On the Shelf: Some SF/F and NF

Here, NF refers to nonfiction. Once again, my reading list gets a little eclectic. I guess it’s only fair. One of the things keeping me sane as I hang out in this twenty-two-foot travel trailer with two dogs, a cat, and two energetic children is the fact that I brought a good selection of physical and Kindle books.

Yep. It’s going on week… um, three? And I’m finding that I can read and edit and schedule promotional stuff, but the writing I was planning on doing is evaporating. There’s just not the opportunity for the sustained concentration I need to in order to get quality words on paper is lacking. As I’m sitting here, for example, my oldest, who I told multiple times not to wrestle with her sister, is crying because she was wrestling with her sister, who then pinched her. A normal part of siblings learning to interact without tears, but I’ve learned that rather than try to write and get frustrated, I’d rather do something that knocks an item off my to-do list, but doesn’t require a deep flow state.

Reading in the RV. It’s a little cramped in here, but outside is super hot and humid, and I think I’m developing a pine allergy. Welcome to NC!

Add to this, my spouse is returning to a normal work schedule, which means that I’m home with aforementioned energetic children and no daycare, drop-in daycare, in-home babysitter, etc. Now that we’re back in Fayetteville, I do have a line on a babysitter, but not until we move into someplace with more space and get a little past the time that we were traveling and coming into contact with various people and places, even masked and distanced. Hopefully, we’ll be in that future situation soon, and then I’ll have some time to make progress on the long list of writing projects beckoning to me…

So yeah. I’ve been hanging out reading and editing. And yesterday, went to my first Olympic fencing lesson in a couple of years at the local Academy. And also, I’m knitting up a storm, mostly making dishcloths with profanity knitted into them. I was offering them to people who were making donations to organizations I’d like to support, and am now offering them to people who sign up to support my friend, Ed Ashford’s, Patreon. Ed and his spouse have been living in a hotel scraping by on donations from friends, trying to find ways to support themselves while dealing with disability and disadvantage. So, I’m trying to boost the signal; they put out lots of cool art and poetry, and the more they get out from under the stress of not knowing if they’re going to have a place to live next week, the more they can concentrate on creating. IMO, art and poetry and creativity are going to be what it takes to survive this crazy timeline, and if I can offer something to make it happen, I will. I currently have black, red, teal, white, and a limited supply of a sage green. I’m willing to make other things in other colors for people who hit the five-dollar-a-month and up subscription rate! Comment or contact me if you’re interested–unfamousscribbler ~at~ gmail.com

Anyway, here’s what I’ve got on the shelf this week!

A Fall in Autumn by Michael G. Williams

I actually read this a while ago, but hey, it just won the 2019 Manly Wade Wellman Award for best SF/F novel by a North Carolina writer, and it’s technically on my shelf, so I figured I’d take a moment to plug it. The world the novel takes place in is a floating city, and the premise is that in a world where genetic modification is a normal, accepted practice, the main character is, instead, conceived and birthed the old-fashioned way. Now, there is nothing I love more than the jaded private eye hired to do one last job, and Williams takes this trope and runs–no sprints, zooms, and races away–with it. Reading this–the characters, the worldbuilding, the excellent writing–put me in mind of the classic science fiction that I fell in love with as a young reader. Be warned, Williams will punch you right in the emotions, but by the end of the book, you will fall in love with the world and its characters. I definitely recommend it!

Kill Three Birds: A Kingdom of Aves Mystery by Nicole Givens Kurtz

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the other fiction book I tore through this week is another mystery. I love mysteries, and I particularly appreciate when a book, like this one, blends the genres of fantasy and whodunit. The world this takes place in is a universe where the characters are a blend of human and bird, and this colors their perspectives and worldview. Prentice Tasifa is a hawk-woman and an investigator, who gets assigned to look into the murder of a dove-woman. The case quickly grows to encompass more victims, and Tasifa is drawn into local and family politics as she untangles the thread of the plot. The writing drew me in and I enjoyed the story. I recommend it–and also recommend checking out more from the author!

Even If it Kills Me: Martial Arts, Rock and Roll, and Mortality by Donovan Blair and T.G. LaFredo

I was in the mood to read some martial arts/fighter memoirs, so I bought this book as well as Laila Ali’s book, Reach, on Kindle. I’m a fan of the genre, and enjoy reading books about men and women who train full contact martial arts. I was looking for something like Forrest Griffin’s Got Fight?, or A Fighter’s Heart by Sam Sheridan, and decided to give it a try. In this book, Donovan Blair, the bassist for the Toadies, talks about returning to Tae Kwon Do after having to quit as a kid, and his journey to getting his black belt. It wasn’t a long read, and some of the stuff he talked about, like getting older and pursuing goals, was interesting, but I think this book was written for a different audience than my demographic. It wasn’t bad, just not for me.

The Science of Storytelling by Will Storr

I have a weakness for books about writing, story construction, and narratives. This book explores how human psychology and neuroscience impact what we get out of stories, what we’re attracted to in the telling of stories, and what stories resonate with people and why. Some (okay most) of the material was familiar from my graduate degrees in communication and criminal justice, as well as from previous reading, but Will Storr puts this information together in ways that provoke thought–and a number of notes in my bullet journal for things to think about and notes for projects I am working on, always a plus! My spouse listened to this book on Audible, and then bought me a hard copy, which shows how much he loves me, knowing that I cannot pay attention to audiobooks or podcasts… Anyway, if you are a writer and have an interest in how stories and narratives interact with what we know about human psychology and storytelling, then I definitely recommend picking this up.

From The Science of Storytelling, by Will Storr.

Anyway, those are the books on this week’s shelf. If you’ve read any, let me know your thoughts!

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