How many #Books do you read in a Week? #amreading

I read two books a week these days. Less, sometimes, depending on how big, or difficult the book is. I’m trying to squeeze in more reading time, but it seems like an uphill battle.

I have a sky-high To-be-read pile: enough to last me years if I keep reading at my current rate.

They make me anxious, all these books I haven’t read. Some days I wonder whether I would ever finish my TBR pile. When I die, I want a just-finished book in my still-warm hands.

The Reading Experience

The Reading Experience

I’m thinking of taking a Reading Sabbatical next year– a month or two (or more!) when I would do nothing but read, no writing or blogging if I can help it, just minimal life-activity.

What about you? How many books did you read this week?

Ever had a panic attack about the number of books still on your To-be-read list? What is your reading strategy?

Thought of taking a reading vacation?

Want to add to my TBR list? Fire away in the comments!

Please join Daily (w)rite on its Facebook Page in case you don’t blog, but would still like to be heard by this community.

Do You Read more Men or Women #Authors ? #amreading #books

Woman in Silhoutte Publishing Sunday Morning Thoughts

Women in Publishing

Back on familiar ground after my personal blog issues last month, to Reading and Books. My favorite topic in the world..

For as long as I remember, I’ve never bothered about the gender of the authors I’ve read. Been the sort of reader who’s completely un-curious about authors’ personal lives. Writing fiction, as far as I’m concerned, has nothing to do with gender, and I don’t care what V.S. Naipaul had to say on the topic.

But then I read articles like this one, by noted author Kamila Shamsie, in the Guardian:

As a snapshot, let’s look at the Man Booker prize over the last five years. Ever since the women’s prize for fiction – formerly the Orange, now the Baileys – was set up 20 years ago in response to an all–male Booker shortlist, the Booker has been the prize to which the most attention is paid in gender terms, and the question of the prize’s judges and gender came up last year when only three women were on a longlist of 13. In response, one of the judges Sarah Churchwell said: “We read what publishers submit to us … [If] publishers only submit a fraction of women, then that is a function of systemic institutional sexism in our culture.” So I asked the Booker administrators how many of the books submitted in the last five years have been written by women. The answer was, slightly under 40%. This isn’t an issue around the Booker alone. I’ve been uncomfortable with the imbalance between male and female writers in terms of the books that get submitted for prizes that I’m judging on a number of occasions.

So these days, I try to be more aware of the gender of the authors I’m reading. I don’t read much narrative non-fiction, but that’s going to change in the rest of this year. I will consciously try to pick the 9 fiction and non-fiction authors I haven’t read from Powell’s list of 25 women to read before you die.

Looking through the list of authors I’ve read, I find that in my childhood I read mostly men, because those were most of the classics, other than a few like Alcott, Austen, Elliott, Mary Shelley etc. As I grew up, I had access to more books by women, but on the whole, I think I’ve read more men than women, and I’d rather redress that balance. Have started with Eimear McBride and A. M. Homes this week.

Would welcome suggestions from you: literary, contemporary, crime and fantasy by women authors, as well as short story collections. These are the fiction categories that interest me the most these days. Also open to some narrative non-fiction– it’s a segment I’d like to read more of.

And I would like to know:

Does the gender of the author matter to you when you pick a book to read? Please qualify that with the genre you read: romance or scifi or crime or literary etc. Does writing fiction have anything to do with gender? Do you know if you’ve read more books by women than men? What books by women would you recommend to me and all the readers of this blog?

If you’re reading this, do not have a blog, and want to join the discussion, head over to Daily (w)rite’s Facebook page and the thread on gender bias in writing and publishing.

Do You Mark the #Books you #Read ?

The Reading Experience

The Reading Experience

As a child, I’d often seen people reading books with a pen in hand– underlining, making notes, folding pages.

I have a horror of that– I try to keep my books as pristine as possible. I’m not anal about them or anything (right!), but I never take a pen to them, even those that I study for a project. I add sticky notes, in case the need to make a note of something is absolutely dire.

I read this article on books and readers, and it made me sit up and take notice:

There is something predatory, cruel even, about a pen suspended over a text. Like a hawk over a field, it is on the lookout for something vulnerable. Then it is a pleasure to swoop and skewer the victim with the nib’s sharp point. The mere fact of holding the hand poised for action changes our attitude to the text. We are no longer passive consumers of a monologue but active participants in a dialogue. Students would report that their reading slowed down when they had a pen in their hand, but at the same time the text became more dense, more interesting, if only because a certain pleasure could now be taken in their own response to the writing when they didn’t feel it was up to scratch, or worthy only of being scratched.

Looking back over the pages we have already read and marked, or coming back to the novel months, maybe years later, we get a strong sense of our own position in relation to the writer’s position. Where he said this kind of thing, I responded with that, where he touched this nerve, my knee jerked thus. Hence a vehicle for self knowledge is created, for what is the self if not the position one habitually assumes in relation to other selves? These days, going back to reading the books that have remained since university days, I see three or four layers of comments, perhaps in different colored pens. And I sense how my position has changed, how I have changed.

Makes some sense to me, and today when I picked up a book other than one from the library, I thought of trying out this reading with pen in a hand scenario. I didn’t manage to scratch a line. Maybe my habits are too ingrained now. Or perhaps, it reminds me too much of my editing stints, and ruins my reading pleasure.

What about you? Do you mark your books with a pen while reading? Or like me, do you like your books free of marks?

Have You Read Any of These Books Born from #blogging #atozchallenge ?

Blogging challenges can be fun, but they can also be surprisingly productive. I co-host the A to Z Challenge, (5 days left, sign up now!)and over the years, it has given rise to quite a few books.Have you read any of them? Given a choice, which ones would you pick? Here’s a short list of the AZ babies I can think of off the top of my head:

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge

2014 A to Z Blogging Challenge

  Doris Plaster: Home Sweet Nursing Home: An A to Z Collection of 50-word stories on Aging and Healthcare: Today’s nursing homes are no longer “rest homes,” but rather vibrant places where residents, families and friends gather, interact, and share heartfelt memories and experiences. Through a 50-word-story collection of vivid tales, Doris Plaster, LCSW, recounts the realities of life in a nursing home from her Social Worker perspective, and that of the caregivers and residents in 26 short vignettes, that are both poignant and thought-provoking.

Melanie Lee: Imaginary friends : 26Fables for the Kids in US: Imaginary Friends is a collection or 26 short stories in alphabetical order and is exclusively available as an e-book. Author Melanie Lee and illustrator Sheryl Khor are childhood friends who used to imagine that their stationery and water bottles had names and personalities, and would come up with adventurous plotlines for their “imaginary friends”. Inspired by such fond memories from their childhood, they decided to collaborate in producing this e-book as a legacy for their children. At first glance, Imaginary Friends may look like a typical children’s book. However, upon closer reading, you will find that its sophisticated wit and references to modern culture makes it an enjoyable read for teens and adults who are young at heart.

Pamela D Williams: A to Z Devotions for Writers : A to Z Devotions for Writers will meet the specific spiritual needs of writers. Covering each letter of the alphabet, these devotions offer pertinent scriptures, meditations focused on various aspects of the writing life, relevant prayers and “block” busting writing applications. Written to inspire, encourage, challenge, and motivate writers, A to Z Devotions for Writers will not only drive pen to paper but will apply God’s truths to writing.

Christine Rains: Fearless: Abby White was seven years old when she killed the monster under her bed. Now she slays creatures spawned by the fertile imaginations of children, and the number of these nightmares are on the rise. Neither she nor her guide – a stuffed hippo named Tawa – know why. When she rescues Demetrius from an iron prison, he pledges his life to protect hers until he can return the favor. She doesn’t want the help. And how can she concentrate on her job when the gorgeous wild fae throws himself in front of her during every fight? No matter how tempting, she can’t give in to him. To save the children and all she loves, Abby must be truly Fearless.

Rachel Morgan: A to Z of Creepy Hollow Fae: Violet, a seventeen-year-old faerie, spends every day learning how to protect humans from dangerous magical creatures. Catch a glimpse of 26 of her assignments as she battles elves, ogres, and more.

Cherie Reich: A to Z Flashes of Foxwick: In honor of the A to Z Blogging Challenge, A to Z Flashes of Foxwick​ gives a glimpse to the characters, magical creatures, and lands in the fantasy world of the Kingdom of Foxwick. A young dragon befriends a dragon seer. A phoenix bursts into flames in mid-flight. A man must choose between his simple life and one of fame. A queen will find her heart turned into ice and many more!

Angela Brown: Neverlove : For a girl born of privilege and a young man bred for status, a lack of real love had everything to do with the drastic changes of their lives. Abigail – Abused to the point of defeat, seventeen doesn’t seem a bad age to die. Surviving suicide leads her to a second chance at V’Salicus Academy to become a Cleanser, a protector of lost souls. Basil – Perfection is the key to earning his parents’ love. A slip of the tongue lands him in service to hell as the devil’s newest Harvestor, a collector of lost souls to feed his new master’s constant craving.

D Biswas: A to Z Stories of Life and Death: Twenty-six A to Z stories, based on the twenty-six letters of the alphabet, question our moral compass: How do you judge a teacher toying with the sexuality of her teenaged student? A boy who decides to murder his mother? What thoughts rage inside a pedophile serial killer before he shoots himself? They challenge the concepts of beauty, truth, and morality, by revealing the face of the other side.

That last book is mine, and continues to sell in a trickle, a fact that never ceases to surprise me. This year, like I said in my Theme reveal, I’m planning to write stories again. Not that they will necessarily lead to a book. I wrote stories in 2012 as well, but just let them hang around. We’ll see.

Now back to my question: Have you read any of the above books? Did you write a book based on the A to Z Challenge? Care to tell us about it? Can you add more books to the list..I’m sure there are AZ books I missed out. Have you taken part in the April blogging challenge before? Have you signed up for the challenge this year?



Teaser Tuesday: We Were the Mulavaneys

This Tuesday, it is time for the teaser again, and this time the book came from the very bottom of my tottering TBR pile (I’m thinking of mixing up older books with the new): We were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

We were the Mulvaneys Joyce Carol Oates damyanti

We Were the Mulvaneys

Here are two teaser sentences from We were the Mulvaneys:

During these mad dashes to the wall phone in the kitchen she hadn’t time to fall but with fantastical grace and dexterity wrenched herself upright in midfall and continued running (dogs whimpering, yapping hysterically in her wake, cats scattering wide-eyed and plume-tailed) before the telephone ceased it’s querulous ringing–though frequently she was greeted with nothing more than a derisive dial tone, in any case.”

Blurb: “‘The Mulvaneys of High Point Farm in Mt. Ephraim, New York, are a large and fortunate clan, blessed with good looks, abundant charisma, and boundless promise. But over the twenty-five year span of this ambitious novel, the Mulvaneys will slide, almost imperceptibly at first, from the pinnacle of happiness, transformed by the vagaries of fate into a scattered collection of lost and lonely souls. It is the youngest son, Judd, now an adult, who attempts to piece together the fragments of the Mulvaneys’ former glory, seeking to uncover and understand the secret violation that occasioned the family’s tragic downfall. Each of the Mulvaneys endures some form of exile–physical or spiritual–but in the end they find a way to bridge the chasms that have opened up among them, reuniting in the spirit of love and healing. Profoundly cathartic, Oates’ acclaimed novel unfolds as if, in the darkness of the human spirit, she has come upon a source of light at its core. Rarely has a writer made such a startling and inspiring statement about the value of hope and compassion.

I read the book in about three days– some parts were painful-beautiful to read. All the characters are drawn so poignantly– even though not all of them have chapters from their point of view. This is one of my favorite genre of books, the family saga, with a background of crime thrown in, dark, but not too dark– something I can get lost in and never come out.

Oates has written over 40 novels and much else besides in a career spanning 50 years so far– how did she do it? I have barely scratched the surface of her work, and intend to pick up many more.

How about you? Would you read a book like We were the Mulvaneys ?

Teaser Tuesday: Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

This Tuesday, it is time for the teaser again, and this time the book was gifted to me: Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

Here are two teaser sentences from Beautiful Ruins:

“She feels a flash of self-consciousness and her twenty-two-year-old’s vanity rises: God what a fright she must look. For several seconds, they stand there, a gimpy old man and a sick old woman, just four feet apart now, but separated by a thick granite counter, by fifty years and two fully lived lives..”

Blurb: “The story begins in 1962. On a rocky patch of the sun-drenched Italian coastline, a young innkeeper, chest-deep in daydreams, looks on over the incandescent waters of the Ligurian Sea and spies an apparition: a tall, thin woman, a vision in white, approaching him on a boat. She is an actress, he soon learns, an American starlet, and she is dying.

And the story begins again today, half a world away, when an elderly Italian man shows up on a movie studio’s back lot-searching for the mysterious woman he last saw at his hotel decades earlier.

What unfolds is a dazzling, yet deeply human, roller coaster of a novel, spanning fifty years and nearly as many lives. From the lavish set of Cleopatra to the shabby revelry of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Walter introduces us to the tangled lives of a dozen unforgettable characters: the starstruck Italian innkeeper and his long-lost love; the heroically preserved producer who once brought them together and his idealistic young assistant; the army veteran turned fledgling novelist and the rakish Richard Burton himself, whose appetites set the whole story in motion-along with the husbands and wives, lovers and dreamers, superstars and losers, who populate their world in the decades that follow.

Gloriously inventive, constantly surprising, Beautiful Ruins is a story of flawed yet fascinating people, navigating the rocky shores of their lives while clinging to their improbable dreams.’

I read the book in less than a day: it is multigenerational, hops across time in the strangest of ways, and has interconnected stories that I liked very much.

It was written over 15 years, and the story of how Walter wrote the book is almost as interesting as the book itself. Beautiful Ruins was one of the 100 Notable Books of the Year for 2012–  and one of the few literary novels I’ve read with a spectacularly well-constructed plot.

How about you? Would you read a book like Beautiful Ruins ?

Are You Ready to go on a Space Opera Adventure?

This month has seen a few authors on Daily (w)rite, and I end it with Mary Pax, awesome blog friend and a successful author publisher who writes science fiction and fantasy for her growing and mostly worshipful audience! I give you an excerpt from her book, and encourage you to check out her body of work. Take it away, Mary!

The fulfillment of a dream begins with a sincere wish followed by consistent action. Tenacity is sprinkled in heavily along the way and a will to keep moving forward. Then surround yourself with great individuals with the same dream. Keep an open heart and mind. Learn. Participate. They’ll help your wings grow strong. Thanks to Damyanti for being an integral part of my flight.

Life Beyond the Edge: Excerpt

Lepsi:  Beyond The Edge by Mary Pax

Lepsi: Beyond The Edge by Mary Pax

Lepsi raised his eyelids and watched his companions. Only one other had managed to sit, a Quatten lady as brown as Dactyl. How was Dactyl?

The stray thought did him no good. His shoulder screamed, long, piercing, shrill. It didn’t let up. An eon must have passed.

You’ll think only the thoughts I give you. You know no one, nothing.

Searing pain knocked Lepsi to the ground, tormenting him, driving the commands from his shoulder into the indelible parts of his memory. Long after the initial twinges eased, the agony gripping every muscle continued to keep him on his face,. This world’s idea of sunrise and sunset — the fog darkening then lightening again — passed twice. What had he agreed to?

Mary Pax: Beyond the Edge

Mary Pax: Beyond the Edge

Beyond the Edge: Blurb

Some truths are better left unfound.

For two years Craze’s dear friend, Lepsi, has been missing. The murmurings of a haunted spaceship might be a message and may mean his old pal isn’t dead. The possibility spurs Craze and Captain Talos to travel to uncharted worlds, searching. Out there, in an unfamiliar region of the galaxy beyond the Backworlds, they stumble upon a terrible truth.

Meanwhile, Rainly remains on Pardeep Station as acting planetlord, dealing with the discovery of her lover’s dark and brutal past. Alone and questioning her judgment, her introspection unlocks more than heartache. Latent protocols in her cybernetics activate, forcing her to face a sinister secret of her own.

In the far future, humanity settles the stars, bioengineering its descendents to survive in a harsh universe. This is the fourth book in the science fiction series, The Backworlds. A space opera adventure.

Amazon / AmazonUK / Nook / Smashwords / Kobo / Other Outlets


Mary Pax

Mary Pax

M. Pax– Inspiring the words she writes, she spends her summers as a star guide at Pine Mountain Observatory in stunning Central Oregon where she lives with the Husband Unit and two demanding cats. She writes science fiction and fantasy mostly. You can find out more by visiting her at: Website / FB / Twitter / Goodreads / Pinterest / Wattpad