November Reading & Writing Check-In

It’s been a slow but steady writing month due to work – I’ve been making word-level edits to my novel draft all month, as well as pulling together a list of bigger edits from the full-draft feedback I got from my workshop group. I’m hoping to knock the rest of the edits out over the Christmas break ready to (gasp!) potentially start submitting to agents while working on Novel 2.

Because I’ve been working quite far out I’ve got a lot of reading done this month, thanks to the train rides.

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The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett – It feels like almost cheating to include this, as I was half-way through it last check-in and it’s already merged in my head with The Colour of Magic again. I still thoroughly enjoyed re-reading this – I really enjoy reading about Rincewind and Twoflower, and the ending even managed to be a little sad.

The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey – I picked this up second hand aaages ago, so it was good to actually get it read. It has a really intriguing take on the zombie story, and the different viewpoint characters all have a great depth to them. It’s not perfect – Justineau becomes a flatter and flatter character as Parks gains depth, which caused me to fall out of love with it a little towards the end – but it’s definitely worth a read if you’re trying to read good modern genre fiction.

The Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula Le Guin – Since Equal Rites riffs on this quite a lot, I wanted to read this before I read it – as well as just having wanted to read them for a while. I really enjoyed reading The Dispossessed during my undergrad, so I was intrigued to experience Le Guin’s fantasy works. While the first one is a little bit simplistic-fantasy-book-for-actual-children at points, it definitely ramps up towards the end, and the latter two built on the foundations of the first to create intriguing and often dark reads. Part of what’s interesting about them is how different they all are – A Wizard of Earthsea is a fun fantasy adventure novel, The Tombs of Atuan is a much weirder tale about a cult that’s geographically remote from the rest of the series, and The Far Shore is a corrupted version of the adventure tale that deals with existential horror about the idea of mortality. Reading them all together has been really interesting, and I’m glad they hold up to their classic reputation.

Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett – Another read for the Discworld book club. This is, infamously, the last Discworld book I read the first time I tried to read the series. It didn’t grip me quite as much as the first two did, but this version of Granny Weatherwax as an ornery witch who’s never been outside her village before is quite fun (though I’m told she’s basically a different character in later books), and it was a nice gentle read during a stressful week. I can definitely see where it riff on Earthsea, with the mountain villages and very gender-split magical philosophy.

Citizen by Claudia Rankine – This book was actually left to me by an American friend with not enough room in their suitcase for all of the books they accumulated while living here. I’ve read Lydia Davis’ prose poetry before, so I didn’t have any issues with the “genre” of the book in a way that I’ve heard debated – it’s a very powerful, emotional read based on the writer’s experience and musings on racism. It’s very creative with the way it’s put together, with pictures and multimedia that make it part poetry book and part art piece.

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