Don Hosek - Recent reading

I tend to be a voracious reader, and I read widely. This list has its origins in an old signature file which I would update periodically with the current book that I was reading. That gradually transmogrified itself into the current massive archive with brief reviews.

What I've been reading lately
Number of books read and reviewed each year
1995* (28)
1996 (47)
1997 (74)
1998 (61)
1999 (62)
2000 (27)
2001 (51)
2002 (60)
2003 (37)
2004 (36)
2005 (32)
2006 (46)
2007 (109)
2008 (78)
2009 (65)
2010 (68)
2011 (98)
2012 (129)
2013 (114)
2014 (101)
2015 (88)
2016 (82)
2017 (76)
2018 (63)
* Partial year
There There by Tommy Orange
[Finished 30 November 2018] Absolutely brilliant. Orange has a strong narrative voice and manages to juggle his operatic cast of characters with the skill of a writer with far more experience than he has. I look forward to reading more of Orange’s work in the future.

Orison Anthology, Vol. 3 edited by Luke Hankins, Nathan Poole and Karen Tucker
[Finished 30 November 2018] I bought this primarily to see what sort of work they were publishing. There seemed to be few real standouts other than Joy Ladin’s essay on “Writing God as a Contemporary American Poet.” I’m not sure how much of this is on the editors of the anthology and how much is a reflection of the shallowness of the pool in which they’re fishing.

The Rathbones by Janice Clark
[Finished 26 November 2018] Stir together Melville and García Márquez and you might get something that looks like this, a surreal family history of a whaling family revealed piece by piece by the narrator. The pseudo-nineteenth century elocution was offputting at first and I feel like the book could have done with some tightening in places.

Word Puppets by Mary Robinette Kowal
[Finished 25 November 2018] I’d read one of the stories in the collection previously, but it was great to get a deep dive introduction to Kowal’s writing. Her interests as a writer are wide and there didn’t seem to be a dud in the whole collection. Definitely a writer to read more of.

How to Be Safe by Tom McAllister
[Finished 23 November 2018] McAllister inhabits his narrator thoroughly in what’s ultimately a book of reflections on contemporary culture, particularly as it relates to mass shootings, guns and the harassment/objectification of women. The plot, such as it is, serves largely as a scaffold for McAllister’s wit (damn near the whole book is quotable), and a magical-realism bit about the sun disappearing in the town where the shooting took place feels like something that just barely missed getting excised but maybe should’ve been, but it was a thought-provoking and even fun book that I really needed to read with the world in the state that it’s in.

A Questionable Shape by Bennett Sims
[Finished 14 November 2018] I read an intriguing review of this and thought I’d give it a try. It took me a while to get used to the voice, but about twenty or so chapters in, something clicked and I began to really enjoy the discursive narration (complete with even more discursive footnotes). The zombie story exists largely as a device for the narrator to have something to narrate with digressions into art, philosophy and literature rife throughout.

The Changeling by Joy Williams
[Finished 31 October 2018] Someone somewhere recently recommended this book and I thought I’d give it a look. There’s an interesting sense of unreality throughout the novel that could be offputting to some with much of the setting and events feeling completely improbable yet Williams manages to make it work, if only through the beauty of her language in the book.

The Best American Short Stories 2018 edited by Roxane Gay
[Finished 25 October 2018] Can we get Roxane Gay to guest edit BASS every year? She’s raised the bar here in terms of diversity of writers and their backgrounds, including pulling stories from online-only publications and representing what I think was a record number of women and POC writers. There didn’t seem to be a single dud in the whole collection. If I had to prune my BASS collection, this one would go into the definitely-keep pile.

Becoming Functional: Steps for Transforming Into a Functional Programmer by Joshua F. Backfield
[Finished 23 October 2018] A step-by-step guide, using an example project, to how one can make an object-oriented code base into something more functional in its structure. Not too bad.

Ponti by Sharlene Teo
[Finished 12 October 2018] Told in three interleaved timeframes, I was curious to see what this novel had to say about female friendships. It made for an interesting read, but didn’t leave me feeling like I’d learned anything particularly new.