These are the books I read this month.
The Secret Life of Pronouns by James Pennebaker: This book was fascinating. It’s about the patterns of how we use language, and what those patterns say about us. It focuses on smaller words- pronouns, I words, connecting words, but also usage of verbs and details. For example, “Drops in I-words are a powerful tell among people about to carry out a threat.” I found some very useful information in it, seeing as it covers the language patterns of suicidal poets, people who are lying, and how language plays into power dynamics in groups; and the novel I’m working on includes a suicidal poet, her group of friends, and people who are lying about various things. My favorite quote is:
This person is the Alvin Ailey of punctuation.
Modesty Blaise by Peter O’Donnell: I first read this series when I was a teenager, and have dipped back into them various times throughout the years. Modesty is a hero of mine, she speaks multiple languages, can kick anyone’s booty, ran a world wide criminal organization and now consults for the British government. The books are full of crazy awesome adventure. This is the first book in the series, and I realized that I hadn’t read it in a long time, and needed a good, comfortable read. It definitely did the trick.
This is a depiction of Modesty by the amazing Joelle Jones. I need to get another from her with Modesty and Willie…
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman: This was wonderful. A man goes back to his childhood home and begins to remember events he had forgotten, magical, terrifying events. That’s really all you need to know. It’s gorgeous and moving. Favorite quotes:
I’m going to tell you something important. Grown-ups don’t look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they’re big and thoughtless and they always know what they’re doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. The truth is, there aren’t any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world.
You don’t pass or fail at being a person, dear.
A Field Guide to Now by Christina Rosalie: This is a lovely little book full of ideas to ponder. Part memoir, part introduction to mindfulness by example, it has short chapters based around an idea and an experience of the author. The writing is strong and clear, and I enjoyed it. Favorite quotes:
Without intending to, we let our most urgent, wild, creative selves grow quiet under layers of accumulated stress and distraction. And our fear of being new at something- of starting out and maybe failing- is what keeps us from risking all that we are, to become all that we are meant to become.
There is no other way to begin, than to begin. Becoming who you are meant to be always requires this: starting, and starting again, for this is the only way to encounter possibility as it unfolds. It’s the act of brushing up against the unknown that ignites will and chance and potential.
The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown: This book is excellent, also full of ideas you have to chew on. It challenges how we look at ourselves, and how we can approach our lives in a more whole hearted way. Favorite quotes:
When we spend a lifetime trying to distance ourselves from the parts of our lives that don’t fit with who we think we’re supposed to be, we stand outside of our story, and hustle for our worthiness by constantly performing, perfecting, pleasing, and proving.
Perfectionism is not the same things as striving to be your best. Perfectionism is not about healthy achievement and growth. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgement, and shame.
The opposite of play is not work- the opposite of play is depression.
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle: I appreciated these stories so much more now than I did when I read them when I was younger. The one thing that stood out, though, was how the TV and film depictions of him highlight his brilliance but downplay the work that he’s put into his powers of observation. According to the stories, he puts in hours of testing and observing so that he can recognize all the different kinds of cigarette ash or other things. It’s not photographic memory or magic, it’s effort. Anyway, the stories are fun, and I even solved a couple of them before I got to the end.
This is How You Die edited by Ryan North, Matthew Bennardo, and David Malki: This book is so good. It’s a collection of short stories based on the premise of the existence of a machine that can accurately predict how you will die. There’s no getting around it, no avoiding it, whether you know about it or not. The different stories explore the ramifications of such a machine on societies, individuals, and relationships. The stories are widespread in their approach and subjects, and they’re fascinating. I seriously can’t recommend this book (and its predecessor, Machine of Death), highly enough.
Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Gaol by Gyles Brandreth: I have loved this series, and I’m sad it’s over. Based in the life of Oscar Wilde, just with murders put in, they’re very enjoyable reads if you’re a fan of Oscar, as I am. This one was more melancholy than the previous books as it’s set during Oscar’s time in jail for being gay. It’s very well written, and the mystery is well done.
The Equivoque Principle by Darren Craske: This is the first book in a series. A circus strongman is framed for murder, and the ringmaster of the circus has to solve the murder. It’s a fun Victorian adventure, and sets up an interesting world for further books. I’ve started the next book, and it’s continuing in the same vein.
I’m also part way through a couple of other books that are non-fiction and need thought, so they’re taking longer to go through.
So the total for the month is 9, year to date is 72.
What are you reading?