These have been really productive days for me, I think I’m running on the high of getting back to writing-whatever it is I hope it hangs around awhile longer. Since posting Better Writing Habits for 2016 I’ve been able to stick to my writing goals and have had a nice enough work schedule where I can write first thing in the morning, which I found out helps tremendously. I love getting up with a fresh mind, grabbing a quick drink then heading off to my desired writing spot. I’ve even been able to go to the Writer’s Group on Saturday mornings. Writing early, consistently, and with other writers has helped produce a few blog posts and an eight page short story I’m on the tail end of editing. I come home from work; I write. I go to lunch and set myself up to eat my sandwich in one hand while I write, balancing my notebook on my lap.
Yesterday I got to leave work early and was left with loads of time on a day too nice to spend indoors, so got some writing done before going to a Friends of the Library book sale. I’ve been to one before and I’m certain it’s the best used book sale in Los Angeles that I’ve come across. Volunteers run these sales out of Silver Lake Branch and John C. Fremont library as well as a few other, with donated books (good books) that are sold for as little as 75 cents to $2 a book. This place built my Cormac McCarthy collection for about $4 and he’s brilliant!
I bought twelve books yesterday (two not pictured) that fall into many genres-science fiction, classic reads, and contemporary literature. Here are synopsis’ of the books and some reason why I bought them.
Animal Farm by George Orwell
I read 1984 for the first time a few months ago and fell in love with George Orwell’s satirical style and writing. I love a good dystopian future.
From the book cover: A farm is taken over by its overworked, mistreated animals. With flaming idealism and stirring slogans, they set out to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality. Thus the stage is set for one of the most telling satric fables ever penned- a razor-edged fairy tale for grown-ups that record the evolution from revolution against tyranny to a totalitarianism just as terrible.
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
We all got assigned to read this in high school, but it’s rare to appreciate the ‘classics’ first time around – at least for me. This used copy was obviously owned by a student who took great care in note taking and highlighting important plot points, so maybe I’ll learn something.
From the book cover: At the dawn of the next world war, a plane crashes on an uncharted island, stranding a group of schoolboys. At first, with no adult supervision, their freedom is something to celebrate. This far from civilization they can do anything they want. Anything. But as order collapses, as strange howls echo in the night, as terror begins its reign, the hope of adventure seems as far removed from reality as the hope of being rescued…
Cheap ‘n Cheerful
None of these books are cheerful, but for only $2, this was the cheapest I’d seen these book so thought Why not?
The Little Friend by Donna Tartt
I know she wrote the Goldfinch. I know she wrote The Secret History. I’m just unapologetically cheap and can’t bring myself to invest $26 in long literature I might never finish. A volunteer mentioned that Donna Tartt’s other books are more popular, but the story of this one appealed to me the most.
From the book cover: In a small Mississippi town, Harriet Cleve Dufresnes grows up in the shadow of her brother, who-when she was only a baby-was found hanging dead from a black-tupelo tree in their yard. His killer was never identified, nor has his family, in the years since, recovered from the tragedy. For Harriet, who has grown up largely unsupervised, in a world of her own imagination, her brother is a link to a glorious past she has only heard stories about or glimpsed in photograph albums. Fiercely determined, precocious far beyond her twelve years, and steeped in the adventurous literature of Stevenson, Kipling, and Conan Doyle, she resolves, one summer, to solve the murder and exact her revenge. Harriet’s sole ally in this quest, her friend Hely, is devoted to her, but what they soon encounter has nothing to do with child’s play: it is dark, adult, and all too menacing.
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
From the book cover: Fight Club’s estranged narrator leaves his lackluster job when he comes under the thrall of Tyler Durden, an enigmatic young man who holds secret after-hours boxing matches in the basement of bars. There two men fight “as long as they have to”. A gloriously original work that exposes what is at the core of our modern world.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon
From the book cover: Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow. The improbable story of Christopher’s quest to investigate the suspicious death of a neighborhood dog makes for one of the most captivating, unusual, and widely heralded novels in recent years.
Reading for Writers
The Most Beautiful Woman in Town & other stories by Charles Bukowski
When I showed my finds to my husband he laughed and said he has a biased against Bukowski because it’s common for people in Brazil (where he’s from) to quote him when they want to appear smart. Well, I want to seem smart too, I said.
Flipping through the contents page some titles I saw were “The Fuck Machine”, “My Big-Assed Mother” and one simply with a swastika symbol, and I realized I had no idea what I just bought.
From the book cover: These mad immortal stories, now surfaced from the literary underground, have addicted legions of American readers, even though the high literary establishment continues to ignore them. In Europe, however (particularly in Germany, Italy, and France where he is published by the great publishing houses), he is critically recognized as one of America’s greatest living realist writers.
Not much detail other than how understated and great Bukowsky is, but I’ll bite based on the story titles alone.
All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
My love affair with Cormac McCarthy’s writing continues.
From the book cover: All the Pretty Horses tells of a young John Grady Cole, the last of a long line of Texas ranchers. Across the border Maxion beckons-beautiful and desolate, rugged and cruelly civilized. With two companions, he sets off on an idyllic, sometimes comic adventure, to a place where dreams are paid for in blood.
The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford
I got my first doses of Richard Ford when my teacher was handing out free books and I ended up with a copy Ford’s short story collection Rock Springs, and heard an excerpt of Canada during class, loving the tone and simplicity of his work. He takes the average American life and makes it interesting, so I’m glad I was able to pick up some of his longer work.
From the book cover: A sportswriter and a real estate agent, husband and father- Frank Bascombe has been many things to many people. His uncertain youth behind him, we follow him through three days during the autumn of 2000, when his trade as a Realtor on the Jersey Shore is thriving. But as a presidential election hangs in the balance, and a postnuclear-family Thanksgiving looms before him, Frank discovers that what he terms the “Permanent Period” is fraught with unforeseen perils.
Closet science lover
Billions & Billions
Because Carl Sagan, and I like non-fiction that blows my mind.
From the book cover: Sagan applies what we know about science, mathematics, and space to everyday life as well as to the exploration of many essential questions concerning the environment and our future. Ranging far and wide in subject matter, he takes his readers on a soaring journey, from the invention of chess to the possibility of life on Mars, from Monday Night Football to the relationship between the United States and Russia, from global warming to the abortion debate. And, on a more intimate note, we are given a rare glimpse of the author himself as he movingly describes his valiant fight for his life, his love for his family, and his personal beliefs about death and God.
Science Fiction: The Very Best of 2005
That’s the very best so obviously I had to get it. I’ve been avoiding science fiction so I could read different genres, but I miss it a lot. Some short stories are just what I need to bring me out of my funk.
From the book cover: A herd of dinosaurs wander the fields of rural Vermont; a young girl discovers what happens when you’re no longer a goddess in a near-future India; Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics are put to the test as a family is split apart and then redefined; the last man in the universe, stranded on Mars, searches for meaning with a pop song; and an artificially intelligent turtle questions Intelligent Design and evolution. These are just some of the fourteen award-nominated stories that acclaimed anthologist Jonathan Strahan has assembled in his third annual survey of the best new science fiction stories of the year.
What are some good books you’ve found at a used book sale/store? Are any of these on your TBR list? Have you read any of these titles already, what did you think?