mean

Mar. 12th, 2016 12:47 am
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I walked fast to get to SF book group, because I thought I would be late. I got there early and a little out of breath. James asked if I was rushing to set the book on fire. "No," I said. "Why? No!" We read The Stars My Destination this month. Yes, I can see all the sexism I didn't notice as a teenager, but I still like it.

Then we went upstairs to where we talk. First we go around the room and say what else we've been reading, and whether we recommend it. I said I had nothing worth mentioning. Jacqie asked if there was anything I particularly hated, I said yes but it wasn't SF. She said she'd enjoy hearing what I thought of it anyway, so I talked about The Whip, by Karen Kondazian, and then asked, "Do you think of me as someone who is mean about books?"

Jacqie said no, she thought I was always interesting about books, but I think "Do you think I'm mean?" is a question you would not answer yes even in part unless you were really good friends and had had a chance to think it over.

I don't mean to be mean, but I do want to be funny, and if I have to choose between "not mean" and "funny", I will often choose funny.

If I've been mean to you, though, I didn't mean to, and I will appreciate it if you tell me and give me the chance to apologize.
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So the book group that is hosted by the library meets in August to choose books for the year. Everyone who attends that meeting gets to propose a book; then everyone writes down their top six choices, and we read the ones that get the most votes. I did not attend last August, so I didn't witness the selection, but we are going to read a book that was written by a member of the book club. He is also going to facilitate the discussion, since it is the custom for the person who proposes the book to be the facilitator, although one can ask the librarian who runs the book group to facilitate in one's stead.

I think this is a terrible idea.

Also I have no idea how to talk about a book in front of its author, even if I don't care about the author, which is not the case here, even if I like the book, which hmmm. I have developed a little skill at beta-reading, but that is different: there, you are criticizing only what the author wants criticized, in order to improve the work before she publishes it. Here, I don't know what he wants from the discussion but I don't think he's going to get it.
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I'm going to California tomorrow to visit the friend who moved away, with three other members of our mutual book group. I have been fretting anxiously all day that
1. I will not wake up in time
2. I will forget my CPAP, the CPAP's power cord, my phone, the phone's power cord, or my bite guard
(prescriptions and wallet are already packed, whatever else I'm forgetting is replaceable)
3. I will be miserable because of allergic reaction to cats, or because I can't sleep, or just because I can't stand being with five other people for four days straight
4. I will spoil everyone else's fun by being miserable or sick or too slow and achy, or by saying something stupid.

There is nothing more I can do about any of these worries, so I have been cleaning things. The little dog is all fluffy, except for the long hairs around his mouth, which look a bit like this dragon: http://vignette3.wikia.nocookie.net/dragons/images/5/59/Chinese-dragon-black.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20090603191055

The combination of rawhide bone and dog saliva makes a powerful hair glue.
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This year, my SF book group's fearless leader has chosen the theme of diversity. Jacqie picks six, and lets us vote on the other six. Here's her list:

1. Sorcerer to the Crown, by Zen Cho
2. Ninefox Gambit, by Yoon Ha Lee
3. The Traitor Baru Cormorant, by Seth Dickinson
4. Signal to Noise, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
5. Shadowshaper, by Daniel José Older
6. The Library at Mount Char, by Scott Hawkins

and the groups we get to choose from:

7. The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, by Becky Chambers
Dark Orbit, by Carolyn Ives Gilman
Planetfall, by Emma Newman, or
Archangel, by Marguerite Reed

8. Wake of Vultures, by Lila Bowen
Vermilion, by Molly Tanzer, or
Orlando, by Virginia Woolf

9. Gene Mapper, by Taiyo Fujii, or
The Three-Body Problem, by Cixin Liu

10. The Buried Giant, by Kazuo Ishiguro
The Grace of Kings, by Ken Liu, or
The People in the Trees, by Hanya Yanagihara

11. Illuminae, by Amie Kaufman
Uprooted, by Naomi Novik, or
An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir

12. All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders
Slade House, by David Mitchell
The Cloud Roads, by Martha Wells, or
The Affinites, by Robert Charles Wilson

Isn't that a good list? What would you choose? I'm going to be conflicted between All the Birds in the Sky, which I very much want to read, and The Cloud Roads, which I always want to make more people read.
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I am very glad I went to book group today, even though I did not finish or like the book, because I got to tell everyone that we don't need to choose a substitute for The Cloud Roads, because it is being reprinted -- and maybe it was our bookstore's query as to why their order hadn't been filled that tipped the publisher over to reprint! -- and also because one of the other book group members told the story of how her brain fused and poured out of her mouth this morning, when she interrupted trying to finish the book for book group to call the book store where we meet to ask about bringing books in to sell, and someone who sounds exactly like me answered the phone at the same time that she (the person telling this story) got email from her least favorite client, so suddenly she was expressing how much she loves me to the person who answered the phone-- except-- the person who answered the phone wasn't me. Because I don't actually work at the book store.

I know she likes me -- it's implicit in the way we laugh at each other's jokes and support each other's points -- but I doubt I would ever have heard her say it if I hadn't gone to book group tonight. And that is really nice to hear! So if you like someone, tell them!

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