Monday, May 09, 2011

Light reading catch-up

I took the weekend completely off from work, which was hugely beneficial; have now spent this morning writing up comments on MA essays and doing one last proof of an interview I've been involved with, and am now steeling myself to plunge into the week's most substantial job, grading the final assignments for the two courses I was teaching this semester. Flying back to NYC on Wednesday evening; midday Friday onwards is very thoroughly booked up with school-related things, so I am hoping the grading will all be done by Friday lunchtime...

(After that I need to get back to my long-overdue essay on Restoration drama and the novel; with luck, I can send that out before the end of the month? Next week's still looking a bit busy with school stuff, but the week after is relatively empty and I should be able to polish it off then.)

Plans are starting to come together for my Coeur d'Alene trip at the end of June, which is pretty exciting (even if it remains absurdly complicated and/or expensive to transport a bicycle cross-country!).

I was really so busy in the past few weeks that I lost track of logging my light reading!

I read two quite different 'trilogies' of books that shared the quality of being both addictive and somewhat bad (or at least not ideal representatives of their respective genres); the first was three novels by Lois McMaster Bujold, whose books I've never been able to get into but who comes very warmly recommended by Jo Walton, whose books I love. These were The Curse of Chalion, Paladin of Souls and The Hallowed Hunt. They are totally addictive, I started a new one as soon as I'd finished the previous one and looked forward to subway travel so that I could dig back in on whichever one it was I was reading, and yet they are also strangely shallow, facile; the storytelling is completely fluent, the writing is fine, but there is something quite unsatisfactory about the characters and the stories as well, they miss being really good books by a long stretch. Can't put my finger on it more precisely, but there is just a slight pro forma feel.

(I don't know whether I already said that I'd read Charlie Huston's The Shotgun Rule and Holly Black's Red Glove - worthwhile contributions by two writers I particularly enjoy. I am sure I did already say that I loved Henning Mankell's last Wallander book, which I felt rose to greater heights than most of its predecessors.)

Then I read three serial-killer thrillers, also quite addictive even as I was internally grumbling about the way they seemed like Patricia Cornwell 'lite' (also they are full of the most outrageous implausibilities and some quite melodramatic writing here and there): Cody McFadyen's Shadow Man, The Face of Death and The Darker Side. Couldn't put 'em down, though!

On the plane on Thursday I enjoyed Molly Jong-Fast's The Social Climber's Handbook. Also catching up on last few issues of the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books...

Over the weekend I completely devoured Mira Grant's Feed. I was initially suspicious, as the book seemed a bit too clearly to jump on bandwagons I have seen too much of already in recent years: like, put together one pinch Hunger Games, one pinch M. T. Anderson (who really already had that title!), two pinches Justin Cronin and a tiny dash of Bruce Sterling's Distraction. But I soon changed my mind: I thought it was excellent, I can't wait for the next installment!

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