What I’m Reading

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Book It!

My goal this year is just to manage to read 1 book a month. So far, I'm keeping up with that, and even exceeding a bit, as I've somehow managed to complete 2 books so far in February.

I started the year with one of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels, Wyrd Sisters.  My copy is one of the beautiful Gollancz editions from the Discworld Collector's Library.  I love it both because it was absolutely beautiful and because I enjoyed the story.

Wyrd Sisters book cover

Wyrd Sisters is one of the Witch novels in the Discword series.  This particular novel follows Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and Magrat as they are thrown into the politics of their kingdom when the murdered king's son and only heir is suddenly given to them.  In the novel we get to see the boy grow up as he makes his own destiny, all the while, the witches are trying to save their kingdom from the current rule of a tyrant.

This novel has some great references to Shakespeare, starting in the 1st scene of the novel, which mirrors the beginning of Macbeth, with witches meeting in the woods.  And, as with the rest of his works, Pratchett works in an amazing amount of humor.

Some of my favorite lines from this novel include -

Only in our dreams are we free. The rest of the time we need wages.

The duke had a mind that ticked like a clock and, like a clock it regularly went cuckoo.

Granny Weatherwax was often angry. She considered it one of her strong points.  Genuine anger was one of the world's greatest creative forces. But you had to learn how to control it. That didn't mean that you let it trickle away. It meant you dammed it, carefully, let it drown whole valleys of the mind, and then just when the whole structure was about to collapse, opened a tiny pipeline at the base and let the iron-hard stream of wrath power the turbines of revenge.

It is true that words have power, and one of the things they are able to do is get out of someone's mouth before the speaker has a chance to stop them.

Destiny is important, see, but people go wrong when they think it controls them. It's the other way around.

I also recently finished the collection of stories, Half Gods, by Akil Kumarasamy.  This was a book I discovered on the bookoutlet.com website.  I often like to go to their site and peruse their selection of books. I click on covers I like, and if the description sounds remotely interesting, I order it. I've discovered a lot of authors that way.

The collection of short stories in Half Gods follows a family of Tamil refugees, who immigrated to America at the onset of the Sri Lankan civil war.  Each story focuses on one member of the family or someone in their immediate circle.  These stories manage to weave together the story of the family in the most interesting of ways.

When reading this book, I would often start a new story and have no idea who the narrator was until several paragraphs in, as the story began to unfold.  Looking at this family from so many different perspectives shone a light on the many facets of their lives and their family dynamic.  I came to find a connection with each of the character's journeys, so different from my own. I also found that the lyrical writing of the novel connected me more deeply to the stories.

The stories in the book take on a variety of tough topics such as civil war, famine, religion, and poverty, but in the end, to me, the book is about family.

Half Gods book cover

Some of my favorite lines in this book included:

Why do a few sad events have to make a whole life unhappy?

Alone in the house, Rasheed & I waited for life to reveal itself.  We would climb onto the roof after the sky had darkened. We could hear birds but not see them, and we called out to the unseen, to the world around us.

Is the end the beginning or is the beginning the end?

The books I most recently completed is another collection of short stories, this one written by Denis Johnson and entitled The Largesse of the Sea Maiden.  I found this book at one of my local bookshops, Bluestocking Social.

Largesse of the Sea Maiden book cover

This particular collection is interesting in that the stories fit together in the feeling that they inspire, but that they also don't have any common links to connect the stories. No recurring characters or locations, just an odd sense of sadness and ennui that I couldn't shake while reading.

Nevertheless, I did enjoy reading this collection of stories.  And in the last few days, since finishing the book, the stories have stayed with me. An aging poet obsessed with Elvis, an old man dying of cancer. People who somehow face the darkness of life and manage to go on.

My favorite lines:

I note that I've lived longer in the past now, than I can expect to live in the future. I have more to remember than I have to look forward to. Memory fades, not much of the past stays, and I wouldn't mind forgetting more of it.

The Past just left. Its remnants, I claim, are mostly fiction. We're stranded here with the threadbare patchwork of memory, you with yours, I with mine.

What have you been reading lately?

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