There’s no grand tally for books, but Goodreads has kept track of the books I took the time to add to my profile. Lots of downright embarrassing shit on here.
I could break it down several ways, but I think I’m just going to attempt this conversationally, so…
Let’s, um, talk…
‘The Mists of Avalon’
I started the year off re-reading Marion Zimmer Bradley’s “The Mists of Avalon.” I had very specific intentions with this choice. In 2014, we found out that the late MZB was a raging dumpster fire of a human being. But I had first read “The Mists of Avalon” around 2006 & it caused a lot of feelings.
& yes, I get the separating the art from the artist thing, it’s hard not to have problematic faves when most of the mainstream literary cannon I grew up with consisted of the oldest, whitest men… But knowing that MZB not only abused her kids, but allowed her partner to do so, read “The Inheritor”* & tell me you don’t want to punch every wall in the world.
*I have never hate read anything like I hate read that book. Not only do I have a serious rage boner for Crowley-proxy characters (they are a horror-genre specific corruption of the heinous Byronic archetype — the magical fuckboy), but we have a supposedly educated & independent female mc that is allowing her fuckboy boyfriend to groom her teenage sister.
But I couldn’t remember any of that shit in “Mists…” & to me that book was life-changing — it was a brief intro to paganism, it made me realize I wanted to write narrative fiction, & it brought me back to Arthurian mythos from a new perspective which brought a lot of subsequent great & enjoyable books into my life.
I re-read it with much of the same fervor I’d had when I’d first picked it up. My brain pictures were less vibrant, less profound than on first read — but it was still an engaging story, still an intro to paganism, & remains one of the better fics written about Arthurian legend.
In closing, I really gained nothing from the re-read & feel kind of deflated by it. I chucked out “The Inheritor” but still feel a lot of conflict about “Mists of Avalon.”
Podcasts tell me what to read
I follow a lot of paranormal podcasts & ended up reading a string of books recommended on air, including: “Darkness Walks” by Jason Offutt, “The Ghost that Haunted Itself” by Jan-Andrew Henderson, and two of the damn black-eyed kids compilations by G. Michael Vasey. I also read “Dead Mountain” by Donnie Eichar but must not have plugged it into Goodreads.
I’m going to start by addressing the G. Michael Vasey books. I bought two and they were a lot of the same stories — of those, compiled shit that I could swear I first read on Reddit. Honestly folks, I think we’ve gotten to the bottom of the BEK thing. There are like 10 stories floating around the internet that people just rewrite. Don’t let them in or they’ll give your husband nosebleeds & cancer — don’t have a husband? Well, go ahead I guess…
The other three books were not bad reads by any means. But honestly, it’s been awhile & since I didn’t have big positive or negative reactions to them, I don’t really have much to say.
Why you gotta break my heart?
“The Personality Brokers” by Merve Emre breaks down the — both extraordinary & spectacularly messy — history of the Myers-Briggs typing system.
Okay, I’m going to come at this head-on. The fact that the creators were homemakers & amateurs means dick all — academia is not the be all, end all of innovation. People are perfectly capable of studying anything independently to the point of adept understanding. In fact, academia was even more upper-class, white, & male in the 1920s than it is now & often life experience & perspective can spur innovation, so there’s endless potential for staleness there.
However, there were full cringe moments throughout the book making it clear that there were no winners or losers there… Just a bunch of now-dead toilet people who did some shit.
The mother-daughter duo were all kinds of racist among other things; mom wanted to bang Jung bad; Jung behaved like a drama llama instead of just cringing & ghosting his obsessed fan; people made lots of money off of the MBTI but it wasn’t really Briggs or Briggs Meyers; & the CIA, big biz, & schools still use this shit even though it’s never actually been validated.
It was a lot, but as a writer, I still find the archetypes useful. Ugh, again I I find that this feels just feels flat & unsatisfying like the MZB re-read.
The best, gayest vampire fic you can read
Lestat is an insufferable fuckboy, but I can’t help but appreciate the high strangeness & homoeroticism in Anne Rice’s classic vampire series.
I read the first three earlier this year: “Interview With The Vampire,” “The Vampire Lestat,” & “Queen of the Damned.”
I love emo Louie with all of my emo heart, but I think my favorite book of the three was “The Vampire Lestat.” There are so many reasons why I don’t like Lestat, but I can’t deny that he’s a fantastically constructed character with an immensely entertaining background story. Lestat’s relationship with Nicki is so beautifully tragic & Marius — probably my favorite character in the series — is introduced in this second book.
I can’t help but hate the cringey vampire rockstar angle in “Queen of the Damned” but it makes sense with Lestat, high emperor cornball mcfuckboy. Also, more Marius in this book & Pandora!
I’m still trying to read “Tale of the Body Thief” but have been stuck for months. So far, Lestat stalks David Talbot — who doesn’t want to become the oldest, most decrepit newborn vampire just so Lestat can continue eyebanging him into eternity — & then burns himself in the desert in an emo fit. IDK, haven’t been feeling it, but I’m sure I’ll come back around eventually.
Various wtf romances
I read “The Lord Poet” by Megan Franks because it was a take on Byron. I have written some pretty different takes based on that particularly hateable literary figure & couldn’t help but be curious how a legit romance writer would approach it. In conclusion it was a book, I was mildly amused for an hour or so. I read through a breakfast out with friends, looking for a good jab at that petty wan fucker & really it was just eh, a milquetoast love story… Not the author’s fault though, that’s entirely on me.
I read Sandra Gulland’s “Mistress of the Sun” because I was too sad that the Versailles TV series was over. & I loved Guilland’s Josephine B series, but this was was also kind of meh for me.
Leslie Turner White’s “Lord Johnnie” was fucking awful & I loved every moment of it. I bought it from a thrift store because it was a cheap old swashbuckler & it was all I could have wanted — complete toilet of a main character. Johnnie is a criminal sentenced to death who marries a rich woman to assume her debts before death & then pulls off an escape, ditches the woman who helped him pull it off, claims his “wife,” & fuckboys to his heart’s content on the high sea.
As usual, I seemed to get the most enjoyment from the books that I had the most objection to. That said, I read a chunk of the “Outlander” series, but I already covered that in a previous post.
I hope to read many more awful books in 2020 so I can continue to scream into the void about all the characters I hate & quietly adore all those who were precious & deserved much better.