I hoard them until the last volume comes out.  Then there was a time when quadrilogies (if that’s even the word) were coming out all the time.  These were stories like the Eragon series, or Bruce Coville’s Unicorn Chronicles where the stories were too big for volume three, so book three got split into two to make a four-part story.  But more and more, I keep finding stories with no end-point in sight.  Or the end is somewhat in sight, but still years and years away.  In theory, there’s nothing wrong with a large story told over many books.  If the characters are interesting, the world is intriguing, and the plots aren’t stale, why not stick with a massive story?

For me, the problems are multiple.  For one thing, my reading time has been severely limited over the last few years.  I used to routinely read over 50 books a year.  For the last few, I’ve been lucky to hit 50.  Sure, I’ve wanted to start Stephen King’s The Gunslinger; I hear it’s an amazing book.  But it’s also part one of his Dark Tower series.  Which means that if I like it, there are SEVEN other volumes in the series, which all get progressively longer.  And that’s something I not only do not want to commit to, but really CAN’T commit to right now.  I know what you’re saying: just read the first one and go back to the others later.  Well, that’s not how I usually roll when it comes to books; if I like a series, I am going to read it right through to the end, if possible.

Which brings me to my second issue with big long series: I tend to stop reading them once I catch up to the most recently published one.  That’s because I’ve had issues with trilogies, where I’ve dutifully read every book as it came out, only to realize that I didn’t remember most of what had happened in the previous book.  And really, why would I remember more than the basics?  I read the book over a year ago.  And read many books between then and now.  So now I tend to hoard all the books in a trilogy until they’re all published.  Then I can read them all in a row without having to worry about forgetting characters or plot points.

I’ve been attempting this same thing with Patricia Brigg’s Mercy Thompson series, which I absolutely loved when I read.  I read voraciously through the first three books, going out to buy books two and three immediately after reading book one because I loved it that much and needed to know what happened next RIGHT NOW!  But I haven’t touched the series since finishing book three.  Book  four wasn’t published yet, so I had to stop.  I do have books four and five in the series now (I’ve had them since they came out in paperback).  But my logic is that so much time has passed since reading them (I finished Blood Bound in 2009).  So of course I’m not going to remember what happened in book 10, which is forthcoming in 2017.  And that one isn’t the last one in the series, so at this point there’s no reason not to just wait until they’re all out.  I’ll have to reread the first three anyway; why make it so I have to reread more than that by the time the final book is out, especially since my reading time is limited?

That’s basically the same thing that happened with Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles.  I read voraciously through the first six books because they were out, but I haven’t looked at the series since catching up to the publishing schedule.  Sure, there’s only supposed to be three more.  But by the time book nine comes out, am I really going to remember the major things?  Probably not.

So while I do like the idea of big long stories in theory, especially when I can read through them in their entirety, in practice I am not a fan.  I currently don’t have a lot of time to throw at reading through a multi-volume epic.  And even if I did, if the entire thing isn’t published, I’m going to lose interest once I catch up to the most recently-published book.  So to all those authors and publishers out there: please, please, please write and publish some smaller (genre) stories.  Trilogies are alright if you must, but good standalones are what I  would honestly prefer.

This Tuesday’s Talk topic came from the Tuesday Talks Goodreads group.

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