I’ve mentioned it before, but my to-be-read list is out of control. It’s not so far gone as some peoples- I’ve heard of them being a thousand books deep and growing, so at 244 I feel like I’m not doing too bad.
Of course, that doesn’t change how many times I gone on a book adding spree, throwing books willy-nilly onto it as though I’d never have another chance. It’s happened before, it will happen again, what I need to do is to start being more demanding, to take the time to read excerpts and reviews before I decide if it’s another book I want to add to the list.
So, I’m starting a series where I return to 2016, the year I started using Goodreads, and checking out five books at a time from my list. I’ll read the excerpt, look at high and low reviews, and decide based on rationality instead of impulse whether to keep it or kick it.
The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett: I am distracted by the. constant. drinking. How do the main characters achieve a single thing with how much whiskey they’ve put away? I read and loved The Maltese Falcon, also by Hammett, but I’m not sold on this one. It’s a little funny, but the constant references to alcohol and women’s bodies is wearing on me. Not to mention the sudden scene shifts and lack of dialogue breaks. I think this story might be better enjoyed in movie format.
“How do you feel?”
“Terrible. I must’ve gone to bed sober.”
“Maybe it would if I took one.”
Final Verdict: Kick It.
Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales: I’ll admit, I was hoping for stories about characters I’m already familiar with, but the first one began in a land (I’m guessing in Carthak) with people completely unfamiliar to me. Still, it would be interesting to learn about the surrounding lands and those that live there. Apparently there are stories not even set in Pierce’s fantasy world, and I can’t say I’m too thrilled about that. Still, the chance to read a little more about some of my favorite characters is too tempting.
“Without reading, we are all without light in the dark, without fire in the cold.”
Final Verdict: Keep It.
Another Brooklyn, by Jacqueline Woodson: A young woman looses her father and is haunted by the ghosts of her past as she navigates her way through a city made of memory and ghosts. The writing style is interesting and very lyrical, but I can’t say I see this holding my interest very well. It’s one of those quiet, slice of life stories that years of Oprah have made me feel obligated to enjoy but I rarely do to the fullest extent. So, while this story may be very well written in every since of the word, it might not be for me.
“Maybe this is how it happened first for everyone—adults promising us their own failed futures.”
“For God so loved the world, their father would say, he gave his only begotten son. But what about his daughters, I wondered. What did God do with his daughters?”
“And as we stood half circle in the bright school yard, we saw the lost and beautiful and hungry in each of us. We saw home.”
Trigger Warnings: Short Fictions & Disturbances: I haven’t found myself as wildly in love with Gaiman’s stories as I used to be, and short stories are always hit and miss with me. I like to settle in with a story and it’s characters, get to know them and love them, and I can’t really forge that sort of connection with short stories. That being said, Gaiman’s imagination is fertile and fascinating, so I feel as though I’d be missing out on some dazzling ideas if I skipped it.
“Better to have flamed in the darkness, to have inspired others, to have lived, than to have sat in the darkness, cursing the people who borrowed, but did not return, your candle.”
“Thank you for coming. Enjoy the things that never happened. Secure your own mask again after you read these stories, but do not forget to help others.”
Final Verdict: Keep it.
The View from the Cheap Seats: I love nonfiction works written by authors of fiction. Maybe it’s their willingness to use strange metaphors and go one imaginative tangents, maybe I’m hoping to absorb some of their power through osmosis, or maybe it’s because I like getting a glimpse into the hearts and minds of people who create whole worlds from nothing. There are speeches and essays and ruminations in here, and I think it’s safe to assume I will enjoy his thoughtful takes on the world around us and what we can make out of it.
“I believe we have an obligation to read for pleasure, in private and in public places. If we read for pleasure, if others see us reading, then we learn, we exercise our imaginations. We show others that reading is a good thing.”
“Without stories, we are incomplete.”
Final Verdict: Keep it.
Down by two, not bad! Next entry takes a look at America’s most haunted places, V. E. Schwab, and lesbian nuns! Hold onto your hats, people, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.