boxofdelights: (Default)
• What are you reading?

A Stranger in Olondria, by Sofia Samatar, for SF book group, which is my favorite book group because 1. I like a really good proportion of the books we read, and 2. I can get loud and funny there and people still like me, even if I'm saying something mean about a book they like.

• What did you recently finish reading?

The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, for a new book group, which would be my fourth. It's a roundtable discussion of classics, led by CSU grad students, hosted in a very interesting small press/bookstore/coffee shop/community space. There were seventeen people at this first meeting. The discussion was good. Everyone got to talk. I said that while I was reading about Hester Prynne on the pillory, I was thinking about 21st century victims of public shaming. When I was seventeen, I thought that we could throw off our hypocrisies, be honest about who we loved, be honest about who we were, and eliminate shaming! Nope.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

Something I've got checked out from the library, I hope.
boxofdelights: (Default)
• What are you reading?

Who Do You Love, by Jennifer Weiner. Not recommended. There's a bullying scene. The thin rich pretty doted-on girl who does the bullying is our protagonist. The victim is described with such detailed, thorough loathing that I am reconsidering everything I ever enjoyed about Jennifer Weiner novels.

• What did you recently finish reading?

A Slight Trick of the Mind, by Mitch Cullen. Recommended. Read for library book group. Nobody said the word, but we talked about fanfiction, which is hard not to do when you're talking about Sherlock Holmes. One guy didn't mind all the AU versions of Sherlock, but was indignant about this one because it pretended to be the real Sherlock, but it was taking away everything that made him Sherlock (i.e., his great brain). I thought Cullen created a believable person, who was believably the same person as ACD's Sherlock Holmes, but seen through two very different writers' styles. I loved the detail that Cullen's Holmes is aware of the fanwork being created about him, and very offended by the ones that depict his dear companion as Jam Watson.

The person who picked the book began by apologizing for it: she hadn't read it, only seen the movie, at book-choosing time. Apparently the movie has a happy ending pasted on? I can't see how that would work. The book is all about the fact that we all lose things we can't bear to lose; that not even the great detective can turn back time and bring them back to us; that we mostly go on living anyway.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

I've got to finish my bowl of misery soup, that is, Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands, for book group Sunday.
boxofdelights: (Default)
• What are you reading?

Gemsigns, by Stephanie Saulter, for SF book group tomorrow. Interesting combination of comic-book tropes with accomplished writing. I've had enough second-hand exposure to Steven Universe that every time I pick this book up I have to reorient what it means to call people Gems.

Also still reading A Fearless Heart: How the Courage to Be Compassionate Can Transform Our Lives, by Thupten Jinpa, which was last month's book for Tawanda book group. Not going to finish before it has to go back, but would like to get to a good stopping point.

• What did you recently finish reading?

The SF book group grew too big, so it closed to new members and the bookstore started a new one. They asked members of the old group to come to one or more of the first meetings to help them get started, and their first pick was The Killing Moon, by N.K. Jemisin, so I reread it and went along. It is still excellent, and fun to talk about with new people. The new group's second pick is God's War, which I am glad I read but don't want to reread.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

I just picked up Go Set A Watchman, by Harper Lee, because I got to the head of the library waiting list, and A Slight Trick of the Mind, by Mitch Cullen, because it is the next book for library book group; but that isn't until October. The next book for Tawanda book group is The Circle, by Dave Eggers, which I have read, but long enough ago that I wouldn't do a great job of talking about it; but Tawanda never does a great job of talking about books. I've got Sorcerer to the Crown, by Zen Cho. The Killing Moon reminded me that I haven't read The Shadowed Sun. And I have The Fifth Season too! Too many choices.
boxofdelights: (Default)
Wiscon is coming! What books do you anticipate talking about there?

I read some books. I reread Redemption in Indigo for book group. It doesn't really stand up to rereading, but I was looking for ideas for foods to serve. It was my turn to host, so I picked the book and provided the food, but Jo let me host it at her house because my house is kind of broken. I keep coming to the realization that I shouldn't foist speculative fiction on this group, but time passes, and I forget, and someone else picks something that has magic or weird science in it, and my turn comes around again, and I think, Redemption in Indigo! It's got food, and family, and it's from a different culture, and it's short! Everyone will like it! And then book group starts with someone saying, "I hope you can explain this book to us because I didn't get it." And I realize again that I cannot pick speculative fiction that people who don't read speculative fiction will like.

They liked the food though! Peanut dip and hummus with veggies and rice crackers to start. Then chickpea salad, red lentil curry and rice, and futari. Ginger cookies and chocolate for dessert. Everything was gluten-free except the ginger cookies.

I'm in the middle of The Circle, which is saying interesting things about pressure to give up all privacy. It's hard for me to believe how little pushback there is against the idea of total surveillance even at the beginning of the book: when one of the founders explains that he worries about his mom, so he has installed cameras inside her house without her knowledge, and then displays the feed from those cameras to everyone who works for him, his audience doesn't respond with anything stronger than titters. But now, 3/5 of the way through, I do believe in Mae's (our viewpoint character's) acceptance of the camera. I said to myself "She loved Big Brother" even before Bailey put
SECRETS ARE LIES
SHARING IS CARING
PRIVACY IS THEFT
up on the screen.

But I have to pause The Circle to read Jack Glass, for SF bookfroup tomorrow, and then The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, for the next Tawanda bookgroup.
boxofdelights: (Default)
• What are you reading?

The Road to Ruin, by Donald Westlake. Dortmunder novels are comfort reading now, though I can remember how puzzled I was the first time I read one: these people, am I supposed to like them? am I supposed to root for them? Eventually I figured out that Dortmunder was just this guy, you know? and whoever he was robbing was a moral horror, so yes I was supposed to root for him.

• What did you recently finish reading?

Like the Lion's Tooth, by Marjorie Kellogg, recommended by [personal profile] delphi. It was interesting reading this book so close to Haven Kimmel's Indigo. They're both about children who are physically, sexually, and emotionally abused by their same-sex parent, who see themselves as the protector and partner of their other-sex parent. Both of them fail to protect and eventually lose the parent they love and their siblings. Both of them go on to a sexual relationship which would be horrifying if it were not so much less horrible than what they came from. They are both surrounded by other stories of cruelty inflicted on the powerless by the slightly less powerless. Like the Lion's Tooth is a much better book, I think.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

I should be reading N. K. Jemisin's The Killing Moon, for bookgroup. I ordered it from Amazon a few weeks ago, but I ordered it along with The Goblin Emperor and a couple other things and chose the free shipping, and Amazon decided to hold all the books until The Goblin Emperor comes out, which is in April. I knew they could do that, of course, I just didn't think about it because they never have done the other times I pre-ordered something. They did send along the giant bottle of generic Benadryl from that order, which is good because Aiko needs nine Benadryl a day. The library's copies of The Killing Moon were all checked out. Nobody local that I borrow books from had a copy. I requested a loan from the Denver public library, which has been IN TRANSIT for a while. If it shows up today I can still make it to bookgroup tomorrow.
boxofdelights: (Default)
• What are you reading?

Alif the Unseen, for SF book group. Which is tomorrow.

• What did you recently finish reading?

Iodine, by Haven Kimmel. This is a strange book. It is not a good book, I would not recommend it, but I am very interested in reading anything else she writes. It is the iddiest thing I've read between hard covers in a long time. And I can't tell whether she is handling her material, manipulating it, like an artist, or just... trapped in it. Floundering. Wallowing. That's why I want to read something else.

The Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes, for Tawanda book group. Which is not for a couple of weeks, but I had to read it fast and pass it on. Such a cool, dry, careful, detached contrast to the hot wet messy wallow of Iodine. I wonder why the person who chose it chose it. The last book she chose was Sometimes A Great Notion.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

No idea.
boxofdelights: (Default)
• What are you reading?

Iodine, by Haven Kimmel. Or maybe I'm not. I picked this up because it was recommended by a librarian whose taste I respect, and also I think I have heard the author recommended by some of you.

The main character, Trace, begins by telling us that she would have liked to have sex with her father. Not long after, she threatens or fantasizes about killing her mother. Her mother verbally and physically abuses her. And there are strong hints that these are not the worst parts of her childhood.

So, okay, Kimmel is working with some difficult material.

The viewpoint switches from first to third and back. Part of what we're reading is Trace's attempts to keep a dream diary, which keep breaking off, sometimes in the middle of a sentence, or turning into something which isn't a dream but doesn't seem very well connected to reality either.

Then, someone is telling Trace a story about someone who burned to death. His pit bull burned to death too.
"I'm sorry," Trace said, unsure what to do next. It was very sad, and Trace loved pit bulls. She and Colt had had six at one time, and as often happens one had killed another and the remaining four were confiscated and humanely euthanized, because, as Animal Control had explained to Colt, it's better for people to kill the dogs than for the dogs to kill one another. Colt had said, "But they love to kill each other, it's their reason for living at all," which didn't sit well with the officer.

"As often happens"? NO. That is a lie. "They love to kill each other"? That is an evil lie that people tell themselves in order to believe that it is okay to torture dogs into killing each other.

Anyway. That jolted me out of the story enough to realize that so far I hate everything in this book. Is there anything good in there, anything that might make it worthwhile to continue?

• What did you recently finish reading?

I'm not sure. I've been watching a lot of movies. I did finish Cuckoo's Calling. Although I'd have to read it again to be sure that the author played fair with clues and red herrings, I found it satisfactory. The detective, Cormoran Strike, is as odd as his name, but well-rounded and likeable. His assistant, Robin, is intelligent and effective. She becomes fond of Strike, but it's clear that she wants to stay on as his assistant not because she likes Strike but because she loves the work.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

Alif the Unseen, for SF bookgroup.

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