Dolefully, a Rampart Stands – Paige Ackerson-Kiely
Arlo Finch in the Lake of the Moon – John August
Writing Hard Stories: Celebrated Memoirists Who Shaped Art from Trauma – Melanie Brooks
Silence In the Woods – J.P. Choquette
The Disasters – M.K. England
The Familiars – Stacey Hall
Midnight in Chernobyl – Adam Higginbotham
Carry On – Rainbow Rowell
DMT: The Spirit Molecule – Rick Strassman, M.D.
Annihilation – Jeff Vandermeer
Indianapolis – Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic
Cosmic Connections – Editors of Time-Life Books
Psychic Powers – Editors of Time-Life Books
Spirit Summonings – Editors of Time-Life Books
The UFO Phenomenon – Editors of Time-Life Books
Time and Space – Editors of Time-Life Books
April was a weird month.
I’ve written about it here on the blog; how illness permeated the month, spring couldn’t kick into gear despite its best efforts, and work was in a state of flux. One bit of collateral damage from all that was my reading. In the sense that I didn’t read any books.
Or at least I didn’t finish any books. I started a couple that I’ll hopefully be writing about a month from now, but I was never able to summon the brain power and focus to dive in and give it a go over the long term.
I did manage to make it out and about to get more books, though, and most of what I got in April falls into two categories: research for future writing and Independent Book Store Day.
On the research side of things, I picked up five more books from Time-Life’s Mysteries of the Unknown series. Technically, I got six, but when I got home, I discovered I had one of them already. The extra’s getting passed on to my son. I also got hold of Rick Strassman’s interesting and trippy DMT: The Spirit Molecule. I’m hoping this one will help me work out some ideas I’ve got for future storytelling.
I picked up the Time-Life books at the sublime Sandy’s Books & Bakery in Rochester, VT., around the middle of the month when I attended the League of Vermont Writers spring conference. The bookstore was right across the road from the gathering, so how could I not go?
At the conference itself, author Melanie Brooks spoke on the topic of Writing What Hurts: From Dark Memories to Powerful Stories. Trying to write about her relationship with her family – her father in particular – Brooks found herself interviewing other memoirists about how they used the pain of trauma to tell their stories. She collected those interviews in Writing Hard Stories. I’m curious and scared to see what that book will crack open within me.
This past Saturday, April 27, was Independent Book Store Day. I visited two indie stores in the afternoon and left with a bagful of books from each place. That said, the stores both had racks and boxes of advanced reader copies that were free. So while I left with a stack, I didn’t spend as much as it might appear.
Of the freebies I picked up, the highlights were ARCs of Indianapolis and Midnight in Chernobyl. I’ve read good things about both books, and I expect I’ll spend some warm, summer days laying in the grass and enjoying them. Indianapolis relates the tragedy of the United States’ worst disaster at sea. If you’re a Jaws fan, it’s the true version of the story Quint tells below deck on The Orca. I’m interested to digest the story Midnight in Chernobyl has to tell, as well. I was 11 when the No. 4 nuclear reactor changed the course of the Soviet Union and, consequently, the world. I’m expecting a true learning experience from page one onward.
To celebrate Independent Book Store Day, I bought two books I’ve wanted to read for a while: Rainbow Rowell’s Carry On and Jeff Vandermeer’s Annihilation. Just about a year ago, I read Eleanor & Park, one of two books Rowell released in 2013. That book changed something inside me, made something youthful, carefree and hopeful spark in my middle-aged soul. I’m reading Fangirl, her other 2013 book, right now, and I’m psyched to open up Carry On after that. As for Annihilation, I’ve been intrigued by what I hear about its narrative structure and how it messes with expectations. I might hold off on reading it until summer vacation. I’ll have to see.
Last but by no means least, I went to the book release party for Silence in the Woods by J.P. Choquette in St. Albans, VT., toward the end of the month. It was so exciting to get to spend time with a local author who has seen success by carving her own path to publication. Choquette and I go back a few years, having worked together at the County Courier weekly newspaper in northwest Vermont when I was the editor there. The great thing about working with her, though, was that I learned as much (and probably more) from her as she ever did from me. She’s left some footprints for me to follow as I work toward publication of my own work, and I hope I can trace her steps as successfully and gracefully as she created them.
What sort of books did you read and/or buy in April? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear about it.