OK, I think I might have found a new-to-me author to read: just check out this awesomely to-the-point post by Elizabeth Bear on women in fantasy fiction. Couldn’t have put it better myself!
I’ve been rather quiet on both my blogs lately, but I’m glad to say that’s because I’ve been busy doing things, rather than blogging about thinking about doing things.
One of the main writing-related things I’ve been doing is reading. Lots and lots of reading. I find it so inspiring to lose myself in a story and often good books give me new perspective on my own writing. I might have been writing since I was barely into double-digits and I might have studied the craft for four years of university, but I still learn from reading (be that what to do or what to avoid!). So this post I’ll outline some of the fiction I’ve been reading, with another post to follow discussing the writing-related books I’ve been reading.
My recent reading escapades include …
Robin Hobb! I’ve been reading through the Farseer Trilogy and then the Tawny Man Trilogy alternating between devouring them greedily and carefully avoiding them for fear of horrible things happening in the stories. And I had a period of mourning when I finished the Tawny Man Trilogy because I knew that meant no more adventures with Fitz and the Fool.
I loved the Liveship Traders Trilogy, which I read a couple of years ago, but I love these two Fitzchivalry & Fool trilogies even more. She is a seriously skilled writer and an excellent study in human nature – she’s not afraid to acknowledge those less pleasant thoughts we all have and she puts them there in her characters, giving them a realism you don’t see often in characters of any genre. Seriously, if by some strange act of fate you’ve never read any Robin Hobb, you really, really must. Must!
The Hunger Games Trilogy. I quite enjoyed these and read through them very quickly, though I’ve definitely read better YA fiction and when I finished I was left wondering what the big fuss was about. Ultimately, this story is Battle Royale meets 1984 and a couple of other stories.
I did find the themes interesting, particularly the idea of the poor essentially being slaves to benefit the rich, which read, for me, as a critique of capitalism: in the capitalist triangle, the majority of people are at the bottom, working to provide for the minority who live in luxury at the top, getting (or remaining) rich from the hard work of those below them. In this series, the division is shown literally with the districts serving the Capitol. This idea of unequal division of wealth is a huge part of AT&aGw, so it was interesting to see it done in a different way and it was inspiring to read someone else’s writing on this idea.
Besides, who doesn’t love a good bit of dystopia?
I did watch the film after reading the books and I am quite in adoration of Rue – the girl who played her is possibly the cutest person in existence and has the biggest eyes I ever saw.
I’m teaching The Great Gatsby this year, so I thought I really should read it … And I actually found myself enjoying it. I often dislike books considered to be ‘classics’ as they tend to be a bit, well, boring. (Not all classics, but quite a few! Don’t get me started on Dickens or Jane Eyre. Really. You’ll regret it!)
But The Great Gatsby was an thought-provoking and intriguing read, with plenty of rumination to be done around the characters and themes. I even did a mind map of the themes – I’m a geek like that, but in my defence, it will help me when teach the novel. At least that’s my excuse.
I’m particularly excited at the prospect of a Baz Luhrmann adaptation coming out. He is the perfect director to capture the bizarre, carnivalesque excess of Fitzgerald’s vision of the ‘roaring twenties’. And the cast list is perfect. The only downer on the release of this film is that it’s been pushed back to next summer. Sad times.
I’m part-way through Mrs Robinson’s Disgrace. I have mixed feelings about this one. Mrs Robinson seems to have lived at an incredible time, crossing paths with some of her age’s most famous writers, scientists and philosophers and her story will leave you open-mouthed at the sheer injustice done to women of her age. However, for various reasons, I was expecting an account that read more like a story, than a fairly blandly-told history. My expectations aren’t the writer’s fault, they’re because of what someone told me before I started reading, but it is interesting to remember that the reader and their expectations and previous experiences are as big a part of the book as the writer and their intentions. The bland writing though, well that could be down to me not being suited to reading history, or the author not being particularly suited to writing it!
Even so, an interesting story worth reading if you’re at all interested in the realities of life for Victorian women.
What fiction have you been reading lately? Anything exciting? Have you read Robin Hobb? What did you think?
I love to get book recommendations and rarely buy a book without one, so I’d love to hear if you have any!