George RR Martin, the creator of Game of Thrones, also has a blog, and about two months ago he threw up a post about some of the reading he’s been doing over the summer during his travels. As an avid reader myself, I’m always interested in what other people (not just best-selling authors) are reading, and since I finished my manuscript recently and have had a bit of free time, I of course decided to supplant the time I spent writing with more reading.
(Thankfully all my reading is done in private because I no longer take a train or boat to work.)
Since this is a post about the summer, I’ll run down the thirteen books I’ve finished since June 21 only. By sheer coincidence, this list is actually bookended with the controversial (and in my opinion, peerless) author Jonathan Franzen. I started small, checking his third novel, THE CORRECTIONS out of the St. George Library in Staten Island, and liked it so much I bought two more of his works, due to the fact that they’re hard to find in the NYPL system. In fact, THE CORRECTIONS was hard to find too; I had to request it at the front desk because the librarian there had set it aside for himself!
Next book was WRITING WITH EMOTION, TENSION, AND CONFLICT, a (you guessed it) book on the craft of writing by Cheryl St.Clair, author of over 50 books (!!!). My editor recommends it on his site, so I downloaded it a few months ago and finished it over the summer.
Third was JUST KIDS, the 2010 memoir by rocker/poet Patti Smith. I’d seen this book around for a while, but there was something about seeing it on the shelf in Amoeba, a famous record store in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco (during my most recent trip there) that incentivized me to buy it.
At number four is Jennifer Egan’s 2011 Pulitzer prize winner A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD, featuring several interconnected stories about the music industry. Fun fact: Jennifer Egan dated Steve Jobs for a bit, and it was another pleasant coincidence I discover when I was halfway through the next book…
STEVE JOBS by biographer Walter Isaacson for my fifth, and what a book! Not only was the life of Steve Jobs fascinating, but it also contains dozens of great maxims and lessons about how to achieve success, both financial and personal.
Next up was THE UNLIKELY DISCIPLE by Kevin Roose, about a Brown University student going undercover for a semester at Liberty University, known as America’s Holiest College. As a former Christian myself, I always like to check up on what people of this persuasion are up to, and find that not much has really changed. Moving on…
To number seven, also college related, is THE OPPOSITE OF LONELINESS by former Yalie (and former living person, sadly) Marina Keegan. Marina died tragically in a car crash at the age of 22, but she’d written enough fiction and non-fiction in her brief life to produce an excellent, diverse volume.
For number eight we circle back to Jonathan Franzen and his collection of essays HOW TO BE ALONE. (Are you picking up any patterns in my reading habits? Because I am.) Although I prefer Franzen’s fiction, these essays (for the most part) are thought-provoking and worthy of your time.
Still here? Good. Number nine is ORPHAN TRAIN by Kristina Baker Kline. I picked it up because of the massive amount of reviews it got on Amazon, and because the kindle version was on sale. The book was okay, but ultimately forgettable. It kind of reminded me of a Lifetime movie, though.
So far, most of these books I would recommend reading, except for number ten, BOOMSDAY by Christopher Buckley. A book putting forth the question “What if the government gave incentives for baby-boomers to kill themselves prematurely?” in the name of keeping social security intact ultimately proves to be a turd of a book. I’ll say it again: a turd. The books tries to be funny but it’s not, the characters are ultimately uninteresting, and most of all I couldn’t wait for it to end. Moving on…
Next up, for number 11 is EINSTEIN, the biography by Walter Isaacson. I knew next to nothing about the pioneering physicist beforehand, and while I liked Isaacson’s Steve Jobs bio better, as it’s more contemporary, I’m glad I got this intimate look into Albert’s life and work.
Almost done. Number 12 is THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN by Paula Hawkins, another mega seller that I actually checked out of the Tottenville library. GRRM liked it and I thought it was pretty good, but it’s nothing I’d shout from the rooftops for people to buy.
This brings me to the final book, FREEDOM by Jonathan Franzen. For me, I was salivating with desire to read this book after reading THE CORRECTIONS and HOW TO BE ALONE, but I put it off because Franzen was coming out with a new book, PURITY, and I figured there’d be a price drop on his kindle books, so I waited. I was wrong; the prices never dropped and I plunked down the $9.99 for FREEDOM, and devoured it in less than a week.
So there you have it: the thirteen books I’ve read in the past 3 months, AKA Summer 2015. I should point out that something that helped me get through such a hearty stack was upping my pages-read-per-day to one hundred. I didn’t always meet that goal, but hitting it most of the time helped me get through a lot of books.
That’s all for today. See you next week when I give an update about the status of the manuscript I’ve been working on.
As always, be sure to SUBSCRIBE by email and leave a comment if you’ve read any of the books I’ve listed.
J. F. Seegitz