You Gotta Read These Books

I’ve been on a really great reading tear this summer. You know the kind — where the narrative threads are so bright, so strong, that the rest of your life gets helplessly knotted up, immobilized, until you finished because you can’t think about anything else.

In particular, there are three novels I’ve read, and two collections, one of essays, one of short fiction, that I must rave about.

In quick succession, I’ve devoured We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler, China Dolls by Lisa See, and The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine. The first is about a young woman’s troubled past with a family that used her as part of an ongoing primatology study, the second an historical coming-of-age tale about three first generation Chinese and Japanese women in California before and during WWII, the third a jazz-era reimagining of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. And as varied as they are, the books have two things in common — they are not SFnal or fantastical in any way and they all have this prose style that begs to be read aloud.

When it comes to the latter, that’s by far my favorite kind of voice. If alone in the apartment, the temptation to read passages, even whole chapters aloud, was often too great to ignore. I breathed in these books while reading; I babbled about these books to friends upon finishing.

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And while diving into these three I picked up and devoured, in an entirely different way, We Have Always Fought by Kameron Hurley. If the novels were air, this collection of essays was bread for a starving woman. Reading this alongside the stunning  June 2014 issue of Lightspeed magazine, Women Destroy Science Fiction, makes me remember why I do any of this — why I keep writing, why it’s important.

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And though I suppose I should expect a lull, looking ahead at what’s skipped to the top of the queue, I don’t think I’ll be disappointed. I’ve got Scatter, Adapt and Remember by Annalee Newitz on the go right now, and soon Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie, Hurley’s The Mirror Empire and her Bel Dame Apocrypha series. But first, Jo Walton’s My Real Children.

Looks like it’s shaping up to be a great fall reading season, too.

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