When I was younger, I would tear through a book in a matter of hours.  I would demolish a stack of library books in the span of a few afternoons.  My favorite time of year was grade school summer vacation, during which time I would banish myself to the screened porch; hunched on the sweaty patio furniture, I would gulp glass after glass of my mother’s weak iced tea and slip into the pages of Stephen King, John Saul, Anne Rice, HP Lovecraft, Dean Koontz (I didn’t really discriminate at that age). I thoroughly immersed myself in these lurid, awful tales of monsters and madmen and supernatural goings-on and oftentimes would spend upwards of 8 hours out in the heat, completely lost to the world.

Unfortunately as I’ve gotten older, I am much more easily distracted (or is it that there are more things to become distracted by? Hm.) and it takes me much longer to read through a horrid novel. Where I once left the library with no less than a dozen books, I now exit the building with with two or three of them lumped uneasily at the bottom of a mostly empty tote bag  -I fear they know as well as I that any more than one book at a time now is wishful thinking.

The past few years had been especially bad for this; with upheaval comes a distinct lack of focus, and I am sure that I grew weary of or bored with 50% of the books I’d attempted reading. This year I was determined to begin making up for lost time.  It is almost August now, and I am fairly certain that I have read more in 2014 than I have in the last ten years.

Doctor Sleep  |  The Ocean At The End Of The Lane  | American Vampire, Volume 1 | Garlic and Sapphires | Pretty Little Liars 1 (don’t judge me!) | Comfort Me With Apples | Tender At The Bone | Pretty Little Liars 2: Flawless | The Shining Girls

Angelica | Heart Shaped Box | White Is For Witching | The Imago Sequence and Other Stories | The Asylum | American Vampire, Vol. 2

NOS4A2 | Boneshaker | The Goldfinch

Red Shirts | Wild Fell

The Unseen | The Ghostwriter

The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All | Horns | The Tenant | The Small Hand | Sex Criminals Volume 1 | Morning Glories Volume 1

Carrion Comfort | Morning Glories Volume 2-7

The standouts for me so far have been The Goldfinch, Horns, and Sex Criminals, but more than that I have just enjoyed the magic of burying myself in a book again, of being breathlessly caught up in someone else’s story, and yes – even the tinge of regret and disappointment once the tale has been told and the last page has been turned.

Next on the reading list: Penpal by Dathan Auerbach and The Anxiety of Kalix the Werewolf by Martin Millar.  And I am very much looking forward to The Children of the Old Leech (a Laird Barron tribute!), Burnt Black Suns, and The Lord Came At Twilight.

What is stacked on your bedside table for an evening read?  What stories are you most looking forward to immersing yourself in? Do tell!  There’s so many empty shelves that need filling in my Library of Probable Books…

Drax says

On the bedshelf: UNDER MY ROOF by Nick Mamatas, BLACKBIRDS by Chuck Wendig, and the forthcoming (Sept 1 pub date but I have an ARC) BITE HARDER by Anonymous-9

S. Elizabeth says

Ooh, I just read the Amazon synopsis of BLACKBIRDS and got a chill. To the list!

Lau says

I, too, have been wanting to read more but gosh, I just don't have the time. By the time I'm done working I'm completely zapped and just stare off into the space. It's a sad state of affairs.

I did just finish Ursula Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness (read it! read it! It's amazing) and the ones I have on my list next are: Hopscotch by Julio Cortázar, Cloud Atlas, and Valerie and Her Week of Wonders.

Now to just find the time...

S. Elizabeth says

I don't think I have ever read anything by Ursula Le Guin, believe it or not! I feel like there are some authors I should have read by this time in my life and she is definitely one of them. I picked up Valerie and Her Week of Wonders and Picnic At Hanging Rock around the same time a few years ago and tore through Valerie in a weekend. Somehow Hanging Rock still sits there, untouched, unread. Shameful!

OTB says

You must finish Picnic at Hanging Rock--I have to re-read it every now and then, especially on still, lifeless, too-warm days, and I still don't understand it *at all*.

S. Elizabeth says

Now that you mentioned it I just remembered that I loaned it to my sister last year and right now she is in the middle of moving (she and her husband bought their first house!) and if I don't ask her about it now, I JUST KNOW it's going to be one of those things that get lost in the move. And now that you've encouraged me to finish it, I am super motivated to see that this does not happen!

Lau says

Also: Sex Criminals! I really want to get / read that. As far as comics go, I just read the first Orc Stain (yeah!!) and am loving Kill Six Billion Demons: https://killsixbilliondemons.com

S. Elizabeth says

Whoa. Kill Six Billion Demons! This is all kinds of awesome - thank you!

Anton says

I read a lot. A lot lot. I just passed a hundred books for the year so far. I spend a lot of time with iced tea and books, immersed.

Favorites so far from this year:
Love Minus Eighty by Will McIntosh
On Such A Full Sea by Chang-rae Lee
Dead Mountain: The True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident by Donnie Eichar
Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield
Savage Girl by Jean Zimmerman

S. Elizabeth says

Anton, you are a book reading monster! Which is of course the very best kind of Monster. Setterfield, that's the one who wrote the 13th Tale, right? I will definitely have to add Bellman and Black to my list :)

Anton says

I am a monster! Thank goodness for the library or I would be so broke. There is nothing I would rather do than lay on the perfect loveseat I bought with a book, an ice cold drink and maybe a snack. Just like you described in your post, book after book.

Yep, same Setterfield. It is a very odd, sinister book. Spooky even. I notice that all the books I listed there are somehow spooky and strange.

Celephais says

So can we start the Mlle Ghoul book club?

Mel Wandering in the Desert says

Just finished "The Care and Management of Lies" by Jacqueline Winspear and "The Quick" (which you would LOVE) by Lauren Owen and "Behind the Beautiful Forevers" by Katherine Boo. Will finish "Oxford Revisited" by tonight or tomorrow, and then "Grave Mercy" by someone or other. This weekend I shall tackle "The Queen of Tearling".,.and then, August will be populated by a challenge--to read the things my patrons do. Nicholas Sparks, Debbie Macomber, Nora Roberts, Jeffrey Archer, Clive Cussler.

Kill me now.

Jen says

I am a librarian so I do a lot reading. While you may bemoan your lack of time and distractions at least you chose some good books. I have been meaning to get my hands on Sex Criminals. I have heard Rat Queens is supposed to be awesome and I am seriously addicted to Saga (great space opera).

As for my best reads of the year:
-Oryx and Crake by Margerat Atwood and you are so right about the chicken McNuggets luckily I never liked them in the first place.
-The Passion by Jeanette Winterson, a wonderful trippy Venice.
-Meaty: essay by Samantha Irby, so funny and truthful.
-Watching Giants by Elin Kelsey, fascinating book about whales in the Gulf of California.

Linus says

Just finished the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson. It was a delightful little escape. My house is not a mess because of my three small children, it's totally because I still read 4-6 books a week. It really cuts into my housecleaning time!

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