This year, I’ve decided to post snippets from my ongoing reading journal that aren’t full reviews, just thoughts about what I’m reading and what I want to read. This will possibly be terribly dull; I’ll let you decide. Here’s what I’ve been reading since the start of the year — a lot of short books!

I started with the The End Is Now. This is a second in a series of short story anthologies called the “Apocalypse Triptych.”  This stories in this volume take place during the apocalypse, and many continue from where the stories in Volume 1 left off. It wasn’t as good as Volume 1. There were several zombie stories. What is the fascination with zombies, anyway? Seriously, they’re not that interesting. I’m over zombies altogether. Totally.

I also finished The Expendable Man by Dorothy B. Hughes, a noir thriller published by New York Review Books in their classics line (reviewed previously). I liked Hughes’ taut writing, but particularly enjoyed her setting of 1960s Phoenix, Arizona, so much so that I’m planning to read  more books set in the Southwest. I wonder how many I’ll get through before I get tired of desert settings?

Unfortunately, the library is hampering my plans to read more in the Southwest. I am on the waiting list for one request, the other is coming from somewhere else (possibly Nepal), and the third turned out to be almost 700 pages long, which is more than I’m willing to gamble on a new-to-me writer. Honestly, what is with all the big bloat? I understand that some stories legitimately take 600+ pages to tell, and if the writing is good and the story is enthralling, I’m willing to put in the time. But I seriously doubt that so many books have to be that long. Ideal length for me is around 350 pages, especially if I’m just getting to know the writer.

Anyway, in the meantime, I knocked out Edward Abbey’s Black Sun, which is set in the Southwest and is very short. The writing is lovely, especially in reference to nature, but it was written in the early ’70s (and shows it), and Abbey’s attitude toward women is… cringe-worthy, at the least.

Since I’d just read another noir novel, The Expendable Man, I thought I’d also go ahead and knock out The Maltese Falcon, which I already had on my shelf (still waiting for library books). Eh, it was better than The Thin Man, but as a writer, Hammett doesn’t come close to Raymond Chandler. He’s good with dialogue, though, which is probably why his books made such great movies–better than the books, in my opinion. I’ll give this one props for helping to invent a genre and a ton of tropes. And I think I’m done with crime noir for the time being.

I’m a sucker for gorgeous book covers, so check out these beauties, all of which I own.

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After a detour to California, The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi came in from the library, and it is near-perfect length, 370 pages. It’s set in Nevada and Arizona, so continuing my Southwest streak…

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