My Stay-Safe-Stay-Home Reading List

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Luckily or not, I was sick for the first part of the Seattle social distancing. Probably the unmentionable, but not enough tests. So it goes. But once I’m almost upright again, I ask myself how I am going to entertain myself through the copious hours cooped up with husband and dogs. Catching up on art projects, sewing projects, writing (HAH, like i have the emotional energy for THAT right now), reading…and, oh yeah, my gathered list of things to read just passed 200 on the Amazon wishlist I keep specifically for that. So off to the Libby app to see what I can borrow from my library virtually. Turns out, most of the list. The expensive text books and out of print antiques I’ll save for another day. For now, I’m keeping my holds list maxed out and burning through as many of the list as possible.

Where does this list come from? I know you want to know. Mostly it comes from folks I teach writing to. I have several exercises that asks students–child, teen, and adult–what their favorite books are. And I write them down, or keep the post-its, or however I need to save them from class and then they get added to the list. Also topics I have a passing interest in, I’ll add a handful of “best representations.” Or authors I needed to catch up on Which meant my list to read had grown to absolutely absurd lengths and it was time to do something about it.

Thankfully, I already have a very specific process in place for allowing myself to stop reading a book when I am not enjoying it. I can stop reading at any point, BUT I must be able to explicitly state what it is about the book that just isn’t working for me. Reasons I have stopped reading books from this list so far:

  • Choking on the toxic-masculine male gaze
  • Very poor copy-editing
  • Very poor writing ability
  • Was trying to give a genre I don’t normally like a go, but find that it still puts me to sleep as its pacing and content is just not engaging for me
  • Unintentional and unaddressed problematic content due to the author’s point of view
  • And one notable book that gave me severe anxiety due to the way I identified with it, too much to handle right now

But for every three or four (or ten) books I return to the library started, but not finished, I find there’s one that draws me in and delights me. Those have been, in the reverse order to which I’ve encountered them as I scroll backwards through Libby:

  • Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson
  • Autonomous by Annalee Newitz
  • Writing Magic by Gail Carson Levine (good book about writing for younger writers)
  • Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb
  • The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
  • The New Moon’s Arms by Nalo Hopikinson
  • Greenglass House by Kate Milford
  • The Jewel and Her Lapidary by Fran Wilde
  • Camp So-and-So by Mary McCoy
  • A Sudden Light by Garth Stein
  • In An Absent Dream and That Ain’t Witchcraft by Seanan McGuire
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  • Tomorrow’s Kin by Nancy Kress

Okay, that was more than I had realized. Some of them, Like Greenglass House and The New Moon’s Arms I immediately went and placed a hold on more of their work, I enjoyed it that much. I currently have a maxed out holds list for ebooks ranging from “Available Soon” to “Available after 9 weeks,” 15 more on my “put on hold when I can” list, and 35 that aren’t available through ebook lending and I’ll either need to wait for the library to open, and yet more that I will have to purchase since the library doesn’t have them in physical form either. I’d say one day I’ll reach the end of this list but I just added 15 from the students I’m working with this week so…probably not!

Oh…wait…I forgot to count the 20+ physical books waiting for me on my to-read shelf out in the living room, too…

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