What have you recently finished reading? Monster of God (David Quammen) and The Naked Ape (Desmond Morris). I need to review both, still. Quammen’s book is interesting, looking at the role of alpha predators in our lives, sometimes with very literary references. I enjoyed it, though it felt a bit rambling. As for The Naked Ape, it’s an interesting and worthwhile approach, but I think Morris kept too much of his cultural baggage in mind re: gender roles, etc. It is a really old book, though, so.
What are you currently reading? Various things, but the newest thing is a fresh attempt at Catch-22 (Joseph Heller) with my HabitRPG bookclub. I read about half when I was younger, but didn’t really get it — a lot of it went over my head. It’s going better now.
Also, Two Boys Kissing (David Levithan), which is… interesting. I expected it to be very sweet (like Boy Meets Boy), but with a narrating chorus of AIDs-victims, it’s not as straightforward as that. I like the differing relationships that it brings out, though I am feeling slightly weird about the fact that it’s addressed to contemporary gay men — it doesn’t feel very welcoming, despite the queer community usually being pretty strongly bonded together.
What will you read next? I think I’ll dig into some comics — a new Guardians of the Galaxy TPB, and some Avengers Assemble a la Kelly Sue DeConnick.
This week’s theme from The Broke and the Bookish is “Top Ten Books I’d Give To Readers Who Have Never Read X”. This is kind of a tough one, because I’m not really sure what to go for. My taste is pretty broad, but I know most people’s isn’t, so… (On the other hand, if I picked comics, it’d be Batgirl, Captain America, Spider-man and Young Avengers, and then I’d be running out.) So instead I decided I’d go for ten different values of X.
Regency romance: The author is unquestionably Georgette Heyer, but which book…? Well, I started with The Talisman Ring, and adored it: I was a convert on the spot. I also enjoyed The Grand Sophy very much.
Superhero comics: Ultimate Spider-man. It’s fun, you don’t need to know any back story, and it does start to bring you into the Marvel universe, with appearances from other characters like Daredevil, the X-men, Human Torch, etc.
LGBT YA: David Levithan’s Boy Meets Boy. So bloody adorable.
Medieval-ish fantasy: While I love Tolkien, I think I have to award this spot to the more accessible Robin Hobb. She has a great narrative voice and a knack for characters you will love. Start with Assassin’s Apprentice; you may wish to skip the Liveships trilogy entirely, as I found that more uneven and full of characters I didn’t want to spend time with.
Renaissance fantasy: Yep, ha, a technicality. Scott Lynch is my recommendation here, especially if you like the loveable rogue. Main downside is how long it takes for us to even see the most important female character of the series: she isn’t in the first two books.
Golden Age crime fiction: Dorothy L. Sayers is my pick, without a doubt. I found that I needed to read a few books to get really into the character of her detective, Lord Peter Wimsey, which may be a problem. I might almost suggest beginning with a later book, perhaps Strong Poison. But if you’re willing to let a character grow on you, start at the beginning with Whose Body?
Alternate history: Jo Walton’s Small Change trilogy wins hands down. Farthing is, for bonus points, a loving pastiche of Sayers’ work, although it is also a serious and harrowing tale of appeasing the Nazis and the world that creates.
Speculative fiction: I’m going to go for something a little off the beaten path here. Try The Carpet Makers by Andreas Eschbach. It completely enchanted me.
Cheesy space opera: Philip Palmer. Or at least, Debatable Space, Artemis and Version 43. High octane fun! I found a lot of fault with these, but I also had a whale of a time.
Non-fiction (science/history): The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. The ethical issues this raises are well worth grappling with.
What did you recently finish reading? Let’s see… mostly comics. The Island of Doctor Moreau, by H.G. Wells, was the last novel — read it for my SF/F class, though I discovered I hadn’t actually read it before anyway. Comics-wise, Avengers: The Children’s Crusade, Avengers vs X-men: VS., and Young Avengers Presents. All Marvel comics.
What are you currently reading? Actively, P.G. Wodehouse’s The Small Bachelor, Molly Beth Griffin’s Silhouette of a Sparrow and Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland; the latter, is once again, for my SF/F class.
What do you think you’ll read next?
The plan is to read Captain America: Winter Soldier, I think. Then maybe I’ll get round to the acclaimed Ancillary Justice (Ann Leckie).
Last book before I came here was Nicola Griffith’s Hild, I think. Then there was a little shopping spree in Brussels and Leuven: Helen of Troy: Beauty, Myth, Devastation (Ruby Blondell), The Book of Barely Imagined Beings (Caspar Henderson), The Prisoner (Thomas M. Disch), The Song of Troy (Colleen McCullough), In Search of Shakespeare (Michael Wood), The Folding Knife (K.J. Parker) and Alphabet of Thorn (Patricia A. McKillip). Some bought for me by my partner, eee. Also I bought her Fly By Night (Frances Hardinge).
There was also a library trip. I have to report that the library in Leuven is pretty good for English-language books. So my haul from there was Mockingbird (Walter Tevis), The Short Novels of John Steinbeck, The Lover’s Dictionary (David Levithan), and White as Snow (Tanith Lee).
What did you recently finish reading? The last thing I finished reading was David Levithan’s The Realm of Possibility, which is a prose-poetry novel/collection of short stories. Ultimately I liked it a lot more than I expected to when I realised about the format. Before that, it was short stories by Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne, for my SF/F class — and they are really, really boring (to me). Bah.
What are you currently reading? More homework from my counsellor: Emotional Intelligence, by Daniel Goleman. And I started Time and the Gods by Lord Dunsany today. Other than that, still reading The Holders by Julianna Scott — not sure I’ve even touched it in the last week, oops — and various other ARCs and novels I’ve been partway through for Far Too Long.
What do you think you’ll read next?
I should probably just focus on what I’m already reading… but knowing me, that won’t happen. Right now I’m thinking Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, for a start, and then I should probably catch up with Apex and Beneath Ceaseless Skies…
Well, today me, Mum and my sister had a bit of a shopping spree, so… Shadowmarch (Tad Williams), Augustus (John Williams), Fun Home (Alison Bechdel), The Algebraist & The State of the Art (Iain M. Banks), A Dance of Cloaks (David Dalglish) and The Ghost Hunters (Neil Spring). Recent ARCs include Poets Translate Poets (ed. Paula Dietz) and Signal to Noise (Neil Gaiman & Dave McKean).
I didn’t mean to read this in one go, it just sort of happened. I wasn’t sure at all about the form, particularly: it’s very hard to please me with poetry because I look for very specific things. And honestly, I’m still indifferent to that choice even for this book, which I enjoyed quite a lot. On the one hand, it works: poetry is so personal, and it brings out the different voices in this interlinked collection — and being poetry, some of it is very dense and allusive. I enjoyed figuring out the links between poems, who knew who, and where and why their lives overlapped.
On the other hand, I prefer my poetry to be very dense and allusive, more so than in most of these. I think if it were all written like that, you’d lose all individuality of the voices, so it’s probably for the best.
I liked the whole range of people and personalities, all warm and handled with respect. They’re all people trying to get on with life, not clear good guys and bad guys. And the diversity of the characters — straight, gay, black, white, Goth, church-goer, rebel… — and their stories too. It’s not all about who loves who, but also about family, friendship, faith, loneliness, fear, courage.
I think I’ll have to go ahead and say I highly recommend this, even though I’m not so fond of the format.