There are some books that have shaped my reading over the years, and I made a video to talk about them. Which books would be on your list?
There are some books that have shaped my reading over the years, and I made a video to talk about them. Which books would be on your list?
Earlier this year I made it clear how disappointed I was in my reading last year. 5 books. Just saying that makes me want to hit my head on my desk. But 2019 is off to a better start! So I decided to do a little roundup of my January reading.
Two Kinds of Truth
Harry Bosch ages in real time. In this book he’s into his 60s, but I DON’T CARE. Never stop writing him, Michael Connelly. Or we’re fighting.
I hate to say it, but this was rather unremarkable. I love Spenser. And this won’t discourage me from continuing the series, but I finished the book wanting more.
I wrote about this earlier in the week here. This book was the best crime novel I’ve read! There’s no exaggeration. I gave my reasoning in my previous post. I’m still considering it, but it’s likely a top five all-time read for me. And I have the next four in the series awaiting my curious eyes.
I said I’d stay with crime novels for a bit, and I mostly did. But this was the lone exception last month. It didn’t have hardly any laugh out loud moments, whereas the first in the series was full of them.
The Second Life of Nick Mason
This was the first in a new series written by Steve Hamilton. He’s also one of my favorite authors and it was my first time reading one of his books in several years. It’s well below 300 pages and I felt it. It went way too fast and lacked much depth throughout. But still had a number of exciting moments, which kept it at the above rating.
I count 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 books for the month! It was really in the last two weeks, but shh. I matched my entire 2018 in the first month of 2019 and I’m still going! I know there will be some down months ahead, but I’m happy with and encouraged by my start to the year.
How was your month of reading!?
I’ve read this week about two lawsuits currently pending. They both concern the work of authors who have died. And in both cases it’s one part of the family suing another part.
One of the lawsuits concerns the work of John Steinbeck. The other is about Tom Clancy.
What happened to preserving the legacy of authors once they die? So many times lawsuits are filed almost immediately upon the death of an author. I guess this is no different from other types of celebrities who leave their families to fight over large estates. But it’s still a bit disappointing.
I think Robert B. Parker did it best. He left his series in the hands of other authors he knew. Though I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to read a Spenser or Jesse Stone novel written by another author, at least there was no fight when Parker died unexpectedly.
Do you think it immediately becomes all about the money involved once an author dies?
Today’s Top Five Wednesday topic is character names. Pretty self-explanatory. Let’s begin!
I love how unique the name is. And I hope to one day meet a girl named after Katniss. I’d tell her the person she’s named after is strong, independent, brave, and the Girl on Fire. Then she’d probably say duhh and walk away. Bleh.
I’ve told y’all about Harry Bosch more times than I can remember. He’s named after the painter you may have heard of. I’m just glad Michael Connelly let’s us call him Harry.
Another unique name. He’s named after the poet you may have heard of. But what really makes his name special is that his last name is never given during his series of books. He’s simply Spenser.
I mean, come on.
Technically his name is John-117 and he’s originally from a video game series before any book was ever written, BUT who doesn’t know Master Chief at this point? Seriously, who!? He’s the soldier we all secretly want to be. Leading entire armies and defeating monstrous enemies. Is that not your dream job?
Those are my five favorite character names! Tell me some of yours!
Sometimes people say things that make no sense. Like comparing the work of two authors who have no business being compared. I think it’s a little ridiculous to say that genres limit creativity by placing labels on one’s work.
No one is saying that certain genres need very specific stories or characters. I mean, just look at young adult. Sure we have an expectation of what to expect when starting a new young adult book, but that doesn’t mean every book is the same. Which goes for every genre.
The fact is (to me) that we need genres. Let me make a comparison here. Imagine if we didn’t have genres in music. Then we wouldn’t have radio stations genre-specific. And maybe that’d be interesting to some, but not to me. Imagine a Madonna song followed by Kendrick Lamar and then Blake Shelton. It would be odd.
Now let’s get back to books. Imagine going into a bookstore and there is not a single label or sign anywhere in the store to tell you which section you’re in. Why? No genres. So the entire store is alphabetized by author. The store is one big blob of books. Business books. Young adult. Mystery. History. Art. All shelved together with no “label”.
Think about this. How many times have you read a book, series, or author and immediately wondered what to read next? I haven’t done it much recently, but I have done it. So you play around on Amazon or Google or maybe even on the author’s website trying to find similar works. That’s what genres help with. I once randomly grabbed a book at Barnes and Noble by Robert B. Parker. I’d never read any detective fiction before. In subsequent years I found Spenser, Elvis Cole, Alex McKnight, Charlie Hood, Alex Cross, and Harry Bosch. These characters are not the same and they’re not directly influential of one another, but they do fall under the same umbrella of detective fiction.
There’s nothing limiting about genres. If you want to write something that blends several different genres together in the pages of a single book, then go ahead. But newsflash, it’s already been done plenty before you and those books are all categorized somewhere.
Do you think genres are important? Or are they just stupid labels to you?
I don’t know what the rest of the world is doing today, but here in the US it’s Father’s Day. Or is it Fathers Day? Anyway, I figured I’d write a relevant post about it. So we’re talking dads in books. Let’s get to it.
If you don’t know, I’m reading To Kill a Mockingbird for my next video. I’ll be finished with it today once I’m home from work. Which means I’m not going to tell you anything about what I think of Atticus or the book here, except that I think he belongs on this list.
He’s a detective in DC. Then moves on to the FBI. Then I think he goes back to detective work. I think. I’m only about halfway through the series and James Patterson releases them too fast for me to keep up with. But I’ve never read a single page of one of the Cross novels thinking that his family wasn’t his top priority. Reading about him and his family is just as entertaining as reading about the criminals he goes after.
He’s not actually a father. But during the course of one of his books he takes a kid under his wing, and never forgets about him. And they develop this really interesting understanding between each other that I don’t think I’ve seen in other stories. Paul (the kid he takes under his wing) eventually knows when Spenser has something on his mind without needing to ask. He knows when to press him for information and when to back off. He knows as much about Spenser as Spenser is willing to let anyone know. Which is really cool because Spenser doesn’t go around giving out information about himself unnecessarily.
I think that’s it. I just discovered that most of the characters I read aren’t fathers. I guess having kids isn’t interesting enough to be in books. Who are some cool dads you’ve read about in literature?
And happy Father’s Day to all you papas out there.
I really mean author/writer/poet. Past or present. Dead or alive.
If you glance over at my Bookish Bucket List you’ll see that there are a few authors I want to meet. It’s a nice little list of different authors, but there’s one I’d like to meet over all the rest. I talked about him yesterday. Robert B. Parker.
He’s influenced the entire genre that is detective fiction. I can see bits of his characters and style in most detective stories I read. And I’ve read interviews from bestselling authors of today who admit that their detectives were heavily influenced by Spenser. Parker shaped the modern detective story like no one else has.
But the thing is that I wouldn’t want to pick his brain about his characters or stories or any of that stuff. I’d just want to have a conversation with him. About anything. I might ask him about his family. Or about why he started writing in the first place. Or what he viewed as his single greatest accomplishment, writing-related or otherwise. I’d simply want to get to know the man behind one of the great characters of the last fifty years. But at no point would I ask for writing advice, because he’s more than just an author to me. He managed to influence me without ever knowing it in many more things besides my own writing.
What about you? If you could meet one writer/author/poet from any period, who would it be?
On this day in 2014 I published Listen While you…Write?.
I read a post this weekend that got thinking about this very thing.
Have you ever been reading a series and then the author suddenly dies before finishing it? And another author is tasked with continuing the series. I have, though I’m not near the end of the series just yet. In 2010 Robert B. Parker died suddenly before he could finish either of his most popular series (Spenser and Jesse Stone). In the years since his death there have been 11 books written in three of his series by various authors. And I think all have been New York Times bestsellers.
I don’t know how I feel about this. Wait, actually I know exactly how I feel. These characters will not go on forever. Eventually there will be an end to their respective series, and I don’t like knowing that Parker will not be able to be the one to finish them. I think the first two or three books published after his death were unfinished manuscripts he’d had when he died. But I think it’s safe to say that the new books being released at this point are hardly the creation of Parker.
I understand that it sucks that he happened to die before he could finish his series. But if given the choice of continuing the series written by other authors or finishing where he left off, I’m not sure what my pick will be. I have plenty of books left before I reach that point, but this hopefully doesn’t become a trend.
What do you think? Want your favorite series to be continued after the author dies or not?
Seems like an odd question, right?
I was lying in bed just a few minutes ago when I thought of this topic. I know for certain that James Patterson’s characters sleep. Because Detective Alex Cross is often woken from his sleep to get to a scene or by something happening inside his own home. I also think Spenser and Harry Bosch sleep in their stories. But that’s about all I could come up with. Three characters written by three different authors.
Isn’t that just a little odd? Sleeping is something that everyone must do, but it doesn’t happen often in books. At least not the ones I’m reading. I know Andrew sleeps in my book. I think I probably ended three chapters with him going to sleep after a long day. And that’s really what I’m talking about here. I’m not expecting to have these characters sleep in every chapter or something. But I do think it’s possible that authors sometimes forget that these are supposed to be people. Sure there fictional, but how many characters do we see coming to TV or movies every year?
Just a thought.
Do your characters sleep?
I actually just read a blog post about this topic yesterday that gave me the idea to write this. I’d link to the post if I remembered the name. Oh well.
Let me just tell you what this other blogger said. She categorized a “long” series as more than five books. And basically said that anything more than that is just too long and fails to keep her attention. I disagree. Let’s not forget Harry Potter was seven. Just saying.
I mean, five books being categorized as a “long” series is a joke. That is a short series. A very short one. I mean, five books is probably only long to YA readers who read trilogy after trilogy. Followed by Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey. I’m not trying to generalize here, but really who thinks five books is a long series? Who? Another question. How many books are in your favorite series? Mine happens to have three, but when I start looking at more of the series I read I see a whole lot more books than that. Let me see. Robert B. Parker’s Spenser series is into the 40s. And oh by the way, this is only considered one of the great detective series of the past half century. Jack Reacher is about to reach 20. Alex Cross is into the 20s. Harry Bosch is nearing 20 books. Alex McKnight is in the double digits. Jesse Stone is at 14. Elvis Cole is at 16.
See what I’m saying? These are not just random series I found on the internet. I read all of them and there are several more that I could name. But I think I’ve made my point. I know I don’t speak for every reader out there, but it does beg the question that if readers were turned off by long series, then why are so many authors writing them? Michael Connelly just released a new Bosch novel this week and I’m near certain that it’ll be a #1 NYT bestseller whenever the list updates. As is also the case with most of James Patterson’s books. And Lee Child’s. And Sue Grafton’s. And I know there are YA series that go on and on, as well.
The moral of this post is that I don’t buy into the notion that readers are turned off by long series. Not at all. There are way too many that sell quite well for that to be the case. But I’ll ask anyway, do you shy away from reading lengthy series?