A groovy month of beautiful books, my StoryGraph, and how to get out of your literary echo chamber.
In January’s Reading Roundup, I shared StoryGraph, an alternative to Goodreads that puts your reading into these colorful and interesting graphs and charts. Now that the first quarter has passed, I thought I’d share what mine looks like so far.
Are you on StoryGraph?
I spent most of the month reading West with the Night by Beryl Markham, a remarkable memoir by the first woman to fly across the Atlantic. Specifically, “Markham [was] the first woman to cross the Atlantic east-to-west solo, and the first person to make it from England to North America non-stop from east to west.”
But her record breaking flight is a small part of the book. Most of it was her childhood and life in Kenya, learning to fly, and her time as a racehorse trainer. Along with Hemingway, I’ve got to agree and say her writing style is crushingly gorgeous, and her stories beyond amazing, they’re unreal.
Got to also love the fact that her ex- tried to claim her writing as his own and that “In 2004, National Geographic Adventure ranked it number 8 in a list of 100 best adventure books.” Oh, and did I mention how jealous Hemingway was of her writing? Hmmm, yeah.
The Great Alone is, not only an excellent title, but it’s the book that kept me up past my bedtime. I lost sleep and read it in what feels like record time. I chose it because after spending so much time in Africa with West with the Night, Alaska seemed like the next choice.
I had read The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah years ago and I remembered how much I loved it (by the way, the film comes out next year) so when I saw this one, I was both excited and hesitant. It’s like you read one great novel by an author, so surely they can’t hit another one out of the park, right? This would be her B-side, I figured.
It tells the story of the Allbright family from the point of view of 13 year old Leni and their move to nowhere’sville Alaska. And anything more is giving away the plot which I don’t like to do. In fact, one of life’s little pleasures is watching a series, movie, or cracking open a book and being surprised. Honestly, if I had knew what the story was about beforehand, I probably would have passed.
Meander, Spiral, Explode: Design and Pattern in Narrative by Jane Alison is exactly just that — and for the most part, it was over my head. But reading over one’s head is a good thing, they say, and it’s the book that freed me from what I thought my WIP’s structure should be. In fact, soon after cracking it open, I was hit by that lightening bolt and restructured chapters. If you enjoy books on the craft of writing, I’d say this one’s pretty essential reading.
A Book Like Foo is an intelligent book recommendation and analysis platform — see above. It also claims to recommend books that help you “escape your literary echo chamber”, I entered the same books and was amused to see some of my favorite writers like Edgar Alan Poe and Agatha Christie recommended. So this, coupled with my StoryGraph makes me think that I do a good job reading wide. Yeaaa me!
Even though I have so many TBR books, I wanted to see what ABLF would suggest and experience how well the tastes match up, so I’m currently diving into one of them, and so far I’m quite pleased. I’ll let you know how it goes!
What did you read in March?