Fav Books of 2022 (+2021)

Well, hell. Hello. Been a tick, hasn’t it?

I don’t talk about my favorite books often enough and I didn’t come back around at the end of 2021 to share what were my top reads were for that year. Can’t let 2022 slide without fixing that mistake.

Read 65-odd books over the course of the year, which is not bad for me. As usual it was a mix of current releases, books from my TBR shelf, and random things I came across that in the moment I decided to pick up. For 2023, I’m trying to be more thoughtful in what I’m picking up and why. And as ever, each book gets written and thought about in my reading journal. Makes it easy to go back and pick out my faves.

My tastes are definitely squarely in the fantasy camp with a good vein of horror running through it. Looks like I read less and less straight up science fiction as I get older. I want weird, I want fabulous, I want truth, I want reflection, I want character, I want texture, I want history and I want now. You ready for the books I read this past year that fit those criteria?

Let’s go!

THE BLUE SWORD by Robin McKinley

This is one of those books that I’ve heard about for years as being a seminal fantasy book, the kind you read when you’re young that forever alters your cool meter and your tastes. My first comment in the journal entry is, “I would have lived and died for this book had I read it when it was first published in 1982. No, really, this book would have been my everything.” Horses, magic, strange lands, wars, and a young heroine at the center of it all. So much my jam you could put it in a jar and sell it. It’s also a book that could not be published today: not with its pacing or its structure or its wandering point of view. I loved it all the same.

ON A SUNBEAM by Tillie Walden (graphic novel)

This was a surprise, seen while out at a new-to-me bookstore, arms already filled with soon-to-be acquisitions for my book mountain. Its stark black cover with a trepidatious main character looking out into deep space called to me and did not disappoint. It is stunning and sweet, ranging across planets and loves, and is wistful and grand. A fairy tale in space.


Look, this won the Pulitzer for a reason. It is devastating, unflinching, poetic. It is historical fiction that blends fantasy into its premise to show both lives as they were and also as they might have been, weaving metaphor and historical fact into a beautiful book. My last line in the journal entry was, “FUCK ME, what a book. Well done, sir.”

A THOUSAND SHIPS by Natalie Haynes

This was part of my Greek phase, after reading Madeline Miller’s CIRCE (which I adored) and working my way through the ILLIAD as translated by Robert Fagles (which read like an overpowered, melodramatic D&D campaign, tho’ I kind of lived, tbh). Written to give voice to all the women left out of the ILLIAD and in what came after, we see a secret history among the many POV characters who recount their time both before and during the war, and how they will live out its ending having had little ability to sway it one way or the other. (I did read THE SONG OF ACHILLES by Miller last year but it did not seize me the way CIRCE did. I think because there was more to the story of Achilles in the records than Circe, there was less wiggle room for her to play with.)

IN THE DREAM HOUSE by Carmen Maria Machado

Ahh, this was a trip, a memoir steeped in the mythical and the personal. I swallowed this book down in two sittings and I still think about it. It reads like fiction, to the point where at times I was yelling at the narrator as if she were a character in a favorite TV show to love herself enough to choose better. (If I’m yelling at the character, I love the work, whether its a book or a show or a movie. It is distinctly different from yelling at the author.)

SPEAR by Nicola Griffith

I was so very excited about this release and it did not disappoint. It is deeply, breathtakingly beautiful. You become drunk on the Arthurian legend, this coming of age story of a magical being in a very mortal world. I dog-eared so many pages of beautiful, deep lines. And while a dense novella, it feels like it’s so much more. Just glorious.

THE ONLY GOOD INDIANS by Stephen Graham Jones

This is haunting, full stop, fuck with you kind of horror. It needs to be a movie. It’s so vividly rendered, which makes the horror not just pop but crawl across your skin. It is gruesome in parts. It talks about some heavy shit. Metaphors are literalized as the wrongs that had gone unpunished who return to take what’s owed. You will despair with these protagonists, and you’ll run with them, too.

THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE THE TIME WAR by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone

Another late to the party read, one of those books where I had bought the ebook only for it to drop away from my mind until a physical copy ended up in my hands years later. This book does what I love most in genre texts, getting the science fictional/fantastical conceit realized just enough so that it falls away and the book can focus on deep character and voice. Watching the protagonists slip through time and each other’s fingers while at the same time getting closer to each others hearts through their clever correspondence was beautiful.

DEVIL HOUSE by John Darnielle

The cover was what sold me on picking it up, a very 70s style, stark design (reflected house) and colors (black, white and red), but the book quickly carried me away. This is less horror and more True Crime/Existentialism? The narrative is nested, as are the mysteries, that lure and keep the main protagonist investigating a killing in a town that would rather forget it ever happened. The book is thick with mood, interiority, as it investigates. It was a rabbit hole I gleefully jumped into and while it bears no resemblance to THE HOUSE OF LEAVES, the way it crawled into my mind was very much the same.

SHE WHO BECAME THE SUN by Shelley Parker-Chan

This is alt-history with a dash of fantasy elements to make it miraculous but the focus is on the main character’s quest for identity and power over a destiny that promised oblivion. Our initially nameless protagonist does a lot of things to survive, definitely square in the “not a likeable character” camp — an accusation I have never understood. Are they interesting? Are they making complicated choices? Then I’m in, that’s all I need. You read this book, you are right alongside her and I loved every minute of it. Can’t wait for the sequels.


This was my favorite book of the year, another one that I wish fervently to be adapted into a movie. It feels like an authentic, exhaustively researched and interviewed biography of a culturally impactful 70s rock band. Interviews, footnotes and editor’s commentary gave it a very Behind the Music feel, as the fictional biographer tries to understand and come to terms with the musical icon that tore her family apart. It reads like it’s all true, which is the highest compliment I can give it.


I had a great time blasting through this murder mystery/science fiction/body hopping book. When the book begins, and you learn how the main character is trapped in a Groundhog Day trying to prevent a murder using every body he wakes up in, you aren’t sure where in genre you’re located. Horror? Fantasy? But it doesn’t really matter. It only cedes to Science Fiction near the end, when all is revealed and while that did take some of the shine off the book for me, I still loved it overall.

NETTLE & BONE by T. Kingfisher

Picked this up on a whim from the library and then bought my own copy the second I was finished. A fantasy set in a sideways world that evokes some primal fairy tale archetypes that are then challenged and transformed. It is scary, it is ironic, it is funny, it is sweet. This is a coming of age story for all the late bloomers out there, one that hit all my buttons in terms of voice, world-building and story.


Here’s a flyby of my favorites from that year.

IRON WIDOW by Xiran Jay Zhao (holy cats I can’t wait for the next book), STATION ELEVEN by Emily St. John (why, oh why did I wait so long to read this, this was beautiful), THE OTHER BLACK GIRL by Zakiya Dalila Harris (this is that for me perfect intersection of real world and horror with a SFnal undercoat to make the premise happen), PIRANESI by Susanna Clarke (I sobbed through this one), THE CHOSEN AND THE BEAUTIFUL by Nghi Vo (hot like potato crisps, so good), the comic book THE WICKED + THE DIVINE by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie (just, ugh, everything, I loved it all, complicated, super powerful characters kicking ass and making all the wrong choices), SORROWLAND by Rivers Solomon (heartache and hope is so beautifully rendered here in this gut-punch of a novel), and THE OLD DRIFT by Namwali Serpell (my hands down favorite of 2021; I love this kind of science fiction: intricate, expansive, with deep characterization).

Not sure what 2023 has in store, but with any luck, there’ll be a ton of great books.

What did you read last year that you loved?

Fave Reads of 2019!

Of course I have a blog. Look at all the blogging I do! Shut up!

Good morning and hello, welcome to my round up of the books I read in 2019 that I loved the most and convenient excuse to use GIFs about books.

You want book recs? I have book recs. CATCH!

A note about GoodReads: I have linked all these books back to their GoodReads page so if you are interested in the title you can go there and get more details and then buy it from whatever store you like. GoodReads feels like neutral ground for readers, even though it isn’t. (Hello, Amazon!) But it’s as neutral a place as we have in this vast and compromised Internet we use, so here we are.

Neither do these link back to personal reviews of the book. I don’t do that. Before GoodReads, I was keeping track of what I read and what I thought about each book in a journal. Specifically what I could learn from it. When I made the switch to GoodReads (because everyone was on GoodReads), I stopped making those notes to myself. Stopped doing the actual useful-for-me bit! And, worse, GoodReads was starting to feel performative in ways I didn’t like. (Sounds like the Internet, actually.) So I nuked the account, and went back to tracking it the old fashioned way. No regrets.

We shall not discuss the state of my to be read pile.

I am taking no questions at this time.

How many books on the list? Don’t know yet. Why are you getting ahead of yourself, or me for that matter? I’m finding out as we go, same as you. While I wish I was able to keep on top of all the cool new releases, I can’t. Not with this TBR pile. (We said we shall not discuss it!)

If you’re impatient and want to skip to the recipe — er, my list of favorite books for 2019, skip to the end. You monster.

On The Jellicoe Road

Melina Marchetta. (2006) This book was a recommendation read and a great start to 2019. It’s an award-winning, Australian boarding school story that will mess you up in the way a great book should. It is magical and weird and sad and beautiful, and I wish I had been writing down my thoughts immediately after reading it because this book deserves studying.

My Sister the Serial Killer

Oyinkan Braithwaite. (2018) I forget how I found out about this book, but I did and I’m grateful. What do you do when your sister kills in self-defense? You help her. What if it’s self-defence number three? What if she’s set her eyes on the man you want? This was a page-turner, and ends perfectly. The relationship between the sisters is this terrific pull-push of love and envy.

Woman World

Aminder Dhaliwal. (2018) This graphic novel kicked off a comic/graphic novel binge this year. Absolutely lives up to the buzz it got. Originally released on Instagram and then collected and expanded, this webcomic tells the story of what happens to our world when all the men die. It’s funny, it’s serious, it’s everything. Highly recommend.

On The Come Up

Angie Thomas. (2019) I had heard a lot of good things about her first book, The Hate U Give (which I read later in the year) so when Thomas came to town are part of book tour for her newest release, I tagged along with a friend. This is a fall in deep, head under the water kind of book. Once you start reading, you don’t stop. Also perfection in how it shows the bonds of family — how weird, how particular they are. Masterclass in details.

A Head Full of Ghosts

Paul Tremblay. (2015) Haunted houses, unreliable narrators, and a camera crew. What’s not to love? Told with a framing story by the daughter years later, this novel takes a bucket each of the Exorcist, Poltergeist, and Ghost Hunters onto a dysfunctional family on the brink of economic ruin. Scary, sad, it pulls you along until it’s final revelation.

My Best Friend’s Exorcism

Grady Hendrix. (2016) When you see a book in more than one place, turning up over and over again, the universe is giving you a nudge. Both set in and is homage to the ’80s, this book delivered real scares and a real pair of emotionally entangled best friends. If you liked AHS: 1984, you’ll dig this. Also, check out the original cover, a glorious video game/VHS rental case. Now that’s some graphic design!

The City in the Middle of the Night

Charlie Jane Anders. (2019) I really liked this one. Great premise — a locked planet with no day/night rotation, leaving a thin sliver along the circumference as “habitable” — and great characters who have their lives exploded on the micro and the macro levels. The tone of the book and its interests are unapologetically modern in outlook, but does so with the bones of classic, New Wave SF underneath.

Enterprising Women

Camille Bacon-Smith. (1991) I came across this title as part of the Tumblr discourse on fanfiction. It’s an ethnography of female fandom in the 1980s, particularly of fanfiction writers — a thing that had 1990s anthropology-me come across might have changed my life trajectory! Brain-exploding joy describes me reading this book. So many things that I’d long felt or sensed were validated here and I longed for past-me to have found and embraced fandom as a teenager, and not sneered at it for years because I thought I knew better. The conventions we think are modern have much older roots in analog fandom, and it’s this work that’s gone on to influence the massive cultural changes we’re seeing in fandom today. (Oh, is that the rabbit hole of Cultural Studies and academia on fandom? Bottoms up!)

The Dragon Republic

R.F. Kuang. (2019) This series is one of those that gets to the top of the TBR pile as soon as it gets released. The second book follows The Poppy War‘s (anti)heroine Rei into the world of what happens after you “win.” Spoilers: you never win a war. Excellent second book, I loved it just as much as the first and I am counting the days until I can be personally devastated once more when the final volume comes out, sometime next fall. (I cannot yet pre-order it and it is stressing me out.)

Because Internet

Gretchen McCulloch. (2019) I never got to delve deep into linguistics in university (course offerings just weren’t available) but it’s a fascinating subject. Language changes over time, s’fact. But the Internet is changing global languages faster than any other event in human history. (Yeah, I’m calling you out, Printing Press.) Internet users are creating new visual and linguistic grammars, superimposing new contexts and meanings almost faster than it can be studied. And to explain how that’s happening, the book delineates the four waves of Internet users as they came to the world wide web. This is a critical book. Don’t miss it.

Making Comics

Lynda Barry. (2019) I am a Lynda Barry fangirl and it’s all because of Syllabus. An internet article and an impulse buy later, Syllabus rang all the bells in my head. I’ve since hunted down her other books on writing and art, and this year Making Comics was released. For those who have been reading Barry’s other work, this will be half new material and visual essays, and half refinement of a process that she’s been building collaboratively with her students for years. For me, writing and art have always been intertwined; her books, and Making Comics in particular, will explain how.


Noelle Stevenson. (2015) Yup, that Noelle, of Lumberjanes and more recently (and to wider audiences) She-Ra and the Princesses of Power! I love her stuff, her style, and Nimona was one of those things I had meant to get to and then finally did. I wish there was more after this volume, but the threads of the story questions she asks, and her fantastic way of blending genres and tones, lives on in her current work.

Bonus Books!

Two more books. Consider them mental fibre for your creative life: Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear (2018) and The Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future by Ryder Carroll (2018).

Because, hey, we all want to do stuff. Might be writing, might be art, might be any number of things. But how do you do? How do you start? How do you determine you are doing the thing you want to do? One book will help you figure out how to do the thing you want to do, and the other book will help you make sure you do it. It’s a one-two punch that will level you up for 2020. Promise.

The List

you monster

You want the list, Impatient So-and-So? Fine. No, I’m not mad, just disappointed in you. Here it is:

So go forth, feast your eyes and brains on good writing, and may your TBR pile not kill you in the morning. Here’s to 2020!

He’s not dancing, he’s running in terror.

Two Books, One Winner. Sorta.

You can’t take me to a library. I’ll walk out of there with more than I intended get, every time. It’s amazing my backpack hasn’t gone on strike or that my bookshelves haven’t applied for disaster relief.

Anyway, I was looking for a book on mind-mapping, a little hobby of mine. (Come on, big pieces of paper, pens of different colors, big swishy curves and lines? Yeah, I’m all over that.) There was a book at the local library on the subject, so I headed out to pick it up. While there, I happened upon another book, one about creative thinking, and thought, why not, eh? Scanned the books, placed them into my pissing-and-moaning backpack, and headed home.

Beep. Beep. Impending snark! Continue at your own risk!

So I kept the mind-mapping book for later and dug into the book on creative thinking. It’s a training wheels book on creativity from what I can see: most of the book is devoted to logic or visual puzzles that are common brain teasers. Once you realize that’s what you’re doing, it’s easy to shift your perceptions sidewise and start solving them. These sorts of puzzles are a lot of fun, but aren’t unique to the book — they can be found anywhere on the web. Besides puzzles, the book focuses on combining two unrelated ideas into something new, followed by anecdotes of people who have done so. He harps on the current educational system (and who doesn’t, really?) for stamping out creativity, and then makes a leap that Leonardo Da Vinci was probably as gifted as he was because he wasn’t allowed to go to university, and thus wasn’t stifled. (Okay, what? The educational system of our time and that of Da Vinci’s are not comparable. Nor is Da Vinci to the public at large. Just. Arg.)

I pressed on, hoping to find something of use, and got to a section where he’s talking about word combinations, and gives 5 examples. The fifth example, in all the options he had at his disposal, was “race card.” I did a double take. And then a little further down in the same paragraph, the author gave one further, writing “‘Religious right,’ for instance, refers to a group of people with strong beliefs who try to influence the political process.”

Huh. Sure it does. Closed the book.

Today I sat down with the mind-mapping book. No obvious baggage, authors are pro-creativity, playfulness, and letting the mind really stretch in new, perhaps better ways, with mind-mapping. You can tell, just by reading, that whole book was outlined using a mind-map: chapter by section by subsection by notes. Which, cool, they believe in what they’re selling (and you can buy mind-mapping kits, if, you know, you don’t live near any place that sells paper and pens).

I got to page 44 when I again did a double take. This time it was a statistic, claiming that 95% of note takers blah blah blah. It was the 95% part that threw me, because at that point I’d realized that previous statistics they’d used up until now — all of them — were 95% of whatever. (Except for one, which was 100%, which was describing the author’s evaluation of his own improvements, which is why I excluded it.)

Dudes! Why are you making shit up? Just, stop. Stop. I want to chill and make big old mind-maps ’cause they help me play with information visually in ways that are otherwise impossible. You don’t need to pull numbers out of your ass to convince me, or any other reader, to try mind-mapping. We already have the book! Or, if you feel you must make your point with imaginary numbers, can we try pulling out different ones?

The funny this is, after tallying up all the 95% statistics on pages 1-44, I sat back to continue reading and there on page 45, another 95% statistic. I laughed. Hard. My cat looked at me funny. Then I got up and started writing this post.

The second book I’ll keep reading, because it will be valuable. (And if not, HEY, markers!) The other book? Good news is that my shelf will be very happy, as that book won’t be sticking around long.

Why Young Adult Fiction?

There is no doubt that YA has broken out and become one of the biggest genres, probably second only to Romance. The last fifteen years has seen it’s meteoric rise, inspiring new and avid readers among young people in a way that hasn’t been seen in years and brought adults back to reading after years away from the pastime.

But why YA?

A lot of people will say that it’s the appeal of the ‘firsts’ of YA: first loves, first losses, first independence, first success, first failures, first friendships, first betrayals. Everything is so much larger, so stark against the small theatre of the teenage experience. Coupled with the (often) first person narrative and the generally quicker pace of YA fiction, it makes for an emotionally powerful experience that is easily consumed in today’s time-crunched lifestyle that expects a mighty punch from everything we consume.

It’s also a safe, non-threatening way to get your bit of fantasy, too. Genre fiction has often been looked down upon among ‘adults’ because it is considered a children’s literature. But if you’re reading YA, isn’t it likely to be fantasy? And suddenly it’s okay. Plus, genre publishers really need to take a look at the marketing and design of these YA books. They are undeniably eye-catching things of beauty. Some of the British publishers and some of the independents seem to have clued into this, but they need to get the rest of the industry on board.

But how much millage can an endless string of firsts offer? At some point, it becomes an exercise in shuffling the pieces across the board, calculating all the possible variations. There is so much more to our lives than those precious firsts. There are seconds, thirds, even tenths. There is wisdom gained and wisdom squandered. There is compromise and hard choices whose options are always grey. It’s from this that you get more of those chewy, thoughtful, resonant stories that stay with you, that linger days, weeks, or years later. And there are times in our life when we need to find those stories to comfort, inspire or challenge us.

Something else troubling. As the YA shelves grow and groan with new titles, there is a creeping sameness starting to appear in the covers, a string of bewitching Barbies with frozen expressions, as though showing an emotion would break their own beauty like glass. The market has proved viable, profitable, so the corporate machines are moving in. A shame, but to be expected.

But is it something else? Is there something about our teenage years that we just never get over? This is where the ex-anthropology student in me comes out. In nearly every other culture in the world outside of heavily Westernized ones, people in their teenage years are not teenagers, but adults. They married, they raised kids, they fought in wars, they built their communities. They were guided by their elders, but they were transitioned into adulthood quickly.

Not that I want to see the return of teenage brides, unending cycles of childbirth, and restrictive choices! But our society has created this artificial bubble between childhood and adulthood, one in which teens are grouped together, denied some rights and freedoms, and then left alone (for the most part) to build their own micro-cultures. In the years when young people would be enculturated into adulthood as part of a seamless continuum, they are instead held apart and must build their own world — a world that is often capricious and cruel, senseless and severe — and then dropped on their ass into the real world on the other side of graduation. From there, they either take the broken lessons of high school as their gospel or they learn anew all over again, a whole second round of firsts.

Who comes out of high school thinking straight and with a whole heart? Whether tormented or tormentor, we carry these scars with us and they rarely, if ever, heal. Our lives are not the stuff of fiction. Fiction takes the stuff of life and gives us heroes and villains, gives us the rising tension, the climax and resolution we crave in life but often don’t receive.

Is that why we read YA? To put a little salve on those wounds? To live through the loves, the victories, we never had or were never brave enough to take?

If so, then there may be room enough for the firsts of Young Adult fiction for a very long time.

It’s (a)LIVE! It’s (a)LIIIIIVE!!

Pardon the exclamation marks. And extra letters.

Last night, on a whim, I scooted over to the iBookstore. It’s become a regular habit, like checking email or Twitter feeds, something done quickly and with no forethought, like a cleaning routine. I was half way through shutting down the application when my brain finally registered that there were new images. I quickly reloaded and then started squealing.

(Of course, this was after I had bemoaned the iBookstore’s dearth of books and then dropped a load of cash at the local Chapters during their buy three, get the forth free sale. *sigh*)

So I spent a good hour poking around the iBookstore. I didn’t end up buying anything but I grabbed about six samples, some fiction, some non-fiction. A lot of the books I looked for by name, either title or author, simply weren’t there. Yet, I’m sure. It looks like it’s only a few publishers, Harper Collins and Penguin, if I’m remembering right.

It is very slow navigating the iBookstore. And there isn’t yet a way to drill down through the sub genres. Fantasy and Science Fiction has over 800 titles (and, I want to remind, missing many, many authors and books still) and the only way to do it is to go through page at a time of about twelve books. There was also a significant portion of the books that were Star Trek books, or to a lesser extent, other media tie-in merchandise. (I’m not judging here, but it makes it more work for me. We’re talking page after page of the stuff.) I want a way to be able to remove them or have a better way to narrow down the categories. I have seen other subheadings like “epic” but no way to choose it specifically from the category section. Hopefully this is coming, too.

I do like the Author Pages, quite handy, and as I was thinking about some sort of authorial book-marking system, I discovered the Alert feature, which I’m guessing will send me an email when they get a new book by that author. Cool.

So, a great start, but still work to be done.

PS: They need to split the Children & Teen section into proper Middle Grade and YA categories. There is a lot of YA that appeal to adult readers, and its buried in their Children and Teen section.

PPS: YAY, it’s finally LIVE! Thank you Apple. 🙂

Playing Favorites

Like I said, I brought a bunch more paperbacks to the used bookstore today. I’d brought back a lot already, but now I’m dipping into my read pile/like pile. These were books I’d read, some of them recently, some of them years ago, and have been lugged from house to apartment to apartment to house to apartment again. Enough. I’ve still got books I’m going to keep, trade paperbacks and my absolute favorite paperbacks, ones I feel can use to learn from. But the rest? Come on, I’m not going to reread them.

(Hell, I don’t understand regular rereaders to begin with! Except for a precious few books where I might conceivably reread them to learn from them, there are just too many damn books out there to go back to one I have already read. Madness!)

So here I was, lugging all these books back, feeling good and productive and happy that I was freeing up all that space … and then I came home with another seven books.

But they are trade paperbacks, I fervently tell myself! They don’t count! Plus, they are all in genres I don’t normally read, so A) I am expanding my horizons without B) spending any money. RIGHT???

However, that’s not what I’m here to talk about. I’ve finished “Palimpsest” by Cathrynne Valente, purchased for the Kindle. Now I’m switching back to Indigo app, Kobo, for “The Virtu” by Sarah Monette and I think I’ve finally picked a favorite between the two.

The Kindle app is just ahead. I love the Kobo aesthetic, but I need more than pretty. I like that I have paragraph indents in the Kindle books. I love the note-taking features, the highlighting but being able to see what other people have highlighted is terrifically cool. Also, the percentage complete. I haven’t found a useful way of tracking how far I am in a Kobo book. I get a page number for the length of the current chapter. Perhaps there is a setting somewhere that I am missing?

(You know what would be extra awesome, but neither has? A plugin for GoodReads. But I digress. Hence parentheses.)

Of course, this is an either/or decision when it should be a three horse race. The third horse, the coy, dAppled mare, is still pawing the ground with her hooves and flicking her tail about. It’s been over a month since the iPad has been available in Canada and the iBookstore is still barren of all but copyright free works. I read somewhere on the interwebs that they’ve hired a special liaison for the Canadian iBookstore. Hopefully that means progress soon. If not, we may need to start an old fashioned pool and place bets. I’m picking September 15th. Oh, that would be 2010. Yeah, I know. Maybe overly ambitious. Any other takers?

In the meantime, back to “The Virtu”, though I also splurged on Lawrence Block’s “Telling Lies For Fun and Profit” for the Kindle. Gonna need to make a LOT of notes on that one.

Bookish Blasphemy

In what will probably be a heresy of biblical proportion for book-lovers, I’m coming to the conclusion that I will end up packing up all of my used books and bringing them back to the used bookstore. The only ones I will keep are books that I bought new, mostly compilations and a few others. Sure, the other books I have I do want to read, but the likelihood of me reading a paperback book again are few and far between and I don’t want a shelf of glum paper books looking at me accusingly every night. If I clear out the used books, I’d free up a bit of shelf space that could go towards still unboxed RPG books I’ve kept for inspiration. Not only that, it means that if I buy digital copies of these books when I am ready to read them, money will actually go to the writer.

(See how I rationalized my technological snobbery there? Not bad, eh?)

Have begun Palimpsest by Cat Valente on the Kindle app for the iPad. Wow. Luxuriant prose. Some fucking beautiful stuff so far. Also loving that I can highlight passages and make notes. If I’m not careful I’m going to end up having a whole conversation with this book before it’s done. But the Kindle app is just not as pretty as the Kobo app. In fact, if I had my way I would hack up and sew together the best parts of iBooks, Kindle and Kobo into an uber e-reading application, one with the ability to landscape like the iBook, the notation features of the Kindle and the sexy stylin’ of the Kobo interface. It would reign as the mightiest of e-readers.

Yes, I am getting quite silly now. G’night!

Discover Your Limit By Hitting It

After my blow out day of writing, I felt a little run down the next day. With the cats still getting used to each other, I decided discretion was the better part of valor and called in sick. I had visions of finishing off the WIP, too, and did my best.

My best being only 800 words.

Glumly I went off to my writing meeting, our critique night, and started to rouse out of my funk. But when Friday night rolled around I ran out for groceries and then vegged to a movie. I itched the entire time, my body knowing I should be in a different room, but I let myself finish the movie and then go to bed.

Tonight was much the same. The last two days at work have been just brutal and I haven’t had the temperament to be calm and solicitous and patient. So tonight I relaxed with a little Mario Galaxy 2, some kitten athletics, and my iPad — most specifically the Kobo app.

Without a doubt I read faster with a device than I do a paper book. I’m able to focus longer, light conditions are made irrelevant, and I can hold it in all sorts of comfortable positions. The only drawback is that not all e-reading apps offer the same functionality and that I would not be permitted to read my e-books at my desk at work. Which means I’m still trucking physical books around. For now.

Still trying to find the perfect writing application, but so far have settled on Notebook. The only thing missing there is the ability to save and send files in ways other than an email. Granted, that might just be me not having found it yet. It offers landscape writing with a centered pane, so I’m mostly happy.

And less importantly, paragraph indents! This will probably end up being a stylistic thing that will go the way of the dodo, but I like paragraph indents. I realize email doesn’t have them, my Kobo books don’t have them, and none of the writing applications I’ve tried have them, but there is a tab function in Scripts Pro, damn it, so why not the others?

Long live the paragraph indent!

(Clearly it’s time for bed.)

Short Game, Long Game

The other day I stepped into the local Chapters because I had some time to kill between buses. I shouldn’t have because I’m a bit broke at the moment and the place is a terrible money sink, but I did anyways. Besides, I had my eye on something.

So I wandered around, feeling a little strange and hypocritical with my iPad nestled in my purse. No point looking at paperbacks, as I have no doubt that I will never buy one again. The magazines had some interesting bits, and I ended up with two of those, Writer’s Digest and ImagineFX (one to inform writing, one to inspire writing). Eventually I don’t want to buy paper copies of magazines at all, but they aren’t quite as far along as e-books yet.

And then I rounded the corner of the magazine racks and headed to the lifestyle section for what I’d really come for in for: a small hourglass filled with tropical blue sand. I’d seen it in the store several times, even played with one, and thought it would be neat and sort of old-fashioned to do timed writing with it instead of a clunky kitchen timer. I finally decided I wanted it.

Any long time readers of my blog (Ha!) might remember a rather snarky post of mine complete with shocking evidence — a display window for Indigo, Chapter’s parent company, that was filled with blankets and dish wear and specialty teas and wasn’t it outrageous that the book, the whole point of the damned store, was barely visible. “See??” I typed self-rightiously. “This is what’s wrong with bookstores these days!”


In retrospect, they were playing the long game, while I was stuck thinking the short game.

My complaints about finding new books, access to titles, and the like have been rendered moot by devices like the iPad, the Kindle and others. The mid-list will likely start picking up and the internet, with sites like GoodReads, will become the primary way for people to discover new writers and books. So if the physical bookstore doesn’t have to concern itself with book selection (not that it often appeared to be beforehand) and if books will increasingly be purchased electronically, what are you then going to sell?

A lifestyle.

And the smart thing, if you’re playing the long game, is to prepare for it before it happens. WAY before it happens. Get your customer base used to seeing upscale and eclectic items side-by-side with their favorite books and magazines. Get items not available locally, at least in small towns, and cater to a desire to pamper, in the same way that books are often marketed as an affordable comfort. There will always be a place for the high-end hard covers but mass consumption will go digital. And when the paperback market falls away, you have something to take it place.

Years before the eBook market finally gets off the ground and the company was already laying the groundwork. Not that it isn’t iffy to place your bets on luxury items (though I’m sure they weren’t expecting in the economic bubble and it’s after effects) but it has to look like it’s the only solid lifeline for the physical component of their companies once the bulk of their wares goes digital.

So I take it back, Chapters. You had me fooled. I was all about the short game, but you were planning ahead. Far ahead. I hope it works for you.

Now, if you don’t mind, I’m off to read more of “Soulless” by Gail Carriger in the Kobo app for my iPad.

(Edit: Pardoning my terrible french…)