About

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Hello! I’m a writer, journalist, magazine-editor and obsessed reader of fiction, mostly contemporary, experimental and speculative. This blog grew out of a personal project started in 2012 to record every book I read in a year, and somehow snowballed into the current situation.

I read in English, Russian, and French. Some favorite books are Fiasco, by Stanislas Lem, Gogol’s Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka, Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delaney, Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis Trilogy, and Black Hole by Charles Burns. To that I’ll add my new obsession, The Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch.

If you have similar interests and reading habits please comment! I’d love to hear from you. If you want me to write about a book, track me down on Twitter at @valerie_reads

And here’s the de rigueur statement on the ethics of book blogging:

As someone who lives in New York, has written books herself, and works in the media industry, I know a lot of people who write or publish books. It’s rare that I’m more than a few degrees of separation from a living writer. Also, my livelihood and future success is tied up to some extent in not having the wrong people hate me. This is true of everyone who writes book reviews for the mainstream media, and mostly true for the non-mainstream media too. Thus, all reviews are political, including, sometimes, mine.

As I get more traffic and exposure, I’m starting to note when I know or am friends with the person whose book I am reviewing. Older posts don’t always say that. But this is kind of nonsense (one reason I didn’t do it before) because even people I don’t know might be important to me in some way real or imagined. All that said, I’m harsher and more honest than most people…

If that’s a good or bad quality, you be the judge!

Best,

Valerie

7 Responses to “About”

  1. danyulengelke January 9, 2014 at 6:24 pm #

    Valerie, great blog! I’d wish you luck, but it seems – judging by that more than healthy stack of books – you need no encouragement.

    Reading Dostoevsky’s ‘The Double’ right now. Have you read? Furthermore, how was Demons?

    Cheers and check us out at LivingwithLiteraturee.com!

    • Valerie Stivers-Isakova January 9, 2014 at 8:43 pm #

      Thanks so much! I got sidetracked on Demons with about 80 pages left and keep meaning to get back to it. Now that I know someone is interested, maybe I’ll get a move on. I have not read The Double. I’ve read Crime and Punishment, Brothers K. several times, and House of the Dead, which was his prison camp memoir. So much to read….so much I haven’t read. And I already have an intense lineup for early 2014, which includes a new, first-ever English translation of a Dovlatov novel, if you’re interested in Russians. It’s called Pushkin Hills. Thanks for commenting! In my dream, people discuss literature on this blog….

  2. Thom Hickey February 27, 2015 at 4:10 pm #

    Thanks Valerie. Pleased to have discovered your fascinating blog. Lots to explore and no doubt to take issue with! Regards from Thom at the immortal jukebox (favourite writers – Melville, Chekhov, Hopkins and Emily Dickinson.)

    • Valerie Stivers-Isakova February 27, 2015 at 4:31 pm #

      Thanks for reading! I love Chekhov myself, the short stories more than the plays. And he loses in translation more, I think, than any other Russian writer. In Russian his language is weird, intense and beautiful. The English translations read plain/minimal/understated. Or at least that’s my inexpert impression.

      • Thom Hickey February 27, 2015 at 4:58 pm #

        Thanks .. my Russian isn’t up to the level needed to make the judgment there! I love Chekhov for his hard edged humanity. Thom.

  3. bookheathen April 6, 2016 at 12:51 pm #

    Just dropped by to say thank you for visiting Bookheathen, and for the ‘follow’. Look forward to taking a look at your site.

  4. RB July 15, 2016 at 1:17 pm #

    Hello Valerie, What a candid and thoughtful About page. I would like to invite you to read my upcoming book. Would love to get in touch.

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