Influential Book Challenge

I was challenged by my sister-in-law to do a list of 10 books that have impacted my life in some way. I went with nine fiction books that I’ve spent tremendous time thinking about after I read them and one poetry book which helped shape my love of poetry and here they are:

1. Wren to the Rescue (Really all three books from Wren’s War series) – Sherwood Smith – One of the books from my early life that taught me that girls can be powerful, save themselves, and don’t always need a prince or someone else to rescue them. I still find myself thinking about the characters from this series and wondering what happened to them after the series ended…

  1. The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern – Captivating story and first book I read both before and after writing my first novel. I’d been worried about how the process of novel writing from an author’s perspective would change my perspective while reading, but it has enhanced my reading experiences. I notice things like point of view, where chapter breaks happen, etc. and how they affect the story and appreciate them even more than I did if/when I noticed them before.
  2. Arrows of the Queen (Really all three books of the Queens Own series) – Mercedes Lackey – I reread this book (and sometimes the other two as well) at least once every year (sometimes more often), especially if I want inspiration to keep moving forward through tough times.
  3. Lirael (Really all three books of the Abhorsen series) – Garth Nix – One of the first books that showed libraries the way I always imagined they could be- fierce, powerful, and full of magic! I adore this series!
  4. Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame – Charles Bukowski – First and favorite book I’ve read by Bukowski. He helped me find my poetic voice and hammered home numerous important and influential qualities such as: a) Great poetry can come from modern times b) Poetry doesn’t have to rhyme c) Poetry can be about everyday subjects d) It’s all about the endings
  5. Dragons of Autumn Twilight (Really all three of the Dragonlance Chronicles series) – Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman – Longtime favorite series of mine… They were a gateway into the huge collection of Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms novels which I devoured and reread throughout my formative teen and early twenties years.
  6. The Hobbit – J. R. R. Tolkien – This is my favorite Tolkein story and was my introduction to Middle Earth, where I have often dwelled and left the cares of this world behind. (For the record: the new Hobbit films are Peter Jackson Fanfiction about the Hobbit, not a cinematic version of the Hobbit story.)
  7. Night Watch – Sir Terry Pratchett – First book I ready by Sir Terry Pratchett and was a wonderful introduction to Discworld. Discworld is full of humor and intelligence and has helped me through some of the toughest times in my life and kept me laughing during some of the best times in my life.
  8. The Lies of Locke Lamora – Scott Lynch – One of the most interesting books I’ve read with one of the trickiest main characters… I can’t wait to see where this story goes…
  9. A Wise Man’s Fear – Patrick Rothfuss – Complex characters, massively detailed world, and a storyline that sucks you in and keeps you hungering for more… I loved Name of the Wind and it was one of the most original books I’d read in a while at the time when I found it… but then I read A Wise Man’s Fear and it blew my mind because I loved it even more than the Name of the Wind and I hadn’t thought that would be possible… I NEED to know what happens with these characters…

(I was going to put the Harry Potter series (because I have loved this series as a dear part of my childhood and adulthood and I’ve been to every midnight release for all the books that had one and all the movies) and A Song of Ice and Fire series (because my husband introduced me to this series before we even started dating and most of our road trips turn into discussions about who will win the game of thrones and why and how) but although these series deserve shout outs I decided against including them because to me they’re a series and you can’t really separate one book from the others.)

The Case for Reading Bad Books

Go check out the following article:

The Case for Reading Bad Books by @rebeccaschinsky

 

This article was a good one that articulates an argument for finishing “bad” books even if you are normally a person who tends to not finish them.  I have only not finished maybe 10 books, ever.  If I pick something up and start to read it then I’ve already bought into it.

With the activity of my imagination I have to finish bad books because then I can let them go.  I can let the characters slip away into the humiliated dark shadows of regret.  I can let the setting fade away into a cliche fog.  If I don’t finish a book then it will keep cropping up like an unwanted Facebook status update from that whiny friend who complains every day.  If I don’t finish a book then I wonder about what happens next in the storyline.  Those poor characters… even the ones I didn’t like… did the author ever get their shit together and give them a real chance at an interesting story/developed plot/happy ending?  Ugh!

No it is better by far for me to plow through a bad book while railing against the injustice of books like these getting published while talented authors with more put together stories/more interesting characters/a good conflict all languish in the realm of unpublished and unfinished imaginationland.   I will finish a bad book in one sitting (if I can stomach it) and then reward myself with a rereading of one of my favorite books as a salve to my imagination.  It’s like here imagination… this is how the book should have gone down.  I’m sorry I put us through that… here’s some deliciously distracting Terry Pratchett as a pallet cleanser.

Neil Gaiman

Just met Neil Gaiman at a book signing!  When asked about his next medium he announced it to be interpretive dance! LoL He later said he was kidding but it was still amazing to hear him speak and read from his #1 Best Selling book The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

When we arrived to the school where the event was held we ran right into a giant crowd… we were not sure if it was the line or a mob… even in the midst of the line-mob it was unclear.  The line was like a study in human chaos theory.  I announced that the line was likely a trick played on the fans by Neil himself where the line circled in and around itself and through trees and over sidewalks with no clear beginning or ending and in fact was one continuous circular loop that represented the real world and the people who noticed and got out of line and went inside were the ones who had discovered the NeverWhere.

This announcement earned me dark looks, laughs, and three new friends and we exchanged contact information as a result of our nerdy fandom! 🙂

When I finally met Neil I didn’t even Fangirl-Fail!  I didn’t cry or squeak or say anything stupid.  I just beamed a smile at him and thanked him for his writing and for having the tour somewhere I could get to!  It was an event worth traveling to and I’m thrilled I got to meet him!  He even smiled at me!  I almost fell off the stairs right after we got our books signed because I was recounting the events of the previous minute wherein I had a book signed and was also smiled at by one of my favorite authors on his last ever book tour to Husband (who also happened to have been a part of that last minute…) luckily I recovered and made it down the stairs without mishap.

Neil Gaiman

Book Signing for the #1 Best Seller

Now I am off to read!

On Finding New Authors

I am a huge fan of @LAGilman and have read many the  books she’s published.  My particular favorites are the Paranormal Scene Investigations and Retrievers series.  In addition to loving the way she tells stories, her characters, the plots of her books, the language she uses, and the feeling I get when I read her books, I’ve also fallen in love with the physical books themselves.  These two wonderful series are published by LUNA Books, an imprint of the Canadian Harlequin publishing company. I love the large sized softcover books and the font/typeface and the cover art. In addition to Ms. Gilman’s wonderful series, I have enjoyed other series published by LUNA as well.  I am also a fan of Mercedes Lackey, CE Murphy, and Anne Kelleher as well.

Sometimes you love a book or are so intrigued by the story that you just have to know how it ends, so you pick up the next book in the series, and the next, and the next, until you have run out of books.  Then you look for something else to fill that space that only good fiction can fill in your imagination.  You look to other books an author has published.  When you have finally run out of books by an author… then where do you turn?  I turn to their website to find out when their next book is coming out!  Most of the time the odds are not in my favor and I have a while to wait. Then I turn to other authors and devour their books as well.  Sometimes when enough authors you enjoy have published books with the same publishing company, it is worth checking out other authors just because they have published books with the same company.  That is how I found a new series this past weekend.

As I was browsing a local bookstore this past Sunday my eye was caught by the LUNA logo on a series I had never heard of before.   I was not in the mood for a romance novel and was not in the romance section.  Sometimes I enjoy breezing through a romance novel for the (forgive me) novelty of it… but most of the time I enjoy more intrigue and conflict to my novels as opposed to heaving bosoms and lustful glances.  The LUNA books I’ve read often have a flair of romance to the stories; many times their books can even be found in Paranormal Romance sections of bookstores.  I don’t always agree with that classification because, for example, I’m more a fan of categorizing Ms. Gilman’s books as “Urban Fantasy” then “Paranormal Romance.”  That romance category just doesn’t lend the depth to the books I feel like they deserve… But back to the story.  I was browsing in the B section looking for a book I haven’t read yet by Steven Brust (which I found! woo!) when I saw a section by LUNA.  I pulled out a blue book called “The Song of Unmaking” by Caitlin Brennan and having read the back cover, it sounded fairly interesting.  I flipped through the over sized paperback’s pages; it was a similar font/typeface to the Retrievers!  I read the first line. I decided to buy the book.  But then I realized it was the second book in a series-a bittersweet revelation… On the one hand, “yay the series has more then one book!” On the other hand, “What if the first book isn’t as interesting as this one sounds?”

I checked out the first book.  It was called “The Mountain’s Call.”  It had horses on the cover…but so did the second book.  And a girl in a white dress looking distressed…the girl was on the second cover as well.  *sigh* I read the back.  *sigh* It did not sound like the book I was wandering around trying to find.  I read the first line.  I was not hooked like I was with the second book.  I decided to just buy the one instead of buying both.  Then I decided I wasn’t ready to commit and I was just going to carry it around the store with me until I made a decision about it.  (1: That’s how I shop.  2:I used to be indecisive, but now I’m not so sure. 3: This method totally works for decision making!)  As I was walking around my fingers slipped between the pages and my eyes slid across the first page.  Then the second page. Then they crept onto the third page and I almost ran into a wall.  I grinned and decided to buy the book.

Last night I decided to start the book before bed.  Sometimes books grab you right away and are hard to put down but I hadn’t invested in this book yet so I was willing to gamble.  Yeeaaahhhhh…. 246 pages later it was almost 1 in the morning and I was going to get less than 5 hours of sleep, IF I went to sleep RIGHT THEN, which of course I COULDN’T because then I wouldn’t know what was going to happen to Kerrec!  The insidiousness of Ms. Brennan’s chapter layouts are what got me.  Her book has a theme of patterns.  I noticed early on that approximately every 10 pages was a chapter break.  It lent the story a feeling of movement, a paced rhythm, a pattern.  (It is not something I would have noticed last year but now that I’m on the other side of having written my first novel, I notice things like paragraph breaks and points of view.)  10 pages does not feel like a lot when you are enjoying a story and want to know what is going to happen to the charming main character and all the odd twists her life has taken since she left home.  I fell into the “just one more chapter” trap and enjoyed every minute of it.  Tonight I sat down after work and finished the book.  And then I felt the need to write about it.  I think the book was charming.  It was not what I expected or thought I wanted but I was charmed while reading it and will be picking up the second one tomorrow. 🙂 I am not a “horse person”  I have ridden horses maybe twice in my life but I was not one of the horse crazy girls I was friends with in school.  I’ve spent countless hours in Valdemar with Companions and read and reread Kristen Britain’s Green Rider series with the magical messenger horses but I don’t read many “horse stories.”  I was not sure I would buy into the whole “Horse Gods” aspect of this new series.  As I was reading I realized it didn’t matter that I don’t know much about horses and don’t find them particularly interesting.  What was interesting was the main character who did care, passionately and successfully shared that passion with me as a reader that I was willing to suspend my disbelief and lose myself in a story about a girl who becomes a Rider of Gods who appear as horses.  Even though this was not a book I would normally have picked up, I’m glad that I did.  I’m glad that I took the chance because LUNA Books once again published an enchanting book.

I am excited about this new method of author finding that I’ve discovered.  I will have to continue to branch out and try new authors because that will help me grow as a reader and as a writer.  For now, I’m off to bed to make up for lost sleep… I will probably dream of white horses.