Writing Wednesday: (What I’m) Reading


I thought I’d give you guys another combo post. This isn’t going to be a book review post; I’m actually in the middle of a few books and am going to tell you what they are. This list does not include books I’ve started but am not particularly keen on/iffy on whether I’ll continue; these are books I plan to finish. Who knows…maybe one will strike you and you’ll wanna get stuck into it yourself.

Let’s get started.

The Palace of Curiosities by Rosie Garland
Rosie Garland actually came to speak at my uni on March 1st about her writing life and process. Among other things, she’s a poet, novelist, and member of a post-punk band called The March Violets. As soon as she opened her mouth, I thought of David Bowie. Needless to say, I became a fan more or less immediately. (She’s also a nice person.)

Palace of Curiosities was her first novel — she’s since penned two others: Vixen (2014), and another coming out soon. Set in the 1850’s, Palace of Curiosities follows a young woman with hypertrichosis (she’s been covered in hair from head to toe since birth) named Eve, and a young man with strange abilities and only flashes of memory named Abel. Eve and Abel become attractions in Eve’s husband’s “Palace of Curiosities” — the Lion-Faced Girl and the Flayed Man. The chapters alternate between Eve and Abel’s perspectives. I’m about halfway through this one and mostly feel heartbroken for the both of them. All Abel wants is an answer to the questions “Who, and what, am I?”; all Eve wants is to be loved, genuinely, for who she is. I’m eager to see how things end for both of them.

When We Collided by Emery Lord

I’ve been searching high and low for a book subscription box that won’t cost me 10 jillion dollars in shipping b/c it’s based elsewhere (like all the good ones seem to be). Finally I stumbled upon UK-based Illumicrate, which is a quarterly subscription box that offers all the loveliness of Owl Crate, but only every three months (plus free shipping in the UK!). I got so many cute things: a black travel mug that says “What happens in book club stays in book club,” a gold and black book-shaped pin that says “Readers gonna read,” a cuuute clip/bookmark with a paper cut-out caterpillar reading a book, buttons from Jenny McLachlan, a “To Be Read List” notepad, and a fox stamp. Not to mention a sample of a new YA Fantasy book by Laini Taylor coming out in September called Strange the Dreamer. I took photos of everything, but they turned out horribly, so I think you’d be better off clicking on the link above and checking out the Instagram photos of other people’s opened boxes.

So this one’s a bit of a cheat b/c I’ve only read the first couple of pages, but I’m already on board for the ride promised by the splashy paint colors on the cover. When We Collided is about a teenage boy named Jonah who is forced to become the man of the house after his father dies. Then a free-spirited chick named Vivi rolls into town and he falls for her. The tagline on the front of the book is “Can you fall in love when you’re falling apart?” So I’m guessing the conflict involves Jonah trying to juggle his grief over his father, his newfound responsibilities, and falling in love, which is something I haven’t really seen in the YA I’ve read. While I’ve barely begun the story, I already love the relaxed, natural way it’s written. Some YA books are written in voices that are meant to sound like teenagers, but end up being over-the-top caricatures instead. So I’m digging the normalcy of When We Collided so far. Hope it’s as good as it seems!

The Bricks That Built the Houses by Kate Tempest
If someone were to ask me what this novel is about, I could sum it up in three words: South East London. Every page, every line of dialogue, every mannerism screams SE. The protagonists are South East Londoners who take that place with them wherever they go. Their pasts, their hopes and dreams, their hatred, everything about them is also about South East London. Kate Tempest is actually a slam poet born and raised in SE London whose work can be quite political. This definitely comes through in the novel, so much so that I wonder from time to time which opinions and dreams are the character’s and which are hers. Her prose is image-heavy and there are often stories within the larger story in the form of character biography. I haven’t spent much time at all in South East London, so this is an interesting read for me. Stories within stories usually take away from my reading experience, but in this case, because the novel is so much about the people in it, including backstories that make up the overall fabric of the novel is fitting. I’m enjoying it so far!

Patience by Daniel Clowes
Here’s a graphic novel (just to shake things up 😉 )! Yesterday, I went to the Cartoon Museum to check out their graphic novel exhibit. I learned about some artists and writers I hadn’t heard of and was reminded of a graphic novel I’ve been wanting to buy (Arkham Asylum). On my money-spending mission, I saw this bright and colorful cover on the shelf beside other new titles. Clowes’s style reminds me of the comics I read in the newspaper on the weekends when I was a kid, but the dialogue between characters and their thoughts seemed more natural (esp. all the cursing lol). It intrigued me, so I bought it. I read a good chunk of it last night. I really like it!

It’s about a man whose pregnant wife gets killed, so he spends the next twenty years obsessing over her and the life they could’ve had. He meets a prostitute whose client invented a time machine, so he uses it to go back to before he met his wife in order to find out who might have killed her. His ultimate goal is to keep her safe and make sure their child gets born. It’s kinda like Looper, minus the telepathy. So far the main dude has beat the shit out of a group of guys who pulled a dirty prank on Patience (the wife/woman on the cover), and they just recognized him in the street! I’ve actually been gasping and laughing out loud at what I’ve read so far, which means this is pretty good stuff. The subtitle is “A cosmic timewarp deathtrip to the primordial infinite of everlasting love.” That pretty much sums it up.

What are you reading right now?

9 thoughts on “Writing Wednesday: (What I’m) Reading

  1. South East London here to represent! Sheesh, you read a lot at once! How’d you do that? I read one thing at a time and I think about that one thing obsessively and then I either finish it or move on. You have a lot more brain space to store stuff than I do! x

    Liked by 1 person

    • I actually found that I had to read multiple things at once for two reasons: 1) When a book gets slow, I need an escape. What better escape than another book? & 2) The first time I workshopped a short story in my MFA program, one of my classmates said “I loved this! It reminded me of IT by Stephen King!” …which is exactly what I’d been reading at the time. I hadn’t copied the premise or anything, but I guess the tone was similar enough to remind her of that novel. So I figured the safest thing to do was to read multiple books at once — that way there’s so much info coming in that I’m unable to absorb another person’s style so completely! x


    • Omg, they are miracles. Illumicrate is perfect for me b/c 1) I only have to pay once every 3 months (whoop!) and 2) the focus is on YA novels, which I don’t buy often myself, so there’s little chance of overlap purchases! I wouldn’t subscribe to an adult fiction box bc there’d be too great a chance I’d have the book already hahaha.


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