Open a book this minute and start reading. Don’t move until you’ve reached page fifty. Until you’ve buried your thoughts in print. Cover yourself with words. Wash yourself away. Dissolve. Carol Shields Republic of Love

June 2014, In My Stacks

Steven Galloway’s new novel The Confabulist reminds me that I have yet to read his other works. Earlier this year, I started reading The Cellist of Sarajevo (because it was chosen as Toronto’s One Book for 2014) and I have Ascension and Finnie Walsh at hand too, but The Confabulist is about magic and that intrigues me.

Confabulist GallowayIt reminds me of hot July afternoons spent with Robertson Davies’ Deptford trilogy as a teenager (the magic was my favourite part). And, on the subject of magic in Canlit, has anyone read Michael Redhill’s Saving Houdini or Marty Chan’s Erich Weisz Chronicles?

I’ve read some of Aislinn Hunter’s poems in the past, but I’m keen on the idea of her second novel, which will be published this autumn, The World Before Us (her first was Stay), so I’ve gathered some more stories and poems with that in mind. Peepshow with Views of the Interior is particularly irresistible and I can’t stop recommending it, but it is The Possible Past (isn’t that a great title?) which is in my stacks right now.

In other poetry reading, I thoroughly enjoyed the second volume of Mary Oliver’s Collected Poems and it inspired me to pull some earlier collections to peruse. I felt very adventurous choosing the second volume of collected poems and leaving the first volume on the shelf, but perhaps too adventurous, for I still feel the need to fill the gap.

Perhaps there’s a clue here, as to why I can’t seem to finish reading so many of the series I’ve started over the years? I’ve just started rereading Robert Rotenberg’s Old City Hall, intending to catch up with the series. But I have Brad Smith, Walter Mosley, and the graphic novel Morning Glories tempting me to begin new series instead.

Rethinking and reconsidering my fondness for May Sarton took me back to the first of her journals that I read: Journal of a Solitude. I’m not sure if this will amount to a reread, but I am enjoying it on occasional evenings. Does it make you anxious, when you have let a favourite author’s works sit for a spell, that perhaps you won’t enjoy them as much when you return?

Esi Edugyan’s new book, a slim volume of non-fiction, Dreaming of Elsewhere, urged me to pull her first novel (before Half-Blood Blues) off the shelf: The Second Life of Samuel Tyne. I like collecting the New Face of Fiction titles, so I have had this on my shelf since its publication but this isn’t the first time I’ve pulled it off the shelf and then lost track of my intentions.

Behind on my Terry Fallis reading, I haven’t decided whether to continue where The Best Laid Plans finished off, or whether to jump ahead to the stand alone, No Relation. Another novel with a writer both on and behind the page is Shani Mootoo’s Moving Forward Sideways like a Crab. And because I so adored Cereus Blooms at Night, I am especially anxious to read this one. But because I love reading on a theme, I’ve pulled Michael Chabon’s The Wonder Boys and Francine Prose’s Blue Angel (which would be a reread) off the shelf as well.

I like reading first novels (most recently, Arjun Basu’s Waiting for the Man), but Krista Foss’ Smoke River would have caught my attention anyway. Not only does it combine themes that I am interested in (aboriginal land rights, social justice, family conflicts) but it’s got a quote from Lisa Moore (one of my MRE authors) on the cover.

Since my Seriously, Kidlit project, I have made a point of incorporating some children’s books and YA in each reading month. Soon I’ll have more to say about that, but this month I am planning to read Alice Childress’ A Hero Ain’t Nuthin’ but a Sandwich amongst others. I’m curious to see how the story compares to Ellenn Hopkins’ books about addiction.

Having recently finished Divergent, you’d think I’d be keen to read on in that series, but I really do seem to be better at beginning things than finishing them (and maybe reading it after The Hunger Games was not the best timing: what do you think?).

What books are pulling your attention into the stacks these days? Have you read any of these, or are they in your stacks too?

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8 comments to June 2014, In My Stacks

  • I always love the way you ruminate on the books you’ve got at hand/reading/about to read/hope to read/may never end up reading!

    I am currently, amazingly, only reading two books: The Goldfinch and Stuck Rubber Baby. I feel this need to concentrate and finish the Goldfinch. Not that there’s a deadline or anything but there’s something about it that seems to require undistracted reading. Stuck Rubber Baby is something I’ve been dipping into at the kitchen table.

    Morning Glories – ugh! Both in a good and bad way! Ugh good – cannot help but keep reading and reading this series! Ugh bad – I am so very confused, every time I pick up the next one I think there might be answers to all my questions but nope, more questions instead….

    Divergent didn’t really work for me. But I ended up reading the rest of the series just to see how it turned out. It was just …. ok.

    • It’s neverending, isn’t it: but fortunately just being surrounded by them makes me smile.

      And at least you’ve got a real chunkster at hand if you are only reading *two* books. *gasp* That’s so unlike you! (FWIW, I fell into Tartt’s novel at about the 300-page-mark and decided I would happily read it forever.)

      You likely guessed that you are behind my Morning Glories volume; I’ve had it for a couple of weeks now and just haven’t “allowed” myself to start; in the back of my mind I was thinking maaaaybe I would finish another series in the interim and feel slightly less ridiculous for beginning yet anther – of course that’s not going to happen.

      You’ve read Uglies, too, right? I found the “conspiracy side” (being vague, here) of that novel more poignant/credible somehow. Maybe it was just timing, or maybe I simply expected too much of Roth’s novel; I think I might have enjoyed it more at another juncture.

      • Yes I was wondering about Morning Glories!

        Ok I can now give myself a bookish pat on the back for adding that to your reading list. :P

        (What is a bookish pat on the back, you ask. One with a book in hand of course. Paperback I suppose, hardcovers would be more of a bookish smack.)

  • I’ve yet to read this book, but everyone is saying it’s AMAZING – I have to get my act together!!!

    • Your “act”?! Hah! But seriously, I just finished this magician-soaked story a couple nights ago and it was fantastic. I was enjoying it well enough to begin with, but the second half? Not only was it unputdownable, but I was marvelling at the layers while being wholly entertained. Hope you enjoy it!

  • My problem is sort of the opposite. Once I start a series, I find it really hard to NOT read the rest of the series. Even if I did not like the beginning of the series at all. That’s what happened with Divergent. I hated the first book, the second, and the third. But I just could not NOT know what comes next.

    • Hah! Admittedly I have been feeling much the same way about Divergent, but I’ve yet to determine whether that will be enough to pull me into the second book. Past behaviour suggests no, but I do want to be able to discuss this series, so I might read on (I *did* finish The Hunger Games, despite dismal completion rates otherwise).

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