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A Check-In On My “To Read” List

Let’s do a check-in on my to-read list.

It’s pretty small right now. I’ve had it as many as twenty or twenty-five throughout its lifespan on Goodreads. Now it’s on the smaller end, only four or so away from its lifetime minimum.

How do I pick what I’m going to read? Well, some are perpetual staples. I’m going to read everything that John Scalzi or Neil Gaiman or John Green or Peter David or Jason Pargin or Andy Weir releases. What’s the opposite of “your money’s no good here”? Is it “shut up and take my money”?

But you know, even a productive author only releases one book a year/year and a half. And I read thirty or so per year. That’s plenty of room for new bread.

If I don’t know the writer, I’m usually on the lookout for a good concept. Stories about things that I’m interested in. They can be subject matter, like monster girls or time travel or superheroes or zombies. They can be thematically relevant, like cruel/karmic twist endings. Not usually interested in war or history.

But to be honest, I really just always have my ears open for interesting things to read. I pay attention to my wife’s book club, hot authors, hot books. Sometimes I hear recommendations from podcasts (like Justin McElroy or Felicia Day). If the author’s a personality I like, like Brad Jones or Michael Schur or Bruce Campbell. Maybe it’s a pop classic that I missed like Bridget Jones’ Diary or John Grisham.

Popularity is a big factor too. If I hear a recommendation from more than one source, that can have compounding interest. If it’s popular enough to warrant a tangential piece of media (like Red Rising has a whole board game with it), that’s a good sign. It means crossover appeal and high geek factor.

So let’s look at what I’ve currently got going on the to-read list:

  • Bookshops & Bonedust by Travis Baldree – This is the sequel to Legends and Lattes, of which you see my review. To be honest, I’m only semi-thrilled to read this because, while I favored Legends and Lattes, I thought it lacked humor and excitement. It’s cozy. Too cozy. But the thing is, this is so similar to the stuff that I’m writing that I’ve got to read it. Right now all fantasy is huge doorstoppers and long epics like Fourth Wing and Mistborn. I like to write one-shot novels with established swords-and-sorcery tropes. So I’d be foolish to let this pass by.
  • The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynne Barnes – Justin McElroy recommended this on The Besties podcast. I read a sample and liked it well enough. It seems derivative of middle-grade mystery series like The 39 Clues. But maybe there’s more to it than the sample I read. Justin’s recommended some good ones in the past. And it’s YA, so it should be easy to read.
  • Projekt 1065 by Alan Gratz – We had some college friends over and their son recommended this book. Its historical and the kid is hyper, so it must be attention-grabbing if he can read it.
  • Golden Son (Red Rising #2) by Pierce Brown – The sequel to Red Rising, which I read and love-love-loved it. It’s like The Hunger Games but injected with testosterone, because its all war and Roman gods and the planet Mars. So I had to read this. And I better read it soon or I’m going to forget everything that happened in the first book.
  • Girl, Stolen by April Henry – My daughter seems to like this book or this author a lot. She likes police procedurals and forensics shows. But it seems unusual someone wrote this for a middle school audience. I’m intrigued, so I’ll give it a try.
  • Forever… by Judy Blume – I recently watched a documentary about Judy Blume and thought “I haven’t read enough Judy Blume in my life. I should fix that.” I’ve already read Blubber and Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret. This wasn’t the next most popular Blume book, but it has content I’m interested in (namely sex).
  • Zoey is Too Drunk for This Dystopia (Zoey Ashe #3) by Jason Pargin – Like I said, Jason Pargin is one of those authors I always read. Because he always delivers. The blend of macabre humor, science fiction, action, story-telling, I can only hope to reach that level someday. There is simply no author more entertaining to me on the market right now than Jason Pargin.

Eric Juneau is a software engineer and novelist on his lunch breaks. In 2016, his first novel, Merm-8, was published by eTreasures. He lives in, was born in, and refuses to leave, Minnesota. You can find him talking about movies, video games, and Disney princesses at http://www.ericjuneaubooks.com where he details his journey to become a capital A Author.

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