Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

  • Around the Year #9: from one of the top 5 money-making genres
  • Book Riot #6: by an author of color and set in or about space

For the record, the five popular genres I could have chosen from were:

  1. romance/erotica
  2. crime/mystery
  3. religious/inspirational
  4. sci-fi/fantasy
  5. horror

Most of these choices are not my bag, though if there’s ever a future year where I have to take on both these “big 5” genres and the 1 Mil+ Goodreads thing again, I may finally just put a clothespin on my nose and read 50 Shades. But for this year, sci-fi was definitely the best choice for me. I don’t follow the genre nearly as well as I did back in high school, but I have more of an interest in sci-fi than in the other 4 types of book.

As, in fact, evidenced by the way I’ve collected a wee small collection of sci-fi books along the way through my addiction to Kindle daily deals. I purchased Binti because it was listed as a big award winner in sci-fi—like Hugo and Nebula awards, which are legitimately a Big Deal. I was also looking to widen my understanding of contemporary sci-fi by grabbing a title written by an African-American woman.* And I am very glad to have been introduced to Okorafor’s body of work.

Still, I have so many mixed feelings about this book.

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Spell or High Water by Scott Meyer

After a couple of thematically challenging reads, I will freely admit that it was nice to spend a few days back in the land of Kindle popcorn.

I know it may not be the most usual approach to deliberately spread out the books in a series like I’m doing with Meyer’s Magic 2.0—I imagine the more intuitive choice for most readers would be to read the series all in a clump together. But this approach is working for me. In part because it allows for the occasional popcorn palate cleanser when I need one. In part because I remain sufficiently lukewarm on the series that I wouldn’t want to read only these books for any particular length of time.

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Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

I do what I can to fill out my reading categories using books I already have, whether they’re on Kindle or physically on the bookshelves. But there’s always a few categories that don’t readily lend themselves to that approach. PopSugar’s call-out to ghost stories this year is definitely one of those outlier categories, so I did what I usually do to make a selection: crawl the challenge discussion boards on Goodreads to get some ideas.

Between the good reviews (both on the boards and in the press), the National Book Award, and the resonance with my ongoing desire to keep reading more books by African-American authors, this seemed a book well worth the choosing.

And indeed it was.

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Off to Be the Wizard by Scott Meyer

(So far as my Around the Year plan goes, this book was read a tiny bit out of sequence: I jumped to it while waiting to get off the libe waitlist for category #6. Considering how sick I was this past week, it’s probably just as well that I had a non-taxing title like this one to be working through.)

Based on my experience with the PopSugar challenges over the past few years, I would postulate that the staffers over there* are kinda obsessed with the notion of literary genre.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t say that as a slam in the tiniest bit. After all, I spent all my grad school years being obsessed with literary genres, their categorization schema, their overlaps, and so on. But the notion of genre–especially obscure and unusual genres–has definitely been a recurring theme in their construction of topics. I found it most challenging last year when we were asked to read a book in a genre we’d never heard of before: several google searches on the topic only uncovered genres I had heard of before. Too bad I didn’t know about this year’s list while making my 2018 strategy, because 2019 PopSugar names not 1, but 2, different genres I had never heard of till looking at the categories list.

Including “LitRPG.”

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Caveat Emptor: The Secret Life of an American Art Forger by Ken Perenyi

This is another one of those impulse “daily deal” purchases. With advertising copy like this—

The astonishing true story of America’s most accomplished art forger: a kid from New Jersey who became a master, fooling experts and eluding the FBI for thirty years.

—a New Jersey connection*, and a decent string of 4- and 5-star Amazon reviews, what’s not to like?

More than I expected, actually

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Hospital Sketches by Louisa May Alcott

One might guess that I’m feeling better today than yesterday, being as I have been able to read–as indicated by another category completion on the year’s reading tally. That is, indeed, the case. Unlike yesterday’s achiness, it no longer hurts to be up and around. However, I am still finding myself to get tired out very easily.

All of which is to say: lucky for me this is such a wee slip of a book. Both for my capacity to finish reading it today, and for my odds of writing a book review tonight.

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Words about Words

I’m aware that there’s a certain–irony?–to having made this new pledge to do more writing and then to follow up by writing solely about my reading schedule for the year. I know: that isn’t actually ironic at all, unless you mean “ironic” as in the old Alanis song. Let’s just call it “slightly counter-intuitive.”

And I get that. I’ve tried (and failed) to work my way through Julia Cameron’s Artist’s Way multiple times, but I still remember her counsel about putting yourself on a “reading fast.”

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