I Don’t Remember What Happened in the Books I’ve Read, and I Don’t Care

Since I started reading more than 50 books a year I stopped remembering what actually happened in them. Character names, plot points, who did what to whom and why, these things float into the ether within weeks of finishing a book.

Every single time. Without fail.

I read The Orenda when it came out a few years ago and absolutely loved it. I mean, I loved that book. It’s one of my favorite pieces of Canadian fiction. Now, I can’t even tell you the names of the characters. Not a single one. I could pick them out of a lineup, sure, but as for instant recall, I got nuthin’.

River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay is my third favorite book of all time. I can name two characters in it off the top of my head. That’s insane.

This is something that’s bothered me for quite a while. Am I reading too many books? Am I not absorbing them the way I should be? Do I need to read fewer books, more slowly, to really squeeze the juice out of them? I was starting to think so.

And then I listened to the August 21st episode of The Watch podcast, “Critiquing ‘Game of Thrones’ and Previewing the Fall TV Season”. On it, TV critic extraordinaire Andy Greenwald talked about how the details of a piece of art aren’t important, or, at least, they’re less important than the feeling that piece of art leaves you with.

Instantly, I felt better.

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Book Bingo: An Update

Back in January I wrote a 2017 preview post that included a game of Book Bingo: 24 themed reads I wanted to tackle over the course of the year. Now that we’re entering June, it seems a good time to check in and see how I’m doing (since I haven’t paid the slightest attention to my bingo card).

The results: not great.

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This is 33: Growing Older with Nino Ricci’s Testament

I’ve been stressed about turning thirty-three since I was about twenty-five.

You see, thirty-three is largely considered to be Jesus’ age when he died. This was the year he established his ministry, rebelled against the Romans, rose from the dead, and laid the groundwork for Dan Brown to become the most unlikely gajillionaire the world has ever seen.

In short, he crushed it. He fulfilled his destiny and became the man he was meant to be (however horrid that destiny may have been).

Thirty-three has since become synonymous–insofar as the Christian zeitgeist is concerned–with a person’s figurative death and resurrection. A precedent has been set for thirty-three being the height of one’s powers, the year we tear down the walls that surround us and rebuild ourselves into something better.

It’s a testament to my Catholic upbringing and its particular brand of “gee shucks” brainwashing that I’m still so affected by its laws, taboos, and beliefs more than twenty years after I left the church for good.

Classical conditioning is one hell of a drug.

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If You Didn’t Like This, Try This (YA Edition)

Book recommendations are usually given based on books that readers like.

You’re a fan of Stieg Larsson? Read some Jussi Adler-Olson. You enjoy a little (or a lot) of Robert Jordan? Read Tad Williams.

If You Like This, Try This is, not so coincidentally, today’s Bout of Books prompt. But since everyone else is doing that I thought I’d try something a little different.

Book recommendations rarely come as a result of what readers don’t like. But disappointment can be fertile ground. If a reader shows interest in a particular genre or style, there’s something that’s drawing them in. Quite often, though, they pick the wrong book (i.e. the “it” book at the moment) as a test–a book that doesn’t speak to them for one reason or another–and they swear off the genre altogether.

For that person, no one was there to talk them off the ledge. Had someone suggested something in the same vein, something with that same spark that drew their attention in the first place, then that’s one reader saved.

With that in mind, I’m going to suggest a few titles for those who have waded into YA but found it a little lacking. Maybe you loved the easy language and edge-of-your-seat pacing, but wanted something a little riskier, or a more sophisticated romance, or harsher consequences.

Whatever the case, if YA hasn’t done it for you I’m here to suggest a few alternatives that might provide what you’re looking for.

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