Read-a-thon Summary; Books #17 & #18

Read-a-thon Recap:

Stayed up ~22.5 hours
Read 510 pages.
Consumed 777 mg of caffeine.

Which is more reading time and pages read than in the spring with less than half the caffeine! Actually, the mid-round Guinness was probably the best thing because it relaxed my achy neck and shoulders.

Finished two books. The Night Circus is an electronic book. I read about half of it on my Sony Reader and half of it on my computer’s monitor. Sounds strange, but sometimes I find the Reader unwieldy. Plus my posture is slightly better when reading from my desktop computer.

Book #17 – Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir by Natalie Goldberg

Goldberg reiterates many of the tenants that she laid down in Writing Down the Bones (timed free writing, especially), but this book geared more specifically toward someone considering writing a memoir. There are plenty of writing prompts and some advice on structure and philosophy.

This isn’t a book that’s meant to be read straight through, but I did without stopping at the prompts. To some degree, I didn’t feel this was a book for me. Not just because I’m not interested in writing a memoir, but because it’s another book aimed toward the beginning writer. It’s not that the advice offered isn’t good, it’s just that the timing for me is bad. There isn’t much for the writer who has been at it for a while. There isn’t much anywhere for the writer having a crisis of faith.

In the end, though I might write down some of the prompts (it’s a library loan), Writing Down the Bones is still the better book to me.

Book #18 – The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I don’t usually read a book when its popular. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll read a popular book, but generally not the year it’s released. Maybe in a couple years, when it’s readily available at the library or the used bookstore. Maybe the same year if it’s a long awaited sequel, but I don’t usually read from the current bestseller list. The Night Circus has been popping up among different circles of my friends and it is a bit up my alley, so I decided to give it a read.

When I say this book is “up my alley,” I mean that Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine and Something Wicked This Way Come are among my favorite novels. Carnivale hasn’t been bumped off my top ten TV shows list.  Morgenstern has big shoes to fill when it comes to phantasmagorical traveling amusement parks; she doesn’t quite succeed in reaching that echelon.

The book starts out  written in second person present tense, which set me on edge. I’m an old fogy,  apparently, when it comes to POV. Luckily, the second person aspect is a gimmick used at the beginning and the end and at a couple points during the book to time-travel the reader, as it were. The rest of the book is in third person, present tense. I didn’t find that too annoying; just tiring. It’s like the action is too immediate, or maybe I’m semi-consciously time shifting the prose to past-tense and my brain gets fatigued. While the prose isn’t ornate, it’s detail heavy. I’m not surprised to find that Morgenstern is an artist as well as a writer. Her writing is very visual, but sometimes everything is just a little too eccentric.

I’ve read someone refer to this book as a salve to Harry Potter withdrawal. Since I haven’t read any of the Harry Potter books, I can’t speak to that.  For me, The Night Circus seems a little like The Prestige crossed with Buffy, the Vampire Slayer or Angel. The plot is a tad melodramatic. There are lovers, who may be enemies, who are kept apart because their love might be too much or it might save them all. There are innocents caught in the crossfire and fallout. While I was in the story, I was caught up in it.  Morgenstern does do a great job of pulling the reader in. Now that I’m done with the story, I have to admit that it was fun but, like many beloved Joss Whedon shows, somewhat hokey. The Night Circus doesn’t have the creepy wonderment of Bradbury or undeniable  loyalty-to-friends themes of Whedon, but it is a nice read none-the-less.

1 thought on “Read-a-thon Summary; Books #17 & #18

  1. Pingback: But I did need a new pair of black heels… | Simple Tricks and Nonsense

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