<$BlogRSDURL$> Spontaneous Things: Karina Sumner-Smith's Blog
Sunday, January 09, 2005
Making a List

I've begun recording all the books I've read, and plan to continue throughout the year. I've known others who have done this--written down, in one form or another, the various books and magazines they read, the movies they watched--and yet I'd never seen the point of it. But recently I was reading online various people's "best of 2004" lists, and ran across SF Site's Best of 2004 contest, and it occurred to me that I don't really know what I thought were the best books I read in the past year, new or not, simply because I'm not sure what I read when.

Some are easy: I know that I loved Sean Stewart's Perfect Circle. Not only is it a Sean Stewart book, and a good one at that (and therefore all the things that I expect from a good Sean Stewart book: subtle, elegant, well-written and thoroughly engaging), but it's a Sean Stewart book about ghosts. (More, I think, needs to be said about my somewhat recent discovery of my own obsession about ghosts, but now's not the time. Too much to say.) I also loved Matt Ruff's Set This House In Order, even though it all but totally falls apart at the end, and there is a palpable moment shortly before the destruction that I can only call the moment where the author must have gone "Oh, crap, what happens next?" Yet I can forgive it that messiness for the goodness that came before. Survival by Julie Czerneda also stands out as a good 2004 book, especially as it almost made me cry.

But others? I know that I read Sabriel by Garth Nix when it was cold and I think snowing, but seeing where I live that isn't much help in pinning down an exact date. I think I got The Mount by Carol Emshwiller out of the library shortly after I graduated, which would make it a 2004 book--and what a wonderfully surprising and mind-twisting work that was. I read (and enjoyed--as much as that word may be applied to such a work) Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi in I believe the second term of that particular class, and the Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing was one of the last texts that I had to read for another class, but whether I read it on the break or in March I can't be sure. Still, good books all.

The biggest disappointment is easy to pin down, though, simply because I was so excited to read it and so let down by it upon completion. That, of course, would be Elizabeth Moon's The Speed of Dark--and yes, I think I'm the only person I've yet encountered who has disliked it as much as I did. It's not that the book was bad; rather, it simply wasn't good. Rather predictable and rather dull. The part of the story that held the most interest for me, namely the ending and what happened shortly thereafter, was crammed into a few pages, glossed over or ignored completely. Pity, because in there was the kernel of a book I could have absolutely loved. For books with autistic main characters--that I read in 2004, no less--The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime was much preferred.

Anyways, yes, I'm recording the books that I'm reading this year. I'm currently on book #6. We'll see how long this lasts.

And since I'm on the topic of the year gone past, I've figured out why 2004 was the Year of No Sales. It's shockingly obvious, actually: I sent out way, way, way too few submissions. I'm not even going to say how few. Frankly, it's embarrassing.

But, I've gotten 2005 off on the right foot, I think: I rewrote the last three scenes of "The Ghosts of Water" and sent it out again, and then got back to work on the bagpipe story. It will be written. Oh yes, it will be written.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 10:06 PM


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