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The June Shelfie Gets Artsy-Fartsy (And a Little Out of Hand)

Folks, I fell off the wagon.

I’m sure you’re not surprised to hear it. Even when I made that 4-book diet resolution, I was already cheating on it. BUT IT’S ‘KAY because the books I’m reading this month are even better than last month’s!

My spiritual reading pick hasn’t changed (I’ll be reading The Imitation of Christ for a while), so we’ll look at fiction, nonfiction, and foreign language. The first two share a theme of art — both are about artists, in different ways — while the third is … simply out of hand. Like my bookshelf.

Novel: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

S. Jae-Jones - WintersongGoodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

I’m about three-quarters through this novel, and I’m still not sure how I feel about it. On the one hand, it has all the elements it needs to be amazing: historical backdrop, folklore come to life, a sensational romance, vivid writing, and MUSIC. (The last of which is also what suckered me into Alexander Chee’s The Queen of the Night. But instead of a soprano of dubious reputation, Wintersong features a female composer of debatable soundness of judgment.)

On the other hand, the story is not really gelling for me yet — by which I mean it still doesn’t have a feeling of wholeness or coherence. That may be because there are several elements that I’ve found alienating, sometimes even disturbing (not in a good way, but in the sense of “I think there’s something very wrong going on there, and you just let it slide/made it seem like a good thing”).

That said, all of the above-mentioned Factors of Amazing are keeping me reading. I’m still hoping for everything to coalesce at the end. (It has promise.)

Side note … it’s hard to read “Goblin King” on every page and not imagine David Bowie. >_>

Nonfiction: Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins

Jeff Goins - Real Artists Don't StarveGoodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

I wish this book had come out sooner.

In Real Artists Don’t StarveJeff Goins (who is a blogger I highly recommend following, especially if you’re a writer) sets forth 12 “rules” to thriving as an artist. Each rule is a lesson taken from the success stories of artists throughout history, including those in our day.

It’s not a book on how to get rich off your art. Rather, it’s about the mindset and habits you need to grow and thrive, instead of falling into the trap of becoming a “starving artist.”

Halfway through, I can already see how these hitherto unspoken rules have led to inspiration and progress when I’ve put them into practice. I also see more clearly than ever how the opposite rules (i.e. the habits of the starving artist) have choked my creativity. Now I’m making some changes to get those good habits back. 🙂 Thanks, Jeff!

Foreign Language: Et si c’était vrai… by Marc Levy

Marc Levy - Et si c'etait vrai...Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

I am in WAY over my head. Despite having only a shaky pre-intermediate level in French, here I am tackling an entire novel.

Am I crazy? Mais oui, bien sûr! That’s why I learn all these languages in the first place!

My French Canadian language partner recommended this book, thinking it wouldn’t be too hard. Well. It *is* hard, but in the same way the German classics were hard when I read them in college. Just gotta suck it up, guess words from context, focus on main points, and look up what you can’t figure out.

Anyway, this novel promises to be interesting, if nothing else. Humor, romance, a touch of fantasy. What’s not to love?

It was even adapted into a movie, Just Like Heaven (2005), starring Reese Witherspoon. Have you seen it? Don’t tell me what happens.

Right, so… what are you reading?

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3 thoughts on “The June Shelfie Gets Artsy-Fartsy (And a Little Out of Hand)

  1. A huge part of me wants to read Wintersong just for that amazing cover… but every review I’ve read has been mixed/not entirely positive, so I’m still on the fence about it. All those amazing elements sound great (esp. the great romance!), but I really need a good story so I’m hesitant if that’s a weak point… anyway, I hope it comes together at the end for you, would be curious to know your final verdict.

    • The cover is about 70% of the appeal, haha! It’s beautiful.

      It did come together for me at the end, for the most part, but I still have mixed feelings about it. For one thing, the sexual/romantic relationships were, almost without exception, unhealthy and bizarre to me. Perhaps that was the point? The ending *almost* made up for it but couldn’t quite wash that awkward taste from my mouth.

      • Oh that’s a shame – I’ve been turned off a couple of popular books due to unhealthy or bizarre relationships, so I know the feeling. I like tension-filled and fraught romances, but I have to at least understand where the characters are coming from and want them to be together.

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