it's independent bookstore day tomorrow! check this melville house post for a sampling of events taking place!
over the last few weeks, i've been texting with a good friend of mine who always seems to end up reading bad books. the thing, though, is that she sticks with them, determined to finish them, even if she's already read the summary online and knows what's going to happen, something about holding out hope because the summary is good or there are bits of good writing here and there or there's a character she likes. i, on the other hand, have become a robot in replying back, stop reading bad books, and laughing at her misery or disappointment because apparently i'm much more brutal as a reader -- a novel gets fifty pages to convince me it's worth my time, and a short story gets five, and, if it starts flailing when i'm halfway, three-fourths of the way through, then, well ...
... and i shared this here because we've been texting back and forth about this constantly over the last month, so it's been on my mind.
in april, i read six books. it felt like a long month, so i didn't think i'd done much reading, but i feel like part of that was because i read a lot in concentrated bursts with empty days in-between. it's been a weird month, but i guess i tend to substitute the word "weird" when i mean "super super low."
six books isn't a shabby number, but april's actually been a tough reading month. i've felt largely uninspired to read, and reading actually bummed me out for a good week or so about halfway through the month, especially when i'd pick something up and find the writing mediocre at best, the story flat and uncompelling, the voice uninteresting and lacking in personality because, then, all i was left with was the same old tired question of how did this get published.
sometimes, i think about publishing and how it has to change, open up, diversify, and it bums me out. sometimes, i go to book events and look around for another person of color, and it feels like looking for unicorns. sometimes, i think about these redundant articles that have been popping up about people who've committed to reading only books by women or books by people of color, and i call them redundant because they say the same thing -- that it's an enriching experience, that it's difficult to find writing by people of color or writing in-translation, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera -- and i wonder how many of these articles need to be published for things to start shifting. sometimes, i think about how houses essentially publish riffs of the same writer, and i think about how boring that is and how, if these houses that can afford to take risks aren't, then what does that say about the state of books? we can only point at amazon for so long when the industry itself needs to change, too.
i confess to feeling a bit disheartened, and i also confess that part (not all) of that stems from being a reader of color.
and i will endeavor to have my april post up in a timely manner!
this week i've been reading ... not much. i found an ARC of mia couto's confession of the lioness (FSG, 2015, forthcoming) at housing works last week, so i started reading that earlier this week, and, while the writing is enchanting, i'm finding myself a little lost, unable to ground myself in the world or with the characters. then i started reading an ARC of erika swyler's the book of speculation (st. martin's press, 2015, forthcoming), also found at housing works a few months back, and i'm only thirty pages in, which isn't enough to form an actual opinion yet. i've also been reading amy rowland's the transcriptionist (alonquin, 2014) on my iphone via oyster books over the last month, and i've been enjoying a whole lot, even though it took me a while to stop thinking of it as taking place mid-20th century or something. i'd actually like to have this book, so i'll probably go looking for it tomorrow during independent bookstore day!