Archive for ‘books’

January 7, 2012

Repost: Agenda 2012

This is reposted from my old blog.  I’ve imported the whole post, comments and all, into a single space here.  I’ve listed it here under its original date.

Agenda 2012

Saturday, January 7, 2012

I don’t usually have a real agenda for my reading, unless there are certain texts assigned for work.  For the most part, I just make my way through my books (several at a time) as I feel like it.  Recently, though, I worked on a list of things that I wanted to read in 2010, focusing on books that are geared to help me become a better writer (specifically, a better writer of speculative poetry).  I continued the practice last year, and enjoyed the process once again.

I’ve included last year’s list at the bottom.  Here, though, is a new list that I will use for 2012.  I have decided to read a couple of the books that I didn’t get to last year (listed here in brown), and added a lot of new ones too.  It looks like a long list, but a lot of the poetry collections are actually very short, so it’s not as daunting as it seems.

Several of the poetry books are things I’ve ordered.  They’ve not yet been shipped, so I’ll get a bit of a late start on them this year.

Poetry Collections

The Trouble with Poetry (Billy Collins)  

The Phantom World (Gary William Crawford)

Signs and Wonders (Jennifer Crow) 

Virgin of the Apocalypse (Corrine De Winter) 

Beast (Erin Donahue)

Through the Woods (Erin Donahoe)

VAMPS (James S. Dorr) 

Stellar Possibilities (John J Dunphy)

The Tin Men (Kendall Evans & David Kopaska-Merkel)

21 Novel Poems (Suzette Haden Elgin)

Dreaming of Days in Astophel (Lyn C A Gardner)

To Be Read in 500 Years (Albert Goldbarth)

Selected Poems (Tony Harrison)

The Engagement of the Spur (Janie Hofmann)

Shocks (Aurelio Rico Lopez III) 

Falling Through Nothing (Scott Nicolay) 

Poems (Charles Hamilton Mangrove)

Fair Warning (Susan M Sailors)

Disturbed (Julie Shiel) 

Psychoentropy (Julie Shiel) 

Celestial Bodies (Keith Sikora) 

Unearthly Delights (Marge Simon)

Legends of the Fallen Sky (Marge Simon and Malcolm Deeley)

City of 1000 Gods (Marge Simon and Malcolm Deeley)

Dragon’s Dictionary (Marge Simon and Mary Turzillo)

Dragon Soup (Marge Simon and Mary Turzillo)

Wild Hunt of the Stars (Anne Schwader) 

Idylls of the King (Tennyson) (in progress now) 

Up is Down (Mikal Trimm)

The Handless Maiden (JoSelle Vanderhooft)

Improbable Jane (s c virtes)

Black Maria (Kevin Young)

Collections by Todd Boss ,  Ha Jin , Edwin Morgan


The Rhysling Anthology (upcoming)

Dwarf Stars (upcoming) 

The Essential Haiku (ed. by Edward Hass)

….along with a big stack of back issues of various poetry magazines


The Heart of Haiku (trans. by Jane Hirschfield and Mariko Aratani) 

The Poetry Home Repair Manual (Ted Kooser) 

Biocentrism (Robert Lanza)

Myth and Science:  An Essay (Tito Vignoli)

How to Write Tales of Horror, Fantasy, and Science Fiction (ed. by J. N. Williamson) 

The Japanese Haiku (Kenneth Yasuda)

A Backpack and a Bit of Luck (Zhang Su Li)


The Illustrated Man (Ray Bradbury) 

The Quinx Effect (Tyree Campbell)

The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins)

The Crater, or Vulcan’s Pride (James Fennimore Cooper)

The Book of Myths (Jeanie Lang)

Last Days of Pompeii (Baron Edward Bulwer-Lytton)

Cyberiad (Stanislaw Lem)

The American Cyclops (James Fairfax McLaughlin)

Vulcan’s Workshop (Harl Vincent)

….and something by Michael Crichton , Lao She , Ha Jin, and Jules Verne

Here’s a review of the 2011 list   

Poetry Collections

A Book of Minutes – Cathy Smith Bowers

Blood Verse – Derek Clendining

I Feel so Schizophrenic, the Starship’s Aftbrain Said – Kendall Evans

On Metallic Wings – Angel Favazza

Brushfires – David C. Kopaska-Merkel

Symphony of the Universe – Deborah P. Kolodji

Touched by the Gods – Sandra J. Lindow

The Anatomy Theater – Nadine Sabra Meyers

Oddities – Aurelio Rico Lopez III and Kristine Ong Muslim

ChemiCKal Reactions – Karen L. Newman

Raven’s Runes – Karen A. Romanko

Dark Eden – Lewis Sanders

Cyborgia – Susan Slaviero

Remnants – Eddie Tay

Sometimes While Dreaming – Marcie Lynn Tentchoff

Genesis, an epic poem – Frederick Turner

A Galaxy in a Jar – Laurel Winter

Black Maria – Kevin Young

Collections by the following poets (not yet sure which collection I’ll tackle for each)

T. S. Eliot



The Rhysling Anthology (upcoming)

Dwarf Stars (upcoming)

Up Against the Window (ed. by Jim Kacian and Bruce Ross)

Modern Japanese Tanka

The Essential Haiku (ed. by Edward Hass)

Haiku World (ed. by William J. Higginson)

Out of Everywhere (ed. by Maggie O’Sullivan)

….along with a big stack of back issues of various poetry magazines


The Practice of Poetry – Robin Behn

Ragnarok:  Age of Fire and Gravel – Ignatius Donnelly

The Science Fiction Poetry Handbook – Suzette Haden Elgin

Simians, Cyborgs, and Women – Donna J. Haraway

Science and Poetry – Mary Midgley (in progress now)

Dark Thoughts:  On Writing – Stanley Wiater

The Japanese Haiku – Kenneth Yasuda


The Illustrated Man – Ray Bradbury

The Crater, or Vulcan’s Pride – James Fennimore Cooper

The Last Dragonslayer – Jasper Fforde

Last Days of Pompeii- Baron Edward Bulwer-Lytton

American Gods – Neil Gaiman

The Game – Diana Wynne Jones

Cyberiad – Stanislaw Lem

….and something by J Alan Erwine, Charles Williams, and Philip K. Dick

6 Comments Manage Comments for this Entry

just finished The Hunger Games. really good! and you  have something by Michael Crichton right? really I think my favorite is the first I read Prey. though there are some other good ones. State of Fear is a good one too.

happy reading!!

Saturday, January 7, 2012 – 09:51 AM

I do have something my Michael Crighton. I think I have 3, in fact.  I’m planning to read the one you sent for Christmas.  It looks like a good read.

I’m really looking forward to Hunger Games.  I’ve been finishing up some things I needed to get done, and so haven’t started it yet.  It looks like something I will really like.  Did your daughter like it?

I have a feeling there will be lots of items listed in brown on next year’s list, but this is what I’d like to accomplish this year.  (It’s always better to dream big, right?)

Saturday, January 7, 2012 – 02:12 PM
yes, we have both liked Hunger Games and she can’t wait for the movie. I do think you will really like it. I am on the third book now (so is she) you will prob want to read all three too
Friday, January 13, 2012 – 08:43 AM
I am sure I will.  I still haven’t started it, and may wait until I head up to Shanghai to read it.  I’ve got a few projects piled up right now, and I think if I start this one, I might end up letting reading time eat into work time.
Saturday, January 14, 2012 – 10:39 AM

It’s nice to see that you’ll be reading so many books again this year. At the end of last year, I went through the books I had reviewed and came up with over 40. I was surprised. Goodness knows how many I would have if I made up lists in advance.


Saturday, January 21, 2012 – 10:10 AM

At the rate I’m going, I might not make much of a dent in the list this year.  But I do like how it gives me some focus each year in a specific reading agenda.  There are a number of these books that I ordered and have not yet received.  Since I’m heading back up to Shanghai next week (before they arrive), it will take me even longer to get started on the bulk of this list.

It’s great that you reviewed 40 books last year.  Nearly one a week!

Monday, January 23, 2012 – 09:29 PM
January 31, 2010

Repost: Hit (or Miss) List, Jan ’10

This is reposted from my old blog.  I’ve imported the whole post, comments and all, into a single space here.  I’ve listed it here under its original date.

Hit (or Miss) List, January ’10

Sunday, January 31, 2010

January was another good month for catching up on a lot of reading I’ve left dangling for a while.  I made a little more progress on my Fill in the Gaps list and on the books I hope to read this year.


Here’s what I’ve been reading and watching in January:



Hit List

  1. •    House of Many Ways (Diana Wynne Jones)
  2. •    2001 and 2010 (movies)
  3. •    The Return of the King (movie)
  4. •    Intrinsic Night (J. E. Stanley and Joshua Gage)
  5. •   The Book of Salt (Monique Truong)
  6. •    Dwarf Stars 2009 (Deborah P. Kolodji and Stephen M. Wilson, ed.)
  7. •    Attack of the Two-Headed Poetry Monster (Mark McLaughlin and Michael McCarty)
  8. •    Twigs & Knucklebones (Sarah Lindsay)
  9. •    The Rubiayat (Omar Khayyam)
  10. •    The Blind Side (movie)
  11. •    A Freed Woman’s Dance (Doris Cope)
  12. •    The Story of King Arthur and His Knights (Howard Pyle)
  13. •    Voices (Ursula LeGuin)
  14. •    Directed Verdict (Randy Singer)



Catching up on a couple of magazines:

Asia Literary Review, Elixir (back issues)

Star*Line, Scifaikuest, Not One of Us (most recent issue)



Miss List


No misses in January!



Neither Hit nor Miss


  1. •    Mental Fight (Ben Okri)
  2. •    Hum (Ann Lauterbach)





So, what have you been reading and watching this past month?





2 Comments Manage Comments for this Entry
been keeping up w/ my list this month. am going to post it as soon as I add the screwtape letters!
Monday, February 1, 2010 – 11:03 AM
I’ve been by looking for yours.  I’ll stop by again soon.
Monday, February 1, 2010 – 01:15 PM
January 9, 2010

Repost: With an Agenda

This is reposted from my old blog.  I’ve imported the whole post, comments and all, into a single space here.  I’ve listed it here under its original date.

With an Agenda

Saturday, January 9, 2010

I don’t usually have a real agenda for my reading, unless there are certain texts assigned for work.  For the most part, I just make my way through my books (several at a time) as I feel like it.


Last year, I signed up over at the Fill in the Gaps blog to join other bloggers in reading 100 books by the end of 2015 (each reading his or her own list).  These books will be for the “gaps” between my regular reading schedule.  I like the idea, and so far have enjoyed the experience of sticking with a loose idea of things I’d like to finish reading in the near future, but without having a precise schedule for when to read each title.  I decided I might like to put together a list of things that I am wanting to read in 2010, focusing on books that are geared to help me become a better writer (specifically, a better writer of speculative poetry).


Some of the titles are on my Fill in the Gaps list.  I only put here those I plan to get to them this year, and of those that I intend to tackle in 2010, I only included those that are focused on helping make me a better speculative poet.


So, here are some of the things I aim to be reading over the next year.  (It looks like a lot, but remember that poetry collections are often very short volumes.)



Poetry Collections


Attack of the Two-Headed Poetry Monster – Mark McLaughlin and Michael McCarty

The Other Side of the Lens – G. O. Clark

Strange Vegetables – G. O. Clark

North Left of Earth – Bruce Boston

Double Vision – Bruce Boston

Sensuous Debris – Bruce Boston

Intrinsic Night – J. E. Stanley and Joshua Gage

Twigs and Knucklebones – Sarah Lindsay

Genesis, an epic poem – Frederick Turner

Renascence and Other Poems – Edna St. Vincent Millay

In the Yaddith Time – Ann K. Schwader

The Book of Styx – Eddy Styx

Barrow – Bryan Thao Warro

You Are Here and Other Poems – Gene Van Troyer

Ossuary – JoSelle Vanderhooft

Phantasmagoria and other poems – Lewis Carroll



Collections by the following poets (not yet sure which collection I’ll tackle for each)


Ray Bradbury

David Kopaska-Merkel

Wang Wei


W. B. Yeats

Franz Wright

T. S. Eliot






The Rhysling Anthology (upcoming)

Classic Haiku

Modern Japanese Tanka


….along with a big stack of back issues of various poetry magazines






Science and Poetry – Mary Midgley

The Practice of Poetry – Robin Behn

Poetics – Aristotle

Relativity – Albert Einstein

The Book of the Dead – E. A. Wallis, ed.

Simians, Cyborgs, and Women – Donna J. Haraway






Le Morte D’Arthur – Sir Thomas Malory

Looking Backward – Edward Bellamy

A Descent into the Maelstrom – Edgar Allan Poe


Shades of Grey – Jasper Fforde

Voices – Ursula LeGuin

The Legends of King Arthur and His Knights – James Knowles


….and something by George MacDonald and J Alan Erwine

(that’s two different works, not a collaboration — unless J has some skills in

necromancy that I don’t know about, in which case I will definitely read the





I’m very sure the list will be modified as I go, but for now, this is what I want to aim at for 2010.  It’ll be fun to look back next January and see how many changes have been made.





© 2010 Shelly Bryant

2 Comments Manage Comments for this Entry
Your list will keep you busy, I think. I’m involved in the Booker Challenge this year, an attempt to read varying numbers of books that have won the prize. My first one will be “Wolf Hall” by Mantel. Maybe I’ll fill in a few gaps, too.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010 – 12:53 AM
I know some people who make sure to keep up with one prize list or another, as a way of making sure to keep the gaps filled.  I’ve never been very good about that.

I’m making some headway on my list already, having finished Intrinsic Night and Voices, and finishing Attack of the Two-Headed Poetry Monster soon.  I started Relativity this morning (and expect it to take me a while).

I think that my reading gets a little haphazard when I ravel so much.  I thought setting up a list that I intend to tackle would help keep me a little more disciplined.  We’ll see….

Wednesday, January 13, 2010 – 12:46 PM
January 1, 2010

Repost: Hit or Miss, Dec ’09

This is reposted from my old blog.  I’ve imported the whole post, comments and all, into a single space here.  I’ve listed it here under its original date.


December was a good month for catching up on a lot of reading I’ve left dangling for a while.  I made a little progress on my Fill in the Gaps list, and read a number of other books for both work and leisure.  It was especially good to savour a number of poetry

collections over the past month, including my own newly releasedCyborg Chimera, which finally arrived here in Singapore.


Here’s what I’ve been reading and watching in December:



Hit List

  1. •    The Evidence of the Senses (Colin Tan)
  2. •    Curse of the Golden Flower (movie)
  3. •    A Cold Coming (Tony Harrison)
  4. •    Memoirs of a Geisha (movie)
  5. •    2004 Dwarf Stars (Deborah P. Kolodji, ed.)
  6. •    Blackbird (David Harrower)
  7. •    George & the Dragon (movie)
  8. •    Silas Marner (George Eliot)
  9. •    The Shack (William Paul Young)

my review is the second one at the linked site

  1. •    several essays & short stories by Washington Irving
  2. •    Anansi Boys (Neil Gaiman)

also a short blog entry at the Fill in the Gaps site

  1. •    The Haiku Handbook (William J. Higginson, with Penny Harter)
  2. •    Brighton Rock (Graham Greene)
  3. •   City of Life and Death (movie)
  4. •    Avatar (movie)
  5. •    Private Worlds:  A Revised Atlas (Scott E. Green)

watch Sloth Jockey for a review, coming soon

  1. •    Peninsular (Darren V. L. Shiau)
  2. •    The Miracle of Jonathan Toomey (movie)
  3. •    Ancient Skies (oino sakai)
  4. •    A Study in Emerald (Neil Gaiman)



Catching up on a couple of magazines:


Books & Culture, Asimov’s Science Fiction (back issues)

Star*Line, ExpatLit, The Taylor Trust (most recent issue)



Miss List


No misses in December!



Neither Hit nor Miss


  1. • The Gospel According to Judas (Jeffrey Archer)

watch Sloth Jockey for a review, coming soon





So, what have you been reading and watching this past month?





2 Comments Manage Comments for this Entry
you got lots done!
Saturday, January 9, 2010 – 05:11 AM
Yeah, I’ve been trying to get caught up on some things.  I’m now trying to get just a little ahead, as I figure next month might not be one that has a lot of reading time.  You know how it is when guests come…
(Not that I’m complaining!!!)
Saturday, January 9, 2010 – 03:02 PM
December 26, 2009

Repost: Something New for 2010

This is reposted from my old blog.  I’ve imported the whole post, comments and all, into a single space here.  I’ve listed it here under its original date.

Something New for 2010

Saturday, December 26, 2009

For the new year, I am starting a new project.  I will be offering poetry and writing coach services for people who are interested in learning or improving the writing craft.  You can see how it works on the website I’ve set up.


Engaging a poetry or writing coach can be a useful for:


  1. ✦people who have to write as a part of their job and would like to make their writing more effective


  1. ✦“closeted” poets and writers who would like to prepare their work for eyes other than their own


  1. ✦poets and writers who want to learn how to prepare manuscripts for publication


  1. ✦poets and writers who would like to better prepare their writing for publication, in hopes of receiving more acceptance letters


  1. ✦novice poets and writers who want to understand the conventions of writing better so that they can shape their work to interact with a community of other readers / poets / writers


  1. ✦readers, poets, and writers who want a broader appreciation of the tradition of poetry (see poetry courses)


Not every writer or poet is fortunate enough to have other writers with whom they can interact and share the writing experience.  Many writers would like to take their work to the next level, putting it into circulation and seeing it published, but are unsure how to go about the whole process.  An experienced coach can help poets and writers who find themselves in such situations.


I have decided to start offering coaching services because my own blend of skills, experience, and interests suit such an arrangement.  I have always loved reading and writing — the two activities in which every good writer is sure to be absorbed — and also teaching.  I have 6 years’ experience teaching undergraduates in the English literature department of a private university in Singapore, and more than 15 years’ experience tutoring adult students in writing (academic and creative).  I have always preferred individual training sessions to classroom time, as it allows for closer interaction between student and teacher.  In addition, it allows the pair to focus on specific needs rather than simply aiming to cover a set of material.  In one-on-one training, the focus is on the needs of the learner.  And I really like that.


As a writer, I have enjoyed seeing my own work grow over the past several years.  As an undergraduate student (20 years ago!), I was engaged to assist one of my professors in completing two manuscripts that he was preparing for publication.  Since then, I have done professional writing for more than 15 years, developing material for businesses ranging from entertainment giants to shrimp farms.  I’ve written material for historical societies, magazines, corporations, and advertising agencies.  I branched into more creative endeavors roughly 10 years ago, but mostly, at first, only helping with editing and proofreading.  After a while, I began to send out my own poetry for publication.  I currently have about 200 poems, book reviews, and articles in print or accepted for publication.  My first poetry collection, Cyborg Chimera, was released by Sam’s Dot Publishing last year, and 30 of my haiku appeared in dark ‘til dawn, a collection of designer art pieces.  I’ve enjoyed the process of growing as a writer, and hope to share that experience with others who are interested in engaging coaching services.


I am looking forward to 2010 and this new step in my own writing and teaching.  It is nice to bring my professional experience together into one service that I think can be of help to other writers and poets.






©2009 Shelly Bryant





2 Comments Manage Comments for this Entry
I hope this works out well for you!
Saturday, January 9, 2010 – 05:13 AM
Saturday, January 9, 2010 – 03:03 PM
December 14, 2009

Repost: Something to Look Forward To

This is reposted from my old blog.  I’ve imported the whole post, comments and all, into a single space here.  I’ve listed it here under its original date.

Something to Look Forward to

Monday, December 14, 2009

This is going to be a good Christmas.  I already know what I am getting from Santa, because my mom needed to ask whether I could make it work outside of the US.  She’s getting me a Kindle Reader from Amazon.  (I’ve borrowed one from a friend who got his for his birthday earlier this year, so I know I can get it to work in Singapore and Shanghai.)  It is going to be so nice to be able to carry loads of reading material with me, without it weighing so much.  Packing for all my travels just got so much easier.  (Thanks, Mom!)


I’m also excited to hear that Jasper Fforde has a new book coming out.  This is not a Thursday Next book, nor is it Jack Spratt.  It’s a new tale altogether, from what I understand, called Shades of Gray.  Fforde is one of my favorite writers, and I am really looking forward to this book, as it promises to be a little darker than his previous works.  A little darker, with all of his amazing humor and outstanding writing?  I can hardly wait.


I’m planning on ordering the Kindle version of Fforde’s new book, which will make a great package for me.  It will be great to have a new toy loaded up with a new work by an old favorite.


Does it get any better than this?






©2009 Shelly Bryant





4 Comments Manage Comments for this Entry
I’m only a little jealous, but glad you’re getting something useful. Good thing you already knew that it would work for you. There are a lot of free books out there for the Kindle too. Just ask Wm. He knows.
Thursday, December 17, 2009 – 08:12 AM
My mom received it today, and set it up with my account.  I just spent the last hour or so sending free books to it.

Can hardly wait for it to arrive in Singapore now!

Thursday, December 17, 2009 – 10:46 AM
So far, I haven’t been tempted. I do see the advantage of being able to read a variety of books while traveling around without having to lug around hard copies. Plus, they show up right away when you find something new and just have to read it right now.

I’ll look forward to your upcoming Kindle reports.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009 – 11:42 AM
I’m loving it so far, Malcolm.  I thought I would mostly want to use it when traveling, so as to lighten my luggage.  But I’ve found that I wanted it with me when I was out of the house doing some work the past few days.  I had access to a couple of reference books, including a pretty nice dictionary, that I normally would have had to wait until I was home to go back and look at what I needed.  The ability to carry so much around in one little device is pretty handy.

And really, I don’t feel like I am looking at an electronic screen when I use the Kindle.  I don’t know how to describe it — it isn’t like paper, exactly, but the quality of print on paper is there.  It is really nice.

And, I like that this version of the Kindle makes it easy to carry PDF files.  I have printed out less material this week than I usually do, as I can store the material as a PDF file in my Kindle instead.  That has been handy for doing some reading of student papers and so forth.  I really hate reading on the computer screen, as it makes the eyes so tired.  This device enables me to read e-material, but without that fatigue to the eyes.  It is as good as advertised.

And the number and quality of free books available for the Kindle is fantastic!  I downloaded over 200 pieces for my mom to set up before she sent it over, and they are really quality stuff.  It’s great for people who like the classics, because there’s so much available for free.  In addition, I read a lot of ezines that make material available in PDF, and I’ve downloaded several of those for reading this week.  If you do much reading of material on the computer screen, then I think you would like the Kindle a lot, because you can read that same material on a device that feels more like a book (to both hand and eye) instead of on the computer, just by sending the PDF to the device.

Pretty great technology, I think!

Thursday, December 24, 2009 – 10:06 AM
November 23, 2009

Repost: Ebook Authors Supporting the Troops

This is reposted from my old blog.  I’ve imported the whole post, comments and all, into a single space here.  I’ve listed it here under its original date.

E-book Authors Supporting the Troops

Monday, November 23, 2009

I just read an article about something my friend Malcolm Campbell is involved in,sending download coupons for e-books to deployed troops.  I thought it such a great idea that I wanted to give a little plug to the whole project here.


The project started when writer Ed Patterson was chatting with a soldier in the field.  The soldier mentioned the difficulty he had getting reading material for hisAmazon Kindle Reader.  The Kindle currently offers users the ability to get an amazing array of reading material at very reasonable prices — for those in the US.  The Kindle can’t be bought from an overseas account on Amazon (trust me, I know….), and if you buy one while in the US and take it overseas, you won’t be able to access the network.  The soldier, then, had a great product for keeping lots of reading material, but no means of updating his library.  Patterson decided to email a copy of his own e-books to the soldier.


That’s already quite a nice thing to do, but Patterson didn’t stop there.  He began rallying other e-book writers to send e-books to deployed troops all over the world.  My friend Malcolm, author of The Sun Singer and two Jock Stewart books, has joined in the program as well.  According to the article linked above, 60 people have already requested the code for downloading his books.


As Malcolm states in the article, this is a project independent of an author’s view of the war.  It isn’t about supporting a political decision, but about supporting the individuals whose lives are dictated by the decisions made.  I’m really glad to hear that Malcolm and other writers like him are doing this, and hope it will continue to expand.




© 2009 Shelly Bryant

2 Comments Manage Comments for this Entry
Thanks for helping to spread the word. I just sent out another e-mail to a sergeant this morning. It’s a great way for them to keep up with their reading under trying circumstances. I’m glad smashwords jumped in to help support the effort.


Thursday, November 26, 2009 – 03:23 AM
Me too, Malcolm.  I think it’s a great project.
Thursday, November 26, 2009 – 11:03 AM
October 31, 2009

Repost: Hit or Miss, October ’09

This is reposted from my old blog.  I’ve imported the whole post, comments and all, into a single space here.  I’ve listed it here under its original date.

Hit (or Miss) List, October ’09

Saturday, October 31, 2009

It was a slower-than-usual reading month for me in October, but I did get to read some fun things, at least.  I did not, however, make much of a dent in my Fill in the Gaps list of 100 books to be read over the next 5 years.  I hope to get more of that done in November.


Here’s what I’ve been reading and watching in October:



Hit List

  1. • Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (Susanna Clarke)
  2. • Night and Day (Virginia Woolf)
  3. • The Lover (onstage, in Mandarin)
  4. • Some of Washington Irving’s short stories:

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, The Spectre Bridegroom, Mountjoy, The Pride of the


  1. •Back issues of The Fourth Genre, Chinese Language Learning and Chinese Literature
  2. •Various Chinese poems (for class)




Miss List

• The Master Builder (onstage)

The performance of this supposedly dense work turned out to be pretty weak



• The Rice Queen Spy (John F. Rooney)





Neither Hit nor Miss

  1. • 《甲申记》(onstage)

good acting, excellent choreography, but something just didn’t work (and I’m not sure I really got the story)







So, what have you been reading and watching this past month?





4 Comments Manage Comments for this Entry
will post mine soon.
Thursday, November 5, 2009 – 11:01 AM
I’ll be by for a look.
Friday, November 6, 2009 – 06:54 AM
I always like your hit and miss lists.
I look forward to them at the end of every month
Tuesday, November 17, 2009 – 12:15 PM
I’m glad someone bothers to read them!  I like posting them.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009 – 06:22 PM
October 17, 2009

Repost: About Free Audiobooks

This is reposted from my old blog.  I’ve imported the whole post, comments and all, into a single space here.  I’ve listed it here under its original date.

About Free Audiobooks

Saturday, October 17, 2009

It was with some reluctance that I finally began listening to audiobooks.  My dad was probably the first person who tried to convince me that I would love them, but I was skeptical.  After a while, though, I finally decided to give it a try by downloading several titles from and listening to them on my iPod during long flights and my daily commutes.


That was somewhere around ten years ago, and I have listened to a lot of audiobooks since then.  I won’t say I am exactly a convert, or that I am 100% in love with the listening experience when contrasted to holding a book in hand and tackling it at my leisure.  But there have been a lot of fun reading/listening experiences in that time.  Perhaps the best was when I was on a long road trip with two friends, and we listened to one of the newly released Harry Potterbooks together.  The narration was good, and it was a lot of fun hearing the story together in the car, and rehashing when we stopped and got out of the car for one reason or another.


So, as someone who does a fair bit of listening, and who has a liking for older books that are in the public domain, I’ve done a lot of downloading of free books.  There are a lot of spots that offer really good quality, but there are some that can be rather hit or miss.


Most recently, I’ve been listening to several downloads from Librivox.  I usually really enjoy what I download from Librivox.  Right now, I am in the middle of Virginia Woolf’s Night and Day, and the reading is really good.  It is done in a nice, even voice, and the voice suits the text pretty well.  That is quite different, though, from a couple I listened to last month, especially The Aeneid.  I was sad to have to rank it as a miss on my September list, but the fact is that the reading was just not that good.  Edgar Rice Burrough’s A Princess of Mars was, like The Aeneid, split up between different readers, and so each chapter was done in a different voice and different accent.  It was fairly distracting in both instances.  For The Aeneid, it was made worse because several of the readers took on a sing-song type of voice, obviously not knowing how to handle the rhyme and meter of Dryden’s translation well when reading aloud.  It was disappointing.


I have had better luck with ejunto, for the most part.  It is mostly classics there.  You’ll find a lot of good texts in the fields of philosophy, history, science, and literature.  And there are lots of memoirs and biographies available.  I really like the recordings, but the selection is not quite as wide as what you find at Librivox.  But if you find what you are looking for there, you can be pretty sure the quality will be good.  I hope they will continue expanding the list of titles they have available.


One way or another, both Librivox and ejunto offer a really nice means for downloading free audiobooks.  I’ve got an iPod full of them, and still have many hours of listening to do to complete all the titles I’ve got there.


And that’s a good thing.  Something to look forward to on the long flights I’ll be doing before too long.




© 2009 Shelly Bryant

2 Comments Manage Comments for this Entry
I have yet to listen to an audio book for I feel that the words in a novel were meant to be seen and not heard. Also, I don’t want the voice of the reader to get between me and the words. My brother and his wife, however, listen to them a great deal on car trips. Neither of them has time to read and sitting for hours in a car with a story suits them very well. I can imagine doing it on flights, but am resisting the idea.


Friday, November 13, 2009 – 03:22 AM
It’s definitely not my preferred mode of experiencing a novel, Malcolm, but I have come to enjoy it.  Like your brother and sister-in-law, it is mostly for commuting, for me, and for long flights as well (though I often turn off the audio book and pick up a “real” book on a plane too).

For the interference of the readers, I’ve actually enjoyed that more than I expected, overall.  On some of the free recordings, it does get irritating, as I noted in the post.  But for the most part, a good reader can add to the story.  I actually enjoy listening to books I’ve read before, and hearing other people’s take on them.  It’s kind of fun, and a good way to get to revisit a book that interested me in the past.  Also, it’s a great way to use the time of a commute (or whatever) instead of letting the mind idle while you just go through the motions of the day.

Saturday, November 14, 2009 – 09:59 AM
October 10, 2009

Repost: Upcoming Projects

This is reposted from my old blog.  I’ve imported the whole post, comments and all, into a single space here.  I’ve listed it here under its original date.

Upcoming Projects

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Cyborg Chimera

My first poetry collection, published by Sam’s Dot Publishing, has been released.  The poems probe into questions of programming and free will, hybridity, the subconscious, and all sorts of control mechanisms.  You can order your copy ofCyborg Chimera from The Genre Mall.



Speculative Poetry Anthology (a call for submissions)

Firstfruits Publications, Singapore’s most renown publisher of poetry books, seeks submissions for a poetry anthology slated for late 2010. The anthology will aim to introduce speculative poetry to a Singapore audience. We hope that this will generate more interest in genre poetry in the country, and that both poets and readers will seek to experiment more in the field. Our interest runs the gamut from hard science to mythopoeia to horror to fantasy to the surreal. We are interested in

finding a broad range of speculative poetry to introduce to a local audience.


You can send submissions to me at the address listed below. No more than 10 poems (of any length) per poet. If your work is accepted, there is a possibility we will solicit more pieces from you down the road. Submissions should be addressed to project editor Shelly Bryant at shellybryant (at) yahoo (dot) com.  (You’ll have to make that a usable address.)  Please put POETRY SUBMISSION and your name in the subject line, and include the poems in the body of the email. And please remember to include your contact information.  No reprints.  Simultaneous submissions are fine, but please inform the editor if the work is accepted elsewhere.


Payment will be in contributors’ copies, 2 per contributor.



Dark ‘til Dawn

Next month marks the launch of a project I am working on in conjunction with decollection, a Shanghai-based designer of soft furnishings.  The Dark ‘til Dawn series of designer art pieces is a space for the intermingling of my poetry and the paintings of Chinese artist Zhou Yu.  Each piece grew out of one of my haiku, with Zhou’s painting and lamp design developing around the imagery of the poem.  There will be 30 lamps in the collection, each a unique design, with a unique poem and painting hand-painted on the piece.  Each lamp will come with a birth certificate, and will be signed by the artists.


Watch for more information as the launch date draws nearer.



Pocket Guide to Suzhou

I have been engaged by Urbanatomy to write a pocket guide to the city of Suzhou. The book will be released next year, in conjunction with the World Expo, hosted in Shanghai.  Urbanatomy has published guides to Shanghai over the past several years, and is currently expanding its work to include other cities.  Suzhou is a beautiful place, and I am very pleased to be writing about it.


Expect the book to be released sometime in early summer 2010.  I will, again, include more information as we get closer to the release date.





It’s going to be an exciting few months, with lots of new projects on!  Keep an eye on this blog for more updates.




© 2009 Shelly Bryant

6 Comments Manage Comments for this Entry
Exciting stuff, Shelly!  This should keep you out of trouble for awhile.
Saturday, October 10, 2009 – 11:50 PM
4Keep me out of trouble?  Might have to work harder than that…
Sunday, October 11, 2009 – 01:57 PM
WOW!! what awesome stuff you’ve got going! good for you! would love to see the lamps. is there a website for that?
Saturday, October 17, 2009 – 05:30 AM
It is exciting, silken.  The lamps aren’t quite done yet, as there are a few more to paint.  But, they are supposed to be done this week, and we’ll have the images up with the lamps ready to order on the 23rd, if all goes as planned.  It will be at the link listed above (  There’s a link to the company’s site from my main page, which I’ll change to the lamps’ site when they are done.

I’m very pleased with the way the lamps have turned out so far.  Zhou Yu has done a great job with the art work.  I hope next week, when they are finished, to do a little debrief of the process in an entry here, and will have more to say then.

Saturday, October 17, 2009 – 09:34 AM
It’s been a while since I’ve stopped by…looks like you’ve been busy!

I just ordered my copy of your book and can’t wait for its arrival!  :O)

Thursday, October 22, 2009 – 02:25 AM
Thanks for popping in, Beth, and thanks for ordering a copy of Cyborg Chimera.  I don’t think it is shipping yet, but should be very soon.

I have been very busy, and loving the projects I’ve been working on.  I’m looking forward to seeing things take a firmer shape over the next few months (year, really).  It will be nice if all goes as I hope with each of the projects…. is that too much to ask for????

Saturday, October 24, 2009 – 09:34 AM
October 3, 2009

Repost: Hit or Miss, September ’09

This is reposted from my old blog.  I’ve imported the whole post, comments and all, into a single space here.  I’ve listed it here under its original date.

Hit (or Miss) List, September ’09

Saturday, October 3, 2009

I finally had a little more time for some reading and movie-watching.  I made a little headway on my Fill in the Gaps list in September, which was fun, and also got to catch up on some other reading/viewing I’d left hanging for a while.  And I had a lot of fun catching a few old movies on the MGM channel while I was unexpectedly back in Singapore for a week to settle matters for my China visa.


Here’s what I’ve been reading and watching for the past month:


Hit List

  1. •Quantum Lyrics (A Van Jordan) — see my review at Sloth Jockey
  2. •Velocity (Dean Koontz) — see my response at Fill in the Gaps

this was on my “Fill in the Gaps” list because I’d heard good things about Koontz’s writing; it was better than I thought

  1. •Macbeth (movie)  — 2006 Australian version
  2. •Slipstream (movie)

this was something I’d picked up on DVD some time back, and finally got to watch; very, very good

  1. •Zen in the Art of Writing (Ray Bradbury)
  2. •Dark Nebulae (John J. Dunphy)
  3. •The Mouths that Remain (Gavin Salisbury)
  4. •The Princess of Mars (Edgar Rice Burroughs) — see my response at Fill in the Gaps
  5. •The Fountainhead (movie)
  6. •Clean Slate (movie)
  7. •A Fish Called Wanda (movie)
  8. •Transformers 2 (movie)
  9. •Rip Van Winkle (Washington Irving) — see my response at Fill in the Gaps




Miss List

•Training Day (movie)

I’m not sure it was exactly a miss, but I really didn’t like it as much as I thought I would – too cliche, I guess


•The Aeneid (Vergil, a Librivox recording)

it’s not the text that was the problem, as I’ve always loved The Aeneid, but the recording; some of the readers just don’t read poetry well, especially Dryden’s rhyme and meter



Neither Hit nor Miss

  1. •The World is Flat (Thomas Friedman) — read my thoughts at Tai Shan

there were some good thoughts, for sure, but I probably waited to long to read it; it’s rather dated already


  1. Director’s Cut (Alton Gansky)





So, what have you been reading and watching this past month?





8 Comments Manage Comments for this Entry
I would recommend the Swedish vampire flick ‘Let the Right One In’. The story centres on the relationship between a 12-year-old boy, Oskar, and a 200-year-old vampire child, Eli. Not your typical vampire movie. My wife, who has very little time for vampires, loved it.

And I’ve just finished ‘Rhyming Life and Death’ by Amos Oz. It’s a novella where we get to witness the writing process in action as we listen to the stream-of-consciousness narrative describing what goes on in an author’s mind. Next to no plot – and even some of the plot there is might well only be imagined – but I loved it.

Saturday, October 3, 2009 – 05:57 PM
Both sound like excellent recommendations, Jim.  Thanks!  I’m off now to check out both titles.  I have a feeling both will be added to my TBR list.
Saturday, October 3, 2009 – 11:02 PM
Interesting list. I haven’t seen any movies, other than on TV, for ages. As for books, I enjoyed Julianna Baggott’s “The Madam” and Pat Conroy’s “South of Broad.” The Conroy book doesn’t seem to work quite as well as his “Prince of Tides.” Right now, I’m reading Roberto Bolano’s very lengthy “2666.” I’m enjoying it so far, but have some 750 pages left to read.

Best of luck with your new book.


Monday, October 5, 2009 – 10:39 AM
Hi Malcolm,

I read some of your comments here or there (or perhaps here andthere) about your reading of 2666.  It sounds like a very intriguing read.  I think I might enjoy it, from what you’ve said.

I have mostly only caught movies on TV or DVD for the past several months, though I actually really love seeing them on the big screen (how old fashioned is that???).

I’m reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell right now.  It’s pretty good so far (about a quarter into it).  It was recommended by a couple of friends, and I am hoping to finish while one of those friends is visiting me here in Shanghai next week.  It’s always fun to discuss a book with the person who recommended it to you.

I’ll keep “The Madam” on my radar too, as well as Conroy’s work.

Monday, October 5, 2009 – 12:10 PM
I also enjoyed reading “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.” If you like it, you might also consider Clarke’s follow-up volume of stories which include one or two about the characters in the novel. It’s “The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories.” I ordered a copy of your book! YAY.


Monday, October 5, 2009 – 11:09 PM
If Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell continues along as good as it is so far, I think I’ll be happy to pick up the follow-up volume.  It’s a pretty good read, rather refreshing and fun.

Thanks for picking up my book.  I’ll look forward to hearing your feedback.  I’m anxious to see what real live readers think of it.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009 – 02:29 PM
my list was up. and I am trying to keep up w/ my october one too! all my reading seems to be kid’s books though!
Saturday, October 17, 2009 – 05:27 AM
Nothing wrong with kids’ books— I love them!

I’ll be over to have a look at your list.

Saturday, October 17, 2009 – 09:36 AM
September 12, 2009

Repost: Fill in the Gaps, Infinite Jest

This is reposted from my old blog.  I’ve imported the whole post, comments and all, into a single space here.  I’ve listed it here under its original date.

Filling in the Gaps:  Infinite Jest

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Last weekend, I finished one of the longest titles on my fill in the gaps 100 books list, David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest.  It is hard to say exactly how I felt about the book.  But immediately upon completion, I already knew it was one I would be thinking about for some time.  So, my comments here are not going to be a review per se, but a rundown of my responses to the book, more like what I would record in a reading journal. I begin with last Saturday, Sept 5, the day I finished the book.



Saturday, Sept 5

I’ve been working on this tome since May.  It hasn’t been an easy read, though parts of it were incredibly absorbing.  It took me a long time to get to those parts, but I am not sure if that had more to do with me as a reader and the state of mind I was in, or with the novel itself.  Anyway, the parts that were engaging were worth the read, even though there were large chunks of the book that did nothing for me.


The end of the book frustrates me.  It seems it did not end at all, in fact, and that I could just pick it up and continue reading the same old thing over again.  There is no resolution, which I more or less expected.  But worse, there’s no sense that we’ve come to a stopping place at all.  But then, perhaps that is because we’ve not really had a plot either.  It’s more like a prolonged rambling (in amazing prose, of course) that just comes to a sort of abrupt stop.



Sunday, Sept 6

The notion of Entertainment and its connection to addiction (perhaps only made possible by contemporary consumer culture) is so adeptly explored in Infinite Jest.  I think this is what there is to love in the novel.  When I read about the book, before having purchased it, this was what made me want to read it.  I have to say that the treatment of the theme(s) is somewhat disorienting.  Perhaps that is the way it should be, though, as a sort of representation of the mind-reeling abundance of Entertainment possibilities today.


The treatment of sex, drugs, and addiction as interconnected facets of the Entertainment culture was especially fascinating.  It isn’t so much that that’s a foreign concept to me, as that putting it right up against sports, movies, etc., gave it a whole different perspective.  The intertwining (or entangling) of these elements in the text is probably what I enjoyed most about it.



Monday, Sept 7

Depression.  Who could know more about it than David Foster Wallace?


I am usually not one to read the author in(to) the text he’s penned, but it was hard not to  have thoughts of DFW’s demise enter the head when reading some of the more eloquent passages about depression in Infinite Jest.  Those bits are so well-written, so piercing, so insightful.  Is it authorial intrusion into the narrative?  The modest training I’ve had in critical theory recoils at the suggestion, but the casual reader in me found it difficult not to see a good deal of DFW in those bits of prose that dealt so poignantly with the black dog.


One way or another, the book’s treatment of Depression is elegant.   The descriptions of a despondent mind’s thought processes and the understanding of the impulse that drives the depressed to actions that seem so irrational from the outside (including suicide), are so lovingly presented that it brings the melancholy horror of those feelings close to the reader, simultaneously allowing for empathy and examination.  Anyone who has experienced depression would recognize the truth held in those passages, the first-hand knowledge they present.  Anyone who has not experienced depression would probably do well to pay close attention, if they want to understand it from the inside.


On another note, I finished Velocity last night.  After the long 4-5 months it took me to finish the 6th book from my Fill in the Gaps list, I finished the next in just a day.  Infinite Jest is a demanding read.  It required a lot of slow, careful attention from me.



Tuesday, Sept 8

The whole treatment of Subsidized Time in Infinite Jest is the first thing in the book that really caught my interest.  It is funny.  It is handled with a wry cynicism that is just perfect.  The idea of selling ad space on our marking of time just makes me laugh, and is well suited to the book’s critique of our current situation in which everything is for sale — or at least open for sponsorship.   And, it is quite fitting that most of the action of the novel takes place in the Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment.


I just happened across the Infinite Summer website today.  I didn’t know this challenge was out there.  I started a little early, and finished a few week’s before the challenge’s dates dictate.  But I guess I unwittingly joined this community of Wallace’s readers.  Well, not exactly.  But I did more or less follow their reading schedule.



Wednesday, Sept 9

The characters in Infinite Jest are not at all endearing to me.  I’ve read plenty of comments by other readers about the characters, mostly calling them “memorable.”  That might be true, but I don’t feel much for them other than a sort of detached interest.  Hal is, not surprisingly, the closest to a sympathetic character that I find in the novel, but even he is presented in such a way that seems to distance him from the reader.  In this way, the book reminds me of the Gormenghast novels.  There I have a similar feeling that the characters are not at all sympathetic, though Titus does, from time to time, invite you in a  little closer.  Infinite Jest struck me in much the same way.



Friday, Sept 11

One of the things about Infinite Jest that is really well done is the way the book shows the problem of drugs, and of addiction in general, being something that cuts across social barriers.  There are abusers in the book who are young, and those who are old.  Rich and poor.  Various races and backgrounds.  It runs the gamut.  Drug and alcohol abuse play a significant role in exploring the theme, but it is really much wider than these problems.  It is all in the context of addiction to consumption, which covers a whole lot more ground.  And perhaps why it is so all-inclusive.


I also like the way the book handles its critique of various programs set up to help people suffering from addiction.  It is not just the fact that it pokes fun of these things, but that it seems to hit hard at the notion of a system that treats all problems of addiction as a pre-packaged sort of thing, as if all addictions are built on an assembly line.  And, even more insightful, it discusses the way these support groups can become an addiction in themselves.  When one of the characters finds himself in the wrong meeting altogether, this idea is handled especially well.  Our addictions, it seems, can sometimes function as interchangeable parts.



Saturday, Sept 12

I’ve hardly scratched the surface of what all Infinite Jest has to offer.  I think it isn’t a book for everyone, but that those who do read it will find plenty there to think about for a good long time.  I find myself thinking of it several times throughout the day, pondering over little bits and pieces at different times.


I have a friend who has decided to read it, but not necessarily from beginning to end.  She’s more likely to flip through here and there and read whatever jumps out at her at that point in time.  This might be a very interesting way to approach Infinite Jest, as a linear, beginning-to-end reading isn’t necessarily the best way to really get into the book.  Anyway, I am interested in seeing how her reading experience goes.


I wouldn’t recommend the book to just everyone, but would enjoy hearing thoughts from anyone who does decide to tackle it.  There’s a good reason that it was so much a topic of discussion when it came out.  It really has a lot to offer.  Even though there were parts of the reading process that were quite a chore for me, I am very glad I read it now that I am done.





© 2009 Shelly Bryant


4 Comments Manage Comments for this Entry
having never read the book, I must say that when I initially read this part of your post:

“The end of the book frustrates me.  It seems it did not end at all, in fact, and that I could just pick it up and continue reading the same old thing over again.  There is no resolution, which I more or less expected.  But worse, there’s no sense that we’ve come to a stopping place at all.  But then, perhaps that is because we’ve not really had a plot either.  It’s more like a prolonged rambling (in amazing prose, of course) that just comes to a sort of abrupt stop.

Sunday, Sept 6

The notion of Entertainment and its connection to addiction (perhaps only made possible by contemporary consumer culture) is so adeptly explored in Infinite Jest.  I think this is what there is to love in the novel.  When I read about the book, before having purchased it, this was what made me want to read it.  I have to say that the treatment of the theme(s) is somewhat disorienting.  Perhaps that is the way it should be, though, as a sort of representation of the mind-reeling abundance of Entertainment possibilities today.”

I thought the Infinite Jest and the notion of entertainment and its addiction were indeed the infinite jest, as well as the part of you never finishing it but could continue on and on and on reading it over and over again. kind of like those “how to keep an idiot busy” jokes (“A small card with “If you’d like to know how to keep an idiot busy for hours, turn this card over” printed on both sides.”) NOT THAT YOU”RE AN IDIOT, it just reminded me of that…his infinite jest….anyway, I thought it sounded funny! 🙂

Sunday, September 13, 2009 – 05:31 AM
That is exactly what it is like, silken.  And I think part of the thing the book is getting at is that we are idiots, an idiot society.  The society that built this whole entertainment culture must be an idiot, not just for building it in the first place, but for falling for the joke we ourselves set up.

In the book, there is a video cartridge in circulation that, once someone starts watching, s/he can’t stop.  THey watch until they die of it, effectively entertaining themselves to death.  Infinite Jest is the title of that film.  I read about this in the introductions to the book before I bought it, and it was this that really made me want to see what DFW had to say, since I always love reading him anyway.

In the end, the ideas were more absorbing for me than the actual reading experience.  But I could sure see how this book could suck someone in, putting the whole phenomenon it is talking about into action, even as it critiques it.

Sunday, September 13, 2009 – 07:45 AM
Monday, September 14, 2009 – 06:19 PM
娱乐至死 – that’s it exactly!  Entertaining ourselves to death.  Maybe DFW should have written in Chinese.  🙂
Monday, September 14, 2009 – 11:58 PM
September 5, 2009

Repost: Hit or Miss, August ’09

This is reposted from my old blog.  I’ve imported the whole post, comments and all, into a single space here.  I’ve listed it here under its original date.

Hit (or Miss) List, August ’09

It’s been a rather slow month for reading, especially because of the huge volume, Infinite Jest, taking up most of my time.  (I actually only finished it today, but am listing it with the August post because that’s when the bulk of the reading was done.)  Here’s what I’ve been reading and watching for the past month:


Hit List

  1. •Grosse Pointe Blank (movie)
  2. •Say Anything (movie)

an old favorite (yeah, I know….); and yes, it was something of a John Cusack phase, with these two titles in there

  1. •Infinite Jest (David Foster Wallace)

I’ll have more to say about this one down the road, I think

  1. •The Crab Flower Club (onstage)

a nicely put together, ironic piece about the women in a Chinese family who decide to start a poetry club

  1. •The Reduced Shakespeare:  the Complete Works (onstage)

absolutely hilarious performance; if you get a chance to see it, you’ll definitely want to catch it!

  1. •What Day is Today (onstage)

extremely disturbing, and very compelling; the narrative structure was very innovative, and the whole performance was very nicely done

  1. •The 2009 Rhysling Anthology (Drew Morse, ed.)



  1. •various issues of these journals:

Star*Line and Dreams & Nightmares



Miss List

No misses!



Neither Hit nor Miss

  1. •The Crucible (onstage)

not a good performance overall, but there were a few bright spots that redeemed it from being a  miss — & of course the script is amazing





So, what have you been reading and watching this summer?

August 29, 2009

Repost: Filling in the Gaps

This is reposted from my old blog.  I’ve imported the whole post, comments and all, into a single space here.  I’ve listed it here under its original date.

Filling in the Gaps

When I first heard about the fill in the gaps 100 books blog, I knew it was a place I would absolutely love.  I went over and made up my list right away, and have been reading the books I’ve listed there for the past several months.  Recent progress has been slow, as I am working on Infinite Jest, and it is rather a long read.  You can see my complete list here.


The list works as a means to prompt the reading blogger (or is it blogging reader?) to tackle a list of 100 books that are not currently on her/his TBR list.  The project is supposed to be completed in 2015, I think.  There are some really fun titles to be found on the various lists on the site.  As people are getting bigger and bigger portions of their lists taken care of, the discussions there are getting to be very fun.


I am, sadly, unable to access the site from China for the moment. (It’s rather fickle with access to Blogspot sites over here.)  As soon as I am back in Singapore, it is one of the places I hope to be able to visit and catch up.  All the same, I’m planning to keep up with my own list.  Since I can’t post my reviews or join the discussions there for the time being, I will put up comments from time to time here.  For now, I can say that of those I’ve completed (see the box to the right),The 8th Habit is the only one I didn’t like much.  Siddhartha was quite profound and enjoyable.  Woman to Woman and other poems and Mortician’s Tea are both good poetry collections, with moments of brilliance in each.  Poemcrazy is a fun thought-starter for poets, and maybe writers in other creative-type genres too.


As for the book in progress…  I’m struggling through Infinite Jest at the moment.  I expected to love this book.  Instead, it’s been a fairly tedious read for me all summer long.  I don’t know why I’ve had such a hard time getting into it.  I love David Foster Wallace’s writing, and usually love the type of tale he has put together here.  The themes are some of my favorites.  But it just isn’t working for me yet — and I am nearly 600 pages into it (in other words, not quite 2/3 done).  It’s disappointing to be unable to get into a book that I actually thought would be just my thing.  But still… I have a feeling I might be glad I read it when I am done.  My interactions with Wallace’s writings in the past have taught me that much.  Even his simple work, like introductions to anthologies, can be outstanding pieces.


If you haven’t gotten your 100 books list together, you might want to pop by over at the site and sign up.  It is a lot of fun to be in on the project with the others who read and blog there.



© 2009 Shelly Bryant

Saturday, August 29, 2009

2 Comments Manage Comments for this Entry
I ended up not finishing INFINITE JEST. It’s been so long since I had it, I don’t remember the reasons now. Something near the beginning really bugged me, so I was–as I recall–reading with a bad attitude.

The site you mentioned is an interesting concept.


Saturday, September 5, 2009 – 02:33 AM
That’s actually how I felt too, Malcolm, that I was sort of reading with a bad attitude.  I stuck with it throughout the summer, thinking I would finish it before leaving Singapore for Shanghai, but still had maybe 300-400 pages to go when it was time to make that return.  Since I got back, I have just about finished (should be done in the next hour or so).    It is one of those books that I am glad, now, that I’ve read, though I can’t say I enjoyed the entire reading process.  Parts of it have been completely absorbing. The ideas have been engaging.  The writing is good. The topics are of interest to me.  But for all that, the reading has been something of a chore for me.

And yet… I am glad I’ve read it.  There are some good things in it — really good.  And as I’ve talked with a couple of different friends about the book, it’s begun to click for me what I do like about it.  It will still take some time to sort through, but overall I am already starting to be glad this one was on my Fill in the Gaps list.

You might really enjoy having a list like that too, Malcolm.  I know you are a good blogging reader.  The place is just made for that, and I could see you really getting into it.

Saturday, September 5, 2009 – 11:27 AM
August 22, 2009

Repost: Hit or Miss, June-July ’09

This is reposted from my old blog.  I’ve imported the whole post, comments and all, into a single space here.  I’ve listed it here under its original date.

 Hit (or Miss) List, June-July ’09

It’s nice to be able to catch up on posting my Hit (or Miss) List, even if it is a bit more sparse than usual.  Here’s what I’ve been reading and watching over the summer:

Hit List

  1. •With Christ in the School of Prayer (Andrew Murray)
  2. •All’s Well that Ends Well (William Shakespeare)
  3. •Across the Universe (movie)
  4. •The Cherry Orchard (onstage)
  5. •Timon of Athens (William Shakespeare)
  6. •More of Me Disappears (John Amen)
  7. •Cover of Darkness (an anthology edited by Tyree Campbell)
  8. •King John (William Shakespeare)
  9. •A Closer Look at Science Fiction (Anthony Thacker)
  10. •The Prosody Handbook (Robert Beum and Karl Shapiro)
  11. •The Fisher King (movie)
  1. •various issues of these journals:

Scifaikuest, Star*Line, Poetry, Illumen, 32 Poems

Miss List

No misses all summer!

Neither Hit nor Miss

  1. •Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (movie)

I didn’t think the movie was as bad as the reviews I’d heard, but it wasn’t very good either

I will probably be back to a more regular reading load soon, though the next list (for August) will probably look more like this one, at least in terms of quantity.

So, what have you been reading and watching this summer?