Friday, May 6, 2016

Meme in Progress

Someone Nother sent me a meme on reading books this year--a list and a challenge to read a book of each type on the list.  I've been working my way through, even though the categories are irritatingly varying in scope.  There is a complete list at the end of this post if you would like to attempt the challenge, too.

The Ones I've Checked Off, (With Matching Item From List in Parentheses)

1. Chalion series by Lois McMaster Bujold (book and its prequel)  The first books I read this year, rereads, and ones I read before I had even heard of the meme.

2.  Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome (guaranteed to bring you joy)  This is a road-trip book, but the catch is it was written in the Edwardian era.  The first thing I like about this book is that that name is not a pseudonym, and the other thing I like about this book is everything else.

3.  Scary Close by Donald Miller (self-improvement book)  My ability to tolerate Donald Miller ebbs and flows.  He's pretty emblematic of everything you think of when you think "Portland" (I don't know whether he's from there), but he has Interesting Thoughts.  His most famous book, Blue Like Jazz, has a short cartoon in it that may be the most depressing thing I've ever read.  I'm not sure if this is what is meant by "self-improvement" but it's probably as close as I'll get.

4.  Blood of the Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski (translated to English)  eh...not the best Polish book I've read this year

5.  Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold (romance set in the future)  Bujold has written some of the best space opera of all time, and she's also written this book.

6.  The Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher (more than 600 pages)  An adventurous steampunk.  It has talking cats, if that's your thing.

7.  Career of Evil by Robert Gilbraith (murder mystery)  See, this category is very broad compared to the others so far.  Do the authors of this meme expect you to read so many romances that they have to narrow it down to "set in the future" to make it a challenge, but expect you to have to force yourself to read even a single mystery?

8.  The Driving Lesson by Ben Rehder (about a road trip)  I was wanting to read something like Peace Like a River, so I searched Amazon for that book and looked at the other things that came up.  I would say this book is _set_ in a road trip, but it's actually about euthanasia.  Not exactly as uplifting as Peace Like a River.  :(

9.  The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (takes place on an island)  This book also came up in the Peace Like a River search.  It, like the last book, is "literature."  I'm not sure that it's about anything, but it's set in a bookstore/house, and I think the author may have written it to revel in the feeling of growing up in a bookstore.  (Does everyone but me fantasize about owning a store?  That's hard and thankless work, y'all.  The taxes alone...)

10.  Boundary Lines by Melissa Olson (blue cover)  This is one of those stories where a Strong Woman gets herself some leather pants and a supernatural boyfriend and goes around talking smack to ghosts/zombies/whatever.  It just showed up on my Kindle one day.  I think I might have gotten for free in some promo, like Kindle First maybe?

11.  The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson (under 150 pages)  This is what I think of as a typical fantasy book.  There are castles, something epic is going on, and no one has much of a personality.  MEDIOCRE

12.  House of Shadows by Darcie Coates (can finish in a day)  I wanted to read a gothic book, and Goodreads reccomended this.  It was also free.  Pros:  has creepy house, has other creepy stuff  Cons:  nothing is really done well, tonality is especially bad

13.  The Raven and the Reindeer by T Kingfisher (based on a fairy tale)  T Kingfisher adds a little touch of reality to her fairy tales, which gives them more structure to hang a plot on.  I have been following her books for a while.  I originally read something by her in Lightspeed's "Women DESTROY Fantasy" issue.  *heehee*

14.  (published in 2016)  I've read a lot of things published in 2016, okay?  *sigh*  I'm not going to talk about the specific book I put in this category.  You will just have to find a way to live with that.

15.  Various Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I got a lot of milage out of these, checking off a bunch of stuff.  If you haven't read Wilder's books, go read them!  They are amazing snapshots of history.  Here are the categories I matched, picking only one per book I read:  (classic from 20th century), (haven't read since high school), (YA bestseller), (autobiography).

16.  The History of the Church by Eusebius (at least 100 years older than you)  This was written c. 300 AD, so we could increase that number by an order of magnitude or so if we liked.  You might think there's not much church history to write about in 300 AD, but Eusebius, man, he could write 10 paragraphs on that time someone sneezed.  (MAKE IT STOP)

17.  Coroner's Pidgin by Margery Allingham (set in Europe)  After I had categorized this book, I suddenly was uncertain whether England was part of Europe or if it is just considered, "an island near Europe."  It certainly isn't set in any other continent, so...

18.  Saga, vol. 3 by Vaugun and Staples (graphic novel)  The art in this is very good.  I normally can't stand comic books, but this was even enjoyable.  I think it's the art.  It's very clear, and the text has a lot of breathing room.

19.  Andy Nebula by Edward Willet (science-fiction)  This category.  Even that hyphen offends me.

20.  Conjure Wife by Fritz Leiber (from the library)  In this book, a smug professor finds that his wife has been making him lucky- and protection-charms and commands her to stop her superstitious nonsense.  It turns out that in this world, everyone practices magic except white men, and since the main character is such a smarmy little weasel, everyone he knows has been attempting to curse him.  It felt really nice to see this guy get his comeuppance.  He kept saying things like how his wife, with her fragile non-logical female mind, was highly susceptible to the Deep South superstitions she had been typing up for him as part of a paper he was publishing.  I can't tell if the author is just a horrible person or if he hated the main character as much as I did.

21.  Amish Zombies in Space by Kerry Neitz (satirical)  There is a trend in Christian fiction to write novels with Amish characters, set in Amish communities.  According to the author, this novel satirizes that trend and also the trend where absolutely everything has zombies in it.  The pacing of this book is pretty bad.  The author spends a lot of time getting all his people on one planet so he can have the zombie part of the book, and then we moan and shamble a bit, and the book ends.  I would say more, but then I will have put serious thought into criticizing a book called Amish Zombies in Space, and what am I doing with my life?

22.  The Mechanical by Ian Tregillis (dystopian)  This book is an alternate history where the British empire of the early 1700s developed robots and are using them to expand their global empire.  France and "New Amsterdam" are living in increasing poverty.  The Empire is rather low on Freedom of [X], so many undesirables are being hunted.  The 1700s, in the real world, always strike me as a time when the popular perception of the value of life was at a low ebb in many countries, and this book captures it well.  Contemporary books, and this emulation of one, make me very uncomfortable.  Also, mechanical robots?  So implausible that they break all suspension of disbelief.

23.  Fool by Christopher Moore (NYT bestseller)  Fortunately, I occasionally mess around with its crossword puzzles or I would not have known what NYT stood for.

24.  King Peggy by Peggielene Bartels (about a culture you're unfamiliar with)  This is a true story about a Ghanian-American woman, a secretary, who was appointed King (queen is a separate position with different duties) of her...I'm going to go with "neighborhood" back in Ghana.  She flies over once a year or so to settle disputes, oversee development, etc.  She has brought clean water, new schools, and more, so far to her kingdom.  Way better story than The Princess Diaries.

25.  The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing by M. T. Anderson (protagonist has your occupation)  I'M KIDDING...maybe...I could not find any fictional books with mathematician protagonists, although Neal Stephenson has some mathematicians in his books, and I may read one later, but the book I am putting here for the meantime is Improbable Rise of Singularity Girl by Bryce Anderson, which has a graduate student/TA protagonist.  It's a sort of thought experiment book.  The protagonist invents a technology which allows her to upload a simulation of herself to computer memory before her death.  The department she worked in devotes itself to running and improving the simulation.  Eventually, every possible complication is explored.  Why just run one simulation?  Why should the simulation be restricted to what humans can do?  Why not connect the internet?  Why not add holograms to the mix?  Etc, etc, etc...there are a lot of events in this book.  (I've read Octavian Nothing before, but I may read it again for its National Book Award winner attribute if I never get around to All the Pretty Horses, which I already have on my shelf for some reason.)

Follow Along With The Books I've Finished So Far:
book and its prequel
guaranteed to bring you joy
self-improvement book
translated to English
romance set in the future
more than 600 pages
murder mystery
about a road trip
takes place on an island
blue cover
under 150 pages
can finish in a day
based on a fairy tale
published in 2016
classic from 20th century
haven't read since high school
YA bestseller
at least 100 years older than you
set in Europe
graphic novel
from the library
NYT bestseller
about a culture you're unfamiliar with
protagonist has your occupation

And The Ones I Have Yet to Go:
National Book Award winner
set in your home state
becoming a movie this year
written by a celebrity
political memoir
from Oprah's Book Club
recommended by a family member
takes place in Summer
written by a comedian
first book you see in a bookstore
recommended by someone you just met  (I have recommended a few books this year because people tend to ask me what I am reading if they see me with a Kindle, and people have taken the time to write down titles, but no one has reciprocated with their own recommendation so far.)