Summer and the Folly of Overplanning

By Brittney Reed-Saltz

I’m the kind of reader who likes to feel as though I’m accomplishing something with my reading. I like goals. I like crossing items off of to-do lists. I like adding entries to my personal reading log. I like completing challenges. And planning? Oh boy, do I love planning.

There is no season that makes me want to plan my reading quite like Summer. As soon as the temperatures rise and we start signing people up for the Summer Reading Program–pssst, have you signed up yet??–I start setting goals.

Sometimes these goals of mine are very general. Maybe I decide to explore a particular genre in greater depth, or to read more of a certain author. Often, I’ll use the longer days as motivation to tackle a really long book that I’ve been putting off for forever because I prefer my books to clock in around 300 pages. Or I’ll decide to revisit an author whose work I love and reread my favorites.

My problem is that once I start setting goals, it’s hard for me to stop. One goal feels good? Well, imagine the thrill when I achieve three of them! Or five! Or more! And if a small goal is good, then a huge goal must be great! Before I know it, I’m not just planning to reread a few of my favorite author’s choice titles. Oh no, I’m signing on to reread their entire oeuvre before the Summer ends.

I’m sure you can see the problem, Astute Reader. Before I know it, summer is over, I’ve barely scratched the surface of the ambitious TBR list I concocted for myself, and although I’ve read plenty of books, I’m left with a lingering malaise of guilt over not meeting my goals.

But recently I had a breakthrough. I realized that I don’t have to try to read everything I might possibly want to between May and August. Those books will still be there long after I’ve dug out my scarves and boots and started planning for Halloween. Moreover, they’ll be just as good, regardless of when I get around to them. After all, I’m an adult now. I’ve been out of school for five years. When Fall rolls around, it doesn’t mean that I have to give up my recreational reading time. It means I still get to read whatever I want, just while enjoying more bearable temperatures and pumpkin-spice-flavored everything.

Somewhere along the way, I forgot that Summer reading is supposed to be fun. So this year, my primary goal is not to set too many. I’m giving myself permission to be fickle and flighty, to choose books based on whatever whim overtakes me in the moment, and to cast books aside without a second thought if I’m not enjoying them. Of course there are books that I’m excited to read soon, but if I don’t get to them because something else was more immediately appealing, it’s no big deal. They can wait their turn.

What about you? Are you setting lofty summer reading goals? Do you find it as hard to relax and just read as I do? Which books are on your summer TBR? Let’s talk about it in the comments!

 

 

Diverse Worlds: LGBTQ+ Sci-Fi and Fantasy

By Brittney Reed-Saltz.

This is the second installment of a series highlighting genre fiction that centers marginalized peoples and perspectives. You can view the first post here.

In my post about people of color in science fiction and fantasy, I pointed out the value of representation for all kinds of people in imaginative and speculative fiction. After all, if we can have a story about dragons and space travel and arcane magic, there is no reason why that story and others can’t feature the same diversity that exists in our world.

That counts just as much for members of the LGBTQ+ community. We still have a long way to go when it comes to representation in sci-fi and fantasy, but more and more books are being published that center characters who are not straight and/or cis.

Here are some SFF novels available through RCLS with LGBTQ+ characters. If you’re looking for more, I highly recommend this post on The Illustrated Page. I consulted it frequently while compiling my list, and I found so many books that sound wonderful. If you see something that we don’t have, be sure to request that we purchase it or get it as an Interlibrary Loan!

 

Asexual
Sheepfarmer’s Daughter by Elizabeth Moon

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Quicksilver by R. J. Anderson

quicksilver

Bisexual:
False Hearts by Laura Lam

Planetfall by Emma Newman

false hearts

Intersex:
An Unkindness of Ghosts by River Solomon

an unkindness of ghosts

Gay
Magic’s Pawn by Mercedes Lackey

A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

amberlough

Genderfluid/Nonbinary:
Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey

river of teeth

Lesbian
Huntress by Malinda Lo

The Steel Seraglio by Mike Carey

Black Wolves by Kate Elliott

The Red Tree by Caitlin R. Kiernan

huntress

Pansexual:
Borderline by Mishell Baker

Island of Exiles by Erica Cameron

The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley

borderline

Transgender:
Dreadnought by April Daniels

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

The Stone in the Skull by Elizabeth Bear

The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden

 

 

dreadnought

 

Garrett’s 2017 Reading Year in Review

We’re kicking off 2018 by looking back on the best books we read in 2017. Today’s picks come from Garrett Crowell. Follow Garrett’s reviews throughout the year on Goodreads.

Favorite new author or series you tried:
Sylvain Neuvel’s Themis Files series, books 1 & 2, Sleeping Giants & Waking Gods.

A book that surprised you:
Wonder Woman: Warbringer, by Leigh Bardugo. For a YA treatment of Diana before she’s WW, this is better than it has any right to be.

A book you read for the first time that you will reread in the future:
The Binti books, by Nnedi Okorafor. I plan to turn right around and re-read those once this trilogy or arc or whatever she’s doing is over.

The best book you read that was also published this year:
Devil’s Bargain, by Joshua Green – super useful for getting your head around what might be motivating our current President.

A book you read that was outside of your comfort zone:
The Nest, by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney. Normally, epic American family novels about people changing through hard times is not my thing, but this was.

The book that you recommended to the most people:
The Wild Storm, by Ellis & Davis-Hunt: excellent new action/hero driven stuff that’s well-written, pretty, and relevant, and you can drop right in on this volume.

The best cover from a book you read this year (please include image):
Karnak, by Ellis & Zaffino, Marvel Comics.

karnak