My ‘To Be Read’ Pile – 2017 Edition

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{Header image taken by Angie Fiedler Sutton.}

Note: this article was also published on Tea & Fiction.

With thanks for the prompt from The Nerdy Girlie.

I read … a lot. The only problem is that ever since the invention of the Internet, my off-line reading has been sacrificed for all the reading I now do online. So, while I do still read quite a bit, my ‘books I’ve read’ pile has slowly shrunk over the years.

When I moved to Los Angeles in 2013, all of our books got packed into boxes. They’re still (mostly) there, partly because I have yet to have the discretionary income to buy bookcases, and partly because we weren’t 100% sure we were going to stay in this apartment, as going to USC was the primary reason for picking the place we did.

Over the three years since, I have picked up a handful of books. Some of them were from teachers, suggestions for further reading in my studies. Most, however, were ones purchased at various book-related events such as the Los Angeles Festival of Books or at book signings.

Additionally, I keep an Excel spreadsheet of ‘things I want to watch/listen to/read’, and I have close to 300 books on that list, not including things like catching up on the remaining Discworld books that are on my ‘no need to bookmark, we know they’re on the list’ list.

So, in writing up about my ‘to read’ pile, I decided to not only stick to the ones on my ‘to read’ shelf, but also to limit it to the 5 implied by this being a 5 Fandom Friday.

An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, by Col. Chris Hadfield

If you’re a geek at all, you don’t need me to explain who Col. Hadfield is. This Canadian astronaut took social media by storm in 2012-2013 with a series of YouTube videos, tweets about his time there (and to people like William Shatner), and even by playing music on the International Space Station.

An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth is his New York Times bestselling autobiography, where he writes about his career. I was lucky enough to attend a book signing for it as one of my first activities when I arrived in Los Angeles. He read an excerpt from it, and brought me to tears as to the beauty of what he saw.

Knowing it was something I wanted to focus on, the book got shelved while I studied for my master’s, and continued to sit there as I worried about finding a job after I graduated. I hope to actually start it in 2017. (I also want to buy his music album, and use it as my first attempt at writing a music review.)

My partner and I, trying not to fangirl over Col. Chris Hadfield

In the Unlikely Event, by Judy Blume

If you grew up identifying as female in the ’80s, chances are you consumed Judy Blume’s books. From the silly Fudge books to the ‘it hit me so hard, I never want to read it again’ Blubber, Blume has a knack for storytelling that is genuine and raw in a way you rarely saw back then.

I rediscovered her in the mid-2000s, and read all the books my small town library never had, like Forever and Tiger Eyes. This was also when I discovered she also wrote books for adults, and I got a cheap copy of Summer Sisters at a garage sale.

In the Unlikely Event is her latest (and according to her, her last) book, and is another one intended for adults. The plot uses as the backdrop a series of airplane crashes in the early 1950s. I managed to get a copy (and get it autographed) as the Library Foundation of Los Angeles had “An Evening with Judy Blume” as part of her promotion of the book.

The Dangerous Animals Club, by Stephen Tobolowsky

I’ve been an avid podcast listener since my time doing data entry for the IRS in 2008. While what podcasts I listen to have (obviously) changed over the years, as old ones have retired (still sad about Wits going away) and new ones have come into play (have I preached my love of Welcome to Night Vale lately?).

One such podcast was The Tobolowsky Files. You may not recognize the name Stephen Tobolowsky, but I would bet good money that you recognize his face. Tobolowsky is a known character actor, with an estimated 250 acting credits on IMDB. This podcast, inspired by the movie Stephen Tobolowsky’s Birthday Party, is a series of stories about his life as an actor, both on the stage and on the screen. They are at times heartwarming, sad, and comedic – sometimes all in the same story.

The Dangerous Animals Club is just a small sampling of some of the stories from the first 25 of those podcasts, with some additional new material. I managed to get a copy signed at the 2014 Los Angeles Festival of Books. But my imminent trip to London made me shelve it. By the way, I have an audio interview with Tobolowsky I did shortly after this that I never got around to editing. Expect it on a future G33K Out podcast.

Stephen Tobolowsky and me.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (aka The Taliban Shuffle), by Kim Barker

I managed to snag a free copy of the book that inspired the movie (read my review here) at an early preview screening.

Barker’s story of being a journalist assigned to Afghanistan during the early 2000s is one that intrigues me as both a journalist and as a woman. The movie hit me in an unexpected way. While I only took the book because it was free, after seeing the movie, I definitely wanted to read it to see how close it ran to the events depicted therein.

Script Doctor, by Andrew Cartmel

I’ve written before about both my love of Doctor Who and my current ambivalent feelings about the show. But whatever my feelings about it, the show has been a core part of who I am.

I discovered the show on PBS as they were re-running Tom Baker episodes, but in ‘real life’, the BBC was currently dealing with Colin Baker’s Doctor and handing over the reigns to Sylvester McCoy. I still remember seeing an interview with McCoy when they announced he would be the new Doctor (and him telling of his time doing vaudeville, including putting ferrets down his pants).

At the time, I was too young to understand television politics, or why the BBC might be ousting Baker. When McCoy took over as the Seventh Doctor, Andrew Cartmel was hired as the script editor. He stayed in that role for the remaining three years before the show got cancelled, and started to take the show in a new direction that may have very well kept it going had the BBC given it time. This included what is now known as the “Cartmel Masterplan”, wherein the Doctor would develop into a much more mysterious character.

Script Doctor is Cartmel’s experiences working on the show, and I bought a copy (and got it signed) at a fan event held by the Doctor Who Appreciation Society when I was in London in the summer of 2014.

Honorable Mention

And in true fandom 5+1 fashion, I have an honorable mention of a book I haven’t bought but want to. Why Fanfiction is Taking Over the World, by Anne Jamison, is – as the title implies – about the importance of fan fiction in our culture, how it’s not as new of an idea as some people may think, and how it is a transformative medium. As a fan fiction reader (and occasional writer), I’ve known about this book for a while now, and hope to find the time to read it soon.

I still love to read, and still love the physicality of a book: the feel, the look, the smell. One of my goals of 2017 is to read more off-line books. These are all at the top of my list. And maybe next year, I’ll actually have bookshelves up.