January 2015 Month in Review

January was a great month at From couch to moon! Great books reviewed and great books read! During that month of alternating ice, snow, and 75 degree days, nothing was very average, not even my reading output. I read a good many books, all very good, but maybe took on too much in all areas of life and general couchiness.

This may be the first time, in the history of this blog, that I did not meet a self-imposed reading deadline.

*dramatically hangs head in shame*

Book Reviews

The month kicked off with a post on my Top Ten Reads of 2014 (more than ten, ‘cause I’m a rebel), and I outlined my totally predictable “Readsolutions” for the coming year.

TheScar(1stEd)I finally posted my review of The Scar (2002), which I truly, truly enjoyed. I loved Ms. Belis Coldwine more than maybe any other character ever, and I took the long-winded way of saying that I keep expecting Miéville to do something more than just a good story with great ideas, but he keeps on disappointing me by writing up these incredibly pleasant and imaginative narratives that I simply enjoy reading. How dare he.

Gene Wolfe and I had another little chat, this time about the second novel in his Book of the New Sun series, The Claw of the Conciliator (1981). I think he’s saying that maybe we’re looking a little too hard for hidden meanings, but then it turned out this guy has a robot arm, so I don’t know what to believe.

Around mid-month, people started posting their nomination ballots for the British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) awards, so I shared my own blurby comments about the 2014 novels I read, with the promise that I would add more. This is just spectator fun for me. The BSFA tends to catch my attention more than the other awards, but I don’t think they want input from a Texan, no matter how many zero guns I own.

JackGlass1In the spirit of the BSFA, I followed that post with a review of 2012 BSFA winner Jack Glass by Adam Roberts. Like some of Roberts’ reviews at his own blog, my review is silly and has a bad case of the self-interrupts. I enjoyed the book, and I enjoyed arguing that there is a purpose behind those peculiar inconsistencies.

And I ended the month on a high note, with an extremely satisfied review of a well-written fifties SF novel, written by a woman: The Long Tomorrow (1955) by Leigh Brackett. This is a must read for anyone, anyone, who considers themselves a fan of pastoral, post-apocalyptic speculative fiction.

Oh, and finally, FINALLY, (because everything seems later than usual this year), Locus Online published its annual Recommended Reading List. I think I fared pretty well with my reading choices, but I had a few reading regrets.

Books I Read, Reviews to Expect

I completed the rest of the Book of the New Sun tetralogy, so expect another non-review of The Sword of the Lictor (1982) and a real review of the entire series, including The Citadel of the Autarch (1983) in the coming weeks.

NebulaAwardStoriesSixI don’t normally do short fiction, but Joachim’s review of the 1970 short fiction nominees in Nebula Award Stories Six at Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations was just too tempting. I read this mainly for an introduction to Joanna Russ, and to seek another angle to the whole “I don’t get Gene Wolfe” issue. Both the Russ and Wolfe stories are brilliant, as well as many others in the collection. I have a small, informal review written up, but I can’t handle more than one weekly post at this time, so I’ll save it for a rainy day.

Speaking of Joanna Russ, I finally read The Female Man! Expect my review of this innovative piece of feminist literature later this month. Why this is not required college reading, I do not know. Why my mother has not read this, I also do not know. (I thought she owned ALL of the feminism.) More to come on this.

TheThreeBodyProblem

Matches my new running shoes.         They are very LOUD.

To add to my 2014 blurby reviews, I completed Cixin Liu’s Three Body Problem and Nnedi Okorafor’s Lagoon. I have updated my thoughts about Lagoon on my aforementioned 2014 blurb post. If I seemed underwhelmed at first, I TAKE IT BACK! This book is not what most readers will expect. It’s a funny examination of Nigerian society, less alien, and more lampoon. Her dry delivery surprised more than a few laughs out of me.

To continue my 2014 nominating season book binge, I followed Lagoon with The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North, who is actually Catherine Webb, which sort of sets off my “ulterior motive imposter alert,” but I kind of don’t blame her. That aside, I’m halfway done and, the plot is cool, yes, but I am most impressed by the way she uses minute behaviors to reveal the personalities and thoughts of her characters. It’s extremely enjoyable for that alone. She also makes me laugh.

TheYearsofRiceandSaltI am also currently reading The Years of Rice and Salt (2002) by Kim Stanley Robinson, which I DO NOT want to end, so I am going veerryy veerryy sloowwlyy, which is very, very easy, because it is very, very long. But that’s okay, because I could totally crawl into this book and make it my home. In a way, it does for world history what Howard Zinn’s A People’s History did for the U.S. Plus, it has parts about Andalucia, which is my home away from home.

Aaaaand finally, I just started The Algebraist (2004) by Iain M! Banks. My first Banks. Which I was supposed to start a week ago. And it’s long, too. This is totally going to mess up my reading plans for February.

 

Reading Plans for February

*Reshuffles the book schedule*

Davy2

“Lusty” and “Ribald.” Oh dear.

The Algebraist (2004) by Iain M! Banks

Davy (1964) by Edgar Pangborn

Bones of the Earth (2002) by Michael Swanwick

The Lathe of Heaven (1971) by Ursula K. Le Guin

Long, lazy read of the month: Continuing The Years of Rice and Salt

I might toss in something from the 2014 Kitschies or BSFA shortlists. Might. If they are ever announced, that is.

 

January Reading Tallies:

Books completed: 7

Books UNCOMPLETED OH MY GOD I’M A FAILURE: 2

Books with aliens: 5-ish (not sure if alternate universes count in one case)

Books with robots: 1 (I really wanted this lady in The Long Tomorrow to be a robot. She wasn’t.)

Books with time travel: 2-ish

Books in which I get name-checked: 1! The Years of Rice and Salt! (My surname has Arabic roots.)

Books about the divided female psyche expressed through alternate universes and includes an experimental spring-autumn lesbian romance because gender norms are oppressive: 1

 

No review this week or next week because major proj going on in the real world. Exciting! But taking up a lot of mental space! (I’ll double up later.)

 

This monthly review brought to you by too much pseudoephedrine!

 

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22 thoughts on “January 2015 Month in Review

  1. thebookgator says:

    Should I be worried that you have a tag ‘pseudoephedrine?’

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  2. wildbilbo says:

    “Books about the divided female psyche expressed through alternate universes and includes an experimental spring-autumn lesbian romance because gender norms are oppressive”… Genres are a lot more specific than I remember.

    I like your commitment here… I tend to leave my reviews to the ones I really feel like writing about… although I do plan to review HG Wells The First Men in the Moon & the graphic novel Maus.

    I look forward to Lagoon & 3 Body reviews particularly.
    Cheers
    KT

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    • fromcouchtomoon says:

      Haha, it’s a veerry specific genre.

      I probably won’t review Lagoon or 3 Body. I just don’t have much to say about them beyond what I’ve already written. I might review one or two of the 2014s if I feel like campaigning for them for an award, but otherwise I’m sticking to the blurby consolidation post format. I have more fun reviewing from hindsight.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That is your first Banks?!?! Neat. I saw on Goodreads that you were reading that one, and was going to comment and for some reason didnt because I thought “I bet she’s already read all the Banks.” My first (and only so far) was The Wasp Factory, which was majorly weird and interesting. I now own almost everything he’s written (thanks used book stores and book swaps), but am putting off starting the culture for reasons I do not consciously understand. Maybe I secretly think it is going to be my favorite ever, and I want to savor it before it has even become.

    Years of Rice and Salt looks interesting…I am still stuck on Shaman (almost six months now without touching it again). I don’t know why, it is enjoyable, and I like reading about surviving in the wild sort of stuff and that is sort of about that. Maybe I’ve just hit a hump that I need to get over. It is also very long.

    As I already said elsewhere, very excited to see what you think of Lathe of Heaven.

    I really like these wrap up posts. Maybe I should try that sort of thing. I guess some people just do a sort of link throw up thing that is uninteresting, but with commentary. Except then it will become painfully obvious that when I read a book, write a review, and when that review comes out are soooooo incredibly far apart that it is almost absurd so see it on paper. Not always, but most of the time.

    May there someday be a con where we can meet in real life and discuss books into the wee hours because I think that would make my year. All the books! All the book people! China Mieville you jerk! Aaah.

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    • fromcouchtomoon says:

      The Banks is proving to be a real chore to read, but I hope that changes. So far, the only cool stuff has been that it started with a really, really bad guy (haven’t seen him since), talk about gas giant lifeforms (haven’t met them yet), and morse code sex (at least thst was titilating). The rest is just about this spoiled playboy who is special at his job.

      Like you, I’ve been putting off the Culture series, but I guess i will make Consider Phlebas my next Banks. The guy at SFPotpourri named it one of his choices for SF Masterwork.

      I LOVE Kim Stanley Robinson! He is easily one of my top three authors, but Antarctica doesn’t sound as interesting. He is a long writer, though. His books are a commitment.

      I LOVE Le Guin! And I hate that I haven’t gotten to Lathe yet. (When you commented about it on GR, I thought we were talking about Rice&Salt, lol. I haven’t started Lathe, yet, but I’m sure I’ll love it.

      I’m so nosy about what everyone else is reading, so I like it when people do wrap up/looking forward posts. Even is the bloggers don’t like the same stuff I like, I still like to know what everyone is reading.

      I want to meet and book talk, too! This HAS to happen one day!

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  4. Jeez everyone’s reading Davy now—I’m going to have to pull it out and re-read it, read it a decade ago and don’t recall much. I remember Years of Rice and Salt a bit better—interested to see your take on it. I really liked the early sections, and seeing the same characters reincarnated over all the different time periods, but since it’s three times longer than the phone book there’s a ton to keep track of by the end..

    Lathe is one of my favorites! A very underrated book by an excellent author… I think people overlook it since Left Hand and Dispossessed get all the hype. Hope you enjoy. Also, eagerly awaiting your thoughts on Nebula 6, Book of the New Sun, and The Female Man… *drums fingers on table*

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    • fromcouchtomoon says:

      That Davy thing is a complete coincidence. I planned it in November thinking it was little known, and then I saw JB’s post this week and EVERYONE’s comments, including YOURS, about friggin’ Davy. *sigh* I’ll never catch up to you guys…

      Rice&Salt is definitely similar in length to some phone books,… hahaha. I love it, though. KSR could go on all day, for all I care. I’ve already lost track of who is who, but the journey is too mesmerizing.

      I can’t imagine anything topping Dispossessed or Left Hand, especially when I look at how skinny Lathe is in comparison, but you’ve never led me wrong. I’m excited!

      Agh, stop drumming. Pressure!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sorry, I read Davy when I went through a post-apocalypse classics phase… 😦 To help you catch up I’d be glad to recommend some books I’ve never heard of, but sadly I’m at an obvious impasse there. You’re still ahead of me in reading Inverted World, Beggars in Spain, Compton, etc, so there’s that.

        Rice and Salt is an experience. I liked it so much that I bought the next KSR I saw, Antarctica, but that one didn’t click for me… Probably should have gone with the Mars books instead.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. sjhigbee says:

    I’m fascinated that you read more than one book at a time – and very impressed! Glad you’re enjoying ‘Years of Rice and Salt’. Have you read the Mars trilogy? If not, I think you’d love them. ‘Antarctica’ is different, but still good.

    As for Banks – if you are struggling, then do consider going back to his earlier work. I simply couldn’t going get going with ‘Matter’ – far too much tell and info-dumping at the start – whereas ‘Consider Phebas’ and ‘Feersum Endjinn’ are absolutely superb.

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    • fromcouchtomoon says:

      I am also fascinated that I read more than one book at a time, haha. I did it a lot when I was younger, but then I never finished anything. I picked up the habit again last fall and it’s been quite productive, but it’s not working so well this month. I’m just busy and the winter blahs are zapping my focus.

      I’m glad to hear it’s not just me with this Banks issue. I know the Culture books are practically a religion for some, so I hoped I wasn’t missing anything. Consider Phlebas will be my next Banks, for sure!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hey there 🙂 Loving your blog! That Jack Glass cover is beautiful!!

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  7. You would use pseudoephedrine. I insist on using only real ephedrine.

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  8. […] (I sounded like Courtney Love and Maryanne Faithful after a duet at Lollapalooza). Due to my reading fails of last month, I kept my February reading goals attainable and met them all, but my reviews were on the low […]

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