My name is Candiss, and I live in the Puget Sound region of Washington state, in the Pacific Northwest of the US. I was born in Detroit, Michigan, raised in a small town in Missouri, then moved around a bit before landing in Portland, Oregon, which I still consider my real “home town.” I lived in Oregon for over a decade before moving further north. I still miss Powell’s Books sorely.
I started blogging because I want to encourage myself to keep more of a record of my thoughts on the books I read, as well as to connect with other readers. I am notoriously sporadic in my blogging habits – several posts in a day or two, followed by nothing for a week or more – but I am trying to increase my consistency.
I am an eclectic reader, but I wasn’t always so. I used to get pretty stuck in this or that genre rut for years at a time. In my childhood and early teens, I only read classics and science fiction. In my late teens, I read a ton of nonfiction and experienced a strange and uncharacteristic year-long obsession with Regency romances. In my 20s, I loved mysteries and historical fiction and satire and re-discovered my earlier love of classics and sf, as well as getting into graphic novels. In my 30s, I read more world literature in translation, got back into nonfiction, and learned to enjoy literary horror and fantasy, as well as dipping my toe into magical realism and surrealist lit. Now that I’m in my early 40s, I love to read a little bit of all of these things, as well as contemporary literary fiction, which I’d previously only found really interesting if it wasn’t originally published in English.
The only sorts of books I can think of that I actively avoid are chick lit, romance (that isn’t a plot thread in a book of some other stripe…I dislike “romance novels” and paranormal romance,) shock-schlock horror thrillers, political/corporate/spy thrillers, high school dramas, books glorifying war or might-makes-right or pushing a particular religious system, sports stories and most of the sort of fantasies that involve dragons, elves or fae. I’m not a huge fan of Westerns, but I will read one if it catches my fancy somehow. I am dreadfully allergic to plucky street urchins. I do not think shoe shopping and blind dates make for scintillating plot points. If exposed to tales of troubled marriages in the suburbs, I have been known to tear my hair and rend my garments uncontrollably until a suitable distance is put between myself and said book.
Books that cross genres and/or are hard to define hold special appeal for me. Russian mystery that takes place in the near future? I’m there. Japanese classics with a surrealist edge? Yes, please. Nonfiction in the form of a graphic novel? You bet. If someone says a book is “too weird” for them, I am immediately drawn to it.
I have a number of literary weaknesses that I am practically powerless to resist and simply must read whenever I encounter them: epistolary fiction, first-person narratives, elder protagonists, memory loss stories, parallel narratives and story cycles, dark or dry humor, nonfiction that makes a lot of thought-provoking connections a la James Burke, unusual use of language, strong character development.
1. language 2. character 3. setting 4. plot
I don’t much care if a book is a “page-turner.” Honestly, I’m perfectly happy to read a book written in luscious language that takes place completely in a character’s head. It can happen in a void or an empty room, and if “nothing happens,” I’m fine with that. While I do appreciate an author’s ability to deftly draw a setting through amazing world-building and make me feel like I’m there or to propel their story along on fascinating turns of plot, neither of those things is likely to entice me to read a book and almost certainly won’t land a title on my favorites list. I’m a language and character gal all the way.
Thanks for visiting, and I hope we can connect over a good book soon!