The Mail I Get . . . 5/15/18

(with apologies to Lee Goldberg for stealing his title for blog posts to describe the strange, the obnoxious, the puzzling emails that he gets.)

I don’t normally do this, but come on.

I received this review request today:

[Title Redacted] is for the 21st century woman who is ready for a new narrative about dating, romance, sex and life! [Title Redacted] helps women move from fear to freedom. It offers practical dating advice, teaching women to navigate through the often challenging and daunting dating world, while countering the sexist, stereotypical and, frankly, stupid “instructions” spewed at women by self-professed male “dating experts.”

[Title Redacted] puts the FUN back into dating while also providing no-nonsense guidance that empowers and encourages women who have grown weary, been disappointed, and are still holding on to outmoded and unrealistic expectations about their dating choices. [Title Redacted] reminds women of their worth, helping them understand that they do not need to fit some antiquated model of being “accepted” or “chosen” by men.

For women who are so ready to sever the cord – quickly, forcefully and permanently – that has kept them bound by dangerous dogma and silly, sexist “thought leaders,” [Title Redacted] offers fresh, funny advice for discovering themselves, deciding what they really want, and enjoying dating!

I’m not expecting some author/editor/representative to exhibit an exhaustive knowledge of this blog — but what on Earth suggests for a second that this is the kind of book I’d read (much less appreciate)??? Why spend the time filling out my form without taking a quick glance around to see if it’s in my wheelhouse (the form pretty much makes it clear that it’s not).


2018 Independent Bookstore Day

I didn’t celebrate Independent Bookstore Day in quite the same way I did in 2017. Last year, we went to Rediscovered Books, bought a couple of books and then went elsewhere and adopted a dog. This year, we went to Rediscovered Books — played a game (which got me a Blind Date with a Book) — bought a couple of books and chatted with an author.

Altogether less expensive, and I didn’t have to talk in a higher-pitched voice — not even once.

Yeah, I clearly need more practice at taking pics like that. Anyway, I grabbed The Vinyl Detective – Written in Dead Wax by Andrew Cartmell (mostly because Ben Aaronovitch talked a lot about the books on Twitter and whatnot). My Blind Date is with Fonda Lee’s Jade City, described as “Fantasy/Adult” and “The Godfather but with magic” (or words to that effect). And then I also purchased — and got signed — the new version of Devri Wall’s Venators.

Back in 2016, I read and blogged about Devri Wall’s The Wizard’s Heir and Venators: Through the Arch, and she was nice enough to answer A Few Quick Questions for me. We got to chat about why there’s a new version of the book, when to expect the next in the series, and what not. My wife, who actually thinks about things other than books, suggested getting a picture (ever the rookie, my fingers are covering the title).

As part of the game at RD, I had to take a couple of pics, I might as well throw them up here. One task was to take a picture of the bookstore — here’s the rare empty spot today (filled up seconds later). Another task was to take a photo of a Non-Fiction book with a great cover. I don’t know that I’ll read Best Before: The Evolution and Future of Processed Food, but that’s just a great cover.

Misc. Notes 4/19/18 (a.k.a. Real Life(™) is Interfering with Blogging)

There are 3 books that I really wanted to talk about this week — and so far, I haven’t. I’ve got 1/3 (maybe less) of a post about Steve Cavanagh’s The Plea written, but I just don’t have time to finish it in time to post; I think sleep deprivation might be the best way to write about the insane (and insanely froody) Jimbo Yojimbo by David W. Barbee — but that’ll have to wait (alas); and lastly Life Begins When The Kids Leave Home And The Dog Dies by Barb Taub is going to be fun to talk about.

I got Noirville, the short story collection in the mail today from Fahrenheit Press — it looks great. I’m sure the stories are as nifty as the book they’re printed in.

I was reminded yesterday that I hadn’t started, much less posted about, a particular book this month. I’d totally forgotten I’d agreed to it. Which makes 3 more books I have to read this month (plus three from March I ran out of time for). If only I wasn’t in the middle of the busiest month of the year at work. I have to learn how to say no . . . but there’s so many good-looking books out there, it’s so hard to say anything but “yes.”

Lastly, Luca Veste’s The Bone Keeper is chillingly cool. I’m hoping to get to post about it next week (and hoping to finish reading it …well, probably about the time this posts).

From the Mailbag: How Do I Read So Much?

I got a very pleasant comment/question/quemment a couple of days ago from a relatively new reader, Vitor. I’ll cut out the stuff that flatters me (not that I didn’t appreciate it), and stick with the heart of his email:

I’m not here just to talk about how much your writing has been pushing me to read more, but I want to know how can it be possible to read as much as you do, even with our daily routine…

Thanks for the quemment, Vitor — I’m going to try to reply more via email, but for now, I’ll write a bit here because I need content for today.

First off — don’t worry about numbers. Seriously. Yeah, I track them for this and that, but unless I get wrapped up in the ego-game (which happens a lot more than I like), it’s not a focus. Worry about the what you’re reading — is it what you want to be reading and is it giving you what you want?

Secondly, I’ve been a fast reader since I was a kid. That helps my numbers considerably. I’m not a speed reader, I tried some of that years ago, and go so wrapped up in the techniques that I never retained anything I “read.” Also most of the people who really get into that don’t seem to have a lot of fun reading, and what’s the point? (I’m not saying speed readers who get a lot of joy out of it don’t exist, just that I’ve never met one).

Can I interrupt here to recommend Alan Jacobs’ excellent book: The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction, which I blogged about here. I think if you get into Jacobs’ mindset (or a close equivalent), it’ll help a lot.

But to sort of actually answer your question, let me start with Nero Wolfe — one of the greatest characters created in the last century — reads a great deal, too. I tried to find the quotation describing his reading habits and couldn’t (which will bother me for a week or two), but essentially, he’s not a quick reader, but he reads steadily. That’s the key. As you read more, you’ll get better at it, and eventually, quicker.

Essentially, here’s how my typical weekday breaks down as far as reading: I get to work 30 minutes (or so) early, spend 20 minutes reading; I get two breaks plus lunch — that’s roughly another hour; and then I get another 30-60 minutes in after I get home (I try not to turn the laptop or social media on until I get some good reading done, and usually succeed.). Then if I have to take a kid somewhere, pick them up from something, etc. — there’s a few minutes to read. Basically, any time there’s a few minutes to kill, I grab my book — it’s better than Angry Birds or Facebook. This past weekend, for example, my daughter was in a school play — after we got in our seats, I had about 20 minutes of reading time, plus part of the intermission. So that’s 2-2.5 hours a day, during the week (plus some occasional bonus time). Sometimes on quiet Fridays I’ll get more done — or if I’m almost finished with a book, I’ll negotiate a few extra minutes with my wife before we start Jeopardy!.

Frequently (especially in December/January), in my Saturday Miscellany posts, I’ll post something along the lines of how to read more, here’s a couple of them that you might find helpful.

  • How to read more books in 2018
  • Ask a Literary Lady: I Need a Better New Year’s Resolution Than “Read More”

  • Anyway, the main reason I posted this response here rather than via email is so that commenters can chime in with handy tips, etc. So, please — help him. (Paul, I’m especially looking at you here).

    The trouble with audiobooks…

    This morning I heard the phrase, “her two perfect teeth,” describing the surgically enhanced and improved trophy wife of an entertainment executive. Which made no sense at all to me and, frankly distracted me from what he went on to read.

    Two minutes or so later, it hit me that what the narrator had actually said was actually, “too-perfect teeth” (punctuation is a guess). Which is actually fitting for the context.

    Looking back at 2017 for Books and the Blog

    As we kick off 2017, I wanted to take a glance back at 2017. 260 books read — I exceeded my goal (nothing like exceeding an arbitrary number to boost the ol’ ego), 395 posts (short of my goal by a couple hundred, and worse — almost 50 fewer than 2015!). I had some strong gains in traffic — views and visitors — and I’m also seeing good growth in followers here and on various social media fronts, which is encouraging as all get out.

    So here’s my breakdown of books by genre, like the one I did last year. Genre labeling is more difficult this year, I read a lot of hybrids, but I tend to go with the overarching genre (for example, Artemis is a SF and Crime hybrid, I went with SF). Mystery/Suspense/Thriller is back to where it should be. SF and Fantasy took the hit to make up for that. it’s been forever since I’ve read a Western, I guess (at least one that wasn’t a hybrid with Urban Fantasy or SF or something). Theological books went down in actual numbers, not just percent — but I read some big, technical stuff this year that took a lot more time/energy to read, so I’m not too bothered by that. Still, for someone who doesn’t plan too thoroughly, the percentages stay remarkably the same from year to year — tastes (and series I follow) apparently stay the same.

    Genre 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012
    Children’s 7 (3%) 5 (2%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%)
    Fantasy 7 (3%) 31 (13%) 17 (9%) 11 (7%) 15 (8%) 12 (6%)
    General Fiction/
    29 (10%) 27 (11%) 17 (9%) 7 (4%) 30 (16%) 30 (14%)
    Horror 0 (0%) 1 (.4%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%)
    Humor 1 (0%) 0 (0%) 1 (1%) 3 (2%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%)
    102 (37%) 61 (25%) 64 (34%) 62 (37%) 63 (33%) 73 (35%)
    Non-Fiction 10 (4%) 11 (5%) 8 (4%) 4 (2%) 2 (1%) 11 (5%)
    Science Fiction 27 (10%) 37 (15%) 16 (8%) 17 (10%) 14 (7%) 11 (5%)
    Steampunk 1 (0%) 2 (1%) 7 (4%) 3 (2%) 3 (2%) 11 (5%)
    Christian Living
    30 (11%) 33 (14%) 42 (22%) 42 (25%) 37 (19%) 10 (5%)
    Urban Fantasy 45 (16%) 36 (15%) 19 (10%) 20 (12%) 26 (14%) 48 (23%)
    Western 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 1 (0%)

    Have a great 2018, hope you find plenty of good things to read!

    Thanksgiving 2017

    Happy Thanksgiving/Turkey Day/Thursday

    (depending on your location/preference)

    When I think about all the great things that have happened around the blog and behind the scenes this year leaves me at a loss for words, let me list a few things I’m thankful for — a very incomplete list, I assure you:

    • The readers of this blog, the authors who’ve corresponded with me/provided books for me to read/encouraged me — even promoted this here project (seriously, Nathaniel Barber and Darrell Drake have done almost as much to advertise my work as I have). There are publicists, publishers, etc. I’ve been working with this year who’ve especially made things great — I’d mention some of you by name, but I’d inadvertently miss one I meant to include and would feel horrible nd cause offense.
    • Books
    • Authors!
    • Books
    • Coffee (and other beverages both caffeinated and adult)
    • Books
    • Time to read
    • Books
    • Easily finding an appropriate image for this post for a change
    • Audiobooks and talented narrators
    • The Nampa Public Library (and The LYNX! Consortium) — and their generous grace period /li>
    • Books
    • Goodreads, WordPress, NetGalley, BookLikes
    • Books
    • Evernote
    • Books
    • Authors!
    • Authors!
    • My supportive, understanding and encouraging wife and kids who do a pretty decent job pretending to care when their old man drones on and on about what he’s reading.

    • Again, all of you who read, follow, like, tweet, comment, email, etc. this page — you have no idea how much every little bit is appreciated.