Tuesday, December 06, 2016

I finished The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead!...and a rant.

Book one--done! (See list below.) I checked out the book again last Friday and finally had a chance to finish. I really loved it. So creative and so much commentary on how things haven't changed much in the US in some respects. The book does have brutal depictions of violence, as it should, but it was amazing and beautiful. *Highly Recommended*

I am debating about reading Grunt. I would love to read it, but the copy from my library has a heavy cigarette smoke smell, and I don't know if I can take it. I tried to read some from it last night, but it was just not happening. So, that one may go off of the list until I buy my own copy one day. I am also trying to decide if I want to delay reading Fates and Furies. I am loving Stephen King's short stories, so I know I will finish that one. In any case, I will keep you posted. Any book I have to toss from the list will be replaced with another book. :)

Now for my rant:
I recently (as in today) listened to a couple of "book recommendation" podcasts. People wrote in with queries for books to give as gifts (usually in a particular subject area) or for books that match the reader's taste in a particular genre. In other words, someone writes in and says, "I recently read X and loved it. Can you recommend more books like X?" This is the question booksellers get all of the time, and special librarians called Reader Advisory librarians also serve those who ask this question.

Anyway, while listening to the suggestions on this podcast, it became clear to me that the hosts were recommending books that fit their tastes rather than what the person actually asked for. First rule of Reader Advisory: You serve the needs of the patron--not your own needs or agenda. It isn't that the books suggested are bad books. All of them are great. It is just that the books suggested didn't even come close to the heart of the question being asked. Ugh. This is such a pet peeve. I guess that recommending books is a talent, but it is a delicate matter. In any case, that is all. I just had to vent. :)

Friday, December 02, 2016

December Reading Plans!

Hi, everyone! December is here, which means I will have a lot of free time to read!! HOORAY! So, as usual, I am planning ahead, choosing books I really want to read this month and realizing that I probably will change my mind. But that is okay, because at least I still have that bit of freedom left in this country. ;)

My December reading actually begins over the Thanksgiving holidays each year, because I get a few days off and have a chance to read! I checked out Whitehead's The Underground Railroad from the library on a seven-day loan.

I began reading it on Wednesday before Thanksgiving, but I didn't get to finish it before the seven days because I had to take my mom to the hospital on Thanksgiving day (asthma attack...she's doing okay now) and then I had my hands full getting her through that and a nasty case of bronchitis, which I was also recovering from. So, I only made it about 150-pages into the novel. I plan to check it out again when I get off for the holidays, so that perhaps I can actually finish it! So far, I am fascinated by the book. I can see why it has won so many awards. It is both devastating and so engaging.

My first two reads officially in December are Groff's Fates and Furies and King's The Bazaar of Bad Dreams.

I've already started reading both of them, and so far I am really enjoying both. I have seen mixed reviews of Groff's work and had some worries about reading it as my first novel by her, but so far, I really like it.

I have read about four of the short stories in King's The Bazaar of Bad Dreams. I find most of them really engaging, but of course they always leave me feeling slightly off kilter--which, hey, mission accomplished, right? So far, my favorite story has been the first one, "Mile 81," because I love how King so accurately can capture a young person's voice. I also really connected with "Batman and Robin Have an Altercation," about a horrible moment that takes place during a weekly outing between a man and his father, who has Alzheimer's Disease. The only one I didn't like so far was "Premium Harmony," because *somewhat of a spoiler alert* I hate a story where the dog dies.  In any case, so far it has been a good read. (And I really love that cover!!)

The other books I am planning on reading are:

I have copies of everything except Grunt, but my local library has a copy. So, happy holiday reading, everyone! I hope you read some wonderful books!