Archive for Reading List

Reading List 2011 (9/201)

More reading!

  • Robopocalypse, Daniel H. Wilson
  • Ready Player One, Ernest Cline
  • Lost in the Meritocracy, Walter Kirn
  • A Drink Before the War, Dennis Lehane
  • Darkness, Take My Hand, Dennis Lehane
  • Sacred, Dennis Lehane
  • Gone, Baby, Gone, Dennis Lehane
  • Prayers for Rain, Dennis Lehane
  • Moonlight Mile, Dennis Lehane

tl;dr – Read Kirn for scathing truth about education and class in America, skip the bad sci-fi, and try Lehane for well-crafted mysteries with a bit of action and romance.

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Reading List 2011 (10/185)

Dear lord, the book backlog is getting dire and it’s nearly 2012. On the other hand, I’ve just written my very first grant application, so on the whole, I’m calling things a win.

In the meantime, have some books!

  • Among Others, Jo Walton
  • March, Geraldine Brooks
  • The Now Habit, Neil Fiore
  • Read This Before Our Next Meeting, Al Pittampalli
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
  • A Shadow in Summer, Daniel Abraham
  • A Betrayal in Winter, Daniel Abraham
  • An Autumn War, Daniel Abraham
  • The Price of Spring, Daniel Abraham

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Reading List 2011 (9/175)

I’m 60+ books behind with these, so expect more regular updates – I’d love to start 2012 without a backlog!

  • Heir to the Shadows, Anne Bishop
  • Daughter of the Blood, Anne Bishop
  • Queen of the Darkness, Anne Bishop
  • Stories, ed. Neil Gaiman & Al Sarrantonio
  • Fatherland, Robert Harris
  • The Cypress House, Michael Koryta
  • Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You, Sam Gosling
  • Incarceron, Catherine Fisher
  • Sapphique, Catherine Fisher
  • Second Son, Lee Child (bonus!)

I’m not ordinarily embarrassed about anything I read. Sometimes I just want a nail-biting thriller, even if it’s terrible; sometimes I like going back to old favorites. I read strange stuff for projects, like the parenting memoirs I’ve been picking up periodically since reading Lareau. Plus, you find great work everywhere; I’ll defend Lee Child or Stephen King against all comers!

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Reading List 2011 (8/166)

Recent reading:

  • Reshaping the Work-Family Debate: Why Men and Class Matter, Joan C. Williams
  • Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race and Family Life, Annette Lareau
  • Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Amy Chua
  • How to Tutor Your Own Child, Marina Koestler Ruben
  • Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
  • Good Wives, Louisa May Alcott
  • Little Men, Louisa May Alcott
  • Jo’s Boys, Louisa May Alcott

Today, I am grateful for books that change the way I see the world. While I read Williams and Lareau quite a while ago, I still find myself referring to them at least a couple of times a week. In my own head, I probably refer to them a dozen or so times a day, because they both expose and name some pervasive elements of modern American life that otherwise appear perfectly normal. Between the two, they’ve given me a much better awareness of how pervasive class is in our so-called classless society.

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Reading List 2011 (9/158)

Recent reading:

  • Pink Brain, Blue Brain, Lise Eliot
  • What You Can Change … And What You Can’t, Martin Seligman
  • St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, Karen Russell
  • The Silent Land, Graham Joyce
  • No Excuses: Nine Ways We Can Change How Women Think About Power, Gloria Feldt
  • So Cold the River, Michael Koryta
  • Turn of Mind, Alice LaPlante
  • The Frozen Sky, Jeff Carlson
  • Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day, Ben Loory

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Reading List 2011 (17/149)

Almost-recent reading:

  • Scar Night, Alan Campbell
  • Iron Angel, Alan Campbell
  • God of Clocks, Alan Campbell
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum
  • The Marvelous Land of Oz, L. Frank Baum
  • Ozma of Oz, L. Frank Baum
  • Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, L. Frank Baum
  • The Road to Oz, L. Frank Baum
  • The Emerald City of Oz, L. Frank Baum
  • The Patchwork Girl of Oz, L. Frank Baum
  • Tik-Tok of Oz, L. Frank Baum
  • The Scarecrow of Oz, L. Frank Baum
  • Rinkitink in Oz, L. Frank Baum
  • The Lost Princess of Oz, L. Frank Baum
  • The Tin Woodman of Oz, L. Frank Baum
  • The Magic of Oz, L. Frank Baum
  • Glinda of Oz, L. Frank Baum

A friend recommended the Campbell series as follows: “The world is fantastic, but don’t expect much from the characters.” I’ll pass the recommendation along with the same caveat. Campbell builds a haunting, dangerous, baroque environment – and even if the characters are a bit on the cardboard side, he does a lovely job of letting them affect and change the world in dramatic and memorable ways.

Scar Night is the best of the three; angels and assassins and mad scientists play a crazy game of cat-and-mouse through a city built on a network of chains over a howling void. The city of Deepgate is at least as alive than any of the characters in it! Unfortunately, the latter two books have some gorgeous imagery (a character hauling an ancient ship that floats through the air, carrying mist and the smell of the sea with him) but don’t have the same emotional center. Plus, I could do without the casual racism that kept making me twitch.

As for Oz – I’ve got a history with these books, namely never getting quite enough of them! When I was little, the girl who lived around the corner had all the Oz books. I would go to her house just so I could get the chance to read them. Unfortunately, our parents caught on and I was made to play with dolls instead of read. This gave me a deep-seated hatred of Raggedy Ann and a longing to read every single Oz book someday. One e-reader and twenty-five years later, my dream finally came true!

Unfortunately, it was one of those “careful what you wish for” dreams. Oh, the books are absolutely charming – one at a time. They don’t benefit from being read all at once. In each book, the focal characters will be given the chance to do their characteristic thing (be clever! be practical! lose their temper!) in a slightly different fantastical situation. The situations themselves are always amusing, but there’s very little tension or drama for an adult reader.

In Lazarro’s parlance, I’d call these books “easy fun.” I enjoyed my growing familiarity with how the different characters would be used, and I appreciated the slow fleshing-out of the strange environment of Oz (and points nearby). I read to find out what would happen next, not with any tension or suspense, but with a sense of wandering down a road and waiting for a new vista to open as I turn each corner. My real complaint is that after five or six books, I was ready for a different kind of fun – and that’s really my own fault for having to read them all!

Once the final book in the Gregory Maguire counter-text is out, I’ll be reading those with great interest. I can see there are some obvious things to critique, like the unquestioned hegemony of the Witches, Wizard and later the Princess. At the same time, Baum’s message is humanist and loving. People (and animals, and talking objects) are accepted for who they are, and encouraged to be brave and kind and generous and loyal. It may not make for much tension in the tale, but I can get behind a message like that.

Reading List 2011 (11/132)

Recent reading:

  • Big Machine, Victor Lavalle
  • Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray
  • The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster
  • The Egypt Game, Zilpha Keatley Snyder
  • Long Gone, Alafair Burke
  • The Innocence  of Father Brown, G. K. Chesterton
  • The Wisdom of Father Brown,  G. K. Chesterton
  • The Incredulity of Father Brown,  G. K. Chesterton
  • The Secret of Father Brown,  G. K. Chesterton
  • The Scandal of Father Brown,  G. K. Chesterton

I often read thematically. Sometimes I’ll read everything by a single author – which, okay, the complete Father Brown stories, so you can see me doing it right now. Sometimes I’ll get into a particular topic, like Roman history or class in America or what have you. But the theme here, though you probably can’t see it, is “Holy crap, you can get free out-of-copyright books on your e-reader!”

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Reading List 2011 (7/123)

Recent reading:

  • A Spy By Nature, Charles Cumming
  • The Spanish Game, Charles Cumming
  • Before I Go To Sleep, S. J. Watson
  • Sister, Rosamund Lupton
  • Crazy U, Andrew Ferguson
  • Open Minded Torah: Of Irony, Fundamentalism and Love, William Kolbrener
  • The Modern Jewish Girl’s Guide to Guilt, ed. Ruth Andrew Ellenson

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Reading List 2011 (8/116)

Recent reading:

  • Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, David Foster Wallace
  • Sheepfarmer’s Daughter, Elizabeth Moon
  • Divided Allegiance, Elizabeth Moon
  • Oath of Gold, Elizabeth Moon
  • Surrender None, Elizabeth Moon
  • Liar’s Oath, Elizabeth Moon
  • The House on the Strand, Daphne du Maurier
  • Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel

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Reading List 2011 (9/108)

Recent reading:

  • Stone’s Fall, Iain Pears
  • Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer, Wesley Stace
  • Body of Lies, David Ignatius
  • Best Sex Writing 2010, ed. Rachel Kramer Bussel
  • Never Say Die: The Myth and Marketing of the New Old Age, Susan Jacoby
  • Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough, Lori Gottlieb
  • Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior, Judith Martin
  • Why Don’t Students Like School, Daniel Willingham
  • Love Shrinks: A Memoir of a Marriage Counselor’s Divorce, Sharyn Wolf

With the exception of the sadly forgettable Body of Lies, you could do worse than make this your reading list for the next few weeks. Everything here delighted me, made me think hard, or both. (Yes, that includes the 800+ pages of Miss Manners. I couldn’t put it down!)

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