Tag-Archive for » tbr-in-2012 «

Monday, March 12th, 2012 | Author:

My progress in getting through my to-be-read shelf has taken two big hits lately. First, the pull-chain on my bedside lamp broke. Which wouldn’t have been quite such an issue if the lamp wasn’t also my bedside table, and kind of too expensive to just replace entirely. Fortunately, my husband isn’t afraid of wiring, and after a trip to Home Depot – and about a thousand reminders from me to take care of it, please – he fixed the light. Hooray! I could read in bed again!

Just in time for Mass Effect 3 to be released! For those who don’t know, that’s the final installment in a pretty seriously epic video game series, of which I have been an embarrassingly fervent fangirl since 2007. So of course I had to play it right away, which means that all my leisure time has been spent in front of the TV for the past week or so.

Of course, just because I haven’t been reading much doesn’t mean that I’ve left my TBR shelf completely alone. No, I’ve been adding to it. I’m still managing not to buy any new books, but that’s not slowing me down as much as I thought it might. That many Smashwords authors celebrated the recent “Read an Ebook Week” by making titles available for free with a discount code didn’t help a bit – I think I’ve downloaded another 30+ titles since my last blog post. Oops.

I have a really funny story about my out-of-control urge to obtain new books, actually. It’s also a funny story about drugs – but nothing too scandalous! The drug in question is zolpidem – many people know it by the brand name Ambien – which is used to treat insomnia. It’s pretty effective, and I’m glad to have it when I need it, because sleep is one of those things that one can’t really do without (trust me). But it turns out that for lots of people – myself included, on occasion – being asleep while on zolpidem doesn’t necessarily mean being in bed with your eyes closed and snoring and so on.

Sometimes it means performing fairly complex tasks just as though you were awake, only without the awake part. Most often, this just means weird conversations which you won’t remember – though the person you share a bed with will, and he will make merciless fun of you for your philosophical musings about what responsibilities you as a creator have to the imaginary hedgehogs sitting on your stomach – but it can also involve a lot more activity than that.

I’ve sent emails in my sleep and chatted with friends over Google Talk using my phone, and once got out of bed and went into another room to fetch a cookbook so that I could look up a recipe for creamed onions. Luckily for me, I don’t say anything when I’m asleep that I wouldn’t have said while awake in my emails, and my grammar is much better than that of my friends who drunk-text, so no one gives me too much of a hard time over it. And when I looked up the onion recipe, I carefully marked the place and set my copy of Joy of Cooking down next to the bed so I’d trip on it in the morning and remember what I had done, but I didn’t actually try to cook.

But it’s usually just plain old sleeping, and since I’ve never done anything dangerous or really embarrassing while on zolpidem, I keep using it when I have insomnia.

Which is how I came to download a book in my sleep.

Yes, that’s right. Apparently not content with my waking book haul, I got out of bed, came into the study, looked up a title I was interested in on Amazon (I had read earlier in the day on a forum that it would soon be offered for free), and had it sent to the Kindle app on my phone, all while completely checked out.

I was pretty confused when I woke up in the morning and saw that I had mysteriously acquired a new book overnight, that’s for sure. Luckily, it was actually free by the time I hit that seductive “Buy now with 1-Click” button. I’m just glad that I didn’t suddenly have a sleep-addled urge to buy anything else – who knows what I could have ended up with!

Well, more books, probably.

I should probably start turning my electronics off before bedtime, huh?

By the way, there’s still time to help my work make it into Circlet Press’s best-of print anthology! Just go to the poll here and vote for “A Woman of Uncommon Accomplishment” by Elizabeth Reeve (from Sense & Sensuality) before March 15th.

Want to read an excerpt first? I’ve posted one here on my site.

Thanks for your support!

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Monday, February 20th, 2012 | Author:

It’s been a couple of weeks since I posted about my resolution to cut down my TBR shelf, and I figure it’s time for a check-in. On the plus side, I’ve read 12 books from the tbr-in-2012 collection! On the minus side, I seem to have added…33.

Oh my god, it’s a sickness! These were all freebie books, at least, so I’m not breaking my secondary resolution about not buying anything new for a couple of months, but still.

Because they were free, though, I picked up lots of things I probably wouldn’t have taken a chance on if I was making a purchase, so I’m anticipating one of several desirable outcomes per book, here:

  • I like something new and unexpected! Hooray!
  • I dislike something new so much that I won’t be tempted to get more of it. Hooray!
  • I don’t finish the book, free of the “but you paid for it” obligation that often keeps me going with an unsatisfactory read. Hooray!

As for the 12 books that I’ve managed to remove from the TBR shelf… I have a few thoughts to share about a handful of them.

Primary Inversion, by Catherine Asaro, was one of the first things I read this year, and an interesting way to kick-start 2012. It’s very 90′s-space-opera-y, complete with a lot of specialized terminology for things that ends up reading like calling a rabbit a smeerp, except that the things being described don’t exist, or didn’t exist at the time the author was writing (unlike rabbits). That sounds like a heavy criticism, but I don’t mean it that way – futuristic tech and the technobabble that goes with it is a convention of the genre. I definitely noticed it more in Primary Inversion than I sometimes do, but it wasn’t any kind of barrier to getting sucked into the plot, which combines elements of romance with action-adventure and interplanetary politics. Fun!

Primary Inversion also has something that I don’t see a lot of in fiction of any stripe and really appreciated: therapy. I know, right? But really, psychologists and psychiatrists are usually shallowly portrayed as forces inimical to the heroes when they make it into something like a space opera at all, which is too bad. Because who needs therapy more than super soldiers? Asaro seems to have had similar thoughts, and the conversations between Sauscony, the heroine of Primary Inversion, and Jak Tager, the “heartbender” (aka psychiatrist), are well-written and affecting.

There was one barrier to my full enjoyment, which is that the version I was reading was riddled with minor typographical errors. I got it from the Baen Free Library, so I’m not inclined to complain much since the price was pretty excellent, but the errors are something that I would have happily done without. I have no idea if other editions of the novel are better copy-edited.

Earlier this month, I (re)read some really classic sci-fi in the form of Phillip K. Dick’s “Second Variety,” a novelette-length story that I first read as a preteen and which has haunted me ever since. I find the protagonist less interesting every time I read it, but my fascination with the story as a whole is constant. If you’ve never read it, you should get yourself a copy.

In “branching out a little from science fiction” reading, another thing I’ve read since January and heartily enjoyed is Wen Spencer’s A Brother’s Price, which reads more or less like fantasy, though there aren’t any magical elements. The speculative angle to the story is that male babies are very rare, creating an interesting social organization where sisters share a husband, and brothers and sons are trade commodities.

I read some reviews of the novel that take Spencer to task for “failing” to write a gender-swapped universe that is pro-feminist (because corruption and coercion exists even with women in charge and/or because there are female rapists, among other reasons), which I think are a little misguided, mostly because I don’t think A Brother’s Price is an attempt to write a gender-swapped universe, pro-feminist or otherwise (and also because I don’t subscribe to the form of feminism that holds that women are intrinsically better than men and that therefore a matriarchy would be automatically awesome, but that’s another issue entirely).

I can’t say that with any certainty, of course, since I haven’t the slightest notion what Spencer meant to do (this is a thing that I wish more reviewers would keep in mind!), but the writing is skillful and the plotting precise, and I don’t think it would have escaped an experienced writer’s notice as she worked that the society in this book isn’t just a flip-flop of our own, in terms of gender – the scarcity of one sex is what drives the (very interesting!) social organization, and it only works if the scarcity is of males, for pretty basic and obvious biological reasons.

That brothers are rare and must be protected against husband-raiders, etc., does set up some interesting gender-role stuff, though, in that Spencer’s young hero acts much like the sheltered heroines of fantasy romance. Which means that the royal princesses, sisters all heading into any prospective marriage together, are the hero, complete with a tendency toward romance-alpha-male-type seduction of the heroine.

So, it’s basically a historical-style romance where the hero is a bunch of princesses and the heroine is a young man with overbearing-but-loving sisters and there are all sorts of political machinations and skullduggery and battles and things. I loved it.

Okay, enough of that. It’s back to the book mines for me!

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Sunday, February 05th, 2012 | Author:

I don’t usually make New Year’s Resolutions, mostly because I always forget. And the sorts of things that I would probably resolve to do are the sorts of things I get all resolve-y about as soon as I think of them anyway, rather than waiting for a new calendar year. Which is a good thing, since my moments of pledging to do better tend to be about housework, which can pretty much never wait until the next available January.

But! This year, I made a resolution! In 2012, I am going to read through at least half of my to-be-read shelves – those books that pile up whenever I buy the next hot thing or see a sale or discover a new favorite author and snag her backlist…until they fill multiple physical shelves and an equal number of virtual ones.

I swore this on the sword of my ancestors – by which I mean, I said it out loud in front of my husband and the parakeet, at least one of whom was probably even paying attention – and then started to worry almost immediately. I didn’t resolve to read all of my TBR books, because I’m not a hopeless optimist, but would I be able to manage even half? I ran from bookcase to bookcase and fired up my reader software and did a quick count, determining that a rough half of my TBR pile at that very instant would be about 60 books. Oh my.

So I made a second resolution, which was to not buy any new books until April, at least. Two things immediately happened. First, I started really wanting a lot of new books. I mean, I always really want new books. But this was the “put my credit card somewhere inaccessible, quick!” level of book coveting. Second, while I was distracted by my intense focus on not buying any books, I somehow managed to download something like a dozen new titles that I got for free one place or another.

Self! What the hell? This is not helpful!

But… Free books! You can understand my weakness, I’m sure.

In any case, though I have been ever-so-good about not buying anything, my TBR pile has actually gotten larger since January. And I’m pretty sure that if I tried to keep myself from downloading freebies (limited time offers!) as well as making new purchases my head would explode, so I suspect that will keep happening.

So I’m going to refine my resolution a little bit. The goal now is to read at least 60 books over the coming year that I already owned before…um…let’s go with “today.” I should probably date that back to January 1st, but I received books as presents over the holidays and some of them not until after the new year and blah blah blah – the goal here is to prevent cranial fireworks, right? Right.

Here’s what I’m going to do:

  • Go through the house and actually catalogue all of the physical TBR books and add them to my Goodreads account with a handy-dandy new shelf tag (tbr-in-2012 has a nice ring to it, I think).
  • Do the same with my ebooks.
  • Read at least 60 of these bad boys in the coming year.

And here are some things I’m going to try to do:

  • Don’t buy new books until April! (Hey, I said it in front of the parakeet. He’ll be disappointed in me if I renege.)
  • Read at least three books from the TBR before every new book purchase after April. (Hahahaha!)

And hey, while I’m at it:

  • Blog about this regularly, because my efforts to stick to it are sure to be hilarious.
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