Wednesday, July 11, 2018

What Are You Reading?

By The Writing Bug Staff


At a recent gathering of writers, our TBR piles popped up in conversation. Of course, it did, we're all addicts. Some of the titles bandied about were unfamiliar to me. Approximately, 400 thousand books were published in the U.S. last year. Yes, that's the U.S. only. 

Holy Kittenbritches!

I know many of us, okay, maybe only me, set some time aside in the summer to read. It is a thing we should be doing as writers. Everyone says so.

If you don't have time to read, you don't have time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.

--Stephen King

There is no way we're keeping up with them all. So I thought, Hmmm, I wonder what TWB staff is reading to beat the heat. 

Opinions are the writers' own and don't reflect endorsement by Northern Colorado Writers. How's that for immunity?


The Gunners by Rebecca Kauffman. 

The story revolves around six childhood friends who reconnect as adults when one of them commits suicide. The remaining five come together for the funeral. I thought the premise intriguing, and it was reviewed in the NYT Book Review, so I thought it would reach a particular bar of decent storytelling. 

I was disappointed because the basis for their friendship was never fully established. I didn't have any feelings for them as characters, with possibly one exception. Several storylines were quickly breezed over; and the character who committed suicide wasn't fleshed out at all, as a matter of fact, she rarely spoke and was for the most part off stage. The reason for her death wasn't investigated for even a millisecond. 

All the other friends were at one time in love with her, but her death was glossed over as "she lived a hard life and was depressed." There was a lot of potential in this story that wasn't realized. 


Signal by Patrick Lee

Decent literary popcorn. Some of the seeming violations of the story rules were offputting, but let's hold on to the possibility that they were explained away and I wasn't smart enough to catch it. Overall, a thriller yarn involving intelligence stuff, military background, and a little sci-fi, just a little, that was easy to read and kept me interested and turning the pages to see how it came out.

Laura (copy editor at large)

Girlish: Growing Up in A Lesbian Home by Lara Lillibridge

This book surprised me. Here's the backstory: I follow Lara on Twitter. She gave me access to an ARC, via NetGalley. Her writing is pretty clean (and I never have expectations of perfection with an ARC, because another level of proofreading will occur). 

This book reminded me in many ways of Jeannette Wall's The Glass Castle, which I could hardly bear to read, though I loved the "prequel" about Wall's grandmother, Half Broke Horses. Lillibridge's childhood was not an easy one, nor was her adulthood until recently. 

But her writing style made the roughest elements bearable. It was ingenious, really. She referred to herself as Girl. Her mom was Mother, her mom's wife was referred to as Stepmother, and so on. Occasionally, Lillibridge had Notes from the Fourth Wall, in which she did write in the first person. My convoluted feelings about this book had to do with the subject material, but that's a lengthy discussion for another time, probably over alcohol.


Monsters All The Way Down by Ryan McSwain

I just finished a book called Monsters All the Way Down by independent author Ryan McSwain. It's a paranoia-inducing horror/thriller that might have been a child of Philip K. Dick and H. P. Lovecraft. 

I thoroughly enjoyed McSwain's latest novel Four Color Bleed that deals with the world slowly turning into a comic book universe. Both books were great, but Four Color Bleed was fantastic, and the one I'd recommend to anyone interested in McSwain's work.


Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant is a weird character who I grew to love over the course of the book. She minded her own very structured and regimented life when a chance encounter with a stranger turned her world upside down, leading her to finally face her tragic past. 

Gail Honeyman’s writing style is superb. I highly recommend this book.


Artemis by Andy Weir

I picked this audiobook as a compromise with The Beard on a road trip. I should mention I didn't love The Martian in novel form, though I enjoyed the movie because it culled the length of the story well. This is the sort of techno preachy science book I'm accused of writing. Ouch. I also don't love Rosario Dawson, who was the narrator. Sue me.

I think many of you know, as a writer, it's tough to distance yourself from a story, and it's a rare book that surprises me plot-wise. This book wasn't one of them. I also found it problematic Weir wrote a female protagonist, kudos, but turned her into the male gaze tough, independent female character trope. 

Weir does have a great, earthy take on the realities of space travel and I am a fan of concrete science-based fiction. He creates a tangible world where the socioeconomic class system is well illustrated by the microcosm of a tiny colony. Weir also pays loving homage to NASA and the Apollo program. I liked the world he built just not the POV we're given.

If it had been a hard copy book, I would have ended up skimming a good portion of it. That said, if someone turns it into a tight screenplay, I'd probably see the film. 

We'd love to know what you just finished! Leave those titles in the comments!

1 comment:

Patricia Stoltey said...

I love seeing what other people are reading and recommending (or not). I picked up Artemis at the library so it's on my coffee table for this weekend. I'll still give it a shot because my husband and I both liked The Martian novel.

I'm just finishing up a thriller by Colorado author L.S. Hawker called End of the Road -- fast pacing and an interesting protagonist. Lots of geeky computer stuff in this story but it didn't distract me from the plot.

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