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jen.e.moore ROOTs and ROOTs and ROOTs

2016 ROOT Challenge - (Read Our Own Tomes)

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Dec 22, 2015, 10:58am Top

Well, 100 ROOTs in a year was too much to ask in 2015, so I'm bringing it down to a more reasonable 52 this time around. That will still put a good dent in my collection without pushing me too hard. ;) I fully expect to pass this goal - but it's way more fun to pass a goal and keep going than to not quite make it!

Dec 22, 2015, 1:45pm Top

Happy ROOTing, Jen.

Dec 22, 2015, 5:25pm Top

That's my approach as well -- and it feels great to be able to add to the group total at the end! Good luck with your challenge :)

Dec 23, 2015, 3:55am Top

Welcome back and have fun with your ROOTing!

Dec 23, 2015, 9:22am Top

Nothing wrong with reachable goals. Good luck, and any extras help out the group!

Dec 26, 2015, 9:39pm Top

Happy Rooting!

Dec 29, 2015, 6:41pm Top

Wishing you only good books in the new year!

Dec 31, 2015, 10:18pm Top

Good luck with your ROOT reading!

Jan 1, 2016, 3:10am Top

Jan 1, 2016, 5:34am Top

Jan 3, 2016, 11:14am Top

Thanks for the welcome, everyone!

After adding some ebooks that have been languishing on a flash drive for a while, updating my Nook, and shelving all my ROOTs bought in 2016, I'm starting this year with a TBR count of 291. (Still under 300!) And this is my ROOT shelf -

Yes, of course they're double-stacked.

Jan 3, 2016, 11:17am Top

And we're off to a good start!

1. Subterranean Magazine Fall 2013. Four stories.
Doctor Helios by Lewis Shiner - a straight-up Cold War spy story with -- well, that would be telling, wouldn't it? I usually don't like serious Cold War spy stories, but I liked this.

The Truth of Fact, The Truth of Feeling by Ted Chiang - another of Chiang's signature stories, exploring the deep implications of memory-replacement technologies. This one gives me a lot to think about, and I really enjoyed it.

Hook Agonistes by Jay Lake and Seanan MacGuire - I do like postapocalyptic religion stories, but all the Disney references grated until I got into the story. And then when I did - wow, that was good.

What Doctor Ivanovich Saw by Ian Tregillis - a tie-in to his alternate history World War II psychics series, and I really want to read that now. It's bound to be grim, but I want to read it anyway.

Jan 3, 2016, 1:54pm Top

I guess you mean, bought in 2015 ;-))

That's no pile any more. That is an amazing amount of TBR's!

Jan 3, 2016, 4:29pm Top

Yay shelved! Not too shabby if they can all mostly fit onto 1 shelf.... even if they are double-stacked ;)

Jan 3, 2016, 9:23pm Top

>13 connie53: ...whoops, corrected the year in the wrong direction.

Jan 4, 2016, 3:07am Top

>15 jen.e.moore: Hahaha. You can always correct them back.

Jan 4, 2016, 6:46am Top

Welcome back and Happy ROOTing! They look a bit terrifying piled up like this!

Jan 4, 2016, 10:20am Top

Love the photo! Good luck!

Jan 5, 2016, 9:15am Top

2. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks. I read most of this book when I first bought it and then put it on a shelf and never finished it; I have no idea why. When I picked it up this time, I finished it off in a day and a half. ;) Some of the terminology is very dated, making the last handful of chapters a little cringe-inducing sometimes, but overall this is absolutely enthralling stuff - the brain is much more complicated than we pretend it is.

Jan 5, 2016, 5:09pm Top

>19 jen.e.moore: I agree, that was one of my ROOTs in my first year of ROOTing a couple of years ago. I too had read a few chapters and then not got round to the rest, but (taking into account the datedness of some of it) I loved how compassionate he was and just so interested in improving the quality of life of his patients (and how he was prepared to admit when he got things wrong). I was so sad to hear of his death last year.

Jan 5, 2016, 5:16pm Top

>20 Jackie_K: I've actually read several of his other books while this one was languishing on my shelves, and yes, it's his compassion that shines through no matter what - he so obviously cares deeply about the lives of his patients, and he finds the most important part of them at the same time as he studies the most interesting part of their illness. I'm looking forward to reading his memoir.

Jan 5, 2016, 5:57pm Top

>19 jen.e.moore: That book has been on my to-read list for a very long time! Glad to hear it is enthralling, and good to know about the terminology.

Jan 6, 2016, 9:18am Top

3. In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware - I'm sure this was one of those books billed as "the next Gone Girl," and it doesn't rise to anywhere near that level, but it is fast-paced and exciting. I figured out all the twists way in advance, but full points for the most horrifying setting imaginable - a bachelorette party with a bunch of strangers in an ultra-modern monstrosity of a house way out in the middle of nowhere.

Jan 6, 2016, 11:30am Top

>19 jen.e.moore: oh! I had that on my wishlist.. interesting... maybe I need to put it back there ;)

>23 jen.e.moore: and another on my read-list for this year! Good to know the hype is a little.... erm, over-hyped. :)

Jan 7, 2016, 1:16pm Top

I took so long reading this one that it became a ROOT!

4. The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory by Cynthia Eller - This is an utterly fantastic book about feminist mythology, gender roles, and how we know things about prehistory. Eller is demolishing the idea that there was once a universal, feminist, matriarchal utopia that was overthrown by patriarchal invaders, and she picks apart absolutely everything that's used as evidence in support of this story. Along the way she gives credit to the parts of the story that might have some basis in truth, discusses the feminist philosophical underpinnings of this story (and why she thinks they're inadequate to serve feminist ideals), and offers a great introduction to exploring the way our own biases influence the stories we tell about the facts we gather.

Jan 7, 2016, 2:37pm Top

Jan 7, 2016, 6:07pm Top

>26 Jackie_K: Normally I'd apologize, but I think everyone should read this book, so. :D

Jan 26, 2016, 10:38am Top

Well, I splurged in a bookstore over the weekend - the first time I've done that in a while. :D The pile I came out with is too big to stick to my "start it within 3 days of bringing it into the house" plan, unless I want to be reading way too many books at one time, but several were books I've been looking for for a long time! And the others were great deals. How could I resist?

Jan 26, 2016, 11:18am Top

>28 jen.e.moore: Jen!!! You did? You naughty girl. How many? And yes, that would be hard to resist. ;-))))

Jan 26, 2016, 11:44am Top

>28 jen.e.moore: That behavior is hard to cure in us bibliophiles!

Jan 26, 2016, 2:41pm Top

>29 connie53: Only seven! And two of those are pattern books so they don't go on the to-read shelf. So five, really, which is not all that bad. (And a box set of Bette Davis DVDs, which is bound to cut into the reading time as well.)

Jan 26, 2016, 2:48pm Top

>31 jen.e.moore: That's not too bad.

Jan 30, 2016, 10:34am Top

5. Postmortem by Stefan Timmermans - This is an academic ethnography of medical examiners, looking into how they interpret evidence, how they construct their authority, and the challenges they face as medicine and the legal system change. It's written about as compellingly as the usual ethnography, which means I only fell asleep reading it twice. But there are some interesting tidbits in here for people with practice slogging through academic prose. I'm not sorry I read it, but I am glad it's over.

Jan 30, 2016, 10:42am Top

>33 jen.e.moore: Haha, that sounds about right! (former vaguely ethnographic researcher here). The stuff I've read by him has been really interesting, but not always the most accessible, I've needed to be on my game with it! (haven't read this one - it sounds interesting, but I'd only read it if I needed to for work).

Jan 30, 2016, 12:50pm Top

6. The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce - By turns satirical, biting, vicious, nihilistic, racist, misogynistic, and downright mean. Exhausting on the whole I confess to not reading most of the poems, which I did not find amusing at all.

Feb 1, 2016, 12:55pm Top

Welp, I just found out I'll be going to BEA this summer for work. I think I'm gonna prioritize all my leftover galleys from previous book shows - I know me, and I am not going to be able to resist the lure of an entire showroom full of books! But I'll feel less guilty if I'm not still hauling around unread stuff from ALA 2010, too.

Feb 1, 2016, 1:17pm Top

>36 jen.e.moore: I'm not familiar with those abbreviations, Jen (Being Dutch) so what is BEA and ALA?

Feb 1, 2016, 3:09pm Top

7. Economics for Humans by Julie A. Nelson - Apparently it really is true that economists made up a spherical human of uniform density, to make their equations easier, and never realized that this has no bearing on how the world actually works. I've always suspected it; now I just wonder how economics has continued to justify its own existence for so long.

Nelson is arguing for a kinder, gentler capitalism, one that acknowledges that the economy is made up of *people* and assigns value accordingly. She does a good job of breaking down the ways the classical economic model fails, but I'm not so sure she's as good at making suggestions for how to improve what exists - she makes a good case for why progressives can still be (and possibly should be) capitalists, but she doesn't address the ways this could go horribly wrong in our current antagonistic two-party deathmatch of a political environment.

Feb 1, 2016, 3:10pm Top

>37 connie53: Whoops, sorry - BEA is Book Expo America, the big blowout publishing industry conference. It's moved to Chicago from New York City for the first time this year. ALA is the American Library Association conference, which is more focused but (hilariously) more expensive and just as dangerous for acquiring books. :)

Feb 1, 2016, 5:29pm Top

>38 jen.e.moore: That sounds interesting. Not sure it's quite enough for a BB, but I must admit to a residual suspicion about economics and its lack of relation to reality.

Feb 1, 2016, 9:45pm Top

>40 Jackie_K: It's not hugely detailed on that front, so if that's what you're looking for, save the space in your queue for something else. :) Of course, on the plus side, this book is only about 120 pages long...

Feb 2, 2016, 2:13am Top

>39 jen.e.moore: Thanks, Jen. Two interesting conferences. And I can imagine you need to be a strong woman to not acquiring books when you visit the BEA! Just hang in there and think of us!

Feb 2, 2016, 6:36pm Top

>28 jen.e.moore: lol ;)

>31 jen.e.moore: lol again! "only" 7 ;)

& congrats on 7 ROOTs pulled already!

Feb 8, 2016, 5:06pm Top

Success! I sold a box of books today, and there must have been some good ones in there, because I got all this with $12 left over on the credit. And - all of these were wishlisted books I've read already, so none of them go into the ROOT stack!

(Of course, that doesn't make much difference if I don't actually read the ROOTs...)

Feb 8, 2016, 5:25pm Top

Yay fun!
Kraken is on my shelves.. very much looking forward to it! It's nice to find books that you enjoy that much that you want them back again!

Feb 8, 2016, 6:02pm Top

Hurray for getting a great big stack of books!

Feb 11, 2016, 9:46am Top

8. Who was Changed and Who was Dead by Barbara Comyns - I first read this in a gothic fiction class in college and recently wanted to revisit it. It's a tight, disturbing little novel, full of moments of grace and moments of horror, packed in right next to each other where they belong. Maybe the most unsettling thing about it is the undeniably happy ending, coming as it does so close on the heels of all that madness and death.

Edited: Feb 11, 2016, 10:36am Top

>47 jen.e.moore: I tried to just casually pass on by, but alas, I've been struck by a BB... ;)

Feb 11, 2016, 11:40am Top

>48 avanders: You get a lot of BB's on your list, Ava!

Feb 11, 2016, 12:21pm Top

>48 avanders: At least it's a short one! :D

Feb 11, 2016, 5:37pm Top

>49 connie53: lol! yep. I do... :-o

>50 jen.e.moore: at least there's that!

Feb 13, 2016, 2:54pm Top

9. Reckless by Cornelia Funke - This was a fun YA/middle grade portal fantasy set in the world where fairy tales come from - so, dark, disturbing, and violent. I loved the characters, particularly Fox, the girl who'd much rather spend all her time as a vixen, and Jacob, who's so convinced he's not a good person that he somehow fails to notice how he's willing to sacrifice literally everything for his little brother. I was a little disappointed by the female characters' roles overall, though, and something about the prose just felt unpolished. Overall verdict: good, but not as good as Inkheart.

Feb 14, 2016, 7:59am Top

>44 jen.e.moore: Nice haul!

Feb 14, 2016, 6:45pm Top

Spent all day reading and watching it snow. This, my friends; this is the life.

10. Lockdown: Escape from Furnace 1 by Alexander Gordon Smith - This is pure teen boy bait - gruesome, violent, and scary, with absolutely no girls. I think it's also pretty purely YA; there's not a lot of there there, and not a lot to recommend it other than the creep factor.

11. Clients from Hell 2 by Bryce Blaydon - There's some freelancing advice in here, and it's fine as far as it goes, but face it, what you're really here for is the terrifying client stories, and those are great.

Feb 15, 2016, 12:15pm Top

>54 jen.e.moore: agreed - that is the life! :) :) :)

Feb 17, 2016, 9:13am Top

12. A Country of Ghosts by Margaret Killjoy - This is, essentially, an apologia for anarchy, an exploration of how an anarchic culture might go to war if it were threatened by an imperial power. I can't say it wasn't interesting, but it failed to hit some of the sticking points I always have with anarchy (namely, you don't need government for minority voices to be treated badly, and how do you handle it when that happens), so I didn't find it particularly enlightening, either. I'll definitely pass it on to my anarchist friend and see what she thinks.

Feb 18, 2016, 7:36pm Top

13. The Dismantling by Brian Deleeuw - This was a literary thriller that had all the failings of a milquetoast literary hero and a tragic lack of actual thrilling bits. The story is compelling enough - an illegal paid organ transplant goes horribly wrong - but Simon is so godawfully frustrating. Every single woman he speaks to tells him to get over himself, but he never gets the hint.

Feb 25, 2016, 11:19am Top

14. Lapham's Quarterly: Religion. Okay, I love the concept - a collection of primary sources around a given topic - but I do not love that, while the topic on the cover is Religion, the first fifty pages are all explanations of why religion is the worst. I've started dreading trying to read this, so instead I'm giving up.

And that's the end of my ROOTs from the American Library Association conference I went to in 2010! Now to work on the 2013 collection...

Feb 25, 2016, 12:31pm Top

>58 jen.e.moore: Oooh, that's rough. Starting with the negative can definitely turn off readers! Dreading to read a book is the perfect reason to give it up :)

Feb 28, 2016, 12:06pm Top

15. The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester - Mostly an interesting story about two men instrumental in the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary and their friendship, but the whole thing kind of soured for me at the end when Winchester says we should be grateful that a human being suffered so terribly from paranoia and fear that he murdered another human being and mutilated himself, because if he hadn't been suffering a project that he helped contribute to might have been delayed by a couple of years.

Mar 3, 2016, 3:01pm Top

First ROOT of the month was a teeny tiny one:

16. On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt - This is an interesting little book, but it felt like it stopped just as it was getting interesting. Frankfurt explores the definition of bullshit, how it differs from lying and humbug, and what its essential nature is. Which is all great, but come on, where do we go from here?

Mar 22, 2016, 9:21am Top

Two this weekend!

17. Uprooted by Naomi Novik - Oh man, this is one of the best books I've read in years. Just the right mix of fairy tale and complete, unwavering humanity. I'm not even sure I can put into words what I loved so much about it. Darn, guess I'll just have to read it again.

18. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent - Based on the story of the last woman executed in Iceland, a maidservant convicted (alongside another woman and a man) of the murder of her master and his guest. It's one of those "let's put a human face on a woman people have spent a lot of time hating" stories, and I have a real soft spot for those, and it's also beautifully told. I found the transitions between first- and third-person narration a little jarring to start with, but it smoothed out pretty quickly.

Mar 22, 2016, 1:48pm Top

>62 jen.e.moore: hee hee, well, at least that one's (Uprooted) already on my wishlist! ;)

Mar 22, 2016, 2:32pm Top

>63 avanders: From everything people were saying about it, I knew I was going to love it, so I saved it up for a time when I really needed it. After a long run of increasingly bleak true crime books from the library, I figured it was about time.

Mar 26, 2016, 12:53pm Top

Did a little tidying up of the ebook collection today. I'm not going to count them on the ticker, but I did get rid of about ten books that I was never going to read. (I'm getting better at resisting the lure of free books, but I had a bunch left over from 2008.)

Mar 26, 2016, 10:15pm Top

19. The Masqueraders by Georgette Heyer - Utterly delightful frothy romance - and not Regency but Georgian! Which somehow, despite the cover, I was not expecting. (I don't read plot summaries of Heyers before I read them, I just dive in.) I had a little bit of trouble sorting out who was who in the first couple of chapters, but once I got a handle on the cast it was lovely. I always love a cross-dressing romance.

Mar 27, 2016, 6:13pm Top

20. A Necessary End by Holly Brown - This is a much better successor to Gone Girl than most of the books that've been marketed that way in the past couple years - pity it didn't take off so well. Adrienne is a tremendous character, manipulative, dangerous, but thoroughly real in the way of real people who will do anything other than admit that they've done bad things.

Mar 29, 2016, 1:34pm Top

21. Book 4 by Aleister Crowley (neither of which have touchstones apparently?) - The first part of this book is an actually rather useful little treatise on meditation and its various strategies; the second part is a list and explanation of the equipment of a Thelemite magician and is the more usual mix of interesting insights, esoteric babbling, and Crowley being mean about Christians.

Mar 30, 2016, 9:13am Top

22. In Search of the Indo-Europeans by J.P. Mallory - A comprehensive overview of the research about the Indo-Europeans (at least as of 1989 when this book was published - I'll have to do some research to find out if anything major has changed in the past thirty years). Mallory frames his narrative as a search for the Indo-European homeland, and in the course of determining that, manages to describe pretty well how both archaeological and linguistic research is done, analyzed, and interpreted; and he covers the major sites and the state of the field in his entire area of interest, which would be basically Central, Northern, and Eastern Europe; Anatolia; and western Asia and the southern steppe region, particularly in the millennia or two around 4000 BC. Really, this book is like a mini-survey course all on its own.

I think that'll be it for March - I've got a library book I want to finish before Friday. But then again, I have a book of Sherlock Holmes stories queued up...

Mar 31, 2016, 9:17pm Top

Squeezing in one more for March! What can I say, I picked out a short one this morning.

23. Robert's Rules of Writing by Robert Masello - Like all writing manuals, there's a hefty dose of the same old advice in here, albeit told over in an appealing tone - kind of like listening to your vaguely crabby favorite uncle explaining to you The Facts of Life. But there was a lot in here, too, that I found fresh, and one or two things genuinely insightful, which is a pretty good rate of hits to misses for something like this.

Apr 1, 2016, 5:26am Top

I think I need to never visit this thread again, far too many interesting books and I'll just end up buying them and adding more ROOT's for next year *sigh*

Apr 15, 2016, 4:51pm Top

24. Rough-Hewn by Dorothy Canfield Fisher - A really wonderful book about figuring out how to live a meaningful life, that unfortunately ends with the romance of the two protagonists. I am all about figuring out how to live a meaningful life, but I am so completely done with love being the answer.

Apr 15, 2016, 5:15pm Top

>72 jen.e.moore: I'm with you Jen on the love thing! I have been married for 40 years so don't get me wrong, I do love my husband. But I see far too many young women (mostly) who feel bad about themselves and take just any man to feel "loved" and a lot of times it ends up very badly. There are so many more ways to have a meaningful life than "love."!

Apr 15, 2016, 5:23pm Top

>73 tess_schoolmarm: Hear, hear! I mean, I don't want to knock the book too badly - there are a lot of other ideas explored in it! But it ends with love, and love fixes the female character's neurosis, and yeah, I am not okay with that.

Apr 16, 2016, 2:55am Top

>74 jen.e.moore: Yeah, because every female psychiatric issue is instantly fixed if she can just find herself a guy, right? I get tired of those types of books as well, like said, you do not need a man to live a meaningful life, and unfortunately, actual psychiatric disorders don't get fixed that easily... I actually think it's better to find yourself something meaningful to do with your life first, and then add a partner to the mix if you wish to, rather than letting everything depend on that partner.

Apr 17, 2016, 11:45am Top

25. Brave Enough by Cheryl Strayed - It's a quote book, its appeal is limited to people who really, really love Cheryl Strayed, but I really, really love Cheryl Strayed, so. (Also I got it as part of a giveaway, which helps.)

Apr 19, 2016, 1:41pm Top

26. (Halfway to my goal!) Spin by Robert Charles Wilson - One day the stars go out - a mysterious membrane has encircled the Earth, and the only thing that gets in is sunlight. And then it's discovered that the membrane doesn't just seal the Earth off in space, but also in time, and eons are passing in the rest of the galaxy to every Earth minute. An excellent balance of good characters and fascinating scifi technology and worldbuilding; I'm excited to get to the sequels. Even if I do have to get them from the library.

Apr 20, 2016, 11:07am Top

>72 jen.e.moore: >73 tess_schoolmarm: >74 jen.e.moore: >75 Britt84: ew yeah. I read a book that de-humanized the women too much.. gave it the lowest possible rating for that reason alone, and have completely boycotted the author since then (despite hearing over and over that one of his other books is actually quite good). Hate that crap.

>76 jen.e.moore: I read Wild, and don't actually like Cheryl Strayed, like, as a person, but I really enjoyed the book and will likely read more of her stuff... maybe including Brave Enough :)

Apr 20, 2016, 2:25pm Top

>78 avanders: >75 Britt84: >73 tess_schoolmarm: Okay, I feel like I'm being unfair to this book now. It really is about figuring out your life and *then* falling in love! And the female character doesn't have a mental illness as such, just an unreasonable distaste for intimacy with men, based in a traumatizing childhood experience that she then overgeneralized. (Of course, it's also a book about how your individual experiences shape your ideas about life.) It's more that perfect romance was presented as a prize (for both the male and female leads) that I objected to: Be Yourself and you'll find your soulmate and everything will be perfect! When I thought the author could have done a creditable job of depicting how falling in love does *not* mean you'll be happy forever.

Also, >78 avanders: You might want to try Tiny Beautiful Things first, a collection of her Dear Sugar advice columns - that's where a lot of the quotes from Brave Enough came from, and how I fell in love. :)

Apr 20, 2016, 9:25pm Top

27. Child Christopher and Goldilind the Fair by William Morris - This reads like nothing so much as Robin Hood fanfiction: disenfranchised beautiful young nobles living among outlaws in the woods, overthrowing tyrants to retake their rightful thrones. The passages about living in the woods are rather lovely, but the plot is...almost non-existent.

Apr 21, 2016, 11:12am Top

>79 jen.e.moore: thanks for the tip! That was on my list of books to consider :)

no worries about being unfair .. your description makes sense and I can still see how that would be frustrating!

Apr 23, 2016, 9:13am Top

28. Metamorphosis by Alaya Dawn Johnson and Kim Stanley Robinson - A handful of reprints and interviews with the WisCon39 Guests of Honor. I really, really enjoyed "A Song to Greet the Sun," I'm almost over zombies but "Love Will Tear Us Apart" is pretty great, "The Lunatics" was surprisingly delightful, and "Zurich" was - well, that was a thing. A good thing, I think, but I'm not sure what to think of it. Apparently I need to read more Kim Stanley Robinson; I liked Red Mars well enough but it didn't make me want to run out and get more the way these stories did.

Apr 28, 2016, 10:59am Top

29. What Lies Beneath the Clock Tower by Margaret Killjoy - Well, as this is a choose-your-own-adventure book, I can't say I've read the *whole* thing, but I did get to at least a dozen different endings, and it's starting to feel repetitive to start over again. This is a pretty delightful choose-your-own-adventure story of steampunk goblin revolution, with a nice variety of twists and turns and endless ingenuity of worldbuilding.

Apr 28, 2016, 1:03pm Top

30. The Fall by Albert Camus - Oh, I know that guy. That's the guy who realizes that he's not as good of a person as he thought he was, and rather than doing the work to make himself a good person, decides to drag everyone else down to his level instead. This is a good portrait of that guy. The problem is, that guy is a jackass I don't want to spend any more time with. Good thing it was short.

Apr 29, 2016, 9:01am Top

>83 jen.e.moore: fun! Have your read the Jane Austen one? Lost in Austen? I've been curious about it... :)

Apr 29, 2016, 2:23pm Top

>85 avanders: Oh, I didn't realize that was a choose-your-own-adventure! I saw the TV adaptation, and it was lots of fun, so I'm going to have to try it.

Apr 29, 2016, 3:28pm Top

Well, it's a good thing I'm ahead on my goal for this year - I'm judging self-published fantasy novels for the LibraryJournal Indie Ebook Awards! First-round judging goes through September, which I didn't realize, but at least that gives me plenty of time. I am super excited. Brand new fantasy novels! (I know it's too much to hope I'll discover the next The Martian or anything, but still.)

Apr 30, 2016, 9:47am Top

I wasn't expecting to get this one finished this month, but it was so good I stayed up last night to finish it!

31. The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater - Wow, this series is so good. One of the things I really like is that even though it's a YA series, there are lots of other important characters besides the central group of teens - Blue's mother Maura gets a great sub-plot in this one, and Mr. Grey is just terrific.

May 3, 2016, 2:23am Top

You are doing great, Jen! How exciting to be on that jury! Have fun and find that one book that's as good as the Martian.

May 3, 2016, 8:57am Top

May 4, 2016, 10:51am Top

>86 jen.e.moore: .. does the tv adaptation in any way indicate that there is a "choice" aspect to the story? I've been curious about the show...

>87 jen.e.moore: very cool!!! If you find something phenomenal, do tell!

>88 jen.e.moore: love it when you find a book like that -- "it was so good I stayed up last night to finish it!" :)

May 4, 2016, 12:13pm Top

>91 avanders: Nope, the adaptation is just a "modern girl dumped in Austen's story" plot - which is fun, as far as that goes. (Not as good as Austenland, but fun.)

May 10, 2016, 5:35pm Top

32. Some of the Best from Tor.com: 2014 Edition. This is a great collection - of so many stories I don't think I could pick out a favorite, and I'm definitely not going to review it item by item like I usually do. This is good stuff, though, with several award-winners and many others that probably should have been.

May 11, 2016, 10:41am Top

33. Havisham by Ronald Frame - I like what he's trying to do - the life story of Miss Catherine Havisham, birth to (after) death - but I don't think it's terribly successful. The success of a story like this hinges on the transition from young, naive Miss Havisham to old, bitter Miss Havisham, and that was the weakest part of the book. Also - she's just too *nice.* Miss Havisham in Great Expectations is a lot of things, but nice isn't one of them.

And that's the last of my ROOTs from the last library/book conference I went to! Just in time, too, because I'm going to Book Expo America tomorrow, where I will probably come back with another big haul...

May 11, 2016, 11:54am Top

>94 jen.e.moore: ooh, I got that book just last month! Unfortunate that you didn't enjoy it :(
I will hold out hope that I will enjoy it more.. perhaps my managed expectations will help? ;D

Have fun at Book Expo America!

May 11, 2016, 2:53pm Top

>95 avanders: Well, as I'm sure you've figured out by now, I'm also incredibly picky. :)

Thanks! I'm hoping I don't come home with *too* many new books...

May 12, 2016, 12:32pm Top

>96 jen.e.moore: I hadn't particularly thought about it, but that's also good to know :)
I'm kind of the opposite.. if I'm hard on a book, it's generally because I felt it was AWful, not just not that great... but as I get older, I notice that I am harder & harder on books. Perhaps more life perspective? Maybe just more good books read, as compared w/ the bad ones? Or maybe there's no rhyme or reason, I'm just getting pickier.... :)

May 13, 2016, 9:00am Top

>96 jen.e.moore: I feel the same way; I'm getting much more picky about books/ratings. I think it's because we read alot, we come to know what good writing is and isn't!

May 14, 2016, 12:30pm Top

I didn't do too badly at BEA - only eleven new books (including the two graphic novels I forgot when I was taking the picture), including Alan Moore's new 1300 page tome. I don't know if I'll ever read it, but I had to try.

May 14, 2016, 10:18pm Top

Ooh, the new Louise Penny! I'm a few books behind. Looks like you had a good haul!

May 16, 2016, 9:55am Top

>99 jen.e.moore: Man that sounds like so much fun!! Someday I'll make it there... :)

May 21, 2016, 1:45pm Top

34. Ordeal by Hunger by George R. Stewart - A history of the Donner Party, originally written in the 1930s and reissued in the 1960s with some new material, including the text of some of the original letters and diaries of the survivors. I read The Indifferent Stars Above, a much more recent history, a few years ago, and I was surprised at how favorably this compares. Stewart doesn't try to make excuses for anyone or to pretty things up; the biggest difference in tone is that he's unambiguously celebrating the heroism of the survivors and rescue parties in a way that's out of fashion today (but not, I think, unwarranted by the facts). I enjoyed this, and I still want to do a road trip along the Donner route one day.

May 21, 2016, 1:58pm Top

>102 jen.e.moore: Sounds list a great read, going to put it on my Wish list. I read a story of the Donner Party written a few years after the event by a young woman who was in the Donner party, but I think she was too young and too naive to know what went on. It wasn't very satisfying.

May 23, 2016, 1:35pm Top

Nice haul, Jen!

May 24, 2016, 1:04pm Top

35. The Shakespeare Book, by DK Publishing. I've always liked these "Big Ideas Simply Explained" books, but even so I was surprised at how good this book was. It's divided into three parts for the three stages of Shakespeare's career, and each play (plus the three long poems and the sonnets all together) has its own section, between four and eight pages long. First there's a summary page, which also includes a timeline (handy for identifying famous speeches and scenes) and dramatis personae, then some description and analysis, along with a history highlighting some notable productions. This is a terrific reference for the Shakespeare nerd or teacher - but I do have to say that it suffers in digital format. It's designed in two-page spreads, and it ought to be read that way.

May 24, 2016, 6:03pm Top

>105 jen.e.moore: I love books by DK, so colorful! I've put this one on my wishlist...hardcover, though, I want to enjoy the pic spreads!

Edited: May 31, 2016, 5:52pm Top

36. Dataclysm by Christian Rudder - Pretty much exactly what I heard about this - there's some interesting numbers here, but not nearly enough interrogation of the assumptions he's making about what those numbers mean. So it's flawed, but it's interesting, in about equal measure.

That'll be it for me for May - I've been at WisCon for the past four/five days, and I don't have enough mental energy left for, well, anything. (And I bought an unholy number of books.)

Jun 3, 2016, 10:40am Top

Awesome progress on your ROOT goal to date! No worries that you don't have energy left ;)
WisCon sounds AWEsome..

Jun 7, 2016, 9:25am Top

37. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, maybe not the smartest thing to read right after WisCon - I'll admit that I read this because I felt like I ought to; I didn't particularly enjoy it. While the overall theme was good, the specific things Huxley was worried about causing the downfall of freedom and human progress are...bizarre, to say the least. There's got to be a more recent novel that does this without harping on about the evils of women. As an ancestor to the genre, it's important, but that doesn't mean it's still the most important thing for people to read now.

Jun 12, 2016, 8:45am Top

>107 jen.e.moore: An unholy number of books

Do tell!

Jun 12, 2016, 9:35am Top

>107 jen.e.moore: >110 connie53: Yes, that sounds most promising :D

Jun 16, 2016, 9:03am Top

>110 connie53:, >111 rabbitprincess: Looks like total haul from the con was 15, plus another dozen or so from buying the Small Beer Press Humble Bundle, and then I went book shopping for my birthday... I forgot to take a picture of the haul before I put them away, so here's all books acquired in 2016. (I keep them in a storage ottoman so I don't forget and count them as ROOTs when they're not. ;) )

Jun 16, 2016, 6:48pm Top

I spy Louise Penny! Exciting!! :) (I'm only up to How the Light Gets In, which wrapped things up so well that I'm undecided about continuing with the series...)

Jun 18, 2016, 12:51pm Top


Jun 18, 2016, 2:50pm Top


Jun 20, 2016, 10:07am Top

>112 jen.e.moore: fun!! Love the pic :)

Jul 19, 2016, 10:47am Top

38. The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife, and the Missing Corpse by Piu Marie Eatwell - This was an entertaining story of a complex little scandal in Victorian England - a lower-class London woman claimed that her dead husband was, secretly, the 5th Duke of Portland, and that therefore her son was the legitimate 6th Duke. And then it turns out that her husband had had an earlier wife, and so those sons (and grandsons) started coming forward to claim the title...meanwhile, no one can get the grave open to confirm whether or not this guy was actually buried where he was supposed to be. There are a lot of people in this story, many of them very strange, and Eatwell does a good job of bringing each one of them into clear view and keeping them distinct and sympathetic as well as interesting.

Looks like I'm finally back on track with ROOTing - I've been distracted by library books, new books, and mostly podcasts. (Two seasons of Serial is a lot to catch up on!) But I've exhausted my book budget, which means now it's time to get back to reading. ;)

Jul 22, 2016, 11:39am Top

39. The Door to Lost Pages by Claude Lalumiere - A collection of short stories about a transient magical bookshop - I like the themes, but this wasn't particularly outstanding for me.

Jul 23, 2016, 7:15pm Top

40. Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase - There were more gothic tropes thrown at this story than I think the resolution ultimately deserved, but I enjoyed it nonetheless - even if there weren't any ghosts. Gothic stories need ghosts, and not just metaphorical ones.

Jul 24, 2016, 10:59am Top

>119 jen.e.moore: Ghosts or at least a crazy woman locked in the attick should be required elements in all gothic stories!

Jul 24, 2016, 11:27am Top

>120 Henrik_Madsen: Hear, hear! Fortunately yesterday's library book had the ghost of a woman trapped in an old Victorian home, so I am satisfied. :)

Jul 31, 2016, 2:50am Top

Just popping in and saying 'Hi' to you, Jen!

Jul 31, 2016, 1:13pm Top

>122 connie53: Hi, connie! Hope your reading is going well this summer, and it's not too hot where you are!

Aug 3, 2016, 11:10am Top

>123 jen.e.moore: I like 'hot' better than the constant rain we have had for the last couple of days. But my reading is doing just fine.

Aug 3, 2016, 12:49pm Top

>124 connie53: Hah, and I'd much, much rather have the rain. But I'm in the wrong part of the country, I think - the midwest is gonna get months of heat with little to no rain every year, so I really should know better.

Aug 15, 2016, 10:28am Top

41. A Fine and Private Place by Peter S. Beagle - This had all the sweetness and poetry I've come to expect from Peter S. Beagle, with just the right tinge of heartbreak along with it. I liked his ghosts, slowly forgetting who they are until they almost-disappear, and I liked Mrs. Klapper, and I liked the ambiguity of the ending, but something about the whole of it together wasn't great for me.

Aug 23, 2016, 8:36pm Top

42. Slade House by David Mitchell - This was tremendously creepy, escalating in a beautifully surreal dream-setting until a very satisfying conclusion. This is the first David Mitchell book I've read; I think I'll have to read more.

Aug 27, 2016, 9:07am Top

43. Uncanny Magazine Issue Eight - The Virgin Played Bass by Maria Dahvana Headley - Horror-surrealist Russian war fairy tale retellings, full of blood and miracles? I'm into it.
Lotus Face and the Fox by Nghi Vo - This was a beautifully atmospheric story with a very powerful piece of identity-magic that I'm honestly not sure how to describe. I liked it a lot, though.
The Creeping Women by Christopher Barzak - Oh, this is a delight -- The Yellow Wallpaper told from the sister-in-law's point of view, trying to save herself in a bad situation.
The Sincerity Game by Brit Mandelo - A damn sexy werewolf story (for once; I normally hate sexy werewolves) with a gender-ambiguous narrator, so neatly done I almost didn't notice. Nice.
The Desert Glassmaker and the Jeweler of Berevyar by Rose Lemberg - The exchange of letters between two distant magician-artisans; lovely and moving.
The Spy Who Never Grew Up by Sara Rees Brennan - What if Peter Pan grew up just a tiny bit and became James Bond? A fun little piece of fanfiction.

Also essays on gatekeeping, Star Wars, creating a welcoming community, and unearthing our ancestors in the SFF world; some delightful poems ('tended, tangled, and veined' hit me where I live) and the usual excellent interviews. All in all a very good issue.

Aug 27, 2016, 8:51pm Top

44. Whaling Days in Old Hawaii by Maxine Mrantz - I'm almost embarrassed to count this as a ROOT, it's so short and I've had it for so long! But I've bought a lot of books this month, so I'm trying to get through some short ones quickly. :) This is a tiny forty-page pamphlet, so obviously it's not going to go into much detail, but even so I found its biases...interesting. It's still new info for someone who, like me, knows virtually nothing about the history of Hawaii, and as such a decent launching point for more research.

Aug 29, 2016, 12:13pm Top

Hi! I couldn't possibly catch up on the threads after my crazy-long absence, but I just wanted to say hi :)

Aug 29, 2016, 1:01pm Top

>130 avanders: No worries. Hi! Glad to see you back! :)

Aug 29, 2016, 1:14pm Top

Glad to be back! :)

Aug 30, 2016, 2:11am Top

>127 jen.e.moore: That was the book that got me hooked on David Mitchell!

Aug 30, 2016, 2:02pm Top

Also, I notice you only have 8 to go until you meet your ROOT goal... awesome!

>127 jen.e.moore: >133 connie53: ooooh, I agree! :)

Aug 31, 2016, 2:45pm Top

45. Black Wings Has My Angel by Elliott Chaze - When I started reading this, I thought, "Oh, it's a poor man's The Postman Always Rings Twice," and having finished it that's not far off but it does this book a little bit of a disservice. It's not a cheap knockoff, at least no more than any noir fiction is, and if anything it's a little more socially aware than _The Postman_. I'm not sure the ending and the frame story work together, but overall I enjoyed it a lot.

Sep 11, 2016, 12:28pm Top

46. Dead Wake by Erik Larson - Another excellent history from Larson. My favorite thing about his books is the way he describes all the various pieces surrounding the central issue, both large and small; it's like watching a historian do their work, and it gives so much context. I love history that explains context. I knew a little bit about the Lusitania before I read this (acquired during the course of my teenage Titanic obsession; they tend to be talked about in the same breath) but I certainly didn't know that there's a very good chance that Winston Churchill let it happen, or that it took two years for Wilson to give his famous speech about making the world safe for democracy, or just how very close it came to not happening at all.

Sep 11, 2016, 2:38pm Top

>136 jen.e.moore: That is on my TBR list. I've read the one he wrote about the first world's fair and a serial killer--it was a bit better than average, but nothing to rave about. But, I've heard from others Dead Wake is better.

Sep 12, 2016, 11:25am Top

>137 tess_schoolmarm: I do think it's better, and Devil in the White City is one of my favorite nonfiction books! (But I love reading about serial killers, so.) He's definitely getting better at integrating all the pieces, if that makes sense; I thought Devil in the White City felt a little random at times, where everything in Dead Wake follows logically from everything else.

I'm going to have to read In the Garden of Beasts now, even though I usually avoid history with Nazis.

Sep 15, 2016, 1:10pm Top

47. Freaks of Nature by Mark S. Blumberg - One of the problems I always had with biology was the way people described genes - a gene for this, a gene for that, these genes code for these results - and I could never figure out how that worked. I mean, yes, genes carry a lot of information, but living animals are incredibly complex, do they really carry that much information? Reading this book was the first time I think I really got that no, they don't; the system is much more complicated than that. Blumberg uses "freaks," developmental anomalies, to explain the evo-devo principles of feedback in complex systems, and does it pretty successfully. Unfortunately he's decided to package it all under a salacious title that doesn't prepare you for the fairly heavy science in the text and which leads to some...really unfortunate ways of talking about nontypical humans. Content warning for transphobic language and body-diversity-positive ideas couched in some really ableist language.

Sep 15, 2016, 3:39pm Top

48. Captive by Megan Lisa Jones - Slow, slow, incredibly slow, and entirely without tension. I gave it 50 pages and gave up.

Sep 18, 2016, 3:07am Top

Happy Sunday, Jen!

Sep 19, 2016, 11:34am Top

49. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern - This was gorgeous, why did I wait so long to read it? (She says for the six millionth time about the six millionth book, possibly answering the question.) Someone told me that the main characters weren't all that interesting but the setting was perfect, which I think isn't quite true -- the main characters are very much fairy tale characters, and they are important to the extent that the story they live in is important, and the story is a key part of the circus, but it is all in service of the setting, the beautiful, perfect circus that trumps everything else. But it is a satisfying story as well, with a satisfying end.

Sep 19, 2016, 1:57pm Top

>142 jen.e.moore: I thought so too, Jen. Loved that book.

Edited: Sep 22, 2016, 10:26am Top

>137 tess_schoolmarm: >138 jen.e.moore: wow! Good to know that Dead Wake is better - I really enjoyed Devil in the White City! On the TBR list it must go...

>142 jen.e.moore: >143 connie53: ooooh I thought so too! :)

Sep 23, 2016, 4:50pm Top

50. It Harrows Me With Fear and Wonder by Sarah Monette - This is actually the dissertation of one of my favorite fantasy/horror writers, on revenge tragedy and the construction of horror. As someone with an academic lit crit background, I found it good, chewy stuff, even though I wasn't familiar with most of the Jacobean plays she discusses. It is very, very academic, though.

Edited: Sep 29, 2016, 11:27am Top

51. Deathless by Cathrynne M. Valente - This book was incredible, fairy tales and Russian history all twined up together until you can't tell them apart, beautiful and bloody and all about getting what you want and finding out how terrible it was for you, and doing it again and again and again. I cannot describe how much I loved this book.

(Only one more ROOT to go to hit my main goal! I won't get it by the end of the month, but probably this weekend.)

Oct 7, 2016, 5:57pm Top

So it's October, so I thought, Great! I'll check out all the horror books on my library wishlist, and I'll read some ROOTs, too.

Well, now I have 24 library books checked out, and it's barely made a dent in my library wishlist. Good thing I work here so they don't charge me fines.

Edited: Oct 8, 2016, 9:21am Top

52. Occult America by Mitch Horowitz - This is an interesting and nicely sympathetic overview of the popular occult tradition in America, but it's covering so much material in such a short space (only 250 pages!) that it's necessarily very shallow. Still, it's a decent overview, and I did learn about a few people I wasn't already familiar with.

And that's my ROOT goal for the year! I'll keep reading, for sure -- I've bought way too many books this year, so now my goal is to get back down to the number of ROOTs I had on January 1st. Only, er, 33 more to go...

Oct 8, 2016, 6:52pm Top

Congrats on reaching your goal!

Oct 9, 2016, 6:55am Top

Wow, congratulations!

Oct 9, 2016, 10:02am Top

Woohoo!! Congratulations!!

Oct 9, 2016, 2:07pm Top

Brilliant, well done!

Oct 9, 2016, 2:20pm Top

Good job, Jen!

Oct 15, 2016, 7:38am Top

Some might think having 33 more ROOTs is some kind of failure, but I don't think it's perfectly natural. Book reading is very much connected to book buying, at least for me, because reading books always inspires me to read (and buy) other books. Most years I'll buy more books than I read, and my net number of ROOTs have gone up with 10-15 books this year.

Oct 18, 2016, 9:30am Top

53. Chapelwood by Cherie Priest - I didn't like this one as much as the first book in the series, but maybe that's because it was just Too Real for me right now -- a racist church trying to awaken dread Cthulu. But I also felt that the returning characters weren't as strong as they could have been, although I did like our new heroine Ruth very much.

Oct 23, 2016, 12:17pm Top

54. Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman - Hit or miss, as all story collections are, but more misses this time than I'm used to from a Neil Gaiman collection. I'd seen quite a few of these stories before; of the ones that were new to me, I liked "Feminine Endings" (a good combination of sweet and creepy) and "The Sleeper and the Spindle" (a nice twist on fairy tales) the best. "The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains" is still fantastic, but I like it better with the illustrations. The Doctor Who story, "Nothing O'Clock," was pretty good.

Also, it seems the ARC didn't include all the stories in it, so now I'm going to have to check it out of the library to read the Shadow story. Botheration.

Oct 31, 2016, 9:34pm Top

55. Dante's Purgatorio by Sandow Birk and Marcus Sanders
56. Dante's Paradiso by Sandow Birk and Marcus Sanders

I bought and read the Inferno ages ago, but I finally got around to reading all three in one go. I'm...glad I did it, but I'm glad it's over.

A modern vernacular adaptation of the Divine Comedy in three volumes. The best part of these is the art, by far; gorgeous line drawings in the style of Gustav Dore engravings, but entirely in a modern setting. Sometimes they work as illustrations for the poem, sometimes they're too ironic for their own good. (I liked the illustrations in the Paradiso best, though; there's something moving about Paradise set in a modern city, populated entirely by normal-looking modern people.)

The adapters have used almost painfully casual language for the text, which works in getting across the impact of Dante writing in Italian instead of Latin, but I do think they've made the worst possible choices for it -- if you're going to update the language and the metaphors, why not update all the Yelling About Politics sections so that they mean something to a modern audience? A few contemporary names scattered in amongst the sinners really doesn't cut it. And with no poetry to speak of (they haven't bothered trying to capture even the rhyme scheme, which seems like a lost opportunity for a hip-hop Commedia) there's absolutely nothing of interest in at least 50% of the thing.

Nov 2, 2016, 10:34am Top

A little belated, but Congratulations on meeting your ROOT goal!

Nov 3, 2016, 11:16am Top

>158 avanders: Thanks!

(And thanks everyone else, too!)

Nov 5, 2016, 5:57pm Top

First ROOT for November is #57 for the year, Uncanny Magazine Issue Nine. Around the theme of love, I think.

"Love is Never Still" by Rachel Swirsky - a Galatea story, with the sculptor made somehow even more unlikable than usual, and an interesting look at the gods and their relationships.

"The Shadow Collector" by Shveta Thakrar - an Indian fantasy about a royal gardener who cares for the girls who grow from flowers, and has a hobby of stealing the shadows from visitors, who makes a serious mistake and a dramatic restitution.

"Big Thrull and the Askin' Man" by Max Gladstone - Is this a troll legend? I think this is a troll legend. Even trolls have stories about bigger and more badass folks. (And also a story of the ever-growing "humans are scary, don't mess with them" genre.) Delightful.

"The Wolf and the Tower Unwoven" by Kelly Sandoval - And speaking of "humans are scary..." The story of a wolf-turned-human, his quest to become a wolf again, and the witch who helps him. About family, and going home, and being changed. Heartbreaking and excellent.

"The Artificial Bees" by Simon Guerrier - a rather adorable post-apocalyptic story about robots and (possibly) the last man on earth. (Bio notes that the author is a Doctor Who writer, which doesn't surprise me at all.)

Reprint: "Just Another Future Song" by Daryl Gregory - I mean, if I described this as a horror story about David Bowie and the Singularity, it wouldn't be *wrong.*

Also including the essays: "Men of Their Times," an essay by Jim C. Hines on why we should stop making excuses for historical racism (the basic two-word rebuttal to the "but historical context" argument: Mister Rogers); "Furry Fandom" by Kyell Gold about, well, furry fandom; "The Transmigration of George R. R. Martin" by Javier Grillo–Marxuach, about the titular man's increasingly weird (massively successful, but deeply weird) career as an illustration of the Phildickian worldview; and "Closing the Gap: The Blurring of Fan and Professional" by Mark Oshiro, about being a fan professionally, which is much better than most such essays are.

Foxgirl Cycle Song: 1 by C. S. E. Cooney. I want the music for this.
The Book of Forgetting by Jennifer Crow, a heartbreak poem that's as much Wiccan as fantasy
god–date by Brandon O’Brien, a sweet little love story

And interviews with Rachel Swirsky and Simon Guerrier.

Nov 6, 2016, 1:10pm Top

58. Broca's Brain by Carl Sagan - Carl Sagan is a classic of science writing, and I've enjoyed his fiction, but unfortunately he doesn't hold up too well. Sometimes it's easy to tell when the science is dated, particularly when he's talking about upcoming missions in the 1980s, but sometimes you have to know enough contemporary science to stay ahead of him. And although I've always heard he's great at making science seem romantic and exciting...well, a lot of these essays were lists of facts. Sometimes facts are cool! But if you're not a fact person, it's not all that compelling on the whole. Science writing has advanced a lot since Sagan; I can only imagine he'd be pleased by that, but I can't really recommend him to modern readers.

Dec 4, 2016, 9:09pm Top

Woo, getting back into it after a really rough November - Root #58 is We Never Talk About My Brother by Peter S. Beagle. I continue to be impressed at Beagle's range; every time I read a story of his I think he must have spent decades honing his mastery of that particular subgenre, and then he goes on and writes something completely different. My favorites in this collection were "Uncle Chaim and Aunt Rifke and the Angel," about an angel who shows up one day insisting she's a painter's muse; "The Unicorn Tapestries," a poem cycle based on the famous works of art; "Chandail," a story about healing; and the title story, about good and evil and family.

Dec 5, 2016, 10:45am Top

>162 jen.e.moore: woo hoo! It's nice getting back to it :)

Dec 5, 2016, 10:48am Top

>163 avanders: It is! Yesterday was perfect for it, too; it snowed all day from 8 in the morning to 6 at night, and I didn't have anywhere to be. Of course, now I want to do the same thing today, but I have to be at work... *sigh*

Dec 5, 2016, 10:54am Top

Oh how lovely - I would love a day like that!!

Dec 7, 2016, 3:36pm Top

60. Great Folk Tales of Old Ireland by Mary McGarry - This one had a rating but no review, so I assume I've read it before, but I couldn't remember anything about it. After reading, I bumped the rating up -- although there are a couple of stories written in maddening dialect, overall I enjoyed it. This is an extremely varied collection, with everything from fifteen-page stories of the Fianna to half-page vignettes that are more elaborate jokes than anything. It's fairly evenly split between folktales and mythology, and includes a few stories I don't have in any of my other Irish collections (including two stories about Clanmacnoise, one about Brigit, and a fairly fabulous Pooka tale). Also, although it includes the Oisin story, it's not the last story in the collection for once, which I deeply appreciate.

Dec 7, 2016, 7:13pm Top

And getting rid of another one very quickly - 61. The Hobbit and History, edited by Nancy R. Reagin. I wanted to be excited about this book (I'm ready to gear up for Tolkienmas!), but the essays here are tremendously shallow, both of history and of literary analysis. If it's never occurred to you to read history before, or that fantasy fiction might be based on actual history, this might be interesting; if you're a fan of such topics, this book is incredibly skippable.

Dec 11, 2016, 3:11pm Top

62. Path of Delft by Muriel Byers Kooi - A short, simple little book about the founding of my hometown. I've heard the story my whole life, but I've been meaning to incorporate some details into a science fiction colonization story, so it was time for a reread.

Dec 11, 2016, 5:50pm Top

>168 jen.e.moore: It's so cool that you are from Delft. I've never been there (or to The Netherlands/Holland), but when I read The Girl with the Pearl Earring there was a bit in there about Delft blue tiles so I've done a bit of research and really did love it.

Dec 13, 2016, 10:32am Top

>169 tess_schoolmarm: Nope, not from Delft - I'm from Pella, Iowa. :D It's a little town founded by Dutch immigrants in the 1840s, and the story is that the founder's wife brought barrels of Delft china with her from the Netherlands and when she finally unpacked them they were all broken, so they made a path from the sod house they first lived in to the big new house they built. (Apparently they dug up a bunch of it when they built the highway in the 1930s.) I've never been to the Netherlands either, but I hope to go someday!

Dec 17, 2016, 7:10pm Top

>170 jen.e.moore: Wow, what a great story!

Dec 17, 2016, 11:55pm Top

Some philosophy for a lazy Saturday.

63. Apologia by Plato - An account of Socrates's defense at his trial. I was intrigued to find that a large portion of the introduction was reminding the reader that there's no way to know if this is really what Socrates said; it seems to me that it was much more forceful on the point than I'm used to. The introduction otherwise is a little redundant, but the text is clear and interesting - even moving. I am intrigued by the similarity of Socrates's claim that he is wise only because he knows that he knows nothing and the Zen emphasis on beginner's mind. I very much like his stance that evil is doing things carelessly; and, of course, this is a very good entry in the catalog of reminders that survival is not the highest aspiration of life.

(Coincidentally, if this really was Socrates's defense at his trial, it's no wonder he was sentenced to death.

I hope this is what Socrates was really like.)

64. Symposium by Plato - The introduction in this one goes completely off the rails when it starts getting into homoromantic relationships, which is simultaneously hilarious and offputting. Fully a third of the introduction is dedicated to explaining that Plato didn't *really* mean that men loved each other like that, and if he did that doesn't mean it really happened like that, and if it did that doesn't mean that the Greeks were not good, manly men. (Never mind that Plato makes a point of arguing with Aeschylus over whether Achilles was a top or a bottom.)

A treatise on the nature and purposes of love; not my favorite subject, to be sure, but still interesting enough. I like the structure of several people talking around the point and one tying it all together; this seems like the most useful way to address such a massive and amorphous subject. I do quite like the conceit of Love as the messenger and mediator between gods and mortals. If you believe the prudish introduction, the rest of it is mostly leading toward the Platonic ideal of beauty, with a perverted comic bit tacked on the end, but I'm inclined not to believe the introduction, and to consider the comic bit something of an illustration of Socrates's earlier points, which is rather neatly done.

65. Phaedo by Plato - The introduction to this one seems related to the text only in that they're both on the same subject; it's not introducing Plato as much as it's lining up a more modern set of questions about the soul and immortality. Which is fine, as far as it goes, but it goes...all over the place. (Either that or it's trying to apologize that Plato isn't Christian; I'm not entirely sure which.)

But Plato isn't at all Christian, as is clear by the very first discussion of death being a *leaving* of the gods, rather than a going to join them. Or the cyclical nature of life and death, or the suggestion (even though rejected) that the body might sometimes outlive the soul. This is the kind of thing that's fascinating even if you disagree with it in every particular, simply because it's so *different* - and yet similar, too, in the places where Plato was used by the medieval theologians.

There's a really interesting idea to be picked out if you combine Socrates's argument about knowledge already had at birth implying the persistence of the soul and what we now know about instincts and biology (plus a rejection of Cartesian Dualism), but I don't know if anyone's done that yet.

Dec 18, 2016, 9:24pm Top

66. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, and Sir Orfeo translated by J.R.R. Tolkien - I'm mostly here for Sir Gawain; Pearl is very much medieval theology, and thus interesting primarily for academic reasons, and Sir Orfeo is an interesting retelling of Orpheus set in England with faeries but of that style of poetry that's liable to put you to sleep if you don't pay close attention. The Sir Gawain, however, is fantastic, and if you can parse the deep language of academia, the translation notes are rather enlightening on medieval English styles of poetry.

67. is the House on the Rock gift book I bought last October - not much text, and what there is is not particularly enlightening (except that it does say flat out that some of the stuff in the collections was designed specifically for this collection, which I'd always suspected), but it has the best pictures of the House I've ever seen. There aren't enough pictures of the Organ Room for my tastes; but then, you could never have enough pictures of the Organ Room for my tastes.

Dec 19, 2016, 1:46pm Top

>173 jen.e.moore: oooh House on the Rock -- I assume you've been? I went when I was just a little girl, but I remember it being spectacular!

Dec 19, 2016, 2:19pm Top

>174 avanders: I love it! It's one of my favorite places in the world, and yes, it is spectacular. :D I can't wait to see what they do with it in the American Gods miniseries.

Dec 19, 2016, 3:55pm Top

>175 jen.e.moore: ooooh yeah, that will be so interesting!

Dec 20, 2016, 9:00am Top

Some tie-ins yesterday:

68. Doctor Who and the War Games by Malcolm Hulke - Ooof, people told me that this story was rough, but kidnapping people and making them fight World War I over and over, world without end? I didn't think fiction could make WWI worse, but I was wrong. The book is perfectly standard for these novelizations: a little dull, hits all the main plot points, useful and interesting if you can't get your hands on the episode but otherwise forgettable.

69. Star Trek: Planet of Judgement by Joe Haldeman - this was outstanding: 150 pages of tremendously interesting SF ideas and a terrific grasp of the Kirk/Spock/Bones dynamic (which is really all I want out of my Star Trek novels). I could have done without the five-page recap of Amok Time, but eh.

Dec 20, 2016, 3:51pm Top

70. Uncanny Magazine Issue Ten - "Ye Highlands and Ye Lowlands" by Seanan McGuire - a fairly prosaic unintended consequences/first contact story, but I liked it.
"The Sound of Salt and Sea" by Kat Howard - a terrific, resonant, mythical story about the rituals of the returning dead and their attendants; reminds me strongly of Stiefvater's The Scorpio Races - not just in the kelpie-like creatures, but in the prose and the almost dreamlike island setting.
"The Blood that Pulses in the Veins of One" by JY Yang - an incredible, incredible second-person story about two immortal, regenerating, cannibalistic aliens who share memory in their flesh, ripped away from the community of their fellows - I loved this, a lot
"You'll Surely Drown Here If You Stay" by Alyssa Wong - a weird west necromancer story, with a company town, and multiple powers working not entirely at cross-purposes, and a young shapeshifter who knows who he is. I like this, but it didn't reach into my gut and grab me like "Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers."
"The Drowning Line" by Haralambi Markov - a seductive story about an ancestral family haunting; eerie and oppressive.
"The Plague Givers" by Kameron Hurley - cranky old queer warrior women making stuffed animals! Nonconformity to nonbinary genders! Creepy, weird, disease-based magic! I love Kameron Hurley.

Plus an essay on how we think about diversity from Foz Meadows, one on gaming communities from Tanya DePass, and two on Labyrinth from Sarah Monette (about how it's a movie about saying no to sexualized femininity, which really sheds a whole new light on why I love it so much) and Stephanie Zvan (about the dubious value of that exact same thing). And poetry: "Deeper than Pie" by Beth Cato, about grandmother magic; "Brown woman at Safety Beach, Victoria, in June" by M Sereno, about a dream of dragons; "Alamat" by Isabel Yap, about folktale women. And interviews with Kat Howard and Alyssa Wong. Overall a good, solid issue.

(And that brings me down to just...18 more books to read in the next 12 days to get me back under 300 ROOTs! I'm probably going to be weeding a few from my shelves, which will help, but I've got a lot of reading to do if I want to help mitigate the sheer number of books I bought this summer. I tell you what, this is a good problem to have.)

Dec 22, 2016, 5:27pm Top

71. The Hornblower Companion by C.S. Forester - Aubrey has long since surpassed Hornblower in my affections, and so I put off reading this book for far too long. The commentary accompanying the maps is not terribly useful if you haven't read the books in more than ten years (although I'm sure the maps are a lovely auxiliary to the books as you're reading them), but Forester's memoirs of the process of writing the novels are utterly delightful. I enjoy his description of the way his ideas grow - like barnacles growing upon timbers submerged in a kind of subconscious ooze - and find it very familiar. I recommend this as much as a writing book as anything else.

(And I've been reading quite a few newly-acquired books that don't count as ROOTs, too - plus a stack of four of them are coming home with me for Christmas. I might make that 300 goal after all!)

Dec 23, 2016, 9:19am Top

72. In and Around Historic Warrenville by Leone Schmidt - This is not a narrative history, but rather the individual history of a number of historic buildings in town, most of which are no longer standing. Comments on what (or who) is there now are the opposite of helpful, since this book is thirty years old and street names have changed, buildings have been demoed, and people have moved on. As befits a local historian who still lives in the town she's writing about, Schmidt mentions interesting scandals briefly but passes over them without giving any detail. Overall the effect is of listening to an old-timer tell slightly disjointed stories about people you don't know and places you've never seen. I'm disappointed, but not surprised.

Dec 23, 2016, 9:25am Top

Dec 23, 2016, 10:27pm Top

Dec 27, 2016, 9:28am Top

73. On the drive to my family's and back, The Disaster Artist by Greg Sestero, an audiobook. Equal parts hilarious and tragic - frequently at the same time - this is the story of Greg Sestero's friendship with the enigmatic Tommy Wiseau, and the filming of The Room, the worst movie ever made. I did actually come away from this feeling kind of sorry for Tommy sometimes. (And then sometimes he's an outrageous asshole, and then sometimes he's just a space alien.) And now I actually kind of want to watch The Room again. I highly recommend the audiobook; although Sestero's narration is sometimes choppy (weirdly so for an actor), his Tommy Wiseau impression more than makes up for it.

Edited: Dec 27, 2016, 4:14pm Top

And I am giving up on The Sundering Flood, since I have spent the past three weeks doing everything I can to avoid reading it. While I find the very existence of this book fascinating - it's almost a very slow literary exploration of life, but it's set in a medievalish fantasy world - it is not, in fact, anything I particularly enjoy.

(And while we're at it, let's go ahead and mention the Target novelization of The Caves of Androzani and The Complete Inspector Morse, both of which were of interest at one point but which I'm not going to get to. So that's 74, 75, and 76 removed from my TBR shelf.)

(And a Carl Sagan book I thought I'd removed months ago! 77.)

Edited: Dec 30, 2016, 11:25am Top

78. The Jefferson Bible - I picked this up because it was recommended to me as "Jesus without the magic," which it turns out is not quite what it is (nor quite what I was interested in). But like any "best of" list, the most entertaining part of this is arguing with the selections -- "divorce is adultery" is in (twice!) but not the loaves and the fishes? I get wanting to take out the miracles, but in the process Jefferson's managed to remove everything that made it sound like the guy had a sense of humor. I was prepared to be annoyed by duplication, but it turns out that putting in the same story told in different gospels gives a remarkable effect of veracity.

And that's probably it for the year, since I have plans all weekend - but I've got a little bit of weeding left to do, so I'm hoping to get back down to under 300 ROOTs to start the year again.

Dec 30, 2016, 12:33pm Top

All right, three more out of the ebook collection, and that brings me to 83 ROOTs removed from my shelves this year. And that's not counting the newly purchased books I read this year! (There were a lot. But then, I bought a lot of books this year, too, so...)

Dec 30, 2016, 7:03pm Top

Excellent work! :D

Jan 2, 2017, 7:04pm Top

Happy New Year! See you in the new 2017 group... :)


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