On New Year’s Day, I was all rarin’ to go to get started on my 50 book challenge for 2013. Now that the month is over, the tally is pretty good: 5 books! However, that figure doesn’t take into account the huge number of short stories I read and/or listen to on a regular basis. I caught up on multiple issues of Lightspeed; subscribed to Clarkesworld; read the stories sent out every weekday by Daily Science Fiction; listened to several episodes of the Toasted Cake, Escape Pod, Podcastle, Pseudopod, Clarkesworld (again!), Dunesteef, and Vinyl Cafe podcasts; and read the current issue of Apex this month. This is in addition to reading slush for Electric Velocipede.
So, without further ado, here are my thoughts about this month’s reading.
How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough – I really wanted to like this book after I heard about it on This American Life, but it let me down a bit. I think that after reading Quiet by Susan Cain and The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, I’m burnt out on pop-neuroscience books right now. This book had a lot of information, but was short on suggestions that readers could follow in their daily lives – and of course, if you’re reading this book, suggestions for now or for the future are kind of what you’re looking for. More info is available at Goodreads.
The Razor’s Edge by Somerset Maugham – I first read this book 10 years ago, and decided to re-read it to see how it held up against my newfound editorial insight. It did, but the experience (especially how much I had forgotten) surprised me. I ended up writing about it for Reading as Writers. More info is available at Goodreads.
Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan – I posted my review of this book earlier this month. Perhaps it’s stretching it to call this a “full-length book”, but it’s got its own individual binding, so I don’t care too much. As I said in my review, it’s absolutely lovely. More info is available at Goodreads.
When the Villain Comes Home, edited by Gabrielle Harbowy and Ed Greenwood – This one had even more short stories! This book tweaked the theme of Dragon Moon Press’ original anthology When the Hero Comes Home. This time, well, you can guess the difference. As with any anthology, there were highs and lows, but my particular favourites in this collection included “Pinktastic and the End of the World” by Camille Alexa, “To Serve in Heaven” by Ari Marmell, “Daddy’s Little Girl” by Jim C. Hines, and “Broken Clouds” by Rachel Swirsky. I liked that this book had stories about several different types of villains told from several different perspectives, and took the idea of “coming home” in a lot of interesting directions. More info is available at Goodreads.
After the Golden Age by Carrie Vaughn – This was another book I got for free from the World Fantasy Convention. I powered through it in about 4 hours. The plotting in this one was excellent – it’s open-ended enough to accommodate its upcoming sequel, but not so open-ended that it contained plot holes. Ultimately, this book was my version of cotton candy: enjoyable but fluffy. More info is available at Goodreads.
Magazines and Podcasts
Clarkesworld Magazine – I caught up on most of Clarkesworld‘s 2012 output this month through the podcast. I enjoyed the stories so much that I ended up buying a subscription through Weightless Books – though I have to admit that the January 2013 issue hasn’t thrilled me. Many of their 2012 stories were wonderful, but the really amazing ones were “Fade to White” by Catherynne Valente, “Robot” by Helena Bell, and “Immersion” by Aliette de Bodard. I’m definitely nominating all 3 of them for the Hugos this year.
Lightspeed Magazine – This month I got to work on my backlog and read the August and September 2012 issues. My favourites of these two were “My Wife Hates Time Travel” by Adam-Troy Castro, “Sun Dogs” by Brooke Bolander, “The Seven Samovars” by Peter Sursi, “The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species” by Ken Liu, “Love Might Be Too Strong a Word” by Charlie Jane Anders, and “The Necromancer in Love” by Wil McCarthy. These issues also contained excellent interviews with John Scalzi and Seanan McGuire – McGuire’s interview was so interesting, in fact, that I’m considering giving the Newsflesh trilogy a chance even though I disliked her Countdown novella.
Apex Magazine – I like Apex’s issues for their brevity – three stories, some editorials, and that’s it. I loved “Trixie and the Pandas of Dread” by Eugie Foster (which is a surprise, since her other work has left me lukewarm), and “The Patrician” by Tansy Rayner-Roberts.
Escape Pod, Podcastle, and Pseudopod – I still haven’t cleared the backlog of podcasts from this trio, but I particularly enjoyed listening to:
- Springtime for Deathtraps by Marjorie James
- The Care and Feeding of Mammalian Bipeds v. 2.1 by M. Darusha Wehm
- The Tonsor’s Son by Michael John Grist
- Recognizing Gabe: un cuento de hadas by Alberto Yanez
- Architectural Constants by Yoon Ha Lee
- Pumpkinhead by Rajan Khanna
- That Ol’ Dagon Dark by Robert MacAnthony
- The Crawlspace by Russell Bradbury
Toasted Cake: The one that really blew me away this month was “Mothership” by Caroline M. Yoachim. I’m considering nominating this one for a Hugo as well – it was originally published by Lightspeed in April 2012.
Anyways, that’s enough for now. Happy reading!