Reading Round Up – January 2019


In a strange turn of events, I didn’t read any Fiction in the month of January! I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this, other than I’m a bit disappointed to have no book reviews to share with you this month. I’ve tried to write my usual, in-depth reviews for the Nonfiction I’ve read these last 30 days, and I just couldn’t make any of them work. So, instead of an individual post for each book, I’ve decided to do something a little different. Welcome to the blog’s inaugural Reading Round Up!

Title: Spying on Whales: The Past, Present, and Future of Earth’s Most Awesome Creatures
Author: Nick Pyensonspying on whales
Format: Digital Audiobook
Narrator: Nick Pyenson
My Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
Thoughts: It’s about whales, so I knew I would like this book going into it. My personal bias aside, I found the author’s narration to be well done, if a little fast. I normally speed up my digital audio, but I didn’t need to with Pyenson’s narration. The book was a really great mixture of narrative storytelling and educational fact, not always told in a linear, chronological order. Facts were delivered as they related to the narrative at the beginning and ending of each chapter. I think that really helped me digest the more technical passages. That being said, it is still a lot of science speak and I found myself zoning out on more than one occasion. Not sure if that’s my fault or the book’s.
Recommended: Yes!

Title: Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
Author: Neil deGrasse Tysonastro for people
Format: Digital Audiobook
Narrator: Neil deGrasse Tyson
My Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
Thoughts: This was a tough one. I liked the narration a lot, but the subject matter was still way over my head. I’d have moments of clarity where deGrasse Tyson said something that I thought I understood, only for the information to flee my brain a moment later. Also, his voice is entirely too soothing; I kept falling asleep! I’m sure in comparison to the true, complicated nature of the subject matter, this book is very approachable and accessible, but to me it was still taxing. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I think you need to know your learning style if you hope to retain what deGrasse Tyson is trying to teach you. I’d go with a paper copy, personally.
Recommended: Sure.

Title: Zen in the Art of Writing zen in the art of writing
Author: Ray Bradbury
Format: Paperback
My Goodreads Rating: 3/5 Stars
Thoughts: Don’t hate me. I was… unimpressed? I love Bradbury’s fiction, especially his short fiction, but this collection of essays lacked that inarguable punch that is so typical of his writing. I think it actually comes down to the fact that this book did not age well. There are several passages that are kind of sexist (a standout one refers to an actress as a “porker”) and though he cites multiple women authors and their works, he never once refers to the reader as anything other than “he”. It’s ultimately a small thing, and really a non-issue considering the age of the book, but it still irked me. That said, there were several lines and paragraphs that stood out for good reasons. I took pictures so I could refer to them as needed. But, this book is much more a memoir on the craft than it is an actionable account of how to live your own writing life. Maybe this was an instance of an author not living up to my imagined expectations, but this book just didn’t do much for me.
Recommended: Eh.

Title: The Business of Being a Writer business of being a writer
Author: Jane Friedman
Format: Paperback
My Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Thoughts: I loved this book! Friedman answered more of my publishing questions than I even knew I had. From querying an agent, to signing the contract, to developing your online presence and “brand” Friedman tells all. And if you’re more interested in the Self-Publishing side of the writing business, don’t fret, because it’s all in there. Even how to do your taxes! What I really appreciated, besides the sheer quantity of information, was the approachable language and conversational tone of the book. It felt less like reading a textbook and much more like sitting down for several in depth conversations with a VERY knowledgeable friend. Navigating the publishing industry is scary enough without author resources adding to the fear factor. This book gets that, but doesn’t do you the disservice of holding your hand either. Friedman tells it like it is, giving you the information to make career decisions with confidence.
Recommended: Heck yes! I will be buying a copy for my office.

Well? What do you think? Hopefully this is a quick, painless way for you to decide if a book is worth trying for yourself and I still had all the fun of writing a review, even if they were condensed versions.

Don’t worry, I promise I’ll still post full reviews for any and all fiction I read over the course of the year, but now I’ll add these Round Ups for Nonfiction and Graphic Novels.

See you in February, Bloggos!