December in Review 2018

December 2018

My break started mid-month so I was able to toss myself into my writing getting 20,000 words done on my WIP alone, not to mention a whole slew of shorts for other projects. On top of that, I added nine more to the book total to end the year at a nice rounded 135. Whew!

Books Read

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First up, The Overstory, the read for my book club. I didn’t know what to expect going into this, it being elected by others. Maybe that’s one reason I ended up liking it so much. The story was odd, and promoted the environment, but it didn’t feel tree-huggy. Although I loved all the disparate parts and storylines, I did feel like it was supposed to come together a little bit more in the end. I caught the overall arcing theme, but at points if came off more Douglas Coupland / Generation X type writing than high lit (it was nominated for some awards, but lost.) Still, loved it.

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Then I quick took one of the internet libraray, Murakami’s Strange Library. Maybe it’s because I read Killing Commendatore last month, but I wanted to go another round with him, and…it was okay for a book under 100 pages. It was classic Murakami all the way and could’ve made a killer novel if he had expanded on it. So-so overall.

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After that, I tried out a Middle Grade fare, The Wild Robot. So many people were geeking out about this, and everywhere on my visit to America this past summer, this book was up high for all to see in kid displays. I thought, hey, maybe there’s something here. Nope. I was wrong. This is a shoddily put together story about a robot on an island that slowly makes friends. The story doesn’t kick into full gear until 50 pages from the end in a 250 page book. If that were all, I’d say, hey this can be entertaining for kids based on the simplicity of the story, but the way the author wrote it was in now way simple. His vocabulary would confound a fair amount of young readers—including my daughter who loves to read. So…yuck!

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On my way to work, I took down another Murakami, What I talk about when I talk about running. It was also short, and even though it didn’t tap one hundred percent into how Murakami got to be Murakami world famous writer, we are offered glimpses into how it all started at least. What I loved was to hear him gush about certain things he loved about not only writing but also books, especially my fav—The Great Gatsby. So, all in all, I liked it.

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Another internet library book then fell in my lap with no expectations—Erotic Stories for Punjabi Women. Though not super erotic and the fact that it followed the basic story plotline you’d expect for this kind of book, it surprisingly was entertaining and informative on a group of people I didn’t know much about—the Sikhs. Added to it were a mystery, love story, and light sex humor. Just a plain, fun book.

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Then I finally finished my big fall reading project: Don Quixote. This is hard to capture really, just based on its size and power, but I enjoyed it even when it did slog at times. In my opinion, I enjoyed the literary aspect of the first one more and how each small story interrelated with each other and the grand overall theme of Don Quixote. The second book felt more like parody, so enjoyable, but not as rewarding. I liked it, but hard to recommend.

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Strangely, my next book is from a real library, Into Thin Air. Always heard about it, then found it on the shelf, so thought what the hell. It was awesome. Like a lot of non-fiction books I enjoy, it has a main storyline like a novel, interspersed with informational tidbits of mountain climbing and other such endeavors. And, just like The Martian and other adventure stories, I couldn’t help but put myself in the danger. Wonderful read!

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Almost as the last books foil, this non-fiction Us vs. Them: The Failure of Globalism was next on my list. The author knows what he’s talking about and gives a good look at the rise of nationalism today, with conjecture as to why Donald Trump and his like are growing more popular, but some of the book just doesn’t quite hit as well as I was hoping.

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This last one was for my students, and a reread. Brave New World. I read this twenty years ago, and only remember loving the third chapter. It still rings true. Although I’ve read more of Huxley’s non-fiction and loved it since, BNW wasn’t a bad revisit. He did thoroughly think up this world and comparing it to now, if not twenty years ago, I find it eerie how dead on he was at times. As my feelings sometimes resembles the dissenting voice of this book, I found more in it emotionally than my younger self possibly did.

Progress on 2018 goals

1) Finish Brief Lives / Query / Synopsis: Done / 2 letters / halfway: Done

2) Chewy Noh (graphic novel): Done (with outline)

3) Student workbook: Done

4) Spring Reading:

                  J.R.: Done!!!

                  Quixote: Done!!!!

5) Read 135 books: Done!!!

6) American Snowflakes: 100,000 words done…

Next Month’s Agenda

That’s it. The end of another year. I…hit a lot of highs—135 books read. Some months had 15 book totals—crazy for me. Others were lows—though I did a lot of writing, very few books—zero fiction—were completed. In my mind, it’s a transition year, a deepening of my content. I hope for something good to happen soon.

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