Summer Reading

This summer I’ve had a lot time that couldn’t be spent in the studio, so I did a lot of reading, watching TV, and movies. Lucky me, a writer that I follow, Andrea Cumbo, had a reading program this summer. Remember when they had those when you were a kid? I remember that Pizza Hut did something like that. Anyway, I digress.

In her reading program there are two categories that you can compete in: Most Books Read and Most Diverse Reading List. While I read fairly fast, I wasn’t sure that I could be competitive through number of books. Lately it seems that every book I read is over 600 pages. So I decided to try for the diversity category. I thought that this might help me expand my repertoire as it were.

Here is my list of what I read this summer:

  • My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor – I happened to have just started this book as the contest began, so it colored my decision to try for diversity. This book counts as a memoir, biography, nonfiction, and written by a woman who is Puerto Rican. Diversity packed!
  • The Killing Moon by NK Jemisin – I read her first series and loved it. She tells fantasy from a different perspective in small series with interesting characters, plotlines, and magic systems. This counts as fantasy, female, African-American
  • Brood of Bones by AE Marling – This is an independent author who I follow on GoodReads. I really wanted to like this book, but I just didn’t. The main character was entirely unsympathetic. I also thought the world was a little bit overcomplicated. I do give points for interesting magic system though. I would try a book by him in another series. There’s also an element of romance that’s not my style. This book counts as fantasy, independant author, white male (hehe, but that’s different from the first two)
  • Dune by Frank Herbert – I started this one because Courtenay Bluebird was talking about doing Dune in June and I had never read it before so I thought “now’s the time.” It was excellent! I truly enjoyed it and though it’s from the middle of the 20th c, it doesn’t feel dated (yes that can happen with sci-fi.) I was upset with the ending since it seems that fate can’t be overcome, but this doesn’t spoil the book. I would definitely read more from the series. This counts as sci-fi, 20th century, white male(I’ll stop using this since the next 5 or so books are by white males)

At this point all I was in the mood to read for the rest of the summer was sci-fi. Not even fantasy. But I forced myself to stay diverse.

  • Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk – I’ve read a few of his books, but never this one. It was good and I’d say the movie was pretty true to it. This one counts as literary fiction.
  • Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare – I hadn’t read this play yet and with Joss Whedon’s movie version this summer, I decided now was the time. (Kind of a theme in these last three.) Very witty and the dialog is so rapid fire. I loved it. This counts as 16th century, play, comedy, British author
  • Hopscotch by Kevin Anderson – I got this as part of a sci-fi bundle from StoryBundle. I just needed some more sci-fi. This has the interesting premise that you can switch bodies in the future. Kind of like uploading your soul. It was interesting and I’d recommend it. Plus there was an artist as one of the main characters. This counts as sci-fi.
  • Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler – another sci-fi, I know. I had read the first book and I wanted to read the next one. It’s an interesting idea of how our society could’ve devolved in the 1990s and fallen slowly apart. There is some religious cult action as well. This counts as post-apocalyptic sci-fi, 20th c, by an African-American woman
  • Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson – Finally something else. I’ve read one or two of his other books and enjoyed them, this was available for my Nook at the library so I went for it. Humorous and a bit sad at the end. Made me think I could hike the AT (just as Cheryl Strayed made me think I could hike the PCT. I don’t think either is happening.) This counts as non-fiction, travel, humor, another white man
  • Hippopotamus Pool by Elizabeth Peters – Another found for my nook through the library. I wanted a mystery, but got some period romancy type stuff as well. This really isn’t my thing, but I made it through and it wasn’t badly written. At least it was in Egypt. This counts as mystery, romance, historical fiction, white woman
  • The Art Forger by Barbara Shapiro – Another I didn’t really enjoy. This was recommended by a number of my online artist friends. Not suprisingly, they were all women. It had an interesting premise and wasn’t badly written, but I figured out some of what would happen. I also don’t really like books where the protagonist makes obviously poor decisions in the romance department (aside from Rachel Morgan who kicks so much butt that I constantly forgive her trusting nature.) This counts as literary fiction, white female author
  • The End of the World: Stories of the Apocalypse edited by Martin H. Greenburg – That’s right, after two books I had to fight to get through I went back to sci-fi. This time in short story form. A number of great, good, and acceptable stories dealing with different kinds of end of the world type scenarios. This counts as short stories, post apocalyptic sci-fi, 20th c, many different white men and one woman. I don’t know, maybe one or two of the men weren’t white and at least one of them is British.
  • Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce – OK the sci-fi came to an end, you don’t have to worry. I’ve read a number of this author’s work (his book Requiem is what I compared DaVinci Code to. Dan Brown falls so very short in comparison.) Another story full of magical realism, only this time you never really know whether the magic is real or whether the sister is just in tragic denial. This counts as fantasy, literary fiction, magical realism, white British male author
  • Fairy Tales from the Bothers Grimm -retold in translation by Philip Pullman – I just finished this one this morning! Philip Pullman chose some of his favorite Grimm tales and compiled them in this book celebrating 200 years since the brothers’ first collection. He also offers an great intro and some asides after each story. This one counts as fairy tales, 19th century, German in translation, white British editor/translator guy, though a number of the tales were original told to the Grimms by women.
  • I also read 1 1/2 stand alone short stories by Ben Bova.

So what do you think? I was hoping for more diversity. I do have to admit that there were a few other books that I started to read but knew I didn’t want to finish. These include:

  • The Black Count, a biography of Alexander Dumas’ father that sounded like it would be exciting and ended up being pretty boring to me. I stopped a quarter way through it. That’s over 100 pages. I really did try.
  • Labyrinth – see my complaints about Hippopotamus Pool and the Art Forger and read in between the lines that I don’t like girly romance type books. I want the adventure to take precedence over the romance, so sue me. Maybe it did, I didn’t give it very much time, just a few chapters.
  • The Lady in Gold – I just didn’t like the writing style in the intro, so I didn’t keep going. Oh well.

Guess what I’m going to read next? Probably some more from that sci-fi bundle. I bet you couldn’t guess that, right!

Want see what other people read? Check out AndiLit’s Summer Reading Program Link-up Post.