You guys, this summer was an adventurous reading season!
I spontaneously joined Stephen King Summer hosted by Laura Tremaine. It was a blast! I read two Stephen King novels I didn’t know I actually would haha–IT and Dolores Claiborne. I also watched three Stephen King movies.
I read 14 books this season between the months of June, July, and August 2022.
All the titles:
- Gallant by V.E. Schwab
- The Poet by Michaell Connelly
- IT: A Novel by Stephen King
- Vampires, Hearts & Other Dead Things by Margie Fuston
- The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash
- The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
- Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
- Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King
- DIY MFA by Gabriela Pereira
- The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile
- Postcards from South Dakota by Charles Cecil
- Prismatic: Havok Season 5:A Flash Fiction Anthology Editor-in-Chief Andrew Winch
- Dakota Bones by Linda Hasselstrom
- Illustrated Stories from Shakespeare, an Usborne Illustrated Story Collections book
Of the 14:
- Completed: 7
- Partially read: 7
Favorites of the season:
- The Poet by Michael Connelly
- The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash
Books by the Numbers:
- Library books read: 1.5 – It started off as a library book and then we bought it 🙂
- Owned books: 6
- From Ant’s shelves: 0
- From my shelves: 6
- Borrowed: 1
- Contemporary YA: 4
- Horror/Thriller: 3
- Fantasy: 1
- Non-fiction: 3
- Poetry: 1
Also beware: this post may include spoilers 🙂
19/30 // Gallant by V.E. Schwab
V.E. Schwab’s writing is truly magic, you guys. I read The Near Witch and Addie LaRue by her last year and they all have the same lyrical storytelling. I enjoyed this book. It wasn’t a truly happy ending, but I think it’s okay to have stories like this. The illustrations added so much to the story, and they’re beautiful.
The Dedication: “To those who go looking for doors, are brave enough to open the ones they find, and sometimes bold enough to make their own.”
A favorite line: “Rain drums its fingers on the garden shed…and the shed is barely even that. It sags to one side, like a wilting plant, made of cheap metal and moldering wood.”
20/30 // The Poet by Michael Connelly
The Dedication: This is for Philip Spitzer and Joel Gotler–great advisers and agents, but most of all great friends
A favorite line: “I’ve always thought the secret to dealing with death was to keep it at arm’s length. That’s the rule. Don’t let it breathe in your face.”
After Gallant, I sat on the floor surrounded by books that I thought I would want to read next. I thought for sure American Gods would be next because we had just purchased it the weekend before at Barnes and Noble. But then I remembered my shelf of Little Free Library books and I picked up The Poet and read the introduction by Stephen King.* Also, I’ve read a few of Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosh novels. I enjoy the Thriller genre** and I hadn’t read one in awhile. I finished this late one night in the middle of June. I was reaching the climax of the book and made sure the curtains were closed and our front door was locked. This book was scary and great. I highly recommend it.
Michael Connelly has written three books with Jack McEvoy as the lead. This first one in 1996, The Scarecrow in 2009, and the third and most recent Fair Warning in 2020. That’s not a daunting amount of books to read to see the character growth of Jack McEvoy***.
*Does anyone else love when favorite and really good authors endorse/introduce/write forwards to other favorite authors? Because I love it. Waaaayyy back at the beginning of the year when I finished The Mistborn Trilogy, I went down the Sanderson Goodreads rabbit hole and Patrick Rothfuss reviews a handful of Sanderson’s novels. Rothfuss praises Sanderson’s writing, but they’re written in a comedic sarcasm. I love it.
**My parents got me to read Jeffrey Deaver’s The Devil’s Teardrop a long time ago and it was amazing. Jeffrey Deaver fan for life. The Poet is right up there with that.
***I really really really want to read about Jack Reacher and Harry Bosch in series order now. I want to see how their characters grow and change and learn their backstories.
Website | Buy the Book | Harry Bosh | The Devil’s Teardrop
21/30 // It: a novel by Stephen King
The Dedication: “This book is gratefully dedicated to my children. My mother and my wife taught me how to be a man. My children taught me how to be free. Naomi Rachel King, at fourteen; Joseph Hillstrom King, at twelve; Owen Philip King, at seven. Kids, fiction is the truth inside the lie, and the truth of this fiction is simple enough: the magic exists.”
A favorite line: “He turned one of the skateboard’s scuffed wheels with his finger, liking the speedy ease with which it turned–it sounded like there was about a million ball-bearings in there. It was a good sound. It called up something very old in Bill’s chest. Some desire as warm as want, as lovely as love. He smiled” (604-605).
A perfect segue into It after reading The Poet. I was ready for scary =D
There’s so much to say about this book. It was my fourth Stephen King book, but my third novel of his–starting with his memoir On Writing, then The Green Mile a few years ago, and finally Carrie in January a couple years ago. And before I even knew Stephen King Summer existed, way back in May I decided I wanted to read It because of a fellow writer and reader’s comment about it–how she rereads it often and there are some scenes that stay with her.
It took a little over a month to read. And it’s big book to lug around; the paperback is 1,157 pages. Laura had a two-part book club for this with other participants and I was able to attend the first one live. It was my first book club meeting ever and it was so much fun! I heard a lot of great things about the audio, so I might read it again that way.
It was scary. June and July were random months where I spent the night at my parents’ house a couple times and then I did a week of house-sitting for friends near us. I didn’t read at night before going to bed, so it took longer. I do remember having dreams that mirrored the book; a red balloon made an appearance once.
There’s a lot of articles and podcasts about Stephen King in general and about It in general. It’s all so fascinating. If you’re on the edge, gather your reading friends together; this may be the best way to dip your toe into the world of It.
Website | Buy the Book | Movie We Watched
Stephen King Summer book club hosted by Laura Tremaine
The Losers’ Club: A Stephen King Podcast
22/30 // Vampires, Hearts & Other Dead Things by Margie Fuston
The Dedication: “For my parents. And for anyone who has hoped for impossible things just to make it through the day.”
A favorite line: “Desire hits me, and I’m thinking in blues and greens and yellows like I used to, imagining the watercolors dripping on the page, but art without emotion is dead, so the second I let the colors flood my mind, the grief hits me too, turning me into a sea of blue, threatening to drown out everything else, including my hope.”
I borrowed this book from a friend who knows the author’s family. Margie Fuston is a local NorCal author. I loved that this book is Contemporary YA with a vampire twist. There’s also the exploration of grief and hope, believing in God, doing anything for the people you love. The descriptions of New Orleans were great and the main character’s love for and the ache to return to drawing were a constant backdrop in this story. An enjoyable read about friendship, family, and not giving up hope.
23/30 // The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash
The dedication: “To Amy and Katie for befriending a geek when it mattered most. And to Bennett, for putting love in a whole new stratosphere.”
A favorite line: “I know what it has to feel like: epic. But also sweet. Like the romantic subplot of a superhero movie. Like that rainy, upside-down kiss in Spider-Man. But knowing what something is supposed to convey and actually getting it to do that is incredibly hard. Ask any writer” (1-2).
This book has my heart, you guys! It was a re-read, originally having read it back in the summer of 2016. It was just as funny and sweet and nerdy as I remember it being.
Working on my own Contemporary YA novel this summer prompted the re-read of a handful of Contemporary YA novels this summer. Ant and I can talk all day about Fantasy books we love and what we think certain things mean. Reading It this summer opened up the world to how much Horror fans and books read into certain aspects of the Horror genre as well. It got me thinking about the genre that I have loved and read since high school. I worked my way through a free 10-week challenge offered by the #amwriting podcast and Author Accelerator book coaching program called #AmWriting Blueprint Challenge–10 weeks of working on my novel and submitting each assignment to a portal that no real human would read. Assignemnt 3 was to write out a description of my ideal reader, come up with a working title, and figure out my genre and comp (competetive) titles and Assignment 4 was to do research in my genre on the jacket copy–read them, look at phrases used, what do I like/don’t like?, would I read this book based on their jacket copy?, etc.–and then write my own. I have never started writing a book like this and it was so fun!
All of that prompted me to re-read Contemporary YA novels and start a Word Doc on this genre. From the basics–page and chapter count, POV, MC and setting, published date, read dates– to favorite quotes, supporting characters, parents/guardians’ roles and presences, answering the jacket copy questions asked of us in the Summer Blueprint Challenge. Eventually, I want to add things like Inciting Incident, Midpoint, Climax, etc. to the document.
Back to the book though: The story takes place in three days at New York Comic Con and it’s a delight to read for nerds everywhere 🙂
Website | Buy the Book | New York Comic Con
24/30 // the truth about forever by Sarah Dessen
The dedication: “For Jay, as ever, and for my cousins who, like me, know by heart the view of the river and the bay, the complex rules of Beckon, and all the ways you Can’t get to Heaven[.] to name you all would a book in itself: you know who you are.”
A favorite line: “There was a whole other world out there, the Talbots’ world, where I didn’t belong now, if I ever had. But it was okay not to fit in everywhere, as long as you did somewhere. So I picked up my tray, careful to keep it lever, and pushed through the door to join my friends” (166).
Another Contemporary YA re-read =D
As Kristy would say. I love this book. It makes my heart happy.
I picked this one because in the writing challenge I worked on through the summer, I named it as one of the comp titles in the Assignment 3. So I re-read it to make sure it felt like an accurate comparison. The story is timeless. A high school senior trying to fit in to avoid grieving and to fit in with the people closest to her (mom and boyfriend at the start of the book). It’s a great read on how we can be more than the straight-A student, the “perfect” college-credit-achieving student. We can (and are) more than the box that we put ourselves into and that others want us to stay in.
25/30 // along for the ride by Sarah Dessen
The dedication: “For my mother, Cynthia Dessen, for helping me to learn almost everything I know about being a girl. and my daughter, Sasha Clementine, who is teaching me the rest”
A favorite line: “I sat there for a minute, in that pink-and-orange room, thinking about what impressed my mom, and the either/or I’d been stuck in for so long. Maybe it was true, and being a girl could be about interest rates and skinny jeans, riding bikes and wearing pink. Not about any one thing, but everything” (208-209).
Yet another Contemporary YA re-read =D =D
I just kept the Sarah Dessen kick going for a bit 🙂 I wanted to watch the movie adaptation after reading it and for some reason it took me a long time to read it. I ended up finishing it a couple days before our trip to South Dakota. The movie is still on my Watch List 🙂 Another great book about humans and our peers being more than the boxes we put them.
Buy the Book | Watch the Movie
And the books I’m still making my way through:
??/30 // Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King
In writing this in retrospect, it’s hard to remember exactly where I was at the end of August, but I don’t think I was too far into it.
??/30 // Havok Prismatic anthology
“Chitterbitter” by Rachel Ann Michael Harris and “Meet Feet” by Jeff Gard were my favorites of the eight stories I read this season.
??/30 // Postcards from South Dakota by Charles Cecil
I picked this up at the Badlands National Park gift shop. I’d seen it in Keystone or at Mount Rushmore’s gift shop a day or two before and it was discounted here and decided to buy it.
Favorite entries this far: “California Buffalo”, “Hero the Elephant”, and “Moving Pollock”
It has inspired me to find something similar about the Auburn/Coloma/Placerville area in California, where I live currently as an adult and have lived my entire life so far.
??/30 // Dakota Bones by Linda Hasselstrom
Poems about South Dakota and ranching by local author Linda Hasselstrom. I found this upstairs at Mitzi’s Books in downtown Rapid City on our first full day on vacation in South Dakota.
Favorite Poems: “Mulch” and “Seasons in South Dakota”
Partial Reads // Books that I only read parts of during the season, but don’t plan on continuing or finishing:
Twelfth Night in Usborne’s Illustrated Stories from Shakespeare
Well, this is the kid’s version. Our local theater group returned to the parks this summer with this play and we enjoy going. In 2019 Ant and I attended The Tempest and left feeling that we missed parts because we weren’t familiar with this play like we are with Romeo and Juliet and Mid-summer Night’s Dream. So, the night before I picked up this book and read about Voila and Sebastian and Duke Orsino and read it. I was quickly reminded that the Amanda Bynes’ movie She’s the Man is loosely based on this play. But I’m glad I read it; I was able to comprehend the live play better the next night.
The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile
I kept coming back to the chapter on 6s. A few months ago, Ant commented that he thought I was primarily a 6 instead of a 1. Both types have always been very close, but until recently 1 has always been the prominent number. With friends moving recently and examining why I do things I do, I think Ant’s reassessment is accurate. Also, friends have been going through the Enneagram at their Sunday morning class back in Tennessee and it’s sparked me to come back and re-read some of the different sections on 6s.
What is The Enneagram? | Buy the Book | Your Enneagram Coach assessment
DIY MFA by Gabriela Pereira
I read the section on the Three Act Structure a lot this season. I worked with two writing coaches for six weeks of the summer, and one of the assignments we agreed I’d work on was an outline for my novel. And so I read and re-read Gabriela’s overview and thoughts on the midpoint and the inciting incident and the climax and the five promises a writer makes in the first act. And I structured my outline this way. It was a very tangible way for me to wrap my head around it.
Website | Buy the Book | Kindred Writing Coaches
Even though I read one more book than in Spring, I read two less complete books this season. We road-tripped through northern Wyoming, ultimately heading to the Keystone corner of South Dakota again (we love it there) and I read about as much as I thought I would. (Very little.) Partially because a friend of ours went with us, music was playing in the car a lot, and I like looking at the scenery.
We’re starting Fall off with another road-trip, this time to Tennessee. I’m craving a novel, but I think I’m just going to take a couple of the books I’m in the middle of reading so that
What I’m looking forward to reading this fall:
- Write Now, Here’s How by Linda M. Hasselstrom
- American Gods by Neil Gaiman
- Alloy of Law (Mistborn Saga #4) by Brandon Sanderson – We found this at Mitzi’s Books in Rapid City too and it took all the restraint I had not come home with books 5 and 6 haha
- Finishing Prismatic
You can see what other books I’ve read so far this year:
What did you read during Summer–or are currently reading now–that you love? Do we have any books in common? Does anything on this list look intriguing?
Writing Process Notes:
6/7/22 // 4:22pm-4:36pm. Moved to dining room; needed to sit by the window and see the sunshine. “Write” playlist on Spotify. total words so far: 169
6/10/22 // 4:47pm-5:06. Writing Desk. Hobbit Hole noises (AC blasting). total words so far: 546
6/17/22 // 3:03pm-3:42. Writing Desk. Finished out today’s Release Radar/Red (Taylor’s Version). Started adding photos. total words so far: 800
9/10/22 // 4:01pm to about 6:06pm. writing desk. AC blasting, ceiling fan spinning. Updated titles. Took pictures of the books. (Also did a load of laundry in the middle of this and some distraction via FB/IG). word count so far: 1,568
10/19/22 // 9:49am-11:31am Writing Desk. “Storyteller Sending” playlist on Spotify. Worked on The Poet and IT‘s sections. It’s a very time consuming blog post and I can see the benefits of adding to it as I finish a book 🙂 but it’s fun. Headed into work early, so hopping off for lunch! Current Word Count: 11,883
// 2:16pm-3:21. Writing Desk, listening to last Monday’s “Discover Weekly’ playlist. Looking for a favorite quote from the book, finding one eventually and then copied a longer section around the quote in a different notebook. Some coordination texts and NaNo accountability DMs. Word Count: 13,120
// 3:41pm-4pm. Writing desk. After laundry, waiting for Ant to eat so we can catch up on Every$.
// 4:26pm-6:58pm. Writing Desk. Resumed “Discover Weekly”, “Release Radar”, and then switched to my Drew and Ellie Holcomb playlist. IT IS FINISHED! I’m publishing this dang thing (read: labor of love) tonight! Final word count: 18,186
7 thoughts on “What I Read This Summer // 2022”
Any more comments on DIY MFA? Other stuff looks great
I love this book! Gabriela’s advice is so practical. Often-times we get caught-up romanticizing writing and just thinking about writing (which has it’s time and place), but it can stop us from actually writing. Gabriela turns it all into practical guidelines and tools to actually write and accomplish goals. If you check it out, let me know what you think!
For sure will do. Does it have anything on story craft?
I find most MFA programs and therefore students remarkably thin on narrative
The main point of the book how to DIY an MFA and how to manufacture writing, reading, and community on your own without the resources of a typical MFA or college environment. That being said, the second section of the book is all about writing with chapters on character creation, the three-act structure, voice, POV, setting, etc.
yeah none of those things is what i mean
Out of curiosity, what are you looking for?
Motivation-reaction units, scene and sequence building, conflict units, delimmas, moments of misbelief, tethering goals
one to another and conflicts building to irrevocable, meaningful choice from which there is no return