Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What Are You Reading?

I thought it would be interesting to start a discussion about what we're currently reading and how we learned about them. I'm currently in the middle of two books: Uneasy Spirits and The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain: Surprising Talents of the Middle-Aged Mind. The first book is a mystery set in Victorian-era San Francisco. It's the second book in a mystery series, and it's about a boarding house owner named Annie who sidelines as a fortune teller to make ends meet. Annie is out to prove a pair of mediums are cheating one of her boarder's relatives out of her money. It's the second book in a series, and I found out about both of them when they were promoted as Kindle freebies. The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain was not a freebie. I'm not certain where I learned of it, as it's been several months. I think I read about it in Scientific American. This book is out to prove that even though our processing speed goes down as we age, we grow better at skills such as problem-solving and pattern recognition. I'm reading this one in hardcover because the paper edition was much cheaper than the e-book. So, what are you reading? Where did you learn about it, and would you recommend it?

14 comments:

Ryan Sullivan said...

I'm reading the second book in a series by indie author Christopher Bunn: The Shadow at the Gate (The Tormay Trilogy). I found the first one browsing through Amazon -- it was high-ranking and had very good reviews.
I'm really enjoying these books, and they're helping me learn about how to write a fantasy story that takes place in mostly just one city.

Sandra Almazan said...

That series sounds familiar, Ryan. What's the title of the first book?

Ryan Sullivan said...

The Hawk and His Boy. :)

I liked that one a little more because there was more focus on my favourite character.

Sandra Almazan said...

I think I have a sample of that book in my Kindle's To Read collection.

Sarah McCabe said...

I've been reading a collection of H.P. Lovecraft's stories in honor of October. :) To be honest, I've been focusing mostly on reading fantasy classics because I've mostly found contemporary fantasy to be a huge disappointment.

Ryan Sullivan said...

Yes, I'm not interested in anything set on Earth. Nor anything science-fictiony.

Unless you count Harry Potter as set on Earth, but that's a different kind of fantasy than A Song of Ice and Fire.

Sandra Almazan said...

Sarah, I've never read Lovecraft. Would you recommend his work to someone who doesn't like horror?

Ryan, yeah, fantasy is a vast genre, with room for lots of different types of settings. ASOIAF is more your style? I've read the first book but haven't moved on to the others yet.

I can't resist talking about my own work here: My Season Lords fantasy series will be set in a quasi-Victorian world. The first draft of the first book is done, but I've been so busy with life and other projects I haven't had time to revise it. My short story, "The Book of Beasts" is set in that world but in a neighboring country.

Johanna Garth said...

I'm reading The Family Fang, recommended to me by a friend. It's about a Wes Anderson'y type family of performance artists.

Sandra Almazan said...

Johanna, is it fiction or non-fiction? What do you think of it?

Ryan Sullivan said...

Oh, I guess I could say ASOIAF is more my style, but I'm branching out into these books based in single cities.

I've also finished the first draft of a YA high fantasy (Aundes Aura), and am planning a short story in the same world.

Back to books based in single cities -- I'm finding that through reading these books, and also very much through ASOIAF, I'm learning how to write a book where the characters aren't travelling/moving about constantly (as they do in Aundes Aura), and how to create conflict in a relatively small space (a city vs a few different countries).

Briane P said...

I heard of "The Family Fang" and thought about getting it.

Right now, I'm reading PT Dilloway's "A Hero's Journey," which just came out and I started it last night. At 3% thru, it's good so far.

I'm also working my way through the short stories of John Cheever, but they get depressing after a while. They're very good but (mostly) very sad.

And for a break between that, I'm reading "The Disappearing Spoon," about the periodic table of the elements. That's a GREAT book.

Sandra Almazan said...

Briane, I bought PT's new book yesterday too, but I haven't started it yet, even though I finished "Uneasy Spirits" this morning. Figured I'd knock a novelette called "The Usual Werewolves" out of the way first.

"The Disappearing Spoon" sounds interesting. What approach does it take?

Sarah McCabe said...

I would recommend Lovecraft to anyone. I myself shun horror fiction like the plague but I decided to read Lovecraft because he was a very influential writer to the early fantasy genre and I'm trying to become more well read. And while all his writing seems to touch on horror, not all of it has horror as its focus. For instance, I would highly recommend the novella The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath. That was my favorite. It has elements of horror, but is much closer to general fantasy than anything else he wrote. (It's strongly influenced by Lord Dunsany's writings which are brilliant.)

I would say that for anyone who doesn't like horror, Lovecraft should be read in small doses. Don't try to read through his entire works like I did. But he certainly should be read because his imagination was just amazing.

Sandra Almazan said...

Thanks, Sarah! I'll keep The Dream Quest in mind. I have read at least one Lord Dunsany work, but I don't recall the title offhand.

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