Compared to August, this is going to be an exceptionally busy reading month. And these stacks don’t even include the lists of prize-list nominees and IFOA attendees, whose books are also cluttering every flat surface at home.
Greg Iles’ The Bone Tree – Having finished Natchez Burning in August, I was suprised to find that no time elapses between that book and this. In fact, The Bone Tree begins within an hour of the ending of Natchez Burning, but offers another perspective to its resolution. The narrative is stuffed with detail and there is a broad cast of characters, but the plotting is tight and the characterization is solid: the story pulls me onwards.
André Alexis’ Fifteen Dogs – This book comes highly recommended from every corner – family and friends and prizelist-jury members – but I’ve been scarred by Watership Down and Where the Red Fern Grows. It barely matters that I’ve recently read A (such skinny and clever little volume published by BookThug, a new favourite publisher of mine) and Pastoral, which is the first in the cycle of five books, in which Fifteen Dogs is the second. Fortunately, Steph (of Bella’s Bookshelves) and I are reading together so we can pass each other tissues as required.
Tracey Lindberg’s Birdie – Last month I officially signed up for The Book Mine Set’s Tenth Canadian Book Challenge, and to add another layer to the challenge, I’m going to read 13 books by indigenous authors. (Here are 13 of my favourites which have inspired my choice of theme.) My first read for the challenge was Robert Arthur Alexie’s Porcupines and China Dolls (named for the shapes of the uniform hair cuts which church officials gave to the children yanked into government residential schools). If Birdie is this good, I’m in for a treat.
Jane Smiley’s Early Warning – Even though this year I’m supposed to be finishing series which I’ve left unfinished, I’ve started a few new ones as well, in an effort to prove to myself that I can start and finish them in short order. This is the second volume in a series which Danielle (of A Work in Progress) and I are sharing. The first volume captured her more immediately, which is just the kind of encouragement one needs sometimes, to settle properly into a story. By now I’m fully invested in the family’s story, which is told with one chapter devoted to each of one hundred years.
Hanya Yanagihara’s The People in the Trees – I think it was Sharlene (of Real Life Reading) whose raves about this one first caught my attention, but it’s hard to squeeze a thick book like this one into the stacks, so it’s taken me awhile. By now, Yanagihara has another chunkster to tempt me, but I don’t think I’ll get to A Little Life this month.
Robert Wiersema’s Walk Like a Man – Even though I thought I was a Springsteen fan, I realize now that I’ve read the first few chapters of Robert Wiersema’s memoir that I just listened to Springsteen a lot. Nonetheless, I felt strongly enough about some of his songs, that I am throughly enjoying this collection of pieces. It begins with a brief biography of The Boss, just enough to situate readers who don’t already have their factsheets memorized, then shifts into a series of shorter essays named for specific songs which makes for a great playlist of course. Most mornings, I read and listen to one track: it’s great.
Steve Hely’s How I Became a Famous Novelist – Even though this was on my TBR list, I’d completely forgotten about it until Jaclyn (of Literary Treats) was raving about his newest book. But it’s the link with writing which cinched the deal for me, along with her assurances that it was her funniest book of that reading year. Not only is this the Month-of-Fifteen-Dogs, but none of the other books in my stack here are exactly happy stories (though the Springsteen collection isn’t as tough as the rest – get it?): I’m counting on this one to lighten the mood.
Care to comment on how my use-the-library-less project is going?
Riel Nason’s All the Things We Leave Behind – Last month, I finally read The Town that Drowned, which I really enjoyed. All the Things We Leave Behind is her follow-up, which unfolds a few years later in the same region. Brian Francis describes it as “full of heart, honesty and beauty”. If it’s even half as enchanting, I’ll be taking a lot of notes.
M.G. Vassanji’s Nostalgia – This is a slimmer volume than many of his novels and, containing some notebook entries and long swaths of dialogue, it seems like a book which will read quickly. “New memories in new bodies. New lives. That’s the ideal, though we are still far from it. The body may break and wobble: memory develop a crack or hole. In the leaked memory syndrome, or Nostalgia, thoughts burrow from a previous life into the conscious mind, threatening to pull the sufferer into an internal abyss.”
Christie Blatchford’s Life Sentence – Drawing on 40 years of working as a court reporter, this seems certain to be a riveting read. Particularly given her unadorned prose and journalistic experience. Athough I haven’t read a lot of true crime, this volume intrigues me greatly.
Jared Young’s Into the Current – The premise of this debut novel interests me, but I’m even more keen having spotted it on the shelves of Bakka Bookstore, when I thought it was realist story-telling. “Strapped into his seat thousands of feet above the merciless Earth, time suddenly stops, the wreckage of the plane freezes in place, and Daniel discovers what ti means to have your life flash before your eyes. Transporting himself into the past and re-experiencing his memories in real time – but helpless to change the present – he plunges into the detritus of his all-but-concluded life.”
Olive Senior’s The Pain Tree – For a change, I’ve read more of this author’s poetry and short fiction than I have of her novels. The Pain Tree has been underway for many years and I’m eager to revisit the landscape of her stories.
Darren Greer’s Advocate – It’s been a long time since I read (and loved!) Still Life with June. In between, I read Strange Ghosts, a collection of essays, but I’m eager to return to his longer fiction. “With wit and emotional depth, Greer describes the formation of one boy’s social conscience and takes us to a resolution that is truly satisfying.”
Melanie Mah’s The Sweetest One – There was a huge stack of these on the counter of “Another Story” when I was in there last week, signed. How can you resist her debut? “Now in her final year of high school, Chrysler – though smart, strong-willed, and longing for change – is debilitated by fear. Fear that she’s unlovable; that, like the other residents of Spring Hill, she’s doomed to live a scripted life; that Trina, if she’s still alive, may never return; that the same thing that killed her siblings will also kill Chrysler.”
Are any of these on your TBR stacks? Have you already read one/some? If you were going to choose just one to read right now, which would it be? What are you looking forward to reading this month?