Currently $1.99: Grant Takes Command, by Bruce Catton. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke. Dirk Gently's Detective Agency & The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul (one volume), by Douglas Adams. The Body in the Library, by Agatha Christie. Want to read Christie in French? They have several French editions of her novels, including Murder on the Orient Express and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, for sale at $1.99 each.
Currently $2.99: Still Life and A Fatal Grace, by Louise Penny (the first two books in her Inspector Gamache series). N or M? by Agatha Christie. Bare Bones, by Kathy Reichs.
Like most readers, I have a boatload of books I own that I have yet to read. This year, I will read 25 of them. Here are the musts.
I've read a bit of Borges, and have deeply enjoyed it. That's why this is here.
The Deathstalker series is the only one I have yet to read by Green, and these are the novellas that introduce that universe. I own the whole series, so I should maybe get started, yeah? Besides, Space Opera rocks!
I've started this a couple of times, and got distracted. Not this year! It's la lyrical beauty that can't be rushed, but I will make the time.
I've read and loved the Gates series, as well as Connolly's second collection, Night Music. I started this one years ago, and will actually follow through this time.
Another one I got distracted during (are we sensing a theme?), this is a serious beast of a book, but I've loved what I've read, and the depiction of Faerie is unique, to say the least.
A genuine horror classic that I've been threatening to read for about a decade. There is no reason I haven't read this yet.
Another big mother(shut yo mouth), this fell into the must list after I read The Terror last year. That one started slow, but was frigging awesome. I'm hoping this one kicks in a little quicker.
There's my seven must-reads from my ridiculous TBR pile, but there's a lot more where those came from. At least 18, some even more imposing.
As imposing, anyway.
I haven't been posting these regularly like I had originally planned. My workload has been increasingly unwieldy lately, plus I've taken on some freelance. I'm hoping this new installment will be a renewal and I will be able to start posting weekly again.
(I got the term “genre kryptonite” from Book Riot. It is essentially defined as a genre/type that is a personal weakness, i.e. something that you just can’t resist. The term confused me at first, as I associate kryptonite with something that can destroy you, but that’s not how it’s being used here. These are also a combination of genres and subgenres.)
Nonfiction books about Jane Austen. I have a Jane Austen shelf. I must have read at least 30 nonfiction studies of her work by now, and I never get tired of it. Of all my reading habits, this one makes me miss my college library the most. Since I’ve already done a F5F for Austen I won’t bother listing titles. The link if you would like suggestions: Fabulous Five Friday debut.
Georgian/Victorian/Gilded Age fantasy. Fantasy is often focused on medievalism and pre-modern tropes, which is great but overused. I love that fantasy set in the 19th and early 20th century mashes together my favorite historical period to study with magical elements, and the best examples often have that delicious social complexity that makes novels from that period so enjoyable for me. My ultimate favorite in this category is Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke.
Books about feminism and gender. This covers an immense array of possibilities across fiction and non-fiction. I’m especially partial to essay collections and literary studies that use gender studies and feminism as the key reference point. The representative title for me currently is Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist.
Short story collections and anthologies. I’m especially partial to short speculative fiction and “weird” stories, often by authors like Kelly Link, Nalo Hopkinson, Hannu Rajaniemi, Jane Yolen, Alison Nutting, Neil Gaiman, and many others, though I’m also partial to themed anthologies that give you a lot of variety. I’ve collected way more than I’ll ever read, but I’ll keep getting them anyway. My current favorite (most likely since it’s the most recent collection I’ve read) is Nalo Hopkinson’s Falling in Love with Hominids.
Books about Parisian and overall French culture. Francophilia is not rare, but I still find my attraction to these books a bit weird. I’m especially drawn to those “how to be French” lifestyle books, even though they really offer nothing more than surface-level, unrealistic aspirational stuff. But I find something fascinating in looking at a culture that is so incredibly focused on assimilation, and yet cares so little for people’s opinions. One of my favorites is What French Women Know by Debra Ollivier, since she combines her outsider view with an insider’s access (she is an American married to a Frenchman).
The Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers has as its job the maintaining of magic within King George III’s domain, but lately things haven’t been going so well. Magic seems to be draining out of the kingdom, for one thing, a former slave and possible murderer has been made the Sorcerer Royal, and relations with Fairyland are so fraught that English magicians have been unable to secure familiars to enhance their powers. Full of desperate situations, lively banter, entertaining Regency manners, a Georgette Heyer-like romance, and magic most amazing, Sorcerer to the Crown kept me entertained from start to finish.
Because of my extreme love for Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, I’d snap up any novel concerning an association of British magicians struggling to maintain magic during the Napoleonic wars era, but while Zen Cho’s Sorcerer to the Crown is no Strange/Norrell knock-off--her writing isn’t as deep and beautiful for one thing, and she uses a P.G.Wodehouse type of humor--it’s as if Clarke’s book had caused Cho to ask some very fruitful questions.
Questions like, “If men can have an inborn knack for magic, as Jonathan Strange does, what about females? What would happen to girls growing up with a natural inclination for spells, and what would women do with such a skill?” And, “Wouldn’t it be interesting if a character of African origin held a prestigious, if precarious, position instead of being a servant like Stephen Black? And couldn’t the story be enriched by adding some Asian-based magic?”
Sorcerer to the Crown is the first book in a series, and based on how the story ends (not a cliffhanger, but with things in a very interesting state) I can’t wait to see what happens next.