The Book Catapult

A Year of Reading, Week 36/37

Books read (all or part of) this week & last: 
Hammer Head by Nina MacLaughlin
The Valley by John Renehan
Young Skins by Colin Barrett
Church of Marvels by Leslie Parry
The Travels of Daniel Ascher by Deborah Levy-Bertherat
Soil by Jamie Kornegay
Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper
The Upstairs Wife by Rafia Zakaria
Wolf Winter by Cecilia Ekback
Black River by S.M. Hulse
The Secret Wisdom of the Earth by Christopher Scotton
Mercy 6 by David Bajo
The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida, translated by KA Yoshida & David Mitchell
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell 

The more weeks that go by in the year – and the closer I get to David Mitchell Day 2014 – the harder and harder it becomes to write a regular post about what I’ve read in any given week. I started this weekly posting idea as a writing exercise for myself, but as usual, life gets in the way. Actually, in this case, reading has gotten in the way, since all my free time of late has been taken up by reading for the Indies Introduce panel. (Plus, for the first time in 17 years, my baseball team is looking to win their division outright. Very distracting.) That said, it may be time for the Catapult to evolve into its next self, whatever that may be. Or maybe I’m just blowing smoke. After the next week or so, these posts should become more regular. But I can’t make any promises… 

As for what I have been reading over the last few weeks, we did finish up the Indies Introduce panel readings and the nine of us selected our collective Top Ten:

Hammer Head by Nina MacLaughlin 
The Valley by John Renehan 
Young Skins by Colin Barrett 
Church of Marvels by Leslie Parry 
The Travels of Daniel Ascher by Deborah Levy-Bertherat 
Soil by Jamie Kornegay 
Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper 
The Upstairs Wife by Rafia Zakaria 
Wolf Winter by Cecilia Ekback 
Black River by S.M. Hulse 

Get ready to touch that golden apple, friend.

A solid list, I believe – and, this being a democratic process, there’s no sense in griping over favorite books that didn’t make the cut. I made a very strong push to include The Sunlit Night by Rebecca Dinerstein – easily in my Top Three – but alas, it may have been too weird for the majority of the group. (I have plans to write more about Sunlit in the future. Just let me get through September.) The top six listed of the above final list were on my personal top ten – Young Skins and Hammer Head especially being two of the best books I’ve read all year. I firmly believe that all the others – with one exception which will go unnamed – belong on the final list. An overall great experience – if there are any booksellers out there reading this, give me a holler if you’d like to be a part of the next Indies Introduce panel. 

After finishing up with that, I read David Bajo’s new Mercy 6 – a strange, esoteric medical thriller of sorts set in a newly renovated SoCal hospital that goes under quarantine after 4 people mysteriously drop dead all at the same time. First impressions by the medical staff are of some sort of viral outbreak, but it soon proves to be something much, much weirder. Bajo is one of our most underappreciated writers, in my opinion – and not just because he reads this blog. (Hi David!) His earlier books, The 351 Books of Irma Arcuri and Panopticon were outstanding – and totally weird in their own right. Mercy 6 is a metaphysical handful but one of the smartest novels I can think of. 

Then back into David Mitchell Land – I re-read The Bone Clocks to prepare myself for September 22. I found that there were some things I mentioned in my first BC post that were edited out of the finished book, much to my dismay. No Luisa Rey, no Timothy Cavendish, no Nurse Noakes. We shall be discussing this on September 22, have no fear. I’ve also been dipping into Mitchell’s translation of Naoki Higashida’s memoir, The Reason I Jump, which is an outstanding glimpse into the mind of a 13-year old Japanese boy with autism. Just incredible. 

Tickets are still available for The Event HERE.

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One comment on “A Year of Reading, Week 36/37

  1. dbertherat
    September 25, 2014

    Thank you so much, Seth, for your beautiful comment about The Travels of Daniel Ascher : I am extremely pleased and honored by your praise — ah, to be compared with Calvino or Zafon, what a dream! Coincidentally, I lived in La Jolla for two years in the nineties, and I couldn’t tell you how many hours (days ? weeks ?) I spent in UCSD bookstore… Best. Déborah Lévy-Bertherat

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This entry was posted on September 17, 2014 by in David Bajo, David Mitchell, Indies Introduce, Mercy 6, review, The Bone Clocks, year of reading.
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