libraryperilous (diana.n) maneuvers around TBR dragons and BB trolls in 2018
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I started Green Dragon and 75 Books threads in 2017, and, well:
My goal for 2018 is to maintain this thread as a check on my reading impulses. I'm not going to count the number of books—sacrilege! I'll do monthly recaps, but I'll use this thread to make sure my reading stays on track. I've become too enamored of marking books off my TBR list and trying out genres that weren't right for me (looking at you, contemporary romance and literary fiction about dysfunctional families). 2018 is going to be my return to reading more closely and deeply in genres about which I care.
My other 2018 reading goal is to—finally—start my Reading Through Time project, in which I work my way through histories of the world and science one nonfiction book at a time.
Some LT goals for 2018:
Currently reading: The Radium Girls and raging against the injustice of it all.
Welcome to the 2018 Challenge! I read Radium Girls last year, and as you, raged against the injustice of it. I've worked with dangerous stuff in the past and have a deep appreciation for what these women went through to try to get recompense for what was done to them. And I'm a big believer in government oversight of workplace safety because of it. And I'm also glad their story is finally being told.
About my reading life:
My fiction interests are classics, hard sci-fi, historical fiction, and historical mysteries. I occasionally also enjoy cozy mysteries featuring magical cats, doom-laden WWII-set spy thrillers, literature in translation, and traditional Regencies.
My main nonfiction interests are Egyptology, international relations, old- and new-school nature writing, political science, travelogues, and zoology (esp. marine biology).
Fiction catnip: cathedral building, cross-dressing women who stow away on ships, found families, maps, monks, monks with maps, stained glass, storms at sea—and ill-starred voyages to far-flung locales.
I also enjoy children's picture books and middle grade historical fiction featuring spunky girls.
Hi, Diana. Your Reading Through Time project sounds intriguing. I'll snoop from time to time if you don't mind!
>3 drneutron: Thank you, and thank you for your hard work in setting up the group.
I've not finished The Radium Girls yet, but I haven't been this angry over a book since Killers of the Flower Moon. What's especially enraging is how contemporary both these books feel.
I also made the mistake of wondering over to reviews of The Radium Girls. It didn't take me too long to find "both sides need to be told!" complaints.
>6 libraryperilous: Yup, I'm not surprised that there would be calls like that. Interestingly, I'm in the middle of Killers of the Flower Moon right now. Both are indeed so contemporary.
If you haven't found him yet, you should keep an eye on Mark's (msf59) thread. He and I share a lot of narrative nonfiction back and forth, a good source for recommendations.
>7 libraryperilous: Hm, I've clearly read it, but so long ago I didn't enter any review. Maybe a good candidate for a reread this year!
Hi Diana, I have dropped my star off dear friend and look forward to visiting regularly in 2018.
Hi Diana! Just taking a peek over here and dropping a star so I can find my way back. I finished Radium Girls this month and was also outraged by the injustice of it all (along with being outraged about the terrible writing ;-) ). Your comment about it feeling so contemporary is spot on and something I wanted to say about it but couldn't articulate. I have Killers of the Flower Moon on my List, so hopefully I'll get to it in 2018...
>9 ffortsa: I've been thinking of rereading it in 2018 myself. I found this very interesting blog post. I don't remember passivity and dependence on men! In fact, I remember thinking it was a super angry, SCUM Manifesto-type book. Definitely must reread.
>10 BBGirl55:, >11 johnsimpson:, >12 katiekrug: Hello, thank you, and welcome.
I think I finally understand why people use stars in this group, so I'm off to find your own threads and mark them.
>12 katiekrug: Ha! The prose is rather turgid, is it not? ... And there are so many ... ellipses ... But I do like the info dumping, and I appreciate that she portrays so many of the girls. It helps to show the scope of the disaster.
A couple of reviews here on LT complain that the girls are portrayed as happy-go-lucky and nice. Umm, they were teenagers and young women. What, they were supposed to be miserable all the time because they were poor? I also resented the implication that the injustice would have mattered less if the women were all terrible people.
Anyway, the moral of the story is don't read reviews, a lesson I shall be applying going forward. :)
>8 drneutron: Thanks. I'll drop a star on that one and follow along for recs.
Found and starred! Have fun getting back to your basics this year. Another Radium Girls fan--the book, not the gross negligence or the writing. ; )
>16 thornton37814: Thank you, Lori!
Ugh. I decided to go back on a vegan diet in 2018. I don't like meat anyway, so why eat it? However, I 1) loathe cooking and 2) can't cook. So I'm trying to find a fresh vegan cookbook with easy recipes. I thought I'd found a winner, but it turns out the author thinks 60 minutes is an easy meal. Also, there were so many recipes with meat analogues like TVP. Back to Amazon to dig further.
Honestly, what I think I really need to do is learn how to use vinegars, herbs, and spices to make simple spice blends, dressings, and sauces. I like fresh fruits and vegetables and beans and grains. It shouldn't be too hard to be a smidge fancier and maybe make a cool vegan taco, right?
Anyway, I'm not doing a very good job of deserving your stars, am I? :)
Vegetables can be prepared quite easily. Something really yummy and good are pan-roasted veggies. Just a little olive oil in the pan and cat the veggies and add salt, pepper, and/or other seasonings. A friend of mine served brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes, and cauliflower (if I remember the 3rd veggie) that way for our annual Library Ladies luncheon. She'd tried to find beets, but couldn't find any that looked good. I love a good baked sweet potato. A lot of veggies are good with just basic preparation. The older I get, the less meat I eat.
>17 libraryperilous: - I also hate to cook. But I do like meat, so it's a bit easier for me to find easy, fool-proof stuff to make. 60 minutes is most definitely not fast or easy.
My star remains fixed. You should see some of the random crap I talk about...
Dropping my own star. Anyone whose reading interests range to "maps, monks, monks with maps" has earned it.
It wouldn't qualify as vegan, but I have a mushroom/goat cheese quiche in the fridge waiting for me to eat when I shake this cold. Thank you, WholeFoods. I eat much less meat than I did, but still like the occasional fish and really couldn't survive without dairy/eggs. Does the Moosewood Cookbook have many vegan dishes?
Welcome, Diana! I've starred your thread.
I love to cook (I made carrot ginger coconut shrimp soup for dinner for my parents and me yesterday), and although I eat meat and fish I do have several vegan recipes that I like. One of my favorite easy (at least to me) ones is Xi Jong Shi Chao ‘Jidan’ (Chinese Tofu Scramble), which contains extra firm tofu, onion, diced tomatoes, scallions, ginger and garlic. I haven't made it in awhile, but I'll probably cook another batch the weekend after next.
That reminds me...I never did post the recipe for the tasty Mediterranean Spicy Spinach Lentil Soup I made earlier this month. I'll do so later today, in my thread and in The Kitchen.
>1 libraryperilous: "I've become too enamored of marking books off my TBR list and trying out genres that weren't right for me"
I decided same thing last year. I used to keep feeling guilty about reading fantasy / sci-fi, feeling need to read more classics and literarry books (Leo Tolstoy and such), which only stopped me from reading more. I would probably still read those books, but not going to force myself now.
Also, what's the benefit of adding books as manual entries?
Hello, Diana, it's good to see you back and you're on my list of stars now!
Hi Diana! Dropping a star....
>20 Chatterbox: yes Moosewood is vegetarian with some vegan.
The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking is also a good resource and Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone has a lot of information on choosing and preping veggies.
I didn't learn to cook until I was...past 29, so I can tell you reading cookbooks and books about cooking (and there are quite a few fiction books with cooking and recipes out there) can help, but nothing beats getting in the kitchen and throwing things in a pan! Good luck!!
For those who haven’t seen it yet, keep an eye on The Kitchen, where we (ok, mostly Darryl) post recipes. Link’s on the group wiki, though nobody’s posted there yet.
Yeah, saw that about three threads up from this one. Day late and dollar short - story of my life! 😀
>28 drneutron: >29 kidzdoc: LOL!
>17 libraryperilous: Here's my attempt to help your renewed vegan status--I posted a Cauliflower Mash recipe. : )
Check out 2018 The Kitchen thread here...
(Edited to note that you need to substitute something for the cow milk...)
>30 Berly: Nice recipe...but vegans don't drink milk, right? Can you substitute soy or almond milk instead?
Vegan Richa (https://www.veganricha.com) is a great source of Indian themed recipes, and I've tried and liked several recipes on One Green Planet (http://www.onegreenplanet.org/channel/vegan-recipe/).
>31 kidzdoc: Duh! Good point. That's what I get for posting before I am really awake. Since I can't do soy or almond, I haven't tested it. Obviously, the recipe needs a willing experimenter!!
Haha, I'm already behind on all this group's threads! But, I joined to be more sociable, so I'll try to keep up. Thanks to everyone for stopping by, leaving comments, or dropping stars in mine. Welcome!
Thanks, also, for the food blog, cookbook, and recipe suggestions. I definitely was overthinking it (as I'm prone to do). Lori, I love baked sweet potatoes, and they make a great one-plate meal when topped with black beans, guacamole, and pico de gallo. Yep, definitely was thinking too much. Darryl, Vegan Richa has a new cookbook that looks quite interesting as well.
>20 Chatterbox: Yay for monks and maps! Suzanne, if you like fantasy, there's a great duology by Carol Berg that features a monk with maps and a twist on the map itself. Flesh and Spirit is the first book, and it's one of my favorite novels.
>23 aqeeliz: Yes, "read what you want" seems simple, but it sometimes takes all of us bookworms a while to get there.
re: manual entry, I just do it because I find it fun. Once I started, I decided to go back and change all my entries to match. But, quite a few people like to have better control of their data (dimensions, page #s, etc.) or they just don't want data from Amazon in their account.
>24 CDVicarage: Hullo, Kerry, my fellow Girls Gone By fan. Thanks for the star.
>25 dragonaria: Hey, Kim. Thanks for braving the peril to spread your iniquitous inquiries to my thread. :)
nothing beats getting in the kitchen and throwing things in a pan!
Good point. I don't have my own pad right now, so doing anything in the kitchen feels awkward. Maybe I'll even learn to enjoy it once I have more than just a room of my own again. (I'm crashing with relatives on an extended beach vacation before I take a trip abroad.)
really couldn't survive without dairy
Cheese is the hard one to leave behind, I will admit. I don't like that many kinds of cheese, but I'm very attached to the ones I do enjoy. I've never found store bought analogues to be that tasty. There are recipes for DIY vegan cheese that probably are more flavorful.
It’s easier to keep up after a few weeks - there’s always a big rush at th3 beginning of the year.
I'm new to fantasy, and am very, very picky about what I read. I have fun with Terry Pratchett, because of the humor and because he's mirroring the "real" world. I enjoy dystopian books for similar reasons, or futuristic worlds, ditto. Completely imaginary worlds? Hmmm. Let's just say I'm investigating and treading carefully and slowly. My nephews, especially Connor (age 14, and basically me at the same age when it comes to books -- on Xmas day, he basically grabbed his book gifts and disappeared until dinner, and already has emptied out the local library in terms of its options... my brother and sis in law are at their wits' end in keeping him supplied) are the fantasy nuts. Connor read Tolkien at 9 or 10 and has kept going since then. It's really eerie that this bibliomania has leaped past my brother (who is somewhat dyslexic and had to be paid per page to read as a kid) to Connor, and to a lesser extent my niece Julie and to Jamie.
Cheese -- and even milk. I don't drink it, but I put it on my breakfast cereal. I hate almond milk, and it's so environmentally destructive. Soy milk tastes even worse to me. Don't use much, just a wee bit for baking or soups. Also a little bit of cream, for berries in summer. And eggs -- again, don't eat a lot, but omelettes? quiches? adding them to pancakes and to my pastry recipe or all my other baking? Poached eggs on toast is my fave comfort food, with a grilled tomato. Today's (late) lunch will be a mushroom terrine (purchased), with a soft cheese, some crackers, and slices of a nice local apple. Perfect.
I did get a free pressure cooker from Amazon Vine, but haven't invested the time/energy to figure out what to make and how to do it. Migraines have always seemed to intervene. They are pernicious.
>34 libraryperilous: oooh, travels...there will be inquiries to make I'm sure. Have fun!!
Hi Diana, just stopping by to wish you and your family a Very Happy New Year my dear and hope that 2018 is a really good year. Sending love and hugs to you from both of us dear friend.
Happy New Year
Happy New Group here
This place is full of friends
I hope it never ends
It brew of erudition and good cheer.
Happy New Year Diana! Dropping a star and loving the vegan chatter! The husband and I are trying to add more veg to our diet and our Instant Pot has been a lifesaver for that.
Happy New Year, everyone, and welcome to the new members of this thread!
(I am so behind, so I've made an impromptu, day-late New Year's resolution to try to keep up with threads in the group!)
>36 Chatterbox: I'm super picky about fantasy as well, and, outside of rereading Tolkien I don't venture too far into the genre. But something about the Berg duology really hit the spot for me. The Goblin Emperor was another one that just was about perfect. My mom, who eschews both sci-fi and fantasy, read it and counts it among her all-time favorites.
It's cool that your nephew loves to read so much. And your late lunch sounds delicious. I'm sorry you struggle with migraines. They truly are awful.
>35 drneutron: Whew! Good to know.
>43 Miss_Moneypenny: I've read a couple of vegan cookbooks that focus on slow cooker meals, by Kathy Hester and Robin Robertson, I think. Alas, I do not own one, but I feel like an Instant Pot would be a super valuable purchase for making bean soups and vegetable casseroles.
I love my Instant Pot. I hate to cook, and it makes it almost tolerable. Almost.
My 2018 reading isn't off to the deepest start. My plan to read more deeply and seriously will have to wait until my mom and I finish our Twelve Books of Christmas.
My mom's recovering from a (v. minor) complication to her cataract surgery. Reading is about the only thing that doesn't strain her eyes too much. Anyway, I invited her to join me in a Twelve Books celebration. I like to read Twelfth Night for the Epiphany, and I thought it would be fun to add eleven other books as well.
So, I borrowed 24 Christmas-themed books—mainly mysteries—from the library and wrapped them in festive wrap. We are having fun opening one each per day and then reading those titles the next day.
My mom has enjoyed all of hers. I tanked on two of mine and had to raid her stack for alternates. The Walnut Tree is set during the start of WWI and features a young heiress who's inspired to take up nursing. That's pretty dramatic already. Why, then, did the authors feel compelled to give her
I always do plenty of Christmas reading and re-reading. I've just got two to finish - Murder in the Snow, a Christmas set golden age mystery and Mr. Dickens and his Carol, a novel about the writing of A Christmas Carol, which I have, of course read recently, and then I shall go back to all the books I put on hold for the holidays.
>46 katiekrug: After a couple of attempts at pot roast, I'm afraid my Instant Pot has been neglected for some months.
>49 quondame: - I use mine mostly for hard-boiled eggs, pasta and meatballs, and shredded chicken. A gourmet, I am not!
>50 katiekrug: I am a third generation foodie, from a time before foodies, and live in a restaurant rich area of a restaurant rich city. I do like great basic food though, especially if it's easy and fast to make.
My mom and I are the ones who love to cook in my family. One of my sisters-in-law also enjoys cooking. One of my nephews' wife loves to cook, and one of her daughters loves it (although she's still young). One of my niece's husband likes to cook also.
>51 quondame: More of my People! I also descended from pre-foodie-foodies. Mixed German/Black Irish blood who believe food=love many of whom grew-up during the Great Depression. We do not gather without food.
I've heard a lot of the chatter about the Instant Pot, but I like the Kate and Leopold take on meals "Where I come from a proper meal is the result of reflection and study....It is said, without the culinary art, the crudeness of reality would make life unbearable." Then again, I will also take the Rachel Ray Route when in a pinch.
>48 CDVicarage: I unwrapped another Golden Age Christmas mystery, Mystery in White, for today's book. Mr. Dickens and His Carol sounds right up my alley. I'm having fun with the Twelve Books of Christmas, so I think I'll do again next year, perhaps with twelve books set during different holidays.
>51 quondame: Welcome! Love your profile pic.
re: food, I think it would make a difference to grow up with relatives or friends who love to cook. But I'm with >46 katiekrug:, in that kitchen-y things are barely tolerable for me. I certainly appreciate fresh food over canned and fast, though. Produce, especially, tastes much better when it's freshly picked.
I've decided to catalog all my 2018 books read on this thread, rather than just highlighting the best ones, so here we go:
January 1st: The Coat-Hanger Christmas
Marianna and Kenny have an unconventional mother who refuses to have a Christmas tree. Their attempts to convince her to allow them a pine Christmas tree fail, but Marianna, who is clever and likes crafting, makes a different kind of tree. The siblings also befriend Allie, who lives on a barge but wants a land-based home. They have adventures collecting discarded Christmas trees around Brooklyn Heights.
The siblings' grandmother died on Christmas Eve, and their father is away on a long research trip, but the children are too young to understand how this might affect things. The mother is subtly (and empathetically) portrayed as someone who doesn't know what to do with her children because she doesn't quite love being a mom. What she does like is that her children are independent, clever, and like to make things.
This is a wonderful middle grade novel that deals sensitively with the topics of frazzled motherhood, clever, independent children, and close siblings. While the children's coat-hanger Christmas tree disappoints them a bit, they are satisfied to have created something different and to find happiness and love in each other and with Allie.
A slightly different perspective can be found in this Orange Marmalade Books review.
Side note: Allie's father makes Marianna a tiny, blown glass Christmas tree in a bottle. I want one!
January 2nd: Christmas Caramel Murder
Are all cozy mysteries retrograde about gender roles and women's fashion choices? I keep running into these attitudes in the genre. This is a bizarre book, but I enjoyed the unraveling of the mystery. The main character is judgemental, yet a Mary Sue, and the small town where she lives apparently is perfect, except for the murder thing. There are multiple comments about the murdered woman dressing like a "stripper" and it's implied she deserved her fate because she's a flirt. The murdered is revealed to be
Also, one would think, after multiple murders in this small town, that people would see Hannah coming with her baked goodies and know she's pumping them for information.
Hi Diana! I was just going to drop off a quick star and comment, but ended up reading every post instead. :)
One of the (many) ancillary benefits of this group are the recipes. I still make a jambalaya recipe that I got from Darryl (kidzdoc) years ago - it's so good, relatively easy, and makes an absolute ton! The Kitchen is a great thread to follow.
I am not at all a cook, but can do basics. I mostly use a frying pan and my slow cooker, though I love good, simple food. Living in WI, produce isn't the greatest for about half the year, but I do what I can and try to make the best choices. If it takes me longer than 30 minutes to prep/cook, it doesn't happen. There are a couple of food blogs that I follow (one is food and books!) and I'll come back later on with a small list for you.
Also, I just realized that you were my Santa for SantaThing two years ago, and while I (shamefully) still haven't read your choices, they are calling to me big time! You picked such a great variety! Reading your picks will be one of my fun tasks this year.
DIANA!! Diana the Red! I'm delighted to see you here now that I'm back. I was thrown off by the username...not familiar to me, but I've been mostly gone since September 2014. Any road, I've found you again.
Re cozy mysteries and gender role retrograde characters...in my own observation, quite a lot of the domestic mysteries, set in cooking/teaching/village locales, seem to be more retrograde than the science/legal ones.
>53 dragonaria: Love == food == good was certainly how I was raised, though I am easily pleased by a few favorite ingredients and can happily make a meal of toast and salami. The exact right toast and salami.
>54 libraryperilous: I make a very few things very well, but mostly rely on Trader Joe's and the wealth of restaurants around me.
>55 libraryperilous: I think that first one is an old one. I looked and the copyright is 1973. I doubt it was one I read for me, but it might be one I read aloud to my nephew.
>60 tapestry100: Thank you, and welcome!
>56 LauraBrook: Oh, gosh, hi hello! I remember that we chatted about Milwaukee for a bit, too. I know I picked one of Sarah Caudwell's books for you in that SantaThing. Thank you in advance for the food blog recs. I'm off to track down your thread so I can follow along.
>59 thornton37814: It really was a lovely book. I was only familiar with Estes' The Hundred Dresses, but now I want to read Ginger Pye.
>58 quondame: One of the things I miss the most about living in New York is access to so many vegan and vegetarian dining out options.
>56 LauraBrook: I will see you 30 minutes and raise you 15. :)
>57 richardderus: RICHARD!!! You're here!!! I finally thought of a bookish user name so I changed from diana.n. I remember chatting about baseball with you. I'm glad you're back on LT.
Diana the Red
??? Oh no, what have I forgotten?
re: cozy mysteries, do you have any recs for science ones?
>58 quondame: I didn't want to take over drneutron's thread any longer, but I probably will post a bit more about the GoT topic on my thread in a couple of days.
Hi! I know I'm late with Happy New Year wishes - it is the third day of the new year, after all - but I'm wishing it for you anyway!
BTW, I love your profile pic. Made me absolutely LOL.
Wagging Through the Snow
Another Twelve Books of Christmas selection. I had to put off Mystery in White, as I started my reading a bit too late this evening and the Berenson title was shorter.
Melanie Travis has six dogs, two kids, a husband, an ex-husband, a wayward brother, and a formidable Aunt Peg. She also has a dead body, found at her brother's new business property. Melanie's quest to find more information about the dead man leads her to suspect he was murdered.
This was a fun read. This cozy mystery even has liberal attitudes about gender roles and rather open-minded commentary on social issues such as alcoholism (named a disease) and housing insecurity—refreshing in a conservative subgenre. Husband Sam even works from home and does the cooking.
There's also a cute twist on the helpful sweet little old lady stereotype. I didn't see it coming, so it made me laugh.
I'm still enjoying the Twelve Books project, even more so because my mom is having tons of fun. But, my brain is craving some toothsome nonfiction. I can't wait to sink my teeth into Caught in the Revolution and The House of the Dead. For in between those doorstops, I also have borrowed Spineless.
>62 Storeetllr: Thank you, and happy new year to you, too!
(Also, hee! I'm glad I could make you actually LOL. I love that profile pic so much. I may never change it.)
Happy New Thread, Diana. And welcome to the Mighty 75! You sure picked the right place and based on how much I have seen you posting around, you sure seem to have found a home.
I hope to keep you in NF recs. No problem there. The Fact of a Body has been excellent, although it is quite disturbing. If child abuse is a trigger, of yours, you may want to steer clear.
>66 msf59: Thanks, and welcome. Hee! I thought it wouldn't be fair to do a thread in this group without visiting quite a few others.
>65 quondame: I haven't read any of Dunnett yet, and I think I approached Heyer from the wrong angle. I have Beauvallet out from the library. What are some good starting points or your favorites of either author?
It's West Virginia 1927. Joan Lee and her younger siblings, Americans born to Chinese immigrants, want nothing more than to celebrate Christmas with their elderly neighbor and friend, Miss Lucy. Their parents, who want to return to China someday, view Christmas with skepticism and worry that their children are too American. Yep based many of the tales in this lovely middle grade novel on his own family's oral history. Dream Soul is a sensitive portrayal of a teenager carving her own space and learning to see the beauty in things both familiar and new.
"The real trick was to know what to keep and what to forget." (204)
A Christmas Memory
Is there a better penultimate Twelve Books of Christmas read than this? I don't think I've ever made it through even the halfway point without sniffling, not even during my first read. I'd rank this my second-favorite American short story, behind James Baldwin's Sonny's Blues.
Capote always feels like a gut punch. No matter the number of rereads, his sentences just punch me again and again.
>67 libraryperilous: Dunnett is kind of difficult because her very first book Game of Kings set in 1547 is written as a love affair with early renaissance literature and there is an (usually) obscure reference in every line the central character, Lymond, says. The following 5 books aren't quite so dense. But her humor is transcendent if thoroughly embedded in the thorns. I passed them over for years because people kept telling me the were dense and heartbreaking, but no one mentioned they would put you on the floor laughing. You could try Niccolo Rising, 1456 which I totally love - it is the first of 8 books. Then there is The King Hereafter a retelling of Macbeth embedded in the mid, pre-1066, 11th century, but while the first 2/3 are most engaging, the last 1/3 of it is the best telling of a man going down fighting I've every read, and not for everyone. Sometimes I just re-read partway. The only people who have mentioned inaccuracies of an historical nature in Dunnett's writing are usually people who are quite expert in the field where they noticed the 'mistake' and it was usually in communicating something so that a modern reader would understand the intent.
Her mysteries were each written as contemporary in the year published so aren't historicals and I don't rate them as high as mysteries as I rate her historicals. Since one of them was written out of order, much later than its internal timeline, that is a bit boggling.
I'm not much for Heyer's serious historical fiction. What are outstanding are her Regencies. No one has equaled her for light and amusing and historically accurate manners and details.
I recently read A Christmas Memory, for the first time. I loved it. I just wish it could have been a bit longer.
Oh, thanks >68 quondame:, this is very helpful. I'm actually intrigued by the obscure references! But I think I'll start with King Hereafter. That sounds right up my alley. Macbeth's one of my favorites, and I love the ending of the film Throne of Blood precisely because it's such a stylistically gorgeous and gory look at a man going down.
I enjoyed Heyer's The Talisman Ring largely because it had a smuggling plot. Tagmash tells me she has a couple of other smuggling stories. Yay!
The rule for Heyer is that the books with women's names in the title are good. Frederica is the best, I think, followed closely by The Grand Sophy. The Talisman Ring and The Toll Gate are ok, but not as good as Venitia. Bath Tangle is ok but stay away from the murder mysteries. Cousin Kate is a good read.
My favourite Heyers are Cotillion, The Talisman Ring, The Reluctant Widow and The Corinthian. Well that is this week, next week they may be different. Ones I don't re-read are Cousin Kate - more like a victorian melodrama - Charity Girl and I've never really got on with the historical novels. There is a ranked list of her novels here.
I'm also a Dunnett fan: I first read the Lymond chronicles as a teenager (some 45 years ago, now) and have been in love with Francis Crawford ever since. Quondame's description of King Hereafter is spot on and I find it too sad to re-read often.
Dropping a star, Diana! I had a lot of fun catching up with your thread.
>73 reconditereader:, >74 quondame:, >75 CDVicarage:, >79 Storeetllr: Thanks for all the recs! I'll try to get to a couple of these titles in the next few weeks.
>78 richardderus: Ooh, Jodi Taylor. I've heard good things about her St. Mary's books, too. And now I feel compelled to go down a Google rabbit hole to see if I can find the science teacher cozy series.
Twelfth Night: I'm fonder of the tragedies and histories than Shakespeare's comedies, but I do enjoy curling up with Twelfth Night around the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas.
The War I Finally Won, sequel to The War that Saved My Life: Excellent middle grade historical fiction about the costs of war on the British home front during WWII. Of particular interest is the author's portrayal of the class consciousness that penetrated the war effort.
The Explorer: "If ever there is a chance to play tag in the jungle in a tropical storm, it is a chance worth taking" (277). Indeed. Charming middle grade historical adventure novel steeped in the history of the genre.
I didn't read enough picture books in 2017, so I've set an informal goal of an average of two per week in 2018.
Week January 1st-6th:
Rosie Revere, Engineer: Cute story that shows the technical failures and personal doubts that lead to innovations.
Manfish: I know there's some push back against Cousteau's legacy in parts of the scientific community. But he was a childhood hero of mine, so "Il faut aller voir" forever.
Enormous Smallness: Juvenile biography of E. E. Cummings that focuses on his lifelong loves of nature and "what words say and how they sound and look. He loved the way they hum, buzz, pop, and swish." Another excellent offering from Enchanted Lion.
The Blue Whale: Juvenile nonfiction that uses estimates and comparisons to introduce young readers to blue whales' biology. Also an Enchanted Lion publication.
Edgar and the Tattle-Tale Heart: Little raven Edgar breaks his mother's favorite bust while she's out. Will he show remorse? Will Lenore tattle on him? Will Mother show them respite and nepenthe?
Just popping by to let you know that there is a vote going on over on my thread.
I agree that Heyer's pure historicals don't have a lot to recommend them. The writing kinda sinks under its own weight. My faves are those with more feisty (and sometimes older) heroines: The Grand Sophy, Venetia, Frederica, Lady of Quality, The Nonesuch and a more recent discovery, Sylvester. Ones I didn't much enjoy involved implausible plots or ingenues that were just too sweet or silly to hold my interest. Faro's Daughter, Charity Girl, Friday's Child. And I just don't like most of her Regency attempts at melodrama, with The Talisman Ring being the sole exception. The Reluctant Widow, with the exception of a solitary supporting character, was a bore. I spent part of last year engaged in re-reading/listening to many of these, which was fun, but...
I have the first books of both the two major Dunnett series. Will this be the year that I start one or the other of them? Sigh. They are iconic; I'm a historical fiction nut, but both feel daunting.
>82 Chatterbox: The Grand Sophy and Frederica seem to show up on most 'best of Heyer' lists or comments.
A friend of mine loves Dunnett. She made a passing comment about a favorite character dying horribly in the middle of the series, so I labeled them very sad and made a note to try them when I had the mental fortitude.
I quit on The Bookman after about twenty-five pages. I don't really like fantasy or steampunk, and the book was just too messy and twee to draw me into the story. It's full of allusions to Victorian literary characters—Moriarty is the PM—but these serve no purpose other than to show the author is clever. A messy plot involving dirigibles, sentient automatons, and alien lizard overseers could have been entertaining, but I skimmed around in the book and it didn't improve for me.
>83 libraryperilous: I have now re-read all the Dunnett historical novels 3-5 times. At least. They can be heart rending. While keeping close to real historical events and giving historical figures more dimension than any author I have encountered, she also rebraids the conventions of romance until they too seem real. Her love for many of the less well known figures of history illuminates the story and her humor is a marvel to me. Yes, beloved characters die. If you have read any historical or romance written since these were published, you are almost certain to have encountered echos of her work, maybe at third or fifth hand as authors who haven't read her themselves echo authors who have.
Beauvallet: another DNF. It was fine, but I became annoyed with his use of "child" as a nickname for her, among other things. I may just not have been in the mood to read this week. My mom's vision problems continue, and she's stuck with an ophthalmologist who doesn't like to answer questions. What should have been a simple procedure has become an ongoing, stressful mess.
I did manage to read several picture books this week: Interstellar Cinderella; The Lion and the Bird; This Is a Poem that Heals Fish; The Tree: An Environmental Fable; Beyond the Pond; and, Moby Dick: Chasing the Great White Whale.
Also, I did manage to do quite a bit of pruning in my TBR account. I don't delete nonfiction titles once they land on the list, but I do an annual trimming of the fiction verge. One of my goals for 2018 is to refrain from throwing so many titles on my TBR mountain, especially in categories I don't particularly like.
Hi Diana! I loved your comments about the Hannah Swensen novel :-) I'm reading the series (mostly for the fascinating facts about Life In Very Cold Places) but the library hasn't quite caught up yet so I haven't got to that one. They are very...traditional, but I have hopes for the little niece who seems quite feisty.
I have Radium Girls on my elibrary wishlist, so I hope to get to that at some point although the writing sounds like it will drive me mad.
You could sign up for the Forks Over Knives emails for vegan recipes. I agree that 60 minutes is, um, insane.
Diana, your reading pace is stunning. I will definitely come back to you for picture book recommendations - hoping them to be translated to German soon.
All the best to your mom!
Happy reading Sunday!
>85 libraryperilous: sorry to hear about your mom's issues. The Hubster recently had cataract surgery and, you are quite right, it should have been an easy thing. Might be time to get another Ophthalmologist involved or start communicating in writing. Hope things improve!
>88 PersephonesLibrary:, >89 dragonaria: Thank you. She's actually handling it better than I am. I'm like, "If you could see 20/20 with correction before the surgery, you should be able to see 20/20 with the implanted lens after!" She's all, "Yes, but the glasses won't be coke bottles anymore!"
>88 PersephonesLibrary: Thank you, and welcome. Fingers crossed that some of them make their way to Germany soon. Picture books are a lovely art form, and, as >86 thornton37814: noted, it's relaxing to read them. I took a pile to the boardwalk and read with the sounds of the ocean in the background.
>85 libraryperilous: I hope you enjoy your reward! I have Bleak House on February's TBR pile, but I've never read Nicholas Nickleby.
>87 susanj67: One good thing about Radium Girls is the pace moves so quickly that you can overlook most of the flowery writing style.
I'm browsing the Forks Over Knives cookbook right now. It has lots of fast recipes in it, and I also was pleased to discover 15 Minute Vegan, which actually does what it says on the tin. (And, the recipes in it don't have long ingredients lists.) Insane is the perfect word for "easy, fast" 60-minute recipes.
Haha, I wish I had enjoyed the Swensen cozy well enough to read more, because the baked goodies all sound delicious. Agree about the feisty gal. The younger sister seems pretty cool, too.
I'm dismantling my holiday book tree the slow way. So, of course the two books that are due at the library are on the bottom branches. Time to play Book Tree Jenga and see what happens ...
>90 libraryperilous: I think the Swensen mysteries are uneven, but they are still fun and full of good food!
>91 thornton37814: My mom's read and liked quite a few. I may try another entry or two: The titles are too delicious to resist. Judging from reader reviews, the resolution of the romance has been unsatisfying to many.
Lighthousekeeping is a fable about the power of stories to save us. It also is about love and the way memories form a kind of fossil record for us to excavate in times of personal strife. It contains allusions to many other works of literature, most notably Jekyll and Hyde. Its central theme is that stories are amorphous and catholic, without the linear structures humans have given them: "our world is as extravagant as a world can be. We are the ones obsessed by measurement. The world just pours it out."
When Silver is orphaned, she is sent to live with old Pew, the lighthouse keeper. She finds a happy home there, learning the ropes of lighthouse duties and listening to Pew tell story after story. When the lighthouse is automated, Silver strikes out on her own, always keeping Pew's lessons about storytelling in mind.
This book was the perfect way for me to overcome my week-long reader's block. It probably isn't to everyone's taste, but the idea of natural disorder in an orderly human world and Lighthousekeeping's wild strands of evangelism reminded me of two of my favorites, Timothy: Or, Notes of An Abject Reptile and Mary Rowlandson's captivity narrative, respectively. In particular, Lighthousekeeping follows an idea of removes, as Silver descends into madness and then recovers through the healing power of telling stories about love.
Trigger Warning: domestic abuse and an abusive relationship portrayed as a romance
I worked my way this morning through the BabyLit titles I borrowed. These are cute board books that introduce basic concepts to small readers. They're verrrrrrrrrry loosely based on classic novels, in that some quotes from the source materials are scattered throughout the board books. Like many things, they're a gimmick, but they're a fun gimmick. I read Moby Dick BabyLit, The Jungle Book BabyLit, Hound of the Baskervilles BabyLit, and Les Miserables BabyLit.
>92 libraryperilous: I'd agree on that statement about the romance resolution.
>83 libraryperilous: I've tried two Lavie Tidhar books and felt battered by the unmoored ideas caught in the cross-currents of clever-clever. I gave up on him after that.
Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles are deeply immersive and well written, so I'd encourage you to move them up the TBR a wee bit.
>92 libraryperilous: Lighthousekeeping was a DNF for me. Humidly overwritten.
Happy shorter-than-usual workweek.
I'm glad to have found your thread! I'm enjoying the book and food chat already. I've been vegetarian for almost 30 years but haven't wanted to give up dairy. But I'm aware that I could eat more healthily so am looking for more good vegan recipes. 15 minute vegan sounds perfect for me, as like others here, I don't love spending time cooking complicated meals.
>83 libraryperilous: The Bookman series has never appealed to me but I have Central Station on the Tbr pile, which seems to have had good reviews.
Dropping by to say hi and enjoying the food/vegan food talk. I'll star your thread too - I'm more of a lurker but I do enjoy catching up on others' posts and reading!
>95 Sakerfalcon: Yay, you made it! I definitely recommend 15-Minute Vegan, and also Angela Liddon's cookbooks, for easier vegan recipes that mostly are healthy. I particularly like that neither author places a huge emphasis on analogue products or recipes, although there are some.
>94 richardderus: Humidly overwritten is a good way to describe Lighthousekeeping. It's a rare novel of ideas that hits the spot for me, so I was surprised I enjoyed it. I read an anthology that Tidhar edited. There was a similar emphasis on style over substance and also the objectification of women that I noticed in The Bookman. I think I'll pass on him in the future.
>96 LibraryLover23: Hi, hello, and welcome. Lurk all you want!
>93 thornton37814: I just deleted quite a few cozies from my GoodShipTBR account because the reviews referenced love triangles. It definitely is my least favorite conceit of the genre.
Murder on Astor Place: Widowed midwife Sarah Brandt and widowed detective sergeant Frank Malloy investigate the death of a Knickerbocker in a gaslit, corrupt New York City at the beginning of Teddy Roosevelt's stint as police commish. Brandt marshals her familial connection to that world, Malloy bullies a few witnesses, and the city's dirty politics are (cozily) laid bare.
Neither main character is likeable, but they become slightly more interesting and less nasty as their relationship grows. The solution of the mystery is lazy and grotesque, and anyone who has read a mystery set among the lives of the idle rich can see the ending coming. I also disliked the conservatism of the authorial voice, which randomly would insert itself to remind readers of a couple of political points. I did like enough things about this story to continue with the next couple of books in the series and then perhaps jump to the most recent titles.
The search for a mystery series I can binge the way I binged Cadfael continues apace, as does the search for a mystery series with a slowly developing romance. I didn't like Wimsey enough to read through to Gaudy Night, but I'd love to find something similar.
On a generation starship so old its residents have lost all sense of their mission or their history but not their Church, Captain Costa struggles with Bishop Soldana for control of the ship. When a search team finds evidence of a murdered civilization on a remote planet, Costa and the Bishop make a fateful decision to track a beam from the planet to an alien ship. Once there, they use the exploration of the ship as a chessboard for their power struggle. Costa's advisor, our narrator Bartolomeo, becomes convinced the alien ship is too important a discovery to leave behind. Bartolomeo is a likeable, reliable narrator, aware of his own wrongheaded decisions. Many of the choices he makes are morally correct, but are they made for the right reasons?
I'm still unpacking the sociopolitical points Ship of Fools makes, especially its theology, but the novel also can be read as a creepy first contact story with shades of Heart of Darkness to it. Most of the plot hinges on humans' greed for power. Bishop Soldana is a villain in the set piece, but I found him a sympathetic character. He reminds me a little of Severo in Knowledge of Angels.
Some picture books: The White Cat and the Monk is luminous, and the illustrations are gorgeous. It's easy to see why Sydney Smith is considered a rising star. I look forward to following his career as a children's book illustrator. I have Town Is by the Sea in this week's pile. I also read Sparkle Boy and the recently released illustrated edition of Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them.
>97 libraryperilous: It seems cozies are adding romantic elements more and more into the plots. I'm not sure why writers feel the need to do this. I tolerate it, but like you, it's not my favorite aspect of the story. I read it for the mystery!
>98 thornton37814: Yes, it is odd. Perhaps following the lead of YA books, most of which have love triangles in them.
I chatted with an author of westerns on a flight once, and he mentioned that westerns, category romance, and cozies all are on publisher outline systems. I suppose one cozy publisher had a hit with a love triangle, so now they all are on board with them.
Not too much progress on the reading front today, although I did make library runs to collect some holds. So, now I have an even larger pile of books from which to pick my next read.
Don't forget that piles are a good thing to have. I could do without love triangles. : )
>100 Berly: They make lovely interior decorations, too, and I have a couple of traveling bookshelves in my aunt's car right now. At the rate I'm going, though, I won't need to construct a new book tree next Christmas.
Murderbot hacked its governor module and thought perhaps it might go rogue and start murdering humans. Instead, it downloaded 35,000 hours of entertainment, including galactic adventure shows and books. It hides the hack by acting like a normal security unit while binging on the shows in the background. When the human scientists its assigned to protect are endangered, Murderbot must trust them with its secret and also must draw on the galactic adventure shows for advice on protecting them.
All Systems Red is an old-fashioned pulp adventure, sci-fi enhanced mystery, and lightly existential exploration of what it means to have a conscience. The length was perfect for an afternoon at the beach, and there was just enough back story and philosophizing to counter the 'splodey bits. This was a fun read from the Tor.com novella line, and I'll read the other novellas in the series at some point.
In other news, my mom's vision finally cleared so they've greenlighted the second eye. She's having the surgery this afternoon.
Hmmm, All Systems Red sounds fun! On the list it goes...
Glad your mom's vision cleared up.
>101 libraryperilous: This is on my wishlist. I've been hit by so many bullets for it I should just give in and buy it already.
May i comment in passiong Diana how much I love your nom de thing
All the best for your mom's surgery!
All Things Red looks really interesting - I haven't read much pulp yet... I think.
>106 magicians_nephew: Thank you. I'm very fond of it. (Don't tell anyone, but I actually liked The Magician's Nephew.)
>102 drneutron:, >105 Sakerfalcon: I read it in about an hour and a half, so it's an easy one to mark off Mt TBR.
>107 PersephonesLibrary:, >104 The_Hibernator: Thank you.
>107 PersephonesLibrary: I'm not sure I've read much pulp either, but so many of the tropes are ingrained in American culture.
My mom's vision problems continue, although the second surgery was fine. But the first eye has developed further complications. Sigh.
As usual, I'm behind on all the threads, so I'll try to catch up on everyone's in the next few days. I just wanted to pop in and say thank you for the comments.
Died in the Wool: Four unpleasant bright young things seek to solve the murder of an even more unpleasant woman they all knew. Two of the UBYTs are collaborating on a top-secret weapon for the Allies. Pleasant Inspector Alleyn, on holiday from Scotland Yard to aid New Zealand's government in counter-espionage during WWII, links the woman's murder to a leak of weapon plans. Alleyn reminds me of an edgier Marshal Guarnaccia.
I liked the intellectual depth and academic humor of this mystery, including plunking an English country house murder down in the middle of a remote New Zealand sheep station. There also is a minor character who writes a paean to the countryside in the style of Hakylut's Voyages: pity no verses are quoted in the novel. Marsh, while not sympathetic to leftists, doesn't write them entirely as stereotypes, either, and she also has some astute things to say about nationalists during wartime—specifically, how entwined imperialism and ethnocentrism are.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this mystery, and I'll read some more of Marsh's Inspector Alleyn titles. Are Margery Allingham or Nero Wolfe worth exploring?
Sovereign: Third in Sansom's brilliant Shardlake series. This time, Shardlake and Barak are stuck with Henry VIII's Northern Progress, at Cranmer's request. While in York and on the homeward trek, they must try to solve a murder, watch for attempts on Shardlake's life, and ferret out the secrets of some papers that may or may not show Henry as an illegitimate king. As always, the book is packed with sociopolitical history about the grimmer side of Tudor life. Shardlake is a decent man in a not-decent time, and his growing dissatisfaction with corrupt affairs of state continues to be the linchpin on which Sansom furthers Shardlake's personal growth.
My one quibble about this book is the way Catherine Howard is portrayed. I don't think Sansom separated his authorial voice enough from Shardlake's. I came away from the novel thinking both author and character find Howard a silly female, albeit one mired in a bad situation.
Edited to remove a redundancy
>109 libraryperilous: Nero Wolfe is very worth exploring both for themselves and for the window they provide into mid-20th century US. At 1/8 of a ton, roughly 250lbs, Nero Wolfe was considered huge.
>109 libraryperilous: I've enjoyed some of Margery Allingham's work more than others, but the classics are always worth exploring.
>110 quondame:, >111 thornton37814: Thanks for the recs. I'll borrow a couple by Allingham and Stout in the next few weeks.
When the Night Comes: Lovely novel—a series of vignettes, really—about a lonely preteen girl and her mother's sailor boyfriend, who works on a Danish ship that ferries Australian scientists to the Antarctic. Over the course of two years, Bo provides Isla with friendship, love, and stories of life under sail.
When the Night Comes is about how small acts of kindness and attention can have large impacts on one's life. It's focus is on how love and relationships, when ended, still can provide happy, sustaining memories. I loved this quiet novel about finding your own special place in a large, often lonely world.
Diana, at the moment I am fascinated by adventurous stories and Settings like ships - and how relationsships are influenced by such situations. When the Night Comes sounds tempting!
>113 Sakerfalcon: I think you would like it. The author received a research grant and traveled to Antarctica.
>114 PersephonesLibrary: Yes! And what makes this one a bit unusual is its time period, the 1980s. The ship's a bit different than your average ship of the line, but the author shows how the same love of the sea and adventure binds the sailors and their friends together. (Also, thank you for the lovely .gif.)
>115 magicians_nephew: Thanks for the rec, and The Bletchley Circle looks interesting!
The Idylls of the Queen: fascinating historical mystery that retells a minor Arthurian episode, the death of Sir Patrise. It was nice to read an Arthurian story in which Arthur is a background figure. Karr has great sympathy for the way constraints of the time period, such as chivalry, harmed both women and men. Sir Kay is a lovable narrator, half righteous indignation at the injustices found in his world and half punch-drunk on unrequited love for Guenevere. Mordred, too, gets his day as a multi-dimensional character. Highly recommended.
Women and Power: A Manifesto: As with all such manifestos, the people who'd benefit the most from reading it will never crack it open. Beard also manages to avoid a couple of common pitfalls of standard white liberal feminism. Readers of feminist critical theory won't find new, or even complex, ideas here, but her unraveling of Medusa imagery is interesting. Of course, I also agree with most of her points.
A Perilous Undertaking and A Treacherous Curse: Entertaining historical mysteries that touch on grimmer topics with a lighter hand. I like both of the main characters, and I found both of the mysteries fun to solve. I'm already tired of the slow-burn romance. One can understand, though, why creators are cautious about finally pairing up their characters. Call it Moonlighting syndrome.
A Curse of Silence: Mystery set in 18th Dynasty Egypt, during Hatchepsut's reign. It's notable for its attention to details. I liked it, and I'll read a few more titles in the series, but I prefer P. C. Doherty's Amerotke books.
Manhattan Beach: LOL, no. Like, all of my nopes. I thought I was getting a historical mystery, or even plain old historical fiction. Instead, it's domestic fiction, and it's driven primarily by its psychoanalysis of the characters.
Also, this book isn't feminist, despite the glowing reviews calling it such. Or, if it is feminist, it's the whitest, laziest version of white liberal feminism. Just argh. So disappointing. There's a part of me that wonders if Egan, in deciding to craft a very traditional novel, also decided to send up very traditional gender role tropes. But, if she did, she did it too subtly for me. And I desperately was looking for that to save a novel I wanted to call a favorite.
On another note, we think my mom's eye issues are at an end, but we had to transfer her care. The new doctor was very nice!
ETA my rant about Manhattan Beach.
>117 libraryperilous: Interesting titles to add to my endless list. Thanks. And I'm so glad your mother's eye trouble seems to be clearing, and that she and you like the new doc.
Diana--Hurray for liking the new doc! And that your mom'e eye trouble seems to at an end. Love your rant on Manhattan Beach. I think I'll pass.
>118 ffortsa:, >119 Berly: Thank you. Her eye slowly is improving.
>119 Berly: I'm still p. bummed about Manhattan Beach. It seemed like a very Diana book. I mean, a female diver and the Navy dockyards during WWII? Sign me up. Alas, derailed by the fake feminism.
The Merry Spinster: I think I read this a bit too quickly. I grew tired of the forced grimness in some of the stories, to the point that I ended up laughing at the story in the collection that's supposed to be the creepiest. I did like the gender fluidity of the stories, and they are feminist—but they don't really break any new feminist ground. Indeed, the framework feels more white liberal feminist than white radical feminist to me, even though many of the stories focus on systemic misogyny. Only one of the stories, "The Daughter Cells," flirts with an explicitly Marxist feminism, and it doesn't really unfold that to great effect. Still, I can see for what Ortberg was going with these stories, and I do think they float in the sea of feminist fairy tale retellings in which we all are drowning.
How Democracies Die: Necessary. If you aren't concerned, you aren't paying attention.
Levitsky and Ziblatt's measured, accessible look at how democracies regress into authoritarianism makes a strong case for Trump being an autocrat-lite, one who's enabled predominately by failures of the Republican elite to engage in two cornerstones of democracy: mutual toleration for the legitimacy of one's opponents and forbearance when enacting legislation. They also cite the US' increasing polarized electorate as a factor, but they directly acknowledge that the polarization is a result of the US becoming fully democratic with the passing of the Civil Rights Act in 1965.
They state that racism is the root cause of the polarization and reject the Mark Lilla/Bernie Sanders talking points about catering to the WWC. The authors drily note that those talking points actually would be a return to the Democratic party's previous Southern Strategy lite. (Return of the DLC era, if you will, which you might recall was something Sanders implied Clinton would do. They actually only mention Sanders once, but it's to imply that his campaign's biggest failure was in pretending Sanders' policies didn't apply to a diversified electorate—which played into the polarization and white resentment. But now I'm angry at that trash fire of a primary all over again, because Sanders clearly is a populist, by any reasonable definition, and his rhetorical choices matter just as much as his policies. Worth noting that the couple of political scientists I've seen declaiming that Sanders isn't a populist are fans of Sanders. And I like Bernie. Sigh.)
The authors do note that wage stagnation—which has weakened our traditionally robust middle class—is a factor. But so is the racism that allowed white people, angry over the middling economy, to falsely blame immigrants and Black people for taking their jobs. In other words, you can't divorce the racism from the economy—which is what data on who voted for Trump and why show.
The authors cite four main categories in which a politician may be considered authoritarian. Trump meets at least one criteria in each of the four categories. But they are quick to note that the backslide into actual authoritarianism hasn't occurred, and that the most likely outcome would not be intentional authoritarianism, but a power creep that occurs after a national security disaster or war. This matches some of the fears political scientists have over Bolton's appointment as national security advisor.
The authors note that the stage was set for Trump as far back as Newt Gingrich's early days in Georgia politics. It was he who ushered in the "kill your darling opponents" oppo tactics within the GOP. However, I think Schlafly, in her support for Goldwater, probably deserves partial credit for planting the scorched earth seeds. (Ironically, Goldwater would later warn Reagan off the evangelicals' money and try to get Reagan to move away from social conservatism.) Gingrich was more successful in mainstreaming the tactic, and he hit upon using it at just the right time: The GOP had been out of power long enough to be willing to behave unethically for a chance to return to power, and that coincided with a changing electorate that was increasingly browner and less religious. The racism and misogyny were easy talking points with a base hungry to enact what Robin D. G. Kelley has called whitelash.
tl;dr: It's definitely the racism. But we should fix the economy for everyone! And Republicans should take responsibility for cleaning up their mess. We've been lucky that norms have held for as long as they have because presidentialism is an extra messy form of democracy. It requires bipartisan buying-in of said norms to remain a strong democracy. The backsliding doesn't happen overnight, and fixing it requires chipping away on multiple fronts.
>121 quondame: It stands for white working class.
Midnight Without a Moon: beautiful middle grade novel set in the Mississippi Delta, one town over from Money, in 1955. Rose Lee Carter dreams of migrating north, attending a desegregated school, and then becoming a lawyer or doctor. As white violence escalates in the face of the NAACP's efforts to register Black voters, she begins to question whether or not it might be a different kind of courageous to stay in Mississippi and risk death fighting to overturn Jim Crow. After Emmett Till's murderers are acquitted, Rose realizes that "stars can't shine without darkness."
There are many layers to this novel, including a subtle exploration of the ways Jim Crow laws and other forms of racism contributed to child abuse, misogyny, and colorism, and the intersections between fighting for the right to vote (to join the system) and fighting to overthrow the system.
The Last Equation of Isaac Severy: Despite the criticisms detailed below, I liked The Last Equation of Isaac Severy, and I found it affecting. The ending is a bit open-ended.
I borrowed the novel because I'd read that it was a mystery in the vein of an adult The Westing Game. It's not. It's standard domestic fiction about an unhappy family, replete with cheating, lies, child abuse, and a mean-spirited, but larger-than-life patriarch whom everyone loves despite his awfulness. The author even excuses the cheating as a product either of genius lost or genius never found.
However, the principal character, Hazel, is beautifully written and a fundamentally kind, smart person. The book, broadly, is about the fact that her genius family dismisses her because pure math isn't her expertise. As the novel progresses, Hazel learns to trust her own intellectual and emotional strengths. I also liked Alex, slouchy lout that he is.
A running gag has Hazel imagine bizarre, comedic acts of violence against the assholes in her family. She throws a plate of salmon, for example. But she never thinks that someone actually would act on these thoughts. This, the author notes, is how she overcame her abusive childhood. It's a bit too pat, of course, but the facileness is offset by the genuinely funny fantasies Hazel has.
Her Body and Other Parties: I was underwhelmed by this collection, which is billed as a genre-bending feminist collection. To be honest, the best part of the collection is the second epigraph, from a poem by Elisabeth Hewer: "god should have made girls lethal / when he made monsters of men." To me, the stories seem rote grim fantasy/horror mashups. Also, the feminism, while it is explicitly queer (yay!) seems grounded in typical (white) liberalism, although it does veer into radical feminism. There are a couple of throwaway comments about the horrors of capitalism. The stories, collectively, address the societal strictures that prop up women as sex objects who simultaneously are punished for their own desires. Female desire itself is deviant, Machado says, so you might as well be queer about it. So that part is super rad!
My main criticism is that, in writing about how horrifying women are treated, Machado ends up upholding that very system. The stories codify it, by their very existence. This especially is true of "Especially Heinous" a retelling of Law and Order: SVU set in a parasitic city where women have bells for eyes and the souls of female victims inhabit Benson's body. Why bother? A synopsis of the real L&O's episodes would net you the same outcome: Women are treated as trash and we live in a rape culture. Don't blame the city; blame men.
The strongest story, and the one I actually loved, is "The Husband Stitch," a retelling of the horror story "The Green Ribbon." In it, and in a couple of the other stories, even good men are shown to be part of the oppressive system. "He is not a bad man, and that, I realize suddenly, is the root of my hurt" (30). Even nice men think they are allowed to possess women, or ask us to meet their parameters while not paying any attention to our own. In fact, in "Inventory" and "Difficult at Parties," the root of the problem is exposed: Nice men want "nice" things from women. They want an essentialized woman whom they can protect. Women, of course, want to be seen as people, not a monolith.
"Inventory" is very good as well, a list, basically, of conquests made during a pandemic that recalls the AIDS crisis. Here, Machado reclaims the act of having sex from the crisis, showing that it's both a separate act and a comfort during the plague. She shows how much surviving a pandemic depends on luck, not just following precautions. It probably is the strongest story in the collection.
I perhaps read this collection too quickly. If I'd read one story per day, or per week, they probably would have resonated more, and the nuances would have been teased out for me. I have no problem with in-your-face stories about how trash men are. In fact, I love Machado's uncompromising view on that. I just don't feel she's able to get outside of the system enough to overthrow it, either with her prose or with the philosophies the stories espouse. But, perhaps that is her ultimate point?
Out There: A collection of three essays, originally presented as lectures at Harvard, exploring the (male) black experience at three periods in time. Pinckney explores questions of identity, travel, belonging, and outsider status. He questions ideas of nationalism, pan-Africanism, and black radicalism, and whether any of those things are enough to overcome the racism black people meet at home and abroad. Classism and colorism within the Negro intellectual community also are considered.
This is a remarkable collection of essays. Pinckney is one of the US' finest intellectuals. I don't think it reduces him to say he reminds me of the New York Intellectuals, especially Lionel Trilling, because Pinckney himself loves that era. I could wax for paragraphs about how much I love this book and how necessary I think it is.
Hi, thanks for the remarks on How democracies die... and everything else, really. :)
(Why does de-lurking always sound so... loud?)
>125 libraryperilous: You're welcome, and I'm glad you de-lurked. It's been a while since we've chatted on here. Are you threading anywhere this year?
No. 2 Feline Detective Agency: The rent on the back room is due soon, and Hettie Bagshot and her sidekick Tilly are low on funds and ever lower on prospective clients. When the phone rings, Hettie is ecstatic, until she worries she might have jeopardized the job by knocking the phone and her notepad to the floor. And how on earth can a reformed folk-reggae-country singer cum inexperienced detective with a temper, a clumsy streak, a bottomless stomach, and no opposable thumbs figure out who's swiped the bodies of dead cats from Furcross' home for aged felines between meals and naps?
I enjoyed this mystery featuring a cat society and no human characters. Some casual racism and too-clever references detract from the charm. The plot is grimmer than one might expect for something billed as a cozy. I suspect the author made that choice in order to counter the gimmick of feline protagonists. Morton's at her best poking gentle fun of cats. Hettie and co. are elegant until they're clumsy. They're clever until they're stupid. They're a bit catty and prone to bouts of lethargy punctuated by a few minutes' energy. And they always, always think about food. I'll follow this series.
I have a crush on this line: "This was her big chance to pay her rent and put her detective agency up there with the professionals, and she had squandered it by getting too close to a salmon turnover." Who among us has not jeopardized an important occasion to stop for a snack?
>126 Miss_Moneypenny: Thank you, and you're welcome. One thing that might make it a little less stressful is that the authors spend a lot of time on historical precedents. It mitigates some of the of-the-moment commentary.
>127 Berly: I'll be interested in your thoughts. I definitely recommend not reading them all in a row like I did. :)
The Spice Box: Irish immigrant Bridget Heaney loves to cook, so she's excited to start her new job in a wealthy department store owner's Fifth Avenue home. When she uncovers the body of his son in the dough box, the chase is on through 1860s New York City's poor neighborhoods for the killer. As Bridget and her employer, Isaac Gold, get closer to the truth, they realize the killer may be closer to home.
I liked this novel, and I'm sorry the series both stops at two books and also doesn't feature Bridget as the main character in both. The Spice Box takes a look at class divides and the racism of Civil War-era New York City. I appreciated that, once the author committed to a Jewish character, she committed to treating his development with respect. She also has quite a bit to say about what it's like for poor immigrants to work in service, even for a caring, generous employer. I found it refreshing that what one would label a cozy historical mystery makes an effort to touch on classism and racism. Bridget and Isaac are a great team, and the secondary characters are generously drawn as well. While the whodunnit is not a surprise, there was an interesting, grimmer denouement than I expected. But it, too, relates to the ways money can and cannot buy happiness and class divides even friends.
The Serengeti Rules: A fascinating look at the regulatory nature of nature. Carroll draws parallels between molecular regulation and trophic cascades, noting that they perform similar functions in the body and in nature. He explores several key scientific discoveries that draw him toward his conclusion: We can use what we know about regulation to save the rest of the natural world from humankind's exploitation of it.
I think his ending is a bit too optimistic, but that, perhaps, is a defeatist attitude. I was more fascinated by the threads all his stories of scientific discovery have in common: Somewhat outside-the-box scientists haring off on unorthodox trains of thought; a spirit of grand adventure; a keen sense of wonder; and serendipity. Almost all of the researchers he showcases also benefited from the generosity of older colleagues who were keen on sharing their knowledge, research, and ideas with younger scientists.
Also, Jacques Monod is a badass who once hid French Resistance documents in his lab, in the leg of a stuffed giraffe. It turns out I don't have to search too far for a biography of his WWII experiences. Carroll kindly has written one: Brave Genius.
I'm very grateful for the mention of that biography of Monod's, frankly wouldn't have thought there'd be an audience for it in the Anglo world (and not much of one in France...) He was a major formative influence for freshman me (of course, that's probably true for hundreds of my colleagues.)
(And to answer question above--no, I've no reading thread of my own and really don't manage to do anything on LT consistently... :))
>125 libraryperilous: That one sounds great, and right up my alley!
>131 LibraryLover23: It was super fun and a clever change from the usual cat cozy. Instead of a magical cat, a whole town of cats with no magic!
>130 LolaWalser: You're welcome, and very cool. Monod seems like someone who would influence students even if his research hadn't been so seminal. He crossed to the students' side in the May 1968 protests. Dude was rad.
Currently reading Circe and finding it very satisfying. She's acted on by and reacts to (male) gods and humans. Until one day, she doesn't. Or, rather, she finds a way to carve a space for herself and do epic things.
Epics always have been, well, epic, and they always have contained domestic details. Yet we're conditioned to think female authors writing in the genre do something different because we think of women's fiction as more interior and less driven by plot. Color me unsurprised that some reviews, including here on LT, remark that there is epic adventure despite the book's feminist bent. We feminists all are humorless homebodies. Didn't you know?
Recently read and recommended: West for its feminist retelling of the frontier myth, including its unpacking of the cost to women and Native Americans when white men go forth on their quixotic quests. Davies celebrates the spirit of adventure that lives inside both those who go and those who are left behind. She also notes the tilting at windmills that usually happens on the road. All in around 150 pages, but deserving of the term epic, and told in the spirit of a serious tall tale, which isn't as disjointed as it sounds.
Also read and recommended: When Books Went to War, about the development of the Armed Services Edition paperbacks during WWII. It's all here: industry innovation; books as shields against terrible politics; public fights against censorship; solace, escapism, or knowledge found while reading at the front; letters of gratitude to authors, including Betty Smith, who wrote back. And, because humans are involved, there also is pettifoggery and partisan politicking in the midst of a world war. Of course there is. Oh, and an entire class (middle) and generation (Greatest) instilled with a lifelong love of reading because, in the middle of the aforementioned terrible world war, book—as Gertrude Stein would remind us—was there.
>133 quondame: I was very charmed by it.
I've finished Circe, and I'm grateful to Miller for writing it. At it's core, it's about a god learning to overcome her cruelty and pettiness. Circe works over the centuries to learn to be kind, even as her kin and fellow immortals are set against that. Eventually, she realizes that what she thought was kindness was another form malice and boredom. How she works to overcome that is the true quest.
I particularly loved the real friendship Circe forms with Penelope. It takes work, and is formed from an uneasy truce, yet it's free of the vanity and manufactured rancor that guide what publishers think women want to read about female friendships. Miller has room to override this notion, because Penelope and Circe are yoked to gods and the Fates. They don't really have time to dislike one another, not when Athena is breathing down their necks. But they also are kindred spirits. As Circe notes, "It is a common saying that women are delicate creatures, flowers, eggs, anything that may be crushed in a moment's carelessness. If I had ever believed it, I no longer did." (315)
>135 quondame: Yes, that's a good comp, although Circe is portrayed as good from the start. It's just that she has so many terrible role models that it takes her a spell to sort it all out.
Secret Sisters of the Salty Sea: I adored this gentle tale of a lovely week by the ocean. Alix and Joolz are sisters, friends, and sometime rivals. They're eager to explore their new surroundings, fearless yet still growing into their boldness, and kind to one another and others.
Secret Sisters of the Salty Sea is about the magic of summer vacations. New friends are made, old bonds are viewed in a fresh light and then renewed, and there's a kind of magic peeking around every corner: What fun thing will happen next?!
There's a gentle insistence that both daydreaming and reasoning are adventures of the mind and spirit, and also that everyday experiences can be a kind of adventure on their own. As someone who goes to a tropical island in her mind when I buy guavas at the market, I approve of these messages! The sisters have some singular tales to tell at the end of their vacation, but they also come away with memories of playing card games, shopping downtown, and cooking dinner with their parents. Perfect days are easy to find if you look for the good in your experiences: "It wasn't exactly a [sand] castle. But they didn't exactly care. Which was another magnificent thing" (70).
This book is kindness itself, a gift to its readers. There's humor, a sweet depth of characterization, and loads of great descriptions of the gentle mysteries, minor disasters, and mini-adventures that make up a vacation unfolding in real time. Clever bonus: It has a very tidal flow to its prose, as the girls' adventures ebb and flow and go from small to large and back to small again. And these descriptions of the sea and swimming in it are just gorgeous:
The hot sun above, the cold water beneath: it was a feeling you could never get tired of. (52)
The silvery wrinkles of the sea swelled into long, dark rumples that rose up higher and thinner and curled over until they collapsed in heaps of foam that raced to the shore. By the time they got there, they were thin watery sheets. Then they slipped away. While one was finishing up and slipping back, another was crashing, another was peaking, another was just swelling up. (37)
a crisp, creamy moon shone high in the sky. There were stars, too. A million moving wavelets shimmered back. Four silvery Treffreys rose and fell with the waves in the silvery light, near the edge of the wide, wild sea. Then they waded in to shore and wrapped themselves in towels. (36)
I highly recommend this book, especially if you are stressed out for any reason and looking for a brief respite with a book. It's warm like the sun shining on your face or a mug of cocoa before a crackling fire.
Edited: touchstone difficulty
Hi Diana my dear, hope you are having a good weekend dear friend and all is well with you. Sending love and hugs.
>137 johnsimpson: Thank you, John. I hope your chunksters challenge is going well. I'll be reading a 1000-page behemoth soon: The House of Government
On Tyranny: This is a slim volume that briefly delves into the ways democracies backslide and what citizens can do to prevent this. There's nothing new here, but Snyder covers his topic deftly and in digestible bites that don't talk down to his audience. As with all of this spate of Trump-inspired titles, the people who need to read it will not even sniff at it.
An additional quibble is that Snyder is not a political scientist, and some of his conclusions feel a bit hyperbolic. In part, it's because he kept the treatise too brief. It could have been 25-50 pages longer and still been a quick read. But, one also can't help but think that Snyder is using this moment to build a reputation as a public intellectual. God, how I miss Tony Judt in this era.
Slave Old Man: An old man escapes one day into the old-growth forest near the plantation. Chased by the owner and an abused, vicious mastiff, the old man draws closer to the epicenter of the forest. The forest has a long memory, and it's on the side of—not justice—perhaps, righteousness. Here, in the forest, black and brown are reclaimed as good: "sharply, at times brightly black, directly rooted in unbelievable valor" (53).
The old man eventually makes his way to The Stone, covered with Carib symbols and speaking out from the ages about lost cultures: "The Stone does not speak to me; its dreams materialize in my mind the speech of those dying ones [Caribs] I had forsaken. The Stone is many peoples. ... Boulder of heady intoxication. These vanished ones live in me by means of the Stone. A chaos of millions of souls. They tell stories, sing, laugh. Some want to support me, others to question me. Festive presences ... others, behind the pride of something sacred, more menacing" (103).
Chamoiseau has ever been aware of the way language itself is a tool of both oppression and freedom. Slave Old Man uses alternate spellings, punctuations, and even creates new words to explore this. It was written in both French and Creole, and Linda Coverdale's excellent translation wisely chooses to leave intact much of the Creole. Highly recommended.
Very good point on Timothy Snyder versus Tony Judt, Diana. I agree with you completely.
Thanks for your nice review of Slave Old Man! It's written by one of my favorite Caribbean authors, Patrick Chamoiseau, so I just bought the Kindle version of it.
Judy and I had the joy of hearing Miller read and talk about Circe at the New York Public Library a few weeks ago.
we're looking forward to reading it.
I like books where witches aren't the bad guys
>141 magicians_nephew: Agree! Not-bad witches or friendly dragons, please. Or both.
I hope you and Judy enjoy your read of Circe. It really is a standout novel, and I've thought about it frequently since I finished it. It's cool that you have an extra connection to it because you attended her talk.
>139 quondame: It also is another one to which my thoughts have turned frequently after finishing it.
>140 kidzdoc: Thanks, Darryl, and I very much look forward to your thoughts on Slave Old Man. It particularly was interesting how Chamoiseau used Édouard Glissant's fiction and philosophy as a jumping off point and incorporated these into the novel. Linda Coverdale's notes were very helpful in teasing out the implications and allusions.
I found a historical mystery labeled as and filed in biography. I took it to the library's information desk to be fixed. They tried to tell me it had been put in biography for a "reason." Well, yes, that's true. The reason is you catalogued it incorrectly.
Does anyone have recommendations for either A) a long, politicky work of historical fiction that's not part of a series or B) a long, dense work of science nonfiction? I need something into which I can sink my teeth for a few days. Shorter and/or lighter books haven't worked to kick this reading slump.
tfw you find out your favorite baseball player probably voted for Trump.
>143 quondame: Thanks! This sounds intriguing. I've only read one of his art mysteries.
Time Was: I adored this book, but I'm mad about the ending, which is sloppy and a bit mean to its characters and readers. Also, it doesn't really make any sense:
Time Was mostly is a bibliomystery, with a dash of historical fantasy and very very light sci-fi. I would rather have read more about Tom and Ben's time travels and their love affair than the tale of ferreting out their secrets. But that's mostly because I didn't particularly like Emmett as a character. Also, I need a whole novel about Lizzie. Astute, witty Radar Girl Lizzie, greatest wingman on the planet. I want to know her story.
"Time was," our elders reminisce. And also: "Time was, time will be again," Tom and Ben write each other. And always: "Ironic that I will leave later yet arrive before you" (16). Time Was is a novel of missed connections, with the letters Tom and Ben place in books acting as a kind of Craigslist Missed Connections for the pre-internet set. It also is a paean to the courage people find to carve out spaces to be themselves in prejudiced places and times. McDonald shows us that the same bigotries are still with us, even as we've chipped away at them and made progress in some fronts. But mostly it's unpleasant Emmett's story, and the novella is a bit weaker in its last third because of that. Still, this is a sad, beautifully written novella, a real standout in the Tor line, and well worth the time.
"We become so lazy in love. But love is laziness, the gift of each other's time" (15).
What the junk! How did I not read Lumberjanes before now?
Two thing I love about it the most: The girls have multi-faceted personalities and they get rewarded for breaking rules. There's a tendency in children's and young adult popular culture to show characters as one-dimensional. Think the Spice Girls or Power Rangers. In Lumberjanes, the girl who likes to take notes on things also is one of the leaders and a champion arm-wrestler. All five of them exhibit this mixing of personality traits. And, they win badges and gain the respect of the camp leader by transgressing! I hate it when girls are punished for behaving with boldness. Still mad about What Katy Did.
Penric's Fox: This was super cute! It's a mystery set in a fantasy world where sorcerers are inhabited by demons. It's a cheerful adventure, but the characters all have kind of complicated backstories, so there's some natural bite to the story. But Bujold never lets that interfere with the brisk pace, and it overall is a fun, cozyish tale.
On the personal front, I found a lump in one breast and will have a mammogram and ultrasound tomorrow. The doctor suspects I have an infection, perhaps from running into something or an insect bite. However, because there is a red rash, they are being pretty proactive to eliminate the more aggressive type of breast cancer that can cause rashes. Fingers crossed! I did manage to unwind a bit today with a cute middle grade novel, The Greatest Gift, about a mouse who works at a hotel and uses her ingenuity and bravery to solve light mysteries and help the guests.
>145 libraryperilous: What a good description of Lumber Janes. I hope the mammogram doesn't find anything sever.
>145 libraryperilous: Keeping my fingers crossed that the mammogram result will set your mind at rest.
>146 quondame:, >147 Sakerfalcon:, >148 LolaWalser: Thank you all very much. I should have the results by Wednesday. I was amused because as I was leaving the radiology office, the technician said, "See you later." I'm sure it was just a reflexive thing to say, but she looked a bit embarrassed. And I did have a moment of inner panic.
While waiting for results, the only possible thing to do is to distract yourself by reading more volumes of Lumberjanes.
>150 reconditereader: Ha, yes. I picked up volumes 2 and 3 on Monday.
Yay! I do not have cancer. Thanks, everyone, for your kind thoughts.
The Rabbit Listened: Lots of friends have advice when Taylor is sad, but only Rabbit understands that letting Taylor decide how to feel is the best thing a friend can do. This is such a lovely book, perfect for children who are coping with grief, but also a balm in these stressful political times. We all need a friend as good and kind as Rabbit.
The Tea Master and the Detective: I loved this gorgeous sci-fi novella, in which a mindship plays Watson to an acerbic scholar's Holmes. It's only June, but I suspect this will stay on my favorites of 2018 list. Highly recommended, and I hope the author writes more stories of their adventures.
Edited to correct typo
Good evening to everyone who knows Anthony Kennedy is a complete asshole. Everyone else can sod off.
>152 LolaWalser: I may have stayed a bit too long at the beach and read a Lumberjanes volume. :)
>153 drneutron: The coolest!
>154 quondame: Thank you! I hope your copy comes in soon, and I'll watch for your review. I've kept it and will read it again before returning it to the library.
>151 libraryperilous: Glad to hear everything turned out okay!
Have you looked at The age of Wonder for a great science book?
and perhaps The sunne in Splendour a big book take on Richard III for a great science book?
Another vote for lumberjanes the art just leaps off the page and i love that when they swear they use the names of famous feminists of history. Sometimes I have to look them up.
The Rabbit Listened magically appeared on my TBR list. Thank you.
My dear beloved niece in Florida is mourning the death of her father - perhaps I will send her a copy as well.
Hi Diana my dear, so glad to see that you do not have cancer. I am slowly getting back into regular posting after a very strange six months where I seem to have gone in fits and starts. I have tried to keep in touch with threads even though I have been light on posting.
Sending love and hugs dear friend.
P.S. Are you looking forward to the Tour De France as usual, I am.
The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction: I enjoyed Jacobs' exhortation to read on what he terms Whim (cf Randall Jarrell) while still reading closely and well. For Jacobs, reading is an act of pleasure, not pedagogy. He notes that his book is for people who love to read that way but have found themselves distracted by digital media. He emphasizes the need to carve out time and space to read, but he also wants people to feel less guilty about the reading choices they make.
The section on rereading is lively. He also emphasizes throughout the book that reading well means skimming some books for information, reading some for enjoyment only, and spending time and thought on a select few. He points out this is the true meaning of Bacon's famous 'chewed' comment.
I especially enjoyed his use of Auden's "High Holidays of the Spirit" exhortation to read masterpieces only occasionally. I also was pleased to learn C. S. Lewis denounced "Vigilants," people concerned only with reading as "social and moral hygiene." (I've been meaning to read both of these authors' essays.)
Jacobs largely avoids snobbery about reading tastes, but in several places, he displays no understanding of the sociocultural barriers to reading, especially the lack of regular access to books and/or the time to read them. It's an obvious flaw in a read that otherwise feels like a kindly professor's thoughts.
The Lumberjanes books continue to delight: "This terrifying decision seems pretty on brand for us."
>156 LibraryLover23:, >157 thornton37814:, >158 Berly:, >160 johnsimpson: Thank you! And, I'm pleased to announce my reading slump officially is busted.
>160 johnsimpson: I'm glad you're back! re: the Tour, I have We Begin Our Ascent on hold. It's received a large number of positive reviews.
>159 magicians_nephew: Excellent suggestions! Thank you. I had to look up Maria V. Klenova. I love the swearing on famous women so much.
I'm sorry for your niece's loss. The loveliest thing about The Rabbit Listened is its acknowledgement that all these different emotions are good to have: anger, sadness, happy memories, looking forward. It's just that it's most important to let each person heal in their own time. Also, the rabbit has a very expressive face, and I just wanted to hug the book.
I've read The Pleasures of Reading (...) by Jacobs at least twice, if not more. It always inspires me to go to the library.
Thank you for visiting and posting on my thread last week. Both cats are doing better now.
>161 libraryperilous: Definitely a book bullet there, and the library has a copy so I've ordered it to my branch!
>162 reconditereader:, >164 ronincats: I think I'd rank it near the top of my books about books experience, especially because it was a bit different than most babs. I especially liked that the author focused on a handful of texts and worked in concert with them to develop his own philosophy of reading. I'm curious to try Jacobs' A Theology of Reading and The Year of Our Lord 1943. I'll look forward to your thoughts, Roni, and I'm glad you stopped by my thread.
>163 calm: Awesome news! You're welcome, and thank you for dropping in to let me know. Kitties are just the absolute best.
I am this close to nuking almost all of my TBR list and starting over. Anyone want to talk me down from the ledge? Or, perhaps even better, encourage me to use the lightning bolt and select delete?
I'm now caught up on all the Lumberjanes collected volumes. I finished on a high note, as I ended up liking volumes 7 and 8 best, especially the return to Greek mythology in 8. Some things I like about the series: the expansion of the friends' circle of friends; the way they talk through their problems; the way they don't let their problems linger. I also like that the kids teach adults lessons that the adults cynically have forgotten: how to be a good friend; how to ask for help; how to say, "I'm sorry." It's such a happy, kind series, and I'm glad it's ongoing.
Edited: html error
>165 libraryperilous: I say Jump! I occasionally go through my TBR list on LT and delete ones that no longer interest me. I might leave it a bit longer if I remembered to attach a particularly trusted LTers name for the recommendation. Have fun!
>165 libraryperilous: I've dumped my whole TBR and started from scratch several times, and I highly recommend it! Sometimes I find myself avoiding recommendations because I know how long my TBR list is, but after I dump it I feel that fun eagerness to hear about a good book again. If the books on your list are good and right for you then you'll run into them again.
"I must go. Lunch is calling" seems a fitting end to Peter Mayle's career. I enjoyed My Twenty-Five Years in Provence. There's a fairy tale quality to the book, and it edges a bit into making fun of the locals. Also, Mayle can afford an 'authentic' Provençal lifestyle. But, I'd rather read a book that skips over that fact than one that shoehorns in sociopolitical commentary about which it's obvious the author doesn't care.
Mayle also is honest enough to recognize the inaccuracies of the nostalgia he peddles: "a lament for a simpler ... world that may or may not have existed except in nostalgic memories. What the nostalgians either forget or ignore is that everywhere the world has been changing, often for the better. Provence has been spared the worst of the rush into the twenty-first century. ... Modernity in its various forms is usually available. But people come and come again to Provence for other reasons, most of which haven't changed at all" (168).
I love to travel. I keep a ridiculously complex travel spreadsheet. I've never taken to travelogues, outside of good old Paddy Leigh Fermor. This one is short, and, while treacly in places, doesn't induce a dental carry. It also is not a stunt memoir or a story of finding oneself in an exotic locale. If you're a reluctant reader of the genre, but you like a taste now and then, this one might be a good choice.
>166 Berly: Thanks, Kim. I'm just about ready to leap. :)
>167 norabelle414: Thank you, Nora. These comments were very inspiring! And I definitely agree that books find you if they're right for you. It's one of the best parts of being an inveterate reader, I think.
I've moved the TBR books tagged priority to their own collection. I've made a good start in deleting the rest of the titles. Two things had happened to make browsing my TBR list less fun. I had forgotten about the be part and had been cataloguing books to "perhaps consider one day, if my reading tastes drastically change, and this title sounds interesting then." And, I became a little too focused on marking books off the TBR list once read, instead of reading what I wanted and marking it off if it happened to be on the list.
I feel much better already.
>168 libraryperilous: I love Peter Mayle, and agree that line is a perfect end to his career. I maintain that nobody can write about food the way he does -- although Brian Jacques describing feasts in the Redwall series comes close :) I hadn't heard about this new Provence volume -- thanks for bringing it to my attention!
>161 libraryperilous: The Pleasures of Reading sounds really good. Onto the list it goes.
>165 libraryperilous: I haven't nuked my TBR list, but I haven't really paid much attention to it. I tend to be easily distracted by shiny new books that I pick up immediately, so, unless I've added it to my hold request list at the library, anything that might be on a TBR list gets forgotten.
>159 magicians_nephew: I second the recommendation of Sunne in Splendour, which is one of my all-time favorite historical novels.
ETA none of my libraries have a copy of The Pleasures of Reaching. :(
>169 curioussquared: Oh, Redwall. I loved those books when I read them while in my mid-twenties, especially the one about Mariel. She was rad.
Do you have a favorite Mayle book you like to recommend?
>170 Storeetllr: Aww, bummer. Maybe ILL?
I love The Sunne in Splendour, but I've been a bit scared to read other Penman books. I'm not sure they'll live up to my rosy remembrances of Sunne.
I'm caught up now on the Phoebe and Her Unicorn trades. I've ordered three nonfiction titles, and they should be arriving today or tomorrow.
>171 libraryperilous: Mariel is super rad! I haven't read too much Mayle, but I just love all his Provence books. In my high school French class, after a particularly tough week, my teacher would sometimes read us chapters from the first book during our Friday afternoon class. It was always a great treat :)
I never got into the Lumberjanes (I picked it up in a library and put it down again), but will try again, perhaps with a collected volume? Will see what the library can do.
Hi, everyone. Fellow 75er calm needs a little help for her kitty, Xander. Xander was hit by a car and had to have a leg amputated. The vet bills were a bit high, and calm also would like to get Xander a climbing apparatus to help him heal.
Please donate to her GoFundMe if you can: https://www.gofundme.com/bjbwk-help-for-xander.
She also doesn't have much of a presence online, so please consider sharing the link on your Facebook and Twitter pages. Every eye on it will help, and calm has set a very reasonable goal that will help her and Xander immensely.
Thank you in advance!
>173 charl08: There are "To the Max" editions, but they each contain two volumes of the trade paperbacks and some bonus materials from the single issues. If you do try it again, I hope you enjoy it. I think the storyline is grand fun!
>172 curioussquared: Sounds like a cool French teacher. :)
Artificial Condition: This is the second Murderbot diary. Murderbot meets an ultra-intelligent ship, ART (Asshole Research Transport) and they team up to explore the mining community where Murderbot allegedly, well, murdered a whole bunch of humans. Along the way, Murderbot just can't help itself and agrees to a contract helping some humans get away from a corrupt CEO, all while searching for answers to questions both empirical and existential.
Murderbot is good at forming friendships and connections just by being Murderbot. Its grudging friendship with ART reminded me a bit of The Tea Master and the Detective. Wells writes Murderbot as stumbling toward being a human without insisting that either Murderbot or readers define it as as such. This is an enjoyable novella with just the right amounts of snark, action, deep thoughts, and heart. I like Artificial Condition even more than All Systems Red.
>174 libraryperilous: Thank you Diana - you might like the new picture of Xander I posted on my thread earlier.
>176 calm: Awww, little floofball. I'm glad he's doing better.
I'm sorry your funding goal hasn't been met yet. :( This is a very active group. Hopefully, more people will catch up on your thread in the next couple of weeks and help you reach it.
The Freeze-Frame Revolution: Is it still hard sci-fi if you handwave away almost all of the science? Is it really a radical novel when you're just repeating bog standard left-leaning libertarian talking points? I enjoyed Watts' novel, but I don't agree with the breathless blurbs that paint is as groundbreaking or the future of science fiction.
He is definitely a floofball :)
The 75ers are active but I don't think I get a lot of attention on my thread, not surprising as I very rarely de-lurk on other people's threads.
The Freeze-Frame Revolution sounds like a miss.
>177 libraryperilous: Catching up! Hooray for no cancer. Re: The Freeze-Frame Revolution, I've been burned too many times this year alone on marketing/publicity that doesn't match up to the book. The Immortalists and The Miniaturist were particularly egregious cases. There is nothing that will sour me to an author forever faster than this nonsense.
>179 Miss_Moneypenny: Thank you!
God, I hate that tendency, in book blurbs and jacket descriptions, to be hyperbolic about someone's novel. No, I am not reading the second coming of Don Quixote, for pete's sake. And, also, sometimes, as you note, one feels as if the blurbers read an entirely different book. Half the time you discover they are thanked as friends in the acknowledgements. How reliable is a friend's endorsement?
It's not Andrew D. Kaufman's fault that Give War and Peace a Chance was published before 2016. But the essential "both sides have equal merit" message of the book doesn't hold up well in the Trump era. You know, the one where an overt white nationalist managed to become leader of the free world. Holding hands with Trump voters to try and understand them nets you nothing but human rights violations and bad Supreme Court justices because they most certainly are not trying to understand you.
Additionally, one needn't be a New Historicism fanatic to know that Tolstoy was an asshole and this bled into his writings. Instead of confronting this head on, Kaufman excuses Tolstoy time and again. This leads Kaufman to imply, among other things, that abused women should stay in bad marriages because abuse is just a form of ennobling unhappiness.
There's also the dismissive attitude toward poor people and a lack of awareness that the enlightenment of which he speaks so highly costs time and money, two things in short supply for the working class since the dawn of the working class.
Kaufman's central message of "Just do it in spite of the odds" is not that different from the "You can do it if you try" twentieth-century self-help titles he scorns. You don't dispense the kind of advice Kaufman dispenses without having your head buried very far in your own piles of money and education. Give War and Peace a Chance is the kind of white limousine liberalism we'd do well to avoid going forward.
>180 libraryperilous: Fascinating. I'm reading War & Peace right now and I am enjoying it a bit but mostly because it is wryly funny, not because I think the philosophy is particularly profound. I am also very aware while reading it that the book is only about very rich people and hardly ever mentions anyone not very rich, outside of passing references to "serfs".
>181 norabelle414: I'll look forward to your final thoughts on W&P!
All Sail Set is excellent maritime fiction, and I highly recommend it to anyone with even a passing interest in the genre. We learn the story of clipper ship Flying Cloud's record-setting run from New York to San Francisco, during which she traversed both calm trades and stormy Cape Horn. The book also is strong in its depictions of that peculiar blend of superstition, bullying, and mateship that makes up shipboard life.
But, I was amused to discover, upon researching the Flying Cloud, that she was navigated on said run by a woman, Eleanor Creesy. Creesy and her husband, the captain Josiah Creesy, logged thousands of miles in Flying Cloud, even breaking their own record, before steam travel and the Civil War drove them from the sea and to a farm outside Salem, Massachusetts. On the maiden voyage, Eleanor Creesy even navigated the Horn using dead reckoning! Is she mentioned in this Newbery Honor book? Heavens no! There's nary a woman in sight, but the author does make certain to mention that seafaring is a man's job—multiple times. Lol.
Edited: grammar correction (subject-verb agreement)
>180 libraryperilous: Your comment about the blurbers - my favourite example of this in a recent book was in The Unpunished Vice - nameless author (why give him more publicity) blurbed the book as if it were a work of genius, but not only was he thanked in the acknowledgements: White credited him as being an author who could be counted on to be read in hundreds of years time... A bit too cosy for my taste.
>182 libraryperilous: I am not amused. Eleanor Creesy should get credit. Arggh!!!
>183 charl08: Ugh. My all-time favorite example is the time some hack white dude's Bildungsroman like every other white dude's Bildungsroman was the next Don Quixote, according to the blurber who most certainly was not also a friend, no siree.
>184 Berly: Yes, I would love to read a biography of her, or historical fiction about her. Oh, goody, there's a book about Flying Cloud and her navigator! It's written by
Spinning Silver: I wanted to type out what this book's political statements are, and its commitment to both progressivism and leftism, and what that means to me as a progressive Democrat and a socialist in our Second Age of Shoddy. But it's too fresh for me to articulate that well. And, I think that does a little bit of injustice to the book, which probably more is a personal tale about holding on to kindness and decency because you want to. Who knows how much of it was written before Trump? And, anyway, Trump's the apotheosis of a timeworn disease, not the anomaly conservative Never Trumpers want him to be.
Spinning Silver is one of the finest novels I've read in a long time, and it manages to feel as fresh as salty, seaside summer breezes and as comforting as a cup of hot chocolate before a crackling fire. It's a fairy tale, yes, and a quest, and epic fantasy, but it's also domestic fiction about the pleasures of home, families (especially found ones), and rural life during changing seasons. Read this book to feel uplifted or if you want to feel wondrous about the world or if you just want to feel inspired about what the fantasy genre still has to offer its readers.
Edited: Also, that last line that reviewers are mentioning? Readers, it is a perfection.
Edited: HTML markup correction
>185 libraryperilous: I started Spinning silver a few weeks ago, but had to put it down in favor of library holds and now two book club reads. It's next on my list! Glad to hear you enjoyed it so much :)
>185 libraryperilous: You got me with that book bullet! I'll have to add it to my notebook...
>186 ronincats: Glad you enjoyed it! I'm waiting a spell before I reread it. We'll see how long I can hold out.
>187 curioussquared:, >188 LibraryLover23:, >189 Sakerfalcon: I hope you all enjoy it whenever you do get around to reading it.
Conan Doyle for the Defense is a timely look at injustice and bigotry. It's all here: ethnocentrism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, classism, Victorian prudery and imperialism handed down to the next generation, a rigged trial, corrupt cops and prosecutors, intimidation and exploitation of female witnesses, a rich asshole who likely was the real culprit getting off scot-free, and a harsh sentence to hard labor in a prison built specifically to extract cheap labor from convicts so locals didn't have to do it.
Some of the book is padding, especially the numerous passages from Holmes stories. I'm no death of the author acolyte, but it's a bit of a stretch to say that Doyle acted like Holmes in the real world. Also, while Fox rightly is insistent that the bigotry against Slater contributed to his unjust imprisonment, she views it as an existential factor. That might be true of the public sentiment against him, but the principal actors who caused Slater to be found guilty all acted willfully. Fox herself provides plenty of evidence of this. Systemic biases are rampant, but they have specific roots that intentionally are exploited by the ruling. I wish Fox had displayed an understanding of that.
There's also a bizarre coda, in which Fox appears to take Doyle's side in a falling out he had with Slater after Slater finally was released from prison. The cause? Doyle demanded that Slater reimburse people for the expenses they had incurred in trying to get the sentence overturned. There's no doubt that Doyle's celebrity contributed to the overturned sentence and to finally establishing a court of appeals in Scotland. But really?!
The case against Oscar Slater fell apart within a few days. He still was found guilty, imprisoned, and forced to perform hard labor for over twenty-five years before he finally was released. In the interim, Slater had lost his German citizenship and was not able to return. He never saw his family again and died in 1948. His beloved sisters and their families preceded him in death, rounded up by the Nazis and murdered in death camps during WWII.
If God Invented Baseball is a lovely, quietly radical poetry collection in which the physics of baseball are similar to both segregation and the Civil Rights Movement. And this politics of race collides with the personal fight against time, a failed marriage, and an aging body. And the ravages of time are like a jazz rift, which also is like the best parts of baseball, which also is like youth, which also is like freedom, which also is like civil rights.
Playing baseball until dark brings "a light in our eyes / even stars could see." Younger kids exiled to right field during a pick up game sneak through the fence before the game is over like "players sent down to the minors."
A bunt is like learning manners to try to protect you from racism: "All your life you played small ball." Your parents sending you to the white school across town makes you "feel traded. You feel betrayed." Black men need to learn to throw knuckleballs and "be born / with a big mitt. / How else can one catch the world / that flutters in unpredictable ways." Bob Gibson shows up in a dream to help Nat Turner "freedom pitch and brush back slavery." A rain delay is waiting for integration, the "scoreboard a reminder that waiting / was a wasted turn at bat. / The rain continues to fall in one direction. / Who can say this is progress?"
Of Vida Blue, he asks, are these "Notes / popping in and out of the catcher's / mitt and making the leather sing / like Ella, or is it Vaughan?" There's blues here, too, and a "bad bullpen will always give a team the baseball blues."
Take courage, dear readers, and listen as "The Relief Pitcher Throws a Sonnet": "You have to forget the last election. / The blown save. / What matters is now, not tomorrow, just now."
A real gem, and I appreciate the way Miller allows his metaphors to stand on their own terms. These are short poems, with no wasted words, and Miller trusts his readers to follow him on his journey, both through life and into a more leftist politics.
I can't decide which is more hilarious: Coyote Doggirl getting a little, shall we say, too worked up when riding her horse (anyone who's ever ridden a bike can relate, I think), or CD saying, "Shit! Shitty. Damn." in quick succession as she's shot by three arrows. Anyway, I made the mistake of reading this excellent graphic novel in public, and I had to work extremely hard to keep from howling in laughter. As it was, the next table side-eyed me. I must have had the goofiest grin on my face.
Even when terrible, adult tragedies intervene, Coyote Doggirl finds a way to hold on to her faith that things will work out. I really like the message this sends: Yes, bad things happen, and adulting sucks sometimes, but it's okay to want to be a little juvenile and wondrous about things around you at times. The space she carves for herself at the end is more than just a happily ever after. It's an affirmation that the type of HEA you choose for yourself matters.
"We need a new song". Drudgery piled upon tragedy piled upon drudgery, interrupted by quiet moments of shared bonds with other female slaves, a few stolen moments of real happiness, and the terrible knowledge that even the decent choices that might be "given" to you are 1) made by men who 2) are your conquerors, rapists, and captors, 3) rooted in a view of you as an "it," not a person, one 4) most definitely not remotely equal to a man. The Silence of the Girls feels like something that only could be written in the #MeToo era, but that, of course, is false. Books like these have been written before, because the story is the same one through the long centuries. The difference is that, at least in this brief moment, Barker's book is getting positive reviews by men. Certainly, Barker's thoughts on female rage echo Rebecca Traister's excellent journalism on the subject. (I think about Traister's post-election interview with HRC frequently.)
The ending appears to falter a bit, as Barker places Briseis' story in a long line of
"Yes, I watched him. ... It's strange, but just then, when I said, "I watched him," I very nearly added "like a hawk," because that's what people say, isn't it? ... But it was nothing like that. Achilles was the hawk. I was his slave to do what he liked with ... Oh, I watched him all right, I watched him like a mouse" (33).
I've made The Silence of the Girls sound depressing, and it is a quietly brutal novel. But it also is a radical novel, and it's one that I ultimately found uplifting.
>191 libraryperilous: Great review on the last two books. I am tempted by both.
>192 quondame:, >193 Berly: Thanks! I think Silence of the Girls is a stronger book than Circe, although a 1:1 comparison between the two isn't quite fair. Kim, I'll be interested in your thoughts on Coyote Doggirl if you read it. I thought it was a hoot.
>194 Sakerfalcon: I suspect it will end up on my year-end best of list, and I've thought about it frequently since finishing it. What does it say about our society that the concept of actively holding on to your rage and selectively applying it to make small improvements in a circumscribed life is a radical idea? Barker isn't the first novelist to explore this, or even the first one this year, but it's maddening that it still feels so fresh each time the idea is put forth.
>195 LolaWalser: Aww, thank you, and you're welcome. It always makes me happy when you delurk to say hi.
I've finished Reader Come Home. It's edifying, but it also feels like two distinct books. About one-third deals with how the brain operates and the general effects of the digital era on readers' brains. Wolf worries that we're forgetting how to read dense prose (such as George Eliot), that we skim too much of what we read, and that we are losing access to the deep stores of knowledge that help us codify information, analyze it, and apply it to our own experiences. It's fascinating stuff, especially the differences between the way the brain processes a single word versus a sentence. The process to read a sentence becomes even more predictive and draws on context clues, the history of a reader's practice of deep reading (itself something that takes years to form and needs constant maintenance), and a history of previous reads.
The rest of the book explores how the digital era is changing children's brains and how reading, essential to many life skills, including critical thinking and empathy, is endangered by the proliferation of technologies. Wolf is no curmudgeonly Luddite. She's very keen on using digital advances to improve the lives of early readers, and the chapters on how and when to apply tech and when to use dead tree materials would be of great interest to educators, I'm sure.
She returns to the concept of deep reading for adults in her final chapter. She adapts Calvino's writing advice, festina lente, to a reader's life. She suggests reading quickly until you find something that makes you want to read slowly. This is similar to Alan Jacobs' idea of reading at Whim. She also suggests a framework based on Aristotle's three kinds of lives, found in his Nicomachean Ethics. Readers should read for knowledge and experience, and for entertainment, and also for contemplation. It's this last part of reading that Wolf feels is the most essential, not just for individual wellness, but because it helps uphold democratic values. An informed, empathic country is a country less susceptible to disinformation, lies, and demagogic agitprop.
Wolf doesn't really outline a way to return to deep reading. The last chapter raises more questions than it answers, but her own experience as a faltering deep reader informs her book. Yes, dear readers, she too had lost the ability to read deeply. Her experiments found that rereading a favorite dense novel for 20 minutes daily, for two weeks, helped retrain her brain to accept denser prose and a slower style of reading.
Also of interest to me: Some research has found that children as young as seventh grade often exhibit a strong preference for reading either physical books or on e-readers. Most children were able to move easily between the two mediums, but the children who exhibited the strongest preferences for their choices were the least able to code switch between the print and digital versions of their books. I love that e-readers are out there, but I have always struggled to read books on my Kindle. Indeed, it's a physical discomfort to me when I try. Perhaps I'm just someone whose brain cannot adapt to the medium.
Another interesting study: In "Your Brain on Jane Austen," researchers found that simply choosing to read something with or without "close attention" activates different parts of the brain. The more closely one reads, the more different networks in the brain work in concert. Okay, that makes sense. But they were surprised to also discover that readers who chose to read closely activated regions of the brain aligned with both the feelings and physical actions of the characters in the novel! Similar research has shown that reading fiction about, eg, textures of clothing activates the brain networks responsible for touch. As I said, fascinating stuff!
>197 kidzdoc: Thanks, Darryl! I hope you're able to find one or both at your local indie, and I'll look forward to your reviews of them.
Not much progress on the reading front, due to the flu + Kavanaugh. I finally felt like reading a book, so I reread one of my all-time favorites, The Perilous Gard. It really is the perfect novel, and I think I'll read it again around Halloween. I just want to carry copies with me and hand it to teenage girls who get bombarded with instalove and "actually, abuse is flirting" tropes and say, "Here. Read this and never settle."
ETA: Also, the Lady in the Green has all the best lines.
Also, I read a fair few research articles each month, mostly in political science, IR, and zoology.
I've toyed with the idea of cataloging them on LT, but I'd prefer to use LT for books only. Does anyone know of a good website for cataloging scholarly articles? I just track my readings in an Excel spreadsheet, which is fine, but I wouldn't mind using an online tool.
>199 libraryperilous: Check out Zotero!
It's free, and it's great at importing and cataloging citations for journal articles, books, chapters, working papers, websites, etc.
I don't get paid to say this, I'm just a fan :-)
>198 libraryperilous: I love, love, love both of Elizabeth Marie Pope's books and only wish she had written more. I may have to reread The Perilous Gard this month. Luckily, I seem to have a copy right here on my shelves next to The Sherwood Ring. How about that?
And I'm really needing to take a break from all media. I'm finding myself getting too distressed over all this.
>200 reconditereader: Oooohhhhh. Thank you. This is great. I've just downloaded it and will play in it tomorrow.
>201 ronincats: Oh hai, fellow Elizabeth Marie Pope fan! I agree. Really rude of her to leave us only two novels, but handy of your shelves to keep them in stock for you. :)
I love The Sherwood Ring, although I think you can see a marked improvement in the quality of Pope's writing style in The Perilous Gard. The two books were written around 20 years apart, I think.
I struggle with media breaks, because I want to stay as informed as possible. But breaks are necessary and good, and I should be more diligent about taking them, especially weeks like this one. Let's reread The Perilous Gard instead!
I'm sorry to hear that you contracted the flu, Diana, and I hope that you're feeling better. I don't have much hope, but I think we'll both regain our reading mojo if the Senate votes to deny the spoiled wannabe rapist frat boy a spot on the Supreme Court.
>204 kidzdoc: Thanks, Darryl. I am better, although I think I may have reached my maximum Trump Era stress level. But then, this administration knows no concept of a nadir, so I'm sure a lower depth will be plumbed.
I don't have much hope
Hope dies last, or so they say, but it's hard to remember this sometimes.
Just popping in to provide a quote from one of my favorite poets, Lucie Brock-Broido, for today's shitshow. May people take a small bit of encouragement from it: "Be good, they said, and so too I was / Good until I was not."
Whatever form your anger and rebellion takes, it's valid and meaningful in the broader scheme.
Off to try to recover my reading mojo, despite Kavanaugh's likely confirmation today.
Hey, Diana, hope the flu passes quickly.
That's a great quote.
I know it feels like nine steps back for every ten taken and I'm more sorry than I can say for American women and what's in store ahead but I really believe, as I never did before, that you may lose battles but never the war.
We shall soon look back and see these times for what they are--the last throes of white male supremacy. It's not even Pyrrhic victory, it's their agony.
>206 LolaWalser: Thank you. I agree, it's a death throe. But my heart breaks for all the people who aren't even born yet who will be cleaning up this mess. The half life from bad rulings will be very long and the most marginalized will be the most affected.
Ugh, I haven't read a book in at least a week. And I borrowed the wrong fluff title from the library, so I have to wait until my hold on the book I actually wanted arrives.
Oh, and this is my last week in Florida, and of course the red tide hit my local beaches. Of course.
Thanks to >201 ronincats:, I reread The Sherwood Ring and absolutely loved it. Goodness, I want that Venetian glassware. I also found Peggy's voice more compelling this go-round.
Every few years, a fiction subgenre has its moment and produces excellent, timely titles. The last few years have seen a renaissance in social justice-oriented historical fiction, and 2018 is a particularly rich vintage. Here's a list of some titles that have caught my eye. They all feel like they were written in response to this hellfire timeline. Remember, Trump is a symptom of a long-term disease. I think authors of fiction, particularly authors of color or genderqueer authors, saw a Trump-like GOP more readily than the rest of us. And many of them also saw the fault lines on the left, as well as the failure of the entire left spectrum to coalition and build a sustainable movement with tangible policy goals. (BLM has come the closest and is a good model to follow.) So, these novels feel both like an explicit response to the specific political moment as well as a broader exhortation for us to build something better.
A View of the Empire at Sunset
Never Anyone but You
Confessions of a Fox
The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock
All Among the Barley
Now We Shall Be Entirely Free
Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl
Love Songs of the Revolution
She Would Be King
I'll add titles as I come across them. Please feel free to add your own recommendations for social justice-y historical fiction written within the last 5 years or so.
Edited for clarity
>208 libraryperilous: This sounds like a really interesting sub-genre! Any you particularly recommend from that list?
>209 curioussquared: Yes, very interesting, and I appreciate how fiercely committed some of the authors have been to being overtly political. I'd recommend Black Deutschland and Never Anyone but You as my two favs. And Confessions of a Fox for the most social justice-y and most clever. It's an academic satire and retelling, plus it's genderqueer and is about ending the carceral system.
>210 libraryperilous: Thanks!! I will definitely have to check those out.
I think I'm going to do a mini-vacation for my 40th this November. I'll have around 8 days after flight time/time differences are counted. I'm debating mostly between a return jaunt to my favorite city, London, or a new jaunt to a city that's long been another favorite, Berlin. Any thoughts? Suggestions on other places in Europe you love?
I'd like to stick to Europe for this trip, because it's a reasonable flight time from the New York area, and I'm still planning on a surfing jaunt later in the year.
>212 libraryperilous: I have been to neither London nor Berlin, unfortunately -- London is next on my list in Europe. Paris is the European city where I've spent the most time, and I love it. I went to Scotland last year and desperately want to go back to Edinburgh.
>213 curioussquared: Oh, Paris was rad. I hadn't expected to like it so much. I stumbled on this gorgeous living church that had a brown-tone stained glass window of St. Francis feeding the animals. Edinburgh looks neat and is high on my list. I hope you make it to London soon. It's my favorite city.
How To Be a Good Creature is a cute memoir of science writer Sy Montgomery's life with animals. It's a little woo in places, but it's overall message is one of finding grace, strength, and joy in non-human species. Montgomery has led an adventurous life as a writer, traveling to cloud forests, the Outback, Namibia, and other far-flung locales in her quest for connections with other species.
"But emotions aren't confined to humans. A far worse mistake than misreading an animal's emotions is to assume the animal hasn't any emotions at all."
>214 libraryperilous: I saw Sy Montgomery at a book festival recently and she is very woo.
>212 libraryperilous: Berlin is amazing - so much to do, and great food of all kinds. But if you came to London we could meet up!
>208 libraryperilous: I love this! Great idea, Diana. I'm still very groggy after working four nights in a row, but I'm sure I'll have some titles to add to your list. Salvage the Bones, Jesmyn Ward's National Book Award winning second novel, comes to mind immediately. From your list I've read Washington Black, The Impostor and Warlight, and I liked all of them.
I think authors of fiction, particularly authors of color or genderqueer authors, saw a Trump-like GOP more readily than the rest of us.
Spot on. I would also extend that sentiment to people of color. I was very concerned that trump would win the 2016 presidential election, as were many of my fellow liberal African American, Asian and Latino physician friends at work, and most of us were very nervous about the election, while our white liberal colleagues felt very confident that Hilary Clinton would win easily. I vividly remember being a guest at a book club meet up in Cambridge, UK that my good friend Fliss (flissp) invited me to that spring, and being asked by the women I hadn't met before if I thought that trump would win the Republican primary. I told them that I thought that it was entirely possible, to their horror and despair, and later that year when British friends and strangers asked me if he would win the general election I said that I thought that he had a good chance of doing so. I'll never forget the Election Day skit on SNL that aired the Saturday after the presidential election that featured Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock, who were not the least bit surprised that trump won, in contrast to their white liberal friends who were shocked and horrified that he won:
That skit was both funny and sad, but ultimately on point, as it almost completely reflected the opinions of my partners, with us POC expressing very little surprise and most of our white colleagues being mortified by the result. Two of my white female partners are very "woke", though, and Tracy and Laura were also not that surprised that he won.
I'm not optimistic about the midterm elections, including the close race to determine the next governor here in Georgia between Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp. I'll be (deliriously) surprised if she wins, especially since white women are favoring him by a better than 2:1 margin in the latest polls. I predict that Republicans will continue to maintain control of the House and Senate, and I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if trump is re-elected in 2020. I would love to be proven wrong, though.
I look forward to finding out where you decide to take your vacation. Berlin is very high on my bucket list, although I adore London, of course. I made reservations to spend Christmas in London yesterday, and I'm looking forward to spending time with Claire and other friends there.
I'm going to respond to Darryl's excellent post in depth in the next couple of days. And I have loads more historical fiction to add to my list.
But right now, my heart is broken and I'm filled with a rage that I can't seem to turn into a productive anger. We're sliding faster and faster toward the point of no return, and this toothpaste isn't going back in the tube.
>216 Sakerfalcon: Ooh, maybe I'll do both. It would be great to meet kidzdoc, too, if the timing can work out.
>215 norabelle414: At one point, she talked about adopting a dog after her previous dog directed her to do so in a dream. Alrighty, then.
>218 libraryperilous: I just found out that the video of Montgomery's session at the book festival has been posted online, if you're interested: http://www.loc.gov/today/cyberlc/feature_wdesc.php?rec=8491
>212 libraryperilous: what a great idea! For my 40th (3 years ago) I was tied down with kids and mortgages and uni fees....(not that I am not those things now, but then it felt big). I had a weekend away with people in a similar position to me, and all our combined kids. It was a raucous and cool time...but a week on the continent sounds grand :)
Yo, is anyone going to be around LT tonight during the returns? It would be fun to thread about it, but I don't want to even sniff the Pro & Con group.
>223 norabelle414: I wish I could do that. My brain is craving a book, but I can't seem to focus! And I am at my dad's cat-free house atm. :(
Like, these Pantsuit Nation posts on FB about voting while dying of cancer are inspiring, but maybe just mail-in ballots for everyone for every election next time. Literally the easiest way to increase turnout, cut down on bureaucratic snags, count results easily, create a paper trail, reduce intimidation by domestic abusers, and decrease the already miniscule voter fraud to about nil. Oh, and it saves states money!
Yeah, I wasn't expecting a huge blue wave, especially not in the Senate, but this is ... not good news for Dems even if we gain the House.
Too much suppression and disenfranchisement; too much of a rural-urban ideological divide; too much racism: 2020 is going to be a difficult election, and Rs will be motivated to expand their terrible tactics.
At least Florida passed Amendment 4.
ETA: Somewhat less pessimistic about the wave—it's happening!—but my comments about racism, disenfranchisement, and a motivated opposition stand.
Fantastic news out of Louisiana. Medicaid expansion, voting rights expansion, and progressive policies winning in suburban districts are good things that are happening tonight!
ETA2: Over 100 women elected to the House, many progressive WOC. That's the story, peeps.
>191 libraryperilous: Excellent review of The Silence of the Girls - I'm slightly embarrassed to admit I have yet to read any of Pat Barker's books but that one's gone on the list.
>196 libraryperilous: And Reader, Come Home has also gone on the list.
>225 libraryperilous: From a non-US perspective it seems like there's maybe a glimmer of hope in the US election results? My husband is a US politics nerd and explained to me the ways a Democratic majority in the House could help. But lots more work to do before 2020 as you say.
Looking out from the despair of Brexitland it's nice to see that glimmer of hope.
Popehat posted a little poem on Twitter, in honor of Mango Milosevic's Veteran's Day non-appearance: "In Flanders fields the poppies blow / But it’s kind of drizzly, let’s not go."
No progress on the reading front, but I did order a few books for my birthday. And I requested some ILL books. Oh, and I have 60 books out from the library.
>226 souloftherose: Yes, more than a glimmer. The wave turned out to be quite blue. Election night was a good reminder to me not to get caught up in horse race coverage. I largely am immune to it when I read about politics, but the incessant coverage on cable news made it hard to stick to that on Nov. 6th as things were unfolding in real time.
The Democratic majority in the House is hugely important! The ongoing voter suppression and disenfranchisement are going to remain large barriers. And the racism of white voters, especially the evangelical Christians.
Someone posted on Facebook, "Fuck me Brexit is stupid" and I thought there could not be a more perfect summary of this awful period: Fuck me right-wingers are terrible. I wish you had a glimmer of hope, but Brexit seems to be Brexiting along. :(
>226 souloftherose: Weeks later, I'm still thinking about The Silence of the Girls and how non-centrist it was in its personal politics. I think I'm going to reread it soon. I'll look forward to your thoughts on it and Reader, Come Home.
Greetings and congrats on, I guess, better results of the elections than they would have been if it had turned out much worse! Was hoping beyond hope for something really splashy progressive in Georgia and Florida but with the deck this stacked in favour of the "#!/-.!s (what a system...) the achievement must be judged to a different scale.
>228 LolaWalser: Thanks, lol. Actually, while I remain enraged by the obvious scamming the Rs did to win the GA and FL races, I'm encouraged by Abrams' refusal to "concede" in her speech, her new voting rights organization, and the progressive groundwork these campaigns—and O'Rourke's in Texas—have laid in future battleground states. Worth noting that HRC actually had a shot at GA in 2016 until the second Comey letter did her in.
I remain discouraged by the Fourth Estate's continued commercialized coverage, including their attempted creation of a new demagogue in AOC (a very good pol who deserves better than the treatment she's getting from the right, left, and media). And also by the stupid white men in the party who are trying to ruin things to stay in power. I'm not just talking about the inept Third Wayers challenging Pelosi's SOH bid. I'm talking about Sherrod Brown's hubristic likely run for president. Yes, definitely an older white guy with MeToo stuff out there who's a protectionist and aligns with Trump on multiple trade issues is the answer in 2020. FFS, white dudes, read the fucking room.
Anyway, I read a couple of books this week. Yay, me! I'd Rather Be Reading is a cute collection of brief essays about Bogel's reading life. I particularly liked her essay about realizing that "you should read this" actually is what she labels "book bullying." Her essay is about learning not to recommend books to your friends for selfish reasons, such as personal improvement in a difficult time. But, I think one also can apply it to one's own tendencies to obsess over TBR lists or feel bad about not reading enough smart books per year, or whatever. If you find yourself saying, "I should read this," instead of "I want to read this," perhaps you're putting too much pressure on yourself.
My SantaThing entry is live. Comments and suggestions always are welcome!
Exit Strategy: The final Murderbot entry is fun, but it feels stilted in its execution. One suspects the author wrote herself into a couple of corners and didn't bother to puzzle a way out. Particularly, Murderbot's options at the end don't seem to grant that much autonomy.
Yeah, Ocasio-Cortez is bound to be hated and ridiculed from all sides. Still, she's in the house now. Mirabile dictu.
Thank you, Paul and Darryl.
Happy holidays, everyone, and joyous reading in the new year!
Hope you are having a peaceful Christmas, however you celebrate this season.
Hi Diana my dear, I hope you had a really good Christmas. We would like to wish you a very happy new year and hope that 2019 is a good one, sending love and hugs to you from both of us dear friend.
>237 johnsimpson: Thanks, John, it was very merry. And a very happy 2019 to you and your family, as well.
>238 thornton37814: Thank you, Lori. Love the cat!!!
>236 Sakerfalcon: Thank you, Claire. I hope you're having a happy, peaceful holiday season.
Happy New Year, 75ers. I had a great time in the group in 2018. I'm going to make 2019 a quieter year on LT. I'll still be active in cataloging my readings, so I'll be around almost daily. Feel free to send me a friend request if you'd like to see what I read in the coming year. Drop me a PM if you see that I've read something that piques your interest! If you'd like to keep in touch on Facebook, you can PM me a link to your profile and I'll send you a friend request there.
It was tons of fun, everyone. Wishing you happy readings in 2019 and beyond.
>239 libraryperilous: Happy New Year to you too! I sent you a friend request so I can still keep up with your reading. I'm sorry you won't be in the 2019 group but I understand the need for more quiet.
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