Into the Book

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Posts by Andrew Joyce

  1. Anthony Marra’s first novel, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, is so full of twists that it’s a difficult story to pin down. How many other novelists have written a novel that is about wartime Chechnya, jumps through twenty years of time, and features seven or eight main characters? Not too many that I have seen. Marra’s strange blend of omniscient storytelling and chronological looseness plays with a beautiful writing style and makes A Constellation of Vital Phenomena one of the best books I have read this year. (more…)

  2. I picked up At the Back of the North Wind at Half Price Books for 3 reasons: 1) It’s George MacDonald 2) Andrew Peterson’s house is named after this book (North Wind Manor), and 3) the book is simply gorgeous in the Everyman’s Classics edition. Those are reasons of varying solidity, but here are my reasons for why you also should pick up this book. Read on for more: (more…)

  3. It’s time for another update on the ItB New Year’s Reading Challenge. Modeled after Tim Challies’ challenge, the idea is to read a certain number of books over the entire year. We had several options to choose from: The “Normal” Reader, the “Fast” Reader, and the “Insane” Reader. Here’s an update on how the “Fast” tier has been working out for me: (more…)

  4. C.S. Lewis never ceases to amaze. Not only did the man write a well-known fantasy series, a superb (and under-appreciated) sci-fi trilogy, and multiple theological fiction books (Till We Have Faces, The Great Divorce), he also wrote some fantastic, straight-up theology. The Four Loves is everything you would expect from a Lewis book: it’s personal and warm, direct and unassuming even as it tackles huge topics and arguments, and even entertaining as Lewis walks us through human and divine love in his own trademark style. There’s a lot to, erm, love about this book. (more…)

  5. It’s really hard to pick up a story that’s been dead for months and try to breathe life into it. I read over the twenty or so pages that are on paper so far, and that helped me a little bit to remember where I’m going with “All Right.” I also had my trusty outline, which has continued to be really helpful (All Right is the first story I’ve ever made a master outline for). But as I sat down this week to write, looking at the blank page was overwhelming. The story still felt dead. (more…)

  6. I have an unsurprising admission of failure for you: I haven’t been writing. Not for a few months at least. It’s why Writing Life was so sporadic over the summer — there just hasn’t been any writing to have a life about. It’s ok, months (years?) like that crop up; but as a writer, how can we combat them? Read on for more: (more…)

  7. “This looks like a good book. Maybe I’ll just read it to get some good stuff out of it, and skip writing a review, because I have so much to do.”
    Oh wait.
    Busyness is so prevalent and so accepted that our standard response to “How are you?” is a simple, “Oh, you know, pretty busy.” If my day isn’t full, perfectly executing a ten-point todo list in stunning fashion, then maybe I’m doing something wrong! These are a few of the reasons why DeYoung has written his book Crazy Busy. It’s a (mercifully) short book about busyness, and DeYoung manages to pack a great deal into it. (more…)

  8. When I sit outside, and feel the wind lick at my face, hear the thunder as the seat beneath me shakes, and watch the lightning skate across the cracks in the gray mass of clouds overhead, there is little room for worry. We love to be reminded of our own smallness. (more…)

  9. Robert Heinlein’s Friday is a mixed bag of sci-fi tropes, missed opportunities, and casual vulgarity all sprinkled into a neat dystopian landscape filled with backstabbing, wars, and secrets. It’s a book that’s deeply conflicting: on the one hand, Heinlein has constructed a great, immersive world and asked some great questions of well-developed characters. On the other hand, there’s a lot that’s not worth reading and Heinlein often doesn’t answer his own questions. Friday is a circuitous book that winds around before finally resolving, and at the end of it all, I still can’t say if it was worth my time. Read on for more: (more…)

  10. What’s a writing life with no writing?

    What do you do when your writing life doesn’t include much writing? It’s a guarantee that at some point you’ll hit a wall with your story, or you’ll get busy at work, or you’ll lose the initial spark that inspired you, or you’ll pick up a new hobby and writing will get pushed to the side. What’s a writer to do in a time when their own writing is dormant?

    (more…)