May first! Here we are …reading in quarantine. For those of you who are essential workers, please continue to take care of yourselves and even though the government and your employers don’t appreciate you, those of us in need of groceries, medical help, a hamburger and so on, certainly DO appreciate you.
I started to clear my Goodreads Currently Reading list last month… and then ended up adding to it instead
At the moment, I am actively reading:
In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. I think, I would enjoy the book more if he hadn’t chosen to focus on Martha Dodd and her involvement with the men of the Nazi Party. She’s spoiled, selfish, shallow and not terribly interesting, but I will crack on and get through the whole book eventually.
Wraith Hunter by Clara Coulson. Urban fantasy, snarky hero and all sorts of shenanigans, just what I need to distract me from adulthood at the moment.
Khadaji was one of the earlier members of SDMB, and he was well-known as a kindly person who always had something encouraging to say, particularly in the self improvement threads. He was also a voracious, omnivorous reader, who started these threads way back in the Stone Age of the early 2000s. Consequently when he suddenly and quite unexpectedly passed away in 2013, we decided to rename this thread in his honor and to keep his memory, if not his ghost, alive.
Well, I’m not doing a whole lot of reading at the moment. My library is still closed, Amazon hasn’t come through with my new Stephen King, and the contents of the nearby Little Free Library can be best summed up as “blech!” I’m on the verge of petulant whining and stamping my feet.
In my very limited reading time, I’m trudging through David Hartwell’s The Dark Descent, which has a good mix of horror stories I’ve read a hundred times and stories I don’t remember reading at all. I say trudging, but it’s actually a very good collection. I’m just going slowly because when I get done I’ll be about ready to have a full-on spoiled temper tantrum.
I’m going to look around this weekend and see if I can find some contributions to class up that Little Free box.
If I were closer! If you like audiobooks, and have a library card, Libby is a good source for books. Of course older books are esier to get. I have Libby on my phone and listen when I walk the dog in the mornings.
Finished The Planets, by Dava Sobel. My favorite part was about the discoveries of Uranus and Neptune.
Now I’m reading City by the Bay: Stories of Novaya Rossiya, by Walter H. Hunt. It’s an alternate history, in which Russia, not Spain, colonized California. It’s set in Saint Helena, which was built instead of what is now San Francisco.
I’m about a third of the way through Riding the Rap by Elmore Leonard, a novel about a kidnapping in South Florida. Not bad. The three bad guys aren’t exactly rocket scientists and are starting to quarrel with each other; meanwhile, Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (the protagonist of Justified) is hot on their trail.
Now and then I’ve been reading JFK: A Vision for America, a big, lavishly-illustrated coffeetable book. It’s edited by Stephen Kennedy Smith and Douglas Brinkley, with essays by, among others, Jonathan Alter, Jerry Brown, Jimmy Carter, the Dalai Lama, Maureen Dowd, Joseph Ellis, Vaclav Havel, Henry Kissinger, John Lewis, John McCain, David McCullough, Conan O’Brien, Robert Redford and Elizabeth Warren. I like it.
During the pandemic lockdown, I’ve also been reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings aloud with my son. We just started The Return of the King; Gandalf and Pippin have just arrived at Minas Tirith. Really good stuff.
Glad to hear it! I’m expecting it from Amazon any day now. Scalzi was going to visit a local library here a few days back but it was cancelled, dammit, as you might expect. I was really looking forward to that.
I use Libby for audiobooks, too, and (mostly) recommend it.
I just finished the audiobook of Miles Morales: Spider-Man, by Jason Reynolds. The reader was fantastic, and the book was a lot of fun: it’s the only story I’ve ever heard that explains the school-to-prison pipeline and institutional racism through the lens of supervillains. Good stuff!
Almost finished with Harry Harrison’s A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah! It’s good when he doesn’t slip into heroic fantasizing, which happens more and more as the story progresses. Building a tunnel under the ocean is dramatic enough, and far more captivating than the hidden saboteurs sub-plot that has Gus Washington recruited and actively investigating for flimsy reasons.
If I can get Gutenburg, or any other non-kindle e-books to work on my Fire tablet, I’ll then work through Lord Dunsany’s The King of Elfland’s Daughter. If not, I’ll be digging into either a short story collection of Frank Herbert or Gene Wolfe’s Fifth Head of Cerberus.
“I have just taken an overly large bite of iced bun when Callum slices his finger off.” This is going in the annals of great first sentences in literature.
Another delightful historical fantasy from Mackenzi Lee, The Lady’s Guide follows the further adventures of Felicity Montague, a secondary character from Lee’s “The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue.” A ferociously intelligent teenager who finds her expected life’s course (marriage, children, estate-management) thoroughly unacceptable, she never gives up her quest to learn about the human body and to master medical science and art. Her quest takes some odd turns, and both petticoats and piracy are crucial to the plot.
The author’s note somewhat defensively points out that women throughout history have refused to accept patriarchal confines, and that’s true. But my one real criticism of the book is the language with which it happens. For a book so situated in the eighteenth century, it repeatedly uses phraseology that’s peculiar to twenty-first-century leftist politics. Felicity talks several times about her right to “take up space.” When a character shows her respect, she “feels seen.” These are important ideas to be sure, but they’re phrased in a way so thoroughly modern that it’s jarring. If Lee’s right, that people have always struggled for equality (and of course she’s right), it would be better for Felicity to voice this struggle in the language that eighteenth-century women would have used instead of in modern jargon.
That said, this feels like a petty criticism. Overall, the book was tremendous fun.
As for ordering books, in addition to heavy reliance on Libby (especially for audiobooks), we’ve been placing extra orders with our local bookshop, an anarchist collective just down the street. Firestorm Books delivers anywhere in the US, and they’re really good folk. Their selection isn’t anywhere near Amazon’s size, but they’ve got a great nerd in charge of the science fiction and kids’ book sections, so we’ve been able to keep ourselves in books. If you want someone new to order from, you could do worse!