Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon
The reason I’m taking my sweet time getting through Michael Chabon’s bibliography is because it’s my comfort reading. Well, a lot of things are my comfort reading at the moment (Sherlock Holmes, The Song of the Lioness), but Telegraph Avenue had been a bit underwhelming and I wanted something a bit more classic Chabon. A novel that began life as a story entitled Jews with Swords seemed like just the ticket to calm my nerves during finals. And then I took all of finals to get through it. Well, I suppose they can’t all be winners…
Jane Bites Back by Michael Thomas Ford
I can’t remember where exactly I picked up Jane Bites Back (as a concept, not a book)—I think I’m going to pin this one on Publishers Weekly. Something about the sheer silliness of Jane Austen and vampires delighted me. Although, it must be noted, this does not always delight me. The very idea of Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, makes my skin crawl. But there was something about the review and the synopsis that led me to believe Ford sided on my side when it came to Austen fanfiction, especially since he was writing it himself. After the abject failure of Crane Spreads Wings, I picked this up to wash the taste out.
The Silmarillion by J. R. R. Tolkien
Once upon a time, in late middle school or early high school, I decided to embark upon The Silmarillion. While I did make it to the bit about Arien and Tilion, the Sun and the Moon, I never made it farther. The mass market paperback edition available at my local Books-a-Million (which fits into my favorite US mass market paperbacks of Tolkien’s writings) lay forlorn on my shelf until August, when I decided to remove all the books I hadn’t read from my bookshelf and put them in a shelf in my closet. And then it started, well, winking at me, and I decided to pick it up and give it another go.
A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin
When my friend Natalya and I weren’t already tearing up just thinking about our favorite moments in Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings driving to and from the screenings in June, we were dishing about A Song of Ice and Fire. She had just finished A Game of Thrones and I was only one book ahead of her, so I got her fresh reaction to that thing that happens at the end of A Game of Thrones. You know. That thing. Combined with the fervor over the release of A Dance with Dragons in July, I got so fired up that I put A Storm of Swords on hold. Spoilers for the series abound below!
In Great Waters by Kit Whitfield
I have to be honest, I didn’t hold out much hope for In Great Waters. While the premise was interesting enough that it got onto my reading list, I dragged my feet about adding it. The cover certainly didn’t help—it puts me in mind of generic teen supernatural fiction, rather than a historical novel with mermaids. Still, when I got home, I put it on hold for arbitrary reasons I no longer remember, and I thought it might be a nice palette cleanser between Fans, Bloggers, and Gamers and picking up The Hero with a Thousand Faces again. And then it blew me away.
I love it when that happens.
The Sheen on the Silk by Anne Perry
I don’t know much about the Byzantine Empire, I have to say. I learned a little about it in high school, but not as much as I learned about other cultures and civilizations. When I stumbled across The Sheen on the Silk in Publishers Weekly, I smiled–a mystery set in the Byzantine Empire with a heroine disguised as a eunuch? That sounded like a great way to initially acquaint myself with the Byzantine Empire. But The Sheen on the Silk soon revealed that, while it’s flawlessly researched, it shouldn’t be the first novel you read set in the Byzantine Empire.
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
I first read The Hobbit in fifth grade, shortly before the film version of The Fellowship of the Ring was released. As my memory is awfully spotty prior to my freshman year of high school, all I remembered were the vocabulary sheets we were given every week for the book, and that the cover was atrocious. I had forgotten everything about the content. Even my preteen infatuation with The Lord of the Rings didn’t leave me with a copy of The Hobbit, so I picked up a 25th anniversary Ballantine edition at a local thrift store. (I love old books!)
I’m so glad I went back and revisited it, because The Hobbit is truly a classic. I loved every minute of it.
Interview with the Vampire
by Anne Rice
I read this for my school’s book club this month, but I’ve read it before, when I was a wee, nutty lass who would read anything if there were remotely queer boys in it–so, of course, I missed the entire point of the novel. Yeesh.
While it’s not Rice’s most exciting work (Louis is too ponderous a narrator for that), it is one of her purest books in the series–Louis’ struggles with his vampiric nature are philosophical and spiritual, an increasingly isolated figure against the richly imagined world of Rice’s horrifying vampires.