Register a SA Forums Account here!
JOINING THE SA FORUMS WILL REMOVE THIS BIG AD, THE ANNOYING UNDERLINED ADS, AND STUPID INTERSTITIAL ADS!!!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us money per month for bills, and since we don't believe in showing ads to our users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
 
  • Post
  • Reply
DurianGray
Dec 23, 2010

King of Fruits


I got through 14 books in January. (This is... a long post.)

1. The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho
This was a quick, fun read. A monk whose monastery has been burned down joins up with some bandits and shenanigans happen when they try to fence some stolen holy relics. Definitely in the same vein as stuff like the Tensorate series or The Empress of Salt and Fortune for anyone who might be looking for more that's similar thematically and sort of setting-wise.

2. In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick
This is a very engaging non-fiction book about the real whale attack that inspired Moby Dick (and how the crew dealt with the aftermath, including lots of cannibalism). You get a quick primer of the history and culture of Nantucket up to and during the whaling boom of the early 1800s, learn about the horrors of whaling, whales, the stages of dehydration/starvation on the human body and more! Really interesting case study in people repeatedly making, in hindsight, very horrible decisions. I really appreciated that it did point out the racism that no doubt influenced who survived and who didn't, though it definitely isn't the primary focus.

3. To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers
I've already read all of the (currently available) Wayfarers book by Chambers so I was interested to see what this standalone might be like. I'm really glad I picked it up and would recommend it for anyone who enjoyed Wayfarers. This follows a team of scientists doing surveys of exoplanets that might (and often do) harbor life. Things don't always go as planned and the scientists have to make increasingly hard decisions while still pulling together in what I would say is a very Chambers-esque way. And I will admit the ending made me tear up a bit.

4. Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
I don't really read a lot of romance generally but this one wasn't bad. Set in a sort of alternate timeline where the son of the US President and an English prince fall in love. Most of the conflict comes from political concerns/complexity because of their respective positions (instead of miscommunication and/or bizarre stubbornness which seem to be frustratingly common plot points in a lot of romance). It was cute and fluffy, maybe a little twee in spots for my taste, but solid enough for what it's trying to be.

5. Circe by Madeline Miller
I read Song of Achilles the month before and added this to my library holds immediately after I finished. I was a Greek myth nerd child, and this was a lot of fun for my because of the background I already had. She brings a really great spin to the myths and makes some interesting connections between different stories while still staying pretty true to the source material. I absolutely love how terrifying and petty the gods and minor deities are and the way she fleshes out Circe into a main POV character instead of just a supporting character/obstacle like she is in a lot of the classic myths is fantastic.

6. The Curse of Capistrano by Johnston McCulley
This was the Book Barn Book of the Month for January. I haven't read much early 1900s pulp even though I've always been interested in it, so reading the Zorro origin seemed like a fun place to jump in. As expected, it was fun and pulpy with lots of action (and some things certainly haven't aged well, but it could be a lot worse given the time period it was written/published originally). Also, Zorro's 'civilian disguise' is a lot of fun as a character.

7. Witchmark by C.L. Polk
A sort of fantasy/romance/mystery in a vaguely late-Victorian/Edwardian secondary world setting. A former army surgeon (and runaway noble) who is able to use magic (which is basically illegal) gets caught up in a murder-investigation-turned-government-conspiracy and hooks up with a hot supernatural not-fae guy along the way. Solidly paced mystery plotline with some good twists, the romance was well balanced in with it, and the ending managed to tie up enough to be satisfying but leave enough for the sequels that I'm interested in checking out the rest of the series at some point.

8. Persephone Station by Stina Liecht
This was the first book I read this month/year that ended up being sort of disappointing for me. I wanted to like it a lot more than I did based on the pitch but the story ended up falling a bit flat (for me, at least). There's an alien colony planet, there's a very diverse group of ragtag (mostly) military veterans-turned-space-mercenaries, there's aliens, there's a non-binary crime boss, there's a sentient AI, there's an evil corporation -- all things I was excited for. But somehow it just didn't hang together for me. It sometimes felt like the story was trying to do a lot and ended up stretched a bit thin in a lot of places because of it. I think a lot of the things that I wished were focused on more were glossed over and the things I wasn't as interested in were the things that got the deeper dives and that's a big part of why it didn't work great for me. Not a bad plot or characters, and might be a better fit for other folks, though.

9. The Four Profound Weaves by R.B. Lemberg
This is a novella but there's a lot packed in here with regard to trans identity, belonging, and ownership (in various senses). Two trans elders both want to track down a weaver who is able to create the fourth and final magical weave. There's a fairly straightforward adventure plot running under everything but there's a really rich exploration of characters and culture overlaid on it that makes it hard to simplify what the book is about. Highly recommend this for anyone looking for fantasy that does a really good job of thoughtfully tackling at least a few aspects of the "if this world has magic that can transform bodies, what does that mean for trans people?" question.

10. Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire
This is the second in the Wayward Children series (centered around a boarding school for kids who are sucked into various magical fantasy worlds and get spit back out again). The premise might sound cutesy at first, but the first book follows a murder mystery as various students are murdered and dismembered if that gives a better impression. This one is a sort of prequel in that it gives the background for two of the characters from the first book and explores the portal fantasy they were sucked into called the Moors, which is essentially a classic Universal Horror flick (especially in the Frankenstein/Dracula/Wolfman vein) made manifest. I really enjoyed this and I've enjoyed the series a lot the more I've read (I got most of them for free from one of Tor's ebook giveaways but I'm definitely planning to pick up the rest). McGuire is also just really good and doing believable representation for characters of various sexualities and gender identities in a way that's accessible for people who might be unfamiliar with some of the concepts, but doesn't go too hard into "I'm an X, that means Y and Z."

11. When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain by Nghi Vo
The sequel to The Empress of Salt and Fortune. Definitely pick this up of you liked Empress -- I actually liked this entry even better. It continues following the cleric Chih in their travels and this time they end up getting waylaid by a group of hungry (magical, talking) tigers. There's a great overarching theme of how the same stories are different depending on who tells them. The 'haunted house' segments especially were a lot of fun. I really look forward to seeing where else this series goes.

12. The Seventh Perfection by Daniel Polasky
This one wasn't on my radar at all until a friend mentioned it. The really interesting thing about this is I suppose the POV format. It's sort of second person. Each chapter is just the dialog from a single (usually) character talking to the POV character who is the Amanuensis to the setting's God-king as she travels around the city trying to solve a personal mystery. This is novella length and I think it just manages to not overstay its welcome, especially with the sort of 'gimmick' to the storytelling that it uses. Definitely a good example of one of the many ways that you can tell a story, especially using something as controversial as second person.

13. The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang
Haha oh boy. So I saw plenty of people saying "this starts out fun and then just makes a hard turn into being incredibly depressing" and those people were not lying. This goes from a somewhat standard "I'm going to get out of this horrible podunk town/situation by studying hard and getting into the imperial military academy" to "I'm learning arcane magic kung fu and I'm a wizard now" to "literally just the Nanjing Massacre but with different names" and I'm not exaggerating. The first 2/3s or so was a lot of fun and the worldbuilding with the magic and gods is interesting, but apparently the sequels stay in the incredibly depressing vein. Definitely can appreciate the author giving more exposure to an overlooked historical atrocity (at least in the west) but I dunno if I have the stomach for another two books of it.

14. Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire
Third in the Wayward Children series. This one deals with some of the fallout from the first book. Some familiar characters return, some new characters are introduced and there's actual exploration of some of the various fantasy worlds that previously were only sort of briefly described previously (visits are made to the Halls of the Dead where living people act as statuary and the world of Confection where literally everything is made of sugar). This one is so far not my favorite in the series but it's still good. It's interesting to see some of the previous side characters get more screen time and explain their worlds more -- really it made me just want to see some of the other worlds (especially Mariposa) in more detail.


1. Set a goal for number of books or another personal challenge. 14/100
2. Of the books you read this year, make sure at least 20% of them are not written by men. 79~%
3. Of the books you read this year, make sure a least 20% of them are written by writers of colour. 29~%
4. Of the books you read this year, make sure at least 5% of them are written by LGBT writers. 57~%
5. Read books whose titles include all the colours of the rainbow. (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet) (Red, White and Royal Blue)
6. Read something recommended to you by a friend or loved one. (The Seventh Perfection)
7. Ask someone in this thread for a Wildcard, and read it.
8. Read something that's out of print.
9. Read something in translation.
10. Read some poetry.
11. Read some short stories.
12. Read something about a monster.
13. Read an essay collection.
14. Read something historical about a place you've never visited.
15. Read something set in the recent past. (Red, White and Royal Blue)
16. Read something from a non-human perspective.
17. Read something about the ocean. (Heart of the Sea)
18. Read a collaboration between two or more authors.
19. Read something about games.
20. Read a bestseller from the week/month you were born.
21. Read something by a writer who spent time incarcerated.

Also, I could still use a wildcard if anyone is willing!

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

clamcake
Dec 24, 2012


DurianGray posted:

Also, I could still use a wildcard if anyone is willing!

How about All the Names They Used for God by Anjali Sachdeva, if you're in the mood for some short stories?


Chamberk posted:

Rumor has it the author is a militant vegan who wrote that book to prove to people that eating meat is bad.

Yeah, I can see that. She said she isn't trying to convert anyone, and she's just raising questions about meat and capitalism (in this Irish Times piece, anyway). And I did see the idea of wealth and privilege come up in a couple places. I personally might have liked the book more if she had developed those ideas (and the story world) more instead of spending so much time on the descriptions of the breeding centers and slaughterhouses. Not my thing, but I may be in the minority. It's a very successful book.

Tender is the Flesh, aside can anyone give me a wildcard?

clamcake fucked around with this message at 16:26 on Feb 2, 2021

Ben Nevis
Jan 20, 2011


Phew, first entry is always exciting. I finished 6 books, so on pace. And actually did poetry early, in a bit of twist up. Had a small Mexican theme, with A Grave is Given Supper, Red Ants, and the Mexican Gothic all in a row. I'm headed in a month of reading Black authors for February, and the first one fell at the end of January.

1. The Factory Witches of Lowell by CS Malerich - What if the Lowell Strike of 1836 was supported by magic? This was OK. It's too short, really. The novella doesn't have room for the romance and the strike. As a result, the romance feels rushed, and the strike lacks a lot of tension.

2. Talking Animals by Joni Murphy - In a New York inhabited by sentient animals, an alpaca who has not finished grad school toils away in the basement records department. His friend works in Housing and is determined to expose the corruption in the city government, run by a horse. Especially that their anti-sea creature rhetoric is harmful and intended to keep the populace from noticing what's going on. The parallels are not necessarily subtle. That being said, I thought this was pretty good. Murphy cannot resist the occasional animal pun, and neither can I.

3. A Grave is Given Supper by Mike Soto - A series of poems set in a border town. It tells the story of Consuelo and Topito, growing up in the poor town on the border, very much in the thrall of drug runners. There's violence, tunnels, folk religion and more. I'm often at a bit of a loss when it comes to the Poetry selection here, but this was a good one. The author is also local, which was a nice surprise.

4. Red Ants by Pergentino Jose - People looking to game the system will do well to look here. It's short, full of short stories, has a color in the title, and is translated. Maybe the first work of fiction translated to English from Zapotec? Many of these stories are very short. There's a recurring theme of searching for missing women and also missing mothers. The back of the book calls out magical realism. I'd almost say it's more surrealism. It reminded me a bit of Ice by Anna Kavan. This one sort of missed me, but if that's your jam, I think you'd enjoy it. Interestingly, goodreads thinks the authors name is Jose Pergentino. That's not the way it appears anywhere else I can find.

5. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Garcia-Moreno - Man, I'd been in the hold queue at the library for ages for this one. As you're probably aware, it explores themes of colonization and exploitation through a classic gothic tale, just set in Mexico. It's spooky. There's some body horror. Noemi, the protagonist is a great character. I really enjoyed a lot of the description. Also, the best book of the month, handily. You should read it!

6. Trouble the Saints by Alaya Dawn Johnson - I'd seen this on some best of lists and in the BHM display at the library, so picked it up. It was not what I expected. It's set in Harlem just before America enters WW2. The first section deals with Phyllis, a hatchet girl for the mob blessed/cursed with "hands," sort of preternatural abilities tied to her hands. Some examples we see through the book are sensing danger or revealing secrets. For Phyllis it's knives and more generally thrown things. She comes to think her boss, Victor, hadn't been straight with her. I thought that reckoning or attempt at would be the whole book, since a lot of reviews mention noir. It's not. It's the first third. The second third is upstate New York and a much homier story of small town corruption, maybe. The final leaves aside almost all crime elements and focuses in on the relationship between Phyllis and Tamara. I was all about the first section, the others weren't so much my cup of tea. The overall story really gets into whether one person can save another, and can their bear that. If not, can they bear not saving someone. How can one person or several people bear the weight of being saviors of their community or their people? It's a good book. Just don't expect mobster saints the whole time.



THE CHALLENGE:

1. Set a goal for number of books or another personal challenge. 6/70
2. Of the books you read this year, make sure at least 20% of them are not written by men. 4/6
3. Of the books you read this year, make sure a least 20% of them are written by writers of colour. 4/6
4. Of the books you read this year, make sure at least 5% of them are written by LGBT writers.
5. Read books whose titles include all the colours of the rainbow. (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet) - Red Ants
6. Read something recommended to you by a friend or loved one.
7. Ask someone in this thread for a Wildcard, and read it.
8. Read something that's out of print.
9. Read something in translation.
10. Read some poetry. - A Grave is Given Supper
11. Read some short stories.
12. Read something about a monster.
13. Read an essay collection.
14. Read something historical about a place you've never visited.
15. Read something set in the recent past.
16. Read something from a non-human perspective. - Talking Animals
17. Read something about the ocean.
18. Read a collaboration between two or more authors.
19. Read something about games.
20. Read a bestseller from the week/month you were born.
21. Read something by a writer who spent time incarcerated.

DurianGray
Dec 23, 2010

King of Fruits


clamcake posted:

How about All the Names They Used for God by Anjali Sachdeva, if you're in the mood for some short stories?

Oh this looks right up my alley - thank you very much!

edit: and since you asked for a wildcard I'll throw out The Great White South: Being an Account of Experiences with Captain Scott's South Pole Expedition and of the Nature Life of the Antarctic by Herbert Ponting. It's nonfiction/memoir (and public domain so easy to find online for free if you like) about Scott's tragic expedition as told by the official photographer.

DurianGray fucked around with this message at 18:42 on Feb 2, 2021

clamcake
Dec 24, 2012


DurianGray posted:

and since you asked for a wildcard I'll throw out The Great White South: Being an Account of Experiences with Captain Scott's South Pole Expedition and of the Nature Life of the Antarctic by Herbert Ponting. It's nonfiction/memoir (and public domain so easy to find online for free if you like) about Scott's tragic expedition as told by the official photographer.

Looks good! Thanks!

cryptoclastic
Jul 3, 2003

The Jesus


I read two books in January.

1. A Burning by Megha Majumdar
This was for my local book club. We read Interior Chinatown, which won the National Book Award, and wanted to see what the competition was like. I feel I would get more from this if I knew more about the Indian system. I am pretty sure it was a commentary on the current administration. Not bad but nothing special. Class struggle and the selling out of one another to move up.

2. Mina by Kim Sagwa
I first heard about this from the KBS daily news podcast that I listen to. It sounded interesting, so I had been looking for a copy for a while, but refused to buy it. I got my local library to order a copy, so I finally got to read it! I new it was a weird story about life for young people in Korea, but I didnít know it was going to be as messed up as it was. At the same time, however, I was definitely reminded of many of my students while reading the book. The lack of concern for others was a real thing that I have seen time and time again among young people here, and thereís a general lack of apathy. Kids will have fun and get along with each other, but not actually care for their classmates. From the beginning, the end of the book was pretty much spelled out for you, but the path it took to get there was more and more sickening as things went on.

None of these books fit any of the categories, but both are by non-white women!

poisonpill
Nov 8, 2009

The only way to get huge fast is to insult a passing witch and hope she curses you with Beast-strength.



TrixRabbi posted:


5. Elliot, A Soldier's Fugue by Quiara AlegrŪa Hudes

First in the "Elliot Trilogy" of plays examining the Iraq war and the heritage of American soldiers. Very experimental approach to theater with dream sequences and very much a fugue state style. The other two plays in the trilogy seem to be more straightforward, including the Pulitzer winning direct sequel. I'll plan on getting to those soon. Quite enjoyed this one and read it in an hour.

Whatís the best way to get the trilogy? Is there an omnibus available anywhere?

Robert Deadford
Mar 1, 2008


Ultra Carp

Is it too late to join? I did this a few years back and enjoyed it and would like the chance to try again.

Guy A. Person
May 23, 2003



Robert Deadford posted:

Is it too late to join? I did this a few years back and enjoyed it and would like the chance to try again.

It is never too late to read book

Gertrude Perkins
May 1, 2010

Gun Snake

dont talk to gun snake

Drops: human teeth


Robert Deadford posted:

Is it too late to join? I did this a few years back and enjoyed it and would like the chance to try again.

It's never too late to books!!!

Jordan7hm
Feb 17, 2011

MENS REA? LOL MORE LIKE CHRIS REA AM I RITE





Lipstick Apathy

Itís too late to read books sorry.

TrixRabbi
Aug 20, 2010

Time for a little robot chauvinism!



poisonpill posted:

Whatís the best way to get the trilogy? Is there an omnibus available anywhere?

I'm borrowing them from a friend. I don't know if there's an omnibus, I think they're all in print though.

3D Megadoodoo
Nov 25, 2010

- Ska du ha maito i kaffet?


Jordan7hm posted:

Itís too late to read books sorry.

But you can do it tomorrow.

Jordan7hm
Feb 17, 2011

MENS REA? LOL MORE LIKE CHRIS REA AM I RITE





Lipstick Apathy

3D Megadoodoo posted:

But you can do it tomorrow.

I followed your advice and read a book.

Jan / Early Feb:

1. Outside the Gates by Molly Gloss - a short fantasy novella that follows a boy who gets put out by his tribe and has to make his way in the wilderness. Short and sweet, I really enjoyed this one.

2. Best Food Writing 2017 by various - exactly what it says on the tin: a collection of the best food essays from 2017. My favorites were generally the ones written by POC examining food culture and appropriation

3. The Wilderness Hunter by Theodore Roosevelt - this one was a slog, a recollection of his experiences hunting big game in late 19th century America. There were a couple interesting parts, particularly the description of his encounter with a Grizzly, but for the most part it was an extended list of animals he killed and what he thought about the best ways to kill them. Each chapter or even section in a single chapter reminded me of hunting magazines I read when I was a kid. The book I have also includes Hunting Trips of a Ranchman but I think I'll skip that one, this was enough hunting for me.

4. Grifter's Game by Lawrence Block - I picked up a number of these Hard Case imprint books over the last month, and this was the first one I tackled. A very fast read, punchy and a bit more explicit than I expected. Follows a grifter who falls in love with a woman and together they plot a murder. The ending is absolutely hosed up and recontextualizes the entire book. Enjoyed it, but man that ending.

5. The Mark of Zorro by Johnston McCulley - Read this for January BOTM. Another quick read, lots of fun. I'm interested in reading more of this character and author for sure.

6. The Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin - a re-read for me, as I first read this in the 5th or 6th grade and have read it every 5-10 years since. This time I read it out loud to my son, who was way into it. For how short and to the point the story could be (the climax is extremely quick), Le Guin's prose is still flowery and at times beautiful. I bought Tombs of Atuan and The Farthest Shore and will be tackling those with my son over the next month or so as well.

7. The Best of Roald Dahl by Roald Dahl - short story collection that presents selected stories in chronological order from the 40s to 70s and hits some real highs (Pig, Man from the South, Skin, among others) but also some fairly sloggy lows (an extended series of shorts about grasping English farmers). I was looking forward to this one ending by the time it did, but that shouldn't discount how great those early stories were.

Numbers
Personal Challenge: 7/52 books, Moby Dick not read yet
Non-male authors: 2/6 (I'm excluding "various" from this calculation)
Non-white authors: 0/6
Non-CIS authors: 0/6

11. Read some short stories. - The Best of Roald Dahl
13. Read an essay collection. Best Food Writing 2017

Guy A. Person
May 23, 2003



I'm barely reading books, especially compared to last year but I am reading two right now which are really good, and I should get through with those this week:

The Course of the Heart: I know I saw someone was reading this in one of the various book threads; it's really good and I am taking it significantly slower than I normally do which is actually been a nice change of pace and has allowed me to absorb and think through things between reading sessions

Stories of Your Life and Others: this is a short story collection by Ted Chiang including one that I realized a short way into reading it was the source for the very good 2016 film Arrival. What's great about these stories is that Chiang presents a concept and then really explores the hell out of it in a thorough and intelligent way. I just finished a story that uses the folkloric concept of the golem that is animated by adding a Name and Chiang tears through different concepts that could each be their own short story or together could be explored in a pretty robust novel in an efficient but still incredibly entertaining matter

Humerus
Jul 7, 2009

Rule of acquisition #111:
Treat people in your debt like family...exploit them.




January books!

1.) Neuromancer by William Gibson (1984)
I enjoyed this. Iíve not read any other cyberpunk books (unless you count Philip K. Dick but I donít) and I really liked how the world was built. Iím looking forward to reading more by Gibson for sure.
2.) The Lost Coast by A.R. Capetta (2019)
I kind of go back and forth on this. I certainly wouldnít say itís bad but it doesnít stand out as particularly good either. The basic plot is that a girl moves to Northern California and falls into a clique of teenage witches at her new school. The thing is though this girl basically just falls all in on believing magic is real and I feel like it would have been more interesting if she actually needed some convincing (as one would expect?).
3.) Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas (2014)
The third book of the Throne of Glass series. I feel like now, about 1300 pages into this series, itís finally picking up. My wife loves these books which is why I started them but some parts just seem to drag.
4.) The Curse of Capistrano by Johnston McCulley (1919)
SA Book of the Month for January. Iíd been meaning to read it for a while now so I finally did. It was enjoyable!
5.) The Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule (2021)
The first entry in the new Star Wars sub-franchise The High Republic. Honestly not a great start. Iíve certainly read worse SW books and this one had some good moments and scenes, but there was something about this authorís style that just did not mesh with me. Suffice to say Iím looking forward to the rest of the High Republic stuff written by other authors.

Book Goal: 5/52
Author Stats (All goals 30%)
Nonwhite: 0%
LGBTQ+: 20%
Nonman: 40%

Overall Iím pretty satisfied with how my year is going. I didnít actually reach my goal for nonwhite authors last year, so I upped it this year, but since Iím not going for the overall Booklord stuff I think Iíll be able to focus on reading more diversely which is my overall goal.

Robert Deadford
Mar 1, 2008


Ultra Carp

Name: Robert Deadford
Personal Challenge: 26
Booklord Challenge: Yes please!

For me the objective is to broaden the range of authors I read and therefore the genres too. I discovered some wonderful books when I did this in 2019. I'd would appreciate it if someone nominated a Wild Card for me.

January:

1. The Prime Ministers by Steve Richards
A history of British Prime Ministers from the late 60s up to the present day, I enjoyed this in places. I found the deep dives into the characters and policies of the PMs in office before I was born to be especially valuable, although devoid of a greater historical context on my part. Richards' examination of Blair (PM 1997-2007) revealed a lot I hadn't been aware of. Very good if you're into British politics, awful if you aren't.

2. Cities of the Plain by Cormac McCarthy
This was the last of the Border Trilogy, which I started in 2020. I enjoy reading McCarthy, even if I find his narrator's voice to be at times overpowering and, worse, his habit of delving into the backstory of peripheral characters to be misguided. Epic sweep and all that jazz. At his best, his writing is furiously powerful, as in No Country For Old Men. This book, an account of two cowboys in 1950s New Mexico, continues themes developed in the first two Border books, leading to the inevitable fates of the protagonists. My only quibbles with the trilogy are the aforementioned lurching into reminiscing and the at times simplistic portrayals of Mexican characters: Mexican women are all young, saintly and beautiful or old, kind and wise, Mexican men are either old and wise or young and evilly corrupt. Still, I enjoyed the trilogy.

3. Black Sun by Owen Matthews
A troubled KGB officer is sent to a secret Soviet city to investigate a death among the developers of nuclear weapons. This wasn't great, as it had the stink of the superior Gorky Park all over it. Matthews specialises in biographies and history of the Soviet Union and its people, so at least the characterizations were strong. The plotting and action, on the other hand, were not, the conspiracy being unraveled easily enough. Not great, not terrible.

How Wonderful!
Jul 18, 2006


I only have excellent ideas.


I fared a little poorly in January.

1. Curses, Kevin Huizenga. This is an early collection of Kevin Huizenga's Glenn Ganges strips, which was sort of the comic du jour for think-piece people maybe 10, 20 years ago. I had gotten into a conversation with someone about all the hand-waved misogyny and clubbiness of independent comics at the beginning of this century and the end of the 90s and felt like I vaguely remembered Huizenga being a little more thoughtful and a little less myopic. I think I was right, I had a good time revisiting this. The protagonist is far from the Chester Brown, Joe Matt mold-- mostly kind of a vehicle for meditative looking around and measured considering.

2. Indecent Advances: A Hidden History of True Crime and Prejudice Before Stonewall, James Polchin. A new book of queer history (new-ish) which focuses on how violent crimes against gay men (and legal crackdowns on gay men) were covered in the popular press. It was eye opening because it corroborated some of the seedy methods of exploiting gay men-- blackmail, mugging, etc.-- that I knew were prevalent in early 20th century Germany but which felt kind of shocking and fresh in the context of the US. Nothing in this was necessarily news to me but it was thorough and engaging.

3. Don't Let Me Be Lonely, Claudia Rankine
4. The White Card, Claudia Ranking: In advance of moving I somewhat recently went to campus and cleaned out my office. So I had a little bit of a fun time unpacking all the books and got drawn into a small Claudia Rankine mini-marathon. It's wild to me that nobody in academia really seems to teach or talk about The White Card. I think it's really cutting and I think a bit more keyed into subtle paternalistic racism than even Citizen which for a few years was on every syllabus on earth.

5. The Hidden, Richard Sala. Since Richard Sala's death I've tried to make a point of seeking out more of his stuff. Very grand guignol, extravagantly schlocky stuff in kind of an outsized Hammer Horror kind of way.

6. Kometentanz, Paul Scheerbart. A few years ago I translated this play for fun but as I was wrapping it up Wakefield published another translation so I filed it away. I found my German copy in the box of stuff from my office so I read it one afternoon.

7. Tomorrow Will Be Different, Sarah McBride. A feel-good political memoir by the trans state senator Sarah McBride. I bought a copy of this for myself since my mom was reading it and I wanted to be able to chat with her about it-- decent for what it is I guess.

8. The Flapper Queens: Women Cartoonists of the Jazz Age, Trina Robbins. A nice study of some of the standout women of early 20th century comics. Everybody knows Nell Brinkley but reading about Ethel Hays and Fay King in particular was kind of revelatory.

9. Splay Anthem
10. Blue Fasa, Nathaniel Mackey. Nathaniel Mackey is one of my favorite contemporary poets, very dense and mysterious with a rich diasporic sensibility. These are both parts of his career-long serial poem, albeit middle parts. Another very fun evening courtesy of office clean-up!

11. Gay Berlin, Robert Beachy. A truly eye-opening history of Germany's position as a hub of queer identity in the 19th and early 20th centuries. This had been on my to-read list for awhile and I'm super glad I made the time for it. Incredibly valuable resource.

12. The Sword Went Out To Sea
13. Tribute to the Angels
14. The Gift
15. Tribute to Freud, H.D.. I love H.D. even though I'm vexed by her. This month I wound up reading three of her quasi-memoirs, as well as the poetry collection Tribute to the Angels as kind of a fact-checking exercise. Each of these is in some way about her halting progression on a lifelong kind of... strange occult project, and each were written as she looked back from the position of the London blitz. I have read all of these a million times before and I hope I read them all a million times more.


So how did I do? Well, out of 15 so far:
-8 were not by men
-4 were by people of color
-10 were by LGBTQ+ authors
-the only colors I ticked off were blue and white, and white doesn't even count
-H.D. was recommended to me way back when by my MFA mentor
-I do not have a wildcard
-I did not necessarily read anything in translation, but I did read something which I have translated, and I guess Gay Berlin had a great deal of translated primary texts in it?
-9 were books of poetry
-I have never been to Berlin so reading about 19th/early 20th century Berlin probably counts!

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

These dentures won't stop me from tearing out jugulars in Thunderdome.





Name:Grizzled Patriarch
Personal Goal: 40 books
Booklord Challenge? Hell yeah

Gertrude Perkins
May 1, 2010

Gun Snake

dont talk to gun snake

Drops: human teeth


quote:

1 - The Mark Of Zorro, by Johnston McCulley
2 - The Animal Man Omnibus, by Grant Morrison, Chas Truog, Doug Hazlewood, Tom Grummett, Paris Cullins, Steve Montanto, Mark McKenna, Mark Farmer

Another very slow and yet very fast month, but I did finish three books in February:

3 - Deep Secret, by Diana Wynne Jones. A really fun fantasy-meets-the-mundane story about worlds-spanning intrigue, mystery and betrayal. Finding an imperial heir, finding someone worthy of inheriting great magical power - a lot of the book seems to centre around characters living up to or rejecting the expectations of others. It's mostly set in and around a late-90s nerd convention, as Jones mines her own con experiences for plenty of observational comedy and familiar character archetypes. The whimsical tone means that when nasty things do happen it's quite shocking, and sometimes I felt a little puzzled as to exactly what the objectives were, but I had a good time with this book overall and want to read more from her.

4 - Empires of EVE: A History Of The Great Wars Of EVE Online, by Andrew Groen. A history book of sorts, charting the first few years of EVE Online: major players, factions, battles, subterfuge, and the like. Featuring interviews, forum posts and propaganda campaigns, Groen builds an engrossing picture of the game world and the various powers within it. It was enjoyable, even for someone like me who has very little knowledge of the game itself. Definitely could have done with another editing pass, since there are quite a few continuity and typographical errors. But Groen succeeds at what he set out to do, and hopefully this will inspire other virtual histories like it.

5 - The Adventure Zone: Petal To The Metal, by Clint McElroy, Griffin McElroy, Travis McElroy, Justin McElroy & Carey Pietsch. The third TAZ graphic novel and the most fun so far, with some really lovely artwork and great set pieces. There's a cool race, and big secret plot threads in the background start making themselves known. If you like TAZ you'll like this.

Challenges fulfilled:
6. Read something recommended to you by a friend or loved one. - Deep Secret
19. Read something about games. - Empires of EVE


Onwards and upwards!

Mr. Nemo
Feb 4, 2016

A roc and a hard place



February book report.

Collected tragedies by Aeschylus. It was interesting to get a 1st hand look into ancient Greek culture. I wish I'd read an annotated version though. Lots of references to the Illiad and stuff I haven't read. Xerxes from 300 is the main character in one play.

The ministry for the future. Kim Stanley Robinson quickly becoming a favorite. COP 25 establishes a division to fight for the rights of future generations. Covers 2025 to ~2055. Hard sci fi, no magic bullets for climate change, but even then I thought it too optimistic. Lots of infodumps. Great book. We are so hosed.

Murderbot Diaries 1. Martha Wells.A favorite of the Book barn. It's okay? Short, funny adventure of a rogue AI.

16 ways to defend a walled city. KJ Parker/Tom Holt. Very funny book about defending a medieval capital city from a siege. Main character is an engineer that somehow ends up in charge of the city. You'll love it if you like "problem solving" books. The game doens't try to pull any fast one on the reader, the facts are always laid out.

History of the pelopponesian war. Thucydides. Actually I'm like 16% of the way through. Gonna be a slow read between other books. The annotated version i have is fantastic, really gives you all the info you need. It's hard to give it my attention for too long though. Part of it ties to the background of the Tragedies i read, so that's great!

White Coke
May 29, 2015


Gertrude Perkins posted:

3 - Deep Secret, by Diana Wynne Jones. A really fun fantasy-meets-the-mundane story about worlds-spanning intrigue, mystery and betrayal. Finding an imperial heir, finding someone worthy of inheriting great magical power - a lot of the book seems to centre around characters living up to or rejecting the expectations of others. It's mostly set in and around a late-90s nerd convention, as Jones mines her own con experiences for plenty of observational comedy and familiar character archetypes. The whimsical tone means that when nasty things do happen it's quite shocking, and sometimes I felt a little puzzled as to exactly what the objectives were, but I had a good time with this book overall and want to read more from her.

Have you read any of her other books? I read Howl's Moving Castle, The Dark Lord of Derkholm and some of their sequels while in school and I remember enjoying them all.

Gertrude Perkins
May 1, 2010

Gun Snake

dont talk to gun snake

Drops: human teeth


White Coke posted:

Have you read any of her other books? I read Howl's Moving Castle, The Dark Lord of Derkholm and some of their sequels while in school and I remember enjoying them all.

They're all on my to-read list! But this one was on sale...

Jordan7hm
Feb 17, 2011

MENS REA? LOL MORE LIKE CHRIS REA AM I RITE





Lipstick Apathy

Only managed to get through one more book in Feb (in addition to the ones I finished before my in-Feb update).

Norwegian Wood, Haruki Murakamiís novel set in Japan in the late 60s / early 70s, about coping with depression and loss and that difficult transition into adulthood.

I knew nothing about this book going in, and while I think it would have had a greater impact on me if i read it in my early 20s (holy poo poo it would have affected me), it was nonetheless a moving read. I picked it up around 830 on Saturday night and blew threw it in a few hours lying in bed.

I have ďwhat I think about when I think about runningĒ on my shelf unread and the way Murakami is able to evoke real emotion for these fictional characters through his writing makes me very excited to read something of his more akin to a memoire.

Humerus
Jul 7, 2009

Rule of acquisition #111:
Treat people in your debt like family...exploit them.




February update:

6.) Timeline by Michael Crichton (1999)
This book was good. It directly contradicts itself about time travel but honestly Iím desensitized to that from a lifetime of sci-fi. It was exciting and twisty and had good action, so I was satisfied.
7.) Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (2018)
I actually liked this a lot more than I expected to, honestly. Itís fantasy based on African mythology so it felt really fresh to me since most of the fantasy Iíve read is European based. Itís YA so of course thereís some hamfisted romance subplots but thankfully that really took a backseat to the action and mythology, which I really enjoyed. In fact there were moments where the mythology would be glazed over (because the POV character knew it already) and I would want more detail.
8.) Things in Jars by Jess Kidd (2019)
A pretty good mystery set in Victorian England with a splash of paranormal flavor thrown in. I liked it enough but there were some genuinely disturbing parts. Probably par the course for the time period itís set in though.
9.) Into the Dark by Claudia Gray (2021)
Another entry of the Star Wars sub-franchise High Republic. I liked this much more than Light of the Jedi. It was more focused and generally better written. Gray is a SW veteran writer though so it doesn't surprise me she's got a better handle on the style.
10.) Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett (2019)
I went into this only knowing it was set in Florida and it was about a taxidermist. I liked it, although it's definitely a story about a bunch of maladjusted people trying to figure out how to be better. It's not something I usually read but I enjoyed it.
11.) Princess Floralinda and the Forty-Flight Tower by Tamsyn Muir (2020)
This was a fun read. Straightforward and enjoyable, it took a few jabs at fairy tale tropes and managed to be original.

Book Goal: 11/52
Author Stats (All goals 30%)
Nonwhite: 9%
LGBTQ+: 27%
Nonman: 64%

Iím feeling good about my goals so far. My biggest problem so far has been too many library holds coming in at once, which really is a good problem to have I guess. Last year I always waffled about what I wanted to read but this year itís been more like...what do I want to read first? Anyway Iím having a good year so far.

DurianGray
Dec 23, 2010

King of Fruits


I read 11 books in February.

15. Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire
This is the third book in the Wayward Children series (basically, about what happens to kids who get sucked into magical worlds after they come back to the 'real world'). I continue to enjoy this series. This entry revisited some old characters, went to some worlds that had previously just been described, and introduced some new ones. If you've ever played Cuphead, the last world that the protagonists adventure to is basically the same setting as the Baroness Von Bon Bon fight. I've never seen sugar described in so many different ways for such a long time and I somehow didn't get tired of it.

16. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
I don't know how I managed to go so long without reading this, but I finally have because a friend and I decided to do essentially a 2-person book club for it. I've read a good amount of books from the early 1800s (I even did my master's thesis on one) so I thought I had an idea of what to expect as far as the age of the prose style and all that, and I was hoping I'd enjoy it more, honestly. I can see why retellings have stayed popular because the core concept is great. But the execution is pretty uneven and the story meanders more often than not. There's A LOT that most modern adaptations seem to leave out entirely, but honestly, I can see why they do.

17. A Dowry of Blood by S. T. Gibson
I had a little bit of a horror theme going this month, and this followed Frankenstein nicely by being a book kind-of-sort-of about Dracula as told by one of his 'brides' (it's never explicitly Dracula, but it probably is -- there's a passing reference to the Harkers). The writing in this is what you might call lush or indulgent. It's the memoir of one of the vampire brides where she justifies (spoiler even though it happens in the beginning of the book) why she and the other bride and husband decided to finally kill him themselves. It's short, it's very queer, the prose is baroque but I thought it worked well, and it doesn't overstay its welcome because it's a novella.

18. Winter's Orbit by Everina Maxwell
Two space royals are forced into an arranged marriage after one is widowed (the recently deceased husband was the cousin of the widower's new husband). This is primarily a (m/m) romance but there's some pretty solid sci-fi worldbuilding going on in the background. There's some solid character work (one character is an abuse survivor and I was fairly impressed by how the impact of that was shown in his POV chapters), a good mystery plotline, and the relationship development between the two main characters was given plenty of room to develop naturally.

19. Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee
I've been meaning to read something by Yoon Ha Lee for a while, and this had been sitting in my Kindle library for too long. It was really cool to see a book have an explicitly nonbinary main/POV character. The pigment-based magic and magic automatons are a lot of fun (though both have a dark side). The plot moves at a good clip. Arazi might be the best dragon I've encountered in a book in a long time. I'd definitely recommend it if, like me, you sometimes want to relive your middle school reading habits and read a fun, quick fantasy story that has a dragon in it.

20.The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones
Continued with the horror books here. I hadn't heard too much about this one except that it was supposed to be really good. I haven't read anything else by Jones, but after this, I'm sure that I'm going to keep an eye out for more of his work because this is really REALLY good. This is the story of four Native American men being hunted down by a spirit that's out for revenge roughly ten years after they poached more than their fair share of elk on land that wasn't theirs. It starts out tense and just keeps going. There's a sequence with a sweat lodge was probably about half the book but it keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole time. The ending was fantastic and bittersweet -- I even teared up a little bit.

21. Fireheart Tiger by Aliette de Bodard
I've read a few things by Bodard now and I have to say, she's great at evoking well-built worlds in such a small amount of words. This is a novella about two princesses, a fire spirit, and both political and emotional manipulation. And now I realize, it was the second book I read this month about gay royals (but f/f this time). This is a quick read and a definite recommend if you enjoy any of Bodard's other stuff.

22. Yellow Jessamine by Caitlin Starling
I read Starling's other book, The Luminous Dead, pretty recently and really enjoyed it so this was a slam-pre-order for me. This month's third queer novella after Dowry and Fireheart Tiger, this is some fantastic atmospheric horror. I won't say too much about the nature of the horror itself, but I would say that if you've read Mexican Gothic and wanted something in a similar vein, definitely check this out. Wonderfully gross descriptions. And while the setting is more of a Victorian-ish, low-tech fantasy/secondary world, and the writing style is very different, I'd absolutely say this is worth checking out if you liked The Luminous Dead.

23. Nightmare Magazine #98
I'm terrible at keeping up with lit magazines when I subscribe to them so I'm hoping that I can at least get through the issues of Nightmare that I've been accruing for the past few months with this challenge. The four fiction short stories in this issue were:
Tiger's Feast - KT Brysky -- This one was fine, about a girl who feeds all her bad/sinful emotions to an emaciated tiger in a park playground. It was fine, maybe a little heavy handed on the metaphor.
Night Doctors - P. DjŤlŪ Clark -- I really like Clark's stuff anyway and this was definitely the standout of this issue for me. Cosmic-ish horror woven into the horrors of historical racism, and a protagonist who flips the typical Lovecraftian approach to the subject on its head.
Introduction to the Horror Story, Day 1 Kurt Fawver -- This one was a little goofy and on the nose, but fun. The narration is the professor for the titular class giving the first day's lecture. Very campy sort of horror.
White Mare - Thana Niveau -- A girl and her dad really like Halloween. The mom is dead. They have to go to England suddenly and there's a horse the girl becomes friends with. This had A LOT of leadup to an ending that felt sort of abrupt and I don't think quite fit the lead-in, but it was OK otherwise.
(There was also a non-fiction essay and some interviews in this, like most issues, but I don't feel like summarizing those too.)

24. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
This is a solid, very character-driven fantasy heist story. I mostly picked it up just because I'd noticed it seemed popular and I like a good heist story. I enjoyed it well enough but the good parts definitely made the parts that bothered me stick out more than they might have otherwise. Basically, one of the things that interested me was that I'd seen a lot of places/people say the book had LGBT rep of some sort (I'm queer, I keep an eye out for this sort of thing if that wasn't already obvious). What you get is 6 main POV characters: 2 straight couples (who all get a ton of screen time and character development and background) and then 2 other guys who, in basically two lines of dialog near the end, sort of tell each other they're not straight. And that's it. Both of these guys also get the absolute least amount of character development of the 6 main characters. There's a second book so maybe more happens with them -- I have a hold on it at the library so I'll find out eventually. Also, no one ever swears. There's plenty of detailed violence/gore, on-page death and torture, even background child sex slavery and other grimdark fantasy staples, but I'm pretty sure no one ever says anything stronger than 'drat' the entire book -- it's such a weird choice!

25. A Certain Hunger by Chelsea G. Summers
This was a fun horror novel. It's framed as the memoir of a food writer cum cannibal serial killer, told after she gets caught and is sent to prison. The voice nails bougie, pretentious food writing perfectly but it's playful and manages to be self-aware enough to not be entirely obnoxious. Very lush descriptions of both food and murder. I unironically want to try lampredotto at some point now.

1. Set a goal for number of books or another personal challenge. 25/100
2. Of the books you read this year, make sure at least 20% of them are not written by men. >19/25
3. Of the books you read this year, make sure a least 20% of them are written by writers of colour. >8/25
4. Of the books you read this year, make sure at least 5% of them are written by LGBT writers. >13/25
5. Read books whose titles include all the colours of the rainbow. (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet) (Red, White and Royal Blue) (Yellow Jessamine)
6. Read something recommended to you by a friend or loved one. (The Seventh Perfection)
7. Ask someone in this thread for a Wildcard, and read it.
8. Read something that's out of print.
9. Read something in translation.
10. Read some poetry.
11. Read some short stories.
12. Read something about a monster. (Frankenstein)
13. Read an essay collection.
14. Read something historical about a place you've never visited.
15. Read something set in the recent past. (Red, White and Royal Blue)
16. Read something from a non-human perspective.
17. Read something about the ocean. (Heart of the Sea)
18. Read a collaboration between two or more authors.
19. Read something about games.
20. Read a bestseller from the week/month you were born.
21. Read something by a writer who spent time incarcerated.

Ben Nevis
Jan 20, 2011


So, yeah. Not a great reading month. Lost basically a week to winter storm there where I had to entertain kids all week with inconsistent power. It was not fun. Last year, I'd tried to spend February reading authors of color. I continued this year, and really only finished 3. I guess Trouble the Saints may count and I'm reading an Easy Rawlins mystery now, so that's 5 through and adjacent to BHM. On the upside, all 3 of these were good books! So, I'm behind, but my proportions are good. I've got some rainbow books coming up. Anyone needing some ought to check out the Easy Rawlins mysteries.

7. The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi - Picked this up after having enjoyed Freshwater. Vivek Oji died on the day the market burned, and Vivek was left, naked, on the doorstep. His mother is riven by grief and tries to figure out what happened. The book goes into Vivek's mysterious ways, as well as the relationships with his friends and family. You get a real sense of his family, the community, and various characters. Also there's a bit towards the end that just wrecked me. Emezi can write, y'all. And just in case you were wondering, it's not at all about Morrowind.

8. American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson - Basically, this is How I Met your Mother, expect with a spy instead of an architect. Also instead of aimless 20 somethings, it's about American Imperialism and our main character trying to reconcile her role as an agent with who she is and her history. It was good! Just don't expect spy thriller.

9. The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma - 4 brothers inadvertently get a prophecy from a madman. The youngest of the four tells the story as their life is completely disrupted by this prophecy and their relationships with each other all change. There's a real mythic or folklore sense to everything. Again, this was real good. Thoroughly enjoyed, though it took me awhile to read.

Ben Nevis posted:

1. The Factory Witches of Lowell by CS Malerich
2. Talking Animals by Joni Murphy
3. A Grave is Given Supper by Mike Soto
4. Red Ants by Pergentino Jose
5. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Garcia-Moreno
6. Trouble the Saints by Alaya Dawn Johnson

THE CHALLENGE:

1. Set a goal for number of books or another personal challenge. 9/70
2. Of the books you read this year, make sure at least 20% of them are not written by men. 6/9
3. Of the books you read this year, make sure a least 20% of them are written by writers of colour. 7/9
4. Of the books you read this year, make sure at least 5% of them are written by LGBT writers. 1/9
5. Read books whose titles include all the colours of the rainbow. (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet) - Red Ants
6. Read something recommended to you by a friend or loved one.
7. Ask someone in this thread for a Wildcard, and read it.
8. Read something that's out of print.
9. Read something in translation.
10. Read some poetry. - A Grave is Given Supper
11. Read some short stories.
12. Read something about a monster.
13. Read an essay collection.
14. Read something historical about a place you've never visited.
15. Read something set in the recent past. - American Spy
16. Read something from a non-human perspective. - Talking Animals
17. Read something about the ocean.
18. Read a collaboration between two or more authors.
19. Read something about games.
20. Read a bestseller from the week/month you were born.
21. Read something by a writer who spent time incarcerated.

Chamberk
Jan 11, 2004

when there is nothing left to burn you have to set yourself on fire


February!

7. The Vanishing Half - Brit Bennett
8. Or What You Will - Jo Walton
9. Black Sun - Rebecca Roanhorse
10.The Cactus League - Emily Nemens
11. Shuggie Bain - Douglas Stuart
12. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue - V.E. Schwab
13. Ring Shout - P. Djeli Clark

Funnily enough, pretty much all books from February were published in 2020. Guess I had a bunch of library books come in this month. Among the highlights were Black Sun, the beginning of a fantasy series that has a Native American basis (rather than the European castles castles-n-knights flavor of fantasy); The Cactus League, a series of connected short stories centered around a baseball team's spring training; and Shuggie Bain, an absolutely devastating but beautifully written story about a young man growing up queer in Glasgow with an alcoholic mother. I also have to shout out P. Djeli Clark, whose novellas have been these wonderful alt-history adventures that are wildly creative--Ring Shout imagines an America in which the KKK is calling in other-dimensional demons to terrorize the South. He's got a full-length novel coming out in May and I'm excited to read it.

1. Set a goal for number of books or another personal challenge. (13/32)
2. Of the books you read this year, make sure at least 20% of them are not written by men.
66% (Bennett, Walton, Roanhorse, Nemens, Schwab)
3. Of the books you read this year, make sure a least 20% of them are written by writers of colour.
50% (Bennett, Roanhorse, Clark)
4. Of the books you read this year, make sure at least 5% of them are written by LGBT writers.
6% (Stuart)
5. Read books whose titles include all the colours of the rainbow. (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet)
6. Read something recommended to you by a friend or loved one.
7. Ask someone in this thread for a Wildcard, and read it.
8. Read something that's out of print.
9. Read something in translation.
10. Read some poetry.
11. Read some short stories.
12. Read something about a monster. - Ring Shout
13. Read an essay collection.
14. Read something historical about a place you've never visited.
15. Read something set in the recent past. - Shuggie Bain (1980s)
16. Read something from a non-human perspective. - Or What You Will
17. Read something about the ocean.
18. Read a collaboration between two or more authors.
19. Read something about games. - The Cactus League
20. Read a bestseller from the week/month you were born.
21. Read something by a writer who spent time incarcerated.

How Wonderful!
Jul 18, 2006


I only have excellent ideas.


I forgot to post a little February update! I decided to cheat a little bit re: not including work stuff, since a lot of my reading this month was dipping into a book for a work-related citation and then going "oh, I'll just read this whole thing, why not." I was reading pretty much non-stop in February to help with stress, and since I was cooped up inside for so much of it, but oh you know, I'm not complaining.

16. It's a Good Life If You Don't Weaken, Seth. Kind of a major book for 90s independent Canadian cartooning, I reread it to see how it had aged and if some friends of mine were being unfairly harsh to it. I think they were! I think Seth does a lovely job. It's a little mopey and navel-gazey but it was the 90s and I think the introspection and neuroses are handled elegantly. Seth makes it clear that there is a world outside of his protagonist's hang-ups and that there's beauty there.

17. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott. A student asked me a question about Alcott so I decided to just reread the whole thing. Still a banger after all these years!

18. Open Me Carefully: Emily Dickinson's Intimate Letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson, ed. Ellen Louise Hart. There is a stretch here where I was just reading lesbian letters from the 19th century. They were all good but these letters are from Emily Dickinson so it isn't even a fair game.

19. Beloved Sisters and Loving Friends: Letters from Rebecca Primus of Royal Oak, Maryland, and Addie Brown of Hartford, Connecticut, 1854-1868, ed. Farah Jasmine Griffin. Super fascinating letters between two queer black women, one middle-class and educated, the other working class and only gradually getting a handle on literacy over the course of their correspondence.

20. The Black Vampyre: A Legend of St. Domingo, Uriah Derick d'Arcy. One of the earliest North American vampire novels I guess, I was mainly here for the post-colonialism. A very weird novel from a time (1819) when a lot of the basic grammar of the vampire story was still getting figured out.

21. Who Would Have Thought It?, Maria Ruiz de Burton. One of the first English-language novels by a Mexican-American author. It's a completely excoriating and ruthless satire. She pulls no punches.

22. Woman in the Nineteenth Century, Margaret Fuller. I popped in to grab an excerpt for a class but wound up just reading the entire thing again.

23. African American Female Mysticism: Nineteenth-Century Religious Activism, Joy Bostic. A lovely and concise book about a school of mystical practice that has often left a somewhat neglected trail of textual breadcrumbs.

24. Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman. I did it again. I cracked it open to grab a little snippet, wound up sitting down on the couch and reading it all. I am not sorry one bit.

25. The Art of Manly Health and Training, Walt Whitman. A self-help and fitness manual that Whitman wrote under a pseudonym. It's fairly bananas, read it if you want to know the healthiest way to stand outside and holler.

26. Men Beyond Desire: Manhood, Sex, and Violation in American Literature, David Greven. This kind of changed the game for me in terms of how I conceptualize 19th century masculinity. Even if Greven is not going that far afield from somebody like Richard Slotkin I still like his approach a lot.

27. The Invention of Heterosexuality, Jonathan Ned Katz. An important work of queer history that I had been hearing about for years without picking up. I'm glad I did, and I think Katz' framework helped clarify stuff for my students as well.

28. Trans Care, Hil Malatino. A very short book from kind of an academic... chapbook? Tract? type series. This did give me a lot to think about though-- how to theorize care and mutual responsibility within a community as precarious and porous as the trans community. Extra food for though in the middle of a pandemic especially, when conventional forms of care seem foreclosed. I wish they hadn't cited Andrea Long Chu but whatever.

29. Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940, George Chauncey. Another absolute classic that I just never got around to reading until now. Beautifully written, super dense with detail. Chauncey's archives are so rich and wonderful, I loved this.

30. Autobiography of an Androgyne, Jennie June. An early 20th century memoir by a self-described "fairy," that is, a social construct somewhere in between a cross-dresser, a trans woman, and an effeminate gay man. June's memoirs are effecting and brutal but also marked by a stylistic effervescence and a deep sense of humor. A super interesting peek in on a broad cross-section of NYC life in the period since June shifted frequently from well-heeled urban academia to the broad overlap between the sexual and legal underworlds of the city at the time.

31. Foundlings, Chris Nealon. Another book about the formative and protean mish-mash that was queer culture in the first half of the 20th century. I especially like Nealon's chapter on Hart Crane, which is why I picked it up.

32. Zong!, M. NourbeSe Philip. A book I have read a bunch of times, a bricolage poem about the 1781 Zong massacre. Completely devastating every time. I grabbed this off the shelf to cite something but couldn't put it down.

33. Saborami, Cecilia Vicuna. This was next to Zong!, I work with the woman who edits the press that brought out this translation, so I think I got this years ago and just forgot I had it. So when I put Zong! back I brought this down instead. Sublime work by my all-time favorite Chilean poet.

34. Brief Evidence of Heaven, M. Nzadi Keita. Zong! put me in mind of this, a poetry collection about Anna Douglass, the wife of Frederick Douglass, so I read it and went off and had some good conversations about it.

35. Mrs. Spring Fragrance, Sui Sin Far. This was new to me! I had just recently found out about one of the earliest Asian-American authors, Sui Sin Far, via Christopher Looby's excellent anthology "The Man Who Thought Himself a Woman" and Other Queer Nineteenth-Century Short Stories . She is so, so good! I devoured this and the next book. I love her.

36. Becoming Sui Sin Far: Early Fiction, Journalism, and Travel Writing by Edith Maude Eaton, ed. Mary Chapman. This collection leans more towards Far's non-fiction, which is often blunter and angrier than her short stories.

37. Dub: Finding Ceremony, Alexis Pauline Gumbs. This was recommended to me by the aforementioned woman who published Saborami's most recent English edition. Very interesting, very metaphysical poetry about ancestry and marine biology. I loved this a lot, I was surprised and delighted on almost every page.


Well that's pretty much it! Out of... mm... 22 this month:
-at least 14 were by LGBTQ+ authors
-14 were not by men
-11 were by BIPOC

so out of 37 total so far:
-24 by LGBTQ+ authors
-22 by non-men
-15 by BIPOC writers

What other challenges did I knock out?

1. Set a goal for number of books or another personal challenge. 37/100
2. Of the books you read this year, make sure at least 20% of them are not written by men. 22/36
3. Of the books you read this year, make sure a least 20% of them are written by writers of colour. 15/36
4. Of the books you read this year, make sure at least 5% of them are written by LGBT writers. 24/36
5. Read books whose titles include all the colours of the rainbow. (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet) - Blue Fasa
6. Read something recommended to you by a friend or loved one. Dub: Finding Ceremony
7. Ask someone in this thread for a Wildcard, and read it.
8. Read something that's out of print.
9. Read something in translation. Saborami
10. Read some poetry.- I read a lot of poetry already.
11. Read some short stories. Mrs. Spring Fragrance
12. Read something about a monster. The Black Vampire
13. Read an essay collection.
14. Read something historical about a place you've never visited. Gay Berlin
15. Read something set in the recent past. -
16. Read something from a non-human perspective. -
17. Read something about the ocean. Dub: Finding Ceremony
18. Read a collaboration between two or more authors.
19. Read something about games.
20. Read a bestseller from the week/month you were born.
21. Read something by a writer who spent time incarcerated. Autobiography of an Androgyne

How Wonderful! fucked around with this message at 15:35 on Mar 6, 2021

Humerus
Jul 7, 2009

Rule of acquisition #111:
Treat people in your debt like family...exploit them.




Chamberk posted:


9. Black Sun - Rebecca Roanhorse


By any chance have you read her other fantasy books, Trail of Lightning is the first? I read it last year and it didn't wow me but I was considering this one since it sounds good and is well received. But so was Trail of Lightning and it didn't do it for me.

Chamberk
Jan 11, 2004

when there is nothing left to burn you have to set yourself on fire


March!

15. American Elsewhere - Robert Jackson Bennett
16. Leave the World Behind - Rumaan Alam
17. Spangle - Gary Jennings
18. Memorial - Brian Washington
19. The ABC Murders - Agatha Christie
20. The Haunting of Tram Car 105 - P. Djeli Clark
21. Selected Works of T.S. Spivet - Reif Larsen
22. Gulliverís Travels - Jonathan Swift
23. The Once and Future King - T.H. White
24. The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien

This was probably one of my most productive months of reading, and I finished some huge ones -"Spangle" I'd been working on since November, and OAFK is a favorite but clocks in at over 650 pages. (There were a few short ones as well - the Clark was about 80 pages, more of a novella, and Leave the World Behind, ABC Murders, and Memorial were all less than 300 pages.) Standouts were Once and Future King (one I always go back to, a gorgeous and lovely retelling of the Arthurian legend from a 20th century perspective), Haunting of Tram Car 015 (short, fun alt-history-fantasy about a haunted tram car in Cairo), and Spangle (a massive tome about the adventures of a circus in the 19th century).

1. Set a goal for number of books or another personal challenge. (24/50)
(EXPANDED to 50)
2. Of the books you read this year, make sure at least 20% of them are not written by men.
45% (Christie)
3. Of the books you read this year, make sure a least 20% of them are written by writers of colour.
41% (Alam, Washington, Clark)
4. Of the books you read this year, make sure at least 5% of them are written by LGBT writers.
13% (Washington, White)
5. Read books whose titles include all the colours of the rainbow. (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet)
6. Read something recommended to you by a friend or loved one.
7. Ask someone in this thread for a Wildcard, and read it.
8. Read something that's out of print.
9. Read something in translation.
10. Read some poetry.
11. Read some short stories.
12. Read something about a monster.
13. Read an essay collection.
14. Read something historical about a place you've never visited. - Gulliver's Travels
15. Read something set in the recent past.
16. Read something from a non-human perspective.
17. Read something about the ocean.
18. Read a collaboration between two or more authors.
19. Read something about games.
20. Read a bestseller from the week/month you were born.
21. Read something by a writer who spent time incarcerated.


Humerus posted:

By any chance have you read her other fantasy books, Trail of Lightning is the first? I read it last year and it didn't wow me but I was considering this one since it sounds good and is well received. But so was Trail of Lightning and it didn't do it for me.

Have not, but given that I enjoyed Black Sun, it would be worth checking out...

Chamberk fucked around with this message at 21:52 on Apr 1, 2021

How Wonderful!
Jul 18, 2006


I only have excellent ideas.


Let's see! March was mega busy but I still read some things.
38. Century of Clouds, Bruce Boone. One of my all time favorite books, wonderful to pick it up and read it again.

39. Mother, Come Home, Paul Hornschemier. I read some graphic novels too. This one was a little too precious about its own clinical approach to mourning and I felt way too broad. I guess I would say it felt extremely emotionally dishonest. Oh well.

40. Dans Mes Yeux, Bastien Vives. A graphic novel in French. Very pretty art but just absolutely nothing.

41. Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus, Chester Brown. Noted weird guy Chester Brown's extremely superfluous book about Biblical sex work. Not off to a great stretch.

42. Rivers of London, Ben Aaronovitch. My wife told me to chill out and read a dumb fantasy novel. It was fine. I am not sure I will read any other books in this series. I don't read a lot of sci-fi/fantasy and I don't know if I really want to start. I should have just kept reading Bruce Boone books.

43. The Holy Grail, Jack Spicer. One of my favorite collections by one of my favorite poets.

44. Language, Jack Spicer. Another beautiful one.

45. Book of Magazine Verse, Jack Spicer. He just doesn't miss.

46. Passing, Nella Larsen. A beautiful novella that reads completely differently whenever I read it.

47. Louis Riel, Chester Brown. The good Chester Brown. Arctic and majestic.

48. House of Women, Sophie Goldstein. Finally a comic this month that blew me away. Very lush space-ship gothic.

49. Bulldaggers, Pansies, and Chocolate Babies: Performance, Race and Sexuality in the Harlem Renaissance, James F. Wilson. A wonderful book about queer motifs in blues and jazz culture. Full of great anecdotes.

50. Quicksand, Nella Larsen. Not as much of a classic as Passing but Larsen is still a gem of the 20s.

51. Color, Countee Cullen. I wound up on a Countee Cullen kick as a result of all the other Harlem Ren stuff.

52. Copper Sun, Countee Cullen.

53. The Price of Salt, Patricia Highsmith. Reread this to help a student with a project.

54. The Hearing Trumpet, Leonora Carrington. The great Carrington's funny, weird, apocalyptic novel.

55. Fun Home, Alison Bechdel. Another case of me revisiting a book I love to help with student work.

56. Trap Door: Trans Cultural Production and the Politics of Visibility, ed. Reina Gossett, Eric A Stanley and Johanna Burton. A lovely anthology albeit one that isn't really as wide-ranging as I occasionally wished it was.



Out 19 this month:
-at least 13 were by LGBTQ+ authors
-7 were not by men which is somewhat shockingly low to me
-6 were by BIPOC

A lot of books by white guys this month and perhaps not coincidentally a lot of books which I didn't like and which I regret reading.

so out of 56 total so far:
-37 by LGBTQ+ authors
-29 by non-men
-21 by BIPOC writers

What other challenges did I knock out? Not too many. Just the essay collection thing I think. I'm still unclear on where to draw the line for "set in the recent past" so I think I'll save that until I like, read a book about 2009 or something.

1. Set a goal for number of books or another personal challenge. 56/100
2. Of the books you read this year, make sure at least 20% of them are not written by men. 29/56 (51%)
3. Of the books you read this year, make sure a least 20% of them are written by writers of colour. 21/56 (37%)
4. Of the books you read this year, make sure at least 5% of them are written by LGBT writers. 37/56 (66%)
5. Read books whose titles include all the colours of the rainbow. (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Indigo, Violet)
6. Ask someone in this thread for a Wildcard, and read it.
7. Read something that's out of print.
8. Read an essay collection. Trap Door
9. Read something set in the recent past. -
10. Read something from a non-human perspective. -
11. Read a collaboration between two or more authors.
12. Read something about games.
13. Read a bestseller from the week/month you were born.

How Wonderful! fucked around with this message at 18:49 on Apr 1, 2021

Mr. Nemo
Feb 4, 2016

A roc and a hard place



Chamberk posted:


21. Selected Works of T.S. Spivet - Reif Larsen

What did you think? This was also in my march. I'm going to post in a day or two here. My personal notes are:

Illustrated book. 12 year old prodigy kid travels to D.C. to receive a drawing award from the Smithsonian. Really enjoyed the book inside a book in the middle part. Unfortunately itís not expanded upon in the main plot after it. The last third is such a huge disappointment it nearly ruins the entire book. The physical edition is quite pretty. Good display of family trauma, growing in a hostile-ish environment. Movie adaptation by the director of Amelie, I should check it out, below average reviews though. But it extracts the weird stuff, so it may be tighter and more coherent.

Ben Nevis
Jan 20, 2011


It was a good month. Some very good stories, and a couple that weren't as good, but when you make it through more books it's not as much of a drag. Got my groove back this month and actually read 8, including 2 for the color challenge. I'm kinda trying not to double dip too much on challenges, but I keep reading color books in translation or short stories or poems. I do need to be more intentional about the challenges.

10. The Little Yellow Dog by Walter Mosely - It's Easy Rawlins, and a good one. Some changes to the formula, and for the better. Looking forward to the next.

11. Farewell, My Orange by Kei Iwake - A book set in Australia about the friendship that comes from an immigrant from Japan and one from Nigeria who met in an ESL class. It's about loss, grief, friendship (natch) and the power of shared language. I really enjoyed this! Wouldn't have got it apart from the color challenge.

12. The Book of Atrix Wolfe by Patricia McKillip - I don't remember where this rec came from, whether it was this book specifically or McKillip generally, but it was on the list somehow. Set some time after a major magic event that scarred the land and haunts the people still, the wizard, Atrix Wolfe tries to right past wrongs. A young prince is stolen by the queen of the woods and everyone starts to search for her missing daughter. All in all a solid fantasy novel of the older sort, not so much grimdark. I enjoyed it, a nice break from the usual.

13. Crome Yellow by Aldous Huxley - I'd picked this for the color challenge, not realizing somehow that I'd just read a book with yellow in the title. Whatever. A author and socialite goes out to a country house for awhile to try and woo a woman he loves. That's more of the frame than a plot. Mostly from here it's scenes of people talking satirizing the ideas of the time, having a go at authors, painters, young people, professors, etc. On some level the description may make you think Wodehouse. It's not. Most of the satire didn't land for me. There was one chapter I found outright hilarious and chapter 23 does have a still relevant lecture about men needing to take responsibility for their passions. More miss than hit though.

14. The Book of Malachi by TC Farren - Probably technically near future sci-fi. A man who had had his tongue cut out as a child is selected to work in a top secret private prison where they use inmates to grow black market organs. He's promised a new tongue if completes his tour. Other workers there are promised organs for loved ones provided they keep schtum and never reveal what happens. Malachi wrestles with whether to try and free prisoners and cost himself a tongue and cost his coworkers their promised organs or whether to tough it out. This was a surprisingly quick and compelling read, but man, I thought it kinda wasted the premise a bit. What a platform to criticize the for profit prison industry. But not so much. Ultimately, this was more forgettable. I don't know if you need a cw for electrocuting genitals, but there's a lot of that here. From like page 6 on, it comes up almost every chapter.

15. Tindalos Asset by Caitlin Kiernan - Same series as Agents of Dreamland and Black Helicopters. If you read either of those, you kind of know what you're getting into. I liked it better than Helicopters.

16. Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor - Another Okorafor novella. A young girl discovers a "seed" from outer space and gains power over life and death (sorta). Unfortunately she also kills whatever high tech thing she touches, phones, cars, etc. It's bits of her life, trying to find a place and how she gets by. Solid little book, as you'd probably expect.

17. Outlawed by Anna North - An alt history western. There was a flu, lots of people died, people have come to venerate mothers and barren women are cast out and/or hung as witches. Our heroine, Ada manages to get out of town ahead of the sheriff. She finds her way to the Hole in the Wall gang, trying to make a place for themselves and other outcasts. There's heists, rustling, and rebelling against gender essentialism. I just blew through this, really enjoyed it.

Ben Nevis posted:

1. The Factory Witches of Lowell by CS Malerich
2. Talking Animals by Joni Murphy
3. A Grave is Given Supper by Mike Soto
4. Red Ants by Pergentino Jose
5. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Garcia-Moreno
6. Trouble the Saints by Alaya Dawn Johnson
7. The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi
8. American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson
9. The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma

THE CHALLENGE:

1. Set a goal for number of books or another personal challenge. 17/70
2. Of the books you read this year, make sure at least 20% of them are not written by men. 12/17
3. Of the books you read this year, make sure a least 20% of them are written by writers of colour. 10/17
4. Of the books you read this year, make sure at least 5% of them are written by LGBT writers. 1/17
5. Read books whose titles include all the colours of the rainbow. (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet) - Red Ants, Crome Yellow, Farewell My Orange
6. Read something recommended to you by a friend or loved one.
7. Ask someone in this thread for a Wildcard, and read it.
8. Read something that's out of print.
9. Read something in translation.
10. Read some poetry. - A Grave is Given Supper
11. Read some short stories.
12. Read something about a monster. Tindalos Asset
13. Read an essay collection.
14. Read something historical about a place you've never visited.
15. Read something set in the recent past. - American Spy
16. Read something from a non-human perspective. - Talking Animals
17. Read something about the ocean.
18. Read a collaboration between two or more authors.
19. Read something about games.
20. Read a bestseller from the week/month you were born.
21. Read something by a writer who spent time incarcerated.

Gertrude Perkins
May 1, 2010

Gun Snake

dont talk to gun snake

Drops: human teeth


quote:

1 - The Mark Of Zorro, by Johnston McCulley
2 - The Animal Man Omnibus, by Grant Morrison, Chas Truog, Doug Hazlewood, Tom Grummett, Paris Cullins, Steve Montanto, Mark McKenna, Mark Farmer
3 - Deep Secret, by Diana Wynne Jones
4 - Empires of EVE: A History Of The Great Wars Of EVE Online, by Andrew Groen
5 - The Adventure Zone: Petal To The Metal, by Clint McElroy, Griffin McElroy, Travis McElroy, Justin McElroy & Carey Pietsch

New job has meant a dramatic increase in my reading time! I got through TEN books during March:

6 - Do You Dream Of Terra-Two?, by Temi Oh. Picked this up in a 2-for-1 sale knowing nothing about it, and while I wasn't sure at first, it grew on me. Written in a very YA style, it almost feels like it's an introduction to the themes of science fiction, with Oh taking the time to explain concepts like airlocks or relativity. There are also frequent litearary flourishes which felt a little out of place and took a while to get used to. The story is driven primarily by the characters - a group of teens trained to be the first colonists on the titular Terra-Two - and their relationships and emotions. Each protagonist has enough baggage to overfill a cargo hold, and personalities clash in predictable ways at first, but as the story evolves and emotional journeys progress, Oh is able to give each of them a real humanity. The climax and aftermath of the second act see everything coming together compellingly, and by the end I was really engrossed. This feels like it might be a good book to get people into the genre, especially YA readers, and I liked it a lot, even though it didn't quite escape the gravitational pull of the work that influenced it.

7 - Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, by Alison Bechdel. Graphic autobiography, about Bechdel's early life and relationship with her family, especially her father. Themes of isolation, repressed/flourishing queer sexuality, and the desperation to make meaningful connections through thick fog. It's also about literature: both how the books she and her father read seemed to parallel their lives and relationship, and how each of them discovered themselves through those books. It's occasionally shocking, sometimes funny, often deeply sad, and I'll be digesting it for a long while.

8 - Black Boy Out of Time: A Memoir, by Hari Ziyad. A thoughtful, powerful memoir in which Ziyad charts their life and family experiences through the twin frameworks of 'misafropedia' (institutional hatred of black children) and the carceral state. Along the way we meet friends, family members, partners, and explore Ziyad's evolving relationships with them as they came to understand their identity. There are many sad or shocking moments, from discussions of police brutality to sexual assault, and each episode is treated with a careful, considered language informed as much by therapy as by theory. They also talk at length about issues and experiences of gentrification, religiosity and prison abolition. Much of the book is addressed to the inner child Ziyad describes losing, and through this dialogue they attempt to make sense of past and present struggles. This is often a hard read, and I can only relate to so much of it, but their writing is earnest and empathetic and I'm glad to have spent a while with this.

9 - Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K Dick. Had this for aaaaaaaaaaages, finally got round to reading it. It's interesting, but never really properly grabbed me. I got a sense of general sadness and futility from the characters and the poisoned, blighted world they inhabit. Ideas of commodified empathy and emotions-on-tap echo Huxley; the characters are written as hollow enough that the blurring of "human" and "andy" becomes a backdrop rather than a central theme. I understand its importance and influence and it has some really engrossing parts, but overall this left me very cold.

10 - A Certain Hunger, by Chelsea G. Summers. Deeply indulgent fictional memoir of a lady food critic and murderer. Graphic sex, graphic violence, and extremely sensual food porn all blend together into a grotesque and engrossing stew. Elements of Dorothy's life and personality evolve neatly over the course of her career, from respected globetrotting bon viveur to a food blogger straining against the stifling grip of modernity. And of course it's shot through with monologuing on psychology, the food industry, femininity, and the way these aspects of society combine to create the backdrop for her crimes. While there were a few eye-rolling moments, and I can see some people bouncing off this hard, I had a really good time with it and I look forward to more from Summers.

11 - The Deep, by Rivers Solomon, with Daveed Diggs, William Huston & Jonathan Snipes. A short but powerful novella about merfolk. As the book's afterword, written by members of clipping., describe, this is a "telephone game" of a story: inspired by a song inspired by the mythology of a techno act who in turn were building on afrofuturist ideas peppered across 20th century black storytelling, with each telling markedly different. This is a story about the weight of memory, about resistance and collective struggle and the coming-into-consciousness that presages revolution. The central character of Yetu is an archetypal "young woman yearns for more than her lot in life has prescribed", and while her own journey is enjoyable enough I was much more engaged with the implications left in her wake (pun intended). This is more than just a curious media object.

12 - Binti: The Complete Trilogy, by Nnedi Okorafor. YA SF trilogy that I didn't like as much as I wanted to. As a fan of Okorafor's work I was excited to get into this, and the premise - the titular Binti facing disaster en route to becoming the first of her people to attend a utopian cosmic university - had me interested. But despite some really fun scenes, the stories being told don't hold together that well. Obviously it's a trilogy of novellas, so I was prepared for some shorter arcs and quicker pacing. But it does feel quite messy, with tonal shifts that feel stumbled rather than planned, or easy resolutions to problems built up as monumental. A dozen different exciting ideas are brought up only to be used as background detail for main plotlines that I found much less engaging. There's some good stuff in here - some hints at a much more interesting world and more interesting stories that might be told if Okorafor revisits them in future.

13 - Wake Up Young Lovers, by Paris Green. Short collection of poetry and short stories, mostly set in a near-future wasteland of crumbling American culture and infrastructure. Green's writing treats world-ending nightmares and splatterpunk levels of gore in the same cadence as telemarketing. It's funny, sad, unpleasant but in a really fun way. The short story 'Black Ships In Uraga Harbor' was particularly good.

14 - Gay Bar: Why We Went Out, by Jeremy Atherton Lin. An intimate and explicit oral history of the gay bar and its place in gay culture, combined with a memoir of Lin's own experiences in establishments of the US and UK scenes. Lin's prose is blunt but forceful, peppered with quotations and amusing asides that made the book a joy to experience. Self-reflective but shameless, the reader is taken on a guided tour of both history and geography, as the character of each city and era is reflected in the bars Lin profiles. As a queer guy whose scene experience has been pretty minimal, I felt educated as much as related to, especially on the rich, sordid or frightening histories on display. I was particularly moved by the final chapter, which juxtaposes the desolation of Blackpool nightlife with the safe, TV-friendly version of "gay culture" now marketed to the heterosexual public. This is a great book that I'll be recommending to a lot of people.

15 - Better Than IRL: True Stories About Finding Your People On The Untamed Internet, edited by Katie West & Jasmine Elliot. I helped kickstart this! A lovely collection of memoir-essays by a diverse bunch of writers, with stories ranging from falling in love over LiveJournal to processing childhood abuse through the lifeline of online friendship. Some of the pieces are more relatable to my own experience than others, but they're all told with a warm and wistful tone. A recurring theme throughout, as highlighted in the introduction: in some ways, we didn't know how good we had it, before Everyone got online. So there's a bittersweet quality to this book, especially reading it after a year of isolation where socialising online has been the only form of connection many of us can access.

Overall, some really good stuff, and a couple of more disappointing books. I think my favourites were Gay Bar and A Certain Hunger, though I really did enjoy Fun Home too.

Here's what that's done to my challenges so far...
1. Set a goal for number of books or another personal challenge. - 15/52
2. Of the books you read this year, make sure at least 1/3 of them are not written by men. - 10 - 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15
3. Of the books you read this year, make sure a least 1/3 of them are written by writers of colour. - 5 - 6, 8, 11, 12, 14
4. Of the books you read this year, make sure at least 1/4 of them are written by LGBT writers. - 7 - 2, 7, 8, 10, 11, 13, 14
5. Read books whose titles include all the colours of the rainbow. (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet)
6. Read something recommended to you by a friend or loved one. - 3, 11, 12
7. Ask someone in this thread for a Wildcard, and read it.
8. Read something that's out of print.
9. Read something in translation.
10. Read some poetry.
11. Read some short stories. - 13
12. Read something about a monster.
13. Read an essay collection. - 15
14. Read something historical about a place you've never visited.
15. Read something set in the recent past. - 7, 10
16. Read something from a non-human perspective.
17. Read something about the ocean. - 11
18. Read a collaboration between two or more authors. - 5, 11
19. Read something about games. - 4
20. Read a bestseller from the week/month you were born.
21. Read something by a writer who spent time incarcerated.

Humerus
Jul 7, 2009

Rule of acquisition #111:
Treat people in your debt like family...exploit them.




I was worried my reading would slow down because of school but my teacher did almost nothing the entire month (what am I paying for?) so I'm way ahead of schedule:

12.) Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke (2017)
Small town mystery that circles back to another murder that happened years before, full of people with secrets that donít want to share them. I liked it; it didnít blow me away but it was worth the read.

13.) Contact by Carl Sagan (1985)
Iíve been meaning to read this for a while so I finally did. I enjoyed it but itís definitely not for everyone. I was worried that it might veer too far into hard sci-fi speculation but it stayed very grounded and focused on the characters. Quite enjoyable.

14.) We Could Be Heroes by Mike Chen (2021)
A kind of superhero story where two people have superpowers but donít know how or why. One becomes a bank robber and the other a vigilante, but they team up when they discover thereís a big threat to the city. I was pleasantly surprised at the mystery elements in the story.

15.) Victoryís Price by Alexander Freed (2021)
The conclusion to the Alphabet Squadron series of Star Wars books, and it was great. As with the other two, the characters were great, the action was great, and it was a really satisfying conclusion. Highly recommended if you like Star Wars (and you really only need to have seen the original trilogy to understand whatís going on).

16.) A Test of Courage by Justina Ireland (2021)
A middle grade entry in the Star Wars High Republic series. It was fine for what it is but it didnít really add anything to the narrative.

17.) The Cutting Season by Attica Locke (2012)
Much like Bluebird, Bluebird this is a mystery about a small town murder with ties to an older (though in this case MUCH older) murder. It was fine but I think Bluebird, Bluebird is better. Locke is great at writing flawed but well meaning characters, and I did like the main character here.

Book Goal: 17/52
Author Stats (All goals 30%)
Nonwhite: 29%
LGBTQ+: 18%
Nonman: 59%

Not a bad month overall! Catching up on some percentages there and things are going well. Iím actually in the position of having way more library holds come through when Iím not ready for them than struggling to find books to read like I was last year. Of course it helps not to be constrained by the Booklord challenge.

DurianGray
Dec 23, 2010

King of Fruits


I read six books in March bringing my total so far to 31 (a bit of a slowdown from my previous pace because I was sick a couple times through the month).

26. Alien: Into Charybdis by Alex White
I can't say that I really seek out listened novels like this, but I love Alien/Aliens. This has xenomorphs, colonial marines, and a team of unfortunate HVAC installers all clashing together at a space server farm that someone decided to build in the middle of a sinkhole/whirlpool aptly called Charybdis. All of the horror and action you'd expect along with some intergalactic politics and characters deep enough to stay interesting but not slow down the action.

27. Depart, Depart! by Sim Kern
A short semi-supernatural climate fiction novella. The main character, Noah, is a Jewish trans man who is forced to take shelter in the Mavericks' basketball arena following a devastating hurricane. There's lots of tension as he tries to navigate the climate disaster while evading transphobes and anti-semites, and trying to figure out why the child-ghost of his great-grandfather keeps showing up. This was a quick read with a lot going on for how short it is.

28. The Stars are Legion by Kameron Hurley
I'd been meaning to read something by Hurley for a while and I'm glad I finally did. There's a lot of rich worldbuilding in this and nothing is over-explained. There are multi-layered planet-ships, women give birth to bio-mechanical components and even stranger things, political marriages and war go hand-in-hand, and there are squid guns?? I had a lot of fun with this and I definitely plan to get more of her books.

29. This Is How You Lose the Time War by Max Gladstone and Amal El-Mohtar
This is my 2+ authors book. Wow I loved this, I've seen it recommended so many places. Semi-epistolary -- two time-travelling super soldiers on opposite sides of a war start a correspondence that starts out as taunting each other and ends up as much more. The prose is lyrical and even ornate, the letters themselves range from regular pen and paper missives to words woven into the pain of a beesting or a cup of tea -- but it doesn't overstay its welcome at a brisk 200~ pages.

30. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
The sequel to Six of Crows, which I read last month and had some mixed feelings about. Honestly, this was not as good as the first one. Some of my problems with the first book were addressed (the two queer male characters of the team got more backstory and also finally got together as an actual couple), but this lacked the tight heist plotting the first book had. Major plot points are brought up for long stretches and then suddenly dropped with little consequence (except maybe a one sentence mention in the ending wrap-up chapters) to move on to something else entirely. Just as an example, the book opens with an attack by another nation's magical cyborg soldiers, heavily implying a war is part of the stakes, but except for a couple more appearances to just mildly inconvenience the protagonists, nothing at all happens with the thread by the end and it just gets dropped. I can see why the first book was so popular, but I feel like the second is pretty skippable.

31. Ruthless Gods by Emily A. Duncan
This is the second in the Something Dark and Holy trilogy. I read the first one (Wicked Saints) in the fall and liked it well enough. It seemed like somewhat bog-standard YA fantasy at first, a chosen-one sort of girl can use magic granted by her gods and she needs to help fight off the heretical enemy nation and their blood mages. But then it took a turn toward cosmic horror at the end. That cosmic horror goes full tilt in this book, main characters are manipulated by eldritch gods and some are on the way to becoming eldritch gods themselves. It's also Slavic-themed (Polish, Russian, and I think Romanian seem to be the main influences) which gives it an extra edge of interest by virtue of not being another vaguely western European medieval fantasy. Just a lot of fun and a bit unexpected in a good way (at least for me, I tend to not read much YA despite some of my current book picks).

1. Set a goal for number of books or another personal challenge. 31/100
2. Of the books you read this year, make sure at least 20% of them are not written by men. >25/31
3. Of the books you read this year, make sure a least 20% of them are written by writers of colour. >9/31
4. Of the books you read this year, make sure at least 5% of them are written by LGBT writers. >18/31
5. Read books whose titles include all the colours of the rainbow. (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet) (Red, White and Royal Blue) (Yellow Jessamine)
6. Read something recommended to you by a friend or loved one. (The Seventh Perfection)
7. Ask someone in this thread for a Wildcard, and read it.
8. Read something that's out of print.
9. Read something in translation.
10. Read some poetry.
11. Read some short stories.
12. Read something about a monster. (Frankenstein)
13. Read an essay collection.
14. Read something historical about a place you've never visited.
15. Read something set in the recent past. (Red, White and Royal Blue)
16. Read something from a non-human perspective.
17. Read something about the ocean. (Heart of the Sea)
18. Read a collaboration between two or more authors. (This Is How You Lose the Time War)
19. Read something about games.
20. Read a bestseller from the week/month you were born.
21. Read something by a writer who spent time incarcerated.

Robert Deadford
Mar 1, 2008


Ultra Carp

Robert Deadford posted:

1. The Prime Ministers by Steve Richards
2. Cities of the Plain by Cormac McCarthy
3. Black Sun by Owen Matthews

Sorry I missed February, I'm still doing this! Over the last two months, I've finished the following...

4. The End Of All Things by John Scalzi
Space opera, the grand themes of war and sacrifice and heroism and intergalactic politics. One of the latter books in the Old Man's War series, which is a pretty good series altogether, and this collection of inter-connected stories was very enjoyable. Interesting characters in interesting situations, solving interesting problems, at least if space opera is your bag. Enjoyed it!

5. Vox by Christina Dalcher
Unlike this. The scenario is an intruiging one, where an ultra-conservative religious group has managed to seize control of the USA and forced women to wear wristbands that liimit how many words they can say in a day. Echoes of The Handmaid's Tale, to be sure, but unfortunately executed without Atwood's narrative skill. Any time your story hangs on a series of convenient coincidences, then you have a lot of work to do. I felt Dalcher couldn't quite pull it off. It's paced well, the characters and motivations are believable, but the story itself didn't work for me.

6. The Biggest Bluff by Maria Konnikova
Having recently started playing poker, I thought I'd reread Konnikova's adventures in beginning as a poker player. She's a writer for the New Yorker and a former researcher in psychology, and her journey is an interesting one. Excellent when you know little of poker, better when you understand some of the poker concepts she touches on.

7. Blinded By The Lights by Jakub Zulczyk
I hated the first third of this book. The protagonist is an arrogant amoral shitlord who spends his nights dealing drugs to the great and the good of Warsaw. But it grew on me as it charts his personal and professional descent. Zulczyk's depiction of modern Poland is on point (I live there) and there's a perverse satisfaction to be had as the story unfolds. By the end, I really respected how well the author built the story. Very good!

8. Fear by Bob Woodward
Woodward's expose of the Trump administration was fascinating and occasionally jaw-dropping. Trump himself comes off very badly and the men he put in place around him are presented as mostly struggling bravely against Trump's limitations. Good!

In Progress:
9. A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
It's a very very big book

10. Rage by Bob Woodward

I'm still looking for a Wildcard

Progress Check: 8 of 26

Gertrude Perkins
May 1, 2010

Gun Snake

dont talk to gun snake

Drops: human teeth


Sounds like you've had some real success finding good books!

Robert Deadford posted:


I'm still looking for a Wildcard

How about Ryu Murakami, Coin Locker Babies?

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Robert Deadford
Mar 1, 2008


Ultra Carp

Gertrude Perkins posted:


How about Ryu Murakami, Coin Locker Babies?

Wow yes, that looks intruiging. Thanks!

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • Post
  • Reply