Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday Filler: What Are You Reading Right Now?

Yes, this is a game everyone can play! Just tell me what book you're reading right now. If you're loving the book, tell me why. Hopefully we'll all turn some of our writer neighbors on to new books. Because we are a community, right?

I'll start. Don't laugh. I'm reading "The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman" by Laurence Sterne. It's like 250 years old, and it's hysterically funny. It claims to be an autobiography, but really it's a comic look at life in 18th-century England and a comic look at the art of writing a book. The narrator claims that in order to give you the most accurate portrait of himself, he must give you every detail he can imagine, and so it takes him a whole year to write about a single day of his life (that is, the first day of his life). Meanwhile, you get a bunch of amusing anecdotes, dirty jokes, political broadsides that are still funny 250 years later because politics doesn't seem to have changed, and a whole lot of fun. Don't let the fact that it's a classic work of literature put you off, and never mind those people who say it's "difficult." It doesn't take itself (or the idea of a linear narrative) seriously.

I'm also reading one of the Paddington Bear books, but I can't remember which one.

Your turn. What are you reading?


  1. Currently, I've got two on my plate: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn, which I am reading for pleasure and Grundish and Askew by Lance Carbuncle for review.

  2. I'm reading "The Girl Who Payed With Fire." While I have issues with Larsson's narrative style, I think Lisbeth Salander is a compelling character. She was the glue that held "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" together.

    The last book I read was "Sh!t My Dad Says" which is laugh-out-loud funny. The same can not be said for the TV show.

  3. I'm reading Jane Eyre - for the goodness knows how manyth time. I just finished Romancing Miss Brontë by Juliet Gael, gave it a glowing review on The Book Book and then realized I HAD to read Jane Eyre. I'm struggling with the temptation to load every Brontë book ever written onto my Kindle and zip through them all.

    Question: is it ridiculous to review Jane Eyre? I try to make a point of reviewing every book I read, but I think I'll feel silly reviewing JE. Thoughts?

  4. I just read Bread by Davin Malasarn. That writer is so awesome. Seriously.

    And I'm reading Tinkers by Paul Harding. I'll keep my thoughts to myself on that one for now.

    And I'm reading Mated by Zoe Winters, the third novella in her Blood Lust series.

    Yes. I read far and wide. :)

  5. Jane: Why would it be silly to review Jane Eyre? It's a book. You're reading it. You have an opinion about it. Do share!

  6. I'm reading Franzen's new one, Freedom. I read it took him 9 years, and I can see why. The characters are so detailed, it's amazing. It's definitely living up to the hype for me.

  7. I'm reading Robin Hobb's Farseer Trilogy (fantasy), because a reallyreallyreally enthusiastic fan lent them to me, and now I have to finish them. The first book was painfully boring, cheesy, and tedious, and rife with grammatical errors and typos. Strangely, the second and third books are much better in every way and have compelling plots and characters. It's like the second and third books are the real story, and the first book is some kind of vestigial prologue that somehow got shoved through the publishing process with the other two. Is this common with genre trilogies?

  8. I just finished reading "The Lost Hero" by Rick Riordan. It's a - somewhat - continuation of the Percy Jackson series. I'm also reading "The Year of the Flood" by Margaret Atwood - very good, btw. On my to read, as in it hasn't been released yet, is "The Distant Hours" by Kate Morton who also wrote "The Forgotten Garden" (excellent book).

    Why did I read "The Lost Hero"? Well, I don't know, I just did and it wasn't bad for a MG/YA book. I'm trying to expand my reading horizons. Also, it's a bit lighter fare than "The Year of the Flood". Okay, it's a lot lighter. \


  9. I'm reading Acts of Violence by Ryan David Jahn. It's been on my list for a while and I had already purchased it, but it just recently won the New Blood Dagger Award.

    The book and the author have received good press and attention in the UK, but I haven't seen the buzz here in the states yet.

    It's got to happen soon, because Jahn is a terrific writer.

    Acts of Violence is not an easy book in some ways. There are a lot of characters. There is a lot of action. There is a thick web of plot. And the content is dark, gritty, and oppressive.

    Even so, Jahn is a gifted writer, and the prose flows smoothly and quickly. I am overwhelmed by the content, but not by the task of reading.

    For writers, one of the most amazing aspects of this book is how Jahn takes half a dozen to a dozen characters, gives each, in distinct chapters, an intimate 3rd person voice. And every one of the voices is rich and distinctive. It's the kind thing I try to accomplish only on a chaotic scale.

    I'm enjoying the book and learning a lot. It will not be to everyone's taste, but if you can handle it, it's worth your time.

  10. I just started reading The House on Durrow Street by Galen Beckett on my Kindle. This is the sequel to The Magician and Mrs. Quent, a fantasy novel that combines Jane Eyre with Lovecraft. For paper books, I'm reading Thirteen Orphans by Jane Lindskold.

  11. I finished The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society last night, and today I'm starting Catching Fire. I'm trying not to expect too much; I've heard mixed reviews on the last two books.

    For research, I'm also reading from a biography of Stalin, and the Mitrokhin Archive (and a ton of Wikipedia, LOL).

  12. I'm reading "Rain Dance" by Joy DeKok, about two women in two very different situations (one giving up the dream of having children and one terminating a pregnancy) and their first, emotional confrontation and second, their steps into what others might think is an impossible friendship. Since I have friends who are on very different sides of the abortion question I found it very true to life! Yes, women who don't agree with each other can -- and DO -- forge friendships!

  13. Pobby and Dingan, a novella about a little girl whose father loses her imaginary friends. Sounds twee but the subtext is interesting: just what is real?

  14. Michelle, thanks so much!

    I'm currently reading Tinkers and I've also been reading volume 2 of Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time. I've been craving some nutritious Proust.

  15. p.s. I will always remember the moment I was pouring myself a cup of tea and Michelle mentioned that she'd just finished reading bread. It was the moment I turned so green with envy my wife thought a Martian had invaded our house.

  16. Nevets, send me your mailing address.

  17. Sadly, I'm not reading anything at the moment. Even worse, I'm not writing anything either.

  18. Jordan: Oh, research? I hadn't even considered the non-fiction I'm reading. Which is a lot, soon to be mostly about Antarctica and 19th-century New York.

    Big D: I started "Bread" last night, but it was too late and I only got 2/3 through it. But wow, I say. Wow. And I remember just now that I brought a croissant to work for my breakfast. Suddenly hungry.

    Everyone else: Thanks for playing! Who else is out there, reading?

  19. Thank you very much, Mr. Bailey! I hope you feel like that through to the end! Not hungry, I mean. But, rather, the wow part.

  20. The Mermaid's Chair, by Sue Monk Kidd. It's a re-read because I like her descriptive imagery.

  21. I finished reading Middlemarch which I totally enjoyed. Now reading Anna Karenina..I haven't managed to read much in the the past few weeks since I usually read during lunch and I have been missing my solitary lunches..
    Scott- I love the sound of Tristram Shandy. Soo much to read (and write)- that thought always makes me excited![Am looking at my to-read book list for 2010-I am so tempted to flit from book to book just to get a taste of them, all at once ]

    And of course I am envious of anybody reading 'Bread'..:)


  22. Lavanya, You want to read Bread AND you're reading Anna Karenina? You rock!

    If you want a copy of Bread email me. I'm not sure where you live.

  23. I started American Gods by Neil Gaiman a couple days ago. I won't say I'm loving it, because it's fairly dark and gloomy right now and the characters are not particularly lovable yet, but Gaiman is always a pleasure to read even, or maybe especially, the gloomy dark bits.

  24. I enjoyed Tristam Shandy. Read it years ago.

    Currently, I'm juggling several books, as usual.

    Vermeer's Hat, by Timothy Brook (paperback)

    Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations: A Story of Economic Discovery, by David Warsh (hardback)

    Kindle Formatting: The Complete Guide to Formatting Books for Amazon Kindle by Joshua Tallent (Kindle edition)


    Blackout, by Connie Willis (hardback, which is why I haven't finished it yet)

    Dead Dwarves, Dirty Deeds, by Derek Canyon (Kindle edition)

  25. I also wanted to read Bread, but I can't seem to locate a copy.

    The House on Durrow Street by Galen Beckett on my Kindle. This is the sequel to The Magician and Mrs. Quent, a fantasy novel that combines Jane Eyre with Lovecraft.

    That sounds good.

    I guess I will also put Freedom on the list, though I wish I had picked it pre-hype. I read Harry Potter before it was (wildly) popular, and it made me feel more confident that I liked it because it was good, not because everyone said it was good.

  26. Currently reading "Await your reply" by Dan Chaon. Not sure how I feel about it yet.

  27. Tara Maya, I'm ready to share it. Thanks for being supportive this whole time. If you want a hard copy, send me your address. Or I can email it to you if you prefer.

  28. Paddington Bear? Awww.

    And Domey, sounds like you need to publish Bread already. Otherwise you'd be emailing everyone here a copy.

    I am finishing up Nick Hornby's A long way down. Next up are a couple of MG: Underneath by Kathy Appelt and Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson.

    And I am also reading some amazing chapters from my critique group members.

  29. I'm "reading" (among others) This Time Together by Carol Burnett. So good. I'm going to do a review on Monday on my blog.

  30. I'm currently reading:
    "At Home: A Short History of Private Life" (Bill Bryson), more serious history than his usual amusing travelogues yet still highly entertaining.

    "My Body Lies Over the Ocean" (J.S. Borthwick), a mystery set on a transatlantic liner picked up because I've been on a transatlantic liner, and it's quite accurate (as well as a fun light cozy mystery).

    "The UFO Encyclopedia" (Jerome Clark), dull overall with occasional points of interest.

    "The History of Britain Companion" (Jo Swinnterton) - compendium of odd bits which makes for useful bathroom reading matter.

    -Alex MacKenzie

  31. Yat-Yee, given that I have a 100% gag response to Bread so far (maybe Scott will be different), I have a feeling I won't have to mail everyone a copy!

  32. I'm reading Susan Straight's "Take One Candle Light A Room" about a writer who left the dangerous streets of her hometown only to come back searching for her wounded godson. What she learns on this journey home is wrenching.
    Here's a sample from near the beginning:
    Glorette was like my sister. And she had died...five years ago tomorrow. Her small body folded in on itself by someone who'd left her in a shopping cart in an alley behind a taqueria, her long black hair tangled around her beautiful face and falling through the metal mesh that left marks on her cheek.

  33. I just finished reading Anthony Doerr's Memory Wall - a themed collection of short stories. I am now re-reading David Sedaris' Naked...if you need a laugh this is your book.

  34. Blackout by Connie Willis
    Sherlock Holmes Returns by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
    Brain Jack by Brian Falkner
    Behemoth by Scott Westerfield

  35. I'm reading 2 books right now, "Running With Scissors" and "Sellevision" by Augusten Burroughs. LOVE THEM! He has the darkest humor on earth. I actually burst into fits of laughter while reading.

  36. I'm reading Of Song And Water by Joseph Coulson. It takes place on and around the Great Lakes, and I'm loving it. Coulson is a master storyteller and artfully weaves his story between three generations of sailors, from a rum runner on the Detroit River during Prohibition to jazz clubs in Chicago to a current day blues man who can no longer play and retreats to his father's sailboat and memories of his grandfather's tales of climbing up Lake Huron to the Georgian Bay.

    Before this I read Let The Great World Spin... also a terrific read. It's loosely based around the true story of the tightrope walker who threw a cable between the twin towers and walked across. Do any of you remember that???

  37. I'm currently reading China Mieville's "The City and the City". It's different than my usual reading, but I think that is because of the police procedural / mystery side of things and I'm coming to it having read few in those genres. I had to eventually read it because one of my premises had been a dual city and I was curious how someone else took the concept.

    @Genie of the Shell: I wouldn't say all series are this way. But, perhaps I'm fooling myself. I've always found new books hard to get myself started reading.

  38. I'm reading my first China Mieville novel: Perdido Street Station.

    So far so good. But I'm not in love. Yet. Still time though.

    Have fun with Tristram Shandy. It's hilarious.


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