Friday, January 30, 2015

Jenny's Books Added January 2014

This has been a great book month, with quite a few titles coming in the mail and another full set in electronic format, most of those titles for review.  But they count because I have access to them and I may read them.  So I'll do this in two chunks. First, the physical items! 

Justine by Lawrence Durrell (audiobook)
Balthazar by Lawrence Durrell (audiobook)
Clea by Lawrence Durrell (audiobook)
The Sharpshooter Blues by Lewis Nordan
Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones
Growing Up in New Guinea by Margaret Mead
The Butterfly Mosque by G. Willow Wilson

Justine, Balthazar, and Clea are three books out of four of the Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell.  I actually think this may be the fourth copy of Justine to come into my house, but I've never tried listening to them in audio.  I'm missing one and it might be coming in a separate box. I love the covers on these, black and white photos. I've never made it past the second book, more because I was savoring them than I couldn't read them. I'm hoping they are fantastic in audio!  I did get these from Brilliance Audio to review, just full disclosure.

The Mead and the Jones are for my Oceania reading project. The Nordan is for my southern book group and Wilson is a book club pick for the ACRL Conference I'll be attending in March.  G. Willow Wilson is one of our keynote speakers and I'm looking forward to that! I need to track down copies of her Marvel comics and Alif the Unseen, a book I loved but had read from the library.

One of the great perks of being both a librarian and a blogger/podcaster is that publishers are interested in sending you review copies of books.   After the initial understandable reaction of READING ALL THE THINGS, I now only request books I have a specific interest in.  Apparently this month that has been quite a few titles. I use both NetGalley and Edelweiss.

Digital review copies:

At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen (NetGalley)
The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig (NetGalley)
A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson (Edelweiss)
The Glittering World by Robert Levy (NetGalley)
Our Only World: Eleven Essays by Wendell Berry
Words Without Music: A Memoir by Philip Glass

I do have reasons for requesting all of these! The Gruen? Cold weather island. The Haig? New post-apocalyptic series. The Atkinson? Follow-up to the very intriguing, very successful Life After Life. The Levy? Dark fantasy that I may or may not connect with considering who they claim it is similar to (Gaiman, Mott, etc.) The Berry? I need to read more of him and I've only read fiction. Glass? Only one of the most interesting living composers of our time. Can't wait!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Reading Envy 021: Amoebic Borders

Jenny and writer/editor/designer Darin Bradley sit down on a cold afternoon in the Reading Envy pub to discuss reading from a variety of perspectives. Get ready to add some books to your to-read lists!

Download or listen via this link: Reading Envy Episode 21

Subscribe to the podcast via this link: Feedburner

Or subscribe via iTunes by clicking: Subscribe

Darin is the author of three novels—Noise (2010), Chimpanzee (2014), and Totem (2016)—as well as co-editor of the literary fringe journal Bahamut and editor-in-chief of the experimental ezine Farrago's Wainscot. With a Ph.D. in Literature and Theory, he works as an acquisitions and production editor at Resurrection House, having previously spent a number of years teaching writing and literature at several universities. He has also worked as the principal video game writer at id Software and has served in various editorial and design capacities for a number of independent presses and journals. He lives in Texas with his wife, where he dreams of empty places.

Credits: Darin Bradley (bio), Erin Rambo (photo)

This episode is not sponsored by Microsoft. We swear!

Books and authors mentioned:
Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
Light Years by James Salter
Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany
The Names by Don DeLillo
Afterparty by Daryl Gregory
Kelly Link
Jeffrey Ford
Jonathan Lethem
China Mieville 
Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology edited by James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel
Trampoline: An Anthology edited by Kelly Link
Alfred Bester
Underworld by Don DeLillo
Falling Man by Don DeLillo
Totem by Darin Bradley (forthcoming)
Archangel by Marguerite Reed (forthcoming)
King of Shards by by Matthew Kressel (forthcoming)
We Dream of Water by Srdjan Smajic (forthcoming)
Chimpanzee by Darin Bradley - the audio play
Ready Player One by Ernst Cline
Word Made Flesh by Jack O'Connell
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig
Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey

Other mentions:
Farrago's Wainscot - a quarterly journal of the literary weird in fiction and poetry
Bahamut Journal -  a biannual journal of the progressive fringe in transnational literature
University of North Texas English Department - Special Events (includes information on Darin's reading)
Texas Book Festival

Stalk us online:
Darin Bradley 
Jenny at GoodReads
Jenny on Twitter

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Jenny's Library Books Mid-January

I had to post this after our podcast episode about reading goals for 2015 went live, otherwise this pile would have not exactly made sense.  But you can see my reading goals in this pile!  Doesn't January always start out that way, with great commitment to our goals?  Reading goals are no different (although I don't get tired of reading the way I get tired of, say, trying to not eat sugar.)

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
One Foot in Eden by Ron Rash
The Absolutist by John Boyne

The top three books are not related to New Guinea! Ferrante is an author I wanted to read so much she's on my goals list for the year. Ron Rash is the January selection for the On the Southern Literary Trail group in Goodreads, and I'm always trying to read more southern literature. The Boyne is for my in-person book club and possibly the first book I've read set in World War I.  I've started it already so I can pass it on to another book clubber before we meet, because our town only has two copies total.

Savage Harvest: by Carl Hoffman
The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies? by Jared Diamond
Michael Rockefeller: New Guinea Photographs, 1961
Gardens of War: Life and Death in the New Guinea Stone Age by Robert Gardner and Karl G. Heider
The Asmat of New Guinea by Michael Clark Rockefeller

The rest of the books are for my month of reading in and about New Guinea, both sides.  Three books have to do with Rockefeller - the newer book, Savage Harvest, is about Michael Rockefeller's death in New Guinea.  He died there but two of the other books in the pile are his photos and his journals, so clearly some items survived! Gardens of War is meant to read alongside another book I need to request from interlibrary loan, and the Jared Diamond will be quite an undertaking. I've always meant to read a book by him, and this one happens to be about the Danu people in New Guinea. Convenient!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Reading Envy 020: Goals!

Scott and Jenny gather by the fire in the Reading Envy Pub to discuss our reading goals for 2015.  It is January, we are excited about what is coming up on our reading lists, and we want to know about your reading goals as well.

Download or listen via this link: Reading Envy Episode 20

Subscribe to the podcast via this link: Feedburner

Or subscribe via iTunes by clicking: Subscribe

Books we read recently, an excerpt:

Harbinger (Star Trek, Vanguard #1) by David Mack
Four Corners: A Journey into the Heart of Papua New Guinea by Kira Salak

Reading Goals for 2015:

  1. World Literature - Southeast Asia, Oceania, Australia - read a bunch of books!
  2. Mighty Tomes - Dhalgren, and maybe a return to War and Peace
  3. Spy novels and memoirs. More spies. (Any recommendations?)
  4. Authors in translation - Elena Ferrante and Karl Ove Knaussgard
  5. Read the books from authors I might meet.


  1. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
  2. The Martian by Andy Weir
  3. Hyperion / Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons
  4. Don Quixote by Cervantes
  5. Inferno by Dante
  6. The Habit of Being by Flannery O'Connor
  7. Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal (if it gets released this year)
  8. A year with Gene Wolfe:
    JAN - The Shadow of the Torturer (1980)
    FEB - The Claw of the Conciliator (1981)
    MAR - The Sword of the Lictor (1982)
    APR - The Citadel of the Autarch (1983)
    MAY - The Urth of the New Sun (1987)
    JUN - Nightside the Long Sun (1993)
    JUL - Lake of the Long Sun (1994)
    AUG - Caldé of the Long Sun (1994)
    SEP - Exodus From the Long Sun (1996)
    OCT - On Blue's Waters (1999)
    NOV - In Green's Jungles (2000)
    DEC - Return to the Whorl (2001)

Stalk us online:
Jenny at GoodReads
Scott at GoodReads
Jenny on Twitter
Scott on Twitter
Scott on his blog

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Books Read in 2014 - the numbers

Total books read - 242
Total pages read - 63,963 (uncertain how audiobooks are counted)

eBook format - 56 (23%)
audiobook - 28 (12%)

Review copies, in print, eBook, or audiobook - 55 (23%)
Award nominees - 24 (9%) - Booker, Hugo, Nebula, Baileys, National Book Award - this number is lower than previous years

Creative non-fiction - 14 (6%) - all because I took that class!
Graphic novels - 5 (2%)
Poetry - 29 (12%) - thank you National Poetry Month!
Post-apocalyptic or dystopian - 20 (8%)
Science fiction or fantasy - 39 (16%) - down almost 10% from last year
Short stories - 18 (7%)

Southern lit - 25 (10%) - tracking because I want to read more Southern lit!

Author gender
Male - 114
Female - 116
Compilation/varied - 11

Jenny's Best of 2014 - the full list of five-starred books

I have taken the books I rated five stars in 2014 and categorized them below. Scott and I talked about some of this list already in our wrap-up podcast episode, but I wanted to include it in its entirety. I'm not even going to try to come up with a top ten since I rated over 40 books 5 stars! I've also added another five-star book to the list since we recorded.


Fiction - non-speculative ("literary," short stories, world lit)
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon
What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us by Laura van den Berg
Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt
One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B. J. Novak
Frances and Bernard by Carlene Bauer
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
Orfeo by Richard Powers
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
Complete Stories by Flannery O’Connor


Fiction - speculative (sci-fi, fantasy, horror, weird, dystopia)
The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year (Volume 8) edited by Jonathan Strahan
The End is Nigh edited by Hugh Howey and John Joseph Adams
Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang
The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne
Her Smoke Rose Up Forever by James Tiptree Jr.
Chimpanzee by Darin Bradley
The Future for Curious People Gregory Sherl
Annihilation (Southern Reach Trilogy, #1) by Jeff VanderMeer

There's a Box in the Garage You Can Beat With a Stick by Michael Teig
The World's Wife by Carol Ann Duffy
Fifteen Iraqi Poets
Modernist Women Poets: An Anthology
Blue Horses by Mary Oliver
The Open Door: One Hundred Poems, One Hundred Years of "Poetry" Magazine
Slow Lightning by Eduardo C. Corral

Non-fiction - business, informational, history
The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression by Andrew Solomon
A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power by Jimmy Carter
The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce's Ulysses by Kevin Birmingham

Non-fiction - essays, memoir, creative non-fiction, writing
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel
The Writing Life by Annie Dillard
The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby
Tell It Slant: Writing and Shaping Creative Nonfiction
Rough Likeness: Essays by Lia Purpura
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard
Holy the Firm by Annie Dillard

Non-fiction - cookbooks

Heritage by Sean Brock
Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round by Marisa McClellan