what I’ve read / what I’m reading

In college I’d joke that I was the worse read (partial) English major ever. You know, it was not far from the truth. I love stories, but I could never really get myself to sit down and finish a book.

Don’t get be wrong, I’d read and complete entire books and series–but on the whole, there were probably more books I started and then stopped than ones I read all the way through. (This was especially the case for almost all of my college classes.)

Over the past 5 or so years, I’ve gotten a lot better. I’m still not reading as much as I’d like–and I’m no where near the reader my mom is–but I’m getting there.

Now, that all said, and remembering I’m not some crazy “book a week” person… Here’s a list of what I’ve read, and what I’m still reading, so far here in 2012.

What I’ve read…

Hot Water Music – I started this in the fall. Because I always read Bukowski in the fall. Always. I got this for our California trip, and slowly continued my way through this short story collect through winter and spring. It follows a lot of what I love from Bukowski: it’s raw, ugly, yet strangely beautiful.

Hunger Games – Okay, by now, if you haven’t read this or read about this… well, I have no idea how you’re even on the internet.

His Dark Materials – I’d been meaning to read this series for a while. It’s not one I grew up with, but well, once “The Golden Compass” movie came out, I was a bit curious. I really love the worlds Pullman creates. Some have criticized this book as being “anti-Christian”, but you know, it goes into deeper things and I didn’t finish it having more questions about organized religion than I got from my time dealing with organized religion personally. I mean, Hunger Games you got the corrupt government, HDM you’ve got the government controlled by the church…

Shiver – Just. No. I’d loved the covers of this series, but that’s honestly the best thing about them. The whole thing has the voice of a 40-something women. You never get the voices or tone of the teenaged characters.

Divergent & Insurgent – So I was still looking for another YA series to try out, but was hesitant after the terribleness of Shiver. But this was a distopian novel based in Chicago. Had to at least give it a try. It’s not bad. I got hooked in book 1, book 2 wasn’t as strong as I’d like, but I’ll still finish the series… next year when book 3 comes out. One of the things that bugged me at first was the author’s representation of Chicago. Things seemed out of place, and she really only covered the Loop area. There’s more to Chicago than the Loop & Michigan Ave.

The Night Circus – I’m still “reading” this one. I got it based on reviews by Erin. It’s not that I don’t like it. In fact, I love the concept. But at this point it’s just not holding my attention long enough to finish. I’ll return to it though.

And these short stories:

“Wants” by G. Paley; “Chrysanthemums” by J. Steinbeck; “News from the World” by P. Fox; “Guests of the Nation” by F. O’Connor; “In the Night” by V. Sharlov; “A New Man” by E. Jones; “First Day” by E. Jones; “Swaddling Clothes” by Y. Mishima; “Here Come the Maples” by J. Updike; “After the Theater” by A. Chekov; “Birthmates” by G. Jen; “The Untold Lie” by S. Anderson; “This is What it Means to Say, Phoenix, Arizona” by S. Alexie; “The Third Bank of the River” by J. Rosa; “Wenlock Edge” by A. Munro; “After the Storm” by E. Hemingway; “Chopin in Winter” by S. Dybek; “Lights” by S. Dybek; “The Liar” by T. Wolff

All I’m going to say about the short stories is: READ MORE SHORT STORIES. Seriously people. There are some amazing stories, a lot are better than full novels. People just discount them because of the size… but I love them. Perfect for the CTA.

What I’m reading…

My Mother, She Killed Me… – I’m writing what my instructor called “speculative” fiction. And it sort of has this folklore/fairytale feel. So I was trying to find something somewhat close to read to give me some inspiration. This collection is really interesting. Some are great, others are meh. But it’s exposing me to new ideas and also new writers.

I Sailed with Magellan – This is my second Dybek book. I loved Coast of Chicago. This one is a good example of a collection of connected short stories to create a whole, longer piece. (Granted, publishers lover this because it’s easier to market. But you have to remember this is not a novel. It’s a collection of stories that are related some how.) I’m just starting this, so I can’t say much about it… but I love Dybek for how he writes about Chicago.

Deadlocked – After I forced my way through the first chapter, I thought I’d give up on the series all together. They’re getting worse. But boredom is winning out and I’m struggling through more pages. I really don’t know why. It’s not great writing at all. Harris tries to play Sookie off as simple and not that educated, but then uses language that’s not consistant with that. She also loves repeating herself. A lot of the books are filler. She’ll pretty much copy-paste descriptions from book to book, and even chapter to chapter some times. Remember, you’re reading this because it’s basically vampire porn, and just accept it for what it is. (However, this is the first time I bought one of these… I recommend just getting them from the library… seriously, save your money.)

Love is a Dog from Hell – Okay, so normally poetry is something I can’t figure out or get into. But I love Bukowski, so I had to give it a try. And well, Bukowski’s take on “love” poems is exactly what I expected. None of that flowery stuff. Love poems with cock and balls and cum. Bukowski’s an interesting character… and well, I’ll be honest, I do question how people read this and thought “he’s a master!”… but whatever. It’s entertaining.

Now, I’ve got Shadow and Bone on the docket for later this week while I’m on the road. YA novel involving flesh eating things in the shadows. Another book I’m hoping will help me with that one story I’m writing. But for some reason I’m just on a YA kick.

I’m still trying to seek out new titles to add to my list. (Which is another reason I read short story series–they give you a nice break between novels.) And that’s sort of the inspiration for this post. I’ve really enjoyed seeing what others are reading, and have found some really good books/stories from there.

I’ll be checking in periodically with what I’m reading. And I’ll also be posting things on the AdorkableMe facebook page–which, if you’re not following it means you’re missing out on a lot of bonus adorkableness. You can also keep up with me on GoodReads.

So. What are you reading?