Tuesday, January 13, 2015

What I've Been Reading

Hey folkses! January has been a much better month reading-wise than December so far, in that I've read more than zero books. Two down so far and I'm in the middle of five others. One day I'll learn not to read five books at a time, but at least the five books I'm reading are all different types of books. I have an audiobook going, some poetry, nonfiction, short stories, and a novel. I should throw in a graphic novel for good measure and maybe a screenplay for the hell of it :p

My first read of the year was Haruki Murakami's The Strange Library and "strange" was indeed an excellent word choice for the title. This was seriously one of the most bizarre books I've read in awhile. It's a very short novella about a young boy who visits a library to return a book and asks for books on tax collecting. He's pointed to a part of the library that he didn't know existed and then down the rabbit hole we go. He gets the book he wants but he cannot leave the library with this book. In fact, he can't leave the library at all as the strange librarian takes him through a maze within the library and locks him in a cell with a man dressed in a sheep suit where he is forced to memorize the book if he wishes to live...I won't go further into the book because I don't want to give away what's a very short but twisted and bizarre story. As strange as it was, I still enjoyed it as I have with every Murakami I've read. This book was made especially neat by it's packaging and design with illustrations and collage throughout. A neat one to have in the collection.

The other book I've read this month is Something Like Summer by Jay Bell. I. Loved. This. Book. I was not expecting to love this book as much as I did. It's one that's been on my radar for quite some time now but I finally decided to listen to the audio of it. It follows Benjamin Bentley, a 16 year old boy through his high school years as he navigates his first love as an openly gay adolescent. The book takes us through high school, into college and beyond. At first, I found the book to be extremely cliche and thought it was going to be another predictable slash novel with token erotic scenes thrown in but god now this novel grew and grew and grew until I was so invested in the characters that they felt like they were a part of my own life. It's almost like Bell went in to this novel saying "I'm going to take the cliches and address the human touches that they come from." I immediately downloaded the second book in the series, Something Like Winter and started listening to that one today and I don't EVER want this series to end.

Right now I'm reading:

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng: This is my current novel and I'm very meh about it. Everyone who's read this book seems to have loved it and it's nominated for all sorts of awards but I cannot for the life of me fall in love with it. I don't hate it but nothing is calling me to pick it back up either. I'm about 100 pages into it right now. Has anyone else had this experience with this book? Do I need to give it more time?

One More Thing by B.J. Novak: Short story collection and a good one at that so far!! I forgot where I first heard about this collection but they're very short short stories that run the gambit from entertaining and funny to extremely thought provoking.

Rope by Alison Hawthorne Deming: Poetry collection and such a beautiful one. I read the first half of it last night and I'll likely finish it tonight. This collection focuses on living life as far as I can tell...the human experience. There was a poem in here about Hurricane Katrina that I was not expecting and while I generally hate all things Katrina after living through it, this poem was beautiful and poignant and much appreciated.

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed: I've been dipping into this book for months and I'm almost finished it now and I don't want it to end. This is some of the most beautiful and poignant writing I've ever read and between this and Wild, I've fallen hard for Strayed. I want to give this book to everyone.

Something Like Winter by Jay Bell: The sequel (companion book) to Something Like Summer, told from the point of view of Tim Wyman, one of the main characters of Something Like Summer...so far so good! This is my current audiobook!

What are you reading right now? I've been looking for new poetry collections in particular if anyone has any favorites that they'd like to share ;)


Kailana said...

Looks like your year is off to a good start! I read The Strange Library, too, and I also wasn't sure what to make of it...

Kristina Patton said...

Great start to the new year! I will one day also learn not to read so many books at one time. The older I get, the more the characters start to run together, which is how I know I don't read much outside of the box lol. Speaking of, I have never read a book of poetry....never. I think I need to get out more =) Right now I'm reading Each Little Bird That Sings, it's a National Book Award finalist...cute. I'm also trying to make my way through Outlander, and Bringing Up Boys (a how-to that I'm not convinced will do me any good lol).

Andi said...

I soooo want to read The Strange Library. Just waiting for a B&N coupon. lol

Darren @ Bart's Bookshelf said...

The Strange Library was most definitely.... strange! I did enjoy it.Not sure I can explain what it was actually about though!

Currently reading/listening to The Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig a urban fantasy/mob story. Enjoyable so far, it a little violent!

Bookfool said...

Oh, funny, my copy of The Strange Library just arrived about an hour ago. Can't wait to read it. Everything I Never Told You has caught my eye but it's not one I've bothered to buy. Sounds like it's a good thing I haven't.

I'm reading Little Heathens, a diary of life during the Great Depression and . . . um, think, think. Oh, yes, I haven't picked up Parade's End for a week but I have a bookmark in it so I guess that counts. And, I just started reading North of Boston by Elisabeth Elo. All are great, so far. I'm going to try to finish up Little Heathens, tonight.

Bookfool said...

Forgot poetry. Have you got Horoscopes for the Dead by Billy Collins? That's one of my favorites. I just bought a volume of Maya Angelou's poetry (it claims it's the complete collection) and some Charles Bukowski. Can't remember my favorite Neruda but I can go look on the poetry shelf if you want me to. :)

Eva said...

Yay for coming out of a book slump! I love the cover of Rope & have finally become a poetry reader (*happy dance*), so I'll have to look out for that one.

Also, two days ago I had 5 books going at once, not counting poetry, including 2 audiobooks, and it didn't feel excessive to me. In fact I accidentally managed to finish all but my bedtime audiobook (strictly for falling asleep too & nightmare proof, lol) by today, and now I'm feeling a bit unmoored. I'm a happy book polygamist I guess. ;)

DesLily said...

I am having a good reading month also. Right now I am read a book called The Misbegotten by Katherine Webb. The story takes place back in the early 1800's. Fiction . but I can't get the name "mad edna" out of my head from the last book I read lol.

Glad you liked my throwback photos on FB lol.. so long ago if I didn't have photo's i wouldn't be sure it ever happened.
love you! xoxo

Chris Howard said...

Kells, So far so good! Wasn't it a bizarre read? I did like it though! More and more the more it sits with me.

Kristina, Don't you just love that when characters from one book start to run into another book? :p I haven't heard of Each Little Bird! I'll have to look that one up! I've been curious about Bringing up Boys...looking forward to your thoughts on it!

Andi, Definitely one worth owning!!

Darren, I think it's a study on loneliness the more I think about it. Great little strange book, wasn't it?

Nancy, So glad you read The Strange Library! Like I said on your blog, you HAVE to read Norwegian Wood!!! Gah, I loved that book so much. I don't reread often, but that's one I'd love to read again. I have not read Horoscopes for the Dead but I'm definitely putting it on my wishlist now! And when you get a chance I'd actually love to know what your favorite Neruda is...I've been wanting to read a collection of his for years but don't know what to read. I trust you completely when it comes to poetry ;)

Eva, Isn't it a great feeling when you finally come out of a book slump? Yes, get Rope when you can!! It's fantastic! I actually don't mind having so many books going at once when I'm enjoying them all like I am right now. It's when none of them are calling to me and I never finish any of them that it drives me nuts :p

Mama, Yay for good reading months!! You've had Mad Edna stuck in my head too and I haven't even read the book :p I just love that name so much, LOL. I always love your throwback photos SOOOO much! They put such a smile on my face. You've had so many awesome experiences in your life :) Love you too!

Beth F said...

Ropes sounds good -- I always wish that read more poetry. I'll have to look for it.

Bookfool said...

I can't find my copy!!! But I'm almost positive it's The Poetry of Pablo Neruda:


My absolute favorite poem, "To the Dead Poor Man" is in that volume and the cover looks right. Sorry to post entire URLs (too tired to make a link) but you can read one of my favorites here, which is sad but beautiful:


The one thing I don't adore is his love poetry. Not into poets waxing on about the beauty of the female body. I've got a small volume of that, somewhere (clearly, I have not finished unpacking books) and It just made me gag. LOL

Bookfool said...

Sorry, I completely jumped into telling you about my favorite Neruda without responding to the rest of what you said. Thanks for commenting about The Strange Library! I responded to you on my blog but I will definitely make reading Norwegian Wood one of my goals for 2015. So much Murakami to read, so little time.

jilllora said...

I didn't realize The Strange Library was short, which is kinda a selling point for me with Murakami. I've been meaning to read 1Q84 (it's on the shelf) but every time I look at it I run screaming because it's so damn thick. And I think I'm gonna have to break down and try Dear Sugar. Everyone is raving about it. I feel like I was the only person in the universe who hated Wild, so I'm still not 100% sold. I've been on a non-fiction kick this month...Boys on a Boat was made of awesome. It's my current "everyone should read it" book. :-D

Kristen M. said...

Yep, I also started the year with The Strange Library. I just liked that it got a book in translation into my stats so early and, well, that it took like an hour or so to read. It feels like a bit of a cheat but I think the amount of thinking that goes along with the story makes up for it, don't you? ;)

Trish said...

Tiny Beautiful Things. Yes yes yes!!! Just posted my review today and like you I had to totally slow down and just read a bit at a time because I didn't want it to end (and didn't want to read too many too quickly).

Anonymous said...

I'll have to get The Strange Library once The TBR Dare ends. I think someone could write a great little thesis on strange libraries and bookshops. They make a great subject for book lovers.