Book Clubs and Reviews

Hello? My name is Zombie Joe… and I… I’m a book addict.

Tell me that doesn’t bring to mind a group meeting in the chilled basement of a church with stale donuts and burnt coffee sitting on a folding table in the back of the room. People all around you shifting uncomfortably in equally chilly metal folding chairs and staring damn near indifferently up at me.

Okay. Maybe it’s just me.

The truth of the matter is that I have a number of collections (as many geeks do) but none rivals my collection of books. I attribute this mostly to influences from a time I don’t really remember. Back in high school I had teachers expanding my reading list to put me outside of my comfort zone. How else do you explain a 16 year old boy reading The Handmaiden’s Tale by Margaret Atwood? Also we had this history teacher that had two memorable traits to him – a nervous tick of sorts he did during lectures when he really wanted you to remember something, and his saying that the sign of a successful person is the ability to own books. Yeah, that’s when it started.

To give you an idea, right around my graduation Being a Green Mother by Piers Anthony had just released. At that point the Incarnations of Immortality was my favorite series. Not wanting to wait for it to become available in the library I purchased the hard cover to give myself as a graduation present. I think we have a picture of it sitting on a table with my Oxford Unabridged Dictionary (my graduation present from my parents). But that was then…

Last year was the first year I took a challenge to read a set number of novels. This is assuming you don’t count that semester of college where I had 32 books to read (one of which was Heart of Darkness). I aimed to read 52 books (1 a week) but in Goodreads I signed on for 100. I didn’t meet the 100 (and didn’t even put in all the ones I did finish in Goodreads) but I did make it past 75. Some of those were audiobooks due to a form of permission to listen to audiobooks in Stephen King’s On Writing.

With how hectic my life has become between work, a writing schedule, reading, running a D&D game twice a week and the cupcake “hobby” it seems rather daunting to catch up with my reading schedule. To this end I am not going to read all the way through any book that doesn’t have me hooked in the first act. I’m also giving a pass to the front of the line for any favorite authors or ones I know I will get signed within two years time. Ironically those are also the books that I will pick up in print as opposed to on the Nook.

In the past couple weeks I’ve taken on two different book clubs. The Team Awesome Book Club (reading a non-fiction book) and just this week the G+ meetup/discussion of “vaginal fantasy” books hosted by Felicia Day. If you haven’t, check out her bookshelves on Goodreads. I have no idea how she has the time to read so damn much, but it is impressive. Of course, being who I am I couldn’t keep my mouth shut about the “vaginal fantasy” title. In looking through her shelves, I have read a few of the vaginal fantasy books. In reality, most of the urban fantasy, science fiction and paranormal romance I’m reading it written by women. Even more of the main characters in the books I’m reading are female as well.

Honestly I think this is a statement less about the quality of male authors and more about the increased percentages of female authors on the shelves of my section in the book store. Also, it doesn’t hurt that my online resources for reviews and the like are recommending the female authors and characters more often. Kara Gillian from Diana Rowland’s first series and Chess Putnam from the Downside novels by Stacia Kane are at the top of my list of favorite characters. Both of their series I think would fall in the description given for a “vaginal fantasy.”

Now consider that I am a member of the Madison Romance Writer’s group and was one of the few men at Romantic Times in 2010. John Scalzi and I were discussing at lunch (with a few of my favorite female authors) about the awesomeness of being at a con and not having to wait in line at the restrooms. Everywhere I went I was incredibly outnumbered by women. And it was by far the best time I’ve had at a convention in a long time.

This of course all leads me to my current goal for the weekend – to finish Silver Tongued Devil and Grave Witch. Silver Tongued Devil is another of my favorite series and has Giguhl – another of my favorite characters, but a decidedly male one. Grave Witch is the vaginal fantasy offering to be discussed Monday. In addition I have D&D Encounters to run Wednesday night, Writers Group Thursday night, dinner with friends Friday and my Sunday D&D group. Now work in some writing time.

Seem crazy? … Hi, have we met?

Personally I am dealing with the fact that I work full time and want to become a published author. I need to learn to increase my time management skills to handle all of this. Don’t worry, I have a pecking order on things left to die first. I may be insane, but I’m not an idiot!

The last three weeks have been nailing down the diet into a pattern that works. Now I’m looking to ramp up the reading and writing time back to what it was last year with the addition of the diet plan. If you see me blogging less or running down the streets of Madison like Daffy Duck (woo hoo woo hoo woo hoo) then you know what has happened.

What are you doing this month that’s insane? Because really… sanity is totally overrated.

Change Write Now (January 24, 2012)

  • Food – made it, even with going out to lunch today…
  • Water – really need to learn to swim (over 64oz)
  • Exercise – over due to an overzealous dog
  • Writing – made goal, still need to clean it up for group
  • Habits – both met, especially since there was no time to weigh myself
  • Sleep – over 6 hours, but not by much

Project Stats

  • Writing – naughty piece should be ready to go, starting dragon poem
  • Reading (print) – Silver Tongued Demon (into the good parts, but this is longer than the last one)
  • Reading (Nook) – Grave Witch (haven’t started yet, want to finish STD first)
  • Listening (iPod) – Hexed by Kevin Hearne

Notes: Hexed is a “re-read” as I read it in print. The narration is awesome! The reader really gives life to Oberon. He is quickly becoming another of my favorite characters.

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