whatcha readin’? Early July Edition

Whatcha readin’?

What’s keeping you up late, and gaining you member points in the Bad Decisions Book Club?

My non-YA/kidlit reading is all over the place genre-wise. Lately I’m stress-reading a lot, which is when I’m most apt to pick up things I’d never select otherwise and just cram them into my head Just Because. Partially I have to do that sometimes when I’m working through a knotty problem in my writing, but I’ve finished a deadline/manuscript, so I’m just stress-reading because I’m… stressed. My mother called it escapist reading, and – heck yeah, I’m all about escaping right now. For some people, that would mean a lot of binge screentime. For me, ti’s books.

Re-Visits: I’ve passed along a LOT of books this year, and these are books I’m popping in to see again – to make sure they should stay on my shelf. Sometimes, when you’re in an escape reading mode, books you’ve read before feel the very safest — no risk reading, because you already know how it turns out, right? So, here are my revisits for this month so far:

THE HOBBIT – Ah, a true, TRUE classic. This is my story-before-bed, and admittedly, I’m dozing off on it pretty quickly. I am reading it more critically, and …it’s got some flaws I didn’t see the first three times I read or heard it… I can see some of the issues with depictions of lesser races that show up in the LOTR cycle, and I don’t quite know how to feel about them… but I think this is just one of those books I’ll read from time to time just because.

SUNSHINE by Robin McKinley – man I liked this book, and had a big argument with myself back in the day as to whether or not it was YA. I’m going to say… no, not really. Robin promised us a someday sequel, and I think it’ll go toward New Adult or something in its next incarnation.

MONSTER BLOOD TATTOO by DM Cornish – here’s another book I loved; so, so, SO many “new things per page!” I read this book in expectation that someday the writer will finish the whole series. He will. Someday.

STRANGE PRACTICE, by Vivian Shaw was a book I picked up because the cover looked Edward Gorey-ish. That was a GREAT CHOICE, one I knew was correct because the dedication was to Laura Ruby – she of odd books I enjoy. Dr. Greta Helsing… her family dropped the van from their name in the difficult 1930’s – is in the family business… as a doctor to the …erm, differently alive. Detecting and the odd ghoul or vampire (vampyre?) – yes, please; sign me up. This one was a surprise banger, as the kids say, and made me eager for more of Shaw’s work.

Short Stories: Black Matter by Vivian Shaw. Creeeeeeeepy, AND a read aloud: good times.

The Librarian: A First Contact Story, by M.N. Anzu – This one is a charmer, and makes me eager to read more of this Guatemalan-born author. The man she thought she knew, her husband – he isn’t the guy she thought he was… but he loves her. He just came by to tell her the truth about himself… but will she hear it?


These are usually a huge surprise – I’m such a picky book picker-upper that it’s rare when I find one I can’t finish (unless it’s a romance novel, and I both pick up and toss those freely – no point in them unless they’re really good, because hello misogyny and racism, and who has time?) So… here are my fails, which may very well have been wins for you:

I’m annoyed that I tried – again – and failed- again to finish Ursula LeGuin’s VERY FAR AWAY FROM ANYWHERE ELSE. For whatever reason, the characters don’t grab me, and though I ADORE LeGuin’s writing, I’ve never been able to connect with this, one of her rare YA novels, and it bugs me. I do know that she wrote it in 1976, though, and tweens and teens in that time and mine were different enough that I think I should be okay giving up on this book. I didn’t like S.E. Hinton or Joyce Carol Oates really, either, so… (I KNOW. OUTRAGE.)

THE SHAPE OF WATER, Guillermo del Toro… So, we all know what it’s about, thanks to the movie, but yeah, no. Just, no. I tried, but I think I …dislike books that spend too much time in the mind of the bad guy. Also, I’m not sure I like the way the protag’s muteness was depicted in the novel, and …I’m not a gay man, but I’m not sure the way the queer rep went was altogether good either. It just didn’t work for me – but if you love it, please tell me why?

And that’s it for thus far this month. As I convalesce – a word which brings to mind marabou-collar bathrobes and fainting couches – post-surgery, I’m sure I’ll be reading a great deal more ridiculous, fun, and unusual things. So, friends, tell me what you’re reading, so I can send Himself to the library!

About the author

tanita s. davis is a writer and avid reader who prefers books to most things in the world, including people. That's ...pretty much it, she's very boring and she can't even tell jokes. She is, however, the author of nine books, including Serena Says, Partly Cloudy, Go Figure, Henri Weldon, and the Coretta Scott King honored Mare's War. Look for her new MG, The Science of Friendship in 1/2024 from Katherine Tegen Books.


  1. I just posted my What’cha Readin’ for the earlier part of the summer… and, in the spirit of comfort re-reading, I’ve been doing some of that myself in this latter half of the summer. I’ve been meaning to re-read Sunshine again sometime soon!

    Interestingly, I haven’t read The Shape of Water. I did really like the movie, though, FWIW.

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