MyTBR#41: Golem and the Jinni, Tall Tales, Literary Fiction & Writing

This week in the To Be Read Podcast we talked about Learning To Love Literary Fiction (outside of school, which does a poor job of encouraging that love) with co-host of the Literary Roadhouse Podcast, Maya Goode. She’s always a blast to chat with, and it was a nice tangent from our normal genre focus. She might even have convinced me to add a few to my TBR.

I had a busy week in reading on all fronts.

I finished The Golem and the Jinni, the debut historical fantasy novel of Helene Wecker. It took about 100 pages to moderately hook me, after a leisurely but not boring pace. I never wanted to stop, but it was easy to put down at night in that first stretch as it bounces between introductions of quite a few viewpoint characters. By the halfway point I was hooked, and I absolutely loved the way everything came together by the end. She does an incredible job of evoking 1900 New York Jewish and Little Syria neighborhoods. Some portions had a been of an Arabian Nights kind of feel with how the stories flowed together. And it was really almost an alien story, with two different strangers creating human lives for themselves in this strange land. It was recommended by former guest on TBR Amy Schubert, and was a read in one of the Goodreads Fantasy Book Clubs I occasionally pay attention to. Great pick, and I highly recommend it.

Alex and I finished Bone: Tall Tales by Jeff Smith and Tom Sniegoski. This one is a collection of short stories set in the Bone world, some in the Valley and some outside, but told by Smiley Bone to a group of Bone Scouts. We liked it better than Rose, and it was a lot of fun. Still not as good as the best volumes of the original series.

And for writing-related books I read:

Show or Tell by James Thayer, which is a fantastic approach to that all-important skill in fiction writing. He attacks the why, the how (from tell to show, from examples of showing to the lame telling version), examples for different aspects of writing (character traits, settings, emotions), and finally more exercises to drive it home. An absolutely fantastic value for under $2, despite the short length (very efficient).

And after her interview on the Self-Publishing Podcast, I bought Libbie Hawker’s similarly laser-focused Gotta Read It! I know I struggle to write effective and efficient product descriptions for my books, and she walks through the theory and the practice in a 5-step process that I immediately put into action for the descriptions of a short story and novella I’ll be releasing very soon on the major platforms. (More on that very soon). This book would also be very useful for writing pitches to agents or publishers for a book ideas as well.

Yes, if you happen to buy one of these from Amazon based on my recommendation links, they’ll throw a few cents my way as a thank you. Or go get the book out of the library (I love my library), buy it in a used bookstore, or borrow it from a friend. If it catches your eye, you’ll find a way.