Book Report: What I Read This Fall (Or Not)

So how’d I do on my fall TBR list? (Because I’m sure you’re dying to know, right?)

Well… Here are the books:

The Green and Burning Tree: on the Writing and Enjoyment of Children’s Books by Eleanor Cameron.

The Company They Keep: C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien as Writers in Community by Diana Pavlac Glyer.

Under My Skin by Charles de Lint (from the summer TBR list).

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (from the summer TRB list).

Half World by Hiromo Goto.

The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser.

The Islands of Chaldea by Diana Wynne Jones and Ursula Jones.

Singing the Dogstar Blues by Alison Goodman.

The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson.

Bombay Blues by Tanuja Desai Hidier.

I haven’t read any more of The Green and Burning Tree than I had a month ago, which is absurd because the few dozen pages I have read were deep and beautiful: Cameron writes in a way that not only describes, but illuminates, giving the reader not merely analysis but an almost visceral taste of the rich wonder and the profound truth of the books she describes. Nor have I opened The Company They Keep, which sounds fantastic and comes highly recommended. I think it’s because of the snob appeal that knowledge of JRR Tolkien seems to confer these days – much as I admire his writing, the anti-snob in me resists. Maybe the solution is to put on some opera (another anti-snob hang-up, which is sad because there really are a number of beautiful operas) and open the book to enjoy two semi-guilty pleasures at once.

Under My Skin hasn’t happened – but I’m sure I’ll go on another Charles de Lint kick sometime in 2015. His books I tend to read in spurts, and in between spurts, not at all.

The Count of Monte Cristo – there really is no excuse for not reading this. And there is no reason for me to associate this tale with Don Quixote (really, I ought to link it with The Three Musketeers, via author), but so it is. These books ought to be enjoyed, I suspect, snuggled under a blanket with a mug of hot chocolate and maybe a slice of toast or an orange, while outside rain batters the windows. From what I’ve heard of these two classics, they’re going to be an absolute pleasure to read.

Half World wasn’t what I expected it to be. The sentences often followed the structure of conversation rather than the conventions of grammar, in a manner reminiscent of Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Armand Gamache mysteries. Most backstories, even that of the protagonist, were hinted at or drawn in vague, rough outlines rather than filled in. I would have liked more detail (and complete sentences) but that is also part of the idea behind the story – that we don’t know each other’s stories, and even that our own stories cannot be described or limited. The idea of, in Half World, reliving your worst moments until you are reconciled and grow past it made me think of Hexwood and how the Bannus plays with potential Reigners through a variety of scenarios in order to determine the new Hand, and how the Bannus makes Mordion, Ann, Hume, and the others “re-run” events (the ultimate deja-vu) until they – wait, that’s spoiler territory. Another post, perhaps? That would be an interesting comparison.

I finally read The Islands of Chaldea! I liked it. Nothing will take the place of Howl’s Moving Castle (Sophie! Howl! Calcifer! Market Chipping, Kingsbury, and Porthaven! Witches and wizards and ordinary merchants!) but even so… Another book I will reread someday. And by someday I mean sometime this coming year.

Another that I read and liked very much is Singing the Dogstar Blues. Why oh why did I wait so many years to read this? Also a book to reread sometime. Maybe in conjunction with Virginia Wolf. I’ve written about The Madness Underneath elsewhere so I’ll spare you the fangirling here. Now it’s time to waaaaaaaaaaaaaait for the next Shades book to come out.

I’m currently reading Bombay Blues – chapter 31 at the moment.

As for The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser (drumroll, please), more about that anon. What began as a determined undertaking has become a balm, a natural portal, the most-beloved of all the books I have read this fall.

What about you – does your autumn TBR list have a row of check marks beside the titles, or did it grow so long you can’t find the beginning? Thoughts on the books above?