Books Read Jan—June 2020

Novels, novellas, short stories, poems, manga, comics, and audiobooks read during the pandemic. I recently finished a U.S. History course: 1619-1877. I have included the chapters and scholarly articles from the class because the subject matter is very timely. I feel extremely fortunate that I was able to take a history course that heavily analyzed the origins of slavery and the roots of systemic racism in this country. I am not an expert by any means now, but I have a deeper understanding of the conflicts (to say the least) that persist into today.

From the history class:

Note: There is dated and inappropriate terminology in some of these article and journal titles. They illustrate the necessity for academia as a whole to update the language we use and the language we preserve.

Columbus and the Recovery of Jerusalem: Abbas Hamdani, Journal of the American Oriental Society vol. 99 no. 1 1979.

The Ohio Indians and the Coming of the American Revolution in Virginia: Woody Holton, The Journal of Southern History vol. 60 no. 3 August 1994.

“Rebel against Rebel”: Enslaved Virginians and the Coming of the American Revolution: Woody Horton. The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography vol. 105 no. 2 Spring 1997.

Did Democracy Cause the Recession that Led to the Constitution: Woody Holton.

An “Excess of Democracy”: Or a Shortage?: The Federalists’ Earliest Adversaries: Woody Holton. Journal of the Early Republic vol. 25 no. 3 Fall 2005.

“From the Labours of Others”: The War Bonds Controversy and the Origins of the Constitution in New England: Woody Holton. The William and Mary Quarterly vol. 61 no. 2 April 2004.

Evangelicalism and the Meaning of the Proslavery Argument: The Reverend Thornton Stringfellow of Virginia: Drew Gilpin Faust. The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography vol 85 no. 1 1977.

The General Strike and The Coming of the Lord from Black Reconstruction in America: An Essay Toward a History of the Part Which Black Folk Played in the Attempt to Reconstruct Democracy in America: W. E. B. Du Bois.

Our Laborers Are Our Property and Each Person Works for Himself: the Ideal and Reality of Free Labor from Half Slave and Half Free: Bruce Levine.

1619: Jamestown and the Forging of American Democracy: James Horn.

Reading for fun:

Gazpacho: Elena Georgiou (short story)

Cells at Work vol. 1: Akane Shimizu

Vengeance of Vampirella vol. 1, 2: Thomas Sniegoski

Guilt by Association: Gregory Ashe

Made in Abyss vol. 7, 8: Akihito Tsukushi

Heir to the Shadows: Anne Bishop

Another manuscript by my awesome writer friend Kathy 🙂

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Collection vol. 1: Peter Laird

Shadow Prowler: Alexey Pehov, read by MacLeod Andrews (audiobook)

Stone of Fire: JF Penn, read by Veronica Giguere (audiobook)

Crypt of Stone: JF Penn, read by Veronica Giguere (audiobook)

Ark of Blood: JF Penn, read by Veronica Giguere (audiobook)

Necroscope: Brian Lumley, read by James Langton (audiobook)

Attack of the Necron: Cavan Scott, read by David Tennant (audiobook)

I Am Slaughter: Dan Abnett, read by Gareth Armstrong (audiobook)

Crusade: Andy Clark, read by John Banks (audiobook)

Brotherhood of Secrets: Christie Stratos

Inceptio: Alison Morton

When Worlds Begin: Megan O’Russell

The Girl from the Market: Alison Morton

Conrad and Carina’s Roman Holiday: Alison Morton

Rogue Skies: Missy de Graff et. al. (anthology)

The Masque of Vyle: Andy Chambers

Through My Fingertips: Cristina-Monica Moldoveanu (poetry collection)

A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo: Marlon Bundo

The Sandman: Master of Dreams #1: Neil Gaiman and Sam Kieth

Favorites:

Favorite Novel:

Shadow Prowler by Alexey Pehov. Hands down. This is a re-read so that tells you something. This high fantasy, sword and sorcery adventure is not another stereotypical cliche. The characters are fully developed, diverse, and do not follow the standard tropes…well, the protagonist is a snarky asshole…that’s kind of a trope. But he’s an entertaining snarky asshole who is a snarky asshole because that’s who he is, not because the author needs him to be one to move the plot along.

Favorite Audiobook:

Attack of the Necron. Because David Tennant. David Tennant reading Warhammer 40K.

Favorite manga/comic:

TNMT. Because childhood. And seriously, there are so many adult jokes I missed when I read this as a kid.

Favorite short piece:

Gazpatcho by Elena Georgio. From her short fiction collection The Immigrant’s Refrigerator. I’m working on reading the rest of the stories in this collection. I love this particular one because it illustrates the value of human life and the boundlessness of compassion through the dangers of border crossing. And the writing is heart wrenchingly stellar.

Photo by Ed Robertson on Unsplash

Poem of a Poet I Admire

after the death of Wislawa Szymborska

February 1, 2012

I take the petit four

of your poem and put

it in my mouth,

let my tongue soak it up—

soft words

dissolving

soft as a

spring weekend

—inhale the sugar flower.

The decadent scrim

of icing glosses over

everything.

The sun rises and the sun

sets and I eat

this cake and you are

no longer here. In this world

a violet grows at the edge

of yard and street,

efficiently crystallizes

into another poet’s

greedy panting

despite your vacant house,

your supercilious cat,

and your mouth that

will never eat cake again.

I am eating

cake and I am not

efficient. Pieces of your

poem clot against my teeth

and I cannot speak.

*

This poem was first published in Requiem Magazine and appears in both my chapbooks. I put it in both Girl + Muse and Lupercalia because I love it and the poetry of Wislawa Szymborska very much. Saying I love her work isn’t enough, really, but it’s the best I can do now.

When I was growing up, as a baby poet in college, surrounded by all the “great voices” my creative writing professors had raging boners for told me I had to read and respect because they were the great, white male voices, Szymborska kept me out of the mindset of conformity and academic elitism because she wrote about real struggle, real human suffering so perfectly. Her and Ginsberg.

Note: My grad school professors were much better than my college professors.

Here’s an article from the Poetry Foundation about the great WS.

Here’s my favorite poem by her.

*

Photo by Deva Williamson on Unsplash

I just want to say I know the cake in this picture isn’t a petit four. I scoured the internet looking for not copywritten pictures of petit fours and couldn’t find one that fitted my feelings. This cake works. If you have a picture of a gorgeous, yummy pastry, please share it with me. Thanks!

Check out my chapbooks here 🙂

Things I Read Aug. Through Dec. 2019

Books. Novellas. Short Stories. Scholarly Articles. Comics and Manga.

Fifteen Hours: Mitchel Scanlon

Knee Deep: Mitchel Scanlon

Death World: Steve Lyons

The Thing About Shapes to Come: Adam-Troy Castro

Seven Wonders of a Once and Future World: Caroline M. Yoachim

Ruby Slippers: Susan Wade

The Naturalist: Maureen F. McHugh

Serious Moonlight #2: The Razor Thin Edge: JG Cain

Broken: Maya Goode

Redemption Through Sacrifice: Justin Woolley

Made in Abyss vol. 1-6: Akihito Tsukushi

Dark Son: Gav Thorpe

Void Crossed: JC Stearns

The Curse of Shaa-dom: Gav Thorpe

Left for Dead: Steve Lyons

The Strong Among Us: Steve Lyons

Phoenix Rising: The Gift of Hope: Andy Clark

Sabriel: Garth Nix

Half a King: Joe Abercrombie

Pretty Pretty Boys: Gregory Ashe

Transposition: Gregory Ashe

Paternity Case: Gregory Ashe

Off Duty: Gregory Ashe

Battle Angel Alita: Last Order vol 1-2: Yukito Kishiro

Red Lanterns vol. 1-3: Peter Milligan, Miguel Sepulveda, Ed Benes, Rob Hunter

Daughter of the White River: Depression-Era Treachery & Vengeance in the Arkansas Delta: Denise White Parkinson

Favorites

Novella: Fifteen Hours: Mitchel Scanlon

Manga: Made in Abyss: Akihito Tsukushi (seriously cried for HOURS)

Short Story: The Naturalist: Maureen F. McHugh

Miscellaneous Comments

I didn’t read a lot of “deep” literary masterpieces this half of the year (or maybe I did depending on your point of view). My brain wasn’t in it. I needed my comfort literature. Which is Warhammer 40K. Because.

But I have to say my favorite novel of this half of the year is Pretty Pretty Boys by Gregory Ashe, and not just because it’s fresh on my mind because I just finished reading it. This is a self-published book and it is phenomenal. The writing is excellent, the characters are extremely tangible and well developed. The plot pacing and mystery execution are very well done (I’m not an expert by any means in the genre and I can’t tell “good” device formula from a hole in the ground).

But most importantly, this book grabbed me by the collar and shook me very hard. I had to stop and take a break for a minute. I think I even had a nightmare. Because this book also deals with very heavy themes. Bullying, suicide, hate crimes, persecution. It takes serious skill to blend real-world issues with a genre and not have them come together superficially or tacky. I love it when books can grab me in these visceral ways when I’m not expecting it. Ashe is well worth your time. Seriously. Good stuff.

And to the amazing Maureen F. McHugh: a friend of mine and I agree, there needs to be more of The Naturalist. What’s his story? What happened to him? He needs a book all to himself. Thanks.

Things I Read Dec.-Nov. 2018ish Through July 2019

This is documentation and record keeping.

This is a third attempt at archival work.

In no particular order.

Books. Novellas. Short Stories. Scholarly Articles.

The Beasts Who Fought for Fairyland Until the Very End and Further Still: Catherynne M. Valente

Wounded: Laurell K. Hamilton

Guilty Pleasures: Laurell K. Hamilton

The Laughing Corpse: Laurell K. Hamilton

Circus of the Damned: Laurell K. Hamilton

Beauty: Laurell K. Hamilton

Shut Down: Laurell K. Hamilton

Goblin Slayer vols. 1-3: Kumo Kagyu

Daughter of the Blood: Anne Bishop

Battle Angel Alita vols. 5-9: Yukito Kishiro

Battle Angel Alita Mars Chronicle vols. 1-2: Yukito Kishiro

Too Wyrd, Runespells #1: Sarah Buhrman

Magpie: A Collection of Really Short Stories: Carrie Mumford

Pisces-Silver Blood Collection: D.N. Leo

Binti: Nnedi Okorafor

Binti: Home: Nnedi Okorafor

Binti: The Night Masquerade: Nnedi Okorafor

Claymore vols. 1-4: Norihiro Yagi

The Long Walk: Stephen King as Richard Bachman

The Name of the Wind: Patrick Rothfuss

The Wise Man’s Fear: Patrick Rothfuss

Lists I Left for My Sister: Rosamund Hodge

A Reminiscence of Dr. Samuel Johnson: H.P. Lovecraft

Polaris: H. P. Lovecraft

The Beast in the Cave: H.P. Lovecraft

The Alchemist: H.P. Lovecraft

The Tomb: H.P. Lovecraft

Dagon: H.P. Lovecraft

Ghost Sniper: David Healy

Hot Head: Damon Suede

Mission: Protect the Ex: Alina Popescu

Strength to Let Go: Tales of the Werewolf Tribes Book One: Alina Popescu

Penal Units in the Red Army: Alex Statiev: Europe-Asia Studies vol. 62 no. 5 (July 2010)

Love in the Time of Global Warming: Francesca Lia Block

The Collector: Titainborn Universe Book Zero: Rhett Bruno

Parable of the Sower: Octavia Butler

The Big Flash: Norman Spinrad

The Cruel Prince: Holly Black

The Lost Sisters: Holly Black

The Wicked King: Holly Black

Red Queen: Victoria Aveyard

Giovanni’s Room: James Baldwin

Relic of the Mad Poet: A Journey to the Tree Of Sorrows Story: E. H. Robinson

Berserk vols. 1-2: Kentaro Miura

Of Children, and Houses, and Hope: Aliette De Bodard

In Morningstar’s Shadow: Aliette De Bodard

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: George R. R. Martin

Every River Runs to Salt: Rachel K. Jones

The Second Wish: Brian Lumley

The Sun, the Sea, and the Silent Scream: Brian Lumley

Favorites

Favorite Book: Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler

Favorite Novella: Every River Runs to Salt, Rachel K. Jones

Favorite Short Story: Lists I Left for My Sister, Rosamund Hodge

Miscellaneous Comments

I enjoyed A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms and Love in the Time of Global Warming more than I thought I would. I was reminded a lot of Block’s Primavera and thought the writing was much more vivid than in Necklace Of Kisses and Elementals.

I was disappointed with Holly Black’s new Folk of the Air Series. The “bad boy” really isn’t that bad and the heroine falls a bit flat compared to the characters in Tithe, Valiant, and The Darkest Part of the Forest. I don’t know if I’ve just *gasp* grown up a little bit or she intentionally wrote those characters to be less complex (than those in her other series) and more obvious caricatures of tropes for wider accessibility/a specific type of audience. However, I will read all the books because I am invested in all her work and am immensely grateful for her efforts in reviving the Bordertown stories. And the Zombies vs. Unicorns anthology she co-edited with Justine Larbalestier is amazing. Don’t judge me for not making it through the Spiderwick Chronicles yet. I’ll get there eventually.

My godfather gave me his copy of Every River Runs to Salt and I am so glad he did. It will probably have a permanent home in my Re-Read Pile.

I feel like I’ve stepped too far away from poetry this year, writing and reading it. I’ve neglected the work and writers that bouyed me up in grad school. This is bad because poetry is the life blood. I am a salt covered slug without it. I will make an attempt to spend the rest of the year injecting more poetry into my life.