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Books I'll Stop Reading

I've actually run out of stuff to read.

I know, right?

So I'm auditioning books.  It's kind of frustrating, to tell the truth.  My standards on books have gone way, way up.  Anything that doesn't absolutely enthrall me, I toss aside, and when you write novels, enthrallment is difficult--you know the tricks, and even the slightest authorial quirks quickly get under your skin.

I've been searching for some nice reading, but a number of honking big red flags on the cover copy of a book will send me running.  I've learned from experience these books will not appeal to me and chances are, they'll be poorly-written to boot.  Some samplings:

"Now that Barabara's husband of twenty years just dumped her . . . " Nope.  Not interested in whiny protagonists, even if they reform later.

"In this breathless, poetic novel . . . " This book has no plot and the sentences are unreadable.  Run!

"Comes to a heart-wrenching and tragic . . . "  No.  I have enough tragedy in my real life.  I don't need it in my fiction. You, of course, are welcome to have your innards stomped on all you like, but leave me out of it.

"National Book Award Winner . . . " Translation: a judge decided "unreadable, purple prose = great literature."  Pass.  (Yes, some NBA winers are worth reading. I've read exactly one. The rest were awful.  So I've stopped.)

"Told in lilting . . . " No way.  See "poetic" above.

And any cover that has two shirtless men on it makes me shake my head.  I WANT fiction with a gay protagonist, but I can't stand I'M GAY FOR HIM! OUR LOVE IS THE CENTER OF THE BOOK! gay fiction.  Especially when it's always--ALWAYS--so badly written.  I've read maybe fifteen or twenty shirtless-men-on-the-cover books, hoping for something cool, and every single one has been a disappointment.  So I've quit.  Some of my friends have tried pointing me toward this or that author with shirtless men, and on the rare occasions I've given in to my better instincts and read their recommendations, I end up wondering what the hell kind of literary tastes my friends have.  (Yes, I know about Josh Lanyon.  Reading his books is like eating cereal made of shredded cardboard laced wtih broken glass, and why in hell he's so popular, I don't understand.)

This makes book shopping difficult.  I'm trying to find good books with a gay protagonist in which the main plot DOESN'T revolve around the main character being gay.  I want a spy thriller in which the main character dodges bad guys, then goes to his boyfriend for help; or a medical book in which an ER doctor saves lives, then goes home to his husband; or a small town story in which the local librarian handles whacky patrons with outrageous requests, and falls in love with one of them while trying to save the beloved library's funding.  Or something.  And I want them to be well-written, with riveting plots that make sense, dynamic, empathetic characters, and fascinating settings.  Is that too much to ask?


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Brian Dunten
Feb. 3rd, 2017 04:21 pm (UTC)
While he doesn't have much (if any) queer content, I do enjoy Nathan Lowell's books. http://nathanlowell.com/catalog/

They are fun, light reading.
Feb. 3rd, 2017 04:37 pm (UTC)
I may have already suggested Melissa Scott's Astrient novels. First one is 'Point of Hopes'.
Feb. 3rd, 2017 10:01 pm (UTC)
Yep--I've read Melissa Scott!
Feb. 3rd, 2017 07:26 pm (UTC)
I share your pain!
I recommend Melissa Scott & Amy Griswold's Mathey & Lynes books. No nudity on the covers (agreed that this Does Not Bode Well), good world building, plots not driven by inexplicable love, but just enough gay relationship development for adult satisfaction. They are on my short list of good & non-tragic gay fiction (my favorite genre), along with your Silent Empire books, the first three of Lynn Flewelling's Nightrunner series, China Mountain Zhang by Maureen McHugh, The Catch Trap by Marion Zimmer Bradley, Highfell Grimoires by Langley Hyde, and Comfort & Joy by Jim Grimsley.

Do you have any books to recommend? I would so appreciate it.

By the way, I love your blog.
Feb. 3rd, 2017 10:07 pm (UTC)
Re: I share your pain!
I like the Silent Empire, too. :) I've read China Mountain Zhang and sat on panels with Maureen McHugh. We got along rather better than we probably should have. (!) And Bradley, yes. Lynn Flewelling's Nightrunners I liked quite a lot, too. The Bone Doll's Twin was unnerving, but it was part of a different series, thank heavens. :) I'll definitely have to look at the others.

I've really liked All the Colors of Love by Jessica Freely (YA SF) and From the Notebooks of Dr. Brain by Minister Faust (it has surprise gay content and is one of the best books of any genre I've ever read--I would never have thought anyone could write a self-help book for super-heroes and use it to tell a compelling story AND be hilariously funny all at once).

Thanks for loving the blog! :)

Edited at 2017-02-03 10:09 pm (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 3rd, 2017 10:08 pm (UTC)
Oh yes--read those!!
Nancy McPoland
Feb. 3rd, 2017 11:09 pm (UTC)
I loved this:


May require gaming knowledge.
Feb. 4th, 2017 04:07 pm (UTC)
I have serious gaming nollidge! I'll go look. Thanks.
Feb. 4th, 2017 04:22 am (UTC)
I read the first couple of chapters of Amberlough (should be out any day now) and it seemed like a decent find:


I think they posted one or two more chapters as a preview, but I haven't read those yet.
Feb. 4th, 2017 04:09 pm (UTC)
This looks intriguing! So to speak.
Feb. 7th, 2017 06:25 am (UTC)
I forgot Ginn Hale! Her Rifter series is amazing.
Feb. 8th, 2017 02:03 am (UTC)
You probably know all these, but...

I'd have to brave the winter rains to go out to the library shed, but iirc, as it's been years since I read them: Diane Duane's Door Into Sunset or Door Into Fire (it's a series); Jane Fancher's fat fantasy novels (your taste may vary); Tanya Huff's "Shadows" series, an offshoot of Blood Price. Elizabeth Lynn: Chronicles of Tornor (fantasy); A Different Light (sf), Dragon's Winter (fantasy). Ellen Kushner: Swordspoint.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
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