I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately, which feels nice. Reading is something that often falls by the wayside when I’m doing a lot; being a full-time housespouse with a two-year-old and writing a novel manages to keep me pretty busy. I should say that reading books tends to fall by the wayside – I’m always up to date on my webcomics, and I sample a lot of blogs. Usually I spend some of my free time playing various games, but that’s been pretty thoroughly squashed by books lately.
Since setting my reading goal for 2012, I’ve read Fahrenheit 451, Stranger in a Strange Land, Ender’s Game, and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy clean through. I also finished Wuthering Heights and the Tao Te Ching (the edition translated by Ursula K. Le Guin). The latter two aren’t on my list, but I was reading them at the time. I’ve already come to realize that I’m not going to be able to stick to the list for a whole year – I don’t want to wait that long to read Mansfield Park, and I’ve been meaning to reread the Harry Potter series . . . my reading habits are just too spontaneous. Earlier today I started reading the Wheel of Time series again, then accidentally stopped by the library and picked up Starship Troopers and Robin McKinley’s Sunshine. I’m probably a third of the way through the latter and should really be going to bed right now, but I’m in a talkative mood.
I finished Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land a couple of days ago, and I’ve been trying to figure out what I want to say about it ever since. I feel like I have to say something. Luckily, I went back and read Jo Walton’s review of it on Tor.com*, and she pretty much nailed it. In short: Fantastic premise, problematic treatment of female characters, homophobia that may or may not only be on the part of the characters. On a more personal note, polyamory doesn’t bug me, but organized religion wigs me right out. Nothing personal – it just makes me uncomfortable. I’m glad to read that his other works are less problematic; I hope to read quite a few more of them, and I want them to be better than this. It’s a good book, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
I picked up Sunshine today for basically two reasons: it’s on the list, so I’ve gotta read it some time in the next 14 months; and the only thing I really knew about it is that it’s vampire fiction. And generally speaking, I really like vampire fiction: when I was younger I read a lot of Anne Rice and Amelia Atwater-Rhodes. I even liked the Twilight books alright pretty much until I started encountering the fandom at large, though I do have my issues with . . . well, pretty much all of the characters. I remember liking Alice, though not why. It’s been a few years. I’ve lost a lot of sleep since then. Moving on.
The salient point is, I started reading Sunshine today, and it’s fantastic. Granted I’m only a third of the way in, but I pretty much love everything about this book. I think part of this is a reaction to the two new books I’ve most recently read, Fahrenheit 451 and Stranger in a Strange Land- both of them are very much concept books, without much in the way of relatable characters. Sunshine has a bit of concept – the setting is a very interesting take on urban fantasy, so far – but the characters are truly fantastic. And now that I think about it, so’s the plot; it’s covering a lot of ground and keeping the story on high without really being noticeable, which is pretty much the best kind of plot.
Right. I feel like I had more to say when I sat down, but I suspect that I’m rapidly ceasing to make sense. In my defense, I got stuck reading a good book and now it’s 1:30 in the morning and I’m not used to being up at 1:30 any more. I go to sleep at nine in the evening. Pity me and stuff.
*I’m one of those people who enjoys reading reviews, but only after I’ve experienced the work being reviewed. My starred items list in Google Reader is full of Tor.com reviews of books I’m going to read some day.