It’s Leap Day, but I’m all out of leaping for now. A friend of mine in Atlanta is celebrating his official 10th birthday, which is odd because he’s been married since the mid-2000s. I had a long weekend at work, and my cat still hasn’t quite forgiven me for being gone Saturday and Sunday, though I’ve at least convinced her to keep her tail off the keyboard, and told her that swatting me in the elbow with it every few seconds is almost as good. I did get some writing and some technical blog work done this morning, though… 3 1/2 legal-size pages, two notebook pages of notes, and a scribbled index card… and I’m going to try to push out another couple pages after lunch.
I also have two books that I’m reading and since it’s Book Date Day, I get to talk about them a little. I’d talk about the book I read last week, but I’m busy writing one of my rare one-star reviews for Goodreads, and I don’t really want to think about it twice.
The second book will be easier to describe. I usually try to have some sort of non-fiction work on my reading desk at any given time, one I read in nibbles along with the other books I’m reading. A couple of weeks ago, it was The Stoic Philosophy of Seneca (mostly good, though his essay to Nero has a browner nose than a kid wearing a dog costume). Last week, I decided that since I liked his essay on “Self Reliance,” and because I went to see The Old Manse when I was in Concord last fall, I’d finally see what I thought of his philosophy. Verdict so far: Well… I know his essays are better, and he makes some great points in “Nature,” so I’ll give his first published work the benefit of the doubt. God only knows my first published work was ridiculously rotten.
The second book is one I’d wanted to read for a long time. I was a fan of the series Ms Wurts co-wrote with Raymond E Feist (I might… might have even liked her story set in his world a little better than the first trilogy he wrote there) and the Mayfair role-playing aids that we used for our AD&D games back before it was called “First Edition” were constantly being traded and passed around our group. Plus, I’ve heard nothing but good about this intense and involved series, and since I finished the Malazan series last year, I needed something else to move on to. So, last September (around the time I was dealing with a horrible paronychia infection on my right hand… got me to finally stop biting my nails, at least… and traveling up to Massachusetts on our way to Maine, and seeing friends in Rhode Island, and trying to decide if I was blocked on a project and not just stalling) I picked up a copy on my Kindle and plunged into it.
If you’ve read the book, you know that it probably didn’t go well for me. I made it nearly a quarter in before setting it down. This book is filled with wonderful prose and characters that behave accurately, even when you, the reader, can’t understand WHY in the hell they’re doing what they’re doing because any fool can see just what’s going to come of it. (In other words, they do just what we would probably do.) However, there’s a lot going on, sometimes in the foreground and sometimes well offstage, and there’s a lot to keep track of. Like Gardens of the Moon, she doesn’t believe in taking your hand and walking you through. This is one of the features of my favorite fantasy novels that I hope to replicate in my own writing, but at that moment, I couldn’t focus on it. As much as I liked the characters, I was completely lost, and I finally set it down so I could read some shorter, more intense fiction.
I am so glad I picked it up again. I always tell myself I’ll give any book two chances. Sometimes that doesn’t work (like last week) but other times, I’m very much rewarded for my perserverence. If you read this (and really, you should) make sure you have a few hours, or a day, to devote to getting into it. Don’t be afraid to take notes. Also, don’t be afraid to yell at the page… I do that a lot, too. I still only have a bare inkling of what the story holds, but this time through, I feel like a fantastic field is opening up before me, enticing me, and allowing me to enjoy its pleasures, now that I’ve committed to giving it all the time it needs.
What are you reading? I’m always looking for a good recommendation or ten.