What should I read now?

What should I read next? I’m a picky reader, but I’ve taken some risks this summer and tried books and authors that I knew little about.

I’ve recently put a few down after struggling through four or five chapters, notably Greg Bear’s City at the End of Time. Feel free to chastise if you liked this book, but I can’t get into a novel that deliberately keeps the reader in the dark about almost everything. I like a puzzle, but this was too convoluted for my tastes.

I just finished S.M. Stirling’s Dies the Fire, and I was pleasantly surprised. A good post-apocalyptic yarn hooks me every time, and while some of his dialogue falls flat, the man can write some action scenes. Sword fights, brawls, archery and battles were nuanced and knowledgeable. I may have actually learned a bit reading it. The big surprise was Stirling’s interesting attempt to use Wiccan culture as a major part of his story. He doesn’t always succeed (characters say things like “Well, Goddess bless me!” far too much), but it’s one of the more even-handed and realistic depictions of pagans I’ve read in fiction. Nobody pulls out a fireball or some “secret knowledge,” talks to animals, or anything like that. He also demonstrates some insider knowledge of the pagan community (lingo, religious activities) although I’m unsure if he’s pagan himself. Anyhoo, I liked it well enough, but not necessarily for that reason. I’ll resist the urge to read the sequels, at least for now.

Help me decide what to read now! Pick a random unread from my bookcase or suggest something different (I tend toward “classic” sci-fi, the post-apocalyptic, first contact novels, and “sociological” sci-fi such as Ursula K. LeGuin).

Any thoughts on this greatly appreciated. Happy reading!

Proud Pagan

I’ve spent the better part of the week trying to hold onto the sense of peace and purpose I gained from attending Florida Pagan Gathering this past weekend. It’s a twice-annual festival which always inspires me to better my life and take action.

I attended great workshops with cool presenters. I learned some absolutely beautiful songs for groups from Margot Adler (yes, the journalist from NPR). With my family, I learned about incorporating spiritual practice into daily life as a “family coven” with Lydia Crabtree. I gathered a good amount of perspective on the future of paganism as a growing world-wide religious movement, with folks like Gavin and Yvonne Frost (who are, BTW, very anti-Christian while I am not) and T. Thorn Coyle. Best of all, I watched my husband and child jump the Beltane fires and dance around at the fire/drum circle. Amazing levels of joy.

It’s hard to come home after that, although finding ticks in your clothes and scorpions in your campsite are enough encouragement to leave! I have a refreshed appreciation for creature comforts and a renewed spiritual bond with both family and friends who attended with us.