january 2015 reading in review

Books Bought This Month
Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting by Syd Field (IndieBound)
The Screenwriter’s Workbook by Syd Field (IndieBound)
Cinematic Storytelling by Jennifer Van Sijll (IndieBound)

Books Received/Acquired This Month
Miramont’s Ghost by Elizabeth Hall (Kindle First) (IndieBound)
Heart Collector by Jacques Vandroux (Kindle First) (IndieBound)
Troubleshooting Silence in Arizona by Bojan Louis
Balm by Dolen Perkins-Valdez (Edelweiss ARC) (IndieBound)
Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton (Edelweiss ARC) (IndieBound)
The Cage by Megan Shepherd (Edelweiss ARC) (IndieBound)

Books Borrowed This Month
Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule (IndieBound)
Sweet, Hereafter by Angela Johnson (IndieBound)
Neurocomic by Hana Ros and Matteo Farinella (IndieBound)
Ms. Marvel: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson (IndieBound)
The Body Book by Cameron Diaz (IndieBound)
Essentials of Screenwriting: The Art, Craft, and Business of Film and Television Writing by Richard Walter (IndieBound)
Heads On and We Shoot: The Making of Where the Wild Things Are by the editors of McSweeney’s (IndieBound)

Books Finished This Month
How to Be a Heroine: Or, What I’ve Learned from Reading too Much by Samantha Ellis (IndieBound)
Freakin’ Fabulous on a Budget by Clinton Kelly (IndieBound)
Endangered by Lamar Giles (IndieBound)
Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach (audiobook) (IndieBound)
Hags by Jenny Zhang
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (IndieBound)
The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York by Deborah Blum (IndieBound)
Neurocomic by Matteo Farinella and Hana Ros
God Loves Hair by Vivek Shraya (IndieBound)
Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule
The Body Book by Cameron Diaz
Sonata Mulattica by Rita Dove (IndieBound)
Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (IndieBound)
Rhyme Schemer by K.A. Holt (IndieBound)

Some really great reading this month. Love love loved a lot of what I picked up. And love the variety of things I read – a good mix of fiction and nonfiction. All good things.

I broke my resolution not to buy books by straight, abled white guys anymore, but I had to because they were on the syllabus for the screenwriting class I just started taking! I’m so excited about this. For one thing, I miss being in school, and while it’s been nice to read whatever I want whenever I want to read it, it’s also unnerving not to have a syllabus and deadlines and homework. And more importantly, screenwriting is the type of creative writing I’ve always been interested in, and I’ve been not going through with it because, like with all things, I like being unhappy and unfulfilled, I guess. Fear of letting myself down or something? I’m sure Freud would have an answer to why I specifically avoid the things I most dream about and go for the convenient things I know I’m good at. It would explain basically every career and life move I’ve made since high school. But no more! I have to write a good portion of the script I’ve wanted to write forever in order to pass this class, and even if it is a community college class and I’m not enrolled in a degree program, I can’t not pass a class. That is anathema to my being. Maybe I will never be a successful creativeperson (but gawd I hope I am, because that is what I want to be), but damnit, I am fucking good at school now. I never learned study skills, but I do know how to do all other school stuff pretty well.

A lot of what I read this month had to do with music and music school and fitting in and race, which was interesting (this includes an unpublished manuscript that I can’t tell you about). It got me thinking about my own WIP, which I haven’t been actively working on lately but deals with similar things, and which I’ve been thinking about a lot since I haven’t been working on it. I started this particular story in college while I was a music major, and it kept floating between fairly generic dystopian and just speculative fiction, and because it didn’t know what it was (dystopian fight the power; speculative fiction love story; something else), I kept doing more and more research into the historical aspects of the story but not getting anywhere. I’m not sure if I’m super pleased I read all these books; I don’t want to write something that’s already been written. However, they also forced me to think through the ways my story works better than, worse than, and differently from all of these. And I think I figured some stuff out. At any rate, I need to do this screenplay for class and the other WIP I’ve been doing (a contemporary realism, probably YA), so it will be awhile before I can get in to redraft this, but this month’s reading was good for the ways in which it forced me to evaluate something I’ve abandoned for being a good idea that’s not executable. Because it may be after all.

Other books I read were validating in other ways. Sammy and Juliana is fucking brilliant, and it’s the type of book I wish I had had in high school when I was turning away from myself and my background because it was easier to give in to hegemony. Neurocomic was not amazing, but it was another refresher on the type of science I really do find interesting and would have wanted to go into had I gone into STEM. How to be a Heroine was a memoir in which I found a somewhat kindred spirit. The Night Circus was unbelievable – I really hate the type of adult fiction that everyone calls great and literary, because it’s usually a bunch of pontificating and endless, meaningless description just to prove how many metaphors that writer has under his belt. I also really don’t have good descriptive skills myself. The critique I get all the time for written work is that I have great dialogue and yet nobody knows what any character looks like or what the setting is. That stuff isn’t super important to me, and when it is, I tend to like to put it in more like a screenwriter does, giving you the important information when you need it but not dwelling on it in prose. The Night Circus dwells on physical description in all the ways I usually hate, except all of it was perfect and brilliant and I loved it.

So yeah. A good month overall, reading-wise. I look forward to what’s next.

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2 thoughts on “january 2015 reading in review

  1. Ha, I have the same issue with my creative writing and how I describe things. Really, I should’ve just gone into screenwriting. Dialogue and characters are my jam.

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