When I first started this blog, it was meant to be about books. While I like what the space has become, and it has been so good for me to have this part of the world be just for me, I do want to get back into the books part. In 2010, 2011 and 2012 I kept a running log of everything I read that year. Mostly it was under the auspices of the "52 Books in 52 Weeks" challenge, but I found that it really encouraged me to keep reading and, perhaps more importantly, keep writing about what I was reading. In 2013 and 2014 I didn't keep the list and really found that I also blogged a lot less. Coincidence? I think not.
This year I am pledging to keep the list (right here!) and write at least once a month about the books I have read. So far I have read three books and I am working on my fourth! I even have a page in my new bullet journal for books I want to read.** Thanks to KO at Raveling Out for this post that got me started and Ginger at Ramble Ramble for creating the writing group that lead me there.** That in turn inspired me to actually request said books from the library. So now I can read them, just that easy.
I have also started following and watching the Vaginal Fantasy book club. For anyone unfamiliar, a group of self-proclaimed "geeky" types read a few books a month that fall somewhere in the Venn diagram of "romance," "supernatural," "sci-fi," "fantasy" and "historical" categories. Some hits, some misses but always a great time when the group gets together and does the video of the book discussion.
This brings me to the first book I read this year: A Spear Of Summer Grass by Deanna Raybourn. This one falls under the "romance" and "historical fiction" sections (a good choice for those who are not int o the sci-fi/supernatural aspect). A great story of a woman essentially banished to Africa after being too much a of a rebel for polite society in 1920s Paris. All the usual hilarity ensues, including romance and intrigue, upon her arrival. In this manner, it is a fairly formulaic romance novel. The plot itself, and to some extent the archetypal characters, didn't light my world afire, but I would still recommend this one, and read it 100 times over.
What separates it from the herd is Raybourn's breathtaking prose. The descriptions of Africa, and the hilariously sharp and honest words of the characters make this a highly engaging read. You do have to slog though the usual romance-novel cliches and tropes, but it is absolutely worth it to enjoy the sensation of being completely immersed in the African wilds. I would say read this one as an amazing example of how to paint a vivid picture of your setting, and as a cautionary tale about classic romance plots. I could write forever about how the protagonist is a shell of unlikable "exceptional woman with a past" and how the romantic lead is completely devoid of character development beyond classic Harlequin "sensitive rebel with a past," but I would still not be deterred from how great the book was to read. The sensation of being "right there" more than makes up for the issues of plot and character.
Put this one on your list for a lazy weekend by the fire.